How to Enjoy Disney Dining with a Picky Eater–The Sanaa Menu Solution

My picky eater!

Most people visit Walt Disney World with their children and this often poses a problem when it comes to meal times. More adventurous parents are frequently hesitant to dine at some of the more exotic Disney Restaurants, fearing that their little ones won’t like anything on the menu.

I don’t have children. But I do have a mother, and her palate is about as advanced as that of your average eight year old. On a ten-day trip to France with her husband, she consistently ordered ‘poulet’ for every meal, thinking that chicken was the safest option. It was one of the only French words she knew, so that helped, too–though her husband is fluent and was perfectly capable of ordering for her.

Whether you travel to Disney with a child, with a less-than-adventurous adult, or if you yourself are less than adventurous, I’ve discovered a great option to make meal times less stressful. I call it non-traditional family style dining.  This phrase has not yet been trademarked–feel free to use it yourself!

In many Disney restaurants there is the option for a sampler plate.  Additionally, as documented by The Disney Food Blog, there’s a trend towards trio plates in The World. While the sampler or the trio plate is a great way for the solo traveler to try a variety of dishes, so too is it a great concept for family style dining.

Take, for example, my trip to Sanaa with my mother. After perusing the menu she proclaimed that she ‘didn’t know what any of those words meant.’  I had her read me some terms and was able to explain some of them–the waitress helped with the others. So I ordered for us, and the idea for non-traditional family style dining was born. I ordered two combo plates–one meat and one vegetarian. This gave us four different dishes to choose from, along with two servings of rice.  I decided to forgo the five-grain pilaf option, as I didn’t think she’d be up for that.

Clockwise from upper right: Shrimp with Green Curry, Spicy Durban Chicken, Spicy Cauliflower, Tomatoes, Onions and Mint, Paneer Cheese and Spinach

This next part is key–I had my mother try each of the dishes first, and then she got to pick the ones she liked the most. While she did have a bit of the other two–and I had a bit of hers–she ate the majority of the two dishes she liked. And, cooincidentally, the dishes she didn’t like were the ones I did–which makes sense as typically the ones she didn’t like were spicer or more complex, which is something that appeals to me.

My personal sample plate

We did the same thing at Tangerine Cafe in Epcot’s Morocco Pavillion. For $14, we shared the Mediterranean Sliders combo.

Mom's first encounter with Middle Eastern food

I had the lamb, she had the poulet…er, chicken…and we ended up sharing the falafel. The great part is that after trying the falafel–something she’d never ordinarily order–she discovered that she loved it. She even asked me where she can get falafel at home! You, too, may be surprised by what your children (or partner) will eat when given choices.

This option works even when a sampler dish is not offered. A family of three on the dining plan can order three different appetizers, three entrees, and three desserts. Just put them in the middle of the table and you’ve created your own buffet. Disney waitstaff is so very helpful that I’m sure they’d be happy to provide the additional plates.

Disney dining can be enjoyable and adventurous, even with a picky eater. Please feel free to comment and share your own tips and tricks for traveling with poulet addicts.

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