by Canadian Diva
My son is only 22 months old and I already dread the thought of Halloween. You see, my son has severe allergies. He has been tested and confirmed to be allergic to wheat/gluten, dairy and eggs. As a mother of a child with severe allergies, you know the drill: Epi-pen is always on you, reading labels on every food item and googling ingredients you don’t know what it is or what it may contain. When your child accidentally eats a fatal food or a food you didn’t know your child was allergic to, the panic that suddenly kicks in, as you hold your child down, adminster the epi-pen into their leg and then rush to hospital, where your child lays helpless and crying for hours in emergency. Yes, at 22 months, we have already been to the hospital many times.
Cooking and baking becomes an even more exhausting chore, because a parent of a child with severe allergies MUST cook and bake practically everything from scratch. When I see a child my son’s age, freely eating a snack or even fast food, I long for the day I could just pick anything up at the mall or at the airport while traveling, without worrying about my toddler going into anaphylactic shock. Although prepared, home cooked meals are healthier, there is a luxury of convenience that many parents of non-allergy kids have.
Planning any vacation can cause extreme anxiety and nightmares of what could happen while away. Which is why I LOVE Walt Disney World! The Walt Disney Company Resort and Theme Parks take Allergies and food related diseases and special dietary needs very SERIOUSLY. You can read more about how to order and what to do when dining at a Walt Disney World resort here and about Special Dietary needs while traveling to a Disney Theme Park and Resort here.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) is probably one of the BEST Halloween parties around. It is a special ticketed event (tickets are extra and not included with your regular theme park tickets). It is so fun and filled with so many events, shows, as well as rare characters to meet that you cannot see during the regular season. Magic Kingdom is decorated in a beautiful array of Fall colors. Many visitors attending, dress in the most creative and incredible costumes. You can read more about our most recent reviews of MNSSHP from Cruisin’ Diva and from Jollyfrogger Diva (check out both their family costumes, they are so creative!).
This is my family’s second time attending the party but my toddler’s very first. When we went a few years ago with my oldest daughter (who does not have allergies), I did notice Cast Members offering “allergy-friendly” treats at the various stations. This year, Walt Disney World did something special. They handed out TEAL colored bags to any child or adult with food allergies. To receive one, just ask any Cast Member handing out the regular Trick or Treat Bags and they will give you the TEAL one. As many of you know TEAL is the official color of Food Allergy Awareness. And now there is a growing movement for Halloween called the Teal Pumpkin Project (to learn more about this amazing project, read here).
As many children are gathering treats at the various treat stations during MNSSHP, those with the TEAL color bags, collect “Tokens”. These Tokens are then traded in at the Allergy Treat Centers in Magic Kingdom. There are two centers to collect Allergy-friendly treats: One is located in Liberty Square and the other is in the Town Square Theater on Main Street near the entrance of the park (where Talking Magician Mickey’s meet and greet is). The Allergy Treat Centers have a large TEAL sign and inside, the counters are also painted TEAL so you know where to pick up your special treats. If you cannot find the locations, just ask a Cast Member, they are terrific at directing you where to go. You should also pick up a map when entering the Magic Kingdom and the TEAL marker on the map will indicate where the Allergy-Friendly treat centers are.
Inside, you present your tokens to the Cast Members behind the TEAL colored counters. On the counter are pictures of all the treats they provide, including all the ingredients for each treat. We were so happy to see that one of our favorite brands, ENJOY LIFE FOODS was one of the treats offered. Enjoy Life Foods makes products free of the top 8 allergens (wheat/gluten, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish, shellfish). Their products are also made WITHOUT casein, potato, sesame and sulfites. I actually discovered Enjoy Life Foods products on a precious trip to Walt Disney World earlier this year when my husband saw some of their bars and cookies at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. They have packaged snack bars and cookies with Disney Characters on it (their cookies and treats are also offered at the various Buffets inside the Walt Disney World Resort and Theme Parks and sold at many of the Resort gift shops). Once I was back home in Canada, I found Enjoy Life Foods products at my local Natural Food Market and even at my local Walmart. I also love to bake with their products as well! They are great at communicating with customers on Twitter and on their Facebook page too.
Another company, offering special Allergy-friendly treats for MNSSHP is SURF SWEETS. This is my first time learning about them and I am so excited about their products! For the MNSSHP Surf Sweet’s “gummy worms”, jellybeans and “gummy bears” were handed out by Disney World Cast Members. All their products are allergy-friendly and some are Vegetarian/VEGAN (please read the ingredients). My son at the moment is a bit young to eat these candies so I am saving them for a special treat when he gets a bit older!
The experience of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is always special, however for an adult/big kid or parent of children with allergies, it means just so much more. Dreams do come true, and our dream is for our child to feel included and be like a “normal” child. At home or anywhere else, a parent of a child with allergies has to tell that child how dangerous trick or treating is. Many products handed out are just too life-threatening. At Walt Disney World, it is possible and special for adults and children to experience this. One of my favorite moments of this year’s MNSSHP was watching all the school-aged children excitingly run into the Special Treat centers and happily hand in their tokens while marveling at all the treats they CAN have. One mother I saw, thanked the Cast Members profusely, pleading with them to do this again next year. I could see the intensity in her eyes, the tension in her body; of years of sadness, pain and anxiety. Having to talk with schools and teachers, telling them repeatedly about her children’s allergies, praying her child is alive every time she is away from him/her, wiping down every surface before her child eats, preparing a separate cake for her child to have at a friend’s birthday party, and for years, having to say NO to trick or treating at home. Well at Walt Disney World, she can finally say, “Yes.”
There are still some more Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party dates left: October 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31.
There is also hope that special Allergy-Friendly treat centers, like the ones at MNSSHP will be available during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, we will keep you posted.
Contact our Travel Agent, Patricia with All for Dreams Travel, she can plan your DREAM vacation!
Here are some of my favorite Allergy-friendly resources for Walt Disney World:
Alexis’ Gluten Free Adventures
Gluten Free and Dairy Free at WDW
Adventures of Peas and Carrots on YouTube
Facebook: Disney Food Allergy Group (request to join)
On Social Media? Check out the popular Allergy-Friendly hashtag #eatfreelydisney