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We’ve all been there...tired and hungry, maybe a few kids in tow and a mere 13,000 steps logged. That’s right, it’s noon at the theme park. 

You’ve got at least 4 more hours to go and the only “food” in sight is a slushie the size of your head or a funnel cake cart. You’ve been keto strong and feeling good for weeks, will your healthy resolutions make it through the day? 

Spoiler alert - of course they will! The keto lifestyle is no longer uncommon and theme parks are in the business of making their guests feel at home. So, there are plenty of options if you take a bit of time before your trip to orient yourself to the park’s offerings and how the staff can help you stay on track.

Be Our Guest 

Theme parks by definition aim to please. Don’t be afraid to “put their service to the test”! 

The key here is to be polite and ask for what you need. You might be surprised to find that most parks have options that won’t break your keto streak and the staff will know where to direct you. 

Disney parks employ a ‘special diets team’ to help you navigate menus according to your food preferences. These specially trained cast members can point you toward the best low carb options so you can enjoy your visit while staying keto with ease.

 disney world and other theme parks daily meal example for breakfast, 2 snacks, lunch, dinner and dessert

The Ground Rules

Before getting into specific choices, consider these basic guidelines to keep you on track: 

  • Be your own advocate, ask questions and make requests to get what you need.
  • Seek out the keto staple foods: non-starchy vegetables (ex. lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, etc.), protein (ex. chicken, fish, eggs, etc.) and fats (ex. mayo, vinaigrette dressing, cheese, etc.).
  • Avoid bread, breading (ex. breaded fish, chicken, onion rings, etc.), tempura batter, French fries, and sweetened sauces (ex. barbeque, honey mustard, etc.).
  • Choose zero carb beverages like water, unsweetened iced tea or coffee.
  • Stick to mayo, classic hot sauce, fresh salsa, dill relish, ranch and vinaigrette dressings (except raspberry and other fruit vinaigrettes that typically have higher sugar content.
  •  Consider the label ofsandwich” as optional. There is no rule that you have to eat the bread.
  • When in doubt, ask where nutrition information can be found. 

Pack Ahead

Although there are exceptions, many of the most popular theme parks, like Disney World and Universal Studios, allow you to bring soft-sided, insulated bags into the parks (think your kids lunch box). You can also stash a few things in your pockets or a bookbag for those hangry moments. My pocket size favorites that don’t require refrigeration include:

If you need more travel snacks ideas for your trip, additional suggestions can be found here

You may also consider bringing some options to eat breakfast in your room, to save money and time in the park. While oatmeal might be on tap for the kids, you’ll want to stick with a low carb hot cereal made from nuts, seeds, and other low carb ingredients. 

Or, you might skip breakfast add some MCT oil and a splash of heavy cream to a cup of joe to ease your body into a gentle fast until lunch time.

    Review Menus

    Make the job of meeting your needs infinitely easier by browsing park menus ahead of time for ideas of what meals and snacks are available, and as a clue for what ingredients are on hand if you need to put together your own concoction. 

    Use the formula of protein + non-starchy vegetable + fat for your meals. Scan the menu for items that fit this framework or mix and match to create something suitable.

     Disney world and theme park keto friendly eating formula including protein, vegetables, and healthy fat toppings.

    You’ll want to make sure that you’re looking at a current menu. Many parks publish their own or have menus available via order-ahead apps. Due to the popularity of theme parks as a travel destination there are also private sites not associated with the parks that post menus and reviews. 

    Disney World (Includes Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios)

    Walt Disney World Dining and Reservations

    Disney World Dining App

    Allears.net

    Disney Land and Disney California Adventure Park

    Disney Land Dining App

    Allears.net

    Universal Studios

    Universal Orlando

    Universal Hollywood

    Lego Land

    Food and Dining

    Nickelodeon Universe

    Food and Dining (no menu but does give an overview)

    Knotts Berry Farm

    Drinks and Dining 

    Options at the Park

    Theme parks are a feast for the senses. Rides, shows, smells and sites pepper the grounds to make sure at every turn you’re enjoying yourself. Food is no exception. Whether you’re looking for a small snack, a cup of coffee or a feast with your favorite characters - there is an option. 

    Most parks have a mix of grab and go stations, some fast-food chains and buffets as well as more formal establishments for when you’re ready to sit down and relax.

      disney world and other theme parks keto friendly grab and go options in the park including dill pickles, cheese sticks, veggies, breadless sandwiches, and turkey legs 

      Enjoy Yourself

      Don’t let a trip to the theme park ruin your health goals. Theme parks are in the business of serving you, their guest. It’s easy to stay on track when you plan ahead and know your options. 

      Do you have any insider tips from a recent theme park trip? Share them with us on social @highkeysnacks

       

      keto for diabetics writer Lindsay Malone
       Lindsay Malone, MS, RDN, CSO, LD
       Lindsay Malone is a Functional and Integrative Medicine dietitian empowering individuals to take charge of their health with evidenced-based nutrition information.  

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