I can’t believe it’s going to be the third time we’ll be heading to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. My wife, TerriAnn, will be attending a conference and the rest of the family is allowed to tag along. We won’t go to the conference though, just the parks. Such a sacrifice! Though there are some things I do not look forward to, such as the heat combined with the humidity and the amount of people running around, there is one thing in particular I do look forward to and that’s the food.
That may sound kind of strange. Why would someone look forward to food at an amusement park, it doesn’t usually have that good of a reputation. At a previous conference at Disney World, TerriAnn learned that one of the resort’s executives has a child with a food allergies. Just as with any other decease, unless you or a very close relative is dealing with it, it’s almost impossible to fully understand the impact it has on someone’s life. I guess that’s why Disney is able to take care of this issue so well and some call it the “golden standard” when it comes to serving food-allergic guests.
Gluten-free at the Disney parks
So how does Disney tackle this? I remember that last year I would just walk up to the counter and mention I have a food allergy. Then a chef was called who’d bring a stack of bright yellow notes on which they would write down my food allergy. They would also inform me about how the menu item would be adjusted, any other gluten-free options, and assure me that my food would be prepared in a way that there wasn’t going to be any cross-contamination, which is especially critical when you have celiac.
In addition to not getting sick another plus when ordering at one of the counter service restaurants is that your food is going to be hot and super fresh because it’s made especially for you. Yeah, it’s good to be special sometimes.
I also enjoyed the food at ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, a one table service restaurant which is easy to get to by using the monorail. They made sure every little food item was good to go, maybe a little too much though. You don’t want to be reminded you’re having some food handicap each and every time, but it’s meant well.
Another one of my favorites was Mama Melrose’s Restorante, obviously Italian, which is inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios park.
Gluten-free options outside the parks
Outside the parks, at Disney Springs, there’s Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant where they have a dedicated gluten-free fryer for their awesome fish and chips. How often do you get to eat gluten-free fish and chips, right? For an amazing dessert, I’d go to Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC where everything is vegan and gluten-free. Items here actually taste good, not like the usual dry, crunchy, chocolate-only gluten-free stuff we’re generally left to eat.
Back to the parks, I have also heard that now there are food allergy signs everywhere. I’ll report on that and which restaurants I’d also recommend when I return to the resort next month.
Don’t forget too that, if you want to save some money and instead spend it on t-shirts and hats, you are allowed to bring in your own food as well.