Food Allergies WDW Guest Experiences
We just returned from a trip to Disney, this is the 4th time my son with severe allergies has gone to Disney. This time, as the others, was completely safe and I am happy to report that Disny has made the process even easier than it has ever been.
My Sons Allergens:Basically all nuts, coconut, apple, sesame
I was set to follow the old procedure where you call the restaurants directly that we were planning on visiting or talking to the head chefs at each facility directly.
Well, when my wife called the Animal Kingdom chef, she said there was a new procedure with forms and that once these were filled out, she would notify all the other chefs in the other parks and send our list of allergens to each of the chefs or managers to alert them that we were coming. Talk about making things easier. Also, another feature of these forms is that they provide you with a list of common park foods with the most common allergens, that made things easier for a couple of the days when things were very crowded. (AK was so crowded it was hard to walk in a few areas).
We ate every single meal out that week and did not have one problem. One thing that I did notice is that most of the counter service restaurants now have books with all of the ingredients for all of the items that they serve. Which makes things easier (and so do most of the sit downs).
We ate at Boma (AKL), Beaches and Cream/Cafe May (Beach Club), ESPN Club, UK at Epcot, Mexican Fast Food (Epcot), Plaza (MK), Backlot Express (HS), Crystal Palace (MK), Spoodles (Boardwalk), Rainforest Cafe (Downtown Disney) and a few others.
The service we got at the Plaza (Chef Ken Jean) was truely magical. My wife and I were both impressed with the Chef at the Crystal Palace he was very knowledgable on the subject.
The only place that was iffy (in my opinion) was at the Trails End at Fort Wilderness, mainly because the chef did not give me a lot of confidence. I did not feel comfortable so we had him stick to the Disney Basics.
I will say my wife has this down to a science and is always well prepared, which is critical. She even has business cards made up with his allergens. This makes things easier when you go out for dinner as there is never anything lost in translation (or forgotten). Most times the Chef's will attach the card to our order so whoever is making the meal will be able to refer back.
Steve Dancisin, June 2008
We just returned from a great trip to Disney World traveling with my daughter who has several food allergies. I cannot say enough good things about how all the chefs and managers took care of her. When you make your dining reservations tell the person you are speaking with that someone has a food allergy in your party. They will give you a number to call to speak with someone directly about this, and they also make a note of it on your reservation. A few weeks before we left I called and spoke to someone in the Special Diets department of Disney. She emailed so much information on what counter service restaurants had and there ingredients. It included if a certain food may contain traces of our problem foods,( example, peanuts) and where I could find things that she could eat. They are very on of top people having restricted diets. At all our table service meals, the chefs always came out to talk to us, and always had something she could eat. They would even come out and check on her later to see if she needed more. As any parent with a child with food allergies knows, you worry all the time about what they are eating and what it might have come in contact with, but you don't have to at Disney World. They know what they are doing and made it so much easier to relax. Just let them know you have an allergy and they will take care of you.
Katherine E., August 2007
Cathy Laurice Jones shares her experience:
You live in Chicago. Your kids are clamoring to make the trek to the Mouse House. You’ve saved the money, or at least have plenty of space on your plastic. You’ve read the guidebook, made your choices, and you’ve decided to do it.
Only there’s this little matter of your son’s peanut allergy, and your daughter is allergic to soy. You’ve had to watch where they go and with what they come in contact just to keep them alive, and very few people understand what’s involved when it comes to checking ingredients and guarding against cross-contamination, thinking that you surely must be over-reacting. You’re psyched about the magic Disney offers, but you’ve got this voice that’s asking, "Is our dream vacation going to turn into a nightmare because some chef fries the chicken nuggets in peanut oil?"
If this sounds like you, then I have good news and bad news to report. The bad news is that you’re probably in for a long drive with the kids since you won’t be able to fly. Even the airlines that serve pretzels in coach have nuts available in first class, and the dust can travel through the ventilation system. Get a comfy minivan, buy lots of travel games and safe snacks, and rent a copy of Vacation. No matter how rough the drive, it won’t compare to Chevy Chase's jaunt!
The good news is that once you reach your destination, you can relax and enjoy because Walt Disney World’s dining staff are pros when it comes to serving guests with food allergies! Although severe food allergies affect a relatively small portion of the general population, Disney handles such large volumes of diners that they accommodate several visitors per day with special dietary needs of all kinds, including allergy restrictions. They have procedures in place to enable them to assist you in every request.
When you decide on restaurants and want to make your priority seatings, call (407) 939-3463 (WDW-DINE). Inform the reservations staff that you have allergies as you book your requests. They will provide you with the direct number for the restaurants you have chosen. Twenty-four hours before your scheduled dining time, call to speak to the chef. If they feel comfortable that they can meet your needs with what they have on hand, they will tell you to speak to the chef on duty when you arrive. Yet the twenty-four hours notice will give them time to prepare if they need it. Remind your server of your needs as you are seated.
If you are planning to eat mostly fast foods, then you will need to check ingredients with a manager. You can reach one through the above number or through your hotel staff. Fast food is possible for food allergic guests, but sit-down restaurants are the most secure. Portions are large, so you might consider having a refrigerator put in your room to hold leftovers and scheduling meal times shortly before you will return to your hotel. Disney also offers some lodging options that include a kitchen if you feel more comfortable preparing your own foods.
It’s one thing to advertise the ability to accommodate food allergies, but Disney's system actually works.
They deliver on their promise to serve guests with special needs. I have two nephews with life-threatening allergies, and Disney was truly the happiest place on earth for my sister when it came to getting meals. It was the first time since my nephews had anaphylactic reactions that she was able to eat at a variety of restaurants appealing to both her taste and her children’s. The chefs absolutely followed safety precautions to avoid cross-contamination, cooking her sons’ food in separate pans.
At Hollywood and Vine, a buffet-service restaurant, they cooked a fresh batch of hand-battered fried chicken and served it family style when my sister informed them that Disney's regular chicken strips contained an off-limits ingredient. At the character breakfast at Restaurantosaurus, the chef walked the buffet with my sister, discussing what was in each dish. He took their orders and personally prepared their plates from specially made batches. One chef even made a delicious hand sliced and
tossed fruit salad filled with fresh berries since citrus was in the one usually served. She paid regular price for her sons’ meals although they were under three, but there were no other charges. Disney does not charge extra even when their chefs go the extra mile!
If you’re ready to do Disney, don’t let special dietary needs of any kind deter you! Plan ahead, and don’t be shy about telling cast members what you need. Then your biggest gastric concern will be those thirteen story drops on Tower of Terror!