My Disney World top 10 ~ Vegan Adventures in Orlando (part 2)


Ooops got a little distracted with my ‘Everyday Inspiration’ posts and almost forgot I promised you part 2 of my vegan adventures in Orlando….yep it’s Disney World time!

So let’s dive right in and have a look at my favourite places to eat.

1. Boma (Animal Kingdom Lodge)

Boy did we luck out staying at this hotel for our Disney stay.  It meant we had the super tasty all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant Boma to make use of…and we most certainly did!  Boma is an amazing place to eat as a vegan with personal tours of the buffet from a chef (some of which seemed happier about their role than others ~ our favourites were Arol, Ricky and the super smiley Lieu), lots of choice and specially made items such as vegan Mickey waffles and scrambled tofu at breakfast or tofutti ice cream with mini cakes or cookies at dinner.

Vegan Mickey waffles

Yeah I know I have used this photo before on my blog, seriously though can you blame me when they look this good?!

Heading to Boma for breakfast would keep me going for hours.  I would get either the waffles or scrambled tofu (okay sometimes both…I would always share though honest!) and add in some quinoa cooked in apple juice, sweet plantains plus tons of fresh fruit.  Topping off with a yummy jungle juice and coffee ~ no dairy free milk was available though which was a bit of a disappointment, good job I am happy to drink my coffee black.

There was always tons of choice in the evening including pasta with marina sauce, various rice and couscous concoctions, hummus, salad bits including a really zingy watermelon rind, harira soup as well as a tofutti ice cream for desert ~ if I had any room left that was!

2. Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC (Disney Springs)

If you are a vegan with a sweet tooth, this place would probably be your number 1 place to eat in the whole of Disney World ~ it was pretty close between it and Boma in my favourites and I am certainly way more a fan of the savoury stuff.

This place though = cake heaven.  The cakes are vegan, gluten free and delicious…my mouth is watering simply at the memory of them.

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The cakes in this box are the red velvet and vanilla with lemon frosting cupcakes plus a vanilla slice type thing (okay I *may* have forgotten what it was).  I can confirm that the French toast, chocolate with mocha frosting and chocolate with mint flavours are pretty damn tasty too.

Oh and they serve totally amazing soft serve ice cream too.

Yeah we *may* have gone there a few times….

3. Trail’s End Restaurant (Fort Wilderness Resort)

We booked a table at Trail’s End in the hope of getting the amazing Chef TJ who has an excellent reputation of creating wonders for those with special dietary needs.  We were seriously excited when we saw that it was indeed one of his nights to be working the kitchen. Now this is not something I ever usually say but OMG!  The creativity of this man and the food he produces is seriously awesome.  He personally bought out 6 courses…yep I said 6…and I had to keep eating even though I was more stuffed than an overflowing stuffed pepper because I knew I would not get this opportunity again.

Course 1. Vegan nachos – fried onions, chillies and a coconut based nacho cheese

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Course 2: A lovely fresh and simple tasty salad dish…all I can tell you about it is that is was delicious….must remember to make notes in future…

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Course 3.  Samosas and a creamy coconut mushroom soup.  This was my favourite course and I could have eaten this every day for the rest of the trip…..actually I could happily still be eating it now…

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Course 4: Magical smoked corn.  Hidden under this were some mini slices of corn and a smoke that smelt so good I wish I could have bottled it!

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Course 5: Tofu, rice and vegetable platter.  By this point I was completely stuffed and barely made a dent in this dish as gorgeous as it was.

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Course 6:  Candy floss tower complete with mini chocolate cakes, ice cream and fruit.  Of course I managed to make some room for this!

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This was without a doubt the best meal that I had at Disney.  The normal buffet eaters on the next table were incredibly envious of my special dishes that kept appearing!

To top off an already fantastic night, the Magic Kingdom fireworks started as we caught our boat back to the Magic Kingdom across the lakes, and we saw the start of the Electrical Water Pageant ~ a truly magical moment!

