The simple pleasures in life occasionally are overlooked like the saltiness of fresh sea air. It is unfortunate that for a countless number of people, something as enjoyable as sitting down to a good meal is rather difficult due to allergies and dietary restrictions. I myself cannot tolerate things like black pepper, white pepper, and onions. Nowadays it feels like food allergies are more abundant than ever but then again it just may be the result of incredible modern day medical care that we are able to pinpoint these problems.
A smart restaurant trains its staff to properly handle a customer’s allergies and restrictions. Those are the ones I revisit. The rest get a letter or phone call informing them of a bad situation. Luckily, Disney Parks takes the matter very seriously.
When you first make your Advanced Dining Reservation at Walt Disney World, be sure to tell the Cast Member if you call 407-WDW-Dine or to enter the info should you book it online about any and all food allergies and restrictions. Sometimes I call and other times when it’s late at night and I have finally made a decision, I book online. I recommend calling (you can call after booking online) if your problem doesn’t fall into one of these categories.
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If you’re like me and you’ve had your fair share of both good and bad experiences, you might want to reach out to Walt Disney World’s Special Diets Team, a department that only handles dietary requests. I’ll save you the extra step I took in finding these folks. Write to the team at [email protected] Along with a pre-written letter about talking to chefs and how best to meet your needs, you’ll also receive a form to fill out and fax back. The Guest Allergy/Dietary Request Form requires your contact info, the specific allergies and/or intolerance, and Advanced Dining Reservation number/location/date. Once your fax has been received, it is their job to send the info to each restaurant listed.
I asked during my trip in May if my list was received at every restaurant noted. No one could confirm but rather said they get requests all the time and would make me something to suite my needs.
For those wondering, I ate at Coral Reef, Sci-Fi Drive-In, Crystal Palace (a friend’s reservation), Nine Dragons (walk-in), and Bongo’s Cuban Cafe. Everything went very well at Coral Reef and the Sci-Fi. I waited 30 minutes at least at Crystal Palace to speak with the only chef on duty. I’ve never waited that long anywhere before. Nine Dragons’ did a great job especially since I walked in without warning them ahead of time. Then there’s Bongo’s which failed miserably. I never saw a chef or a manager until the end when I requested to see one. They washed a marinade off the chicken and tried serving it as “fresh.” Thankfully I have a keen eye and only took a tiny bite before calling the server.
Households that keep Kosher should call 407-939-3463 at least three days in advance for sit-down restaurants. Pre-packaged meals come from Webermans and are available at select counter service eateries.
Whenever I check in at a restaurant, I first tell the host or hostess that I have restrictions. She or he might not tell my server or more commonly, tell me to inform my server. Usually the server will ask for details and when I say it’s complicated because I don’t fit any list they have, he/she runs frantically to find a chef. See, in addition to what I can’t tolerate, there’s a crazy long list of restrictions as well. Most chefs are eager to please guests. If you come across one who gives you a hard time, inform your server that you need to see the manager.
As for counter service options, I approach a cash register-operating Cast Member and tell them I have an allergy. Out comes the manager or chef with the all-powerful book of ingredients. I love the book. It answers all my questions and I can zip thru it quickly because I know what I can’t eat.
Give yourselves extra time for dining. In order to meet your needs a chef may have to gather ingredients from another kitchen and personally oversee your meal from start to finish. I find that it is worth the wait and you’ll find that you got more food than everyone else.
Next week, I’ll go over my dining experiences at the Disneyland Resort.
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5 Replies to “Dining at Disney World with Dietary Restrictions”
My wife and I visit WDW every couple of years and are always amazed at the wonderful deserts that are available. I have noticed one thing Though, with approximately 25% of the population being Diabetic why cant there be some “sugar free” deserts ? Sugar substitutes can be used in most sweets, I know, because I make them for myself and others and they don’t even taste the difference. I know that some substitutes can have a laxative effect so I usually avoid them.
Lisa responds: I believe every sit down restaurant and most if not all counter service eateries do offer sugar free dessert options. If you don’t see something on the menu, ask to speak with a manager. He/she might be able to grab something from another kitchen, depending on location.
We just returned from a trip to Walt Disney World. We found out about our daughter’s allergy to cinnamon after I booked our dining reservations. I called Disney and was assured it would be noted on all our reservations. It wasn’t.
We ate at 8 sit down restaurants. Of those, only 4 chefs came out and spoke with us. At the others, the waiter or waitress spoke with the chef and then gave us the info.
Our worst experience was breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table. On the platter with the danish, was a bowl of cinnamon butter. (Which we didn’t know about). My daughter didn’t know it touched some of the danish, which she then ate, and had a reaction.
I actually felt better about what she ate at the counter service restaurants where I could read all the ingredients.
I was very disappointed in how Disney handled our allergy concerns.
This is a great article to help get the word out there. I have some neighbors whose children have food allergies and I said that Walt Disney World was a good place for that. They said it was the worst. Turns out, they didn’t think to ask or ask the right people.
Great article on an important subject. I do not have food allergies but have many restrictions.
Recently, my niece hosted a surprise birthday dinner for me at the Captain’s Grille. She told the chef ahead of time that I had a gluten allergy because even she doesn’t know what I can’t eat. The chef came right out to have his chat and, amazingly, everything was perfect.
I heartily agree about the counter services, the chef runs right out with the recipe book in hand. It’s much easier when I can see all the ingredients and not have to have a long conversation. It does get tiresome at times being a “problem guest” and I understand why so many guests don’t speak up about their allergies.
I love that book too! I have a bucket of dietary restrictions, and frankly, I eat better at Disney World than anywhere else I’ve ever been! Generally speaking, I’ve never had a problem meeting my requirements, and I’m really shocked to hear you had to wait so long somewhere!
The only thing I would add to your post is that at counter service places, you can use more than just the book to eat! If they have pasta, but you can’t eat the sauce or the cheese, I’ve always been able to get it plain, and even pizza can be made cheeseless at many places! I always tell people just to ask, because the worst that can happen is that they say no!
Thanks for highlighting how easy it can be to have allergies at Disney World!