It’s no secret that I LOVE food and I especially LOVE food in Walt Disney World. One of the hardest things about running at Disney is trying to figure out what to eat around the race. Well Vilay is here with some great meal suggestions during a race weekend and tips on how to stay healthy while being tempted by some not so healthy options. Try not to drool will reading this post!
This being my first marathon, I was nervous about everything, including my food. I’m here to share with you what I found to eat before and after the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon.
I arrived at the Pop Century Resort on Saturday, which was also my family’s day at the Magic Kingdom. I ate breakfast on the road, which was just a coffee and pastry. After arriving at the park and a few rides, I was ready for lunch and chose Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Café. I wanted the Deluxe Cheeseburger which comes with bacon and onion rings on top, but maybe I spoke my order wrong and received just a plain cheeseburger. My table also shared some chili cheese fries but I was careful not to eat too many.
One thing I love about some of the Magic Kingdom counter service places is the amazing toppings bar. Somehow my photo got lost but I piled that burger high with mushrooms, tomatoes, lettuce, and banana peppers. If I weren’t running the marathon, I would have just made a burger salad without the bun so that’s an option for you low-carb eaters.
A few hours later, the sun was starting to beat down and we found ourselves in Adventureland so I waited in a very long line for a Dole Whip Float. My sister chose Pineapple ice cream while I chose Vanilla. We both agreed that vanilla is the best.
Of course, I couldn’t help but think that a splash of coconut vodka would take this dessert over the top. I hate that I have to wait for another Disney trip to eat another Dole Whip. I’ll miss you, Dole Whip!
After that afternoon snack, I counted down the hours until my dinner reservation at Be Our Guest. After the fun introduction to the restaurant and gawking at the ballroom where we sat, I was very excited to finally be able to partake in the bread basket, which I normally don’t do. The rolls were warm and served with a pat butter sprinkled with sea salt.
My sister ordered the braised pork. The online menu for Be Our Guest stated that the slow cooked pork was served with green beans and mashed potatoes but the menu that day was slightly different. The pork came with a good amount of vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, carrots, and a tiny salad, with cauliflower purée instead of potatoes. I blog about health and fitness, and I normally try to limit my carb intake. This meal would be perfect for someone trying to limit carbs and I would have ordered it under other circumstances.
I didn’t want to eat too much fiber or have too large of a meal as my last meal before the race so I skipped a salad or appetizer and just ordered the salmon entree. I was I informed that the salmon was served cooked medium, which I love. It came perfectly cooked – very fresh, incredibly moist, and with a thin crispy crust. The whipped potatoes and creamy sauce sauce were not too heavy so they complimented the lightness of the salmon. Be Our Guest is the only restaurant at Magic Kingdom that serves alcohol. Oh how I wanted a glass of wine with this meal! Alas, I had to think of the marathon and skipped that too.
After seeing the dessert cart, I am so glad that I saved room for dessert. Hey, this counts ad carb loading right? There was no question that I would get the Grey Stuff dessert. This stuff was amazing! The mousse was so light and airy and I loved the crumbly cookie crust. It also wasn’t as sweet as I thought it would be. I wish it were twice as large!
My five year old niece chose the chocolate cupcake as her kids’ meal dessert. This was a very adult cupcake – it was a very dark, almost bittersweet chocolate. I loved it but I can see how it might not appeal to a young kid. My little munchkin liked it though. Oh, and how cute is the rose decoration on each plate? The server did that tableside.
We also got the strawberry cream cheese cupcake. This was the only thing I didn’t like very much and my sister agreed. I thought it was too sugary and didn’t have enough cream cheese flavor.
The whole Be Our Guest experience really was special and the food was much better than I expected. At around $25 per entrée, the quality of food truly did match “real world” restaurants in the same price range.
On the morning of the big race, I didn’t leave enough time to stop for breakfast at the Pop Century food court, so I just ate a Luna bar and a packet of peanut butter while on the bus.
Post-race, my family met me with some Pepperoni Pizza Bread from Everything Pop. It felt so good to be have real food immediately after my long race. I’m holding the pizza in this post-race photo.
