I have to admit, when thinking of Disneyland, diet and healthy eating were not always the first things I associated with a trip to the “happiest place on earth.” Churros, Dole Whip and Mickey pretzels used to come to mind before healthy eating at Disneyland. We frogs have been cleaning up our diet and we now have some favorite go-to healthy snacks and meals that we look forward to when visiting Disneyland. For instance, the tadpoles’ trip is not complete until they’ve crunched on a giant dill pickle. As anyone who is trying to stay on a healthful eating plan or who needs the stamina to power though several days in the parks knows, finding healthy food at Disneyland is very important for both you and your tadpoles.
We frogs love our favorite Disneyland snacks, but we balance out our indulgences with healthy snacks and good choices during meals. Why? There are several reasons people enjoy healthy eating at Disneyland. Many people are cutting back on sugar these days. Sometimes people are on a diet and don’t want to blow all of their hard work and progress. Others have dietary concerns due to medical conditions or food allergies. Vegetarians may be on the lookout for hearty dishes appropriate for them!
Some people simply recognize that to survive long days of walking 4 to 20 miles in and around the Disney parks, staying up late and waking up early they’ll need to put high-quality fuel into their body to stay healthy and keep things running efficiently. Eating fried foods and making bad choices for several days starts to take a toll on everyone’s health and energy. We find that eating cleaner feels much better and leads to more energy and fewer meltdowns.
Disneyland has been adding more and more yummy plant-based meals to its menus. We cover more of them and other meatless options in our vegetarian foods at Disneyland post.
Our Most Mouth-Watering Guide to Healthy Eating at Disneyland
I admit I have indulged too much on past visits, so I have been working at shrinking my waistline over the past few months. I have hopped around Disneyland, making it my mission to scout out healthy foods that fit into my healthy eating lifestyle. It turns out that that there are a lot of great choices in the parks. There are plenty of hand-tossed salads, fish, meat skewers, wraps and veggies to keep me satisfied, and everything is surprisingly tasty, making me feel like I have treated rather than deprived myself, which is important. I also find that my kids have more stamina and better behavior when they make healthy choices in the parks compared to filling up on sugary snacks.
Best Restaurants for Healthy Eating at Disneyland
While we can’t cover every healthy choice in the parks, I can help guide you to some of our Frog Family Favorites, and help you locate some of the better choices from any restaurant you visit.
We really love the roasted chicken salad and the veggies that come with entrees at Docking Bay 7 in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Plus, the menu has some seasonal items to keep it fresh. This is a good place to find a plant-based meal. We enjoy the Felucian Kefta & Hummus Garden Spread.
The skewers at Bengal Barbecue in Adventureland are unbelievably delicious, diet or not. The food is among the best Disneyland food and the restaurant has recently expanded their seating and menu a bit to keep up with popular demand. It is now a must-stop location for us, whether we want one skewer as a protein snack or a couple of skewers as a meal.
The hummus trio comes with crunchy veggies, and a cast member claims it’s the healthiest food item in the park, made fresh each day. (You can also skip the line and quickly grab a hummus trio at Tropical Imports next door.) The spicy Banyan Beef Skewer is tender and so flavorful. The Outback vegetable skewer helps you achieve that serving of vegetables. You can get asparagus wrapped in bacon and while bacon is not on most diets, at least some of the bad is being canceled out by the asparagus. That’s how Leap toadally justifies it anyway (sometimes you have to do what it takes to get those vegetables in). There is nothing we haven’t loved here, from the chicken and specialty skewers. The sauces are tasty. It’s all good.
There are a number of places to pick up a salad around the parks from Alien Pizza Planet at Disneyland and Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta in Disney California Adventure to various quick service and table service restaurants. You may be surprised to learn that you can customize the salads even if you see only pre-made salads at a cafeteria-style restaurant. Just ask and a cast member will accommodate your needs. I like to customize my toppings, make my own dressing and add a small side of protein, such as chicken.
While you can also find salad at Plaza Inn, you can also order glazed salmon with rice and vegetables as well. You can find more seafood choices at the table-service restaurants.
One of the newest healthy choices is the plant-based spring garden wrap in Mickey's Toontown. You can find it at Café Daisy. It filled with marinated romaine and quinoa salad with creamy lemon dressing and toasted pumpkin seeds.
You might think of the Galactic Grill in Tomorrowland as a place to get a burger, but they have a veggie wrap and a chopped salad. Greek yogurt can be substituted for French fries. So don’t automatically dismiss a burger or hotdog restaurant.
Pym Test Kitchen in Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure has a tasty shrimp salad as well as a smaller arugula side salad.
If you are dining at Café Orleans, I guarantee you will feel better if you get the roasted chicken over the battered and fried Monte Cristo (especially on a hot day). And the chicken is really tasty. The sides vary seasonally.
When it comes to breakfast, the plant-based Little Town Harvest Bowl at Red Rose Taverne sticks with us a long time. This delicious dish is filled with quinoa, roasted mushrooms and cauliflower, arugula, tomato, potato bites and a spicy lime aoli. It keeps us feeling full and from searching for snacks.
