By: Canadian Diva
A few years ago, we found out my son had multiple severe allergies. He is anaphylactic to dairy, wheat and egg. I’ve always heard that Disney World was incredible and innovative for accommodating people with various allergies. After finding about our son’s condition, we realized how difficult traveling would be. We researched a lot and discovered, as well as experienced first hand how wonderful Walt Disney World is for those with severe food allergies and food re-lated diseases. There is also a large allergy community out there specifically for Disney World. Here are A-Z Allergy-friendly tips that I have complied, from many people I look up to within the allergy Disney Parks community. I also provide some allergy-friendly tips that our family has positively encountered from our own Disney World vacations……
Disclaimer: Always consult your Allergist and Medical Specialists. The information about the following tips can change at anytime. We do not assume any responsibility for any injury caused, as you must always be personally vigilante, always researching and always asking when dealing with your own food allergies or those of your family members or anyone you are traveling with.
A – Always ASK for the Chef & Allergy Cards
At ANY Walt Disney World Table Service (including Buffets) or Quick Service (fast food), Larry Welnowski of the Disney Food Allergy Travel Tips Facebook Group advises people with food allergies, to ALWAYS ASK for the Chef. At Quick Service restaurants you can speak to the Manager first, who will bring out the Chef or communicate between you and the Chef. Asking for the Chef is vital, especially if you have any concerns regarding cross-contamination.
A fellow Canadian and wonderful Allergy Mom Warrior, Suzanne – the Maple Mouse Mama gives great tips for traveling with Allergies. She mentions making Allergy Cards with all the Allergy information for yourself or your child to give to staff and to the Chef so that have it on hand. You can see her example in this article here, she had the awesome design idea for the Allergy Cards from another informative and community Disney World Allergy Facebook group, Disney Chefs Rock Food Allergies (request to join).
B – Buffets
Did you know that you can eat at any BUFFET in Walt Disney World, even if you have food allergies?
One of my favourite Walt Disney World Vloggers is a husband and wife team: The Adventures of Peas and Carrots!
I reached out to Carmen of The Adventures of Peas and Carrots! She said this about Buffets at Walt Disney World..
“If you have food allergies, eating at a Buffet can be intimidating due to cross contamination. However, even those with the most severe food allergies, can safely enjoy a buffet at Walt Disney World. When you make your Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) be sure to mention that you have an allergy. When you arrive at the buffet to check in, also inform the person checking you in and then inform your server as well that you have an allergy. Most of the buffets now are giving a printed list to those with allergies showing which items are safe on the buffet, BUT even with that, I still RECOMMEND ASKING TO SPEAK WITH A CHEF. The Chef will most likely give you a tour of the buffet and go over what you can have but another advantage of speaking with a Chef is many times, items can be made allergen free that aren’t usually advertised on the list given by the table server.”
Carmen further states that..
“if you are very concerned about cross-contamination, you can ASK to have the items you want brought straight from the kitchen. This may take a little longer but worth it for those who have severe allergies.”
C – CHEFS, Disney World FAMOUS Chefs
Disney World is known for their World Famous Chefs. Their Chefs, with extreme allergy knowledge, have almost a cult following of their own. Repeat Walt Disney Word guests with severe food allergies, who visit WDW often, even time their itinerary – based on when their favourite Chef is at a particular restaurant. The most famous Chef I have heard of (with whom I definitely would love to meet) is CHEF TJ who is currently at Trails’ End Restaurant located in the Fort Wilderness Campsite & Resort. His creations are AMAZING, they are so incredibly attractive that his sculptured food towers makes non-allergy patrons jealous! I heard they super delicious too.
Again, a great way to know about the AMAZING Chefs at Walt Disney World and to be part of a wonderful community of Allergy Families that travel to Walt Disney World and Disneyland is to request to join these fantastic Facebook Groups: Disney Chefs Rock Food Allergies and Disney Food Allergy Travel Tips Group.
