It’s the Disney curse: on every walkway there are carts selling Mickey bars, ice cream sandwiches, popcorn, and pretzels. The Main Street Confectionary has the most delicious treats you could imagine. Healthy options don’t seem readily available. You can’t help but grab an afternoon dessert after your quick-service lunch. When dinner rolls around, you’re probably eating at a table-service restaurant, one of the many buffets, or another quick-service option. These options may not have the healthiest choices, and who can limit themselves at a buffet? As the night comes to an end and you’re watching the fireworks you can’t truly enjoy them without some sort of dessert, right??
Disney is full of temptations, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing! We’re all for enjoying your vacation and letting loose. However, we understand wanting to stay healthy, not gaining those typical 3-4 Disney pounds, and still enjoying your vacation! Read this article to find out how far you walk on an average day at Disney, the best “healthy” options, and our tips for how to enjoy Disney food without gaining weight! Don’t worry, we won’t tell you how many calories are in a Mickey bar! (And it’s actually not that many!)
Average Walking Distance at WDW
We’re Fitbit addicts. We can’t go a day without wearing our Fitbits and competing for the most steps! Our daily goal is to get 10,000 steps: in Disney, we triple this number or more! On an average day at one of the four main parks, we walk 9-12 miles and get about 25,000-30,000 steps. Do these numbers seem crazy? Let’s break it down further.
Consider a day at Epcot. We usually don’t bother with the tram if we’re in one of the closer lots, and just walk directly to the park entrance. From the Create Lot to Spaceship Earth is about 0.4 miles. A walk around Future World, hitting up the Imagination, Land, and Seas Pavilion as well as Innoventions, Test Track, and Mission Space is about 1.5 miles, assuming you take the most efficient walkways (we definitely don’t, we love to wander through this area!). This doesn’t include staying on your feet in all of the lines and winding through the queues. Let’s add a 1 mile for this, including walking through each pavilion, stores, and backtracking some. The Nemo ride, Soarin’, and Test Track all have winding queues in the entrances and exits.
Now head to the World Showcase. One lap around the World Showcase is 1.2 miles, without walking around each. A walk through each pavilion is about .2 miles, x 12 pavilions = 2.4 miles. Exit through Future World and back to the car without stopping is .8 miles. This total equals 7.3 miles. This is without walking another loop or half loop in the World Showcase, walking back through Future World, or backtracking at all.
Walking around Disney doesn’t feel like exercise, but it really is! Check out our tips and eat at a few of the restaurants we tell you about next, and you should be good to go!
In terms of the other parks, one lap around Magic Kingdom is 2.17 miles, one lap around Epcot is 2.78 miles, one lap around Hollywood Studios is 1.39 miles, and one lap around Animal Kingdom is 2.27 miles! Don’t forget you’ll be walking around a lot more than just one lap too!
1. Look for the Mickey Check Program! The Mickey Check Symbol makes it easy to identify healthy and nutritious meal options. This will help make your decision on what to eat easier and healthier!
2. Skip the soda. Disney’s many soda options make it sooo tempting to have a fancy drink, but let’s be real. Would you rather have a soda or a dessert later? Drink water instead, plus it keeps you hydrated!
3. Watch what you snack on! Disney has so many tempting options to snack on. We recommend you bring a snack like nuts, dried fruit, or hummus packs. If you prefer to buy check out our recommended restaurants and snack section below for the best places to buy snacks from!
4. Don’t fall into the buffet trap. Just because the food is free and unlimited doesn’t mean the calories are! We know, it’s so tempting to go straight for the mashed potatoes, mac-n-cheese, and desserts. For your first plate (yes, we know you’ll have at least two) start with a protein and vegetables! This will fill you up at least some, so you aren’t as tempted to take huge servings of higher caloric foods. For dessert, we recommend a shared plate with your family or group! We always want to try everything, but really all you need is a bite or two of each dessert, and if you have a favorite you can finish that one!
5. Another buffet tip: if you know one of your meals will be all-you-can-eat, eat light before it! You’ll fill up at the buffet no matter what, so why not save a few more calories for that meal?
6. Drink TONS of water. Water fills you up and is so good for you. Yes, you’ll have to stop at the bathrooms more often but there are a ton of them and you can refill your bottles at the water fountains there!
