This is the first in a series of articles exploring the unique needs of people of faiths vacationing at Walt Disney World.
It is a given for most people that you don’t give up your faith, practices, and traditions just because you go on vacation. And while, all joking aside, a trip to Walt Disney World isn’t a religious pilgrimage of any major world religion, Walt Disney World and the surrounding areas do provide resources for people of faith to honor their religious practices and keep their customs while on vacation.
For this article, I will cover the options available for Jewish guests who wish to keep kosher on vacation.
While a majority of the foods at Walt Disney World are not certified kosher, there are options for those who want to keep kosher during their vacation.
When it comes to main meals, some pre-planning may be required. Most table-service restaurants can offer a kosher meal with a minimum of 48 hours advance notice. To note a request for a kosher meal, and to verify a restaurant’s ability to provide kosher dining, call 407-WDW-DINE. You may also want to verify the cancellation policy for kosher meals, which can be different from the standard cancellation policy. If you are visiting a buffet and opt for the kosher meal, your meal will be pre-portioned and not all-you-can-eat. It also will be from a standard kosher menu around property, and not necessarily the type of food you will find at the restaurant itself. (For instance, if you go to Nine Dragons, your kosher meal will not be Chinese food. It also will be the same sort of food options as it is if you go to San Angel Inn or Biergarten or Restaurant Marrakesh.)
When it comes to counter-service meals, not all places on property have kosher offerings, however there is at least one counter-service location in each theme park that offers kosher food. They are:
- Magic Kingdom: Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
- Epcot: Electric Umbrella (Future World) and Liberty Inn (American Adventure pavilion, World Showcase)
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios: ABC Commissary
- Animal Kingdom: Pizzafari
For Disney resort hotels, availability and variety of kosher meals at quick-service restaurants can be inconsistent, so it is important to check upon arrival to see what options are currently available, or call 407-WDW-DINE in advance for the most up-to-date information.
Each kosher meal is pre-packaged and has to be microwaved individually. This means that you will be waiting a little extra for your meal, especially if you are ordering more than one kosher meal. It is advisable to try not to hit a counter service restaurant at the peak of the lunch or dinner hour to avoid having a lengthy wait. Also remember to bring a small pair of scissors with you, as the wrapping (which allows it to be heated in a standard microwave oven) can be difficult to remove. The sealed meals do not provide flatware, so if you are not comfortable using the disposable forks, knives, and spoons provided, you will need to bring your own.
In preparation for this article, I ordered a kosher meal from Electric Umbrella. Once I mentioned that I was ordering a kosher meal, the cast member at the register had to call over a specialist with “the book”—a book with information about a wide variety of dietary issues, such as gluten sensitivity or food allergies. She showed me the page in the book with the kosher meals and apologized in advance for the limited selection. Items available vary by restaurant, so your best bet is to go to guest services early to see what information they can provide for your visit about what is available.
After I selected my meal, my food specialist rung up the order and told me it would take about four minutes for the meal to be ready. My meal came out fully wrapped and she verified with me that it was fully sealed. It also came out on a different colored tray to show that it was a special meal order. Before I left with my meal, she apologized for the “potato croquettes”, which she said tend to fall apart in the microwave and become more like mashed potatoes.
The first thing that struck me about the meal was how light it was. I took it home (still sealed) and weighed it. Including the container, the meal was 9.7 ounces. That said, the meal was incredibly filling. The chicken nuggets were incredibly mediocre. Basically think of getting a box of chicken nuggets from the freezer section of your grocery store and microwaving them. While the potato croquettes were certainly not what I would call croquettes, they were fairly tasty if you thought of them as seasoned mashed potatoes. In essence, the meal was about the quality of a TV dinner, but with a $10 price point.
For snacks, the best bet to ensure that an item is kosher is to purchase pre-packaged snacks and read the label to look for a symbol of kosher status. In addition, most counter service locations have a book that lists what items are kosher and what are not. Simply ask a cast member to help you identify kosher foods that they have available.
And in case you are curious, Mickey Premium Bars, Dole Whip, and popcorn at Walt Disney World are all reported to be kosher, but as always, check before you purchase to make sure that it meets your personal specifications.
If you are staying in a DVC property, you can always take the option of dining in your room, especially for a meal like breakfast, although you may want to bring your own disposable tableware and cooking utensils.
In addition, Walt Disney World allows its guests to bring food into the parks—everything from snacks to full meals.
In addition, grocery delivery services like Garden Grocer offer kosher items. (Just type “kosher” in the search box or look for KO in a green circle next to an item.)
If you prefer to order your groceries from a kosher-only store, Central Florida Kosher is an online kosher grocery store serving the Orlando metro area.
There are also several restaurants nearby that offer kosher meals.
Kosher Gourmet Restaurant at 7508 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, offers both daily menus (Sunday through Thursday) and a Shabbat menu for pick-up on Friday. For the Shabbat meal, orders must be placed by noon Thursday to allow the food to be prepared before Shabbat. They also offer a limited delivery area (for a $25 surcharge).
Lower East Side Restaurant 2.0, 8548 Palm Parkway, Orlando, is located a few minutes from Downtown Disney. They offer a variety of dine-in meals, as well as take-out for Shabbat or boxed breakfasts or lunches, perfect to take into the theme parks.
Kosher Grill, located at 5615 International Drive, Orlando, also provides a diverse assortment of foods, and provides delivery to Disney hotels for a $35 fee.
In addition to these locations, many other restaurants in the Orlando area say that they are kosher, however it is always a good idea to ask to see their kosher certificate before you dine.
In reality, while it is possible to eat exclusively at Disney and stay kosher for a trip, unless you have an incredibly short vacation, you likely will want to explore other dining options for greater variety. In addition, expect to pay more for kosher food, especially if you eat at an off-site restaurant. Still, it is wonderful that the option is available to keep kosher and to be able to do so with only minor pre-planning required.
Stay tuned for additional articles about religious needs at Walt Disney World, and if you have a specific religion or religious need you want covered, please leave a comment below.