Decadent Desserts in Walt Disney World For Special Diets
These days more people than ever before follow special dietary regimes due to lifestyle choices or underlying health conditions. But fortunately, we live in a time when it’s never been easier to accommodate the varying needs of such individuals. This is especially good news when talking about dessert time—an event that most would mutually agree upon as being the best part of any meal. While perfecting the taste and quality of alternative eats, which often calls for the omission of certain ingredients and allergens, has been an uphill battle through the years, at last we can say that in most cases such alternatives now rise to pleasing, preferable heights and even attract a fan base in those who do not necessarily follow special diets per se. Because Walt Disney World Resort is renowned for its care, commitment, and guest satisfaction, it goes without saying that your dietary needs will be fully accommodated for, even where decadent desserts are concerned. Such pleasures are so profuse in fact, that it would be impossible to list each and every possibility. So here we’ve narrowed it down to our top premium picks for the most decadent desserts in Disney World for those who follow special diets.
Whether you are celiac, have wheat or other gluten-related allergies, or just made the conscious decision to cut out gluten as a healthy lifestyle choice, the fact remains that the popularity for gluten free alternatives is at an all-time high. But that doesn’t mean the demand for cookies, cakes, pastries, and other sweet eats is any lower. Fortunately for the sweet-toothed folks visiting Disney with such requests there are an abundance of options at various venues throughout the parks, resorts, and in nearby Disney Springs. Here are just a few top-rated selections we’ve found:
1. The Chocolate Wave: Break free from the current of traditional chocolate cake limitations with this decadent alternative offered exclusively at Coral Reef Restaurant in EPCOT. Served up warm, this flourless chocolate cake comes paired with raspberry gelato and is entirely free of wheat and other gluten.
2. Zebra Domes: These tiny tantalizing balls of cake with Amarula cream liqueur mousse, coated with chocolate ganache and dark chocolate drizzle, are among the many popular must-try exclusives to be found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. But did you know there is a gluten free version offered as well? Utilizing the same traditional recipe but replacing the cake with a chocolate layer component makes this version arguably even more decadent! Zebra Domes have been traditionally offered at the Mara and Boma at the resort, but are currently located in the freezer section at Johari Treasures.
3. Churros: That’s right even while steering clear of gluten, you can indulge in this crispy, crunchy, sweet and savory snack that’s part street food but more morsel. This time you’ll be heading to Animal Kingdom Park where Nomad Lounge offers up such delights. Gluten free churros come with two dipping sauce options on the side—vanilla crema and chili strawberry.
4. Beignets: These fried-dough favorites served hot and freshly made are a longtime traditional New Orleans favorite. And they are equally as popular at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort—French Quarter. Any obsessed fan can tell you that Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory is the ultimate go-to place where you can find these enticing eats, including the competitively scrumptious gluten free version. That’s right, even if you’re steering clear of gluten you don’t have to miss the chance to indulge in some delicious Mickey Mouse-shaped beignets! What’s more, they come with the same accompanying dipping sauces as the traditional beignets—caramel, raspberry, and chicory coffee.
5. Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich: Many people are surprised to learn that macarons are traditionally gluten free, made from almond flour. And you may rest assured that just about any good old-fashioned macaron you come across at Disney will likely accommodate your dietary specifications just fine. Furthermore, there are several venues that sell them. And when such tasty treats take two with the addition of ice cream (also gluten free in most cases) you’re in for a decadent dessert that’s twice as nice—the Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich. You can find these tasty treats at L’Artisan des Glaces, appropriately located in EPCOT’s France Pavilion. Offering up plentiful picks for flavors as well as changing seasonal selections, this is a mutual must-try for all to bite into.
6. The Gluten Free Kitchen Sink Sundae: You may not have thought it possible, but Disney is the place where dreams come true, even if it means customizing a notoriously decadent dessert sundae intended for the consumption of four or more people into a gluten free masterpiece. Beaches & Cream Soda Shop, located at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, is famed for this more than 20 multi-ingredient contained sundae, which is laden with various ice cream flavors, candy components, syrups, and a whole lot of other sweet stuff. But believe it or not, most of the ingredients are typically gluten free at any ice cream shop, with one exception being the exchange of the sundae’s usual brownies to their gluten free substitute. In fact, given their other gluten free alternatives, including cookies for making customizable ice cream sandwiches and even special cones for ice cream scoops, the gluten free possibilities at Beaches & Cream are practically limitless.
7. Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bars: What is perhaps the most iconic must-have Disney treat is, believe it or not, entirely gluten free. That’s because it is essentially ice cream covered in a chocolate shell, containing traditional ingredients without any gluten additives.
As we touched on earlier, in most cases traditional ice cream offerings are free from gluten. There are exceptions, of course, especially when you get into newer experimental specialties that contain cookies, cake, dough, or the like blended into the mixture. But for the most part, gluten free living won’t deter your quest for delicious ice cream stops.
