How To Eat Clean In Disneyland – Part One

How To Eat Clean and Paleo In Disneyland – Part One

It was 1980, and it was my first trip to Disney. My dad and my sister and I hopped in the family car and made the voyage down the coast to the “Happiest Place On Earth.” The memories of that trip run together like the huge “swirly lollies” Disneyland sells throughout the park. I can see the 1980’s version of “Splash Mountain,” “It’s A Small world” and “The Disney Parade.” from my ten-year-old height and it makes me smile.

Many of these flashback memories also involve copious amounts of food. Crap food, if you will. Colorful, sweet, delicious candy and crap that my sister and I mainlined by the pound. Flash forward 36 years and I no longer can go 10 miles, 23000 steps and nine hours in Disney sustained only by cotton candy, fries, and Mickey Mouse ice cream bars.

[Tweet “Colorful, sweet, delicious candy and crap that my sister and I mainlined by the pound.”]

Two decades later,  being somewhat older and wiser, I have a richer sense of the “food is fuel” concept. If you work your way through Disney eating like a troll you will pay for your choices in sputtering energy, increased immunosusceptabilty (think about all those million kid-germs stuck to that roller coaster handrail you just let go of!) and a generalized depressed sense of experience. A depressed sense of experience? What? Yes, guess what? Your brain, and thus how you take in your environment, is THE most sensitive of all parts of your body to crap nutrition.

Then how do we eat clean at Disney? Is there actual food even available? After five days of research and food testing, I can safely tell you yes, yes there is.

I am going to split this post into two parts. This week we will talk about eating options at Disneyland proper. If you want to read the follow-up post on California Adventure Park, click this LINK

Concerning food for the day at the park, you MUST pack whole food, fuel-rich snacks. Here is what went into our families’ backpacks. Disney allows you to bring in snacks and water with no issues. Thank you, Disney!!! Carting your snacks along for the day will keep your energy up and will also save you money!

If you do decide to purchase snacks inside the gates, there are some excellent food options. Throughout the park, there are carts with fruit, water, and snacks. They have fresh apples, bananas, and oranges. These carts also had delicious pineapple spears, little boxes of papaya and, of course, the “super pickles” which the boys loved!

My second favorite snack in Disneyland, is, of course, the giant turkey leg. It is drippy and messy and warm and so flavorful you might cry. It is wonderful as a midday snack if shared! You can get a turkey leg next to Big Thunder Mountain, and also between the Matterhorn and It’s A Small World.

For an actual meal, there were way more options for PALEO, gluten, and dairy free than I thought there would be within the gates of Disneyland. 

Here are my favorite places to eat clean in Disneyland:

  • Bengal BBQ: Fabulous meat, vegetable, and bacon/asparagus skewers. This glorified food truck is my favorite for sure. If you want strict paleo, just ask for the skewers without the sauce.


  • Plaza Inn: I mention this restaurant because they go to great lengths to accommodate allergies and modifications. They have a grilled salmon on the menu that comes with green beans and mashed potatoes, and they were happy to modify it to just salmon and grilled veggies.

  • Tortilla Joe’s: This is in Downtown Disney but was fantastic and, therefore, worth mentioning. The fresh guacamole made right at the table was perfect. You can order a side of fresh or grilled veggies to dip in guacamole (cleaner then friend corn chips! And Paleo!) I ordered the Ceviche and it was delicious. There were TONS of GF options clearly marked on the menu.

  • UVA Café: This place is kind of dreamy. We like to eat out on the patio part, but there is inside restaurant seating upstairs. I enjoyed a lettuce wrapped burger and sweet potato fries and a lovely green salad. All the food at UVE was fresh, and service was excellent They also seemed very willing to make adjustments to the menu. It was date night. I was so enamored with my MOO (husband) I forgot to take a picture! 

Other Bloggers Suggestions:

Napa Rose: Located in Downtown Disney. Pricier but some organic produce and some excellent food options. The promote that they are farm to table. We didn’t get a chance to eat there because it was Valentine’s Weekend and they were booked solid. 

Carnation Cafe: There were some great salads and adaptable burger options on this menu. 

The trick to eating clean, whole food in

Disney is to stick to the sit-down restaurants!

