If you’re lucky enough to have a kitchen on your next Disney vacation or even if you just want to buy a few bottles of water and some breakfast supplies for eating in the room, you’ll probably want to make a quick trip to the grocery store. Most likely, your hotel has a small gift shop where they sell a few food items, but these tend to be overpriced and the selection is limited. Unless your idea of breakfast is a Slim Jim and a can of Coke, you’ll need to make a trip to an actual grocery store which will require you to drive around Disney World, a confusing enterprise even to those who travel there on a regular basis. Here are a few convenient, clean grocery stores as well as some specialty stores for those with special dietary needs.
Goodings is practically iconic among park-goers for reasons that are beyond me. Sure, it’s convenient from Downtown Disney, just off SR 535, and more importantly, it’s location right off I-4 means it’s really easy to find. It’s also overpriced and a bit scruffy. Unless you’re going by cab, are walking from Downtown Disney or are the type who gets hopelessly lost after a couple of turns, there are better grocery stores nearby. Goodings is at SR 535 and I-4. Take Exit 68 off of I-4. Goodings also boasts an inexplicably confusing website where you can order ahead of time, should you feel inclined to have the entire Gooding’s experience. Update, January 2010: A recent trip two weeks ago found Goodings even more run-down than in the past. Worse, the prices were appalling: A half-gallon of Horizon Organic 2% milk was $5.99, nearly double the price at Super Target. The staff is super-friendly, so I hope the owners can get it together so these nice people don’t lose their jobs.
My personal favorite for selection and savings is Super Target. There are several within a few minutes of Disney property, the closest located at 3200 Rolling Oaks Boulevard, just right off 192 heading away from Disney World (you’ll cross I-4 and go a couple of miles). You’ll know you’re there when you see the brightly colored townhomes on your right; Target is right across the street. If you pass the Waffle House, you’ve gone too far. There’s also one located near the Mall at Millenia off I-4 at Exit 78. It’s a good fifteen to twenty minutes from Disney property, but it is larger and has a better selection than the one near Disney. It also gives you an excuse to engage in some heavy duty, non-Disney, shopping while you’re over there. In addition to having just about every retail chain you could want, there’s also a Walmart and a Krispy Kreme; let the neon “hot now” sign be your guide.
None of these grocery stores have a great selection of foods for people with allergies or special dietary needs. You can find a few items like gluten-free pasta at Target and Publix, for example, but for real variety you’ll need to go elsewhere. You really can’t beat Whole Foods for the widest selection of organic produce, dairy, and free-range meats. They also have a wide selection of soy and gluten-free products. There’s a new store in Orlando at 311 World Drive, Bay Lake, FL 32830. It’s about 15 minutes from Disney property (and practically right next to Universal Studios), but well worth the drive for the selection and prices; if you can’t find it there, you probably won’t find it in Central Florida. If you prefer a local natural foods market, you might want to look into Chamberlin’s, which has several locations in and around Orlando.
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