It seems like now more than ever before, there are so many people adhering to different diets and a seemingly unending array of dietary restrictions to consider. Not only are food allergies, unfortunately, at an all-time high but so are alternate lifestyle choices, such as one’s decision to opt for an entirely vegetarian or vegan diet or to seek out better-for-you options in order to make more healthful choices.
Gone are the days when making specific mealtime accommodations was a difficult task, resulting in zero to minimal options at best. As someone who adheres to a strict plant-based diet and is troubled by several food allergies in addition (and also has several family members with special dietary needs), I can personally attest to the options these days as being pleasantly more plentiful than they were back in the 1990s or even the early 2000s.
As far as the food scene at Walt Disney World Resort is concerned, in my experience they’ve always been ahead of their game in meeting any and all very specific dietary needs. I’ve never known anyone not to be accommodated accordingly.
All the same, there are some venues that tend to be more universally adaptive in accommodating all sorts of special diets. From having more options on the menu to being amazingly efficient in substituting ingredients and/or tweaking food preparation methods, here are my personal recommendations for the best diet-friendly options around Disney World Parks and at Disney Springs.
Magic Kingdom Park
Among those dining venues at Magic Kingdom Park to offer full table service, I have found Liberty Tree Tavern over in Liberty Square to be among the very best. Perhaps you’re wondering how a restaurant known primarily for dishing up the works in full-fledged family style can be such a diet-friendly option.
But you should know that they have an Allergy-Friendly Bill of Fare that generally meets the needs of any special diet and can further be adjusted in coordination with what your specific restrictions are. They even offer up a special plant-based Revolutionary Impossible Meatloaf!
The Allergy-Friendly Bill of Fare is also great for those who do not necessarily have restrictions but are opting for better-for-you options. In particular, you can take great comfort in their Declaration Salad, Herb Rice Bread Stuffing, Seasonal Vegetables, and even a no-sugar-added Seasonal Sorbet fixing for dessert.
Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen over in Adventureland is another exceptional venue known for particular accommodations. Not only do they provide a very detailed allergy-friendly menu to meet the needs of a versatile range of dietary restrictions, they are also excellent when it comes to further addressing any tailored requests specifically.
If you’re opting for customizable quick-service picks, my top two recommendations are Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café over in Frontierland and Columbia Harbour House at Liberty Square. Both offer an array of allergy-friendly specifics to begin with as well as options that can be altered to tailor-fit your very specific requests.
Sometimes all-you-can-eat endless food options get a negative connotation when dealing with diets specifically. But do take note that more options make for more better-for-you options that can be customized in accordance with what you are going for.
It’s also easier to omit those items that you are foregoing with viable substitutes proportioned satisfactorily for your preferred interests. And in this case, the buffet option at the Magic Kingdom is none other than The Crystal Palace.
Fresh fruit and/or vegetable options are pretty universal when it comes to dieting in general (within reason). And fortunately, every Disney Park has locations that feature such options. My two favorites to stop by for a light bite or health food option are Liberty Square Market in Liberty Square and Prince Eric’s Village Market on location in Fantasyland.
EPCOT really is among the most versatile of Disney theme park distinctions. And they’re already known for being a mass haven for foodies, especially during such seasonal events as the International Food & Wine Festival. But in considering Disney restaurants specifically, my personal recommendation has to be Garden Grill Restaurant over at the Land Pavilion in the World Nature Neighborhood.
If the name doesn’t speak loudly to the fact that there are plenty of fresh homegrown produce features on the menu (grown in EPCOT greenhouses, nevertheless) then perhaps the special allergy-friendly family-style feast options will grab your attention a little better. From my experience, this is the best restaurant for personally catering to and customizing needs.
And the fact that it is a character meal featuring Chip, Dale, Mickey and Pluto as well as a uniquely rotating restaurant set above the Living with the Land attraction only endears it more in my eyes. Plant-based dieters, also take note of the myriad of meat-free entrée features. And for those adhering to gluten-free restrictions, they feature their delicious allergy-friendly rolls as well as a delectable House-Made Allergy-Friendly Berry Shortcake.
Because EPCOT is like multiple Disney Parks, there is one other very specific recommendation to make onsite within the World Showcase. It’s the Japan Pavilion’s own Teppan Edo. While they do not specifically advertise an allergy-friendly menu per se, my family has always been very well accommodated at this traditional Japanese Steakhouse venue.
They’re especially excellent when it comes to cooking items separately, much to the pleasure of those hoping to avoid gluten or any particular oils that are generally used, and they have plenty of vegetable options — plenty!
Let’s head on back to the Land Pavilion for my personal quick-service favorite. It’s none other than Sunshine Seasons food court. Following suit with the aforementioned Garden Grill, here you will find a myriad of enticements featuring homegrown EPCOT greenhouse produce. And because there are made-to-order grill items in addition to already prepared grab-and-go items, customization here is very easy to do.
Again, EPCOT is not without a wonderful buffet option currently in operation. I am of course referring to Biergarten Restaurant, housed within the Germany Pavilion. Before you form images of gluttony and the notion of eating, drinking, and being merry with consequences, do take note that there are plenty of healthful options you can fill up on here in addition to a separate menu of specific custom options for special diets that may be ordered as well.
