Belle's Castle is a Beast for Allergy Families!
Disney employs an electronic touch screen with a wireless rose to manage your order. The device does give you the option of entering in special dietary needs. However, unlike the kiosks at Disney's Contemporary Resort walk-up dining experience these kiosks do not remove options that are unsafe for you to eat from the menu. They simply replace the picture of that item and replace it with an image that says "customize this order". When you click on a customize this order option it does not give you a list of the ingredients or modification options for that dish. You must ask to see a chef. However, the kiosk does not prompt you to ask for help. If you click the customize this dish option and do not speak with a chef, who hand writes your changes on the ticket the order may be prepared without regard to your allergy needs.
We always ask to speak with a chef, as do many of my fellow allergy families. We had a chef standing at the kiosk with us and even he was confused at times by the prompts. We were there during walk-up hours and the service staff was extremely scattered, flustered, and lacked that typical Disney Magic that makes you feel welcome and happy. The staff at this location seemed under-educated about managing special orders and rather than relying on the awesome traditional Disney allergy protocol. They rely on a machine that while fun has incomplete information as it relates to making special orders that accommodate those with severe food allergies.
Once you have placed your order, your rose acts like a beacon so that service teams can find your table to deliver your order. I find this to be super fun and yes enchanting! As delightful and fun as this feat of Disney Imagineering is it did serve up some scary complications for us. The first round of waiters showed up at the table and placed an order in front of my son that was hastily pulled from a cart that had several other orders that did not look familiar to me on it. I asked promptly, "Is this the allergy friendly kids order" He looked puzzled. I picked the plate up quickly. Which as you can imagine delighted my very hungry toddler. (N.B. my intense sarcasm) The waiter than responded with, "Is there an allergy at this table?" In the end we realized that he had placed my nieces order in front of my son. Then long after everyone else in our party was eating and nearly done staff emerged again. This time to discuss concerns with what was entered at the kiosk by the chef. After we finally had our "safe" food order in hand the other members in our party had either already eaten or were starring at VERY cold plates. Thank goodness we had a snack bag full of allergy friendly goodies for our little ones to munch on while they waited and waited and waited.
Long story short Belle's Castle is a BEAST! Here are some suggestions based on our un-welcoming adventure to the castle if you decide to brave it.
1. DINE DURING DINER - during dinner hours reservations are required. Typically staff during sit-down reservation hours are more knowledgeable and prepared to handle special requests.
2. ASK TO SEE A CHEF IMMMEDIATELY
3. Make sure to communicate with the waiter that magically appears at your table before they place food on your table that you have a severe allergy and the food they are bringing have been sent with special instructions. (N.B. They push all the food around on enclosed carts with other orders which increases the chance that your order could get contaminated.)
All in all ... I am hopeful that Belle's Castle is just struggling from it's status as the new kid on the block. But as for me and my family, I am not comfortable trusting them with our children's health for a second time.
For more quick tips on how to experience a stress free - allergy free trip to WDW check out our quick tips on doing Disney with Food Allergies blog post: http://wastingnothing.blogspot.com/2012/09/doing-disney-with-food-allergies.html