I am a nostalgic. And being nostalgic makes me stubborn. And stuck in my ways.
This happens all the time at restaurants. I go out to eat to a restaurant for the first time with my family and find a meal that looks appetizing to me. If we enjoy the restaurant, and we go back...I order the exact same thing. There could be forty other things on the menu that look slightly appetizing to me, but I will only order the one dish every time we go back. Take, for example, Texas Roadhouse. They've got many delightful dishes on their menu. However, I will only ever order their chicken crispers, which are a crispy, lightly-breaded chicken tender with fries. Or take, as another example, one of my favorite (and my mom's favorite--shout out, mom!) restaurants: Cracker Barrel. This is a restaurant you could get breakfast during their operating hours, as well as country fried steak, hamburgers, chicken pot pies, or roast beef. However, every time I go, I get the Chicken Tender platter, which allows guests to choose three sides and their choice of biscuits or corn bread. I always get the fried chicken tenders with fries, mashed potatoes (and butter), macaroni and cheese, and buttermilk biscuits with a Diet Coke. I could choose anything off the menu, but I always choose the same
because it is comfortable.
It's much the same way at Walt Disney World. However, once in awhile, I decide to be "adventurous" and try something new in the way of snacking. And very rarely the snacks I've tried at Walt Disney World have been disappointing to me.
Here are my top suggestions for snacks at Walt Disney World that everyone should try at least once.
Disclaimer: Remember, I'm a good Dutch boy who is a nostalgic who likes to be comfortable, so this is by no means an exhaustive list. I know that there is a ton I need to reach out and try yet, so don't judge! These just happen to be my favorites. :)
1.) The granddaddy (arguably) of all snacks at Walt Disney World: The Dole Whip. I saw online once that someone stated the Dole Whip to be overrated. This is an objective opinion of that poster. I would argue that the Dole Whip is an amazing snack that I personally go out of my way every trip to enjoy. There are two places on Walt Disney World property one can go (to my knowledge) to get a Dole Whip (or a Dole Whip float if you prefer): Aloha Aisle at the Magic Kingdom (although during my last trip in August 2015 they were being sold at Sunshine Seasons Terrace) and the Pineapple Lanai outside Captain Cook's at the Polynesian Resort. For those of you who are unaware, a Dole Whip is a traditional twist-style ice cream dessert. However, rather than the snack being a twist of chocolate and vanilla, a Dole Whip is a twist of pineapple ice cream and vanilla. It creates the perfect taste combination of tangy and sweet ice cream. A Dole Whip Float, on the other hand, is similar to a root beer float, but instead of root beer, the ice cream is suspended in pineapple juice. Guests who are crazy enough to not enjoy pineapple (such as my father), can opt to choosing a Citrus Swirl, which is identical to the Dole Whip, but substitutes orange-flavored ice cream for the pineapple. When visiting during our last trip in Summer 2015, we snacked on our Dole Whips twice: we quickly slurped our dessert at the tables between Sunshine Seasons Terrace and the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, as well as at tables overlooking the Volcano Pool of the Polynesian. I am unashamed to say that I got my daughter hooked on the delicious treat. I was also lucky enough to find that a small ice cream shack in my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan also sells Dole Whip desserts, which will now give me a chance to enjoy the nostalgia of fond memories when I go home for the summer.
2.) The second treat that I enjoy when visiting Walt Disney World is the churros. My first exposure to Disney's churros took place during my second anniversary trip with my wife in June 2012. We had been staying at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (when my wife accidentally almost killed a giraffe...read about it here) and had taken advantage of the deal of free dining by staying at a deluxe resort. As a result, during this trip, we had eaten an enormous amount of food, being lucky enough to have both an entrée and dessert with each meal. We were visiting Epcot and decided to eat at La Cantina de San Angel (the outdoor counter service adjacent to La Hacienda de San Angel across from the Mexico Pavilion). After eating our tacos and quesadillas (or whatever we ordered), we decided to choose the hot churros with the caramel dipping sauce as our dessert. We were both lucky enough to order these warm, delectable treats, each getting four or five churro sticks as part of our dessert order. I had never enjoyed a churro before. And after this experience, I was hooked. A churro is a stick of fried batter covered in cinnamon and granulated sugar, that is usually served warm and often dipped in a sauce such as caramel or cream cheese. It was delicious and now, every time I go back to Epcot, I will be getting this delicious treat. I know they have churro carts elsewhere, but the positive memory of eating them with my bride at Epcot's Mexico pavilion may hinder me from enjoying them anywhere but there.
3.) Some peoples' go-to snack at Walt Disney World or any Disney park is popcorn. People line up, especially in the international parks, to try different flavors of popcorn. However, I'm such a nostalgic that I don't even know whether Walt Disney World sells any flavors of popcorn other than butter-flavored. I'm not a huge popcorn fan at home. Even when I go to movies in the theater, I don't really care for popcorn: it gets stuck in my teeth, I usually swallow a kernel or two, and I inevitably inhale a piece of popcorn into my lungs, leading to a coughing fit and the beefy muscle man in front of me turning around and giving me dirty looks for interrupting a mushy scene of the chick flick we are watching. However, while not a fan of popcorn, eating it at Walt Disney World at least once during a trip is a requirement due to the nostalgia factor for me. When I was growing up and I would visit the parks with my brother and parents, we would always eat a big breakfast at our resort's food court or a character meal before starting our day in the parks. We would also plan on a big meal in the evening. To save money, we would usually have a snack mid-afternoon. Because a "small" popcorn was usually served in a big box (we so felt like we were playing the system), we would get two boxes of popcorn to share between the four of us and some 20 oz. of soda as a snack. We would find a spot in a rocking chair or on a step or porch of Frontierland or Liberty Square and eat our popcorn and drink our soda while we people watched. Again, I'm not a huge fan of popcorn and I'll rarely eat it (I'd opt instead for ice cream or chips for a snack at home), but there is something comfortable and happy about eating popcorn at the Disney parks, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios especially, that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
And there you have it. There's round one of my favorite Disney snacks. I know there are a lot more that I haven't even touched on, like a turkey leg or a Mickey pretzel or even a Mickey ice cream bar. However, these are my top three, all because they are attached to a special place in my Disney consciousness.