WDW Counter Service and Quick Service Reviews

Counter Service/Quick Service Reviews 2011


Sorry in advance about poor quality photos – difficult with low lighting! I tried to get as many photos as I could. Note that some of these are nonvegan meals, as Mom dined along with me.

Please note: These reviews are from 2011, and Disney has changed many of its products and allergy-friendly items. For my 2012 trip report, please click here.

Riverside Mill and Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory

We had come prepared with a lot of food and snacks to Disney, unsure of what to expect. We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside and didn’t eat in the food court area often, but did a few times for breakfast and once the day we got there.

We left our city at 3am, were on a 6am flight, and got to Orlando late morning. By time we got to Disney and in our room it was about 2:30am. Mom was understandably exhausted, so I suggested she snooze while I explore a bit and come back with some food for her. I opted for our snacks, but she wanted something a little more substantial.

The food court areas are set up like a food marché, with different sections. I asked right away to speak to the chef, to let him know we were there, and to see what options we’d have over our stay.

Though I remember most of the chef’s names, I didn’t write this one down. However, he was super nice! He described the protocol I had already read to follow each time: basically, ask for him and he will safely prepare the meal.

There was a salad area with a lot of different fixings, a pasta and pizza area, chicken fingers and fries, and a bakery. They also had a carving station. We only were here once for lunch. There was also some quick pre-made options, though we wouldn’t have opted for those, as well as alcohol, juice, milk (including Silk cartons), and fruit (oranges, apples, bananas).

I decided to get Mom a salad–I didn’t think she would want a heavy gluten-free pasta meal. All of the toppings he got from a separate area, used a different bowl, and roasted a piece of chicken on another side of the grill. He described the dressings but said that they might have soybean oil, so I opted for just olive oil (which Mom often does, anyway). We had Free Dining for this trip, so I got her a Minute Maid 100% Orange Juice and a banana, because we had loads of water and nondairy milk already in our room. Fruit isn’t always a dessert but they offer alternatives for folks who are gluten-free. Most of the desserts they had here were not safe: they had Divvies, which aren’t gluten-free, and they had French Meadow products, which have eggs.

Mom said her salad was very good–the chicken was tender and everything was fresh. Although she couldn’t have a lot of the toppings, there were enough to make it delicious.

A few times we also ate here for breakfast. I was running in the Princess 1/2 Marathon during our stay, so the morning after the race we decided to get some good re-fuel before we headed out. We didn’t get the same chef as day one, but he was nice, though a little harried.

The options for the waffle plates didn’t have much for a vegan: waffles with berries, waffles with sausage and bacon. I got the waffles with berries and quizzed them before on what they use. They use Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free waffle and pancake mix. They use applesauce for the eggs and Pacific Rice Milk for the milk. Mom got those, too, with bacon. They did not have real maple syrup, which was really disappointing because I don’t eat waffles or pancakes often, and when I do, I like my real close-to-home pure maple syrup. I’ll be packing a bottle next time.

The waffles were good. Not great, not bad. A little squishy but flavorful. The strawberries were mushy – I would have rather asked for maybe a sliced banana. But it was still a delicious and simple way to start the day.

With breakfast you get a free beverage, so instead of getting water (which is what I always get), I got a Silk Chocolate Milk in the carton, which was a nice treat. Mom got a grapefruit juice, but then didn’t drink it after we read the disgusting ingredients (high fructose corn syrup, anyone?).

Mid-stay we walked over to French Quarter and ordered them again. The chef was awesome, and the fruit was much better. The waffles tasted about the same, maybe a little better.

On the last day or our stay we ate here again. By then, I had realized that if you ask for things, you’ll probably get them. They have a breakfast platter called a bounty platter (or something like that… this is probably the only one I didn’t write down). I asked for it to be modified, with a chickpea hash or something instead of the eggs (they didn’t have tofu). The chef (who, luckily, was the one from day 1 and remembered (somehow) our allergens by heart!) had no problem with this. He made a huge sauté of potatoes, peppers, onions, and chickpeas. I had two waffles on the side, and Mom got pancakes on the side so we could each have one of each. They were loaded with fresh strawberries, and mom got bacon. This was a breakfast that held us over during our flight! I had wished I asked for this each time and now I know. It was delicious.

Menu for Riverside Mill breakfast and lunch/dinner.

