Disney Theme Parks Announce Massive New Plant-Based Menu Initiative

Dining at Walt Disney World and Disneyland is about to get a whole lot easier for vegetarians and vegans. On Tuesday (Sept. 24), Disney announced a new plant-based initiative at the American theme parks featuring new menu items and an easy-to-identify symbol that will mark plant-based items on menus at table service restaurants, quick service locations, snack stands and festival booths.

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According to a press release, Disney defines plant-based as food items that are made without animal meat, dairy, eggs or honey. Instead, the dishes are made with ingredients made entirely from plants, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. While vegetarians and vegans have always been able to ask for a sandwich without cheese or swap out a salad dressing, the new program will include hundreds of new, specifically plant-based menu items across Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort.

"Historically, we have always made sure that we have some meatless options available across property. If a vegan were to step into a restaurant and needed something modified, of course we've always done that. But more Americans than ever are looking to eat less meat and get the benefits of plant-based foods. So, we took a lot of time and a lot of thoughts with regards to how we were going to call it and how it was going to appear on our menus," Cheryl Dolven, manager of food & beverage health and wellness for Disney Parks and Resorts, told The Daily Meal during an interview at Disney California Adventure's Lamplight Lounge.

The expansion of plant-based offerings will launch at quick service restaurants at Florida's Walt Disney World on Oct. 1; table service locations will have the new menus on Oct. 3. The plant-based initiative will begin at Disneyland in California in spring 2020.

The 400-plus plant-based options at Walt Disney World will include a mixture of meat substitutes and fresh takes on vegetables. Disney took careful note to make sure that the plant-based dishes work with the themes and menus of the various restaurants.

"One of the important things is that each dish is tied to the story. So, if you're at Casey's Corner, which serves hot dogs, it makes sense to have a plant-based hot dog there. But at Lamplight Lounge, you'll have potato flautas. So we'll play with all those different ingredients. Some will eat and taste like meat and others will explore vegetables in a new way," Dolven noted.

New dishes include a Hot Italian Sausage Sub at Hollywood Studio's PizzeRizzo, Eggless Florentine at Magic Kingdom's Crystal Palace and a Mushroom Lobster-Style Salad at Epcot's Coral Reef Restaurant.

All plant-based dishes, including pre-existing menu items such as Chili-Spiced Crispy Fried Tofu at Animal Kingdom's Satu'li Canteen, plant-based hot dogs at Magic Kingdom's Casey's Corner and Disney's most iconic treat, Dole Whip, will have their plant-based status noted with a brand-new green leaf symbol.

The goal of the symbol is to make the sometimes difficult world of plant-based dining easier for vegetarian and vegan guests as well as omnivorous guests who are just looking to try something healthier or interesting. The massive rollout of new plant-based menu items is sure to alter dining at Disney as we know it and will be just one of the many ways that Disney World has changed since it opened.