Addicted to your Fitbit, Garmin, or another fitness tracker that helps you aim for 10K+ steps per day? It's super easy to get anywhere between 20K-30K steps per day at Disney but here are some ways that you can really get the most use out of your fitness tracker at the parks.
Want to skip out on some major crowds and get some steps in all at once? There's a walking path that runs parallel to the train for a while that takes you from Storybook Circus (behind Goofy's The Barnstormer) all the way to Tomorrowland by the Space Mountain gift shop. Warning: part of this walkway is a smoking section, so you may encounter smokers if cigarette smoke is something you're sensitive to.
Epcot and Hollywood Studios
I'm clumping these parks together because you can actually walk to and from them. There's park entrance/exit turnstiles in between the UK and France Pavilions at the World Showcase in Epcot that leads you to the Boardwalk Resort areas. If you walk and keep going past the Swan and Dolphin, you'll walk by one of the lakes and eventually end up at Hollywood Studios. It's a short walk - so short, in fact, you'll beat the boat that goes the same way every time!
Also, both of these parks have pretty small parking lots. Unless you're parked in the very far back, you don't really need to take the tram on this one unless you're at your limit at the end of the day.
Similarly to as Epcot and DHS, Animal Kingdom's parking lot is pretty tiny. There's a high chance you won't need to take the tram so if you want to get some extra steps, just walk to the entrance. There are also tons of beautiful walking paths throughout the park with great views of the animals.
Did you know that you can run a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or full marathon at Walt Disney World? You're sure to get more steps in if you plan your trip around a race weekend and participate in the race! When I did the Star Wars Dark Side 10K, I had 8,000 steps in before 10:00 a.m. Plus it's super healthy and a great way to burn some calories, especially if you're going to not be as strict with following the plan while you're at Disney.
You can read more on runDisney on my blog by clicking right here.
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.
Whether you want to run a 5K or a half marathon, you can do that at Disney Parks!
California's race weekends are on hold, but in Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris, you can run a race through the parks before they open! The full schedule is on runDisney.com. The races are fun but they are timed if you run anything longer than a 5K because they have to re-open the roads. You get chip timing for the 5Ks, too, but I find that they aren't as strict about it since you're never on an open highway.
If you can walk or run a 16 minute mile or less, it's a great inclusion to a Disney vacation - but do note that registration opens up many months in advance and they sometimes sell out quickly depending on the race weekend.
The races start early; typically around 5-6 a.m. depending on which race you do. However, it's certainly a unique experience that I would recommend, even if an early wake-up call isn't your thing. But, if this is your first race, I'd recommend starting off with a local run because the size of runDisney events can make them very overwhelming for beginners! So if crowds can tend to stress you out, start small.
It's also worth noting that they do encourage dressing up! Picking out a race outfit inspired by a character is one of my favorite parts of the whole thing! I ran the 2017 Walt Disney World 5K in a Gravity Falls costume and did a coronation Elsa inspired outfit for the 2018 Princess Half Marathon.
There are characters along the course that you can get a photo with, but do remember that for anything longer than a 5K, it is timed and they do "sweep" people off course. At WDW, they have "balloon ladies" (literally a few women with balloons attached to them) who are the unofficial pace keepers of the event. They are the last people to go in the last corral, so as long as you're in line with them or ahead of them, you should be good to go! Because of this, I recommend taking photos with characters on course during the 5K events so you don't have to worry about it on longer runs because lines can get long and eat at your time!
Sweeping is done to ensure Florida Highway Patrol that the roads are back open, since a good chunk of the longer race courses happen on the highways as you run from park to park. That being said, don't be surprised when you have to go up an overpass on course; I'll forever have a love/hate relationship with Osceola Parkway after the (now discontinued) Tower of Terror 10 Miler!
Q: What’s the deal with the expos?
A: runDisney expos are held the whole weekend, starting the day before the first race! The schedules for these are always posted in advance on runDisney’s website. The expo is your one-stop place for everything: your packet pickup (your packet includes your bib, shirt, gear check bag, etc), official race weekend and runDisney merch, and a vendor hall that’s basically comic con for runners!
It is not unusual for the expo to be mobbed with a crazy line for a few hours upon opening on the first day - people tend to get into a frenzy and worry about official event merchandise selling out - but it calms down by nightfall or the day after. While eBay scalpers have been an issue in the past, I’ve noticed there’s been enough merchandise for everyone there regardless of this - so much so that I often see race weekend merch at the local Disney Character Warehouse outlet a few months later! So don’t worry, your likelihood of snagging an “I Did It!” shirt is pretty high despite the early bird chaos.
They also usually have character meets at the expos (for example, rotating princesses and Princess Minnie at Princess Half 2018) so keep an eye out for those!
Pro tip: bring cash instead of your cards! Not only will this help you set a spending limit, but prevent potential card fraud/skimming. I know quite a few people who had their cards compromised at the Princess 2018 expo so it’s better to be safe than sorry moving forward!
