This post sharing our 10 Tips for Visiting Walt Disney World with Food Allergies was created in partnership with Disney. All opinions shared are those of my own and not the Walt Disney World Company.
For families with food allergies, vacations can be exhausting. I would bet that many families who have members with severe food allergies build there vacations around visiting cities and locations that are known to be allergy friendly. It can be challenging to make sure everyone has an enjoyable trip, mom included! From our very first visit to Walt Disney World after being diagnosed with a dairy allergy, it’s been nothing short of amazing. Now with three kids with dairy and/or gluten allergies, it is one place we can vacation where I truly can relax and know they will be taken care of, well taken care of!
The teams at Disney truly put forth every effort to ensure that every single guest has a magical experience, no matter what their limitations are, food allergies included. There are whole blogs dedicated to dining with food allergies at Disney, so this one post will only highlight our tips and then we will later share some of our favorite gluten and dairy free options at Disney.
10 Tips for Visiting Walt Disney World with Food Allergies
First thing I would do is head over to Disney’s Special Dietary Request page and read about Disney’s approach to dealing with food allergies. This will help put you at ease a little to know they take things so seriously and are ready to try to serve you or your family members.
When you start to plan your trip, scout out the food options and look at the menus online. Almost all restaurants offer allergen friendly options. This will give you an idea of the type/style of food at each location. You can find most of the allergy menus on the Gluten Free Dairy Free at Disney blog.
No matter what type of restaurant you are dining at, whether it be quick service or table service, let them know you have an allergy. If you are dining at a quick service location, let the cashier know you have an allergy and they will usually very quickly call someone from the kitchen to come speak with you. They will prepare your food separately and then bring it out to you. Table service restaurants will have the chef come directly to your table to speak with you.
Even if you had the food at another location, be sure to tell them about your allergy and ask if the food you desire is okay for your allergy. Some of the restaurants have dedicated fryers for the fries, other do not, be sure to verify so you don’t risk running into the fries being cross contaminated with gluten for instance.
There are lots of food options but trying to decide a head of time which foods you would prefer will help you pick your locations. Not all quick service restaurants that offer gluten free pizza, offer them dairy free. Some only offer gluten free options with cheese already added, others can prepare them for you. No matter which restaurant it is, there will be some options, it may just not be what you are craving if you don’t scout it out ahead of time.
There are many buffets, which can be scary for cross contamination but that doesn’t mean you have to exclude them. The chefs will be available to tell you which options on the buffet are prepared safely or you can request they prepare your dishes in the kitchen and bring them right to your table if you prefer. This is the route we often take to risk cross contamination.
If you are making dining reservations online, be sure to make a note in the field provided what allergies your family has. This will be a notation on your reservation and your server will have that information on hand ahead of time.
Call or email the special line that is dedicated for food allergies. Disney has a team that are there to assist you, use them! Guests can make dining reservations 180 days in advance, some of the guest favorites book up quickly, so depending on where you would like to eat, do this well in advance. They can help guide you in making choices and booking reservations with your allergies. You can email SpecialDiets@DisneyWorld.com or call 407-WDW-DINE to ask questions or make reservations indicating “special dietary request”, at least 14 days in advance.
Don’t forget you can bring food in! Disney is awesome again in accommodation and will allow you to bring a soft-sided cooler in with you. As you are going through security, just inform them someone in your party has a food allergy. We always bring fun snacks with us because I don’t want to be caught in a situation with nothing to give one of my starving kiddos when we get stuck in line or get caught up in the moment and miss closing hours…
Be prepared, just in case! We travel with medications my children need in the event we do get cross contamination. It isn’t fun but being prepared always help the situation, especially when away from your normal doctors.
It can feel daunting to have to call the chef out each time you dine, but let me assure you that we have never been made to feel an inconvenience. The Disney team really has gone all out to provide for their guests, all of us, even if we need something special. Each time the chef brings our food out it has always been with a smile and they have bent over to provide us with anything we ask if it is possible. If you are celebrating and would like special treats or other things arranged, be sure to reach out to the dedicated email SpecialDiets@DisneyWorld.com or call 407-WDW-DINE. They honestly are there to make everything as magical as possible.
With a little planning and research it is possible to have a relatively stress free vacation and not worry about food allergies. While visiting Disney World you should be able to be in the moment, capture those precious moments that will be forever memories and truly enjoy every aspect of your vacation, including food!
***Our only disappointment has ever been that the delicious iconic Mickey treats are not available in allergen friendly options but this last trip we found sections of treats in several locations that were Mickey branded! Score!!!***