Wednesday

Doing Disney with Food Allergies ...

I have to start this blog post with an honest disclosure.  I LOVE Disney World.  It rocks.  My devotion is ...well ... to quote Barney Stinson, "Legendary".  It's really a family affair.  My hubby and I traveled to Disney quite a bit before we had children and we go several times a year with our little ones now.  There is nothing better to me than going for a stroll down Main Street USA.  

However, when my son was diagnosed at a year old with a severe egg, peanut and tree nut allergy my view of Main Street USA changed. I was terrified! In my minds eye, I could see my son with his nose pressed against the glass, looking at - but not able to taste a single confection, ice cream cone, or float.  The amazing news is nothing could be further from truth!  While yes, there are plenty of can't haves at the confectionary there are also plenty of safe alternatives and amazing well educated staff to help you along the way.  Here are my tips for getting the most out of a peanut and egg free Disney World Trip!

1 - Map it out!

Download a map before you go to the park and familiarize yourself with first aid locations.  You can also take some time out to find dining locations near attractions on your must do list.  Disney World not only has all of our their property maps available online @ http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/maps/; but you can also print a customized map out just for your trip.  :)

While it is super fun to print or order a custom map ... you really don't need to.  There are plenty of durable pre-printed maps as you head into the park.  Our favorite way to keep our maps in to is via our windows phones.  You can access maps, dining, wait times and more from your smart phone @ http://m.disneyworld.disney.go.com.I am also including hotlinks to the PDF Maps for each of the parks here: Map of the Magic Kingdom, Map of Epcot, Map of Animal KingdomMap of Hollywood Studios, Map of Downtown Disney

2 - Meal Plan before you get to the park.


I know meal planning has become a no brainer for most allergy families.  But it bares metioning. Disney does a lot to make meal planning a breeze.   Your best place to start is @ Guest Services - Special Dietary Request Page.  You can find a comprehensive list of thier policy and procedures for managing food allergies.

- Snack Bag: Disney is great about letting you bring in safe snacks, drinks and treats for your little one.  Be sure to pack a cooler filled with energy rich, safe snack items and refreshing drinks.  It can get hot depending on which park you are in and the time of year you travel.  You can also store your epi-pen in your cooler tote to ensure it doesn't get overheated.   

- Reservations are your friend.  While I am sure you will most likely not want a sit down experience at every mealtime.  Reserving a breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even after fireworks dessert makes life awesome.  When you place your reservation you can alert staff to your allergy and they take special care to prepare for you visit.  You can make dining reservations in advance here: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/reservations/dining/




- Managing Quick Service Walk Ups.  In most places you will find staff at walk ups to be friendly and knowlegable.  Don't worry to much about making a pick from the displayed menu.  As soon as you reach the cashier and alert them to your allergy need, they will page an allergy specialist.  The allergy specialist will walk you through Disney's big book of allergy info to make sure you get a safe alternative for you or your little. Our favorite walk up restaraunt is hands down the starlight cafe.  They just rock and always have.  A few walk ups to avoid: The Walk Up Dine in Option in the American Pavillion at epcot (This is the location of our one and only bad experience).  You also want to be cautious doing walk up dining at any of the asian eateries because of the use of peanut oil.  However, don't rule out all sit down asian options.  Just be sure you make a reservation ahead and note your allergy when booking.

Disney also offers great dining plan options for every budget and lifestyle need.

3 - Stay on property.

From the All Star Resorts to Resorts on the Monorail, disney properties have terrific, accomodating food options. All of the "quick service" spots are well educated on how to safely create options to meet your allergy need. We have NEVER had an issue at quick services or restaraunts in the resorts. Given how fequently we travel and stay on property that is pretty amazing. We love resort quick service in the morning. It's terrific to head to the park with a full tummy. You need that energy boost. And almost all the resorts have wonderful dine in options, some even have pretty fantastic character breakfasts!

4 - The Magic Kingdom ROCKS!

I don't know if it is extra pixie dust, a higher ratio of fairytale royality to commoners, or just sheer happenstance but the Magic Kingdom is in my view the most allergy friendly park at Disney World.  Seriously, I love all the Disney Parks but the Magic Kingdom is well just magical.  So I recommend you start there.  Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios have fewer walk up options, but all will still be able to accomodate you, typically with out making you feel like they are "accomodating" you.  Hollywood Studios is a great park and has some wonderful attractions, but only has one walk up that we felt comfortable in, Pizza Planet.  So when heading to Hollywood Studios our typical plan is Pizza Planet or Making a Reservation. 


Important Links from this post ...
Disney Food Allergy Info
Dining Reservations
Disney Maps

2 comments:

  1. LOVED this post. LOVE Disney. And LOVE dining at Disney with my family (including 3 kids with food allergies). Wish we could go as often as you, but we live up in Massachusetts.

    Given your knowledge of so many restaurants, I'd so greatly appreciate if you'd be willing to rate all those you've been to at AllergyEats Disney World (www.allergyeats.com/disney). Just like the core AllergyEats site, AllergyEats Disney World is designed to show which restaurants are the most allergy-friendly based on the experiences of those of us dealing with food allergies every day. As you can imagine, most of the ratings are excellent, but not all - most particularly some of the EPCOT "countries" (like your experience with the American pavilion).

    Anyway, thanks for your consideration. As an aside, I'm even more glad I found your page as I'm a Board President at a Montessori school and a huge fan of this style of learning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much! I will head out to allegyeats/disney tonight after the boys are in bed. :) That is terrific with regard to your role as a Board President @ a montessori school. We just started last year truley focusing on a montessori curriculum. It is an awesome journey! I look forward to your insights and feedback!!

      Delete

The Wasting Nothing Philosophy

Playing, cooking, reading, exploring, loving, laughing, and making a mess with your little one is NEVER a waste of time! It is priority one! It's not just about getting to know your little one. It's about letting your little one get to know you!