The Kosher Traveler At Walt Disney World: A Guideby Ken Stern, PassPorter Guest Contributor
Last modified 02/05/2009
Part of the joy of vacationing is, of course, eating. We all hear about the incredible amount of places to eat in Walt Disney World (WDW), but what is a person or family to do that only eats kosher? We too have some choices, but not quite to the extent of the non-kosher traveler. The kosher food at Walt Disney World is certified by the OK Labs.
Wild Animal Trek Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Wild Animal Trek Tour at Disney's Animal Kingdom park, including Joe Rohde
There are basically two ways of eating kosher at Walt Disney World. One is going to quick-serve eateries; the other is dining at table-service restaurants. Most quick, or counter-service. eateries have kosher meals available at all times so you can walk in, get your meal heated, grab some fruit, cereal, etc., and enjoy your meal there or, if you are at your resort, take it back to your room. All of these eateries have basically the same pre-made, double-wrapped kosher meals available. They are wrapped so well in fact that you may need a pair of scissors to get to your meals. Personally I think this is the better choice, with the better food.
Most full, or table, service restaurants offer kosher meals with 24 hours notice. Most Disney resorts have them as do all of the theme parks. You will need to give a credit card number to reserve the meals and may face a fee if you do not show up. These are several course meals with soup, bread, entree, and dessert. You will NOT get the same cuisine that is offered in these restaurants. For instance if you go to Epcot's San Angel Inn where they serve Mexican food, you will NOT be offered kosher Mexican food, rather you will be limited to the same choices as in any other restaurant in Walt Disney World. Basically they take pre-packaged meals, throw them into a microwave and serve it to you. The only reason to go to these places is for the atmosphere, not for a taste of something different or exotic.
The meals with characters, which we have not done yet, also offer the same kosher food; but if you have a young one who would love dining with Disney princesses or other characters, by all means go for it! You will pay the same amount as everyone else but will not get all-you-can eat as the other patrons do. Still, something like that is not about the food but your child's enjoyment. The Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue is the same thing - kosher pre-packaged meals for the same price everyone else pays.
There are some restaurants that even with advance notice do not have kosher food. These seem to be found mainly in the Deluxe resorts. At the Swan and Dolphin hotels, which are not owned by Disney, half their restaurants do not supply kosher meals at all and the others will probably charge a lot more than in the rest of "the World," so unless you are staying there and want the ambiance I would not recommend eating there. In the parks, as far as I can tell the only restaurants that do not offer kosher food are at the Japan pavilion at Epcot's World Showcase. Kosher meals are not offered at Garden View Afternoon Tea, Gulliver's Grill, House of Blues, Planet Hollywood, Fulton's Crab House, Portobello, Yak & Yeti, Rainforest Cafe, Shula's Steakhouse, Todd English's bluezoo, and Fresh Mediterranean Market. The Contempo Cafe at the Contemporary Resort, despite being counter service, may not have kosher food available [availability could not be confirmed at press time].
Another plan, if you don't want to go to a restaurant, is to bring food with you. The All Star Music resort has family suites that include a fridge and microwave. All moderate and deluxe resorts have small fridges in the rooms. There is also a kosher restaurant in Orlando, Glatt Kosher. Many kosher restaurants will deliver food to Walt Disney World via Fed Ex or some other delivery method. You can have it delivered on specific dates and keep it fresh in your fridge and warm it in the microwave. There is also a kosher catering service in Orlando that delivers - http://kosherculinaryorlando.com/en.
The reason, or at least one of the reasons, I love Walt Disney World is because they pay attention to details. You can go to a snack vendor anywhere in Walt Disney World and ask if their products are kosher. They will then take out a book and show you exactly what is and is not kosher. You are not treated as different in any way. I don't know how they do it but the Disney magic touches everyone. I am not a fan of most Big Business, but somehow Disney gets it. My son, Yosh, has Down Syndrome. Cast members talked to Yosh in sign language after seeing us speaking to him that way. Walt Disney World Resort employs thousands of people and somehow they all treat you with respect no matter who you are. If you are considering visiting but are wary because you are afraid you won't be able to eat and you will feel out of place ... you won't.
Wild Animal Trek Crocodiles
Crocodiles on the Wild Animal Trek at Disney's Animal Kingdom
About the Author: Ken Stern is a former special education high school teacher and current computer geek. He is already planning on taking his family back to Disney where he hopes to be literally bowled over by his son as he was in January of 2008, the last time they went.
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