Why did it not come higher then I hear you ask?  Well I was kinda relieved that I didn’t need to get anything from the buffet as the choice was pretty limited to plain baked potatoes and a few salads.  I know the chef would still provide something tasty, I am just not sure it would be worth the effort it takes to get all the way out there.

4. Plaza Ice Cream Parlor (Magic Kingdom)

This place on Main Street USA makes it this high up on the list for one reason and the clue is in the name…yep ICE CREAM!  Vegan options here were my personal favourite Tofutti as well as the rather tasty Rice Dream.  So two options…heck I would have been excited about one!

Ice cream in front of Cinderella’s castle…maybe dreams do come true at Disney.

Tofutti ice cream from Plaza Ice Cream Parlor in Magic Kingdom, Disney World

5. The Mara (Animal Kingdom Lodge)

Although this little quick service restaurant at our hotel wasn’t overflowing with vegan options, what it did have was tasty fast food and friendly staff happy to tweak meals or get an allergy chef through from Boma.

It was our go to option most mornings (unless we decided to overindulge at Boma) where we would get oatmeal with raisins and fruit salad or occasionally ask an allergy chef for waffles or scrambled tofu from next door.

Lunch and dinner options were a mixed tomato flatbread which had obvious cheese plus some sneaky cheese too.  First time I ordered I asked for it without the ricotta in the description only to find mozzarella on it – not listed anywhere on the ingredients.  To be fair though I hadn’t checked first plus the staff made me a fresh one with extra toppings to make up for it.

My go to option though was usually the falafel burger without the yogurt sauce.  I always intended to go for it with the couscous options yet never seemed to manage it…the fries tempted me every single time…

And I failed to get a picture of the thing I ate the most in the entire holiday…

6. Aloha Isle (Magic Kingdom)

Tucked in Adventureland, this snack place serves the mighty Pineapple Float ~ vegan and just the ticket for a hot day in Magic Kingdom.  This little kiosk is all about the pineapple and the description reads Dole® Pineapple Juice with Pineapple Dole® Whip…I think it maybe has something to do with Dole?!  The Dole Whip is so tasty and fresh that I had to feature it fairly high up on my list.

Dole Whip Float in Magic Kingdom, Disney World

7. Tangierine Cafe (World Showcase in Epcot) 

One of the many vegan options available in Epcot, this quick service restaurant in the Morocco section serves light and filling mediteranean and moroccan style dishes with one very lovely option for vegans.  The vegetable platter comes with couscous, hummus, olives, taboleh and lots of other tasty goodness.

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I did read that the pita that comes with it is not always vegan so it is probably best to ask.

It was great to have a proper and healithy meal option at a quick service restaurant that wasn’t a snack.  What with Sunshine Seasons in Future World (I had the vegan korma which was pretty good) and the many options at the snack places, Epcot is the vegan place to eat at Disney World.

8. Blaze Pizza (Disney Springs)

This build-your-own pizza chain is remarkably vegan friendly and the pizzas are pretty fine too.  There are some signature pizzas you can choose from but hey where’s the fun in that?  Choose your base and toppings, get it cooked and enjoy your creation.  They have Daiya vegan cheese and both bases are vegan.  Staff change their gloves to do your pizza so let them know at the start.  Really liked my pizza and the choice available, shame we had an issue with two of our pizzas going missing…

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9. The Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom)

We had a really good experience food wise here and got to meet Eeyore!  As I said in my An Introvert in Orlando post, I put aside my general uncomfortableness with character encounters to enjoy meeting Winnie the Pooh and his friends.  It was a bonus that there was quite a good choice at the buffet and we had a really good tour from our chef Brandom who went the extra mile and made us some special extra food as well.

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I would have put this higher if it hadn’t been so damn cold in there which made it quite an uncomfortable experience…take a sweater if you eat there, actually no take two.

10. Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe (Magic Kingdom)

At the far end of Frontierland, the menu for this Mexican themed restaurant doesn’t offer much hope for vegan food.  Luckily though thanks to my advance research I knew there is a secret vegan option available if you ask ~ the Roasted Vegetable Rice Bowl!  Ask for this with plain white rice, pile it high with bits from the topping bar and you have a filling bowl of goodness.

