Early Summer of 2016 Bob decided that he was going to run his second marathon. But, this time he was going to do the Disney World marathon. Naturally, I was not going to pass up the chance for an extra vacation. So, we started to plan our first Disney World vacation since 1999. As Bob is a cast member, we got a discount on resort accommodation and had our park passes exchanged for magic bands. We planned to visit all 4 Disney World Parks, and while I was excited I was also a little apprehensive as a Vegan at Disney World. *Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission
Flying as a Vegan is usually pretty easy. Most domestic flights don’t include meals anyway, so I usually pack a lunch. On the outbound flight I prepared sandwiches with peppered Tofurky slices and salad. During the flight one flight attendant walked past and asked what was in the sandwiches because they looked delicious. One thing I ALWAYS take on any trip is Clif Bars. This trip I’d packed a Mint Chocolate Builder Bar each, our favorites. These are an absolute MUST on any trip for us.
Caribbean Beach Resort
We stayed at the Disney Caribbean Beach Resort. This resort is pretty close to Epcot. And, we could see the Epcot fireworks from our room. One thing we did was upgrade to the pirate beds. Say what?
Yes, at the Caribbean Beach Resort you can step back into your childhood fantasies and sleep in a bed shaped like a pirate ship. Who wouldn’t want to do this? We loved it. Such a great touch and beats your traditional room any day!
Vegan at Disney World – Old Port Royale
As we arrived super late. So, for our first night we ate at the resort, in the Old Port Royale food court. My first experience eating vegan at Disney World. And honestly, the choices were slim. By accident I managed to bump into one of the chefs, and he walked me through my options. Basically, there were two options. The pasta or the veggie flatbread (without the cheese). I opted for penne pasta, with marinara sauce.
The pasta came with a side order. Either a breadstick or salad. When I asked if the breadstick was vegan, the staff didn’t know. So I skipped it, and opted for the salad. There was no vegan dressing offered so I had to skip that. Obviously I turned down the cheese. What about croutons? Are they vegan? No, they have cheese (Parmesan). So, hold the croutons. Which left me with… a tray of lettuce. Yes, seriously. We had a good laugh about this!
Sunday night, after walking around Hollywood studios and Magic Kingdom, we headed back to Old Port Royale at the Caribbean Beach Resort for dinner. In my previous chat with the chef, he mentioned the veggie flatbread would be vegan if I skipped the cheese. I was hungry, so I decided to try it. Oh boy, this was so much better than the pasta.
Honestly, bang for buck the flatbread was WAY better than the bland pasta penne. I had this twice during out visit. Update: I’ve had it at different locations since this trip also!
Vegan Cupcake Alert!
When I met the chef on Friday, he also told me that they had an ‘allergy cupcake’ and that it was vegan! No dairy, no wheat, no eggs. Simply go to any vendor, and ask for the staff to get me one. Well after walking the parks all day I was hungry. Plus, I figured it would be rude not to try one after he mentioned it.
Unfortunately, it was not the best vegan cupcake I’d had. It was a solid 7/10 though. The sponge was just too dense. That said, we’re spoiled where we live as we have a vegan bakery that sells absolutely delicious light and fluffy vegan cupcakes. But it’s a vegan dessert available at Disney World let’s celebrate that shall we?
Breakfast supplies and Amazon Prime NOW
For our first Florida breakfast we bought some supplies at the “grab-n-go” market In Old Port Royale. A bagel and a croissant. Vegan butter and jelly was available from the counter and we took everything back to our room which thankfully had a refrigerator. The bagel and croissant were $3 each. This was when we realized that eating out was going to be expensive.
Once back in our room, Bob checked out Amazon Prime NOW. Score, we were in a delivery zone! This was going to make being vegan at Disney World easier, and cheaper! For the price of our breakfast for the next 5 days we ordered: Bagels, bread, Peanut Butter, jelly, orange juice, Daiya Cheese, Tofurky slices, and potato chips. Plus some cling wrap, for wrapping the sandwiches we were going to make.
We were set for breakfast and packed lunch for each day, plus some evening snacks. If we’d had a microwave in the room we’d have ordered more! It was my first experience using Amazon Prime Now and I’d definitely use it again!
Eating Vegan at Disney World: Epcot
The first time we went to Disney World back in 1999, we never visited Epcot. That trip was a whirlwind tour of Florida and had to choose one Disney Park, and we chose Animal Kingdom. So we were both eager to check out Epcot. Thankfully with our magic bands, and scheduled fast passes, we were at the park and hitting rides on day one. Personally my favorite of the day was Turtle Talk with Crush. Which coincidentally was in Future World, where our chosen restaurant of the day was: Sunshine seasons. Why Sunshine Seasons? Purely because I’d read online previous that they did a Vegan Korma with Gardein. Seemed like we should definitely check that out! It was delicious!
