Food Allergy Disney!
No matter what your Disney and dining pleasure, the Magical world of Disney can accommodate it. Your magical journey begins with your Disney Reservation. Be sure to mention your food allergy, request a microwave and a special cleaning of your room. Most rooms come with a refrigerator. Remember, special requests are their specialty.
The next step in your magical journey is with dining reservations, 407-WDW-DINE, and notifying the agent of your special dietary restrictions. The agent will direct you to contact Special Diets at 407-939-3463 or SpecialDiets@DinseyWorld.com to coordinate your dietary needs with your hotel chef and with the chefs at your specific reserved locations. The Special Diets department is fantastic!
Special Diets will send forms to your email address requesting a list of each of your reservations, the number in your party and the specific special dietary requirements. They will also provide you with a list of quick service restaurants available to accommodate special dietary requirements. Within a short period of time, the majority of the chefs will contact you by telephone to discuss your needs and accommodations. They will also leave their direct phone number in the event of further questions or needs up to and during your Magical stay.
It may also be reassuring to contact the chefs a couple days before each reservation to confirm your reservations and ensure there are no surprises, such as changes to menu items available on a buffet line. An insider tip: try to make reservations early in the meal service. Restaurants can more easily accommodate during off meal times.
Upon arrival at the restaurant, notify the host/hostess of your allergies and request to speak to the chef. Typically as with any restaurant, the busier the restaurant, the longer the wait to speak to a chef. In our experience, the buffets had the longest wait for a chef and the greatest opportunity for cross contamination. Whereas the restaurants preparing all their meals from scratch were the most accommodating and the most knowledgeable. For example, our food allergy is peanuts; some restaurants thought the Mickey Macaroni and the child’s pizza dough were unsafe, while others considered them safe. We found this disconcerting considering the typical children’s menu offerings at the majority of restaurants was Mickey Mac n’ Cheese, Personal Pizza, or Chicken Nuggets for both lunch and dinner. Over the length of your stay, you may want to present your children with some variety, which can be better accommodated at scratch restaurants. The restaurants specializing in items from scratch have the ability to prepare exciting dishes that were not on the menu, in a safe, healthy and delicious manner! No matter where a food allergy family goes, they need to be within their own comfort level.
Within your own hotel, get to know your dining manager. They can introduce you to the chef in your hotel’s quick service restaurant, assisting with alternatives to the typical children’s fare. Also ask for their input on substitutions to the meal plan. Most meals come with an entrée, drink and dessert – the dessert can be substituted with an additional bottle of water or to satisfy a sweet tooth, Divvies (www.divvies.com) products may be available at the venue.
For quick service dining within a park, consider dining at off times. For example, lunch service begins at 11:30. Arriving early allows for time to avoid the lines, get a manager’s attention, review the ingredient binder, order and eat by noon. A little pre-planning is very helpful, make sure to print out the maps online and highlight the safe restaurants in order to be in the right place at meal times.
Another thing to consider within the park is that all straws are unwrapped. Disney takes great pride in cleanliness, paper and plastic wrappers cause a great deal of litter. However, straws at the hotel are probably wrapped, so grab a few of those and maybe some pre-wrapped plastic ware to carry with you through the park. Depending upon how hot the weather is, it may become necessary to buy a slush or soda.
The most important tip of all is to have FUN!!!! Enjoy the magic that is Disney.