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A little summary of other places we ate at:

Although those were my favourite places, here are some of the other places we tried (we did find time to go on the rides honest…it wasn’t all eating…)

B.B. Wolf’s Sausage Co (Disney Springs) – Italian Veggie Sausage in a roll

Tusker House (Animal Kingdom) – buffet with reasonable vegan choice, character dinner with Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy and Mickey (didn’t realise this at time of booking!)

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe (Magic Kingdom) – after speaking to staff who made a real effort to help me out, I got a surprisingly nice falafel burger (without tzatziki and the bun) plus fries and my own little bowl of toppings.

Wolfgang Puck Express (Disney Springs) – had the whole wheat hummus wrap without the feta.  It was okay and did the job, wasn’t overly impressed though especially given the reputation of the chain.

Nine Dragons (World Showcase, Epcot) – I had the vegetable and tofu stir fry which was okay but fairly bland.

And the park that lets the rest down….

Without a doubt, Hollywood Studios was a real disappointment compare to the other Disney areas.  It was the only place I really struggled finding food that wasn’t fries and ended up being a kind of making do day.  Maybe once they finish all the development work there for the Star Wars area, things will improve.

There was so many places I didn’t get a chance to try out ~ oh well, we will just have to go back then eh mum!  Have you been to Disney World?  What are your experiences of vegan eating in Orlando?  I’d love to hear from you!

In case you missed here, check out Vegan Adventures in Orlando – Part 1

 

Vegan Adventures in Orlando


 

“The only thing I like better than talking about food is eating” – John Walters

 


Whilst away in Orlando this was the blog post I was really excited about doing on my return!  I took lots and lots and lots (get the idea that it was lots?!) of photos of what I was eating and couldn’t wait to share with you all what I had discovered on my trip.  I think all those photos were my downfall though!  I kept looking at how many there were to sort through and kept putting it off.  At long last though I have given myself a talking to and finally sat down to write this post.  Or should that say ‘these posts’…I have so much to talk about Disney wise that I think I will briefly touch on it here and then give you all the details in another post.  How does that sound?

Having only made the switch to a plant-based diet in January (I took part in Veganuary having been a vegetarian for 20 years and then kept on going!), I was quite nervous about how Orlando would treat me…would it be kind and offer lots of food or would it be a mean old Orlando where I would have to live on fries?  Especially as I find it really hard asking things in UK restaurants anyway thanks to my anxiety and hadn’t really eaten out since making the switch.  Happily on the whole Orlando was a lovely friend to me though we did have the odd falling out…

 

Theme Parks:

Disney World was on the whole pretty damn awesome and you’ll see exactly why when I write part 2 of this post (I promise it will follow on real soon!).

We were completely spoilt staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge where we had the super amazing buffet at Boma complete with chefs that really seemed to know their thing about dietary issues.  The quick service Mara also had staff who would happily make changes for you or get a chef from next door to do something special for you.

Vegan Mickey waffles

Vegan Mickey waffles!

The parks themselves were a bit of a mixed bunch.  Magic Kingdom and Epcot seemed to provide the most choice whilst Hollywood Studios was one of the times me and Orlando fell out.  Lets just say I was relieved to have snacks with me.  Animal Kingdom had reasonable choice, I think I was simply unlucky in not being near anything at lunch when I didn’t have the time to go walking elsewhere thanks to a Nemo reservation.  We lucked out when we made the trip out to Fort Wilderness Campgrounds by getting the legendary Chef TJ (give vegan at Disney a google and I guarantee he will pop up!).  Added to this the rather big choice at Disney Springs ~ well me and Disney got on very fine indeed generally.