In many cases there is an overlap in vegan and non-dairy desserts. Of course there are some exceptions, such as those that contain a gelatin component (gummies, marshmallow, etc.), making them free of dairy but not vegan friendly. But in what we’ve rounded up, our top picks for decadent dessert offerings tend to fit the bill in both fields. Here are the options that have earned the most praise from guests:
1. Plant-based Blueberry Donuts: Available at California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, these baked lavender donuts are served with blueberry gin jam, pistachio crumble, and blueberry “FauxYo”—a plant-based frozen yogurt concoction that’s entirely free of dairy and other animal products.
2. Plant-based Carrot Cake: Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort offers this scrumptious vegan dessert marvel as a southern-style plant-based carrot cake, accompanied by pineapple boba, caramel, praline croquant, and candied pecan-coconut milk.
3. Coconut Milk Panna Cotta: While not on their regular menu, Jiko—The Cooking Place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge features this dairy/free vegan specialty dessert on their allergy menu to accommodate those who follow such specifications. Served up in flan-like consistency, the panna cotta comes drizzled with berry syrup and is accompanied by fresh strawberries and micro greens.
4. Panna-Connie’s Congo Lime Delight: Jiko isn’t the only place where you can indulge in plant-based panna cotta decadence. The Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen at Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park presents its own delightful panna cotta perfection via this entirely vegan, dairy free delight, which comes served with mango-lime sorbet, fresh fruit, and topped off with a Brazil nut cookie.
5. House-made Berry Short Cake: Over in EPCOT, located within the Land Pavilion, you’ll find what is arguably one of the most unique dining venues in the park—Garden Grill Restaurant. Known for dishing out the goods in family-style format, some who follow dietary restrictions may have reservations at first, but you may rest assured that the chefs are more than accommodating and even offer up allergen friendly featured alternatives. One such praiseworthy highlight is their one and only House-made Berry Short Cake—a vegan masterpiece comprised of burnt sugar-crusted shortcake topped with berry sauce and fresh fruit.
6. Chocolate Mint Financier: Chocolate can be a controversial ingredient when complying with a vegan or dairy free diet. It all comes down to whether a dairy component is added into the mix. But fortunately for folks heading to Flying Fish Café within Disney’s BoardWalk Resort Area there’s this fancy treat, which gives new meaning to the concept of “rich chocolate.” Warm decadent chocolate and a creamy dairy free frozen mint scoop make up the wealth of flavor in this collaboration.
7. Vanilla Cake With Lemon Curd: As with chocolate, vanilla can go both ways in the final indication on whether something includes dairy or not. But guests at Be Our Guest Restaurant within Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park can be certain that this vanilla-lemon piece of perfection is entirely plant-based, containing no animal products whatsoever. It comes accompanied with fresh berries and strawberry meringue.
8. Dole Whip: You read that right! What’s is arguably one of Disney’s most desirable dessert fixings is actually a cooling refresher that can be enjoyed by both vegans and those opting for dairy free alike. Just be sure to order the pineapple version, as this is one of those cases where vanilla is not offered in dairy free format. Dole Whips are doled out most notably at Aloha Isle on location at Adventureland in Disney’s Magic Kingdom and at Pineapple Lanai over at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Other soft-serve servicing locations throughout Disney also offer a host of vegan friendly dairy free cool treats as well.
9. Kakigōri: This nicely icy sweet treat is a refreshing fan favorite packed with flavor, unlike many shaved ice concoctions in which tastes tend to settle at the bottom long before you’ve even put a dent in the goods. You’ll find this cool collaboration on location within EPCOT’s Japan Pavilion, being served up at the Kabuki Café snack kiosk. Available in rainbow, strawberry, cherry, melon, blue raspberry, and tangerine flavor assortments, they themselves are entirely free from dairy or any other animal products, though an optional sweet milk topping is available upon request for those not adhering to such diets.
10. Sorbet: We advise those going dairy free to be cautious of where they choose to get any potential sorbet fixings and to always check the ingredients with chefs and vending cast members, who can provide you with all the information you need. Recipes, ingredient inclusions, and a given establishment’s personal take on house recommendations may be critical in deciding whether something is vegan or dairy free. But one thing you can be sure of is that all the sorbet options offered at L’Artisan des Glaces in EPCOT’s France Pavilion meet all the above dietary requirements in what is both dairy free and one-hundred percent vegan.
While we previously established that in many cases ice cream, in its traditional format, is gluten free, we also acknowledge that conventions in this confection category are most often not dairy free/vegan in any way. But that isn’t to say you can’t enjoy special ice cream marvels that have successfully omitted such restraints on the aforementioned diets. Plenty of venues known for ice cream throughout Disney Parks and resorts offer up popular alternatives such as Tofutti and Rice Dream ice cream brands. And such options can be customized into just about any sundae, shake, ice cream soda, or other featured recommendation. Notable places scooping up these delightful alternatives include Plaza Ice Cream Parlor in the Magic Kingdom, Beaches & Cream at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Dino-Bite Snacks at the Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Scoops at Hollywood Studios, and many other venues.