Update: We’ve been on multiple trips to Disney World since, and this remains a favorite. Perfect quick and easy dining stop at Epcot. Highly recommend!
We cut our Epcot visit short and headed to the ESPN stadium for marathon packet pick up. Unfortunately, we weren’t sure if Bob was going to run as he had been struggling with injury for weeks prior to the trip. He had pretty much resigned himself to walking the Disney World Marathon. However, after walking around Epcot for 7 miles on day 1 he was already in pain from his injury. In the evening, after more walking around the Magic Kingdom, he decided that walking for 26 miles would be a bad idea. I was devastated for him. He’d been looking forward to this for months. But, it was the right decision.
Eating Vegan at Disney World: HollyWood Studios
Day two of our trip we chose to go to Hollywood studios. Breakfast was eaten in our room courtesy of Amazon Prime NOW and it was delicious. Of all the parks this one was the most disappointing for vegan food. Thanks to the chef at the Caribbean Beach Resort I knew that the “veggie black bean burger” contained egg. There didn’t seem to be any vegan meals that looked remotely appetizing . Thanks to Amazon Prime, we’d come prepared with our sandwiches.
Though this isn’t the smallest park at Disney World, it’s the one with the least amount of stuff to do (IMO). Much of the room is dedicated to restaurants and cafes. Which would be amazing if they did more vegan or healthy options. This park does have a couple of amazing rides though! Definitely worth coming for the Tower of Terror, and the Rock’n’Roll coaster. If you have small kids that want to wait for the Frozen show etc, then maybe you’ll spend longer here but we spent half a day here then park hopped to Magic Kingdom. For dinner we ate at The Port Royale food court at the resort (see above).
Animal Kingdom – Rainforest Cafe
Breakfast on Day 3 was again from our Amazon haul. We had full day of activities ahead starting with an 8.30am fastpass at Animal Kingdom! After a full morning’s activities we were starting to feel hungry so we headed to Rainforest Cafe.
I’ve mentioned Rainforest Cafe on the blog before and so we were super happy to find one here. The Natural Burger with fries. Unfortunately this excitement was short lived. Because, on Wednesday,before we flew home and that’s when we learned that this meal was NOT vegan. Shit! We discovered this due to our super helpful server. Upon ordering she asked if we liked spicy, and said she’d bring us the “special” dressing sauce. I asked if it was vegan. She replied “no, and neither is that burger you just ordered!”. My heart sank, because we’d eaten it Monday! She brought the chef out who told us that the natural burger contains egg as a binder, and the bun contains dairy. BUT, he offered to make a vegan version of the burger without egg, and substitute wheat bread for the bun. Yay!
Honestly, I enjoyed the bread WAY better than the bun. The burger tasted exactly the same, and had the same consistency, so I’m not sure why they add egg at all? Am I bummed that I unknowingly ate egg and dairy? Yes! But, you can’t dwell on it. We just didn’t know. Now we do! And, I get to share my experience with everyone via the internet. Lesson learned.
Wild Africa Trek
As a vegan,and animal love I admit to feelings of conflict with keeping animals in captivity. But, Disney is doing a lot of important conservation work and they also house a lot of injured or neglected/orphaned animals that would otherwise be dead. Whatever your views it’s always good to be fully informed. To that end we opted to do the Wild Africa Trek and support the conservation efforts.
This experience is a paid extra that provides an up close and personal experience with the animals at the park. You get to see behind the scenes which was an experience I will never forget. I was impressed with the knowledge of the staff, and the animal husbandry. They truly cared about the animals.
Part of the Trek also involves a meal in middle of the Safi River Valley. You are eating on the veranda, while wildebeest and Giraffes roam nearby. You’re surrounded by grazing animals on all sides, it was magical.
The food as I recall was from Tusker House restaurant in Animal Kingdom. If you let them know beforehand, then they can provide vegan food. It was so good. Beautifully presented and delicious!
Animal Kingdom Lodge – Sanaa
Monday night we arranged to meet up with one of Bob’s work friends . He suggested a restaurant called Sanaa in Kidani Village, Animal Kingdom Lodge. It backs onto the Safi River area where animals like giraffes and wildebeest roam so they could show up nearby while you’re eating breakfast. The lodge is beautiful, and Sanaa is downstairs, and features African cooking with Indian flavors . After ordering drinks we perused the menu. I told the server I was vegan and she hooked me up with all the details on what I could have, and substitute. For starters we had the Indian-style Bread Service and substituted two of the breads for gluten-free bread which was vegan. It came with an array of chutneys. My main course I had the Potjie Inspired, with chickpea wat, lentil dhal and rice. It was amazing!
