by Kylina Matteoli
Continuing with the theme of amusement park fun for the summer, this post will take us across the country to Orlando, Florida – America’s home for roller coasters and resorts. If you plan on going to Disney World, then this is the right post for you. I’m going to share my experience staying at a couple of the resorts within Disney World and explain why I think it can be worth your time and money. So, let’s hop on a plane to that sunny state and discover the best vegan eats at Disney World resorts.
Before discussing the tasty vegan food, let me preface by saying that if you plan on travelling to Orlando, many people opt out of the resorts to try to save some money, which is very understandable. But beware! Disney World is not located downtown Orlando. In fact, it’s very far removed due to the large size of all four parks, including 33 resorts/hotels. That’s right, 33 hotels are located within Disney World. This means, if you are coming from out of town you have two options to get inside the park:
- Pay for a rental car each day you’re there and pay for a daily parking pass on top of that
- Pay for a taxi, and trust me, the taxis charge whatever they want (Uber surge pricing) since it’s very inconvenient and takes a very long time to get inside the park to pick you up.
For example, a friend of mine once paid $56 for a single, one-way taxi ride from within Disney World to go to the closest Walgreens to pick up some medicine. Therefore, I recommend staying within the resort because if you calculate all those car expenses listed above, the price evens out to be around the same cost. At least at the resort everything is close and accommodating. For example, some of the resorts include breakfast buffets, and all the hotels within the resort provide transportation to all the parks.
But is it possible to find any vegan food at these resorts? Yes! As I mentioned in my previous post, Disney understands that people from all sorts of backgrounds visit their parks, so they are very accommodating to all diets, including veganism.
My first experience staying at Disney World was at the Port Orleans French Quarter. This resort isn’t the cheapest hotel at Disney World, however, it is on the lower price end with rooms ranging from $200-$300 per night. Normally, that would be too expensive for me, but considering the expenses of a car rental (plus daily parking passes) or taking taxis everywhere, this price seems reasonable and it could potentially save you money. One of the things I particularly liked about this resort was the theme and décor of the hotel. It made me feel like I was in the old historic square in New Orleans with the lush, green foliage and iron railings. And right outside I felt like I was on the bayou, especially since you are right on the river. You can even take a boat ride to get inside the park! How cool is that? Or if you want to get to the parks faster, the resort provides a free shuttle to drop you off and pick you up. But what really impressed me about this resort was the vegan food options.
During my stay, most of my meals were within the parks, however, my last couple of nights I ate at the resort. I was so tired from walking around all day that all I wanted to do was just head straight back to my hotel room. And boy do they have some great, convenient options to eat in. The first place I ate was Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory. This is not a restaurant. You just come in, order, and take your food to-go, which is perfect if you want to stay in and eat in your hotel room. I ordered the vegetarian gumbo in a sourdough bowl, which can be made vegan if you ask for it without cheese, and the vegan beignets. Normally, the beignets are not vegan, but you can ask if they can make them vegan and the chef will make a fresh batch for you using a vegan batter. And if you have never tried beignets then make sure you get your hands on these bad boys!
Beignets consist of doughnut batter that is fried into a ball and dusted over with powdered sugar. It sounds incredibly simple, but it is incredibly delicious, especially because I wasn’t expecting such an original, tasty recipe. It tasted exactly how I remember eating beignets from my favorite bakery when I lived in Georgia. So, if you love southern comfort food, then this resort has awesome vegan options for you. And the best part is this food is super cheap, even cheaper than the prices inside the parks. But if that’s not what you are craving, then I also recommend the pizza delivery they have through room service. You can customize your pizza however you want, and since the dough is vegan, all you have to do is order toppings and skip the cheese. This was a godsend at the end of one of my longest days in the park – just curling up in bed with the AC blasting and a yummy pizza in my hand.
For my second experience, I stayed at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. This resort is little bit more expensive than the previous one with prices ranging from $250-$400 per night. However, this resort is quite a bit bigger than Port Orleans, which means they have more dining options.
At Whispering Canyon Cafe, they have a big breakfast buffet, which you wouldn’t expect to find vegan options, but don’t fret. If you ask for a dietary menu you can easily get vegan waffles or vegan pancakes with fresh fruit, which is a nice and easy meal to start your day. For me, this breakfast option wasn’t worth the price ($14) since my options were limited to that. However, if you are with a large group (like I was) who do eat meat and cheese, then this buffet is great since they easily accommodate big groups (we only had to wait 15 minutes for a group of 8) and it therefore has options for everyone to enjoy. This was also nice for a big group, since you don’t have to worry about transportation to a restaurant (taking two or more cars), nor do you have to worry about splitting bills since everything can easily be divided and billed to individual hotel rooms, and after you’re done eating you can head straight to the park with a free shuttle ride provided by the resort. For dinner though, I recommend the very special Artist Point restaurant. This is a pricier dining option, but I recommend it because the artistic presentation of their food is so amazing. I dare you to try not to take an Instagram picture of it.
While there, I ordered the crabless cakes from their allergy/dietary menu. This was a delicious entree that somehow tasted like shredded crabmeat served on top of a bed of arugula salad and drizzled with a cayenne pepper infused olive oil. Again, this is a restaurant that is great in serving a large group because of the diversity of food offered that can easily accommodate everyone’s preferences. Since the Wilderness Lodge does accommodate the largest portion of visitors in the park, it is recommended that you make reservations at the restaurants here.
Stay tuned to see the Vegan Eats inside the parks at Disney World.
Places to Eat
- Port Orleans French Quarter Resort
- Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory
- Pizza Delivery Room Service
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Whispering Canyon Café
- Artist Point