In summary, take lots of fuel rich snacks like Epic bars, Eden Organics products, LARA bars ad RX bars. All of these snacks are PALEO, gluten and dairy free. I took peanut butter packets, which are not paleo but you can get almond or walnut butter packets easily that are. I loved the nut butter on a banana mid-day!

Finally: If you decide to indulge make it a good one. Remember, there is no CHEATING just informed CHOICES when it comes to what you decide nutritionally. The “Matterhorn Macaroon” was an informed choice for me on the final day, and it was ridiculously good! You can get these at the on Main Street.

[Tweet “There is no cheating, just choices when it comes to your diet.”]

 Looking to purchase the snacks included in this post?







If you liked this post, you would write love songs to these.

Paleo Travel Tips And A Big Reveal At The End That Translates Into Big Savings On Every Hotel Stay!

Gwyneth, Boyz II Men And A Review Of Paleo Restaurants In New York







DISCLAIMER: Please note that none of these suggestions are fully researched for celiac. Eat at your own risk park goers! 

Additional Resources: 

The Disney Examiner

Against All Grain


How To Eat Clean and Paleo In Disneyland – Part One


47 Responses

  1. Great suggestions, Heather! We ate at Bengal BBQ last night (before I saw your post) and it was excellent. My experience this week is that Paleo, gluten-free and allergy-free eating is much easier in CA Adventure. Both Adventure and Disney are accommodating (and all seem to have allergy menus for reference) but Adventure was over the top in even walk up restaurants. Taking snacks was absolutely essential for me to make it through the day, although the Market Fresh stands make it easier for produce-type snacks. We’ll try Downtown Disney for a “real” dinner tonight.

  2. This is making me crave all things Disney! We are going as a family this summer and I keep telling my husband about all the amazing food. Good to know there are some deliciously healtht choices too!
    xx, Morgan

    1. For sure, Morgan. It is too easy to default to the “frankenfood” like all the burgers and fries but you don’t need too! Have a great trip!

  3. Wow so many great options I didn’t realize. We will be taking our oldest daughter for her 6th birthday in a few weeks and this really gives me some ideas on what to feed the family. I am always bringing snacks with me too. Thanks for sharing

    xo, Nicole

    1. Of course, Nicole. This has been a popular post and I can see why because if you don’t know, you default to the junk, right? I was in the same boat! Thus, the extensive research! 🙂 yum yum. I am glad you found the information helpful!

    1. Thanks Taylor. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you the turkey leg has been on my mind ever since we got back!

  4. So many yummy healthy options. I love Disney and the fact they let us bring our own snacks in too! Makes dinner and the park much more enjoyable! 🙂 Pinning for later

    1. It completely does, Melissa. I don’t mind spending some money on dinner if I haven’t had to dole it out all day! Thanks for pinning!

    1. You got that right, Kari. Literally over 20,000 steps every day and then all the energy to get through those rides! Ha ha!

  5. Great information…. we are in Florida and I just had my first grand baby and we are planning a trip to “Disneyworld” later this year… hope they have comparable food here!

  6. I love Disneyland and I always try to eat clean as much as I can while I’m there. Usually that involves Lara Bars, but I can’t go to Disney without getting some Dole Whip. It’s my favorite treat and I’ll eat clean the whole day to make my Dole Whip worth it. 😉

  7. Wow! I didn’t know there were so many healthy options at Disneyland! I’ve never been, but hope to go in the next two years, especially now that I know they have healthy foods! Thanks so much for this post. I can’t wait to read your next one.

    1. It is coming on 2/23 🙂 I loved it this time, knowing that there was some good fuel around the park!

  8. These tips are AMAZING, Heather! I am not savvy to Disney at all, having only been to Disney World once that I can remember. The game changer tip for me is that you can bring snacks into Disney. Hello?? Not only does the food tend to be unhealthy, but it’s also mad expensive – it makes so much sense to bring your own, since they allow you. I also love that you include the specific restaurants, plus the tip to just go to a sit down place. Definitely remembering these for when we go back to Disney with our family someday!

    1. Jenn! I loved your comment! Thank you for being so specific to what you liked! The snacks thing was a life saver!!!

  9. I always struggle with eating healthy when I vacation especially vacationing at Disneyland. But these were great tips! I’ll have to give it a try next time I go. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Right, Amber? It is so easy to just say whatever but if you plan a little ahead you can be quite successful with your nutrition in tempting situations such as Disney!

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