LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- "Do you want apple slices or fries with that cheeseburger?"
It's all about healthful choices as Walt Disney World quick-service and fast-casual restaurants refine their menus. French fries aren't going away, but menus are being revised with well-balanced options -- at least one low-fat and one vegetarian entrée at all table service restaurants, and side options to include salads and fresh fruit.
In October 2006, Disney's Parks & Resorts changed its standard kids meals to feature healthy side dishes and beverages, and the overwhelming majority of guests opt for healthy options, said Ed Wronski, director of Product Development for Walt Disney World Food & Beverage.
Today a kid's meal automatically comes with fruit or vegetables on the side and juice, water or low-fat milk to drink. Fries and soda are available upon request, at no additional cost.
Guest research showed that more than three-quarters of parents selected fruit or vegetable side options when they were offered first -- rather than French fries. Recognizing that visits to Disney parks are vacations, parents can still request more indulgent meals and snacks from a wide variety of food offerings.
The number of fresh fruit carts at the parks is steadily increasing while other nutritious snacks like nuts and trail mix are also more readily available.
"The new healthful menus expand the options for our guests," said Wronski. "The reaction, both from the chefs and the guests, has been very, very positive."
Constantly looking for ways to improve the nutritional profiles and tastes of popular entrées, Disney changed to a guest-tested hamburger with fat content less than 20 percent and buns with 10 percent whole wheat. Quick-service pizzas now have whole-grain crusts and lower-fat cheese.
Even desserts get a makeover: anywhere they are served, guests will find options such as reduced fat, low sugar and fresh fruit.
Disney is working with manufacturers to reformulate recipes for candy, packaged food and bakery items sold in the parks, or identifying replacement products as the company continues to phase out added trans-fats. Portion-controlled snacks and treats and packaging to promote nutritious food are part of the changes.
Catering to Dietary Needs
Walt Disney World Resort gets more than 7,000 requests a month from guests with special dietary needs. Most requested are meals free of gluten, eggs and dairy, and peanuts and tree nuts.
With a call three days in advance, Walt Disney World full-service restaurants can accommodate special dietary needs such as allergies to gluten or wheat, shellfish, soy, lactose or milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish or eggs.
"We have a team of passionate chefs who get together and discuss guest needs and trends," said Wronski. "They love the challenge."
Lifestyle diets -- sugar free, low fat, low sodium, vegetarian or vegan -- are easily accommodated. When guests call 407/WDW-DINE, they can make the request and then talk with their server or the manager when they arrive at the restaurants.
Kosher meals are available at most full-service restaurants and need to be ordered at least 24 hours in advance by calling 407/WDW-DINE. Meals are Glatt Kosher, prepared in Miami and flown to Walt Disney World Resort.
If you don't order in advance, kosher meals are always available at the following quick-service locations: Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe in Magic Kingdom, World Premiere Food Court at Disney's All-Star Movies Resort, Intermission Food Court at Disney's All-Star Music Resort, End Zone Food Court at Disney's All-Star Sports Resort, Everything Pop Shopping and Dining at Disney's Pop Century Resort, ABC Commissary at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Riverside Mill Food Court at Disney's Port Orleans Resort and Pizzafari at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
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