Like many, I have fond memories of visiting Disneyland during my childhood. And I don’t remember what we ate, but I am sure it was unhealthy and laden with dairy and meat. So when I decided to take my kids to Disneyland, I did my online research. There was a lot about taking kids to Disneyland (duh) and there was even quite a bit about what vegans can eat at Disneyland, so taking vegan kids to Disneyland should be easy!
A little background on the family members involved: I’ve been vegan for the past 14 years, and am currently nursing a baby so I’m hungry all the time. The baby in question was not eating any solid food at the time. My five-year-old daughter has been vegan all her life. She’s not picky but can’t handle spicy food. And my mom, who was also with us, had recently gone plant-based for health reasons, and she has multiple food allergies. Could we all visit Disneyland and California Adventure and not starve?
Like any responsible vegans, we brought our own snacks: trail mix, Chex mix, dried fruit, and bars. These were handy because even though we found a good assortment of vegan food inside the parks, we didn’t always find the time to stop and eat it. The snacks we brought were filling and could tide us over until the next meal time, and best of all, we could eat while waiting in line!
Disneyland and California Adventure both have snack shops scattered throughout, and they stock a surprising number of vegan snacks. We found fruits and veggies in snack cups, hummus and pretzel chips, and giant pickles in multiple varieties. So if you forgot to bring your own snacks and don’t have time to stop for a legit meal, they’ve got you covered.
If you stay at a Disney hotel and can swing it, opt for “club” level service. This allows you entrance into a room that’s stocked with free snacks and drinks (grab extra and take them into the park with you), and additional food at meal times. For example, at breakfast they had bagels with peanut butter, lots of fruit, oatmeal, and cereal. They didn’t have it out, but happily went to the kitchen to get us soy milk. Because although Disneyland (and its associated hotels) may not be advertised as super vegan-friendly, they are very into customer service. It’s a huge part of their public image, so use it to your advantage.
Dole Whip: Yeah I know, everyone talks about the Dole Whip (the fruit flavors are vegan). The line is long. It’s so long! Stand in it anyway and get yourself a Dole Whip Float.
Mickey Pretzels: These are big, salty pretzels shaped like Mickey’s head and they’re sold all over. They are totally vegan, as long as you don’t order one with cheese!
River Belle Terrace: This sit-down restaurant in Frontierland was extremely helpful with our dietary restrictions and also had delicious food. The BBQ tofu entree can be made vegan by subbing out the sides for coleslaw (already vegan!) and green beans, and they even made a kid’s meal version by subbing tofu for the animal-based protein in the regular kid’s meal. They also baked the tofu instead of grilling it, since they don’t have a separate vegan grill.
Sprinkles: This cupcake shop in Downtown Disney makes vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes!
I was very happy to see that the Big Thunder Ranch Petting Farm has closed, and the animals have all supposedly been retired to a private farm in rural California. However, the horses that work on Main Street “pulling” the trolleys (the horses are hitched to the trolleys but they don’t actually pull anything – they just walk in front) are still very much there. They didn’t appear to be very happy, and they seemed overworked and possibly overheated (disclaimer: I am not at all a horse expert).
Posted in Family Life