As already mentioned, one of the best places to grab a light bite of fresh produce is at Sunshine Seasons Food Court. Another very pleasing option to consider is the Land Food Cart, rightfully located within World Nature as well.
While I prefer to avoid the complimentary side order of ridicule that comes with meals at 50’s Prime Time Café in Hollywood Studios, I cannot deny that their robust selection of tailor-tweaked comfort foods can give any specific dieter comfort. But my personal recommendation would have to be Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano.
Sure, you may be wondering how an Italian restaurant can be such a great option for special diets — with all that meat, cheese, pasta, and bread! But they do in fact do remarkably well with customizations, substitutions, and providing alternatives.
From gluten-free flatbread to special wheat-free noodles, and plant-based entrées to plenty of vegetables with numerous options in which to be prepared, regardless of whichever diet you are adhering to, I’ve never known anyone to come away unsatisfied. Unique dessert items even include a dairy-free Soy Frozen Dessert, a Flourless Chocolate Cake, Gelato, and a no-sugar-added Lemon Sorbet.
There are also plenty of great things to be said about Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, aside from its awesome drive-in movie theater theme. You wouldn’t expect a whole lot more than standard burgers, shakes, and fries, but they do infinitely well in customizing their fare for special diets across the board. They even have dairy-free milkshake selections and plant-based burgers in addition to so many healthy alternatives.
You’ll find plenty of quick-service favorites all throughout Hollywood Studios, but if I had to pick the most plentiful one for suiting a vast range of special diets, I’d have to hand it to Rosie’s All-American Café. They’re especially good at handling gluten-free diets, even serving customized burgers and sandwiches on wheat-free buns. And their Plant-Based Lobster Roll is a marvel to behold!
I just can’t say more about how perfectly they can suit the needs of very specific dietary limitations.
Again, there is a very notable buffet location worth noting over at Hollywood Studios. It’s none other than Hollywood & Vine — a marvel that has plenty of fresh options growing right on the “vine” awaiting your dietary delights. And you get to dine with many familiar faces in addition!
If you’re ever looking for something quick, convenient, and light, may I recommend Anaheim Produce as being your very best pick? They have so many awesome options and can satiate pretty much any craving.
There are many great dining venues throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, but my personal favorite for meeting and exceeding dietary needs has to be Yak & Yeti Restaurant. I can’t begin to express how wonderful they are in accommodating the very specific needs of diners of all specifications.
From their masterful substitutions of tofu for meat entrées to implementing special rice noodles when necessary, they’re just great. And the fact that they have plenty of vegetables and even fresh fruit is something any diet-conscious person can rejoice in.
Plenty of the quick-service locations throughout the Park offer up special options, including plant-based features. Pizzafari, not typically thought of as diet-friendly, even has allergy-friendly crust options for pizza in addition to non-dairy cheese alternatives. But in evaluating which one is perhaps the most universally diet-friendly, I’d have to go with Satu’li Canteen.
Over in Pandora – The World of Avatar, this place presents a novel concept of what we should typically consider “Na’vi” cuisine. And to say it’s largely healthy across the board would be an understatement, especially in light of how easy it is to customize your combination bowls, making them as healthy as you want.
The buffet on location at Animal Kingdom Park is Tusker House. While known primarily for featuring African cuisine, there are plenty of veritable vegetable and alternate dietary selections to take note of here as well. And again, you get to enjoy dining in the presence of Disney pals.
If you need a fresh snack comprised of produce or even an alternate quick-service better-for-you-option, you’ll be pleasantly surprised over at the Harambe Fruit Market scene in Africa. They even have some delightful plant-based features and can customize a Guest’s specific light bite order (within reason).
To be honest, most of the table-service venues at Disney Springs can accommodate the specific dietary needs of Guests pretty well. If I had to pick the most healthful ones in the running though, it would probably be a tie between Morimoto Asia and Frontera Cocina. Both options have plentiful vegetable variations fused into their different cuisine options.
Furthermore, both are wonderful in working with Guests on customizing said selections in accordance with very particular preparation methods, including the omitting of certain oils, bases, dairy products, etc. Both have plant-based variations as well as alternatives to wheat and other forms of gluten.
Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ would be a close second place contender, given their wonderful adherence to dietary restrictions. They even go so far as to present a pretty elaborate gluten-free menu.
As far as the profuse quick-service food scene goes, one leading recommendation is none other than the Local Green Orlando Food Truck. Located where all the other food trucks are at Disney Springs, this one stands out from the crowd in the fact that they epitomize better-for-you options to the max, offering many special diet customizations, especially those of a plant-based making.
When seeking out the sweeter side of healthful eating at Disney Springs you can’t pass on Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC. In fact, they are absolutely legendary in their overall elaborate offerings of traditional baked goods done up in vegan, gluten-free, and kosher format. What’s more, they taste every bit as delectable, if not more so, than their traditional counterparts.
As stated before, Disney does a spectacular job across the board in seeing to the specific dietary needs of all Guests in any and all particular limitations. If you have any dietary requests, it’s always best that you notify any venues you will be dining at well in advance, by contacting Disney Special Dietary Requests.
In my experience, the chef has always come out to the table each and every time to personally speak with me directly, in addition to reviewing the specific allergy-friendly menus already presented. As would be expected of the place where dreams come true, Disney knows how to make any meal magic, regardless of your dietary specifications.