With the exception of a few pretzels, I had been eating only sweet things (Powerade and gels) for the past few hours so it was especially great to taste something salty. I also got the snack box and a banana, and there were a few food trucks parked there but as a runner, I was grateful not to have to wait in line for food. I only managed to eat one of the two pieces of pizza though. By the way, I think Disney should consider getting a Dole Whip truck for post-Marathon party. An ice cold Dole Whip after the race sounds amazing. (Sarah’s Note: LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea!)
I went back to Pop Century to get cleaned up and cat-nap by the pool while drinking lots of water and Powerade. I was surprised that I wasn’t ravenously hungry. My body seemed to be only wanting small meals. For example, I ate one piece of pizza and felt satisfied. Then an hour later I was hungry so I ate the banana they gave me, and didn’t want any more food. Around 4:00 I was hungry again so I decided to eat a mini dinner. We headed to the Art of Animation resort, home of Landscape of Flavors which everyone told me was the best food court. I ordered the children’s size chicken parmesan meal with whole wheat pasta and a side of grapes. And of course, more water and Powerade.
With rest and sustenance in me, I was finally ready to go to the Cool Down Party at Downtown Disney. Because I ate early mini-dinner, I cancelled dinner plans and we agreed to eat whatever small bites and snacks that caught our fancy. I ate two churros – one caramel and one cinnamon-sugar. That was my first time eating churros since I was a small child and though it was a little stale, it hit the spot. Then I was in the mood for something from Babycakes – like their tiny donuts however by then it was 8:00 pm and they were sold out of everything except for banana bread and the thinnest chocolate chip cookies I had ever seen. Then I turned around and decided to try out Pollo Camparo. While their chicken looked really good and I’d like to try it sometime, I wasn’t hungry enough for a full chicken dinner. I ordered an empanada and yucca fries. The chicken empanada was a little soggy and bland. I didn’t enjoy it very much. I did enjoy the yuca fries. Yuca, also known as cassava, is a root vegetable. It’s denser and more fibrous than potatoes, so I felt the fries were more filling than regular potato fries.
The Day After
The next morning, I think I finally had my appetite back. I got to the Everything Pop food court and suddenly I wanted to eat EVERYTHING. I figured out that I could achieve that goal by ordering two kids meals instead of one adult platter. I got one platter of Mickey Waffles with fruit, bacon, and sausage plus another kids platter of scrambled eggs, a biscuit, and gravy. Protein, carbs, fruit, and salty meats. Could you want anything else? After breakfast I had to hop on the Magical Express back to real life.
Even though my eating preferences turned out a little strange after the marathon, I hope that my experiences give you some ideas on how you can fuel up before and after a big Disney race. One thing I learned just from observing the dining menus is that although a lot of the food on the Quick Service menus offer fried or greasy foods, you can look beyond that and look closely for healthy alternatives. Avoid getting fries just because the meal says that it includes fries, and consider the vegetarian meals. Look for items with the Mickey Check symbol, which indicates that the meal meets federal nutrition guidelines for what is considered a healthy meal. Foods with the Mickey Check symbol are also minimally processed, which is a great way to eat in general.
Another tip if you’re like me and want to avoid overeating before or after an event is to order from the kids menu when you are at counter service locations. One of the unexpectedly great things about being at WDW for a strenuous race is that there were so many food options within easy reach. In one evening, I was able to eat multiple mini meals of varying types because that’s what my stomach wanted. If I had been on vacation somewhere else, I might be limited to a few restaurants or I might have been too tired to go through the effort of restaurant-hopping.
Overall, finding the right foods to eat was much easier than I thought it would be. I hope your next runDisney race is as nutritious and delicious as mine.
Having never played sports as a kid, Vilay Connor started running 2 years ago which empowered her to make healthy changes to her life until finally completing her first marathon. She is inspired by other “back of the pack” runners and women who find empowerment in exercise no matter what their size or ability. Follow her blog, Everyday Asian, where she shares her love of fitness, food, organic living, and travel.
Find Vilay here: Website Twitter Instagram