Quick Tips for Eating Healthy at Disneyland
Here are some tips for where to find healthier choices:
- When mobile ordering or ordering in person, select fruit (or sometimes carrots or Greek yogurt) instead of French fries
- Order off the Mickey Check section of the kid’s menu
- Snack from the fruit carts (you can find whole fruit, sliced fruit, pickles, veggies, hummus and more chilled in ice and ready to go)
- Choose a pickle or fruit instead of cotton candy or popcorn
- Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions
- Order a burger or sandwich wrapped in lettuce if you are cutting carbs (gluten-free choices are always available)
- Bring foods from home/hotel for convenient budget-friendly snacking
- Browse Disneyland restaurant menus in the Disneyland app before visiting to scout out healthy choices.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks (you can always get free water from restaurants)
- Watch for hidden sugar in salad dressings—you can order dressing on the side or make your own by asking for olive oil, red wine vinegar, some salt and a mustard packet from the condiment section.
- Ask questions about what comes on food before you order. Sometimes not all ingredients are listed on a menu. It’s easier to order without certain toppings than to have the willpower to pick less-healthy toppings off a salad and not nibble on them. Just sayin’. Been there. Learned that.
Snack smart to prevent sugar overload and crashes
Time flies when you’re having fun. It’s easy to get caught up in having a great time and forget to eat, but that is a recipe for disaster. Try to eat something every two to four hours. Be prepared with some snacks on hand and stay hydrated with frequent water breaks. You can easily snack in line or choose to take a break and rest while you refuel.
If you want your kids to behave better at Disneyland, you can start with what you feed them, even at snack time. Keep the snacks frequent and include fruits, veggies, healthy grains and protein to help even out the blood sugar. The fiber or protein in many of these foods slows digestion, keeping them full longer and preventing dips and spikes in blood sugar. You’ll notice that your kids have better energy and attitudes when they eat better snacks. You can always bring your own snacks (we pack in bags of Cheerios, nuts, packets of nut betters, fruits or chopped veggies), but rest assured that there are many fruit stands throughout the parks where you can find some great choices that your kids will love, such as:
- Big pieces of watermelon
- Pineapple spears
- Mango slices
- Sliced oranges
- Whole bananas, oranges, apples and grapes
- Hummus and pretzels
- Big pickles
- Apple slices with caramel (sometimes you simply have to compromise)
- Veggies and ranch
Do you have picky eaters? Hop over to our post on the top kids' foods at Disneyland even your pickiest eater will love.
Another hearty snack for kids is the Mickey Check Power Pack. You can find it at a dozen different quick-service restaurants. It comes with yogurt, fruit, carrots, a whole-grain "fish" crackers and a choice of milk or water. It comes in a handy bag, so we grab one (instead of popcorn or ice cream) before we get in place to watch the parade. Speaking of ice cream, Disneyland also sells frozen bananas and fruit bars.
Ask for allergy menus if you need them
Disneyland is committed to providing a safe dining experience for families with allergies. The common allergies for which Disney chefs are prepared to make substitutions include:
- Gluten or wheat
- Peanuts and tree nuts
- Milk or lactose
You can ask for an allergy menu to help guide you to safe dishes, and can always talk to a chef about your needs. Many Disney restaurants can also usually accommodate people who are eating diets low in sodium, sugar and fat. Just ask about it and they will be happy to help.
How to Save Money While Eating Healthy at Disneyland
It does not cost more to make healthy choices at Disneyland. Most of the prices are equivalent to other snacks and meals. But in your quest for finding healthy food at Disneyland, you can make some budget friendly choices. One of our top tips for saving money at Disneyland is to drink water instead of soda. You can bring your own bottles and refill them at drinking fountains or filtered water stations at some restaurants. You can always ask for free cups of ice water at restaurants. Some locations will give you a cup of ice, and you can fill it with water at a fill station.
Bring your own snacks. If you have a refrigerator in your hotel, you can keep yogurt, cheese sticks, lunch meats, fruits and veggies fresh, but if that is not an option, some fruits like apples, plums and clementines or tangerines travel well and don’t need refrigeration. Nuts, trail mixes, granola and cereal also travel well and do not have to be kept cold. We always travel with some plastic bags or small containers for storing on-the-go snacks and sandwiches. It also allows us to more easily take leftovers from a restaurant with us for later snacking (if, say, Lily doesn't finish all her grapes at lunch).
Healthy Eating at Disneyland Character Dining and Buffets
The character dining buffets all offer healthy choices. The hard part is saying no to all the desserts, pastries and Mickey waffles loaded with maple syrup. You can find omelet bars, egg white vegetable frittatas, fresh fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, salad and smoked salmon. If you don’t see something that you can eat, talk to the chef and they will make something special for you. Make an egg white omelet filled with fresh vegetables. Fill your plate with greens and other veggies or fruit. You can leave there feeling stuffed and satisfied (and hopefully with a lot of great character memories). The buffet dinners have proteins, salads and vegetables as well. (Note that there are no characters at dinner at Storytellers Café.
We are not here to rain on your parade with all of our healthy talk. You should allow at least some favorite Disneyland treats and indulgences guilt free. I, personally, flip out for Disneyland caramel apples. Just balance your treats with some good choices along the way and you’ll all feel much better during and after your journey. If you are looking to reserve character dining, or a meal at one of the table service restaurants in the parks, hotels or Downtown Disney, you can make Disneyland dining reservations up to 60 days in advance at 6 a.m. You can note any special dietary issues when you make your reservation, and you should receive a menu tailored to healthy choices for you.
It may seem hard to eat healthy while at the parks, but it's toadally possible (and yummy)! What are your healthy eating tips while at Disneyland Park! Let us know in the comments below!