Disney Expects Park Restaurant Operators To Heed Guidelines

Most restaurants at Walt Disney World and Disneyland are handled by the company's own food and beverage division, so compliance with its own initiative to serve healthier foods shouldn't be a challenge.

However, several outside companies ("operating participants," in Disney parlance) run restaurants at Disney properties, and those restaurants will be required to follow Disney's new food-and-nutrition guidelines.

"We have had initial conversations" with the participants, said a spokeswoman for Burbank, Calif.-based Disney. "There's certainly a big interest on their part to work with us, integrate with us and carry out our guidelines."

Los Angeles-based Wolfgang Puck Co. operates a cafe at Disney World. "Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Express is excited by Disney's recent decision to serve healthier food in their theme parks," Wolfgang Puck Company said in a statement prepared for Marketing Daily. "We will continue working toward offering healthier options for both children and adults as we introduce new recipes and ingredients in our restaurants."



McDonald's, Rainforest Cafe and Earl of Sandwich also operate restaurants at Disney World.

Disney's new guidelines cover three areas: food licensing and promotions aimed at children, food served to children at the parks and resorts, and trans fats. Beginning this month, kids' meals served at the company's U.S. parks and resorts will automatically include applesauce or carrot sticks as a side dish instead of French fries, and juice, low-fat milk or water instead of soda. Fries and pop are available on request.

The company aims to remove trans fats from Disney menu items by the end of 2007, and have outside vendors remove trans fats from menus by the end of 2008.

Currently, the guidelines apply only to Disney's domestic properties, but the company plans to make it a global initiative, according to a spokesman. Disney also operates parks in Japan and France.

Parents sparked the health initiative, the spokesman said. "We were hearing from families who buy Disney products. They wanted a wider range of food, particularly more nutritious food," he said. The company does not disclose how many children visit the parks each year.

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