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How Eating Affects your Disney World Vacation

Friday, March 29, 2013

After taking so many trips to Walt Disney World I often wondered how my eating habits during my trip affected my vacation experience.  When you are at your resort hotel, theme park, Downtown Disney, or a water park you are constantly surrounded by opportunities to eat and drink.  The fact is you are under assault by the many eating and drinking outlets that Disney World has to offer.  Let’s take a closer look at how the food and drink you consume at Disney World can drastically affect your vacation experience. 

Buffets are a good value but…..

Although buffets are convenient and can be a quicker option than a served meal they are a place where you can over eat.  There are so many options and food items it’s easy to let yourself indulge and eat way too much.  After all, you do want to get your monies worth, right?  Whether it’s a breakfast, lunch, or dinner buffet you’ll probably feel the need to try to stick it to the mouse for the high price of the meal.  Unfortunately, what you are left with is a very full stomach; maybe even a stretched stomach.  And guess what?  Its 96 degrees outside.  You leave the friendly confines of the air conditioned restaurant and hit the 96 degree heat in the theme park.  You quickly realize the heat and a full stomach are not a good combination for theme park touring.  You’re kind of in a malaise the rest of the day and after a while you contemplate heading back to your room for the evening.  Maybe your children who ate far less than you did at the buffet want to stick around the theme park late into the evening.  Unfortunately, you don’t feel the same so it’s either bring everyone back to the room with you or have your spouse stay with the kids at the park.  If you can’t decide what to do this decision can lead to a separated family vacation or a quarrel between spouses and children. 

I know I’ve been affected by this before.  After indulging in a good buffet it hit me like a Mike Tyson upper cut.  I wanted to call it a day way too early, especially when it’s extremely hot and humid outside.  Simply put it’s not a good idea to over eat at a buffet and expect to get a full, quality day in the theme parks.  Leaning to the side of under-eating would be a better decision if you can find the will power to do it. 

Cheeseburgers, fries, and sodas, oh my!

Disney World is full of quick service eateries.  Most of them offer cheeseburgers, double cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, French fries, and other fried foods.  Also, most guests turn to sodas with their meals.  Fried foods are not something that will provide you with shot of energy later in the day.  In fact, those foods will have an opposite effect on your energy level hours later.  They’ll make you sleepy or exhausted.  In addition, most of these foods are loaded with salt which for some people can cause swelling and water retention.  This can certainly slow you down and make you feel miserable as you tour the theme park. 

As far as soda goes it can provide you with a quick shot of energy because of the caffeine and sugar contained inside the drink.  Just keep in mind that shot of energy will probably lead to a crash later in the day or night.  Again, you may be left with a decision to stick it out in the theme park or head back to the room to call it an early evening. 

Snacks and more snacks, who could resist

One of the best parts of your Disney World vacation are the many unique snacks and eats you’ll find as you walk through the theme parks or resort hotels.  A Mickey ice cream bar, a Dole Whip, a Nutella waffle, or a Napoleon from France are all available to you as you walk from land to land.  Alcoholic beverages are also available too, especially in World Showcase at EPCOT.  Most of us are already thinking about what we’re going to eat or drink before we even leave home.  The problem is most of these snack options are not healthy.  They are very high in calories, sugar, and carbohydrates.  All three of these elements are a triple whammy that will eventually slow you down during your trip. You may feel extreme satisfaction while eating these snacks, but eventually that will wear off and happiness will turn to a tired body.  After several days of this type of snacking your body won’t have the energy left to keep moving and enjoy your theme park touring.  Basically, you won’t get the most out of your theme park vacation. 

What the heck!  Apples, oranges, whole grains, and more

I’m not advocating that Walt Disney World is full of unhealthy foods.  You do have to admit though most of it would not be considered healthy eats.  Disney World has done a great job over the years adding better food choices and even replacing some of the poor foods offered to guests.  For example, hot dog and hamburger buns were replaced with wheat buns and the Nestle ice cream sandwich was removed because of its high fat content. 

The other effort Disney has made in its theme parks is offering more fruit and vegetable options to guests.  More snack kiosks now offer whole fruit and vegetables.  Even Kids meals have the option to choose carrots or grapes instead of French fries.  If you’re a fan of Sunshine Seasons at EPCOT (my favorite counter service location) you’ll have plenty of healthy options to choose from.  Some of the dining outlets offer healthier food options.   You just need to know where to go to find them.  Other dining outlets don’t offer very many healthy options.  Again, it all depends on how you want to eat.  That will help you decide which restaurant to visit.  Keep in mind these healthier foods will probably help drive your vacation experience in a positive direction.  You’ll feel more energized and have a better chance to stick around when the theme park closes later into the evening. 


I’m not trying to be a downer when it comes to eating at Walt Disney World.  All I’m saying is food can and does affect your theme park vacation experience.  It does affect it in a positive way as well.  Let’s face it, there a feeling of satisfaction while you down that double cheeseburger and French fries at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn or a No Way Jose at Beaches and Cream.  What I’m trying to say here is find a balance between the good foods and the not so good foods.  You do want to enjoy your theme park vacation after all.  You don’t want to completely deny yourself those great theme park foods and snacks.  Just don’t overdo it to the point where it affects your ability to get around and enjoy your vacation with your family.  Who really wants to cut your day short in a theme park?  It’s all about moving and making sure you maximize your experience as much as possible.  You don’t want an over-full stomach.  What you want is a full mind of vacation memories that last a lifetime. 

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About this column

Aaron DelPrince looks at the various activities you and your family can experience at Walt Disney World


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