Dining at WDW
with Food Allergies

by Sandy Fielder May 2004

We inquired of Disney prior to our trip as to what to do when traveling with someone with food allergies. We were advised to note it on all our Priority Seating reservations and call the day before and confirm that it was noted and we could consult with a chef prior to the meal. One Cast Member even went so far as to mention that we should call the day before we left and we would be given a "special number" to call once we hit property. Well, as things went we did not call before we went and were prepared for the worst - we packed food and snacks just in case.

Our dining challenge was to find foods with no soy or soy products, nothing with nuts, fish, dairy, strawberries or blue food coloring. We had been advised that most WDW locations used canola oil since there are a number of people allergic to soy. We asked anyway just to be safe and there are a couple places that do use soy oil (SCI FI at MGM for one).

Upon arrival at POP Century we asked during check in about the food court and were told "no problem" just ask anyone in the food court and a chef would be happy to meet with us. So once we settled in that is what we did. I was amazed. A chef appeared almost immediately upon request and discussed at length what we could and could not eat off the menu items and offered to heat olive oil and cook anything we wanted (traveling with a 2 1/2 year old that mostly meant chicken strips and fries).

Chef Steve apologized that he was limited as to what he could prepare due to what he had in the kitchen. He went on to mention that the other levels of resorts (moderates and deluxe and some of the park dining rooms) could do more because they had more ingredients to work with. Now for us it was no problem considering the dining interests of a 2 1/2 year old but to someone else it may be noteworthy.

The fries at WDW are coated with a very light coating of soy oil to help them brown so that also meant homemade fries. Special pancakes for breakfast too since there was soy something in the menu pancakes. We were assured that everything would be cooked separately from anything else and grills would be cleaned before cooking her food is necessary. Over the course of the stay we met with two different chefs there and they were both wonderful (Chef's Les and Steve). One of them had a child with food allergies too so he was very understanding to the problem. They even had Rice Dream (rice milk) Ice Cream. What a treat! Steve also told me that they meet with 6-8 guests a day with various food allergies.

We had PS for the character breakfast at the Grand Floridian and our PS had the allergies noted so they had the chef come out and meet with us upon seating. What a wonderful man (Chef Gary). Jayme asked questions about his big hat and he graciously answered her and gave her attention too, not just the adults. He sat down with us and went over the allergies and even came back to check on us after he delivered the breakfast to make sure everything was OK and to see if we needed anting else (a side note here - Jayme had to go to the "ladies room" about that time and the look on Gary's face when he saw mother and daughter were missing was very special - he was so worried that she had a reaction to something and was very relieved that it was only nature calling). He checked back again later to make sure no one was going hungry and that Jayme was happy with her breakfast.

We did a near walk up at the Land Garden Grill and Chef Dylan took care of everything, again making sure that everything was cooked separately and even found another frozen treat that did not have any of the prohibited ingredients. Chef Robert at Sci Fi Diner made the best homemade fries cooked in olive oil. They all provided way too much food for a 2 1/2 yr old so of course we had to try it. It was wonderful.

I know we ate at a couple places where I didn't get the chef's name (Trails End at FW was one). The worst that happened was we had to wait while the food was cooked to order and the wait was usually for the oil to come to temperature or the grill to be cleaned but everything was fresh and tasty. We also tried a couple counter service places and even there when questioned the CM's were aware of what safe to eat.

Dining with food allergies need not be overwhelming if you take the time to plan ahead and can wait for food to be prepared to order.

If you have any questions, just ask the Cast Members!