Whether you’re watching your glycemic index due to diabetes of some other condition, or you’re just carefully monitoring sugar intakes for yourself or your already too energetic children, there are many reasons for wanting to reduce one’s excess sugar intake on a daily basis. And while several famed sweet treats at Disney are renowned for not shying away from the sweet stuff, there are numerous options for those looking for limited or lower sugar alternatives that don’t skimp on the decadence. Here are some examples:
1. Cheesecake, No Sugar Added: You can indulge in this delightful dessert fixing, served up with fresh seasonal fruit and a fruit sauce topping at Kona Café, located within Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
2. Chocolate Torte: The famed signature dining venue, Narcoossee’s, on location at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, offers up this divinely decadent chocolate lover’s dream come true, and with no added sugar. The additional sweetness in this case comes in the form of an accompaniment of chocolate crème and raspberries.
3. Mango Sorbet: If chocolate’s not your thing then perhaps a refreshing sorbet palate cleanser is in order to top off your meal at Narcoossee’s. This alternative no sugar added dessert feature is dished up with pineapple, melon, and fresh berries.
4. No Sugar Added Sorbet at Cítricos: Over at Cítricos, also located at Disney’s Grand Floridian, you can celebrate a sweet sendoff minus additional sugar with your choice of either mango-lime flavored or raspberry house-made sorbet.
5. Mixed Berry Mousse: Get ready to plunge your taste buds into new fathoms over at Coral Reef Restaurant in EPCOT with this decadent house-developed marvel. This deep-diver into flavor comes to you as a berry blend mousse mixture paired with vanilla chiffon cake, chocolate sauce, and a shortbread cookie to top things off. And because it’s sweet enough on its own, you may rest assured no additional sugar has been added to the current.
6. Panna ‘Carpa’: Another optimal option baiting guests is this house exclusive offered over at Flying Fish Café within Disney’s BoardWalk Resort Area. While following the seafaring theme, there’s nothing fishy about this dessert other than the mystery behind why it manages to evade capture of the traditional sugar net and still retain such delicious taste. The alternative use of basil sugar does the trick just fine in this concoction, which also incorporates buttermilk panna cotta, and strawberry-lime consommé.
7. Caramel Coffee Cake: Back again at Disney’s California Grill, here’s another special diet delicacy for those looking to enjoy a dessert with no additional sugar. This mouthwatering morsel comes as a concoction of coffee cake and shortbread, along with brown butter caramel, coffee cream, and raspberry gel.
8: Crème Brûlée: While on location at Disney’s Contemporary Resort you should head on into the Wave…Of American Flavors, where all cuisine is fresh and regionally sourced. And among the appealing palatable pleasures to take delight in is this signature Crème Brûlée feature, which combines rich vanilla flavor and fresh berries in a pairing so satisfying and savory there isn’t even a need to add sugar, so they didn’t.
9. Angelfood Cake: Back over at Jiko, here’s another stellar dessert fixing that succeeds in the seemingly impossible task of concocting something both scrumptious and sweet, without smattering on the added sugar. Not your typical angelfood cake, this specialty pairs white chocolate panna cotta along with seasonal fruit compote and citrus gel.
From keeping kosher to avoiding nuts, there are plenty of other special diets to cover in addition to the vast abundance of other venues that manage to fulfill specified restrictions on a most impressive level. While many items you find within Walt Disney World are in fact kosher certified (with information for such readily available to guests upon request), you should note that Disney Dining is deeply dedicated on delivering the utmost satisfaction to visitors and can readily assure that almost anything you order can be prepared in adherence to kosher dietary guidelines. An excellent resource guide for kosher dining at Disney can be found here: http://kosherinthekingdom.com.
Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC in Disney Springs is perhaps the most notable go-to venue, boasting stellar baked goods for a variety of specified dietary needs. With enticing options for those with gluten restrictions, those who adhere to vegan diets, and for those who keep kosher, this top-notch bakery gets a standing ovation for innovative sweet treat fixings that only exemplify and enhance the quality and taste of any conventional counterparts.
Disney does an excellent job in covering all the above dietary restrictions and abundantly more. Many venues also offer special allergy menus upon request and also carefully mark publicly any and all major allergens, including shellfish and nut inclusions. There are also now, more than ever before, plenty of quick snack treats such as packaged brownies and cookies that adhere to special dietary limitations as well. All the same, if you or anyone in your party has significant dietary restrictions we strongly encourage you to contact Disney Dining’s Special Diets department at 407-824-1391 or through email at [email protected].
Disney desserts are more delicious than ever before!