We’re heading across the country and taking a look at Mallory’s trip to Disneyland. Mallory can be found on twitter @MalloryPotosky. Thanks for submitting this Mallory!
This review reflects an experience from July 2017.
Some vegans bristle at the misconception that we eat only salad. I, myself, have slipped into such a response on a few occasions. But strangely, on my recent trip to Disneyland, there was nothing I wanted more.
Prior to heading to the theme parks, I culled information from several online sources about what food was available to vegans. Disneyland doesn’t have a thorough vegan fansite like VeganDisneyWorld.com, so I played Dr. Frankenstein–piecing together carts, quick service options, and sit-down restaurants from multiple websites, including PETA.com. The night before our first day in the parks I retrieved maps from the front gates and marked everything that had potential. I was traveling with a non-vegan friend, so, not wanting my lifestyle choice to interfere with our day, aimed to be prepared for every situation.
Each day we started off with complimentary breakfast at our nearby, offsite hotel. Though my traveling companion feasted on multiple new hot dishes daily, the vegan options were pretty standard for such setups: toast, peanut butter, and fruit. It was pretty bland, but enough to keep me full and fueled until lunch.
Disneyland was the first park we visited and, after crisscrossing the park several times throughout the morning, ended up in Tomorrowland for lunch. According to my marked-up map, I would be able to find a veggie wrap and my non-vegan friend could purchase a cheeseburger at the Galactic Grill.
Upon reaching the counter I explained to the cast member that I was vegan and asked if they had an allergy menu, thinking this menu would be my first line of defense. In addition to the menu, a chef appeared to discuss my options, which did not include the veggie wrap that seemed so promising. The wrap, Chef said, was pre-made, so the kitchen staff would be unable to remove the advertised feta. Instead, he offered me a vegan burger and bun. I happily accepted the compromise and awaited his return.
Sadly, the vegan burger that Chef had so eagerly promoted (“It’s really tasty—even I like it.”) was dry even with condiments. The bun was dry too, so I ended up eating the burger between the smaller, bottom bun and lettuce leaves. My side of apple slices was a refreshing delight. (Note: French fries were offered, so are a vegan option as well.)
In the heat of the day my friend led us on a hunt for ice cream. We landed at the Gibson Girl Ice Cream parlor where I quickly discovered Disneyland, unlike its Florida sibling, does not offer vegan ice cream alternatives. I was surrounded by park guests—my friend included–slurping the melting cream from their double- and triple-scoop cones while the cast members scrambled for an answer to my question about whether any vegan options were available. I may have been the first to ask such a question (at least in a while). My pre-visit research had not indicated a vegan option at this counter, but I felt there was no harm in asking.
By dinner there was nothing I wanted more than a salad. Crisp, refreshing lettuce and vegetables sounded like a dream after a day of toast, a dry vegan patty, and apples. So, we stopped at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café on Main Street, U.S.A. As is my practice, I approached the counter and asked first for the allergy menu. I had predetermined that the Grilled Vegetable and Whole-Grain Salad had my name on it, but needed to be sure there were no animal ingredients hiding somewhere. The Café was teeming with dinnertime activity, but the counter staff was friendly and pleasant, and patiently aided me in assuring the salad was, in fact, vegan-friendly.
Shortly thereafter I was drizzling on the basil vinaigrette and indulging in the meal I had desired. The combination of mixed greens, roasted vegetables, barley, spelt, and zesty vinaigrette made the day’s other, chalky meals seem far, far away. (Note: The menu advertises that a breadstick is served with the salad, but I was given potato chips instead. Since my friend also received chips instead of a breadstick, it is unclear whether the latter is vegan.)
The next day we headed to Disney’s California Adventure. Though my marked-up map indicated there were a plethora of vegan options at this park, I chose instead to indulge in a Groot-shaped sourdough bread the size of my head. And a pineapple spear. The novelty bread was far too large and dense to eat in one sitting, but that was its only drawback (and really, that was more of a pro than a con). It was fresh and tasty and a delicious on-the-go lunch option.
Given my choice for lunch, it is probably no surprise that I hungered for a salad once again come dinnertime. This time it was Paradise Garden Grill that satisfied my craving. Though PGG also offers a vegan-friendly Grilled Tofu and Veggies skewer, I opted for the greens. This time the feta cheese was easily removed from the dish, and so I indulged in a Greek salad I have longed for every day since. It came loaded with vegetables and chickpeas, and was even better than the Jolly Holiday’s mixed greens and grains from the prior evening. If I could have had this option at every meal while in Disneyland I would have been a happy vegan. (Note: This salad was served with pita bread on the side, though since I overloaded on half of a Groot earlier in the day, I was not interested in the pita and thus, I did not ask if it was vegan-friendly.)
Unlike most days, salads were a far, far better option this time around. I would highly recommend both (and maybe the ever-reliable Dole whip if you find yourself in the company of ice cream fans).