ANAHEIM, Calif. – French fries aren’t going away, but diners have a lot more options as Disneyland quick-service and fast-casual restaurants revise their menus with well-balanced choices. Guests will find at least one low-fat and one vegetarian entrée at all table-service restaurants, along with sides that include salads and fresh fruit.

The initiative kicked off in October 2006 when Disney’s Parks & Resorts changed its standard kids’ meals to feature healthy side dishes and beverages. Today a kid’s meal automatically comes with fruit or vegetables as the side dish, and 100% juice, water or low-fat milk to drink. Fries and soda are available upon request at no additional cost.

Guest research showed that more than three-quarters of parents selected fruit or vegetable side options when they were offered first – rather than French fries. Recognizing that visits to Disney parks are vacations, parents can still request more indulgent meals and snacks from a wide variety of food offerings.

Healthful Options Expand

The number of fresh fruit carts at the parks is steadily increasing while other nutritious snacks like nuts and trail mix also are more readily available.

Popular entrées such as burgers were guest tested and restaurants now serve a burger with fat content less than 20 percent and buns with 10 percent whole wheat. Quick-service pizzas now have whole-grain crusts and soon will have lower-fat cheese.

Even desserts have had a makeover: Anywhere they are served, guests will find options such as reduced fat, low sugar and fresh fruit.

Disney is working with manufacturers to reformulate recipes for candy, packaged food and bakery items sold in the parks, or identifying replacement products as the company continues to phase out added trans-fats. Portion-controlled snacks and treats are another change guests will see, along with packaging that promotes nutritious food.

Catering to Dietary Needs

Disneyland Resort gets thousands of requests annually from guests with special dietary needs, said Chef Chris Justesen. Most requested are meals free of gluten, eggs, dairy, peanuts and tree nuts.

With a call three days in advance, Disneyland full-service restaurants can accommodate special dietary needs.

Lifestyle diets – sugar free, low fat, low sodium, vegetarian or vegan – are easily accommodated. When guests call Disney Dining at 714-781-DINE (714-781-3463), they can make the request and then talk with their server or the manager when they arrive at the restaurants.

Kosher meals are available at some full-service restaurants and need to be ordered at least 24 hours in advance by calling Disney Dining.