There are a few go-to snacks that I like to bring to the parks with me when I know I'm going to be a while and I don't feel like spending money. Worth noting I am not sponsored by any of these brands, but this is legitimately what I like to bring when I go!
Same goes for bottles of water; they're about $3 in the parks, so it depends on what bag you're bringing, how long you're planning on spending in the parks, and your food budget if you bring it or just buy a whole case at the grocery store and pack some in your bag.
One thing I always bring in my bag if I know I'm going to get a Dole Whip or eating at one of the restaurants is a measuring cup! Thank goodness for the stackable and collapsable kinds you can buy now because they don't take up a lot of room in my bag. They're a serious lifesaver when it comes to staying on plan and allowing an indulgence without it feeling like an indulgence!
Starbucks is located in all four parks and also has two locations at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney).
Here's a list of the locations:
Magic Kingdom: Main Street, USA, on the right hand side. It's about halfway down Main Street, where the bakery used to be if you've ever been to Walt Disney World before Starbucks was there. It's still called the Main Street Bakery.
Epcot: To the right of the fountain behind Spaceship Earth before you get to the World Showcase. Next to Club Cool.
Hollywood Studios: Under the name Trolley Car Cafe, it's near the intersection of Hollywood Blvd and Sunset Blvd when you first enter.
Animal Kingdom: Under the name Creature Comforts, it's located just before the bridge that takes you to the Africa section of the park on your left hand side.
Disney Springs: One is near World of Disney, and the other is on the other side of Disney Springs near Cirque du Soleil and House of Blues (directly across from the Star Wars Galactic Outpost and next to the food trucks).
So, what's the big deal?
Starbucks being at Disney is a Weight Watcher member's or calorie counter's dream come true because it's something you can track and be certain about. Not only are there so many 0 Smart Point drink options available (an unsweetened iced tea on a hot day at the parks? Yes please!) and some other low point and calorie drink concoctions that we've all whipped together at Starbucks, but unlike the rest of Disney Parks, you can actually accurately track the food here since Starbucks offers more than just junk food and pastries. If you're desperate and you don't mind skipping out on park food (which, in my opinion, isn't anything super special so you wouldn't be missing much) if you're eating at the park, know that these are options available to you that you can count your points for.
What is a Mickey Check Meal?Mickey Check was introduced to kids menus at Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 2013 to all menus - quick service and table service.
In case you aren't familiar with Disney Dining terminology, quick service restaurants are grab and go type places whereas table service is more of a traditional, sit down type of restaurant.
According to Disney Parks Blog, Mickey Check "must meet Disney Nutrition Guidelines that limit calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar... Kid's Complete Meals must be ordered without substitutions and include at least three of the following food groups: fruits and vegetables; low-fat dairy; whole grains or lean protein, beans, eggs and nuts."
For the full guidelines, you can check out this PDF from The Walt Disney Company here. Unfortunately, exact nutritional information of menu items is not available (more on that here), but if you order off of the Mickey Check menu, this can offer you a good foundation. At a quick glance, full meals must be 600 calories or less, but you can break it down even further if you check out the charts in the PDF.That's all well and good... But it's a kids menu item. I can't order that, right?Not necessarily true! While Mickey Check is a kids menu exclusive, if you're dining at a quick service location, you can order off of the kids menu... Even if no children are present. So if you're not at a table service restaurant, feel free to save yourself some calories and some money by ordering off of the kids menu, especially if you get something with a Mickey Check next to it.
To know if a menu item is a Mickey Check meal, it will have a little Mickey Mouse head silhouette with a check mark in the center of it next to the name of the menu item.
Here are some of the healthier snack items I've found throughout the parks, or at least things you can track and not go overboard with. This doesn't include the fruit that I've mentioned on a separate page. This page will continually be updated as I find more things, so stay tuned and keep checking back for more! For restaurant recommendations that are on the healthier side, check out my Restaurant Guide!
Bring a measuring cup, because Dole Whip is a classic Disney treat that we actually have nutritional information for! According to Dole's website, it's 5 Smart Points and 90 calories for a half cup. In my experience, they usually give you about a cup's worth, so if you don't have a measuring cup handy you can just split it with a friend. Here's where you can get it:
Gift shop snacks with barcodes and nutrition labels
There are a ton of different snacks available at the gift shops that have the nutritional info, including pretzels, lollipops, cookies and rice krispy treats, taffy, veggie chips (similar to Veggie Straws), ice cream bars, and so much more. I'd recommend double checking nutritional information that pops up on your app's scanner with what's on the packaging or just calculating it yourself, and pay attention to serving sizes! My favorite is the pictured cheddar puffs; they're similar to Goldfish.
Hollywood Studios - please note that there are MANY changes coming to this park over the next few years what with the addition of Star Wars and Toy Story lands, so this list may be updated more frequently than others as new things pop up around the parks:
Picture this: you're at a restaurant fit for royalty, the food is expensive, a princess is due at your table any minute... but you have no idea what to order.
If all of your options are looking like bad options at a table service restaurant where you can't order a Mickey Check kids meal, don't freak out. Disney is extremely accommodating and if you have any questions about what the chef can or can't do; just ask your server and they'll get someone to ask the chef for you.
