How to: Vegan at Universal Studios, Orlando
While you’re in kid mode at Universal Studios (jumping from one ride to another, in awe of all the colours and characters, walking in freakin’ Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley…), it’s natural to want to indulge in some treats. You’ll also need to refuel. Here is where and how to eat vegan at Universal Studios Orlando (some not-so-healthy treats and some very healthy fuel)!
At Universal Orlando Theme Park/City Walk
Photo by Theme Park Insider
Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food
I’m not usually one for themed restaurants but Antojitos is the opposite of what you’d think a Mexican restaurant in a theme-park would be. Antojitos is classy and like its name, it really does serve authentic (so, mouth-watering) Mexican food and drinks!. This means LOTS of fresh vegetables, handmade tortillas, guacamole made fresh tableside and traditional Mexican drinks like frozen horchata and sweet tamarindo.
As a vegan or vegetarian, you won’t be limited for options (same for GF). We ordered the guac and vegetarian enchiladas (we removed the cheese to make them vegan) and we were able to take some “home”, making two meals out of one. I would go back in a heartbeat – not only was the food amazing, so was the entertainment (a mariachi band). Each musician sang and played their instruments beautifully and even added modern songs to the mix.
Auntie Anne’s Pretzel
Ask for a fresh pretzel without butter. You can add salt but just be sure that your pretzel is not glazed with butter. This was the first time I had a “natural” pretzel and I actually preferred it to the butter-glaze – the result was a lighter pretzel. Check out Auntie Anne’s food allergen checklist here to know which other options are also vegan, and if you have any other restrictions, what you can/cannot order.
Photo by WildWaves
If you’re craving something sweet while at the park well, good news – Dippin’ Dots has (accidentally) vegan flavours: most of the “ice” flavours including Rainbow Ice and Blue Raspberry Ice are vegan. Both happen to be two of the available flavours at their stall in CityWalk.
Photo by Laura Verbich
An Italian restaurant at CityWalk, Vivo has pizza, salads and freshly-made pastas. What does that mean for vegans? Pizza is the best option; we chose the Margherita pizza, added some arugula and mushrooms (without the cheese, please!) and a side salad. As for the pasta, it is freshly-made which means it contains eggs (no pasta for us this time!) but that’s no big deal because the pizza is perfect. P.S. No GF dough… yet!
Starbucks are found in many locations throughout the park, the many hotels (Cabana Bay) and even CityWalk. At Starbucks, you can choose between almond, soy and even coconut milk. Starbucks is the safe bet if you’re looking for a vegan latte or cold brew.
Photo by Laura Verbich
Yes! Finally, we’re talking about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (isn’t that why we’re all here in the first place?!) In Hogsmeade (in Islands of Adventure) you’ll find the Three Broomsticks, where Harry and his friends spent a good amount of time guzzling Butterbeers and plotting against dark wizards (You-Know-Who). At the Three Broomsticks, you can do the same thing! Unfortunately, Butterbeer is not vegan but there are a lot of delicious things you can have at Three Broomsticks. First, pumpkin juice is vegan. As for food, a lot of the sides are accidentally vegan or can be made vegan upon request. The staff is very accommodating – we had corn on the cob, baked potato and steamed vegetables (we asked them to hold the butter, just to be safe). This is quite a delicious and impressive meal for a theme park. We found it easier to eat vegan at the Three Broomsticks compared to the Leaky Cauldron (which is more pub-style, finger food).
Onsite at the Universal Hotels
Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel
Portofino is an Italian-themed hotel (Portofino, Italy). It is a charming hotel and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the little sea-side village. What’s great about Portofino Hotel is the food – simple, authentic Italian eats which means lots of veggies and pizza. My favourite was Mama Della’s restaurant, where the menu is simple (easily made into vegan or vegetarian!) and you’ll be serenaded by “Mama” in Italian. You’ll feel like you’ve been welcomed into an Italian home (I felt like I was at my Italian grandmother’s dining room!)
Cabana Bay Hotel
Cabana Bay is a 50s-themed hotel (so much fun!) From the outside, the restaurants at the hotel (Bayliner Diner) will seem unhealthy (diner food) but I urge you, go on and check out the menus. There are a handful of vegan-friendly options. The bean burger at the Grill is actually vegan (even the bun – we checked!) Just ask for no cheese! You can replace the cheese with sautéed onions, mushrooms and peppers. It is probably the best bean burger I’ve had, including many vegan restaurants! You can pick up other vegan-friendly snacks, get a salad or freshly-made pizza sans cheese. Easy enough! We were pleasantly surprised at the food quality and options at the Bayliner Diner 🙂
Photo by Laura Verbich
Turkey Lake Road
Whole Foods (or any other health food store, for that matter) is my secret weapon when I travel. I stock up with snacks, fruit, veggies, pre-washed and cut lettuces in boxes, bread, PB and jams. With that, I’m set for breakfast, lunch and snacks. Not only will you save a ton of money, you’re sure you’ll have healthy meals and you won’t be stuck without a healthy snack option. There is a Whole Foods 5-minutes (driving) from the Theme Park on Turkey Lake Road. On “grocery day”, we had lunch at Whole Foods (they have an incredible amount of healthy and ready-made, buffet food) and even took some quinoa, rice and beans in cups to-go. One night, we went to Whole Foods for dinner and had a vegan pizza (Daiya!), stocked up on some coconut water (hydration!) and picked up a few more snacks. If you leave the “resort” area for anything, let it be Whole Foods.