When you think of theme park food, you may think of burgers, chicken fingers, and fries. However, if you know anything about Disney dining, while these options are absolutely available, there are also many other dining experiences to be had. As someone who enjoys good restaurants, a large part of my Disney trip is spent planning for our dining. With that said, I have one child who is becoming more and more adventurous by the day and one who is so picky that even the standard burgers and chicken fingers don’t meet her criteria. Feeding her at home is hard, but feeding her at Disney is VERY hard. If you find yourself with a similar member in your party, or perhaps you are that member, read some of my top tips to help you out!
1- Bring food into the park with you.
Now, I don’t mean cook a meal or even necessarily make a sandwich, because if you’re like us and stay at a moderate or value resort, you don’t have a kitchen! Instead, I order some staples from Garden Grocer or Amazon and have them delivered. I then bring some of her standard options (yogurt, granola bars, etc.) in with us to have for backup. An alternative to ordering groceries that I’ve done is run to my hotel’s quick service and grab an Uncrustable, an apple, and something else she’d enjoy and throw it in the park bag for the day. I have found that utilizing the quick service in your hotel is a great option. I can always get a bagel to store, which removes the “ugh, what is she going to eat?” feeling while we enjoy our day.
2- Pre-feed your picky eater.
One of my daughter’s safe foods is hot dogs. I keep my eye out for restaurants that offer a hot dog on the kid’s menu, but at the end of the day, we aren’t going to skip out on a meal we all want just because they don’t offer a hot dog. I often grab her a hot dog from somewhere in the park and feed her before we go. Many menus have “fancy hot dogs” with chili and various toppings, but I have had no issue getting a plain hot dog for her at such locations. Then, when we are at the table service restaurant, I’ll usually get her a dessert so she can eat with us and try something on the menu.
3- Buffets are a good option.
I was really sad when buffets went away entirely because of Covid, but now that they are slowly returning, this is an excellent option for our family. I’m not a “buffet person” in life outside of Disney, but when we are there, we enjoy a good character buffet, and the options always allow us to find something to fill up our pickiest eater.
4- Make a meal of sides.
Sometimes you just have to get creative when dealing with a picky eater. A lot of the kid’s meals come with apple sauce or Cuties, so at times she will have a meal consisting of mostly the sides. We have found Disney to be very flexible with this. I remember one meal, in particular, we got her a side of breadsticks, a side of yogurt, and an apple sauce. It wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst.
5- Do your research- all menus are online!
Before we go to Disney and make our dining reservations, I am religiously checking menus. As I’ve said, I don’t limit our options to her restrictions because there are many, but I make sure I have a general plan for her for the day. I know where I can grab fruit and yogurt in the park and which counter service options have PB&J (and even table service- I’m looking at you, The Plaza!). I know which table service meals offer a kids alternative (like did you know ‘Ohana brings platters of nuggets and fries? That was a winning one for us!).
Do I wish she was a better eater? Sure. But at the end of the day, picky eaters are part of life, and I have found Disney to be a place that, with a few tweaks, can easily meet the needs of all eaters.