The Magic Kingdom Turkey Leg. If there was one single Disney food item I developed an insane amount of curiosity about over the years, it would be that salted, exotic meat stick.
The Turkey Leg has become caloric legend within sweaty Disney park enthusiast circles, with a reputation forged over decades of mighty customer response and media hype. Next to a Casey’s Corner Hot Dog, a Mickey Ice Cream Bar, and a Dole Whip Float, the Turkey Leg is an all-holy meal/snack that people stumble in from around the world to sample. At least this is what the Food Network and the Travel Channel tell me. It was their relentless Disney World programming that provided the needed backstory to the Turkey Leg, after years of my own puzzled looks as I observed scores of customers haul these animal stumps to the nearest shaded area for consumption. Some days by the hundreds. They are incredibly popular, but I could never screw up the courage to simply try one.
Call me cheap, but seven smackeroons for a few nuggets of meat never struck me as good financial sense, even while trapped in a colorful, peppy prison of overpriced everything. I’m not a gambler by nature, but I figured now was the time to take the Turkey Leg plunge. It’s summer, the parks are packed, and a few laps around the Magic Kingdom always manages to work up an appetite.
Frontierland inside the Magic Kingdom is the primary location to pick up the Turkey Legs, with a few stations parked around the perimeter to satisfy the carnivores. Some elect to find their turkey bliss at the American Pavilion inside Epcot. Those in the know call those people “fools." So I stepped up, slapped down a musty Hamilton, and purchased my first Turkey Leg. Huzzah! I was unstoppable. The day was set for success.
And then I took my first tentative bite. The hell?
While the term “smoked” is worked into the item description, I felt a little sideswiped by the actual taste of the meat log. I’m a big turkey fan (my license plate reads “trkylver”), but what the ghouls at Walt Disney World are serving up to millions of customers a year is not turkey in the traditional sense. Eating the Turkey Leg was like sucking on uncooked bacon. The smoked flavors pull a Mike Tyson on the taste buds, while the slimy, angry meat practically dares you to bite into it. I couldn’t choke down more than two bites before I felt nauseous, soon holding the maroon stump away from my face like a dirty diaper. Lordy, it was atrocious; not only the worst thing I’ve eaten on Disney property, but perhaps of all time. How bad? I would rather drink a two-liter of warm Beverly than take another bite.
Almost instantly, guilt and remorse flushed through my system. Not only was I seven bucks lighter, but I didn’t want to waste the food. Again, going against my instinct to absorb humiliation, I took the Turkey Leg back to the cart of purchase and humbly requested a refund, since the experience went so dramatically awry. The cast member, pleasant and disaffected as could be, calmly refunded my money, wrapped the partially consumed Turkey Leg up in foil, and placed it back on the warming rack for resale.
The perspiring teenager did refund the cash (how very kind), and replied with a delicious deadpan, “Yeah, I think they’re gross too.”
For the rest of the afternoon, no matter what liquid I ingested to counteract the Turkey Leg effects, I could still taste the smoked meat. It was awful. It’s a little late in the game to be offering this cautionary tale, but to anyone curious about the Turkey Leg, beware. Save yourself a few bucks: just lick an ashtray and suck down a medallion of spoiled salami. You don’t even need park admission to do that.
(click to huge-o-size)