Once upon a time, I ate Mickey-shaped everything.
Magic Kingdom in my 20’s was a glorious heyday of ice cream and soft pretzels. Now pushing 40, I’m trying to eat healthy — while also carrying a Walt Disney World annual pass in my pocket. These are two conflicting lifestyle choices.
While I’ve modestly tried to reduce my junk food intake to reduce migraines, my husband Todd has gone full-on ketogenic, a diet that restricts all of the carb and sugar culprits. That means avoiding pizza dough, bread, fries, candy, and cupcakes.
Reducing my net carb intake to the recommended 30g a day has left me with much less headache misery, and Todd has even lost four inches from his waistline since leaning keto last spring.
So to get a better idea of how I can eat healthier at the Carbiest Place on Earth, Todd acted as my guide to meals, snacks, and off-menu items that were delicious, filling and will keep any keto diet on track.
Here are some ideas for keto-leaning guests who also want to enjoy themselves at the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Sauerkraut Hot Dog at Casey’s Corner
The lack of bread and fries eliminates a lot of American fare from a keto plate, but at Casey’s Corner on Main Street USA, your keto motto is “no bread, no fries, no problem”. Order a regular hot dog without fries for $7.49. The hot dogs here are all beef, so no worries on carby fillers.
Ditch the bun (my weird 20’s self would dress the lone bun with ketchup and eat it) and head on over to one of the generous fixins bars located in each corner of the store. Here you’ll find warm sauerkraut, onions and sweet relish. Sauerkraut is a low-carb source of probiotics and Vitamin C, and onions are a low-carb keto darling. Add just enough sweet pickles to taste (they contain sugar).
Most condiments and pickles contain sugar, so avoid them when you can. Mustard is typically the only exception. You’d be surprised how much sugar we eat on a daily basis via sauces and garnishes.
In the mood for a burger instead? Repeat this logic at Cosmic Ray’s in Tomorrowland. Hit up the fixins station for lettuce, onion, tomatoes and most importantly, mushrooms; they are filling, low-carb and high in potassium and fiber.
Vanilla Latte at Joffrey’s Revive
With so many tempting (and downright beautiful) snacks at Magic Kingdom, it can be tough not to give in to a sugar binge. Sweetened coffees are often thought to be a good compromise over a cupcake, but be warned: there are Starbucks drinks that contain as much sugar as a can of Coca-Cola.
While it’s not touted on the menu, there are sugar-free vanilla and caramel syrups at Joffrey’s Revive in Tomorrowland.
Order a latte with almond milk and one of these sugar-free options. You can get a medium latte for $5.09 then add the sugar-free vanilla flavoring for $.60.
Shrimp Wedge Salad at Columbia Harbor House
This monster salad at Columbia Harbor House in Liberty Square includes 10 pieces of shrimp and half a boiled egg on a bed of lettuce, bacon, tomato, cucumber and melon. A good keto diet is heavy on the veggies rather than protein, and this salad packs enough low-carb greens to share with a ketogenic husband for just $10.99.
The Zinfandel Vinaigrette dressing comes in a container on the side, so I typically ditch it and eat the salad as-is. With the juicy melons, bacon and cucumber, this salad has plenty of flavor on its own.
Sweet Thai Chili Shrimp at Prince Eric’s Village Market
A new menu item at Prince Eric’s Village Market in Fantasyland this summer, the Sweet Thai Chili Shrimp, is a borderline treat for ketogenic eaters. To the tune of $6.99, Prince Eric will serve up five of Ariel’s shrimp friends drizzled in a sweet chili sauce with a pile of carrot and cabbage slaw in the middle.
The sweet chili sauce has just a hint of spice to it with sweetness taking the lead indicating there is some sugar in the mix. But if you’ve avoided common sugar culprits like condiments and desserts for the day, this sauce won’t kick you out of ketosis.
Pecos Bill’s Keto Tacos
As an experienced low-carb eater, Todd has become accustomed to asking restaurant staff if items like burgers or tacos can be served in a lettuce wrap instead of a bun; but not all restaurants carry the large lettuce leaves required for the job.
Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale in and Café in Frontierland was ready for us, though, with thick lettuce leaves that held up under the pressure of all of the extras we piled on at the fixins bar. They even have a keto-friendly item right on the menu, Jerk Chicken Lettuce Wraps for $10.99.
While they don’t have a shell, the lettuce wraps are a hearty lunch, bursting with chicken, slaw and whatever you pile on top from the complimentary topper bar. You get three large wraps for the price, so definitely enough keto food for two to share.
Since they have the big bib lettuce, you can also ask for other tacos without the shell. We ordered the Tacos 3 Ways; one with chicken and two with the breaded cauliflower for $10.99. That bread on the cauliflower is a slightly carby treat for a keto diet, but those were actually served up to my vegetarian daughter.
Keto Snacks On-the-Go
Snacking is an important part of my Splash Mountain wait, so I had to have something to pull out of the backpack. To keep it keto, I bypassed the popcorn and churro carts and instead ducked into the Main Street Confectionary to investigate the pre-packaged snacks.
While most of the packaged snacks were rice crispy treats, cookies, or chocolate, two of the Chip N’ Dale Snack Company mixes passed the keto test. The Roasted Nut Mix and Nature’s Trail Mix both contain under 12g of carbs and 0 grams of sugars per serving.
If you’re using a Dining Plan while Visiting Walt Disney World, your snack credit choices may be slim, so these take-home bags are a good way to use those up.
Table Service Buffets
Aside from all of the quick-service and snack options that we’ve explored today, it’s worth noting that Magic Kingdom hosts two table-service buffets. For a keto-eater, a buffet offers the ultimate freedom to eat your weight in avocado, meat, cheese, and low-carb veggies.
Stop by Liberty Square’s Diamond Horseshoe at dinnertime for the Saloon Feast, which includes down-home favorites like grilled chicken and beef brisket (Adults, $36; Children, $20). It’s open seasonally, though, so catch it if you can. The Crystal Palace is a pricier character meal, but it serves a buffet-style menu all day, every day (Adults $35.00- $59.99; $15.00 to $34.99 for kids).
When in doubt if something is low-carb or can be modified, just ask. Disney is some of the best in the business when it comes to accommodating allergies and special diets, so keto requests aren’t going to shock the cast members.
Todd and I certainly cheat with gusto on some days (i.e. Food and Wine Festival), so we try to be realistic with eating keto at Disney World. A ketogenic diet isn’t for everyone, or even every day, so no need to feel bad if you fall off the keto wagon, straight into a Dole Whip!
Have you kept keto at Disney World? How did it go?