7. Dessert tip: splurge on desserts. This is one of the best parts of Disney, and you deserve to enjoy all they have to offer! Get what you want, don’t worry about the healthier option. But, try to limit yourself to one dessert like this per day, and consider sharing with your family or friends!
Our Recommended Restaurants and Snacks
After going to Disney for 20 years, we pretty much are experts on where to eat! Between the three of us tried most if not all of the restaurants in every park. The following are our recommendations for the healthiest choices that you have!
All of the following restaurants have healthy options. We’ll let you know our favorite dishes! Columbia Harbor House in Liberty Square is not the most popular restaurant, but we hit it up every trip! It’s quick service and offers healthy options like the Lighthouse Sandwich (hummus, tomato, broccoli, multigrain bread) and the Broccoli Peppercorn salad (greens, veggies, chicken, parmesan cheese). In Tomorrowland, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café is another quick service restaurant with good choices like a veggie burger and Greek Salad. For table service, we recommend Liberty Tree Tavern which has some great healthy options including the vegan burger (it’s delicious) and the Colony Salad (greens, craisins, apples, pecans, chicken, vinaigrette). Honorable mention goes to the Southwest chicken salad at Pecos Bill Inn and the Mediterranean Salad at Pinocchio’s Village Haus.
For snacking, head to Prince Eric’s Village Market in New Fantasyland or Liberty Square Market in Liberty Square for some healthy options like fruit, vegetables, yogurt, and pretzels and hummus!
Biggest recommendation, Satu’li Canteen in Pandora! You can order a bowl here, with a base of quinoa and vegetable salad, red and sweet potato hash, or mixed whole-grain rice or romaine and kale salad. Next you add a protein, choosing from chicken, beef, fish, or tofu. Top this off with an onion chimichurri or a vinaigrette dressing! This is by far the healthiest but most delicious option in Animal Kingdom. Honorable mention goes to Restarauntosaurus with the black bean burger or roasted chicken with mixed green salad, and the Yak and Yeti Local Food Cafe with the roasted vegetable couscous wrap, the ginger chicken salad, or the Asian chicken sandwich!
For snacks, consider the Harambe Fruit Market in Africa or the Garden Kiosk on Discovery Island for some healthier options!
Epcot has some great healthy options in Future World and the World Showcase. In Future World we recommend getting anything from Sunshine Seasons: the food is made fresh every day with vegetables grown in the Land Pavilion!
In the World Showcase we recommend the Kabuki Cafe in Japan (edamame, California rolls, sushi, steamed vegetables), the Kringla Bakeri og Cafe in Norway (vegetable torte, mixed greens, fruit cups), Les Halles Boulangerie and Patisserie in France (chicken sandwich with cheese, tomato, red onion, pesto, apple, cranberries, and Brie in multi-grain bread, nicoise salad, and quiche Florentine), Liberty Inn in America (southwest chicken salad, vegetarian chick’n breast with corn salsa), Lotus Blossom Cafe in the China Pavilion (vegetable curry over rise, sesame chicken salad), and the Tangerine Cafe in Morocco (Mediterranean wraps, vegetarian platter, hummus, couscous salad). Fun fact: much of the produce in Epcot comes from the greenhouse on property!
Snack options include Sunshine Seasons and the Outpost Snacks, with fruit cups, frozen yogurt (a healthy dessert), hummus, and more!
There are plenty of healthy options at Hollywood Studios! Our favorite is Rosie’s All-American Cafe with the veggie black bean burger, the Studio Catering Company with the Greek salad and grilled vegetable wrap, and Fairfax Fare with the Fairfax salad! Honorable mention goes to the vegetable pizza and antipasto salad at the Pizza Planet Arcade and the ABC Commissary with the Asian salad and apple slices instead of French fries!
For snacks we suggest heading to Anaheim Produce on Sunset Boulevard for fresh fruit and veggies!
Wrapping it Up!
Overall, Disney is a vacation, and we are all for splurging! Enjoy your trip and don’t focus too much on limiting yourself. We hope this article helped you find some options for healthy food in Disney! If you focus on choosing some of the healthier options and grab some fruit for snacks, you’ll be able to enjoy a Mickey ice cream sandwich or any other treat you want without feeling guilty!
Images courtesy of KnoWDW, Build a Better Mouse Trip, WDW Help, Chip and Co, Disney by Age, Character Central and WDW Help.