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.

20170320_184740895_iOS

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

20170320_233007743_iOS

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…

20170320_234345262_iOS

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…

20170320_235022620_iOS

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!

20170321_000318608_iOS

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.

20170321_001211658_iOS

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

20170321_003931614_iOS

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.

20170326_183809663_iOS

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…

20170313_222102177_iOS

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.

20170323_234435057_iOS

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.

20170314_193634842_iOS

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

 

An Introvert in Orlando

Jeep on deserted beach at Fort de Soto, Florida

Our jeep on a quiet beach at Fort de Soto

So I promised more news on my trip to Orlando in my last post and here it is!  As the internet already has heaps of things on what there is to see and do there (hint it’s way more than a 3 week vacation could possibly fit in ~ I don’t think we did more than pass brief greetings with Orlando), I thought I would write that post I promised on my experience as an anxious introvert in a very extroverted place.

Orlando is awesome and has so many levels to it beyond the theme parks and bright lights that I think most people could find things they like about it.  Being completely honest I was quite doubtful before we went whether I would like it, believing that it wasn’t my ‘type’ of place.  Yet I did like it and I enjoyed being there.  I found an openness about the people and the surroundings that I loved, interesting art spots, fantastic food and wild spaces that called out for exploration if we’d only had the time.

Airboat ride on Lake Tohopekaliga, Florida

Stunning open space of Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee

Yet Orlando is not without its negatives and as an introvert who finds attention, planning, crowds, noise and lack of space anxiety inducing, it is quite a challenging place too.  Before we went, we kept hearing how you needed to plan what you were doing in minute detail for everything from rides to meals.  Now my name is Joanna and I am a planner.  Planning has been my downfall in the past, I have over-planned time and time again, struggling to get the perfect plan and not coping when things did not follow that plan.  It has been a core aspect of my anxiety for many years and spoilt many a thing for me so nowadays I try to be a little less planned.  This insistence on the need to plan to have a good holiday…well it made me quite anxious.  Beyond reading guide books once, booking 1 Disney restaurant (I was not missing out on the Winnie the Pooh character buffet!) and a little research on vegan eating or motion sickness on rides, we didn’t really plan too much.  And guess what, we had a damn fine holiday!  Okay maybe we didn’t see everything that we wanted to, however my life feels no less complete for this and I stressed less than if I had a list of planned things to tick off.  If theme parks are your thing and you only have 2 weeks in which to fit in as much as you possibly can, I suppose you would want to plan but for me this wasn’t an issue and I felt better for doing my Orlando holiday my way.

Crowds at Magic Kingdom, Disney World

Though not as busy as it can get, we were in Orlando during spring break and there was a big sporting event on so it was way busier than my comfort level usually sits at.  At times I did find the crowds of people overwhelming and felt in need of escape.  I struggle with the raised noise of lots of people talking and still am not really sure how to deal with this other than simply letting the panic feeling pass.  Combine this with a lack of solitary quiet time that a busy holiday often results in and my capacity for coping with others suffered.  Time on my own is when I calm my thoughts, process all that is whirling around my head and recharge my ‘spending time with other people’ levels.  Less quiet time = tense and crotchety me.  This ‘may’ have happened in Orlando…sorry Phillip and mum….

One thing that really did have me worried before we went was how I would cope with all the attention I was positive would thrown my way by enthusiastic people dressed as characters or staff in general.  I’m not quite sure why I expected such an avalanche of attention and was seriously relieved that it wasn’t generally the case.  Universal didn’t seem to really bother you unless you went out of your way to involve yourself in a character greet or street performance.  Disney do give you a certain level of extra attention though staff seemed to be fairly good at realising if you are not someone who wants the whole full on fuss.  Our character encounters were few and far between as they weren’t really wandering around accosting unwary people and I wasn’t queuing up for photos with someone dressed up in a costume (I seriously am crap at role play, my brain simply won’t let me get over the fact that the character is not real!).  We did two character meals in the end ~ one by accident! ~ and that was an odd experience especially as we had no children in our group to use as an excuse.  My way of coping?  I decided that being awkward about hugging a stranger in a furry costume would only make the whole situation even more awkward.  So I hugged as good as I could!

I said in my post whilst in Orlando that being there was like a roller coaster and it truly was.  There were the lows of the challenges doing anything with anxiety usually brings and there were the whopping highs of fireworks, air boats, jeep driving, animals, amazing vegan foods and seeing my mum have an amazing time.  And at the end was that happy feeling of ‘I want to do that all again’.

Happy people at Universal, Florida