14 April 2008

Choose before you chew

A question about nutritional information, found at the Disney World Trivia forums, has had me thinking, a dangerous pastime I know. Previously, I had talked about the theme of nutrition in the parks, or the lack thereof, but the idea of not having nutritional information available to guest, is one I just cannot seem to wrap my mind around fully.

In my search for enlightenment from an official source, I scoured the Dining FAQ on the Walt Disney World website. For my efforts, I was compensated with the following results.
“Q. Can nutritional information be provided for menu items?
A. Unfortunately we do not have, and therefore we cannot provide you with accurate or reliable nutritional information, and we would not want you or any other Guest to rely on what could only be our "best guess." We can however, attempt to work within your dietary request and suggest some menu alternatives and solutions that may satisfy your requests. We strive to provide all our Guests a magical experience by offering a wide array of dining locations, experiences and menu options, and we trust that among all those selections you will find menu items that meet your requests.”

I understand that some of the menus at Walt Disney World change regularly with what produce and meats are available. There are even restaurants, like the famed Victoria and Albert’s, whose menu changes daily based on the guests’ requests and what culinary delight the chef has in mind. Gastronomic adventures are not where I see fault with the policy of not having, or being able to provide, nutritional information available for guests. My concern is not at the top of the World, but rather down on the street level with the average guest.

More and more today, people are starting to think, eat, and live healthier. They want to be more aware of what they are putting into their bodies, and they want to know if they are going off of their dining regiment how far are they going to have to come back. The average guest is not going to have dinner at California Grill, but they are going to stop in at Cosmic Ray’s and the Boulangerie Patisserie. These types of dining establishments that provide quick service and snacks rarely change their menus. Chicken strips, hamburgers, chowder, even the turkey and muenster on foccacia have been staples for quite some time. And while the recipe may have changed for the Citrus Swirl, most dairy delights and bakery indulgences remain constant. This is why, when you find that delicious slab of Tonga Toast or find a soup that makes your mouth water, the restaurant is able to supply you with the recipe. The nutritional statistics of these everyday items available within the parks, resorts, and other guest areas should be available for the conscientious diner.

I am not asking that there be a large poster printed on the wall of every snack shop and counter service establishment, a pamphlet available upon request at Guest Services or figures that are available via email requests during planning for a trip would be enough. Prepackaged ice-cream and fruit bars should not be the only fare that provides consumers with hard dietary information.


Unknown said...

This is a great point, Ryan. As a guest of the Disney theme parks who is often accompanied by a diabetic this is a relevant topic in my household and I find it surprising how little information Disney provides. Thanks for the post!

Princess Fee said...

An excellent point! I am surprised that Disney don't provide any form of nutritional information. I worked at the CHH and we had access to a 'book' which displayed the ingredients for everything we sold (especially important for those with allergies to food). So it wouldn't be difficult for Disney to make up a few more pages with nutritional information that they can keep at the registers alongwith the already available information.

Jeffrey Pepper said...

As someone who follows a fairly disciplined nutritional routine, I have to say that I'm not too concerned with whether or not Disney makes available that information. I'm on vacation; and as such I've already have a plan in mind as to how much I will abuse my normal diet. Common sense can likely guide you as well as anything, and Disney does make available a fairly good selection of healthy alternatives, and is also sensitive about the needs of those with food allergies and other dietary needs.

I'm also guessing that the reason they don't keep nutritional info handy is that there probably are not many guests who ask for it. It is vacation after all.

Ryan P. Wilson said...

Jeff - On vacation I am of the mind that the calories don't count, and can keep my dietary needs and wants in check. My wife, however, is a meticulous planner and wants as much detail as possible, and apparently she isn't the only one. While a majority of guests pressumably do not request this information, they must get the question enough that they gave it an entry in the websites Dining FAQ.

Fee - Ah, CHH, my favorite place to dine on property. I think a few more pages to the ingredients book is exactly the type of thing that would work in this situation. Not only does it keep it out og every guests line of site, which constitutes good show, it is also available to those who are really inclined to ask, which is best service.

Richard - My mother has had hypo-glycemia since I was a small child so, like the diabetic in your travel party, this type of information has been crucial for her.