Thursday, 25 August 2011

Vegetarian dining in Disney World - part 3

Well done if you've made it through parts one and two of my Disney dining guide. Here's part three...which is kind of a review, plus a few more tips...

Making Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs)

If you book your table service (TS) meals in advance, you can place a dietary restriction on your restaurant reservations, but as vegetarian and vegan aren't options on the online booking form (for some strange reason), I went for a shellfish allergy! This strategy seemed to work well. All restaurants we had booked for, except Wolfgang Puck Cafe, confirmed details of my 'allergy' when we arrived and all seemed relieved, when I said that my daughters and I were vegetarian and not allergic to anything!

If you're vegan or have any genuine food allergies, I would suggest that you email your requests once you've booked your ADRs, to: State your reservation numbers, where you will be eating each day and what you can/can't eat (one recommendation on Disboards says that it might be a better option to state that you are vegetarian with an egg and dairy allergy, rather than vegan). We didn't do this, as I was confident that we would be able to find something vegetarian that we would all eat in the restaurants I had booked at.

The waiting staff were generally knowledgeable about the menus, and asked the appropriate questions about whether we ate eggs and dairy. In the buffet restaurants, they offered to ask the chef to give us the tour of the buffet, to let us know what was suitable, which we accepted each time (surely it would be easier to label foods with a V for vegetarian though!)

Several non-buffet restaurants were able to vegetarianise meals by leaving the meat/fish part out, but the vast majority of our meals contained some cheese or dairy, so vegans would need to check whether this could be left out of their meals. 

If you want to take a gamble, try to find out where Chef TJ is working and book a meal there (apparently he doesn't work in the same restaurant each night). Chef TJ has reputation for cooking great vegetarian food - just Google him to find out more.

Luckily, we found him working at 1900 Park Fare the night we ate there, and instead of the buffet on offer, which had quite a limited vegetarian selection, we were treated to a freshly cooked selection of starters and a main course for the same price. The characters there also made this a fabulous night out, as the ugly sisters, Cinderella and Prince Charming all gave a good performance as they went around the tables.

Our favourite places to eat in Disney World were:

Table Service

  • Tusker House, Animal Kingdom - African/Asian buffet with lots of salads, rice, vegetable samosas, fresh fruit etc.
  • Boma, Animal Kingdom Lodge - African buffet with lots of hot and cold vegetarian options. Dishes are generally sweet in taste with cinnamon, mild spices and dried fruits.
  • Wolfgang Puck Cafe, Downtown Disney - Italian/American with several vegetarian pasta options, plus the offer of making omitting meat from a couple of other dishes. 
  • Raglan Road, Downtown Disney - Irish pub food which serves real chips (not fries!) and fabulous desserts.
  • Sanaa, Animal Kingdom Villas - South Asian/Indian food with a good choice for vegetarians and vegans. Dishes are quite spicy, so might not appeal to children.
  • Hacienda, Epcot - Mexican with a separate vegetarian menu including 4 main courses (you need to ask for this as it's not on display).
  • Cape May, Boardwalk/Crystal Palace, Magic Kingdom character breakfasts - Similar foods available at both with plenty of delicious pastries, breads, waffles and fresh fruits.
  • Crystal Palace, Magic Kingdom lunch/dinner - Lots of tasty salads, fruits, pasta and desserts. Limited vegetarian hot food.
  • 1900 Park Fare, Grand Floridian  - Great for characters and to sneak a peak at the Grand Floridian Hotel, but generally quite limited vegetarian options (pasta, salads, fruit and vegetarian sushi). Fantastic food if chef TJ is working there.
Counter Service

We weren't particularly impressed with the quick service options available, as the vegetarian options were often limited to one choice. We were very glad that we only got one counter service (CS) meal each day on our dining plan. The quick service dining plan (QSDP) includes 2 CS meals plus 2 snacks per day, which really wouldn't have suited us.

Our favourite CS locations were:
  • Earl of Sandwich, Downtown Disney - Sandwiches, wraps and salads with a few vegetarian options.
  • Wolfgang Puck Express, Downtown Disney - Vegetarian pasta and flat breads/pizza available.
  • Restaurantosaurus, Animal Kingdom - only one vegetarian option (veggie sub with sweet potato fries) but it tasted good and there was a toppings bar available.
  • Boulangerie Patisserie, Epcot (cheese tartine) / Main Street Bakery, Magic Kingdom (mozzerella and tomato focaccia roll) - again limited vegetarian savoury options but great pastries!
  • La Cantina de San Angel, Epcot - one vegetarian option (cheese empanadas) but it was tasty and filling.

There are plenty of snacks and drinks available if you are peckish or thirsty between meals. The best place to find out what counts as a snack on the dining plans is back on Disboards, where you'll find a snack credit thread which is updated each year. Frankly we didn't use many of our snack credits during our holiday, as we just didn't need any more food! We did enjoy the odd ice cream and frozen lemonade though, and we sometimes used them to buy pastries to eat for breakfast the next day. Snack credits can also be 'spent' on sweets and treats to take home  as presents.

