Mid 2016 Bob decided that he was going to run his second marathon, at Disney World. Naturally, I was not going to pass up the chance for an extra vacation and persuaded Bob to extend the trip to 6 days. So we started to plan our first Disney World vacation. 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. This helps support me, this website and my youtube channel and enables me to continue to make post/videos like this. Thank you for the support!
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.
Eating Vegan at Disney World: Caribbean Beach Resort
We stayed at the Disney Caribbean Beach Resort. This is pretty close to Epcot and we could see the Epcot fireworks from our room. We had upgraded to the pirate beds. Say what? Yes, at the Caribbean 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!
As we arrived late, for our first night we ate in the resort at the Old Port Royale food court. My first experience eating vegan at Disney World. Honestly the choices were slim, but 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. When I was asked if I wanted dressing I said no. Do I want Cheese? No. Croutons? Are they vegan? No. Hold the croutons. Which left me with… a tray of lettuce. Yes, seriously. We had a good laugh about this!
On Sunday night, after walking around Hollywood studios and Magic Kingdom, we headed back to Old Port Royale at the Caribbean Beach Resort for dinner. On Friday when I talked with the chef about my options he mentioned the veggie flatbread would be vegan if I skipped the cheese. I was hungry, so I decided to try it. I wasn’t disappointed! This was so much better than the pasta.
Vegan Cupcake Alert!
When I met the chef on Friday he also told me that they had an ‘allergy cupcake’ and yes it was vegan! No dairy, no wheat, no eggs. All I had to do was go to any vendor and ask for the chef to get me one. Now I mentioned that I was hungry on this day right? Plus I figured it would be rude not to try one after he mentioned it. When I asked for the allergy cupcake at the pizzeria the chef appeared and asked me “vanilla or chocolate?” whaaaat? Of course I had the chocolate!
Unfortunately it was not the best vegan cupcake I’d had. It was a solid 6.5/10 though. The cake was just too firm. It needed to be much lighter. That said we’re spoiled where we live as we have a vegan bakery that sells absolutely delicious vegan cupcakes.
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. 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
When we went to Disney World in 1999 we never visited Epcot. We were on a whirlwind tour and had to choose one Disney Park and we chose Animal Kingdom. So we were both eager to check out Epcot. Thankfully we had magic bands,and had scheduled our fast passes, so 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!
Marathon packet pick up was Saturday. So we cut our Epcot visit short and headed to the ESPN stadium. Though signed up for the marathon on Sunday, Bob had been struggling with a running injury for weeks. He had already resigned himself to walking the Disney World Marathon, but after walking around Epcot for 7 miles was already feeling some pain from his injury. In the evening after more walking around the Magic Kingdom and 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, being vegan at Disney World. The problem was that I didn’t trust the burgers now. I knew the “veggie” black bean burger contained egg thanks to the chef I’d met at the Caribbean Beach Resort. Other than salad didn’t see anything vegan that looked remotely appetising or filling. Thankfully we’d come prepared with our Torfurky and Daiya 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.
Eating Vegan at Disney World: Animal Kingdom
Day 3 started out the same at day 2, bagel, peanut butter, jelly, and orange juice. Plus tea of course. Then I prepared the sandwiches and we headed off to Animal Kingdom. We had a solid full day of activities ahead starting with an 8.30am fastpass! 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.
Finding out the Rainforest Cafe Natural Burger is NOT vegan!
We went again to the Rainforest Cafe on Wednesday. We went for lunch, before we flew home and that’s when we discovered that this meal was NOT vegan. Shit! We discovered this due to our super helpful server on Wednesday. Upon ordered 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, with 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 didn’t know. Now we do, and I get to share my experience with everyone via the internet. Lesson learned ALWAYS ask!
Eating Vegan at Animal Kingdom: Wild Africa Trek
I admit to feelings of conflict with keeping animals in captivity but Disney is doing a lot of important conservation work and also house a lot of injured or neglected/orphaned animals that would not otherwise still be alive. Whatever your views it’s always good to be fully informed. To that end we opted to do the Wild Africa Trek. Which 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 roam and Giraffes come over for a peek and a drink. You’re surrounded by grazing animals on all sides and it was magical. The food as I recall was from Tusker House (a restaurant in Animal Kingdom) and yes if you let them know beforehand they can provide vegan food! It was so good! Beautifully presented and delicious!
Eating Vegan at Animal Kingdom Lodge: Sanaa
We arranged to meet up with one of Bob’s work friends on Monday night and he suggested Animal Kingdom Lodge, a restaurant called Sanaa in Kidani Village. 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.
Eating Vegan at Disney World: Magic Kingdom
We visited Magic Kingdom the most during our stay. The only night we didn’t end up at Magic Kingdom was Monday. I’d say Magic Kingdom was by far our favorite, purely for Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom! Ok, make that MY favorite. Honestly we didn’t eat that much in the park. Other than a few snacks here and there which we took full advantage of some perks from our staff Holiday Package. We had 6 coupons for popcorn, churro 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 (just leave the cheese sauce, eww). Being vegan at Disney World is great if you like 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 we literally walked right up to the counter. Bob got himself a cup of Dole Whip, which is vegan so we shared. I know people rave about this stuff, but I’d much prefer fresh pineapple. We were underwhelmed.
Tuesday was our full day at Magic Kingdom and 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. We didn’t eat our dinner in the park that night but headed to Old Port Royale for the Veggie Flatbread mentioned previously.
The last supper
On our last night at the resort we had some supplies to use up. So we got the bus from Magic Kingdom to the resort. Picked up the Daiya cheese, the last of the tofurky slices, and bread and set about 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 and know what you’re getting yourself into. In my research I found Vegan Disney World which was an amazing resource. It’s updated regularly (read the comments on each post), but people’s experiences do vary.
- If you are eating on a budget I’d definitely advise a room with a fridge, and possibly even a microwave. Microwaves are standard in some Disney resorts, again do your research. That would decrease your costs significantly. Eating in the parks of course you pay for the convenience of not leaving the parks. 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 second day we bought a bottle of water and just 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. It’s $16.99 (+ tax) for a reusable mug and you get free refills in the resort throughout your stay. Again this is only a bargain if you drink soda! Coffee is available in your room for free!
- Disney does offer a dining plan service where you can pay ahead of time 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. While it didn’t really seem worth it for us, if you have a family it could work out cheaper.
I’m not gonna sugar coat it. Bob being a cast member helps 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’s gonna sound corny but it was a magical experience. We did a lot in the time we had. Each vacation you learn a lot too, and discover things you’d do differently. For our next trip, we’d maybe get a car. At least initially. Or arrange for Amazon Prime Now delivery on the first day. Plus we’d look for a room with a kitchenette or microwave. It had been 17 years since we visited Florida so we were long overdue! 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?