And no they are not actually emu. The turkey legs sold in Disney parks are one of the strangest snack items you’ll probably see at any theme park, or well, anywhere. Turkey legs have been going strong as a beloved Disney treat since their debut in the Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland in the late 1980s. Today the turkey leg is sold in each park at Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resort.
Eating a turkey leg has become such a memorable experience for Disney fans the company has even created merchandise based on the snack. Browse through some of the shops in the theme parks (or use the Shop Disney Park mobile app) and you may come across t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, magnets, key chains, and even car air freshners devoted to this classic theme park snack… or meal depending on how you look at it.
A turkey leg weighs a whopping 1.5 lbs. and contains 720 calories. (But calories don’t count on vacation right…?) For a less caloric treat, you could probably try the turkey leg Rice Krispie treat, which comes in at only about 300 calories. In all seriousness though, the high calorie count is due in part to the size of the legs and in how they are prepared.
Disney’s turkey legs are so large because they come from larger turkeys. It’s actually pretty simple to understand so I’m not quite sure why the ridiculous rumors that the turkey legs are actually emu legs exist. Thanks Zachary Levi. In case you missed it, this rumor resurfaced last month when the Tangled voice actor went on Conan O’Brien claiming that his “friends who have worked in the parks” told him that turkey legs are actually emu.
This rumor just doesn’t want to die, but that’s okay since it isn’t a difficult one to debunk. First things first, the turkey legs are so large because they are from toms, or male turkeys that tend to weigh about 50 lbs. Where the turkeys you probably serve at Thanksgiving dinner may seem a lot smaller, they are not a different animal altogether, they are simply hens.
If you’ve ever seen an emu, or even a picture of an emu, it should be obvious that an emu leg is much larger than a turkey leg you could carry around in one hand. On top of these basic facts, the ham-like taste really shouldn’t be suspicious since anything that is injected with brine and hickory smoked tends to have a similar taste.
With over 1.5 million turkeys consumed in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World each year, they are undoubtedly one of the most popular park snacks. That being said, I am actually not a fan. The greasy texture might do it for some people but it really doesn’t do it for me. And nothing turns me off more than watching one family take bites and pass around the same turkey leg. Gross.
But I do get their appeal, and although I’m not a fan of eating them the merchandise is cute and I totally understand why people do love them. Where do you stand? Are they a must-have for you like they are for Chaz or is the grease too much for you too?