If your travels should take you to Florida instead of California, click here to check out the Vegan Guide to visiting the Magic Kingdom at Disney World.
I had a Disneyland record growing up that I would play, and friends and family would bring back trinkets for me from their trips. However, the first time I went to a Disney park, I was in my twenties. I think that period of waiting and wishing made it all the sweeter when I visited for the first time. As a lover of magic and stories and that child-like spirit that lives within all of us, it really appealed to me. Also as an adult, the park offers some interesting people watching. There are people from all over the world in all sorts of different fashions. There are men in cowboy hats next to women in hejab next to teenagers covered in piercings and tattoos.
So this year with Disney offering free entry to the park on your birthday, I headed to Anaheim to celebrate mine. In addition to the ticket, I was given a “happy birthday” button. All day long Disneyland employees and other guests wished me well. It definitely put me in a festive spirit.
Officially Disney doesn’t allow outside food in the park, but unlike Universal Studios, they won’t stop you from bringing it in once you’re there. The only exception is that they won’t allow alcohol or hard sided coolers. Our bags were checked before we entered the park, but they didn’t seem to care at all about the food we had inside of them.
So David and I carried in our lunches and a bag of warm clothes for the evening when it can get surprisingly cool. It’s also good in case the urge to ride Splash Mountain strikes. That happened to us once, and it became a very expensive Disney day when we were purchasing sweatshirts and sweat pants after being drenched to the bone.
They have lockers inside the park about half way down Main Street, and you can use them all day (getting in and out of them) for one fee. Currently a large locker costs $10/all day and a small one is $7/all day. The big ones are large enough to fit a small soft-sided cooler and a bag of clothes. Just outside of the locker room, there are tables that are perfect for a little picnic.
For lunch we had roasted red pepper wraps, a Mediterranean salad, pickles, and fruit. The wraps included hummus, carrots, and roasted red pepper rolled into whole wheat lavash. I added spinach and pine nuts for a little crunch. They were easy, delicious, and satisfying. Lavash is sort of dry usually, but with the creamy hummus next to it, it stayed moist all day without being gooey or overly wet.
For dinner we had several vegan options. There are plenty of stands selling a variety of fruits, pickles, potato chips, and iced apple juice. There’s a vegetarian gumbo in New Orleans Square, which is served in a bread bowl. I’ve had it in the past, and it is simple but good. The bowl and the soup are vegan, but the crackers that generally come with it are not. In the Blue Bayou, which is the restaurant inside of Pirates of the Caribbean, they offer a grilled portobello. I had it a few years ago, and I didn’t think it was at all worth what they charge.
We decided to go to Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port in Tomorrowland and ask about a cheeseless pizza. I asked a young woman who was working at the pizza counter if their vegetable pizza would be vegan without the cheese. She said that her sister is vegan and assured me that it is vegan. She said she’d talk to the chef about the possibility of a cheeseless pizza.
The chef came out and talked to us about our needs and said it would take about seven minutes. We thought they might ask us to get a whole pizza (which would be a great option if you’re going with a group). They sell them for around $30. Instead, he brought out our cheeseless slices, loaded with lots of sauce and plenty of vegetables. All of the staff was extremely friendly and eager to help. It made the slices even tastier.
After more rides, we decided to get out of the park for a bit to go to Downtown Disney, which is attached to the park. There are sit-down restaurants that can cater vegans like La Brea Bakery and Tortilla Jo’s and places to grab a drink. We sat outside listening to music and enjoyed a beverage while the sun went down.
We went back into the park for a train ride around the park after dark. It was very quiet and relaxing, while the rest of the park was abuzz watching Fantasmic. We made it back to Main Street for the fireworks, and we saw Dumbo go across the sky in addition to Tinkerbell while they played Baby Mine. As the fireworks lit the night sky, it was a wonderful ending to a happy birthday at the Happiest Place on Earth.
If you’re planning a visit to Disneyland, and you’d like to have a meal at a sit-down restaurant inside of the park, you can call them about getting a vegan meal:
Special dietary needs — including kosher, vegetarian and medically restricted diets — can be accommodated at most table-service restaurants. Request this service at least 24 hours in advance at (714) 781-DINE (3463)