GEEK EATS: Eating Healthy at the Disneyland Resort

It’s been said that calories don’t count at the Disneyland Resort. However, while this is a wonderful sentiment, that doesn’t always make it easier to eat healthy when visiting The Happiest Place on Earth! The Disneyland Resort has made great strides in recent years in adding healthy options to its many different menus and offerings. For those looking to keep their healthy eating habits, here are some tips for eating healthy at the Disneyland Resort.

First off, most dining locations and outdoor vending carts will have some sort of a healthy option (typically located on each respective menu). When visiting outdoor vending locations, there is usually some sort of a fruit option and occasionally a vegetable for those looking to eat something besides sweet treats. Sadly, a healthy version of the churro just doesn’t exist (much to our dismay) so that might be a good place to indulge.

Plan Ahead

It’s always a good idea to plan ahead when visiting the Disneyland Resort, especially if you want to have healthy eating habits during your visit. It’s a great idea to bring a backpack with some of your favorite healthy snacks and a water bottle. This will not only ensure you can have your favorite healthy snacks, it will also most likely save you some money! While you are at it, throw in a sweatshirt as nights often tend to cool off.

If you are planning to go to a sit-down restaurant while at the Resort, check out disneyland.com and then check out the dining options under THINGS TO DO. This will give you all the options for dining locations around the Disneyland Resort if you want to dig in and search through the various restaurants and offerings. Most sit-down restaurants have some delicious healthy offerings on the menu.

If you don’t want to spend extra time researching, we will share a few of our favorite healthy options here so you can get the most out of your day and enjoy your Disney experience!

Bengal BBQHealthy Highlights

There are a few places that go above and beyond with healthier foods. Here are a few of our favorite quick service options from the team at DAPS MAGIC:

  • Bengal BBQ (Disneyland) – Found in Adventureland, the Bengal BBQ has grilled chicken, beef, veggies, and bacon wrapped asparagus. There are also some recent updates to the menu as well. It’s a great place to get some protein and that is also delicious. This is a great place for a snack but if you are looking to make it a meal, expect to order a few things off of the menu (depending on how much you generally eat in a sitting).
  • Rancho Del Zocalo (Disneyland) – In Frontierland, the Rancho Del Zocalo restaurant offers Mexican food in a quick-service setting. There are some tacos that can be found there that are reasonably healthy, but there is also a fantastic (and large) tostada salad. The fire-grilled chicken is another healthy option that is sure to satisfy.
  • Flo’s V8 Cafe (Disney California Adventure) – Located in Cars Land, this is not only one of the tastiest restaurants at the Disneyland Resort, it also has one of the most beautiful views! It also has a few healthy options that include the spit-fired rotisserie quarter chicken or the veggie tater bake that is both hearty and delicious. There are quite a few different options that can be found at Flo’s V8 Cafe and in general, there will be something there for everyone.
  • Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill (Disney California Adventure) – Found on the Pacific Wharf, Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill has several options that are similar to those found at Rancho Del Zocalo. There is a half chicken offering here and also a Cocina Bowl al Pastor that are both delicious. It is close to other dining options too if other members of your party would rather have Asian cuisine or soup and sandwiches.
  • Tortilla Joe’s (Downtown Disney District) – Tortilla Joe’s has several healthy options that are delicious for those visiting the Downtown Disney District.
  • Earl of Sandwich (Downtown Disney District) – Although it will be closing later this spring, there are some salads that are pretty good here! Eat here while you can!

These are just a few of our favorite places to get a healthy meal at the Disneyland Resort. Recognize that most sit-down restaurants will offer healthy options on the menu. If there are specific dietary needs, ask to speak with a chef and they will generally come out and work with you to create a dish that fits your needs while pleasing the pallete. Also, if you are a vegan check out our series on eating vegan at the Disneyland Resort here.

Tropical Imports - Whole Fruit

Snack Time and Desserts

The Disneyland Resort is known for its snacks and desserts. There are a few options that can be found throughout the Resort that won’t completely kill the quest for health.

