Giving thanks to the Disney parks…

November 27, 2009 at 1:07 am Leave a comment

Happy Thanksgiving!

What shall I be thankful for? Too many things to count, thank G*d, but let’s keep it with the theme here.

While visiting the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Center in the 1980’s, we didn’t really think about how we were going to fuel up for and during the day. We were a “commando-style” family to the max. Stopping for lunch was a no-no, and taking a break during the day to swim or nap was heresy. As a family who kept to a kosher diet (albeit with some leniencies that I’ve dropped over the years), the Disney dining experience just wasn’t happening for us. So, our food-for-fuel consisted of a big breakfast at the hotel (likely cereal & bagels), a snack during midday (Mickey bar, popcorn, etc.), and something for dinner. We’d pick up some nosh at a counter service spot that was deemed kosher enough for us, and made do (or we had more popcorn, ice cream, etc.). Again, food was for fuel purposes only in the Magic Kingdom – not for the nutritional value, and surely not for the culinary experience. It worked well for us and we liked it. We never felt we were missing out at all.

Decades go by, and I find myself in Anaheim for a conference, and my wife and 1 ½ year old daughter come along for a Disneyland experience. Because she is so young, she doesn’t “get it” as much as we’d hoped. So, we think out of the box: why not a character meal? It’s expensive considering we would be able to eat much at all, but two things convince us to give it a go:

• Breakfast is the easiest way to go for the kosher traveler
• My daughter is the biggest fan of Minnie I could imagine

So, off to the PCH Grill at the Paradise Pier hotel. Total success! The smile on her face was incredible. It was an experience that was totally new for me, let alone her. I was convinced of the character meal dining experience.

So, what is new at Disney World when I go back in 2005 after a long hiatus? Kosher meals! Happy day! We did kosher meals for character dining at Crystal Palace in 2005 and Tusker House in 2008. What a great experience, and we even had hot kosher food. We also enjoyed the “luxury” of counter service kosher meals to get us through the day. While I didn’t miss this at all as a kid, as a parent I am grateful.

Is the kosher dining at WDW and Disneyland anything close to the dining experience the average Joe has? Absolutely not. As anyone who keeps kosher in any capacity knows and understands, that would be a luxury that is rare on any kind of vacation. But to have that option available makes the experience that much more enjoyable. The food isn’t Victoria & Albert’s, but it beats popcorn for lunch and ice cream for dinner. And the character meals are now a “must-do” for us on any trip to a Disney park.

So, I am thankful for kosher dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

(If there were to be a kosher resturaunt with freshly cooked kosher food on property, then expressing my gratitude wouldn’t be possible with words alone.)

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Entry filed under: Disneyland, Kosher, Travel, Walt Disney World.

A wandering Jew in the Magic Kingdom… What is a Jew to do during the “Very Merry” months at the Disney Parks?

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