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How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Eat Healthfully at Disneyland…and still enjoy your meals

Going to Disneyland is a celebration for all senses, taste included!  In addition to the top-notch attractions and entertainment, there are also countless unique and delicious meals and treats only to be found within the Disney Parks. But what if you’re aiming to eat more healthfully and a giant turkey leg or stacked marshmallows dipped in chocolate on a stick aren’t a part of your diet? No worries, there are lots of great dining and snack choices throughout the Disneyland Park that will keep you on track! You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself.

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Up bright and early to hit the Parks & having breakfast in the stroller

Breakfast

Most important meal of the day, right? Consider eating breakfast before you come to the Park. The smell of frappachinos, buttery pastries and vanilla-scented Mickey waffles will be wafting through the air from the Starbucks and Jolly Holiday Bakery as you walk down Main Street, U.S.A!

I usually bring food to store in the hotel fridge and fill up at daybreak with Greek yogurt, a banana and fibrous flake cereal. My kids usually enjoy granola bars and fresh fruit.

  • I also suggest dining in the Downtown Disney District before the Parks open. We’ve picked up filling and delicious egg sandwiches and omelettes at Earl of Sandwich and the prices are extremely reasonable. Jamba Juice can make a delicious smoothie (choose the low-sugar option).

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

  • If you want to dine inside the Park, River Belle Terrace has a plate of fresh, seasonal fruit (skip the Biscuits n’ Gravy!)
  • Order the fruit platter at Flo’s V8 Cafe and you’ll also receive an oat bran muffin and low fat yogurt.
  • If you choose something healthy like the Spinach and Tomato Egg White Fritatta from Carnation Cafe, request that heavy toppings (like sour cream or fried potatoes) be served on the side so you can control the portion size or share them with someone else in your group.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Fill up on fresh fruit

Snacks

There are snack carts placed all over the Parks so be prepared when that heavenly popcorn or cinnamon-scent of churros hits you! You can always bring in your own snacks to the Park and packing cut veggies or melon is a great way to eat healthy on your trip.

  • Some carts (like Tropical Imports, Fillmore’s Taste-In and Fairfax Market) also offer fresh fruits, like bananas, apples, grapes, mangoes and pineapple spears. They even have veggies and hummus.
  • Need a little something heartier? Swing wide of the corn dog cart and pick up an Outback Vegetable or Banyan Beef Skewer from Bengal Barbecue. Dipping sauces can contain lots of sugar so it’s best to skip.
  • Craving something sweeter? The Dole Whip from the Tiki Juice Bar is light and refreshing with pineapple soft serve and pineapple juice.
  • You can get vanilla ice cream with no sugar added at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain. No sugar added butter pecan is available at Clarabelle’s & Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor. Have it served in a cup instead of a sugar cone.
  • A frozen banana is also a decent choice as it’s lightly coated in chocolate and nuts. It will also take a little longer to eat since it’s frozen so you won’t devour it as quickly.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

A frozen banana is a healthy indulgence on a hot day

Lunch

Consider having a filling breakfast and a hearty snack and you might be able to stave off a big lunch and just have dinner instead. Or  make one of these healthy lunch choices.

Salads can be a great idea for lunch and there are lots of salads available at the Disneyland Resort. If you’re watching calories, ask them not to add cheese. Avoid salads served in a tostada shell and always request dressing on the side. Italian or oil and vinegar are going to be lighter than creamy dressings like Ranch or blue-cheese.

  • The Picnic Salad at the Hungry Bear is a nice mix, including turkey breast, strawberries and Feta cheese.
  • The Crescent City Salad at Cafe Orleans comes with either blackened chicken or Atlantic salmon (just ask for it without the caramelized pecans).
  • The River Belle Terrace offers Becky Thatcher’s Vegetarian Chopped Salad that includes hearty and filling proteins like hard-boiled egg, garbanzo & black beans.
  • For other options, The Troubadour Tavern offers a baked potato with broccoli and cheese sauce. Just ask for the cheese on the side so you can control the portion or eliminate all together.
  • Village Haus and Smokejumpers Grill have a Garden Veggie Burger (hold the cheese).
  • Tomorrowland Terrace offers a chicken breast sandwich with fresh veggie toppings and avocado salsa. Choose the fruit side over fries.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Hacienda chicken Caesar salad at Cocina Cucamong

Drinks

If you’re eating healthy, you already know to avoid sugar-laden sodas. Alcoholic drinks are served at Disney California Adventure Park and Guests can indulge in frozen margaritas and beer on tap in the Paradise Pier area, specialty drinks at the Cove Bar and wine at Wine Country Trattoria. Keep in mind that alcohol contains additional calories so if you’re trying to be healthy, don’t drink your calories…save them for food!

You can bring in bottles of water with you into the Parks to re-hydrate throughout the day. You can also request free ice water from any counter service restaurant. Snack carts offer a variety of waters, including coconut water.

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Dinner at the Plaza Inn

Dinner

Dinner is a great time to consider sharing a platter of food. Even if the dish is more indulgent, it’s not quite as bad if you share between 2 or 3.

