Doing Disney With a LATEX Allergy

Larry Heidenberg, is a Type I latex allergy adult and gathered this important information.

Please keep in mind that this information is not meant to take the place of any advice from your doctor or other health care professional. It's our hope this article will increase your awareness and help minimize your chances of having an allergic reaction.

Send us your tips and information for inclusion here.

What is a latex allergy?

Latex, sometimes called "natural rubber latex" is a series of proteins that can cause allergic reactions ranging from swelling or itching of the hands to life-threatening reactions or even death. It is found in many products, ranging from virtually ALL non-mylar (those silver shiny) balloons to tires to even the elastic in most underwear.

Are people born with latex allergies?

No. However, a person may develop an allergy to latex at any time during their life.

Who are some of the people most likely to have latex allergies?

There are two groups of people who are more likely to have or develop latex allergies than your average person on the street. First, kids who suffer from spina bifida seem to have a high likelihood of having or developing latex allergies, probably because they go through so many medical procedures throughout their lives.

The other group who is very likely to have allergic reactions to latex? Anyone in health or medical professions (especially nurses, phlebotomists [people who draw blood for blood tests], and EMS personnel (EMTs and paramedics) who uses a lot of latex gloves and are frequently changing gloves throughout the day (doctors tend to go through fewer changes of gloves per day than these other groups, and so may have a lower likelihood of developing reactions).

What are the two types of latex allergy reactions?

There are 2 types of reactions. Type I reactions take place throughout the whole body and tend to be more likely to be life threatening. Type IV reactions usually occur only in the area where the body came into contact with the latex. So, a Type I reaction might cause you to break out in hives, itch, and have trouble breathing. A Type IV reaction might cause just some swelling in their hands that may be delayed even up to 3 days from the time that someone's hands touched latex.

If I have a latex allergy, what should I have with me for my trip to Walt Disney World?

If you have a latex allergy, there are a few things that I would strongly recommend taking with you and carrying with you at all times during your trip to Walt Disney World.

First, if you are prescribed an Epi-Pen or other epinephrine auto-injector device by your physician, be certain to carry it with you at all times. Security will NOT cause you problems, but, to play it safe, carry either a copy of your prescription or make certain that your auto-injector is labeled with your name and the prescription information. This will also be useful when passing through security at any airport.

Also, consider taking with you one or two doses of over-the-counter benadryl tablets/capsules. If your reaction is mild but you believe it might worsen, you can then, as recommended by your physician, take your benadryl; if your reaction is severe, you can then use your auto-injector.

If you need to use your injector, I strongly urge that the guest or a member of the guest's party, contact the nearest cast member and have them request Reedy Creek Improvement District's paramedics to come and check out the guest. I would also recommend that guests with latex allergies take a few pairs of latex-free gloves (vinyl or nitrile) with them. This way, if a situation occurs where the guest might need assistance and the responding individual (paramedic, EMT, or nurse) happens to only have latex gloves, the guest may provide them with safe gloves for use. Additionally, this can be used by the guest if there is a situation where the guest "must" touch something that they believe may be containing latex.

Cross Reactivity to Latex

People with latex allergies may have or develop reactions to certain other things that are chemically similar to latex. While there is no "absolute" list of things that someone with latex allergies must avoid, there are certain things that a lot of people with latex allergies do all seem to react to.

Foods that are likely to cause reactions:
Bananas, Kiwi, Avacado, Chestnuts, and in many (but not all) cases, Pineapple.

There are many other foods, ranging from mangos to shellfish to some spices, that a person with latex allergies might react to. Each person is unique and has to figure out, with the help of their physician, what their triggers are and what they should know to avoid for safety.

Restaurant Menu Items to be Careful About or Avoid Entirely

Latex Gloves

Latex gloves are used by some food service personnel. Additionally, it has been reported that on some rides, the lap bars are being checked by CM's wearing latex (not vinyl) gloves. For someone allergic, this can be extremely serious and result in one of two, equally unappealing, situations. In the first situation, the guest may notice it before getting on the ride and being forced to "chicken out" at the last minute; in the other case, it may result in the guest having a reaction during the ride, which, depending on the ride, can be lifethreatening as it is not always possible or safe for a guest to try to access and use their Epi-Pen during the ride itself (reported as occurring on Space Mountain; I cannot independently confirm this).

Amy Keen writes: I wanted to share our experiences from our trip Dec. 21-28, 2008. Every Disney-owned restaurant we visited was using vinyl gloves (including the confectionary counters). We were told repeatedly that Disney no longer uses latex gloves in food preparation at all, but we always checked at the individual restaurants to be sure. They were always very willing to go so far as to show us the glove boxes! 🙂

The one major disappointment we had was at one of our previous favorites, Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney. They unfortunately DO use latex gloves when they prepare their food. My main concern here was when we asked initially, we were told they didn't use latex, so we thought we were safe, but before we ordered we happened to see the box of latex gloves on the counter. The manager confirmed that all their gloves are latex. So visitors need to be aware that staff members aren't always aware of what they're using. I thought others might want to be aware of this so they can avoid a problem at Earl.

Other Rides or things to be Careful Around Walt Disney World

Towel animals are fun and wonderful little "gift" that the great Mousekeepers at Walt Disney World resorts sometimes leave for their guests. There's one minor thing that someone who is latex allergic must be aware of and careful about. Almost all towel animals created by mousekeeping will use at least one rubber band to hold it together. Often, that rubber band may be "hidden" in the folds of the animal. However, to the latex allergic person, that can be a tremendous danger. When you pick up the towel animal to admire it or move it from your bed/nightstand, you may accidentally come into contact with the rubber band and have a reaction.

Latex BalloonsDisney has at times said that they no longer have latex balloons on property. Unfortunately, this is mistaken. Disney's balloon supplier does supply latex balloons in at least 2 cases. First, if you see anyone making balloon animals, until and unless proven otherwise, expect this to be a latex balloon. Additionally, one of the most beloved Disney souvenirs is a latex based balloon: the Mickey Mouse Head Balloon. The Mickey Mouse Head Balloon is a latex balloon shaped in the shape of Mickey's head and then encased in a plastic "outer coating" balloon. However, there remain 2 main dangers with this. First, both the plastic outer balloon and latex inner balloon are exposed at the bottom to inflate both balloons. Additionally, it is unfortunately not uncommon for one or both of these balloons to burst releasing the latex into the air.

The one ride that might be of the most concern for two reasons would be Test Track at Epcot. First, the ride vehicles ride on tires that could potentially, be touched by the guest (though not something that is likely to occur, it is not impossible, especially if the ride breaks down and the guest must be evacuated off the ride). Additionally, the ride involves various tests, including heat and braking, that might result in the "burning" of the tires a little causing latex to be released into the air in certain sections of the ride. It is up to the guest to determine if they are EXTREMELY sensitive to these possibilities. If they are, they might be well advised to skip this ride entirely.

Similarly, the burning of tires (actual burning) as well as the intentional spinning of tires creating smoke at the Lights! Motors! Action! Extreme Stunt Show (Disney's Hollywood Studios) may be very likely to cause latex allergy sufferers problems. It is up to the guest to determine if they are EXTREMELY sensitive to these possibilities. If they are, they might be well advised to skip these attractions entirely.

Disney Ponchos

Abi comments: Just a tip to anyone with latex allergies: DO NOT BUY A RAIN PONCHO at Disney. We didn't even think about it, we were just thinking of staying dry, and my son and I both broke out and started having breathing issues. Thankfully I carry our epi pens and Benadryl with me at all times! (6/07)

Last updated February 2008