Those with severe food allergies view their home as a safe refuge. Venturing out to a restaurant can raise anxiety that you may consume something you’re allergic to and have a reaction. The reaction can range from minor to life threatening – depending on the allergy. Imagine the nervousness a family with food allergies faces when they go on vacation. Must they plan to prepare all meals themselves? Perhaps not – if their destination is Disney.
Disney parks go above and beyond to cater to those with allergies. In fact, it’s one of the most allergy-friendly places. Where else can my wife get gluten-free Mickey-shaped waffles?
Walt Disney World restaurants work very hard to accommodate guests’ special dietary needs. When you make a dining reservation, you have the opportunity to note a food allergy. The online dining reservation system allows you to note the following food allergies/intolerances:
- Gluten or wheat
- Lactose or dairy
- Tree nuts
The result is your food allergies will be noted on the reservation, and when you check in, the host or hostess should ask you about this, as will your server, and they will send the chef out to talk with you.
It’s very important that you:
- Be sure to identify your food allergies to the host or hostess upon arrival at each restaurant. Request to speak with a chef.
- If your allergy is life-threatening, speak to the manager as well.
- Tell the wait staff immediately, because they can handle your food as well. Make sure you have their full attention as you discuss it. Request to speak with a chef, if they haven’t already stopped by.
- Discuss your meal with the chef. Ask them to double-check food labels if there are any doubts about ingredients.
- When your food arrives, double-check everything.
For counter-service restaurants or kiosks, ask at Guest Relations or at the venue itself.
Always ask to see “the book”. The book is at each location and lists all of the ingredients for each menu item. Then, ask to speak to the manager and explain your allergy / allergies. Ask the manager if they will make it for you, or at least supervise.
Disney does have the following disclaimer:
Please note that Walt Disney Parks and Resorts will use reasonable efforts to prevent the introduction of the allergen of concern into the food through close attention during our sourcing, preparation and handling processes. However, it is ultimately up to the Guest to use his or her individual discretion to make an informed choice regarding whether to order any particular items. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts cannot guarantee that allergens may not have been introduced during another stage of the food chain process or, even inadvertently, during preparation. We do not have separate kitchens to prepare allergen-free items or separate dining areas for Guests with allergies or intolerances.
My wife has been served food with allergens despite following all the precautions noted in this post. As noted, Disney cannot guarantee that you won’t be served a meal with an allergen. People make mistakes. We’ve spent time at the nearby hospital in Celebration, after having a severe reaction to being served allergens.
We go to Disney often enough that my wife knows the chefs at each restaurant that are very diligent and will actually cook her meal themselves, rather than just leaving it to the kitchen staff. My wife collects the business cards for each chef that she feels safe dining with, so she remembers to ask for them the next time.
Disney has a Special Diet Team to make special accommodations for your food allergy. You may contact them regarding your special dietary requirements by e-mail at [email protected] or phone 407-824-5967. Be sure to make your arrangements at least 72 hours in advance, as they may need to special order certain products.
The following web sites provide useful information:
Until you’ve known the gnawing anxiety of someone with life-threatening food allergies to dine away from home, you won’t really appreciate the extraordinary relief and pleasure we take in each Disney dining experience.