Disney vacations are meant to be magical and in true Disney fashion traveling to Disney World with food allergies is just that. It’s easy! It is probably the best experience with food allergies I’ve ever had.
My husband and I took my 20 month old and 4 year old to Disney World. When planning out our trip, we were a little concerned about what I would eat for the four days we were there. Traveling with food allergies can truly be a nightmare. It’s one of those things that I almost hate to say, because I don’t want to sound melodramatic, but the thing is eventually you really do get hungry.
I was incredibly shocked to find out how easy it was to eat soy and gluten- free at Disney World. It made it magical for me. I anticipated relishing the fun and joy my kids had, but I was not expecting just how fun it would be to eat “real” food that was safe.
The first day we got there we walked into the food court to grab a bite before hitting the parks and I quickly said to my husband, “Y’all get food. I’ll wait until we have options for me.” It was burgers and pizza and I knew it was a going to be a no- go. Since we’ been traveling all day, I was pretty hungry, so I decided to ask the lady behind the counter if they had anything gluten-free AND soy-free. I knew that would be the kicker. To my surprise she said, “absolutely!” The chef came out and met me.
The chef asked,”What do you want?”
“Well, what can I have?” I asked. Typically there’s like one or maybe two options at a restaurant that covers both allergies.
“Anything you want. I can make you a pizza or a hamburger. I have buns that will work for your allergies. I’ll make you whatever you want.”
I was shocked. Welcome to Disney World!
Review of Allergy-Free Food at Disney:
- My first meal (that I mentioned above) was at Pop Century’s Cafeteria. It was good, but not great. More along the lines of fast food burger. Nothing special, but not bad and I had a bun.
- The ONLY place I had a hard time finding something that I could eat was Epcot. I enjoyed their amazing ice cream in France (just ask about allergens) and was so happy they had a soy-free blend. However, the delicious yummy other vendors just didn’t seem to have an option for me. Everything was cooked in soybean oil. If I was only gluten-free this would not have been a problem. They had a ton of delicious looking gluten-free options! In fact, that’s where my idea for the Ribs with pickled jalapeños served over sweet potato hash with white cheddar came from!
- We ate lunch at the quick-serve Flame Tree Barbecue in Animal Kingdom and it was crazy good. Seriously, it may have been one of the best meals we had there. I am a Memphis girl and I know my barbecue. I ordered the Rib, Chicken, and Pulled Pork sampler. The ribs were out of this world, and the chicken and pork were great too. I am SO thankful our Disney Planner recommended this restaurant and put it on our itenerary. I knew I could trust her, because she’s a foodie too :).
- We had dinner with Minnie and friends at Hollywood and Vine and it was a fantastic experience. First, it was just so great for the kids. Getting out of the heat and getting to slowly eat dinner while seeing so many characters was the perfect thing for them. Once again, the chef came out and met me and went through the entire buffet line letting me know what was safe for me to eat. He even had a soy-free/ gluten-free dessert I could have. I fell in love with a roasted corn and fried plantain dish he was serving (don’t be surprised if you see that soon on here) and when he learned that I love to cook he taught me how to make it!
- We ate lunch at the quick-serve Pinocchio Village Haus and they had allergy friendly meals as well. I ordered the Caprese Pizza on Udi’s crust. I didn’t have high hopes since it was freezer crust, but y’all it was delicious. I ate every bite. The pizza was super fresh with basil, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar.
- We ate dinner at Crystal Palace, a character dining restaurant in Magic Kingdom. This was my all time favorite place we ate and you can tell from the rest of my post that that is a high praise. The entire experience was Disney perfect. My kids eyes were shining with the excitement of seeing their favorite Pooh characters. They let us truly take our time with dinner and dessert (and delicious coffee), while the kids met the characters and went on a friendship day parade. The chef came out and met me here too. He really went above and beyond and made me my own honey salmon, so it would be safe for me. He even made me soy-free and gluten-free rolls that were incredible. They tasted like yeast rolls and I ate too many!
And on top of that, the chef said, “what do you want for dessert?” I was debating between a cookie and a brownie (pictured in the title picture of this post) and he brought me both to sample!
- The last place we ate was 1900 Park Fare for the supercalifraglistic breakfast and I know you guys aren’t going to be able to deal if I gush anymore, but it was amazing. My kids were in love with the Mickey waffles and I was shocked when the chef came out and asked me if I wanted him to whip me up some Mickey waffles with Namaste batter and they were SO good. It made me happy to think that little kids with gluten or soy allergies could still get Mickey waffles too. Annnnd I looked it up and it looks like these are dairy free too. I have no idea how they taste that good, but they do! 1900 Park Fare is known for its chilled strawberry soup and it definitely didn’t disappoint. This was our last day and it was the perfect way to say “goodbye” to Disney and see our favorite characters one more day! Our Disney Planner recommended saving our last Dinner Service (we did the dining plan) for our last morning which was not a park day and I am really glad we did!
What I would Do Next Time:
- I would definitely use a Disney Planner again. I highly recommend Cathy Sprayberry at Yellow Shoe Travel. It doesn’t cost any extra to use a planner and it makes it way less stressful. She has kids and totally got our speed. She talked to me about what was important to our family and then made an amazing itinerary for us. It was so great to have someone to call if I wasn’t sure what to do. She also made our dining reservations and notified the restaurants of my food allergy, did our fast passes, made us custom touring plans, and had some fantastic tips for us.
- If we go again with little kids, I would probably do the dining plan. We wouldn’t have gone to as many character meals if we hadn’t done the dining plan, but those were what gave the kids a chance to regroup, cool off, and catch up with all the fun we’d had.
- I would eat at an off time, so we could ride when others were eating and not eat when it was so busy (we were there during spring break).
- We opted for trip insurance and were very glad to have done so in the days leading up to the trip (see below).
To put a cap on how much of an impact their food accommodations left on us, you should know that we came very close to cancelling our trip in the two days before we flew to Orlando. Our daughter came down with some virus that apparently children her age “aren’t supposed to get,” so she wasn’t feeling her best. Also, halfway through our time at Epcot, our dear son began repeating “I’m so cold!” in an unseasonably warm 95 degree Orlando day…in the sun. Thanks to an Uber ride, a great pediatrician and antibiotics, we finished the trip up with a home run, but I seriously can’t wait to go back with healthy kids and have a re-do. Next trip I am dying to try out Be Our Guest since Belle has always been my favorite! Has anyone been?