  • The Citrus-fired grilled chicken platter at Rancho del Zocalo is large and delicious (ask if they can sub black beans for the refried).
  • The oven-roasted chicken platter at French Market Restaurant is another favorite to share.
  • Platters at Plaza Inn are enormous. We buy two plates of fried chicken and share between the five of us. With the sides of mashed potatoes & green beans, we all have enough to eat (and if you’re really watching the calories, you can always remove the skin from the chicken and request no gravy on the potatoes).
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

This is ONE THIRD of a platter from Plaza Inn! That’s plenty of food, enough for sharing.

  • You can’t go wrong with the Mediterranean skewers at the Paradise Garden Grill. The grilled meat and veggie/tofu skewers are served with rice pilaf and cucumber salad, making them a light and refreshing meal (skip the baklava though!)
  • At Tomorrowland Terrace, choose a portobello sandwich with loads of veggies. Ask for cheese and aioli on the side and fruit instead of fries.
  • The soups at Pacific Wharf Cafe are so delicious, but opt for broth-based rather than cream. And try to minimize the nibble to the sourdough bread bowl!

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

  • At Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port and Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta you can order a single slice of pizza. Both locations offer a version that skips the fatty meats and tops your slice with seasonal veggies. Round out your meal with a small side salad.
  • Carnation Cafe offers the Chef’s Vegan Burger made of beans & veggies and served with lots of fresh vegetable toppings on a multigrain roll.
  • The Hacienda chicken Caesar salad at Cocina Cucamonga is large and filling.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Platters of fresh Mexican food, enough for four people to share.


Tips to keep in mind when ordering

As a rule when ordering, avoid anything that is fried, battered, smothered, candied or has a creamy sauce. Look for grilled meats and veggies served without sauces.

Don’t be afraid to request a substitution. You can swap fruit instead of fries at counter service restaurants. When ordering at full-service restaurants, ask the Cast Member to put toppings on the side so you can control how much you want to add or leave off. If there is any question about the dish, ask them how it is prepared so you’ll know before it’s in front of you. If you have special dietary requests or food allergies, read this section from the Disneyland website and know that you can speak directly to the restaurant staff or chef with your concerns.

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Skip the buffet if counting calories. Before you know it, you’ve eaten 12 ribs!

If calorie-counting, it’s best to skip the buffets. Unfortunately this eliminates most Character dining experiences, except for Ariel’s Grotto. You can dine with the Princesses and still order a healthy choice off the menu for either breakfast or lunch!

Kids can eat healthy at Disneyland too! When choosing kid’s meals, simply look for the Mickey Check. Mickey Check meals meet Disney Nutrition Guidelines as a complete meals. Some Mickey Check kid’s meals are also vegetarian.

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Enjoy a corn dog, but share it between the family.

Just one bite. If you and your family would love to indulge in something fun or decadent, buy a corn dog. Treat yourself to a caramel-covered apple. Get that frozen treat or stacked marshmallows dipped in chocolate on a stick. And then share it between all of you. Everyone gets a few bites and you all can enjoy the treat!

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

What are your favorite healthy dining dishes at Disneyland? Share with me in the comments!


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Park Savers affiliate link

Dining at Disneyland? Favorite Restaurants & Meals in the Parks

Dining at Disneyland? Favorite Restaurants & Meals in the Disneyland Parks

Dining at Disneyland?

A trip to Disneyland could easily be as much about the restaurants and food as it is about the rides and attractions! Some of my favorite snacks and meals were never captured on film because, well I ate them as soon as they were in front of me! Here are a few of my favorite dining spots and some suggestions and links on how to choose what to eat.

Chocolate covered bananas {Saving up for Disney}

Favorite places to eat inside Disneyland and California Adventure

Counter Service

Counter service varies from location to location. For instance, at the French Market and at Rancho del Zocalo, though you self-serve your food (cafeteria style), you are served on a real dish with real flatware and someone will bus your table when you are done. However, at other places like the Bengal Barbeque or the Golden Horseshoe, your food is going to come in either paper or plastic with plastic flatware and you’ll be responsible for clearing your own table when you’re done eating.

Disneyland Restaurant Review - French Market Restaurant

The French Market – Disneyland (read the full review)

The French Quarter citrus chicken, mashed potatoes, steamed veggies and the cornbread! I regret not taking a picture of this beautiful dish but well, I was hungry and the food was soooo good! I’ve ordered the Cajun Meatloaf and yes, equally delicious. These platters are large enough to share. My husband and son are sold on the chowders served in a sourdough bread bowl. Added bonus: Entertainment from the jazz band during your meal! You are instructed to leave your plates and silverware on the table, the employees quickly bus the tables and clean them off for the next guests.

Just next to the French Market is the Mint Julep bar where you can pick up Mickey-shaped beignets and mint juleps, naturally. I recall one very hot day when my dad bought us each a julep and they were so refreshing that he said, “Let’s have another one!”  Can’t argue with that!

