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

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? Then probably 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.

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This post was originally published Sept 23rd, 2015

You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine.

Sandwich purchased at La Brea Bakery Cafe in Downtown Disney District & brought in to the Parks.

Eat Healthfully at Disneyland

I hate to say it, but Disneyland calories totally count if you’re watching what you eat! Sure, there’s cotton candy around every corner and calorie-rich fried delights at Disneyland. But read the menus closely and you’ll see that there are healthy foods to eat at Disneyland at just about every dining location.  Keep reading for the tips on how to eat healthfully at Disneyland, including where to eat, what to choose and healthy snacks to pack.

You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine.

La Brea Bakery in Downtown Disney has healthy sandwiches to go

1. Finding a Healthy Breakfast at Disneyland

Breakfast is said to be the 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! If you’re trying to eat healthfully at Disneyland you’ll want to fill up your tummy with healthier options before setting foot inside the Parks.

  • 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. La Brea Bakery Express is a great breakfast location and you can grab things to go or eat on the patio. Skip the breakfast potatoes and see if you can opt for fruit instead.
  • If you have a leisurely morning planned you can also sit inside the La Brea Bakery Cafe restaurant. They serve filling and delicious egg plates, vegetable frittatas and oatmeal.
  • Jamba Juice can make you 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

2. Healthy Snacks at Disneyland

There are snack carts placed all over the Parks so be prepared when that heavenly popcorn or cinnamon-scent of churros hits you! Knowing where to go for the healthiest options is smart.

  • 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

Heading to Disney World? Read this post from Britni at Play Party Plan about snacks & sweets at Walt Disney World!

3. Your Own Snacks to Pack for Disneyland

Did you know you can always bring in your own snacks to the Park! Soft sided coolers are allowed (no hard-sided coolers, nothing on wheels and no glass allowed). We like to pack an insulated backpack with a few frozen bottles of water to keep our snacks chilled throughout the day. These are some ideas of the healthy snacks to bring to Disneyland:

  • Packing cut veggies or melon is a great way to eat healthy on your trip.
  • Dole individual portions of nuts into small zip bags.
  • Pack pouches of tuna with crackers (pack the crackers into a plastic tub to prevent breakage). You’ll be able to find mayo and relish at quick service dining stands for mixing into the fish.
  • Dried fruit like plums, mangoes or cranberries are a sweet treat.

READ MORE: Packing your own snacks is a great way to save money on food at Disneyland! Click the link for more food budgeting tips.

You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine.

Skip the sugar and calorie heavy snacks and pack your own healthy foods!

4. Healthier Food Options for Disneyland Lunches

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.
  • For salads, always request dressing on the side so you can control the portion.
  • Italian or oil and vinegar are going to be lighter in fat & calories 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 sugary 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.
You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine.

Sandwich on fresh baked Boudin sourdough in the Pacific Wharf area.

Additional Light Lunch Options at Disneyland

  • 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.
  • Storyteller’s Cafe (at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel) has a Grilled Albacore Tuna Sandwich that comes with a side of fruit.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Hacienda chicken Caesar salad at Cocina Cucamong

5. Disneyland 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 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 request free ice water from any counter service restaurant.
  • Pack your own water bottle and refill at the fountains.
  • Snack carts offer a variety of waters for sale, including coconut water.
You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine.

Stay hydrated with bottled water that you bring in with you

6. Delightfully Healthy Disneyland Dinners

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. For more Disneyland dining ideas, see this post on The Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland.

  • 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.

More Disneyland Dinner Choices

  • 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!
You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine.

Flo’s V-8 Cafe has a roast beef sandwich on the Kids’ Mickey Check Meal

  • 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.
  • Lamplight Lounge serves up healthier seafood options like tuna poke and a crab and tuna roll.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

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

More Healthy Dining at Disney Tips

  • 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’re ordering at a quick-service restaurant, consider ordering for yourself off the kid’s menu.
  • 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.
You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine. #Disneyland #DisneyFood

The kid’s menu options often allow you to sub fries for fruit! And adults can order off the kid’s menu at quick service dining.

  • If calorie-counting, it’s best to skip the buffets. Unfortunately this eliminates all Character dining experiences!
  • 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.
  • Enjoy 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!

If you’re looking to indulge, check out this post of must-try Disneyland snacks from Britni at Play Party Plan!

You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine.

Buy a piece of fudge and then divide it up between the family so everyone gets a taste!

What are your favorite tips for healthy eating at Disneyland? Share with me in the comments!

You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine. #Disneyland #DisneyFood #TravelwithKids #FamilyVacation #Disney #DisneyDining #DisneyFood #HealthyEating

Dining at Disneyland? Favorite Restaurants & Meals in the Parks

A trip to Disneyland could easily be as much about the restaurants and food as it is about the rides and attractions! Make sure to plan ahead of your trip and decide ahead of time where you’ll want to be dining at Disneyland. 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}

Dining at Disneyland?

You have several choices when it comes to dining at Disneyland. There are counter service meals, full service dining, quick snacks, dining with Characters and even some meals that include special viewing for certain shows.

Favorite Counter Service Inside Disneyland and California Adventure

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!

Save Money at DISNEYLAND!

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 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!


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.

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!

Insider dining at Disneyland with favorite restaurants and meal tips. #Disneyland

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. 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}

Favorite Full Service Inside Disneyland and California Adventure

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.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

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?

Disneyland {Saviing up for Disney}

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.

Insider dining at Disneyland with favorite restaurants and meal tips. #Disneyland