  • Tropical Imports (Disneyland) – Found in Adventureland, Tropical Imports has both fruits and vegetables for sale. There is also trail mix available here which isn’t quite as easy to find sometimes.
  • Tiki Juice Bar (Disneyland) – Also found in Adventureland, this is the home of the world-famous Dole Whip. This is a dairy-free dessert that is a fan favorite at the Disneyland Resort! Grab this refreshing treat and enjoy it while watching Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room! They also have Dole Whip Floats here and Pineapple spears.
  • Fairfax Market (Disney California Adventure) – In the Hollywood Backlot, the Fairfax Market offers some healthy snacks that include fruit, vegetables, and even hummus. This is a great place to get a snack and set yourself up for watching a parade (Paint the Night Parade has returned to the Resort).

DAPS MAGIC CrewDAPS TIPS

And finally, here are some tips from various DAPS MAGIC team members!

From Caitlyn:

One of the most helpful tips I can give for eating healthy at the park is: research. You can check menus of dining locations on the Disneyland site, or on the Disneyland App. If you have more questions upon arrival to the park, head to City Hall on Main Street in Disneyland or Chamber of Commerce on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure, and cast members can help point you in the right direction. Eating healthy at Disneyland doesn’t only mean salads, many restaurants around the resort have healthier entrees that aren’t your typical greens and proteins. (But yes, Disneyland does offer some great salads.) Over in Tomorrowland at Alien Pizza Planet, they have a new vegetable pasta, which is very filling and has a bit of a spicy kick to it! Carnation Cafe offers a Vegan Burger, but I recommend reservations before eating here, it’s very popular! These may be just a couple of options, but if you opt to have an entree that’s not as healthy, you can usually substitute fruit or veggies as your side. If you are in need of a mid-day snack, there are fruit carts all over the parks, and they’re listed on the app. You’ll find an assortment of fruit options and even some veggie options at the carts.

From Cameron: 

If you have very specific dietary needs and want to save a bit of coin, there’s nothing stopping you from bringing your own foods and supplements into the parks! There’s actually a little picnic area between the parks if you’d like to relax and set up a table for your party. Just make sure your food transports will be allowed in (i.e. that they’re not made of glass).

From Annie:

Eating Healthy in the parks can be a breeze if you know where to look! First thing I always advise, especially on hot days, take advantage of the FREE ice water at quick service locations. Staying hydrated with water instead of sodas and other beverages significantly lowers your overall sugar intake. (Save it for the GOOD stuff!!) My favorite snacks are usually found at the fruit carts: Pretzels & Hummus, watermelon, mango, etc. Pro Tip: if your legs cramp during the day, bananas & dill pickles can help ease muscles! When choosing healthier options for full meals, fresh ingredients are always great! Pizza Planet has filling salads (add some breadsticks with marinara dipping sauce!) and Rancho Del Zocalo serves burritos, tacos, and tostadas filled with veggies just to name a few. If eating healthy is a goal during your trip, plan ahead and look at menu options: Know Before You Go! Finally, want something sweet at the end of the night? Hit that fruit cart again and pick up some fresh strawberries with chocolate sauce!

From Murray: 

Get a calorie counting app where it’s easy to estimate with the food you’re eating. Healthy eating is choosing regular food items in smaller quantities. Like a whole burger is a lot, but half a burger is a better choice. Still, thinking through what you’re eating goes a long way. Like having fries at every meal may be way too much fried food in the day. Choose water over sodas, and that will also help you stay hydrated. And it’s free! There is a line of healthier snacks you can find in shops like the candy stores. They are healthier cookies and crackers than normal.

These are just a few tips to help you eat healthier when visiting the Disneyland Resort. Know that eating healthy is all about moderation and making the best choice that you can at any given moment. Make sure to drink LOTS of water while at Disneyland as it is easy to get dehydrated. Then, just make sure to plan ahead so that you can get the healthiest food possibly instead of suddenly realizing you are starving and then grab something that isn’t so healthy. With a plan and some good choices, Disneyland can be not only The Happiest Place on Earth, but also one of the healthier!

2 Comments

  1. Joe in L.A. April 17, 2018 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Just a note from a loyal ready to say I really appreciate your otherwise hard to find coverage of healthy eating at Disneyland, including the “A Disney Vegan” columns. Please keep up the great work!

    • Mr. DAPs
      Mr. DAPs April 17, 2018 at 10:48 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much for the feedback Joe! I passed it along to Annie (Disney Vegan). Appreciate your support and loyalty! – Mr. DAPs

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