Mint juleps -Disneyland {Saving up for Disney}

The Golden Horseshoe -Disneyland

Meals are typical (chicken nuggets & fries) but the sundaes are wonderful! A perfect place for a cooling off on a hot day. Enjoy the air conditioning, watch a show and share a sundae!

Tiki Juice Bar – Disneyland

Dole Whips, if you don’t mind waiting in the line that takes FOREVER!!! Go inside the queue for the Enchanted Tiki Room as the line is usually shorter on this side. You can even get it with pineapple juice as a Dole Whip float…my favorite!

DoleWhip

Pacific Wharf Cafe – California Adventure

Nicely sized fresh sandwiches and soups, served with the Boudin Bakery’s sourdough bread (baked right on site!). Nearby you can pick up a margarita or a cold beer, too.

Corn dogs at Disneyland  {Saving up for Disney}

Little Red Corn Dog Wagon – Disneyland

Yes, these are the best ever! Perfectly crispy and greasy. It’s “fair food” that’s a special treat!

Rancho del Zocalo – Disneyland

Nicely sized for sharing, this may not be the place to eat if you are used to authentic Mexican food, but it’s pretty tasty all the same (though light on the spice). You can’t beat the beautiful dining area at night though. Gorgeous colored lanterns are lit overhead and it’s a magical area!

Mickey Pancakes at Disneyland {Saving up for Disney}

Plaza Inn – Disneyland

Around dinner time the Plaza Inn emits a smell of fried chicken that you won’t be able to resist! Perfectly crispy and delicious and served with mashed potatoes, a biscuit and veggies, this is another platter large enough for sharing. We buy two and share between the five of us.

In the morning the Plaza Inn hosts the Minnie & Friends Breakfast, which is a large buffet where various characters visit each table. Donald visited us and helped himself to our strawberries! Read the review of Minnie & Friend’s Breakfast in the Park.

Disneyland breakfast {Saving up for Disney}

Full Service 

Carnation Cafe -Disneyland

I have no idea why I’d never eaten here up until our most recent trip. Perhaps because it’s on Main Street and I don’t always make my way there at dinnertime. We had a perfect meal here and I’m sure this is going to be a new favorite restaurant for future trips too. My son had Walt’s Chili, which he said was delicious. My husband ordered the Angus beef cheeseburger and I ordered the turkey sandwich on a multi-grain roll and we shared. For my toddler we got a fruit plate with yogurt and a mini muffin and I think he licked the plate!

Wine Country Trattoria – California Adventure

We stopped in for lunch and it was a quiet respite that felt equally upscale and relaxed. I ordered the lasagna, which had a nice layering of bolognese, pasta and cheese. My husband had the fresh fish, which he said was perfect. He’s hard to please, so that’s a major compliment. They also serve wine, beer and specialty drinks…lovely! Here is a review of Wine Country Trattoria.

Wine Country - California Adventure {Saving up for Disney}

Blue Bayou – Disneyland

Always a treat for the ambiance of eating inside “Pirates of the Caribbean”, but really quite pricey. The menu has been revamped since I last ate here to include some beef and chicken dishes which is good because it was earlier quite a bit of gumbo and jambalaya!

Storyteller’s Cafe – Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa (read the full review)

Just a few steps outside the Parks, this rustic styled restaurant serves buffet for breakfast and dinner. Lunch is served off a menu and that’s what we dined on recently. Bacon avocado burger, unique tuna sandwich and corn chowder left us happy and satisfied.

halloween6

Snacks & Sweets

Of course there are always lots of fun snacks and treats, especially in the shops on Main Street. We walked out with some heavenly toffee last time! Each Land will also have some of their own specialty treats. There are also special offerings during events and holidays.

Healthy Options

Just because you’re at Disneyland doesn’t mean you’ll be relegated to only eating “fair food”. There are plenty of healthy options throughout both parks, resort hotel restaurants and in the Downtown Disney District as well. Be sure to read this post about healthy dining options, How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Split a Meal

Portions are generally quite large so for main meals we’ve always gotten one platter to share between us, and then maybe purchase a side of fruit. Here are ideas for great dishes to share, What are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

Bring it With You

Did you know that you are allowed to bring in your own food as long as you follow the Disney parks guidelines? And of course, use common sense. Since you can’t bring in a hard-sided cooler, mayonnaise-based meals or things that need to be kept cold wouldn’t be the best choice. And I’ve lived and learned in 100 degree heat, neither do granola bars with chocolate!

My husband is very health conscious so he loads up his backpack with bottled water, powdered Gatorade to mix in, individual zip-bags of dried plums, apples, trail mix, clementines, peanuts & granola bars, along with some 100% juice boxes for the kids.


Handy links to Disneyland dining

I recommend looking online for menus in advance to loosely plan your meals. I’ve found this to be extremely helpful when budgeting for a trip or when figuring out who-wants-to-eat-what ahead of time.

Disneyland Dining Guide

The Disney Food Blog

All Ears – Disneyland menus

Food Beast – 15 Stunning Disneyland Foods Worth Waiting in Line For

Disneyland {Saviing up for Disney}

Gotta love those chocolate covered bananas!

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Dining at Disneyland? Favorite Restaurants & Meals in the Parks