Of course, the “Disney machine” does the best it can to accommodate food preferences. However, some venues meet the needs better than others. It’s a good idea to do some research prior to your trip to determine what’s available and to make sure that you’ll get the best options.
Reservations for sit-down meals are hard to get, especially during the busy season. Don’t wait until you get onto the Disney complex to figure out where you’ll be eating your more substantial meals. Fortunately, there are a lot of online resources including a Disney menu database and a vegetarian-specific Disney restaurant resource.
As for my time at Disney World, here were my impressions of the vegetarian foods and restaurants I experienced.
Tusker House – Animal Kingdom
When searching for something to eat at Animal Kingdom for lunch, walk past the food carts and the fast food stations and head to Tusker House. It’s a vegetarian paradise. This lunch buffet is jam-packed with vegetarian options.
The entrance to the buffet part of the restaurant is behind the building, the outside dining area in the front of the restaurant only serves a more casual menu. Reservations for the buffet are highly recommended.
The buffet featured vegetarian dishes such as Tunisian couscous, curried rice salads, Marrakesh couscous with roasted vegetables, pearl couscous with sweet basil, basmati rice with almond slivers, and saffron infused root vegetables and cabbage.
There was also a station with freshly made sambals, or condiments, such as blatjangs (South African preserves), mango chutney, mixed dried fruit chutney, hummus and tabouli.
The highlight of the whole meal, for me, were the curried vegetable samosas an the spiced vegetable and the tofu tandoori. It’s not often that you can find such satisfying and unique vegetarian food at an amusement park.
If these items are a bit exotic for your tastes, then head over to the meat stations. Nested between the meat dishes are other vegetable options such as potatoes, green beans, macaroni and cheese, corn and carrots.
The Waves – Contemporary Resort
You can arrive at the Contemporary Resort from the Magic Kingdom via the monorail. The Waves is located on the 1st floor lobby level. Be sure to indulge in the multi-grain rolls served with fresh butter sprinkled with red sea salt. But, don’t fill up too much on the bread, because the vegetarian entree is plate licking good. The vegetarian menu item for dinner was a seasonal vegetarian stew served with multi-grain rice. It was fantastic.
The stew was comprised of a large dish of a large variety of vegetables (green beans, squash, zucchini, and bits of sweet potato) served over a savory sauce. Unfortunately, my pictures did not come out well of this meal, but trust me it was delicious.
The desserts are also worth taking a look at. I had a trio of sorbets which included a unique lemon basil flavor.
Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano – Hollywood Studios
We ventured into Mama Melrose’s during a torrential downpour of rain. Once inside, we were met with the warm smells of baking bread and a cozy atmosphere. This Italian restaurant featured a few vegetarian options such as a variety of flatbreads. The most unique was the eggplant napoleon which is described on the menu as, “layers of eggplant, fresh mozzarella, and tomatoes.” They probably used one half of a large eggplant to make this dish. It was served with little spinach filled samosas on top of a delicious homemade tomato sauce.
Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe – Magic Kingdom
Nestled in the heart of Adventureland, the Pecos Bill Cafe is host to a “fixings bar” that was larger than any other I’ve ever seen. You can order a vegetarian burger and head over to the fixings bar and pile on as many toppings as you’d like. The bar features freshly sauteed mushrooms and onions, shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, yellow peppers and more.
The bun for the burger was freshly made. The burger itself wasn’t spectacular on it’s own. I was certainly happy with my final burger creation, though. This was a much more satisfying meal than I had the day before at the Pinocchio Village Haus where the only vegetarian item available was cheese pizza.
Maya Grill – Coronado Springs Resort
The vegetarian food at the Maya Grill was quite good, but there were a couple annoyances that I have to point out. The vegetarian options were not listed on the menu. The guests were invited to “ask for vegetarian options from your server.” While I realize that perhaps the vegetarian selections may change, I do think that there could be one “mainstay” vegetarian item. When I asked the server, there were actually two vegetarian options. One option was a pasta with vegetables served with a “red marinara-type sauce”. The other option was sauteed mushrooms, mixed vegetables, salad and white rice. I chose the latter of the two.
Although the plate was presented beautifully, the dish did not have any real depth of flavors. Fortunately, upon hearing that the meal was going to include “white rice”, I asked for soy sauce before the dish even came out. I was glad I did. The sauteed vegetables and mushrooms did not have a lot of sauce but they were actually pretty good. I was given a fresh lime slice to use as a dressing for the salad. I liked the delicate flavor of the lime so it was rather refreshing. However, if you are looking for a more substantial dressing, be sure to ask.
There are plenty of vegetarian options at Disney parks and resorts. If in doubt, just ask one of the “crew members”, as they were very happy to accomodate special requests.