Menu for Sassagoula breakfast and lunch/dinner.

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Sunshine Seasons

Sunshine Seasons is a huge food court area in Epcot. There are a lot of choices… or so it seems. When we got there we asked to speak to the chef. It was a young (good-looking) guy. We first talked about Mom, and there was no problem. Pretty much everything was safe, except in the bakery and Asian food section. As soon as he said “Rotisserie Chicken” she was sold. That was easy.

I told him I was gluten-free (“easy” he said), dairy-free (“no problem” he smiled), and a vegan (silence). Finally, he said, “this might be really hard.”

He looked around, was thinking, and we waited. He walked over to the area where there are snacks and some food-to-go, and read the ingredients on a few things. Finally, he said, “the hummus is perfect. Do you like hummus?” Yes, I LOVE hummus, so I made a suggestion to him. I asked if they had any of the Ener-G buns, and although I don’t love them, I figured I could make myself a sandwich with hummus, tomato and lettuce. He said yes, and also discovered that their bean salad was safe for me. Then his face lit up and he said, “Oh! I can fry you up some tofu, too!” My body was dying for some protein, so I was all over that – plus, I love tofu.

And it was the best tofu I’ve ever had. Amazing. Perfectly fried, perfectly salted. So good. I had a huge plate with two Ener-G buns (though I just ate one), loads of tofu, bean salad, probably about 3/4 cup of hummus, and fresh lettuce and tomato.

Sunshine Seasons was my favorite quick service by far, though I think it was also luck of having an awesome chef.

We got water and they had Enjoy Life Chocolate Bars as a dessert option, so we got those.

Sunshine Seasons also carries Silk Yogurt, something I didn’t see anywhere else in the parks.

Menu for Sunshine Seasons.

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Pecos Bill

Eating in Magic Kingdom was really difficult. I think we spent about 2 hours (minimum) going to the different locations to ask what options they were. This is one time that my lists didn’t help the situation.

When we got to Pecos Bill, we had a really nice and patient manager. Mom was easy – Angus Burger, Ener-G bun, no fries (they have soy in them, though they don’t fry them in soy oil… the soy is already there). The veggie burgers they have in the parks are not gluten-free, though I knew this beforehand. They have a huge fixings area for the burgers here, and she said she could fry me mushrooms and onions safely, telling me they would be very careful for cross contamination and that they ONLY fry mushrooms on onions on here.

She ended up giving me a salad with a bun on the side (but it was cold and dry and rock hard), lettuce, tomato, banana peppers, and two HUGE plates with sauteed onions and mushrooms. With this, I drizzled mustard on everything (yep, my favorite condiment), and ate.

It wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t good, and I didn’t feel right after. I am also not sure if maybe it was just an odd combination of food for my already sensitive stomach.

Mom loved her burger–they are 100% beef so you don’t have to worry about other allergens. From a vegan perspective, there were so many fixings and if you aren’t celiac, you could get the veggie burger. From my own perspective, it turned me off mushrooms for awhile because I didn’t feel well after.

For dessert, they had Enjoy Life Chocolate Chip cookies, which we got just because they were there. They’re pretty good.

They were very accommodating and friendly, just my food was pretty subpar.

Menu for Pecos Bill.

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Backlot Express

Backlot Express is at MGM/Hollywood Studio and this is another that I hunted around for a couple hours until we felt safe. It was pretty similar to Pecos Bill – an amazing woman of a manager that went above and beyond to help us.

In FACT, on some of the things there they offer avocado, which was definitely nice. However, it was frozen avocado (which isn’t as nice). The ingredients were just avocado and citric acid (to prevent browning, I’m sure), but I was worried about cross contamination on the production lines. “No problem,” she said, looked at the label, picked up the phone and called the company! They ended up being safe, and we were really thankful she did this. Though they weren’t the best avocado I’ve ever had, they were surprisingly good for being frozen.

Mom, again, had the Angus burger here on an Ener-G bun with tomato, lettuce, onion, and avocado. She made me a Southwest Salad with black bean relish, tomato, arugula, watercress, and avocado. I didn’t want to risk the dressing that came with it. Instead of giving me Tostitos chips (which some celiacs will eat but I won’t because they are made on shared lines), she offered to get me some corn tortillas, fry them herself, and bring them out. She gave me a huge amount! I didn’t eat them all but it was nice to have some crunch on the salad.