Q: With a 5:30 a.m. start time, when should I be at my corral?
A: Check the bus schedule if you’re leaving from Disney property and relying on that - it’s in your event guide when those are released - but plan for an early wake up call! I like to try to be there for 4 a.m. at the latest - but preferably closer to 3:30 for my own comfort - but others feel more comfortable pushing it a bit closer!
Q: What are challenges?
A: Challenges let you register for multiple events at once - usually the 10k and half, but more options are available like the Goofy and Dopey Challenges during WDW Weekend - and you get an extra medal for completing the challenge! This is a fun way for more experienced runners to challenge themselves and, if you’re a mid-packer like me, get some photo ops on a shorter course so you don’t stress it as much.
Q: What about virtual races?
A: Disney does offer virtual races! As someone who became largely comfortable with running with Hogwarts Running Club’s virtual events and now hosts virtual events through Bombshell Fitness, I’d highly recommend giving the virtual runs a whirl if you’re new to running and just want an untimed fun way to work towards a goal and get a medal for doing it!
Q: When do I register?
A: Many months in advance! Registration sometimes sells out in minutes (like the 2018 Wine and Dine 5k), or sometimes you can register right before the race happens (like the 2018 Star Wars Dark Side half and First Order Challenge). Keep an eye out for race registration calendars and plan (and budget!) accordingly!
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.
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) doesn't have to be scary for you if you're trying to avoid candy and sweets!
The event offers not only trick-or-treating, but also exclusive treats such as alcoholic beverages and baked goods that are Halloween themed and can be very tempting... but have no fear! There are plenty of things to do where you don't even have to worry about candy and Halloween themed snacks for sale around the Magic Kingdom for the event.
Just have fun!
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is my favorite event at the Magic Kingdom and in the past, I've gotten so busy that I forgot they even have trick-or-treating! There are so many great character photo opportunities, amazing shows, and the fireworks are my favorite.
There's also a dance party every year - usually with Monsters, Inc. characters - so you can even burn some calories enjoying that!
If you really want a piece of candy...
In my experience, WDW doesn't give out full-sized candy bars for trick or treating, but the mini or fun sized ones, which means it's something you can look up in the tracker ahead of time and pre-plan for if you want to! If you really don't want to miss out, just get a single piece and give the rest of your candy to some kid and make their night!
Have yourselves a merry little Christmas...
Similarly to MNSSHP, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) is a seasonal, additional ticketed event at the Magic Kingdom that can strike fear in the hearts of Weight Watchers members because of all of the holiday goodies it has to offer!
Here are my tips for surviving the event.
Avoid the free cookies. They aren't worth it!
You can get free cookies and hot chocolate at certain stations at the Magic Kingdom if you seek it out. I had the cookie in 2015 when I went before I was on Weight Watchers and honestly, the cookie tasted gross. It tasted really cheap, not like something you'd expect from Disney World, so don't waste your Weight Watchers points or your macros on it just because it's free. The hot cocoa also isn't the greatest because they're churning out so much for no additional cost to guests so the quality isn't going to be super high. Don't waste your time on these!
Busy yourself with activities!
There are plenty of things to do during MVMCP that unwanted food distractions and temptations are easy to avoid. To focus solely on going for Christmas treats would be a shame because the Magic Kingdom during the winter holiday season is, in my opinion, when it is most beautiful. Between the decorations, fireworks, the parade, the special shows, the rare character meet and greets, and the rides still being open, there is far too much to worry about besides a cupcake with frosting that looks like a Christmas tree or a gingerbread cookie. Don't cheat yourself of a great time and skip the guilt in the process!
I personally would recommend finding spots for parades and shows fairly early, and getting in line for the more in-demand characters (like the Seven Dwarves, Jack Skellington, Santa, or some of the princes with the princesses) even earlier. As far as characters go, if you're interested in meeting Jack and/or the Dwarves, they always have the longest lines so it's recommended you get there before the 7 p.m. party start time so you don't waste party time on them. I'd also recommend trying to catch the later parade/show showings since it's usually got a lighter crowd.
This page will be updated as I learn more seeing as I can't physically go to the Disneyland parks from here in Florida, and some of their food options are very different from here in Walt Disney World.
Remember, Disney Parks does not provide nutritional info, so the items on this list will be mostly things that you can easily guesstimate with generic food items in the tracker.In general:It seems like a lot of places offer things like grilled chicken sandwiches but you'd likely have to ask for things like cheese either off of it entirely or sauces on the side, etc., if you want it to be in a safe Smart Points range and easier to guesstimate. I'm sure if you ask, they can modify it for you.
Also, it seems like pretty much anywhere that serves breakfast has healthy options like fruit, and you can always ask for something cooked without oil.
Some park food finds and their locations: