Nothing beats the undeniably alluring scent of cinnamon churros and buttery popcorn when entering through the gates of Disneyland. As someone living a plant-based lifestyle, the self-control needed to resist indulging in all of the famous Disneyland treats can seem impossible. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I didn’t exactly have to give up everything I enjoyed eating in the park, even when I cut out dairy and eggs. Believe it or not, the park is filled with lots of vegan-friendly cuisine that doesn’t disappoint. Through my personal experiences wandering the park and discovering new options, I have gathered a list of some of my favorite Disney hacks for eating plant-based — perfect for if you are living a specific lifestyle or just looking for some healthier options in the park!
Disneyland Popcorn: I know it may be hard to believe, but yes, the irresistible Disneyland popcorn offered at multiple stands throughout the park is in fact vegan! When I first read about this online, I doubted its legitimacy myself, but after speaking with workers in the park, I was informed that the buttery flavoring used is actually dairy-free. This had to be one of my favorite surprises after becoming plant-based.
Tiki Room Dole Whip: Another surprising addition to the park’s vegan-friendly snacks is the famous Dole Whip soft-serve offered at the Tiki Stand in Adventureland. This refreshing dessert, along with the Dole Whip floats, provide a creamy and sweet option, without the dairy. I can personally attest that the long, winding line for these treats is always worth it, and they taste even better on a hot day.
Mickey Pretzel: The Mickey pretzel is another famous snack associated with the park. The dough is both egg and dairy-free, making it a great addition to this list. The only personal setback I have with the pretzel is that the original cheese dip that goes with it is obviously not vegan. Without any dip, it can be extremely dry. I suggest asking a nearby restaurant for some mustard or marinara sauce as an alternative.
Pickles: While I’ve heard this Disneyland classic is a hit or miss among park attenders, the famous pickles have always been a staple snack for me when I visit. While this is a more obvious vegan-friendly option, I felt it necessary to include just because of how good they are. The also come in spicy and sour flavors along with the original.
Fresh Fruit: This is a fairly obvious choice, but I still feel it deserves to be acknowledged! Among all the sugary treats and salty snacks, it can be nice to find a refreshing, healthy choice in the park to keep you going all day. Fruit stands can be found all around Disneyland, with options such as watermelon, apple and pineapple slices, or fresh grapes. Some specific locations include the gift shop in Adventureland near the Jungle Cruise exit, the cart overlooking Big Thunder Railroad in Adventureland, the stand just to the right of the Main Street entrance and the table in Tomorrowland right outside the Disney Vacation Club.
The Jolly Holiday: If you’re looking for more of a substantial meal, this welcoming restaurant is a classic choice. Located on the left side of the Main Street courtyard, this spot is known for its famous grilled cheese and tomato soup combo. After speaking with the workers, I found that the tomato soup is vegan if you ask for no parmesan shavings on top. Instead of ordering it with grilled cheese, I usually just ask for a cup of their tomato soup along with their grilled vegetables and whole grain salad.
Carnation Cafe: Carnation Cafe also sits in the heart of Main Street and has more of a formal sit-down restaurant setting. The chef’s vegan burger is my favorite item on the menu and it includes a black bean patty, tomatoes, lettuce, pickled red onions and vegan chipotle mayonnaise. Many of the entree salads can also be made plant-based if you ask for no chicken or cheese and substitute the dressing for the balsamic vinaigrette.
Royal St. Veranta: This secluded walk-up counter is located in New Orleans Square just past the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The menu is limited to their two famous gumbos: steak and vegetarian. The vegetarian gumbo is also conveniently vegan and pairs perfectly with their sourdough bread bowls!
River Belle Terrace: This cute spot looks out upon the Rivers of America and offers their barbecue tofu as either a main dish with two sides or in a salad. The plant-based sides include tater tots or steamed vegetables. If you choose to order a salad, ask for their apple vinaigrette as a dairy-free option!
Rancho Del Zocalo: This happens to be my favorite restaurant in the park due to the sheer amount of plant-based options it offers. This walk-up Mexican restaurant sits just next to Big Thunder Railroad and comes with a courtyard overlooking Frontier Land. Their tostada salad is completely vegan when it’s ordered fajita style, and it comes with grilled vegetables, guacamole, lettuce and refried beans. Another great option is their “Soft Tacos Monterey,” which can also be ordered fajita-style and without cheese. My personal favorite order is the “Burrito Sonora” ordered fajita-style, which comes with grilled vegetables, lettuce, rice and refried beans — just ask for it without cheese.
While eating plant-based in Disneyland may require a little more thought ahead of time, it does not mean you have to miss out! As you may have noticed, many of the most popular park items happen to be vegan or can be made vegan when they are specially ordered. Next time you find yourself in Disneyland, hopefully you find these plant-based hacks useful in order to find some healthy options and vegan snacks!
Paige Holloway is a Communication and Sociology major as well a write and assistant editor for On the Menu. Her interests include fitness, traveling and drinking iced coffee.