ANAHEIM, Calif. – French fries haven’t gone away, but it’s all about options as Disneyland Resort quick-service and fast-casual restaurants offer menus with well-balanced choices. For families seeking healthy options, the Mickey Check makes it easier than ever for parents to easily identify nutritious choices.
“The Disney brand has the ability to make healthy living fun, says Kara Cressey, manager of Food & Beverage Health & Wellness. “Our goal is to making healthy eating easy – and the Mickey Check tool was created for that very reason. The Mickey Check symbol on kids’ meals allows parents to easily identify meals that meet the Disney Nutrition Guidelines.”
At both the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, 50 percent of the kids’ complete meals meet the Disney Nutrition Guidelines, with the Mickey Check featured in both quick-service and table-service restaurants, part of an ongoing program that launched in 2006 with nutrition guidelines.
“Our kids’ meal options were re-imagined with small changes, such as apple slices and carrots instead of french fries,” Cressey says. ”We’ve seen a high take-rate of healthy items, with more than 50 percent of kids’ meals sold with healthy sides or a healthy beverage.”
Choices that receive the Mickey Check must meet Disney Nutrition Guidelines that limit calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar. For example, Blue Bayou Restaurant in Disneyland Park offers seared salmon with spaghetti, broccolini and fresh fruit for kids. (Kids’ Complete Meals must be ordered without substitutions and include at least three of the following food groups: fruits; vegetables; low-fat dairy; whole grains or lean protein, beans, eggs and nuts.)
While the Mickey Check was added recently to table-service restaurants, it also appears on some Disney-licensed food products sold at retail locations, on qualifying recipes at Disney.com and Family.com, and on menus at quick-service restaurants at the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort.
Healthful Options Continue to Expand
The number of fresh fruit carts at the parks is steadily increasing, while other nutritious snacks like nuts and trail mix also are available.
Popular entrées such as burgers were guest-tested, and restaurants now serve a burger with fat content of less than 20 percent and buns with 10 percent whole grain. Quick-service pizzas have whole-grain added crusts. Even desserts get a makeover: guests will find options such as reduced fat, no sugar added and fresh fruit.
Disney is working with manufacturers to make every effort to reformulate recipes for candy, packaged food and bakery items sold in the parks or to identify replacement products as the company continues to phase out added trans-fats. Portion-controlled snacks and treats and packaging to promote nutritious food are part of the changes.
Disneyland Resort gets thousands of requests annually from guests with special dietary needs, according to Chef de Cuisine Bill Orton. Most requested are meals free of gluten, eggs and dairy, and peanuts and tree nuts.
Disneyland Resort table-service restaurants can accommodate most special dietary needs, as well as “lifestyle diets” – sugar free, low fat, low sodium, vegetarian or vegan. The Disney website Food and Allergy Information | Guest Services | Disneyland Resort has information, or guests can make a reservation by calling Disney Dining at 714-781-DINE (714-781-3463). Guests are encouraged to inform the reservation cast member of the food allergy or intolerance at the time of the call, and it will be noted on the reservation. Guests also may talk with the chef or manager when they arrive at the restaurant regarding any special dietary needs.
Kosher meals are available at Disneyland Resort table-service restaurants if ordered at least 48 hours in advance by calling Disney Dining. Also, kosher meals are available with no advance notice at: Plaza Inn, Tomorrowland Terrace and Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante in Disneyland Park, and Taste Pilots’ Grill at Disney California Adventure Park.