To summarise, we were all pleasantly surprised at how good the food was in Disney generally, as we'd expected to see fries with everything. It's perfectly possible to find good quality, tasty vegetarian food, but be prepared to do your research before you go!

If you have any tips or recommendations to add, please feel free to add them in a comment below. Pin It

Monday, 22 August 2011

Vegetarian dining in Disney World - part 2

If you haven't read part 1 of  vegetarian dining in Disney, I'll best advice is to plan your dining options in advance. If you like to be spontaneous and choose where to eat on the spur of the moment, don't! Firstly, you may find that the most popular table service restaurants are fully booked, especially during peak season. Secondly, you may find that there are no veggie options available on the menu (yes, really, not even one!)

The way around both of these issues, is to plan where to eat, book table service (sit-down/waiter-service meals) in advance and know where you can find the best veggie counter service and snack options. This might sound like a lot of fuss and bother, but in my opinion, it's worth it.

When planning your food options, your first stop should be AllEars.Net. This website is amazing - it lists up-to-date menus, vegetarian dining strategies  plus recommendations for vegetarian and vegan counter service (fast food) and table service dining locations.

If you want to ask for recommendations or see picture of veggie meals available at Disney World, try the food forums on Disboards, in particular, the vegan/vegetarian dining help thread, or check out The Disney Food Blog.

There are various Disney Dining Plans available which can either save you money, or may be 'free' as part of your holiday package. We got the free, regular Dining Plan (DDP), which entitled us to one table service meal, one counter service meal and one snack each per day, which was more than enough food!

Veggie kids on the DDP
My kids are 10 and 12, so in Disney terms, that makes them adults! I wasn't impressed with paying adult prices for them, but with hindsight, I'm glad they were able to eat from the adults' menu at no extra cost, purely for the better selection this gave them - even though the portions were far too big for them most of the time. For lunch, the children generally shared a counter service meal.

If you have younger veggie children, I would suggest either paying extra to upgrade them as adults, eating mainly at buffet restaurants, or making sure in advance that the table service restaurants you want to eat at will be able to provide small portions from the adults' menu but at a the cost of a child's meal/DDP credit. If not, your children will be stuck with a very limited choice consisting of mainly pizza and macaroni cheese.  

Part 3 here... Pin It

Friday, 19 August 2011

Vegetarian dining in Disney World - part 1

You may have noticed that I've been quiet on the blogging front lately; That's because my family and I have just returned from our trip of a life time to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, which was fabulous, but exhausting.
There must be hundreds of guides to Disney World and believe me, I've read quite a few. My top tip is to plan, plan and plan again! If you know what parks you want to visit, which rides you want to go on and where you want to eat, you'll save time and arguments!

I whole-heatedly recommend buying The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World as this answers just about every question worth asking about Disney World, Orlando and the surrounding areas. It also has pull-out park guides with step-by-step instructions on how to use your time in the parks most effectively. Two alternative fountains of knowledge are the Disboards site and forum, and the AllEars website which cover accommodation, attractions, restaurants and reviews.

Information on vegetarian and vegan dining in Disney is harder, but not impossible to find; While Disney is mainly aimed at the meat-eating guest, with a bit of research and planning, it's quite possible to do Disney as a vegetarian (but definitely more difficult as a vegan). I'll be putting together some links and tips which have helped us find some great veggie food in The Land of the Mouse over the next few days.

Read part 2 here.

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Monday, 1 August 2011

Summer Vegetarian Meal Plan

Here's my latest meal plan for summer vegetarian family food - some of these recipes include eggs and dairy products but most are easily veganised. Use the delicious seasonal vegetables around at the moment to cut down on cost, and refrigerate or freeze left-overs for lunches. Use up any remaining vegetables in the casserole/pasta bake at the end of the week.

See my 3 meals a day vegetarian meal plan for quick and easy breakfast and lunch ideas.

Week 1

MondayVeggie Sloppy Joes with salad and sweet potato chips
Tuesday: Aubergine and cheese bake with pasta
Wednesday: Vegetarian chorizo sausages in wraps with salad
Thursday: Pasta with tomato and vegetable sauce.
Friday: Pesto and antipasti tart with new potatoes and seasonal veg.
Saturday: Veggie burger/veggie sausage in a bread roll with a trio of salads.
Sunday: Stuffed mushrooms with cous cous.

Week 2
Monday: Falafels with salad, pitta bread and tzatziki dip.
Wednesday: Roasted vegetables with halloumi, in wraps.
Thursday: Pasta with tomato and vegetable sauce.
Friday: Lentil and pesto burgers with corn on the cob and cheesy potato wedges.
Sunday: Turkish vegetable casserole with cous cous.

Week 3

MondayPotato Masala Parathas with salad.
Tuesday: Squash, lentil and sweet potato salad with cous cous. 
Wednesday: Hummus with pitta bread and crudités.
Thursday: Paneer and pepper fajitas 
Friday Veggie mince shammi kebabs with pilau rice
Saturday: Aubergine and cheese bake with salad and garlic bread.
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