For example, my family and I had a reservation at Be Our Guest and when we went to order, we were set up with a server who could contact the chef and see what they could arrange. On the kids menu there is a grilled shrimp and broccoli option, so we were able to order that but in a larger, adult size (plus some mashed potatoes without butter to go with it) after asking if it was possible. Our meal turned out to be delicious, easy to track, and we weren't worried the whole day about how much we ate!
This can work at any restaurant - don't be shy. Disney prides itself on good customer service and they understand that everyone has different dietary needs and restrictions.
This page is not dedicated to me telling you to not eat the cupcakes at Walt Disney World. I know you know that already.
Because Disney Parks doesn't currently have exact nutritional information available, it can be easy to fall into a trap of, "Oh, well this looks like something that might be healthy," when in reality, it is far from it.
Sure, something may look like it is something healthy that you make at home... but it's not what you're making at home. Everything is likely to be full fat, high calorie, tons of oils used in the process (and things like oil alone can really add up in Smart Points), and let's not even get started on how high the carb and sugar counts probably are.
I searched for hours on this subject alone - what is the exact nutritional information for entrees at Walt Disney World? It simply does not exist.
In a letter written to a guest from Walt Disney World that was shared on Disney Food Blog, they will provide a menu that is allergen/special dietary needs friendly but they still won't tell you exactly what is what. An excerpt from that letter:
"Unfortunately we do not have, and therefore we cannot provide you with accurate or reliable nutritional information, and we would not want you or any other Guest to rely on what could only be our 'best guess.' We can however, attempt to work within your dietary requests and suggest some menu alternatives and solutions that may satisfy your needs. We strive to provide all our Guests a magical experience by offering a wide array of dining locations, experiences and menu options, and we trust that among all those selections you will find menu items that meet your needs."
Example: Be Our Guest Restaurant at Magic Kingdom
The only restaurant that has provided nutritional information for their menu items as of right now is Be Our Guest... and the numbers are as high as I guessed they would be in the first segment of this post. Last I saw, it was at the menu boards when you go to order, but if you want to look online ahead of time, a quick Google Image search of "Be Our Guest nutritional information" includes not only photos guests have taken of these boards, but screenshots of these items when Disney was testing Fast Pass options for lunch a while back.
For an ever quicker look, here's the full list that someone shared on Reddit of the lunch menu. Note all of the sugar values for the desserts are "0g" - I have a very hard time believing that!
Before Weight Watchers, I used to order the carved turkey sandwich, which is served on a baguette with dijon mayo, and I would order it with the green beans instead of French fries. That sandwich has 787 calories, 41 grams of fat, 1505 mg of sodium, and 56 grams of carbs. I get about 1,300 calories per day on My Fitness Pal, so that's more than half of my day! For my Weight Watchers friends, that's a 22 Smart Point sandwich... and I only get 30 Smart Points per day excluding weeklies on Beyond the Scale and 23 on Freestyle.
Oh, and "The Master's Cupcake," aka the cupcake with "The Grey Stuff"? They don't even provide the nutritional information for that. But instead, let's look at Be Our Guest's triple chocolate cupcake. It claims to have 440 calories, 48 grams of carbs, and so much sugar they don't even bother to list it. I think we can safely assume that there's a ton of sugar in these cupcakes, especially given that they're massive. I'm wondering if this information even includes the frosting because their cupcakes are larger than my fist (and no, that's not an exaggeration).
My Fitness Pal lists some food items at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, but I'm not sure how accurate these values are since we don't know who put them in the database for it to be a true test. You could probably use it to roughly ball park it, but again, since Disney won't provide this information for you, I would take anything you find on My Fitness Pal that you can't scan for yourself at the parks (like the pre-packaged snacks at gift shops) with a grain of salt.
On My Fitness Pal, it lists Disneyland churros as being 8 SP per churro (but we don't know how much of a churro is a serving; I only question this because some of the cookies at Disney World are actually two servings for one cookie!), 8 SP for an order of fries (but doesn't define approximately how many fries you get for an order and the amount you get could vary based on who is working that day), and 7 SP for four chicken nuggets. There are so many variables that aren't specified that it's hard to know how accurate this even is regardless of if we knew how reliable the information given was.So, what can you do?Don't assume something is innocent enough, and if you find yourself in a situation where the meal in front of you is pretty daunting in terms of how many Smart Points it may be, just stay calm and do your best. Try to use generic values of things on the app and maybe double or triple how many servings the generic value is for depending on how much you eat. Try to avoid things with cheese, and since they are accommodating regarding dietary needs, they won't know the difference between lactose intolerant and someone just trying to eat kind of healthy at the very least. If ordering a salad, get dressing on the side. If ordering a sandwich, take off half or the entire roll. If you're not at a table service restaurant, see what Mickey Check meals they have to offer on the kids menu.
If you don't mind skipping out on the park food, pack your own meals and track them before your trip or the morning before you head into the parks. If you will be eating at the parks, Walt Disney World's website does provide all of their menus so you can plan ahead; do not be afraid to ask for modifications.