I felt a little yucky after this meal, but before the trip I was having a lot of stomach problems and I think it might have just been the raw veggies in the salad. I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty positive it wasn’t gluten-related.

Mom would recommend this, and so would I. For vegans, it was nice to have some protein in the salad, and it was definitely a delicious combination of lettuces, with avocado and the chips.

Menu for Backlot Express.

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La Cantina de San Angel

La Cantina is a quick/counter service location in Mexico in Epcot. I might be biased, but I absolutely love Mexican food. We spent a lot of time in the countries asking for options and weren’t getting very far. I figured Mexican food was a safe bet because this place was attached to La Hacienda de San Angel, and we ate there earlier on our stay. Because they had house-made corn tortillas, I figured I could cram some guacamole in there and be happy.

The menu wasn’t too promising for a vegan, but I talked to the chef to see what he could do. I explained the allergens and he said to stay away from the nacho chips. I am pretty positive I recall it was because they were fried in soy oil, and since I don’t love chips, I didn’t want to eat them in front of Mom.

This ended up being incredible, and to this day, Mom still mentions how it was one of her favourites. Which is sort of funny, considering the caliber of some of the Table Service places we dined at. Mom ended up being able to have the Tacos de Pollo with a few modifications: basically, she had the corn tortillas, grilled chicken, pico de gallo, guacamole on them. I told him I would love anything, and I love corn tortillas… and that I am a big eater. He laughed and said, “don’t you worry, I’ll take care of you.”

And so he did! He gave me a pile of corn tortillas, a hunk of guacamole, a bunch of (very spicy!) pico de gallo and a MASS of baked beans! I think there was about 1 1/2 cups in there! They were very tasty! We both loved this and I would honestly eat here multiple times on a trip back.

They had no options for dessert but that was okay – we aren’t big dessert people anyway. He offered us grapes which we took, though were too stuffed to eat.

Menu for La Cantina.
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Columbia Harbour House

As I’ve mentioned, Magic Kingdom was a bit of a pain to find something, but we didn’t want to eat at Pecos Bill again. Columbia Harbour House did have an option of a vegan (and gluten-free) chili, though there were so many ingredients in it of food additives and stablizers and random things that I didn’t want to eat it. Who puts that in chili?

Mom also was a little burgered out and we knew we were going to have a big dinner that night with Chef TJ at 1900 Park Fare. Because of this, I decided I was okay with a salad (and we ended up getting a treat from Liberty Square Market to go with it! Read about that below).

They had allergy-free chicken tenders that Mom ended up getting. It came with fries but she couldn’t have them because of the soy, and they baked them for her (instead of frying) because of the fries that are used in that same oil. They gave them to her with carrots and applesauce to round it out.

I had a plain salad with some vegetables and sunflower seeds, which wasn’t much but better than nothing. I chose none of the dressings and just got some olive oil and salt. My dessert was also an applesauce. (We didn’t end up eating these. In fact, I still have one in my kitchen).

It was okay for a quick meal but nothing special. If I didn’t get the meal of a lifetime later that night I might have cared more. But our Liberty Square Market treat rounded it out!

I don’t know what might be safe now, as they’ve updated their menu, but I would assume they still have the chicken tenders and that the salad is the only vegan option that would be safe as well.

Menu for Columbia Harbour House.

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Flame Tree BBQ

I didn’t eat here and if you know what they sell, you wouldn’t be surprised. Nestled in the middle of Animal Kingdom, Flame Tree BBQ serves up chicken, ribs, and pork. Their baked beans, which I would have eaten with gusto, were meat-based.

The rub that they use is just spices, so Mom was pleased she could enjoy a 1/2 rack of ribs – something she hadn’t had in years. They are traditionally served with baked beans and a corn muffin. The muffin wasn’t gluten-free, and the baked beans… I’m not sure. She didn’t get them because she avoids legumes, but I am not sure if they have gluten or soy (and I doubt they have dairy).

She received a salad instead and the mainstay Enjoy Life Chocolate Chip cookies as her dessert. This is another she doesn’t stop raving over.

Menu for Flame Tree BBQ.

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While Mom noshed on ribs, I looked for my vegan option elsewhere. I knew that Restaurantosaurus had the Ener-G buns, so I went to scope it out because I was in the mood for a sandwich. I figured I would do the whole lettuce, tomato, mustard thing if I had to.