Now in stark contrast to Disney, Universal was where me and Orlando fell out.  Inside both parks, the choice for anybody with any form of dietary requirements was very poor (words from the mouth of a member of staff).  The Harry Potter areas had a few options at the Three Broomsticks and Leaky Cauldron that would allow you to cobble together a meal however neither fitted in with where we were when we wanted to eat so I made do with some fries and a Lara bar that I had with me (I miss you Lara Bars!).  Outside the parks in City Walk, there was actually a few options ~ hurrah!  We choose to try out the Mexican restaurant Antojitos LINK rather than the Italian Vivos as we were a little fed up of pizza (I know!  How is that even possible?!) and had some tasty authentic food accompanied by a mariachi band.  Our server was pretty helpful with my choices and I had the Vegetarianas Enchiladas without the queso fresco plus some nachos with salsa.  Yummy meal…just a shame we had to leave the parks to get it.  I was so hungry by the time we got there, I forgot to take photos…

vegan rainbow Dippin Dots at Universal, Orlando

Look at that happy little face!

Universal did slightly redeem itself by being the place to introduce me to Dippin Dots (again in City Walk).  These little balls of flash-frozen tasty deliciousness were one of my favourite discoveries in Orlando.  Not all flavours are vegan though there are a whole heap that are ~ Liberty Ice, Black Ice, Sour Blue Razz, Orange Ice, Blue Raspberry Ice, Lemon Ice, Lime Ice, Strawberry Ice, Mango-Pineapple Sorbet, Strawberry Sorbet and my personal favourite Rainbow Ice.

 

Outside the parks:

We did do some eating outside the parks too though not enough if the standard of what we did eat is anything to go by!

Compared to the supermarkets over here, the big grocery stores in Orlando were a treasure trove of goodies.  From meals to snacks, the choice was amazing and slightly overwhelming!  It was way too easy to leave laden down with crisps (chips), snacks bars, vegan cheeses, hummus and tasty salads.  Whole Foods Market near Universal was my favourite with its hot food and salad bar which you can stuff…I mean place a small amount… into containers to take away.  Oh and they had seriously delicious vegan doughnuts!

On one Sunday we made our way to Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando for the farmers market held there every Sunday.  It feels a world away from the theme parks and was a lovely relaxing place to stroll and hang out with locals.  There was stack loads of choice including a really tantalising Mexican stall which I still wish I’d tried.  In the end though we all ended up at the hot dog stall where I had a tasty vegan dog with almost all the trimmings which I followed up with grilled corn and a vegan ice cream.

Vegan hot dog at farmers market in Lake Eola Park, Orlando

Funnily enough I found a really enjoyable salad way out at Kennedy Space Centre.  I wasn’t holding out much hope for vegan food there and the first food places we came across seemed to support this.  I was about to resign myself to doing a Universal i.e. fries followed by my own snacks when the Orbit Cafe saved the day with its build your own salad!  So I choose a base of mixed leaves and then all the veggie options (other than mushrooms…still working on eating them) plus a few extras from the topping bar.  A tasty surprise to find!

Build your own salad, Orbit Cafe, Kennedy Space Centre, vegan, orlando

By far though the highlight of my vegan experience in Orlando was eating at the truly amazing Ethos ~ heck I’d go back simply to eat there again!  Oh my what can I say about this place that does it justice?!  Set in the artsy and historical area of Winter Park,  Ethos is a 100% vegan restaurant serving gorgeous home-style food that will satisfy anyone, whatever they eat.  All 3 of us (1 vegan and 2 omnivores) rolled out of the restaurant filled to the brim with good food and coffee.  Between us we demolished sauasage rolls, blackened tempeh with rice, beans and veggies, an all American burger and a chickun bruschetta sandwich followed by carrot cake, chocolate amaretto mousse and an espresso topped vanilla ice cream.  As I say, we rolled out the place!

(check out the menus on the link above and get ready to drool!)

Sorry the photos aren’t quite the best….the downside of sitting on a small table by the window on a sunny day!

Wow talking about all that food has made me real hungry and wanting to go back to try out more tasty food there.  The wilds of Cumbria is not the natural habitat of a vegan!  So have you been to Orlando?  How did you find it food-wise?

Part 2 of my vegan adventures in Orlando to follow…