For those with food allergies… or even worse, for those who have kids with food allergies, dining out can be a nightmare. Much less, the thought of theme park food probably prepared in a kitchen where dairy, eggs, nuts, etc are just flying around cross-contaminating EVERYTHING.
This couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to Disney theme-parks and resorts.
Our family has someone highly allergic to a particular food and, from day one, we have studied up on all of the potential pitfalls we could run into. We know when to trust package labeling and when not to… which major bakeries use this or that and which don’t. We. Know. Our. Stuff.
Upon our first trip to WDW after the allergy discovery, we were very apprehensive about what issues we might run into. After all, we were somewhat at the mercy of Disney’s ability to accommodate our dietary needs. What if it was just a cattle call and they weren’t prepared to give us the assurance we needed? I mean, this is literally life or death!
We were more than pleasantly surprised. Disney was/is the most food-allergy conscious company I have ever encountered. It’s especially amazing because of the sheer size and scale of their resorts. Tens of thousands of people are crossing through their turnstiles every day, and a higher percentage than ever have a special dietary need.
Disney comprehensively covers food allergies in their dining establishments in a three step approach which should cover all bases.
- Making the reservation– Upon making the reservation initially, guests are able to communicate that they have one or multiple food allergies in their party. Most of the time, upon arrival for your reservation, the host/hostess will inquire to confirm the allergies and let you know a chef or manager will be out to discuss options with you.
- Special Allergy Menus– As of April 2015, Disneyland and Disney World started offering different allergy menus and many restaurants around their parks and resorts. This has helped to streamline the process and take any guessing out of which foods will work for each allergy.
- A visit from the chef– Even with the first two steps covering almost all but any base, it’s still so comforting to hear from someone in authority.. or the person that is MAKING your food! They are so well trained and pleasant to speak with. Every time we’ve interacted, they’ve gone out of their way to educate us and even make something not even offered on the menu to satisfy our needs and wants.
If you have a food allergy, or someone close to you does, you know very well that you can rarely be 100% sure of safety without making the food yourself. But, of all the places we’ve travelled and dined, Disney World has been the most on-the-ball about taking care of our food allergies concerns.
A couple of important things to note:
- It is important to note that some prepackaged items such as Mickey Ice Cream bars are brought in from other companies (such as Nestle) and require the guest’s discernment. These outside companies don’t always label their ingredients properly.
- Many baked items like hamburger rolls, etc, come from an offsite bakery. Disney Cast Members seem to be aware of this and will tell you they can’t guarantee that the items don’t contain the ingredient you are allergic to.
- Your intuition should be your final decision maker. If you encounter a Cast Member who seems unsure, maybe skip that food item or restaurant. Or better yet, ask for someone else to speak with. Follow your gut!
Dine safe! Do you have any good or bad experiences with food-allergies in your Disney trips? Continue the discussion in the comments below!