Eating Vegetarian and Vegan at Disney World.

If you’re a vegetarian, you know what it’s like to be resigned to the one dish on the menu that serves as that restaurant’s sole vegetarian entrée. In fact, in most restaurants you’ll encounter the same “vegetarian” dish over and over: Some type of pasta loaded with cheese, maybe sprinkled with a few vegetables. There’s no craft or imagination in that at all and it’s easy to feel left out of a special dining experience when that’s all you can get. The good news for those traveling to Disney World is that they’re great at accommodating guests with any number of food requests. This is true particularly at Disney table service restaurants, where you’ll find chefs who are happy to test their skills and creativity by making you a dish that’s the envy of the meat eaters at your table.

Counter service is somewhat more limited than table service, but you’ll find at least one vegetarian option in every park, sometimes more. Most Counter Service places, like Cosmic Ray’s in the Magic Kingdom, have vegan veggie burgers that can be doctored up with toppings from the fixing’s bar. The bun is not vegan, but you can request a vegan bun.  All counter service locations will allow you to leave off cheese and  mayo or switch out salad dressings.  You can buy soy milk just about anywhere milk is sold at Disney World.  We’ve had luck at the following counter service restaurants:

  • Magic Kingdom, the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station has a great tofu and rice dish. Columbia Harbor House has a healthy veggie sandwich called the Lighthouse Sandwich and vegetarian chilli. Both get high marks on Disney message boards. You can buy Rice Dream and Tofutti at the ice cream parlor on Main Street as well as at other places in on property.  Pinocchio Village Haus and Casey’s Corner, popular among meat eaters, have very little for vegetarians.
  • Epcot is a great choice for vegetarians all around and the park where you can find consistently good CS meals. Vegetarians will especially like the  selection in the China and Morocco pavilions. Perhaps the best choice for vegetarians is Sunshine Seasons in Futureworld. This is one of the most popular CS restaurants in all of Disney World and for good reason: There’s a wide selection of food that’s consistently fresh, tasty, and at times, innovative for theme park fare, such as a salad of roasted beets and goat cheese. Finally the new Epcot spots La Hacienda de San Angel and Via Napoli have some great vegetarian meals I have yet to try.
  • Disney Hollywood Studios: CS at DHS is pretty limited for vegetarians. Both Backlot Express and Studio Catering Company have a grilled veggie sandwich on a ciabatta roll that’s very good. Toy Story Pizza Planet sells cheese pizzas. It’s one of the most maligned places to eat on Disney property, but I actually don’t think it’s too bad; there’s outdoor seating if it’s too loud inside for you. Be sure to check out Anaheim Produce for healthy snacks like fruit, veggies and dips, and trail mix. There is virtually nothing for vegetarians at ABC Commissary, Fairfax Fair, and, not surprisingly, at the Toluca Turkey Leg Company. If you want to eat well on a day you’re visiting DHS, consider a table service restaurant.
  • Animal Kingdom: Ironically, the worst park for a vegetarian. Try the cheese pizza at Pizzafari, the veggie burger at Restaurantosoarus the vegetarian eggroll at Safari Eggroll near Flights of Wonder. Yes, the pickings are that slim that I’m recommending a vegetarian eggroll from a cart. If you’re spending all day in AK, consider doing a table service restaurant like Tusker House, which is a buffet with a lot of vegetarian sides, or Rainforest Café. I’m not crazy about Rainforest Café because it’s loud, but kids love it and it’s wildly popular. They have a decent Portobello mushroom burger and a sweet and sour stir-fry. Prices are reasonable for dining in the parks.
  • Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney has excellent vegan and vegetarian options.  It’s on the dining plan.

Don’t hesitate to treat yourself to a nice table service restaurant while you’re visiting the World. All of these restaurants have something on the menu for vegetarians, although it is usually limited to one entrée, so you may want to ask for a special meal. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for meat to be removed from salads or pasta dishes. Both wdwinfo and allears have updated menus that you can check out before you make your advanced dining reservations (ADRS). Call 407-WDW-DINE or go to the official Disney website to make your reservations online.

This is probably the most important piece of information for vegetarian diners: If you don’t see something on a table service menu you like, have it noted when you make your ADR that you are requesting a vegetarian entrée. You can also email Disney at WDW.Special.Diets@disney.com and request a special diet worksheet. Fill it out  and fax or email it back.  For added comfort, you can call again 72 hours before your ADR. In some cases, you’ll be allowed to speak to the chef about your needs and your tastes. Almost all restaurants will provide you with something unique and different; if you’re an adventurous eater, it’s a fun opportunity for the chef to flex her muscles and try something new that fits into the theme of the restaurant. The only places I’ve heard people having problems with this are at the buffets, where there are generally enough meat-free options to satisfy most diners. If you’re worried that a buffet won’t meet your needs, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a special meal or side. Often, the chef will take you around the buffet and let you know what is safe for you to eat.

Dishes we’ve heard great things about include:

  • The vegetarian sushi at California Grill. It’s not on the menu but a friend recently had this and was served a platter of sushi almost too beautiful to eat. Not only did it taste amazing, it was very reasonably priced.
  • Try The Wave at the Contemporary Resort, a quick walk or ride on the monorail from the Magic Kingdom, for lunch or dinner. It’s not too difficult to get an ADR even close to your trip and the chef is trying a lot of new and innovative things. The Wave doesn’t always knock it out of the ballpark, but this place keeps getting better and better and I really respect what they’re trying to do with local foods and healthy choices.
  • Artists Point is a quiet, pretty restaurant in the Wilderness Lodge. It’s one of my favorite places on site and like the Wave, it’s fairly easy to get an ADR. The potato chive pots stickers have been on the menu for a couple of years and are delicious. The smoky Portobello soup is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, but the vegetarians at our table found out the hard way it’s made from chicken stock. I’ve heard that you can call ahead and ask for this to be made with a vegetarian stock, but I haven’t tried it yet.
  • All the restaurants at Animal Kingdom Lodge get great reviews from vegetarians. It’s worth a trip to the resort even if you aren’t staying there (plus, the resort itself is gorgeous, so give yourself time to look around). Sanaa and Jiko, one of the top rated restaurants in Disney World, both have separate menus for vegan and vegetarian guests. Boma, easily the best buffet at WDW, has plenty of vegetarian options.
  • The dinner buffet at 1900 Park Fare has some great vegetarian choices such as cold soba noodle salad, so don’t hesitate to make an ADR for the character dinner there—it’s one of the best on property.
  • Ohana in the Polynesian has a multi-course vegetarian option that’s reportedly delicious.
  • Finally, for a real treat, the vegetarian menu at Victoria and Albert’s gets rave reviews.

Need more information?  For menus, check out WDWinfo.com and allears.net. Both sites update their menus frequently although it’s likely your menu at the restaurant will have additional choices.  Remember that you can make ADRs for Disney sit down restaurants 180-days before your arrival.   You can make ADRs by calling 407-WDW-DINE or at the official Disney website here.   To hear a first-hand account of vegetarian dining at  Dsiney World, listen to the WDWToday podcast here.   The restaurant boards at Disboards and Passporter have very active, friendly forums where you can read dining reviews and ask questions.

Thanks to Chip and Co. reader Carrie who inspried this question.  We appreciate your input!

Photo of Sanaa courtesy OrlandoSentinel.com.


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