A Disney vacation is about more than simply riding rides, playing golf, or spending time with loved ones. While these activities can serve as a helpful way to burn calories, the true main event at Walt Disney World is the food.
Now, there are plenty of spots for foodies to try on Disney property – some of which are truly world-class experiences – but that doesn't mean there aren't foods that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Walt Disney World's transformation into a culinary capitol has been relatively recent, and its earlier decades were spent serving lower-brow items that one probably wouldn't find in a Michelin Guide. Owing to their longevity and seniority on park menus, some of those items have garnered themselves something of a cult following.
What follows is a brief list of snacks and treats no Disney vacation is complete without trying. The reasons for each may vary – some are wonderfully nostalgic, others brilliantly creative – but all enjoy iconic status among regular park-goers. Please: indulge.
5. Turkey Leg
Where to find it: Any Disney park
Why it's iconic: It's actually somewhat of a challenge to quantify exactly why this particular snack has grown into such an iconic force at Disney parks.
In fact no less an authority than the New York Times spent 1,000 words attempting to define the X-factor that has made these enormous pieces of poultry so renowned.
The Times touched on three basic elements – ones which I'm inclined to agree with: taste, spectacle, and silliness. Obviously, an enormous smoked turkey leg will be delicious. That is, essentially, a given. It's those other two elements that make Disney's turkey legs move beyond what you might find at the county fair and morph into the stuff of legends.
Not only are they absolutely gigantic, but they're also woven into the storytelling fabric of each park. The turkey legs in Animal Kingdom's Dinoland USA are themed as dinosaur bones. The shop in Frontierland is serves them up as a classic dish from the American west. No matter where you find the famous turkey leg at Walt Disney World, it comes with an eye-popping “wow” factor, as well as a special trip further into the story Disney's Imagineers are trying to tell – something that makes the whole experience that much more memorable.
4. Zebra domes
Where to find it: Boma, Flavors of Africa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (Also available at The Mara, another restaurant located in Animal Kingdom Lodge)
Why it's iconic: The zebra dome is iconic among Disneyphiles, but might not be on your radar if you're a civilian. But, should you venture to Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, you will become a convert to the cause.
Boma, Flavors of Africa is a buffet, but please don't let that scare you off. Its food is well-crafted and arrestingly unique, perfectly suited for its placement next to the more haute-cuisine Jiko: the Cooking Place.
The restaurant's most popular dessert is the zebra dome: an addictive morsel of chocolate mousse and liqueur, decorated with a zebra-esque black and white pattern. While they may not be as iconic as other items (such as the turkey leg), they more than make up for it with the passionate following they've cultivated in recent years.