Yes, that was my week! Spending the week in Walt Disney World is a great time for (almost) anyone, but for a foodie dietitian, there is a whole other level of adventure…FOOD! You can travel most places in the world these days and eat pretty much the same as you do at home, but I like to give my palate a vacation as well!
(Now, that’s not to say I didn’t have typical American fare such as french fries and ice cream, but whenever possible, I had them in the contexts of fish and chips in an Irish pub and a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar, respectively.)
The first mini-adventure was our first experience with the Disney Dining plan. Each of us got a snack, “quick-service” meal and “table service” meal each day. We had wanted to prevent any delay getting out the door in the morning, so we brought groceries with us (actually checked them on the plane!) for breakfast. I had heard lots of opinions regarding this new feature at WDW, and within our group of 12, we probably had varying opinions about it. But here’s my take: once you got the hang of it, it was great! Yes, you do pay upfront, but not having to carry a wad of cash or melt your debit card from overuse made things much more user-friendly. We also ended up with a LOT of food! The quick-service meals include a dessert, which adds up to WAY more sweets than I usually have. Also, the portions were big, and any buffet was overflowing with a great variety of quality, tasty food. (Smoked salmon for breakfast? Shrimp ceviche for dinner? Yes, please!) There were some things that were not covered by the meal plan in any way, such as a corn dog–more on those later–but hey, you can always just charge those to your room, provided you are wise enough to stay on the property! (wink, wink.) One other twist is that if you choose to eat at a upper-level restaurant, or one that has a dinner show, two meals will be taken off you account. This still seems fair, based on the prices and quality we saw at our restaurants. SO know that the technicalities are out of the way, what did I eat?
First, I righted what most of my in-laws saw as a major flaw in my past, and ate my first corn dog…ever! I don’t really know why I had never eaten one before; like any other Midwestern-American kid, I had eaten my share of hot dogs, and liked them just fine. Also, I have always liked corn bread, and in my youth could down platefuls of deep-fried food with no unfortunate after-effects, such as weight gain, heartburn, and others you could probably name. But alas, I have eaten brains and grasshoppers before my first corn dog! So how did it taste? Greasy and salty, which I suppose is the point. Corn dog…check!
I was able to have two special, memorable lunches as well. First, Chad and I were able to eat in a French restaurant in Epcot, a sister of the one we ate at the first time we were at WDW together. It was a warm, but not roasting, day, and we enjoyed a bottle of wine with our decadent croque monsieur (a very tricked out ham and cheese,) lobster bisque, and of course vanilla creme brulee!
It wouldn’t be quite a Disney experience without seeing a character, so we were happy to see…
Second, we got to eat in Belle’s castle, in the Be Our Guest restaurant. Because its new, the line stretched over the “moat” and onto the main walkway, but as our youngest traveler had “Belle fever” we had to give it a try, and I’m so glad we did! The line did move surprisingly quickly, they use a GPS “rose” to find where you are sitting, and the food gets brought to you! We ate in the beautiful ballroom, but were also able to see the West Wing, which was also, well, cool! As this is considered a quick-service meal, since you basically have no waiter, I planned on just refueling, and wasn’t expecting anything to surprising. But wait, this is Disney we’re talking about! I had the tuna nicoise salad, with seared, sushi grade tuna over a mixed green salad and a poached egg on top! (Surprise!) Also, for my dessert, a lemon meringue cupcake!
I also got to cross another thing of my bucket list; yes, in addition to the corn dog. Chad and I were able to score reservations at Victoria and Albert’s, an award winning restaurant at the Grand Floridian. It is a six course dinner, and in order to do it justice, we of course had to get the wine pairing, so we had a different wine with each course. (Oh, and there was a 3-bite amuse-bouche with champagne, three types of bread with 3 different butters(!,) coffee with dessert, and a few final sweets.) I had courses like “Masago Crusted Gulf Shrimp with Ponzu Vinaigrette,” “Vermont Quail with Parsnip Puree and Fig Gastrique,” and “White Chocolate Gelato with Tableside Shavings.” The food was excellent, the staff was perfect, and there was a harpist with some great sets (M*A*S*H theme song along with Barry Manilow!) Pretty much a dream date! (Maybe the Chef’s table next time, sweetie?)
OK, back to reality.
As I said, we had a grab and go breakfast plan, and most days I had a cheese stick, turkey meat stick and a chewy granola bar or some Trader Joe’s nuts. This is NOT what I normally eat for breakfast, but the protein and extra calories worked well. I usually ate some of that at the park, and I was still hungry for lunch when we rode and walked until were about to drop!
Speaking of walking, what kind of calories did we burn? We roughly plotted a couple days’ walks on MapMyRun when we got home, and figure we walked about 6 miles each day. This is as the crow flies, and for anyone who has wandered around Disney parks, you know there are many extra steps in addition to getting from point A to B.
In addition, I was able to sneak in a couple runs at around the hourglass pond at our hotel, and in general we were on our feet about 12 hours per day! That’s why it’s not surprising that Chad only gained 1.5 pounds, despite our extravagant dining.
Oh, and there were rides, parades, characters and shows, too!
As Chad mentioned in his last post, I’d also like to thank my in-laws, Gene and Mary, who took us on this fabulous vacation! And though Chad likes to tease me about my crazy Disney behavior, I’d also like to thank him for running around to score some very convenient Fast-passes, and to congratulate him on riding 6 of the best Disney thrill rides in three parks in one day! (I think I created a mini-me!)
The obvious next step is to start saving my pennies for the Epcot International Food and Wine Show!