D – Dole Whip
The Dole Whip is definitely one of the most POPULAR MUST have Disney Parks Treats! It is even more special for those suffering from some food allergies as it is gluten-free and vegan (dairy-free). As mentioned above, my son is anaphylactic to Dairy, Wheat and Egg. The Dole Whip was one of the first “ice cream” soft serve treats he has ever had.
Please note: be aware that there could be cross contamination at certain locations when ordering this delicious pineapple treat as dairy products are shared in the same facility. Like I say throughout this article, ALWAYS speak to the manager and make your allergies known to the Cast Members.
Prominent Food Allergy Blogger, the AMAZING Sarah of Gluten Free & Dairy Free at WDW has articles dedicated to information about the iconic Dole Whip in Walt Disney World.
E – Erin McKenna’s
I want to call her QUEEN Erin McKenna! I first saw Erin McKenna on TV as a guest of Martha Stewart’s and since then I have been starstruck by this person who has, in my opinion, revolutionized Gluten-free and Vegan Baking in North America! With her first bakery in New York City (which I have visited) extending to a Bakery in Disney Springs (where I had the honour of actually MEETING HER!), she has made so many ‘baked’ dreams come true. People from all over the world, who normally cannot have bakery treats because they suffer from food allergies, are in heaven when they visit her lovely Bakery in Disney Springs, Walt Disney World.
Please see Erin McKenna’s website for information regarding ingredients used and in particular their nut allergy policy.
Did you know that Walt Disney World has its own campground called Fort Wilderness? You can camp with your tent or bring an RV there BUT they also have CABINS with a FULL KITCHEN which makes it very convenient for allergy families. Each Cabin can fit a family of SIX! There is so much to do at this wonderful site. Join this Facebook Group, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Cabins – A Magical Guide, to get a lot of information on updates about the resort, cabins, activities, tips and many more.
Doug LaFond, an admin of the Disney’s Fort Wilderness Cabins – A Magical Guide Facebook group, says that the Cabins have laminate flooring which cuts down on dust and mold! This is great for people (like my son) who suffer from mold and/or dust mite allergies as well.
G – Gluten-free
Alexis Salerno is one of my favourite Gluten-Free Travel Bloggers, her site is Alexis’s Gluten Free Adventures.
She blogs about Gluten-Free restaurants around America and of course she regularly visits Walt Disney World and Disneyland in California. Here she gives a fun tip..
“Did you know the famous BEIGNETS at the Port Orleans French Quarter resort (in Walt Disney World) are ALLERGY-FRIENDLY? You can also ask for DIPPING SAUCES (also allergy-friendly) to go with your Beignets. I especially love the Strawberry and Chicory Coffee Ganache.”
NOTE: ALWAYS ask the chef regarding ingredients before ordering anything, what you order that may have been “safe” one time can sometimes change their ingredients and could be harmful.
H – Halloween
Not only does Walt Disney World have the BEST Halloween Party on the planet, did you know that Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) also has allergy-friendly TRICK OR TREATING! YES! Read my article here about our incredible experience as an Allergy Family at this special annual event.
I – Ice Cream
Usually people with dairy allergies, dairy intolerances or dairy sensitivity cringe when they hear the word “Ice Cream”. At Walt Disney World there are so many non-dairy (along with gluten-free and possible nut-free options) cold treats. I mentioned above about the Dole Whip. Erin McKenna also has a diary-free, gluten-free soft serve (which my son LOVED). They even have something similar to the famous “Kitchen Sink” called the “Bakery Sink” but in a cup. And speaking of the “Kitchen Sink” at the Beaches and Cream Café in the Walt Disney World Beach Club Resort, although their “Kitchen Sink” is definitely not for those with dairy allergies, they do offer Dairy-free options (again, always speak to the manager regarding cross contamination).
Also, many Table Service restaurants do offer an allergy-friendly desserts which may include an “Ice Cream”-like treat. Just ask your server what they may have to offer.
