6 Ways to Survive Theme Park Dining When You’re a Paleo Family
6 Ways to Survive Theme Park Dining When You’re a Paleo Family
“A typical hunter-gatherer enjoyed a more varied diet and consumed more protein and calories than settled people.” – Bill Bryson
Of all the things to do in Orlando, Florida that can destroy your diet, theme parks laden with deep fried delights and cream-filled caloric bakery-bombs weigh in at number one (along with your scale, after that Orlando vacation)! And if you're a paleo devotee, things get even more complicated - trust me. I am one. I know! Non-paleo family, friends and coworkers simply don’t understand – paleo is much more than a diet – it’s a way of life! Whether you call it the paleolithic diet, stone-age diet or caveman diet, paleo has become more and more popular in the past several years. Therefore, if you are a paleo family planning a trip to Orlando to visit Disney World and intend to eat like your Stone Age ancestors, you need to plan ahead and learn the 6 ways to survive theme park dining for paleo dieters. Truth be told, if your pack is into paleo, then you know the challenges of finding fare that's fit to stay fit! And whether you'e staying at one of the resorts on International Drive Orlando, or one of the other hotels in Orlando, when you walk out the front gates and head out for your day at the parks, you know that's when the real 'hunger games' begin! Fortunately, we've got you covered! Never be hungry again at the theme parks as we tell you everything you need to know about how to prepare paleo and discover the perfect paleo places to eat in the theme parks, as well as provide you great tips on how to hack you vacation for optimal paleo-friendly eats!
1 | Make Breakfast Your Main Jam | If you choose Orlando accommodations that feature a fully equipped kitchen or kitchenette, you can simply eat paleo in your hotel room before setting out for the theme parks. By preparing a hearty paleo breakfast at your villa in Orlando, FL, paleo perfectionists can get a good start on the day and later snack as you please at the theme park. If you're playing it a little fast and loose with your paleo-performance standards, then some of the best breakfast in Orlando is served on International Drive, and most restaurants here can paleo-tize your culinary creation to a degree. Either way, you've taken control of the first and most critical meal of the day, which reduces the chances of having a late morning snack attack while you're braving Universal Orlando wait times or hopping from attraction to attraction as you load up fastpasses on your Disney World bracelets in preparation for an all day marathon!
2 | Bring Your Own Food to the Theme Park | Here's a little know 'fit fact' - most theme parks, including Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort, allow you to bring food into the park (especially for guests with special diet requirements). Disney World specifically allows guests “to bring food items – such as snacks or foods that do not require heating – into Disney theme parks.” However, Disney does request that you “inform a Security Cast Member of any food items when you enter the park.” So,... stock up on all the food supplies you need and simply bring your favorite healthy paleo snacks such as fruit, protein bars, mixed nuts and beef jerky to the theme park. Make sure to do some research online before you arrive to a particular theme park to see if they have any regulations regarding bringing in food items. And, if you're staying at one of the best family hotels in Orlando, and you're a smart shopper, you can actually store your food at your resort if you've booked one of the top hotels with kitchens in Orlando Florida!
3 | Drink Lots of Water | Water is one of the essential ingredients for a successful paleo diet. In fact, water will fill you up so you won’t feel as hungry between paleo meals and also keep you from getting dehydrated during those hot summer days at the theme parks. Fortunately, you can bring bottled water into Disney World as long as it isn’t in a glass container. A clever trick to take this a step further is to simply bring one bottle of water per person in your party - and believe me, if you've got a family of four, this can make the difference between dad dutifully carrying a dainty sling-cooler around all day long, and him turning into a shoulder-weary theme park sherpa at around noontime, due to the 14 pounds of water you insisted that he lug around in a backpack. Keep it simple! Just take one per person and then refill copiously at strategic water fountain stops all around the park.
4 | Make Epcot a Prime Choice | Because of its amazing World Showcase, Epcot offers more diverse dining options than the other three Disney World theme parks: Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. And all the food facts about Disney World notwithstanding, at EPCOT you can travel around the globe and ask about paleo-friendly cuisine at the following World Showcase Pavilions: Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, United Kingdom and the United States. Whether you sample the sashimi at Tokyo Dining in Japan or the sausage and sauerkraut at Biergarten Restaurant in Germany, you will discover many delicious paleo options at Epcot.
5 | Park Hop and Snack In Between | By choosing Disney World theme park tickets with the Park Hopper option, you will enjoy the flexibility to take a break during the day and enjoy a paleo meal at your Orlando villa, an outside eatery or grocery store (by the way, a Whole Foods Market is located at the intersection of Turkey Lake and Sand Lake Road within a short drive of Disney, Universal and SeaWorld) before returning to the theme parks. And don't forget those snacks you packed for the park, because you never know when you'll get a case of the 'monorail munchies' as you whiz between theme parks during the day! In the same vein (although not technically related to park hopping), many families take the opportunity to break open a few Ziplocs and mini tupperwares while they rest their feet on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, located at The Magic Kingdom in Tommorland. This ride is easy-going, partially air conditioning, and takes up the better part of a super-smooth 10 minutes, which is ample time to scarf some apple slices or homemade jerky while you weave your way through the elevated tunnels above Tomorrowland that make up this longtime favorite tour of the future.
6 | Call Ahead and Make Reservations | Make reservations beforehand at select Disney World table-service restaurants and quick-service locations, many of which feature menu items that paleo dieters will savor. Make sure to ask if the Disney restaurant can accommodate special dietary requests to satisfy your paleo diet needs. And just in case you need a handy quick-guide to some of the best picks across Disney's Orlando theme parks, here's a paleo cheat sheet for some of the best dishes you can order that are (mostly) paleo, right out of the oven!
|Park Restaurant||Fife And Drum (EPCOT)||Be Our Guest (Magic Kingdom)||Cinderella's Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)||Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe (Magic Kingdom)||Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe (Magic Kingdom)||Garden Grill Restaurant (EPCOT)|
|Breakfast||N/A||Scrambled eggs/egg whites, chicken apple sausage, fresh fruit||Scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon||N/A||N/A||Scrambled eggs, thick-sliced bacon and sausage, seasonal fresh fruits|
|Lunch||Turkey Legs||Tuna Niçoise Salad (just hold sauce and potatoes)||Pan seared all-natural chicken/beef tenderloin salad||Greek Salad with chicken (ask for no cheese)||Fajita Platter with only meat and veggies (get extra veggies and extra meat instead of tortillas, rice, and beans)||Harvest-inspired garden salad or seasonal vegetables|
|Dinner||Turkey Legs||Any steak or chicken dish, just hold sauce and be mindful!||Pan seared all-natural chicken/beef tenderloin salad||1/2 Rotisserie Chicken (just hold off on the mashed potatoes)||Southwest Salad With Chicken or Southwest Salad with Spicy Beef: It’s topped with corn and bean salsa. Get regular salsa instead.||Harvest-inspired garden salad or seasonal vegetables|
BONUS | Get a Game Plan and Stick to It | The bottom line is to prepare well in advance and outline which paleo-style meals you will eat at the theme parks ahead of time. Sketch out each meal on your calendar, so you won’t be forced to wander aimlessly around the theme parks looking for a suitable place to eat paleo. (And if you’re not too much of a paleo diet stickler, go ahead and enjoy a treat now and then during your Disney vacation – chocolate-covered frozen bananas or Mickey Mouse chocolate-dipped ice cream bars, anyone?).
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