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How to Survive Walt Disney World with Picky Eaters

by Mommy Frog on April 21, 2023   Video

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Walt Disney World is an incredibly magical and exciting place for people of all ages to visit. However, if you're traveling with picky eaters, it can sometimes feel like a daunting task to find food options that everyone will enjoy. Thankfully, Disney World is home to a variety of dining options that cater to all kinds of dietary needs and preferences. In this blog post, we'll explore some tips and tricks for surviving Walt Disney World with picky eaters. Don't worry, mommy and daddy frogs — we got you!

Disney World with Picky Eaters - Pizza

Our Top Tips for Surviving Disney World with Picky Eaters

Plan Ahead

The first step to surviving Walt Disney World with picky eaters is to plan ahead. Take some time before your trip to research the dining options available in the parks and make a list of the restaurants that offer dishes that your picky eaters are likely to enjoy. Disney World's website and the My Disney Experience app have a comprehensive list of all of the dining options available in the parks, as well as menus for each restaurant. You can also check out online forums and social media groups to see what other visitors recommend.

You know it wouldn't be a Frog Family post if we didn't share hopful resources to help you plan your next vacation including your meal planning. Here are a few posts that will certainly help if you've got special dietary needs or concerns:

Consider Table-Service Restaurants

Table-service restaurants at Disney World offer a wider variety of food options than quick-service restaurants, especially if you dine at a buffet. They also tend to have more accommodating staff who can work with you to modify dishes to meet your picky eaters' needs. Additionally, table-service restaurants provide a more relaxed dining experience, which can help your picky eaters feel more at ease and willing to try new foods. Be sure to book your table-service dining reservations 60 days before your trip.

Be Open to Trying New Things

Disney World with Picky Eaters - Toddler eating chicken and rice at Sunshine Seasons

While it's important to find dining options that your picky eaters will enjoy, it's also important to encourage them to try new things. Easier said than done, right? But hear us out! Disney World is a great place to do this, as many of the restaurants offer unique and interesting dishes that may pique your picky eaters' curiosity. Plus, your tadpoles might be excited to try something that was cooked at "Mickey's house!" Hot diggity dog! Consider ordering a few different dishes to share and encouraging your picky eaters to try a bite or two. It's worth a shot and who knows, your kiddo might leave Disney World with a few new favorite foods!

Look for Familiar Foods with a Twist

Many of the restaurants at Disney World offer familiar foods with a twist. For example, instead of plain chicken tenders, you may find a restaurant that serves chicken tenders coated in a unique seasoning or with a flavorful dipping sauce. This can be a great way to introduce your picky eaters to new flavors and textures while still offering them something familiar and comforting.

Bring Your Own Snacks

If you're worried that your picky eaters won't find anything they like at a particular restaurant, consider bringing your own snacks. Disney World allows guests to bring their own food and drinks into the parks, so pack some granola bars, fruit or other snacks that your picky eaters enjoy. Just leave any loose or dry ice and glass items back at the resort as they are not permitted in the parks. This can also help you save money on food expenses. You already know we frogs are all about saving some green!

Make Special Requests

Disney World with Picky Eaters - WDW Kid's Meal at Animal Kingdom

If a member of your party has specific dietary needs or restrictions, don't be afraid to make special requests when ordering food. Many of the restaurants at Disney World can accommodate requests for gluten-free, vegetarian or other dietary needs. Additionally, you can request that certain ingredients be left off of dishes to make them more appealing.

We were surprised to learn that the Trail's End Restaurant, normally an all-you-care-to-enjoy family-style meal had chicken nuggets and fries, which were not listed on the menu! (Note: Trail's End Restaurant is now closed, as of April 2023, and will reopen as a quick-service eatery later this year.) This was a life-saver as Lily was not a fan of the BBQ skillet offerings and was starting to get a little upset. Needless to say, we were so glad we asked!

Favorite Disney World Quick-Service Restaurants for Picky Eaters

With so many dining options at Disney World, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here's a short list of restaurants that we have found to be easy to navigate with picky eaters.

Casey's Corner

Disney World with Picky Eaters - Casey's Corner

Casey's Corner is a quick-service restaurant located in Magic Kingdom at Disney World that offers classic American-style cuisine with a baseball theme. For picky eaters, the menu has options that are sure to satisfy even the most finicky of eaters. The restaurant is best known for its all-beef hot dogs, which can be customized with different toppings such as chili, cheese and onions. Additionally, there are vegetarian options available, including a plant-based hot dog and a plant-based loaded slaw dog. If hot dogs aren't your thing, the restaurant also serves up corn dog nuggets (our favorite!), french fries and Mandarin oranges.

Pecos Bills Tall Tale Inn and Cafe

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe is a quick-service restaurant located in Frontierland at Magic Kingdom. The restaurant is designed to resemble an old west saloon and features cowboy-themed decor throughout. Pecos Bill's menu has a variety of Tex-Mex style dishes, such as fajitas, tacos and nachos, as well as more traditional American fare, such as burgers and chicken sandwiches. Vegetarian options are also available, including a Southwest salad and a veggie rice bowl. Picky eaters can order their tacos with the meat of their choosing, cheese nachos, yellow rice or even a PB&J Uncrustable. Yeehaw!

Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe

Located in Magic Kingdom, Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe is a popular quick-service restaurant that offers classic American dishes. Picky eaters will love the chicken strips, burgers, while those looking for something healthier can opt for the grilled chicken sandwich or the Chopped Vegetable and Crispy Noodle Salad. Not to mention, the Frog Family just hoppens to love the entertainment provided by the infamous Sonny Eclipse!

Pizzafari

Pizzafari, located in the heart of Disney's Animal Kingdom, is a great option for picky eaters who love pizza. They offer a variety of pizzas, from classic cheese and pepperoni to more adventurous such as a sausage and pepperoni combo. There are also gluten-free options available. In addition to pizza, Pizzafari also offers salads, mac and cheese, pasta, sandwiches and breadsticks.

Columbia Harbour House

Disney World with Picky Eaters - chicken tenders salad from Columbia Harbour House

Columbia Harbour House is a quick-service restaurant located in Magic Kingdom's Liberty Square that specializes in seafood. While this may not sound like the best option for picky eaters, they do offer non-seafood options as well. The chicken strips, french fries, hushpuppies and mixed greens salad are particularly popular among picky eaters. There are also healthier options including grilled salmon or shrimp skewers.

ABC Commissary

Located in Disney's Hollywood Studios, ABC Commissary offers American comfort food dishes. Picky eaters can chow down on the chicken club sandwiches, burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches. They also offer lighter options such as salads, apple slices and Babybel snack cheese.

Backlot Express

Backlot Express is a quick-service restaurant located in Hollywood Studios. Guests can enjoy their meal surrounded by movie props and set pieces. The menu includes classic American dishes, such as burgers, chicken tenders and salads. Picky eaters can customize their meals by choosing toppings and sides that appeal to their tastes such as french fries and mac and cheese. For those who want to indulge their sweet tooth, Backlot Express serves up the famous Wookiee Cookie — a giant oatmeal cream cookie. So delish!

Sunshine Seasons

Found in EPCOT, Sunshine Seasons is a quick-service restaurant that offers several different cuisines, including Asian, American and Mexican. Picky eaters will love the cheese pizza roll, mac and cheese and the rotisserie chicken, while those looking for something more adventurous can try the Asian noodle bowl or the Mongolian beef.

Best Table-Service Restaurants at Walt Disney World for Picky Eaters

With a more relaxed atmosphere, table-service dining might be the way to go when dining with picky eaters. Not to mention that the staff tends to be very accommodating when it comes to special requests. Here are a few of our favorite restaurants that have accommodated our picky eaters over the years!

The Crystal Palace

Disney World with Picky Eaters - Buffet offerings at the Crystal Palace

Located in Magic Kingdom, The Crystal Palace is a buffet-style restaurant with a character dining experience. Picky eaters will love its classic American dishes including chicken tenders, mac and cheese and mashed potatoes. The restaurant also offers a salad bar, a variety of sides and a dessert bar. Plus who doesn't love getting a big 'ol hug from Winnie the Pooh?!

Chef Mickey's

Chef Mickey's is a popular buffet-style restaurant located at Disney's Contemporary Resort. The restaurant is known for its character dining experience, where guests can meet and take pictures with classic Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto. Chef Mickey's offers American cuisine, including breakfast items such as scrambled eggs, bacon and Mickey waffles, and dinner items such as roasted chicken, prime rib and pasta. Picky eaters can find a variety of options at the restaurant, including a pasta station, a salad bar and a huge selection of desserts. Oh boy!

50's Prime Time Cafe

Located in Disney's Hollywood Studios, 50's Prime Time Cafe is a unique dining experience that transports guests back to the 1950s. The menu features classic American dishes such as pot roast, fried chicken and meatloaf. Our picky eaters love chicken strips and grilled chicken here. The restaurant's theme and atmosphere make for an unfrogettable dining experience.

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant

Also located in Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant is a restaurant designed like a 1950s drive-in movie theater. Guests can enjoy classic American dishes including burgers, pasta and chicken strips while watching classic sci-fi movie clips on a big screen.

Whispering Canyon Cafe

Disney World with Picky Eaters - BBQ Platter from Whispering Canyon

Located in Disney's Wilderness Lodge, Whispering Canyon Cafe is a fun and lively restaurant that offers classic American dishes such as barbecue ribs, chicken and burgers. Picky eaters will appreciate the chicken strips and mac and cheese. The restaurant also features an all-you-can-eat skillet option that includes ribs, chicken and sausage. The waitstaff loves to tell jokes and interact with the guests. Your picky eaters will be having so much fun that worrying about food won't even be top of mind!

Garden Grill Restaurant

Garden Grill is a unique dining experience located in EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort. The restaurant is known for its rotating dining room, which offers stunning views of the Living with the Land attraction. As guests enjoy their meal, they are treated to scenes of a rainforest, farmhouse, thunderstorm and sandstorm. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner, (breakfast options are returning June 14, 2023) and offers a family-style menu featuring items such as grilled beef, BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. Many of the food options are locally sourced and include ingredients grown in the Living with the Land attraction. So frogtastic!

Disney World with Picky Eaters - Macaroni and Cheese at Garden Grill in EPCOT

Picky eaters can find several options to enjoy at Garden Grill at Disney World. The family-style menu offers dishes that can be customized to meet different preferences. For breakfast, picky eaters can enjoy classic favorites such as scrambled eggs, bacon and Mickey waffles. For lunch and dinner, the menu features dishes such as grilled steak, chicken, along with sides including mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Guests can also meet and take pictures with popular Disney characters, such as Mickey Mouse, Pluto and Chip 'n' Dale as they make their way around the restaurant.

Roundup Rodeo BBQ

Unlimited macaroni and cheese — enough said! New to Toy Story Land in Disney's Hollywood Studios, this restaurant has adorable Toy Story theming and offers up BBQ favorites served family-style. Most picky eaters will enjoy the BBQ chicken or ribs, Slinky Dooooooooooog's Mac and Cheese, the potato barrels (tater tots) and Forky Cupcakes. The best part is that everything is bottomless. Your picky eaters can ask for more of anything they'd like!

How to Manage Meal Times with Your Picky Eaters

While everyone's dietary preferences widely vary and there's not a one-size fits all approach, we think it's helpful to hear how other families navigate the parks with finicky eaters. Here's our basic approach ...

For breakfast, we keep it simple by eating a quick breakfast in the room before heading to the parks. Convenient pastries, granola bars or cereal work well here. Simple fruits such as bananas and oranges help to round out the meal as well as milk and juice. We order our groceries in advance and have them delivered to our hotel room. Having food on hand that we know our kiddos will eat, offers peace of mind knowing that the first meal of the day won't be a fight and that they have started their day with full bellies.

During our busy park days, we grab a low-key lunch at a quick-service location. Because our tadpoles are always hoppy with chicken tenders, fries or pizza, our go-to quick-service restaurants are Casey's Corner in Magic Kingdom; Sunshine Seasons at EPCOT; Backlot Express or PizzeRizzo at Hollywood Studios; and Pizzafari and Restaurantosaurus at Disney's Animal Kingdom. We also enjoy the new Connections Eatery in EPCOT — pizza, fries and refillable soft drinks for the win!

Disney World with Picky Eaters - Walt Disney World Popcorn

Snacks are also pretty easy to manage. We pop packages of goldfish crackers, chips and breakfast bars in our park bags. A refillable water bottle is also a must! This keeps everyone hydrated throughout the day and helps us save from having to purchase bottled water. Tad loves the Disney popcorn and Lily just has to have a Mickey Ice Cream Bar. These snacks are easy to find and are available at each park.

For dinner, we like to enjoy a relaxing table-service restaurant where there are plenty of options for the kiddos to find something they like. We love Chef Mickey's and Garden Grill because of the wide variety of food choices available. Plus, the character experiences make it so special. Tad & Lily LOVE pizza so Via Napoli in EPCOT is always an excellent choice. We recently tried the new Roundup Rodeo BBQ in Hollywood Studios. It was a hit with our kiddos! Lily filled up on the mac and cheese, while Tad devoured the chicken and bottomless desserts!

Surviving Walt Disney World with picky eaters may seem like a challenge, but with some planning and flexibility, it can be a fun and enjoyable experience! Remember to plan ahead, be open to trying new things and look for familiar foods with a twist. With these tips, you can create a magical dining experience that your picky eaters will love! Have more questions? Let us know in the comments! 

Related: Your Step-By-Step Guide to Disney World Mobile Ordering

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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