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Clean Eating in "The Happiest Place on Earth"

By Ashley Hopkins

If you are trying to eat a whole foods, plant based diet, planning a future trip to Walt Disney World might urge you to call this magical place the “land of many temptations”. French fries, soda, sugary treats. Just one whiff of a fresh batch of artificial butter popcorn is enough to make any health nut want to cave! While treating yourself to an indulgence every once in a while won’t do any harm, one or more days full of theme park food loaded with fat, sugar and artificial chemicals can leave you feeling drained instead of dreamy. My biggest tip for keeping fueled on real food while strolling the Disney parks: come prepared!

When I recently visited Epcot and the Magic Kingdom with my family, I was able to bring in a backpack stuffed with healthy, wholesome treats. According to the Walt Disney World Resort website, this is their outside food and drink policy: “Guests are allowed to bring food items—such as snacks or foods that do not require heating—into Disney theme parks. Inform a Security Cast Member of any food items when you enter the park.” Each day, I loaded my backpack with: clementines, bananas, protein meal replacement shakes (my personal favorites are Svelte Hello Beautiful Chocolate which are shelf stable and don’t need refrigeration), Tings, Veggie Booty, Corn Thins, mini shelf stable chocolate Almond Breeze for the kiddo, a reusable snack bag filled with Tofukery slices and Beyond Meat “chick’n” strips, and coconut water for whenever I had a sweet drink craving. For the morning, I also packed a Thermos full of hot coffee to take into the park. Passing through security was a breeze and bringing my own food posed no problems in any place we visited. It was so nice being able to reach into my bag for a nutrient filled orange when I was hungry instead of shelling out the dough for french fries or chips.

On this trip, we didn’t bring a cooler and rent a locker because I was hoping all these snacks could be supplemented with park meals. I hadn’t been to Disney since my pre-vegan, pre-health conscious teenage years so I didn’t know what to expect. While Epcot had tons of delicious options - edamame in Japan, guacamole (and fresh margaritas!) in Mexico - Magic Kingdom was more typical park fare. We were able to find applesauce and Sabra snack packs (hummus and pretzels) for lunch so I was grateful for our protein shakes. For dinner, we got simple salads at the Pinocchio Village Haus and a Smuckers Uncrustable PB&J Sandwich for the little one. Good but still, park food quality and park food prices. If we go back in the future, I’ll come to Magic Kingdom with a cooler full of sandwiches to park in a locker! https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/locker-rentals/

Coming a little prepared with your own healthy food of choice is sure to save your moola and sanity when skipping around Disney World. But for those less tempted haul snacks or for ones who’d like to splurge a little while at the park, there are still options! For a fabulous guide on eating vegan in Disney including a list of all the vegan options, check out this amazing post over at Cadry’s Kichten. For a list of vegan counter service options, check out this list.

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