by John Blake
Food allergies are everywhere and seem to be on the rise. The last thing you want to deal with on your magical Walt Disney World vacation is a food allergen reaction. Have no fear! Disney to the rescue!
In addition to providing the finest dining experiences you can imagine, Walt Disney World also provides many allergen-free dining options that are sure to meet the needs of your family. Here are some things to remember for your next Walt Disney World vacation:
- Plan Ahead: If possible, check out the menus of the restaurants where you plan to dine. You may find many allergen-free options from which you can choose. You can find the menus for every Disney dining location on My Disney Experience. If there are multiple allergies or metabolic disorders, you can contact dining services ahead of time to make sure they are prepared for your visit.
- Pack Wisely: Be sure to bring all of your allergy medications along, especially Epi-pens. If you need special detergents or soaps, be sure to bring those with you. Bring some of your favorite allergen-free snacks with you into the parks. That way, if you’re in a rush to get to your next FastPass, you won’t have to worry about looking for allergen-free options. If the person with allergies is a child, you may want to make some Disney-themed allergen-free snacks, such as Mickey-shaped gluten-free cookies or dairy-free treats.
- Be Proactive: When you dine at a Walt Disney World restaurant, be sure to let your server know about the allergies in your group. Disney dining staff is very helpful and will be able to assist those who have allergies. On our most recent trip to Walt Disney World, we alerted our servers to our son’s nut, egg, and shellfish allergies. All of the servers we shared this with were very attentive to his needs, often suggesting menu items or alternatives that were perfect for him. In several cases, the chef came out of the kitchen to speak with us about what was being prepared and how he/she could adapt it to meet our son’s needs. Talk about magical treatment!
- Use the App: You can download the Walt Disney World app to your smartphone (Android or Apple) and have instant information at your fingertips. All the menus for the dining locations in each park are easily found in the app. In many cases, you can also order your food ahead of time using the Mobile Order feature.
One of our personal experiences with Disney’s attention to details occurred during a visit to ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. ‘Ohana is one of our family’s favorite spots at Walt Disney World. This time, our youngest son (yes, the poor guy with a list of allergies a mile long) was actually interested in eating something other than a turkey sandwich or chicken tenders. His older brother told him of the “wonder” of the many skewers of meat at ‘Ohana, so he was ready for a feast. Before the meal, we spoke with our server (“cousin”) about our son’s allergies. He made a point to let us know some of the options we had and he also went to speak with the kitchen staff about dishes we should be made aware of due to possible allergens. Not only did he let us know what our son should avoid, but he and the kitchen staff came up with alternate dishes to make up for the ones he couldn’t eat.
It is important to remember that Walt Disney World Cast Members will do everything within their means to make sure your visit is as magical as can be, but they must be made aware of any special needs your party has. Do not hesitate to make not only your servers and food preparers aware of any allergies, but also the Guest Services staff at your Walt Disney World resort. When dealing with allergies, being prepared is your best first step.
Click here to learn more about special dietary requests at Walt Disney World restaurants.
Contact your favorite A Time to Treasure Travel agent for more tips to make the most of your next vacation!