Check out one of my favourite Dairy-free as well as Gluten-free resource at Walt Disney World, Gluten Free & Dairy Free WDW. Sarah was one of the first Bloggers our family turned to for information when we found out about my son’s allergies.
J – Juice
My son rarely drinks juice at home because he has reacted to juices due to possible cross contamination. When we visited ‘Ohana for breakfast (see my article on 5 Allergy-Friendly Reasons to Visit ‘Ohana), he was over the moon to drink juice! When our server brought it to us, it was in a covered cup with a straw. I asked her if it was gluten-free and safe for all of his allergies. She assured me it was. My son was so excited to drink juice! And as Beauty and The Beast Diva says here, that ‘Ohana’s particular “Stitch Juice” is like “heaven on earth”.
At any Walt Disney World Restaurant always confirm with your server of any allergens your beverage may contain to ensure it is safe to drink for yourself or anyone in your family/group who has allergies.
K – Kiosks
Our very own Allergy Mom Diva talks about “Snack Carts” around DISNEYLAND, that have allergy-friendly snacks available to guests, see her article here.
There are also similar food concession stands around Walt Disney World, especially in the Epcot Theme Park and especially during their popular Festivals (like the Food and Wine Festival, Flower and Garden Festival, International Festival of the Arts etc.). Many of these Kiosks may have allergy-friendly offerings listed on their menu, however always ask the Cast Member regarding the food being served.
L – LIFE, that is ENJOY LIFE FOODS
Enjoy Life Foods has a GREAT partnership with Walt Disney World and Disneyland in California. They provide their various treats packaged as part of the “Snacks with Character” in many of the resort snack shops. Their snacks (especially their delicious cookies) are also provided at the various Restaurants and Buffets around Disney World and Disney Resorts. And they also include tasty bars for an Allergy-friendly Trick or Treating at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
They are truly innovators for allergy-friendly foods and are very active on Social Media: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Use the hashtag #EatFreelyDisney to share your love of their treats at Walt Disney World and/or Disneyland.
Please Note: that other food companies are also part of “Snacks with Character” so please always read the package, if it is made from Enjoy LIfe Foods, it will say on the package. And of course, ALWAYS read the ingredient list to make sure it is safe for you or your child to consume.
M – Make a NOTE on your ADR (Advance Dining Reservations)
Carmen of The Adventures of Peas and Carrots! Vlog says,
`When making your Dining Reservations (up to 180 days in advance) on your My Disney Experience, ALWAYS make a note/ list your allergies. ON the day of your Dining Reservation, make sure you inform the Cast Member of your Allergy Note and again ASK FOR THE CHEF.”
N – Nomad Lounge
Another unique tip from Alexis Salerno of Alexis’s Gluten Free Adventures, is to check out the Nomad Lounge & Cocktail Bar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park (beside Tiffins Restaurant). Alexis says,
“Nomad Lounge is super gluten-free friendly. Pretty much anything on their menu can be made Gluten-free including their amazing churros. It is a great place to rest and relax and enjoy small plates as well as drinks.”
O – Order OUTSIDE the Menu
A recurring tip I have seen on the Disney Allergy Facebook group is to ORDER OUTSIDE the menu. Whichever table service, buffet or even quick service restaurant you go to, Larry Welnowski of the Disney Food Allergy Group on Facebook, will advise that the menu given is not set in stone. You can request something outside what is listed especially to accommodate your allergies.
P – Podcast
Larry Welnowski of the Disney Food Allergy Group Facebook group also co-hosts an informative and wonderful PODCAST about dealing food allergies in the Walt Disney Theme Parks, Disneyland and Disney Cruiseline. Download this podcast: Food Allergy Fastpass
Q – Quell your expectations
Or at least “Relax” your expectations as Stephanie Lowe founder of TurnItTeal.org (see “T” below) mentions.
