RESORT FOOD EXPERIENCE – Lunch/Dinner
During my stay, I found that the resorts typically have better options and more selections than the theme park restaurants. This is because there are actual chefs preparing your food, not just people bringing some pre-made food to the counter.
It should also be noted that food selection and quality at each resort differs. I didn’t like any of the choices at Pop Century, so I trekked the extra ten minutes to the Art of Animation resort for better food choices.
Once you enter, there are multiple counters — Art of Animation had about 3 or 4 — (not unlike the types you see at Subway or Chipotle) you can choose to order at, each specializing in a different menu item. For example, one counter might be dedicated to salads, one to pasta, and another to sandwiches. It can be a bit confusing at first, but you get the hang of it by the 2nd or 3rd visit.
My strategy for ordering a near hassle-free vegan meal? To tell the chef (sometimes called the “manager”) that I was a) lactose intolerant and b) vegan. They take food allergies quite seriously at Disneyworld, so you’ll get the best no-nonsense attention to your meal if you say you have an allergy. A little white lie never hurt anyone, right?
After you’ve stated your case, my advice is to seek out menu items that can be easily made vegan– things like sandwiches, pasta and pizza (they do serve Daiya at some restaurants!). Look for things like “custom pasta” or “custom smoothie,” because they can then adjust the ingredients to your liking.
During my stay, I pretty much had pasta every night– I personally hate salad, so I didn’t even bother looking for a custom salad (though they do have that option). The pasta entree is also substantially larger, so much so that it could probably feed two people easily if you aren’t super hungry.
The pasta comes with a choice of noodle type: whole wheat linguine, bowties, rotini and campanelle. You can then choose from an assortment of toppings: I opted to have all the vegetables except for olives, since everything seemed good to me.
The vegan topping list:
- Green peas
- Red bell pepper
After adding your toppings, you can choose the marinara sauce (both the pesto and alfredo have dairy in it) and it gets fried all together in a clean saucepan. Yay!
You also get a nice piece of dairy-free garlic bread at the end (olive oil and garlic).
Art of Animation also offers custom smoothies as a dessert choice, in addition to vegan raspberry and mango gelato.
For the smoothie, the original dairy smoothie base can be subbed for orange juice, and the fruity mixes (mango and orange) are also vegan. Fruits like blueberry, raspberry, banana, pineapple and strawberries can be added to your heart’s content. The custom smoothie will be an extra charge, but my very nice cashier (shoutout to David from Long Island!) didn’t charge me for it.
I ended up having a bit of pasta leftover, which I felt pretty bad for not eating– but I was stuffed! It’s a good idea to split this dish, as I mentioned before, because even my voracious appetite couldn’t devour the whole bowl of pasta (all the toppings for no extra charge!), in addition to my very filling, fresh-tasting fruit smoothie.
If you are on the quick service plan, you can choose a packaged drink in addition to your meal and dessert (desserts are only available during lunch and dinner, fyi). Choices range from Minute Maid juice, Smartwater, Odwalla and even Silk soymilk– but being the cheapskate I am, I tried to max out my money by choosing the most expensive drink selections (Odwalla is the priciest!), since they all count as one drink.
Believe it or not, I was able to find some mini Babycakes vegan chocolate cupcakes in the dessert section… which were actually not as dried as the regular ones you get at their regular cafe, since it’s sealed in plastic. It makes for a decent portable snack for later, and it’s probably one of the only vegan desserts that are easy to gran-n-go. Otherwise, you can opt to get the vegan raspberry or mango gelato, or the smoothie as I mentioned before.
For vegans, breakfast is probably the most difficult meal, but thanks to Chef Tony at Art of Animation, I was able to have a delicious breakfast sandwich everyday (with the exclusion of the first day, when I was still getting my bearings about how to order/etc).
After telling him about my “allergy” to lactose and my veganism, Tony managed to whip up a delicious toasted veggie sandwich using Udi’s bread (which kind of resembled french toast), roasted red potatoes, spiced cauliflower, sauteed button mushrooms, spinach, onion and garlic, which made for a very filling way to start my day. Yum!
Since I was staying multiple days, I went back to Tony the next day, and he made me another sandwich, this time using roasted tofu as well. Mmm!
There are quite a variety of snacks which I recommend you use up prior to venturing out into the theme parks, as you’ll need them to keep you energized throughout the day. Sealed plastic fruits like pineapple slices, cantaloupe, apples and oranges are one choice, along with whole fruits like bananas, oranges and apples. There are the usual potato chips and the like, although a smart snack like pretzels or Stacy’s chips is probably the healthiest bet. Tip: check the ounces or weight of the snacks you choose to get the most for your money!