I will say that it’s a little pricey so bear that in mind, but the atmosphere, location and food were amazing. We were lucky that they accepted employee discount, but honestly the food was good and I was just so happy to have a delicious vegan meal I would have paid full price. If you are omnivore of vegan at Disney World, I’d definitely recommend Sanaa.
We visited Magic Kingdom the most during our stay. Magic Kingdom was by far our favorite park, purely for Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom! Ok, make that MY favorite. Honestly, we didn’t eat that much in the park.
Mostly our vegan food at Magic Kingdom consisted of a few snacks here and there. We had coupons from our staff Holiday Package, for free popcorn, churro (not vegan) or Mickey pretzels. Bob had the churro a couple of times, and I chowed my way down a popcorn and 2 pretzels over the course of 4 days! Yes the popcorn and Mickey Pretzels are vegan. Being vegan at Disney World is great if you like the Mickey Pretzels! Not only are they good value for money but filling too.
Disneyland is just a 2 hour drive away from our house and though we’ve been multiple times one thing we’d never got around to trying was the Dole Whip. Why? Because the line is ALWAYS so freakin’ long. However, Magic Kingdom was much quieter and you could literally walked right up to the counter. We shared a cup of Dole Whip. I know people rave about this stuff, but I’d much prefer fresh pineapple.
Tuesday was our full day at Magic Kingdom. We hit the park early for our fast pass rides, and we did a lot that day! For lunch we had our sandwiches, but also got a serving of fries from adventureland.
The last vegan supper
On our last night at the resort, we had some supplies to use up. So picked up the Daiya cheese, tofurky slices, bread and a picnic of sorts in the food court.
We bought fries, and a drink, then added condiments. It definitely wasn’t the healthiest of meals, but it also wasn’t the unhealthiest either. It did use up the groceries we’d bought. So we left in the knowledge we hadn’t wasted any money buying those groceries.
Eating Vegan at Disney World: 5 Tips
- Do your research beforehand. In my research I found Vegan Disney World website, which was an amazing resource. The website is updated regularly, but people’s experiences do vary.
- If you are eating on a budget get a room with a fridge. And maybe rent a microwave. Microwaves are standard in some Disney resort room. Again, do your research. This would decrease your costs significantly. Eating in the parks, you pay for the convenience. However, we found that the buses to the resort hotels were every 15-20 minutes.
- Always take snacks with you. Wherever we travel, we always take Clif Bars. They are just a handy thing to have while traveling. As a snack or meal replacement. Seriously, as a vegan, this is a staple on our packing list. We also took some Emergen-C packets to ward off colds/flu while traveling. One of us took them, one us didn’t. Guess which one is sick right now? Enough said!
- On the Wild Africa Trek, you receive a metal water bottle. For the rest of the trip we refilled it at the water fountains. Soda is available everywhere. Honestly, I drank more soda in the 5 days we stayed there than the last 5 years combined. Definitely get a bottle and refill it. Sodas are almost $3 each. If you do like soda then I’d suggest taking advantage of the refillable mug for free refills in the resorts throughout your stay.
- Disney does offer a dining plan service, where you can pay ahead to budget for your meals. This is redeemable at locations in the resort, and some locations in the parks themselves. They offer 3 levels of plans: quick, regular and deluxe. Depending on if you want fast food or table service. It didn’t really seem worth it for us with the limited vegan options. However, if you have a family it could work out cheaper.
Update: Now that Disney World has a TON more vegan options in the parks and resorts the Disney Dining plan looks way more appetizing!
A Magical Experience
I’m not going to sugar coat it. Bob being a cast member, helped with costs bigtime! We got discount on the resort, and most of the food, along with some free snacks. Plus, we got free entry to the parks. On the downside Bob paid $180 for the marathon and couldn’t run.
It might sound corny, but this trip was a magical experience. We did a lot in the time we had. Each vacation you learn a lot, and discover things you’d do differently. For our next trip, we’d maybe get a car. Or arrange for Amazon Prime Now delivery on the first day. Plus, we’d look for a room with a kitchen/microwave (like the cabins at Fort Wildnerness). After 17 years since we first visited Florid, we were long overdue a return trip!
We still have lots to see in Animal Kingdom that we didn’t have time for, and Magic Kingdom too. Plus, I have to collect all the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards. Maybe I need to talk Bob into Disney World Marathon 2018?
- Have you been to a Disney Theme Park?
- What are your theme park dining tips?
- Are you an Amazon Prime member?