“Relax your expectations of a full and balanced diet a bit. while you can get really great meals, they will take some time. Relaxing your ideal nutritional standards and letting your kiddo get away with Sunbutter sandwiches for more days in a row at more meals in a row than usual isn’t going to stunt their growth! It is a vacation after all!”
Stephanie also says,
“Plan your meals (ADR’s or Quick Service) at slightly off times (a little before of after the “rush” times) as it gives them a little more time to focus on your needs.
R – Rent! (DVC points) & Resort Request
DVC means Disney Vacation Club and it’s for vacationers who frequently go to Disney World and “own” Disney Resort real estate through points, a timeshare. If you are not interested in making an investment like this (note: many of the Diva/Devo writers are DVC members), you can RENT points. You can find sites that lets you deal directly with the owner OR go through a 3rd party which may make the transaction more smooth with rules in place to protect you and the DVC member renting to you.
ALL resorts that are part of the DVC (for example Saratoga Springs), have suites that may contain a full kitchen which, as we allergy families know, is almost always a must when we travel. Stephanie Lowe, founder of TurnItTeal.org says this about renting DVC points..
“We rent points for a DVC suite. This allows us to have a full kitchen which was perfect for our Disney World vacation. We planned on eating out our big meal of the day for lunch and had breakfast and dinner in the room.”
Suzanne of Maple Mouse Mama, says that you can get in touch with your Walt Disney World Resort before your vacation and talk to HEAD of Mousekeeping (Housekeeping) to do a full Allergy Clean of your resort room. This will ensure a more intense cleaning of your resort room, see her experience along with other tips here.
S – Skeptic to Fan
Amanda Bower of VeraVise WOW Travel (an awesome Travel Tips site) she was like many seasoned travellers who would scoff at the idea of a Walt Disney World Vacation. UNTIL she found out just how AMAZING Walt Disney World is, particularly for Allergy Families. Read her article here about how she went from being a Skeptic to a huge FAN of Walt Disney World.
Amanda is also the co-founder of #DisFanChat, a fun and informative Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Disney Cruise Twitter chat! Join in the TWITTER party every Tuesday 9pm and tweet with the DisFanChat team, us Diva/Devo writers and many other Disney Parks Bloggers and Disney Theme Park Fans. Join DisFanChat’s Facebook group for up to date information. Amanda also hosts Mouse Fan Mondays Disney Blog Hop Party.
T – TEAL & Treat Bags
Did you know that TEAL is the official color of Food Allergy Awareness. There is a whole movement across North America called the “Teal Pumpkin Project” to promote inclusion for children who have food allergies during Halloween. Walt Disney World is incredible in promoting this inclusion as I mentioned how they offer Allergy-friendly Trick or Treating at the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party where you collect Teal Colored Tokens and exchange it for allergy-friendly treats at stations marked with a TEAL colored marker on the maps.
Stephanie Lowe, founder TurnItTeal.org has given us great tips throughout this article. Here is the mission statement of her fantastic and necessary organization.
“Turn it Teal’s mission is to light as many sites as possible during Food Allergy Awareness Month in order to raise awareness of life threatening food allergies. We want more people to become educated about food allergies, their daily impact on people, and how they can help those with allergies, perhaps some day helping to find a cure.”
We definitely hope Turn It Teal will be able to light up TEAL in Walt Disney World or Disneyland one day.
Suzanne of Maple Mouse Mama gives a really neat tip in her article here… make your own Allergy-friendly TREAT Bags so that your child doesn’t feel too left out when going to the Theme parks. I was so inspired by this tip that I made my own for my son (see photo below). This can also be a FUN activity to do with your children at home before your vacation. Decorate bags with Disney Themed stickers and embellishments then order “safe” foods from a Grocery Delivery Service (see next tip for ‘U’) and fill up your treat bags.