When I got there the manager was super nice, and was actually (get this) excited to tell me that he had an “awesome option for me”. They have a Vegetable Subosaurus on their menu, which is just a grilled vegetable and provolone sub, but he told me they had Ener-G hot dog buns and could make it on there without the cheese. He would do it all on the safe allergy-free grill. That sounded great! A grilled vegetable sub!

He asked if I wanted fries on the side and I asked him about the sweet potato fries. He let me look at the ingredient list and it looked fine. This is something I never do, just assume, unless it says gluten-free, dairy-free right on it. I was a little wary but I told him that I wanted them.

He told me they have a safe fryer for allergies but asked if I wanted to have them baked instead because they fry the allergy-free chicken in those fryers. I thought that was super nice (and knowledgeable!) of him for thinking of my veganism, also. I did prefer them baked both for that reason and because deep fried food and I don’t really get along. The dessert was Enjoy Life Chocolate Chip cookies.

The hotdog bun but was much better than any Ener-G roll I had thus far, and the whole meal was amazing. Unfortunately, I had terrible, intense brain fog for about 1/2 an hour after. I can’t pinpoint it, but I would venture it might have been my carelessness in getting the fries. As well, the fries are not listed on Disney’s allergy-safe sheet.

This was no error on their part–the manager here was amazing. But I would have to be much more careful if I ate here again, and probably just get the sub as I really don’t think the issue was in that.

Menu for Restaurantosaurus.

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Toy Story Pizza Planet

If I could sum this up in a few words, it would be this: miserable chef, really good pizza. But, I’ll elaborate.

Toy Story Pizza Planet is in MGM/Hollywood Studios, and I already knew beforehand that they had Amy’s pizzas (which we don’t eat), as well as Ener-G pizza crust and soy cheese (Follow Your Heart). Because of this, and because we wanted pizza, we went here knowing that, more than likely, we could eat.

I was right, they had both, which was nice. The restaurant was completely dead (we went at like 3pm), but the chef looked tired and… maybe even annoyed that we were there. I tried to keep it simple by getting us the exact same order except with the soy cheese on one. They offer a vegetable pizza so we got that, and one with soy cheese. The sauce ingredients were fine for both of us.

The pizzas came with a side of caesar salad, which we cannot have. He said he could put some romaine on the plate. We said okay, and asked if he had any olive oil. He didn’t. What about a lemon? Nope. So we had a side of plain romaine, but we asked for baby carrots for a dessert to make it more interesting. We assembled it and it resembled a salad. Sort of.

Luckily, this place mastered the art of making gluten-free pizza taste good, because it was really, really delicious. The crust was the perfect balance of crispy, chewy, and soft, the toppings were well cooked, the sauce was absolutely delicious and the soy cheese was pretty good. I had never had Follow Your Heart cheese but always read that it was the best vegan option (until Daiya came around), and the reviews are right. It was good, and did add a nice salty texture to the pizza.

A woman who worked there was outside cleaning tables and talked to Mom for awhile, while I ordered, went to the bathroom, and so on. She actually made it much more pleasant, than the irate chef, and we’d definitely eat here again.

The new menu shows “mixed greens salad” instead of the caesar, which is great, too!

Menu for Pizza Planet.

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We went to Mara on the last day because I had heard through the grapevine that they could make me a vegan, gluten-free falafel. Now, if you have food allergies, you’ll understand that if you could, at one point, eat something and then suddenly you can’t, how much of a delight it is.

We were at a park and wanted to get to Downtown Disney anyway because the sun was shining and we wanted to get up into that hot air balloon! So we had to go to a resort to transfer there, and having ate so well at Sanaa, Jiko, and Boma, we figured that lunch at Mara would be a good choice.

It was actually pretty awesome because it turned out it was the chef I spoke to earlier in the week about dining at Boma safely.

We got there and she went over some options for us. By and large, they had the best choices. They have flatbreads there and because they have Ener-G pizza crust, you could get any of them on those. They had a lot of other options, too.

I asked her about gluten-free, vegan falafel and she said that she was really sorry, but it was pre-made and it had breadcrumbs in it. I must have looked disappointed because then she paused and said, “You know, we have a lot of cooked lentils and chickpeas. That should hold together. I’ll add some good stuff and make you some falafel if you don’t mind waiting. I can heat the allergy-free crust like a pita and load it with great toppings.”