U – Use Delivery Grocery Delivery Service
Stephanie Lowe of TurnItTeal.org says how it is essential for food allergy families,
“We send an Amazon Prime box to the hotel with shelf stable staples that we know are safe. This saved us a lot of driving around to try and find safe things for our child to eat…”
V – VISIT TouringPlans.com
Everyone visiting Walt Disney World should plan their vacation meticulously, however for allergy families you must be even more meticulous when it comes to planning. Wait times are often longer for families dealing with allergies at all the Table Service and Quick Service Restaurants. A great app like Touring Plans will help you navigate your touring park time to coincide with your meal times. Touring Plans are the same company that has the most INCREIBLE guides, The Unofficial Guide Series, to Walt Disney World as well as Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line (read our reviews of their informative guides, however note that the contest giveaways have may have past).
Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) may be difficult to get even at the 180 Day mark. You may have your heart set on a particular Disney World Restaurant that you heard was fabulous for people with allegies, or want to go to a restaurant that has your FAVORITE allergy-friendly Disney World Chef working on a certain day or period of time. Well Touring Plans has a great service to let you know when a reservation becomes available, even days before your vacation. Read about Soarin’ Diva’s positive experience as well as information about Touring Plans’ Reservation Finder.
A Disney Travel Specialist can also help you plan your Disney Parks Vacation. Contact a Disney Travel Specialist like our very own Military Diva and request a FREE Quote. Services are FREE when you book a Walt Disney Word vacation through her.
W – Wipes
Every parent of a child with Allergies and many people with severe allergies themselves, know how important it is to WIPE down every surface to avoid cross contamination or a contact allergic reaction. My son will break out in major hives if he touches a surface that contains any of the food allergens he is allergic too. At many Walt Disney World Quick Service eateries, they usually provide wet naps if you are eating anything with your hands (hamburgers, BBQ places etc.). I used the wet naps they provided to wipe down the tables and highchairs. If the Quick Service doesn’t automatically give wet naps, you can ask for them if they provide it.
Another tip: Passholder Diva mentioned that there are disinfectant gel stations everywhere in Walt Disney World, especially at most eateries. If you don’t have any wipes on you, a quick tip is to get a napkin, pump some disinfectant gel on it, and then use it to wipe down the surfaces where you are or child with allergies will be eating.
X – Xtras
Okay, I cheated X for extras! As allergy parents, we always have to bring “EXTRAS” when traveling.
Extra: epi-pens, wipes (to wipe down surfaces from cross contamination), patience – as dealing with allergies on vacation takes a lot of patience, effort – in making sure that everything is safe for the family member with an allergy and SNACKS.
As Stephanie Lowe of TurnItTeal.org says,
“Have snacks, ALWAYS, while you may have an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation), there are times that things get backed up and you don’t want a hangry toddler/kiddo. A snack can help you when you are waiting in long lines for your table (this also applies to waiting for long lines for the many popular attractions across Disney World.” (see ‘T’ above for TREAT Bag ideas)
Amanda Bower of Veravise WOW Travel has 2 children with food allergies and advises not to “wing it”. Her and her family learned the hard way that would end in stress and tears (and it’s usually hers).Take it from Amanda who has travelled A LOT to many places, ALWAYS be prepared with extra safe foods for your kids.
Y – YouTube
There are many YouTube channels that feature great video tips! Subscribe to our own YouTube Channel to get great Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line and Disneyland Paris tips.
For more great tips and awesome trip reports, see The Adventures of Peas and Carrots! YouTube channel and subscribe to them as well. I actually first learned from Carmen and her husband, through their vlog, about allergy-friendly waffles at the many Walt Disney World Buffets.
Z – Zebra Domes
Speaking of Carmen of The Adventure of Peas and Carrots! Vlog, she says that there is a gluten-free version of the ZEBRA DOMES, a popular dessert at BOMA in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. If you see any dessert or treat at Walt Disney World, inquire if there is an allergy-friendly version, you never know, you may be SURPRISED!