I think I shed a tear.

My mom ended up getting an Angus burger (one last one for the road!), that she cut in half and put on two buns (which is a lot of food). She then asked if we wanted a better side dish than just a salad, and asked if we wanted coconut rice. Sure!

When our food came out (awhile later, about 40 minutes, but completely worth it), we were famished, so it was good we had a mountain of food. My falafel had sundried tomato hummus, greens with lemon vinaigrette, fresh tomatoes, and olive tapenade. Mom’s Angus burger had a load of fresh toppings, was on two buns. We had the coconut rice on a plate to share, and could hardly eat it we were so stuffed (though we brought it back with us since our flight was tomorrow). It was an awesome way to eat our last quick service meal.

Menu for Mara.

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So, so excited for Babycakes, but I have to say it was a bit of a fail. As I expressed in my intro, we were super pumped to be able to have something that I had read about since being diagnosed, and even though the ingredients included chickpea flour, my mom wanted to give it a try, too.

Gluten-free vegan baked goods have a stigma of being dry and heavy – and these definitely were. That’s not to say that everything was terrible – it really wasn’t – but it wasn’t amazing and definitely only worth the dollar because we had the dining plan and could use them as snacks (which we had trouble using up and ended up always getting water).

Our first time to Babycakes we decided to share some doughnuts – it was my post-race treat. We got the chocolate crunch doughnut and the cinnamon sugar.

Both were moist and not dry at all. They were really delicious. But they were not doughnuts. Why? Because they were baked. And they tasted like delicious sweet muffins. If you have a hankering for a doughnut, don’t get these. But they FAR surpass the cupcakes, and were delicious in their own right. As a round, hole-in-the-centre muffin. I would definitely get these again, if I was craving a muffin.

Another time we went to Babycakes and I had heard about a parfait you could get, loaded with their delicious frosting, some sort of cream, and parts of cookies and cupcakes… and fruit. Now THIS was good. Filling, sugar-high, yummy. I say, if you’re stopping there just once, get this. It wasn’t on the menu.

We did stop in once for a couple of cookies which I spat out. But that is just my cookie preference. They were very crunchy and thin, and very oily. I like chewy or soft cookies, and I don’t like when cookies are oily. We tried the chocolate chip and the double chocolate (they have oatmeal raisin but I don’t do gluten-free oats).

On the last day, we decided we should finally try the cupcakes. We chose and split the Blondie with Chocolate Icing, Brownie with Mint Icing, and Lemon with Lemon Icing. I can definitely understand how they are so well known for their icing – it is very, very good!

The Blondie and Brownie cupcakes were really dry. I would have assumed they would be heavier, given their moniker, but a little too dry to be good. The lemon one was good, though dry. The icing, though… So delicious. I pulled it all off and saved it to the end. We ordered the cinnamon sugar toastie to go and take on the plane for the next day.

The cinnamon sugar toastie was DELICIOUS and we didn’t even eat it until the next day, nor did we wrap it properly. So moist and perfect – we were wishing we bought more!

If you’re there for one thing, I suggest the toastie (or the parfait), or another one of their loaves, all of which look great. As well, they were newish when we went – they may have further mastered the moist cupcake.

Menu for Babycakes.

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Liberty Square Market

This little market near Columbia Harbour House has a few nice offerings, such as fruit and snacks, but one thing stood out: a baked potato.

Now, this isn’t any old baked potato. No, no.

This is a delicious, slow-baked, creamy-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside, dotted with oil and kosher salt potato. And here’s the thing. I don’t even LIKE potatoes. But it smelled and looked so delicious that we bought one to share (they are huge, and this went along with our lunch).

Needless to say, it was creamy, dreamy, crispy, and delicious. Get one of these! They sell out fast, he says, and there was just one left anyway when we got there.

You could get it with chips and a drink to make it a meal, but we just wanted the potato.

Menu for Liberty Square Market.

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3 thoughts on “WDW Counter Service and Quick Service Reviews

  1. Denise mabie says:

    Thanks so much for this information. Its been so helpful for me planning our Disney trip with GF vegetarian meals!

    • NV says:

      You’re welcome, Denise! I’m glad it helps. Check out the Table Service reviews, too, if you’re eating at any restaurants!

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