Dining at Disney with Food Allergies
Traveling with food allergies can be very scary and life threatening, especially when others don’t understand the risks associated with cross-contamination or one little ingredient sneaks into a recipe. Many associate food allergies with someone getting a rash and unless they have a family member or themselves suffer from a life threatening food allergy they just don’t see the big deal. Food allergies can easily put the allergy sufferer into anaphylaxis requiring IMMEDIATE medical treatment. Traveling away from home can sometimes be frustrating and limiting when it comes to eating ~ and yes, dangerous, too.
What constitutes traveling with allergies? Is it a weekend trip? Is it if you travel by plane? The truth is any time you leave your house you are traveling with food allergies. Anytime you may have to eat food you didn’t make yourself or wasn’t made by a trusted family member or friend, you are traveling with allergies.
Traveling to Disney with food allergies is one of the easiest, safest and best ways to vacation for an allergy sufferer. Disney understands the importance of food allergy dining and goes out of their way to accommodate allergy sufferers ~ even with buffets (which are a cross contamination nightmare for someone with multiple food allergies).
When it comes to the food allergy community – there are families that only vacation at Disney because they trust that they (or their family member) will have a safe, enjoyable and easy environment to dine in.
Most Disney restaurants offer allergy-friendly menus that address common food allergies and intolerance. Those visiting with multiple food allergies should always have their allergy concerns listed on their dining reservation for table service restaurants. Your server will know the allergy concerns when you arrive, but take the time to remind him/her anyway. You will have the opportunity to consult with a chef or special diets Cast Member before ordering.
The chefs at all Disney restaurants (quick service included) will go out of their way, above and beyond, to create a meal for the allergy sufferer that is quite often much better than what everyone else at the table is eating! Disney suggests that a visitor with 4 or more food allergies (like my daughter) contact Special.Diets@DisneyWorld.com after booking dining reservations and at least 14 days prior to your vacation.
To be honest, I never contact Special Diets for my daughter who suffers from 6 different anaphylaxis food allergies. I have never felt the need since every chef or Cast Member we have dealt with in Disney restaurants has been more than capable, accommodating, understanding and outstanding. We have been visiting since she was an infant, long before most of their allergy menus where in place, and they have always helped and accommodated her food concerns. She has her favorite Disney chefs and restaurants but because of Disney’s outstanding allergy practices, she is rarely afraid to try something new.
If it is your first visit to a Disney property and you aren’t familiar with the process, send an email. The team at Special Diets will assist you in navigating the dining process.
All of the table-service restaurants are able to provide allergy-friendly menus and/or alternate meal options. Be sure to notate your food allergies or intolerances when making your dining reservations and again upon arrival at your dining location. Speak to the chef after seating and before ordering. The chef will tell you what he/she will be able to prepare for you based on your particular allergy.
Almost every quick-service restaurant offers allergy-friendly menus and other meal options to accommodate food allergies. When you arrive at a quick service location, tell the Cast Member at the ordering station that you need to see the allergy book (a large binder kept under the order stations). This binder deals with common allergens so if you don’t fall into one of the categories listed, ask to speak to a chef from the kitchen or a Cast Member Dietary Specialist. When your food is ready, it will be presented on a different color tray than all of the other food coming from the kitchen so that all Cast Members know it is an allergy meal. Be aware that your meal will take a bit longer than all the other meals in your party since it is being prepared separately and independently from all the other food offered in the quick service location. When dining at quick service locations with allergies, it is not recommended that you use the advance ordering app to place your order before arrival.
Restaurants that offer buffet service throughout Disney property are also able to provide allergy alternate meal options. Each buffet restaurant has a common allergy guide that will outline what you can or cannot eat on the buffet based on the common allergens.
When you arrive at the restaurant and read the allergy guide, you can also speak to a chef or special diets-trained Cast Member to discuss your food allergies. A chef will also walk you through the buffet to explain what can be eaten based on your specific dietary requirements. If you find there is not possibility of you eating from the buffet (which has happened to my daughter) because of the possibility of cross contamination, the chef will prepare a special plate for you in the kitchen to be delivered to your table. I have found at the Disney buffets when this has happened, my daughter has received much more food than she would have normally eaten from the buffet.
Making a Special Dietary Request
Reserving Online – When reserving a table online, be sure to indicate all food allergies and intolerances at the time of booking.
Reserving by Phone – Please inform a Cast Member of your dietary requirements when making a dining reservation over the phone.
At the Restaurant – Inform your server of any restrictions upon your arrival. You have the opportunity to consult with a chef or special diets-trained Cast Member if desired.
After receiving your dietary request, Disney will use all reasonable efforts to prevent the introduction of your allergen of concern into your food through close attention to sourcing, preparation and the handling processes. However, Walt Disney World Resort cannot guarantee that a menu item is completely free of any allergen. It is ultimately up to your individual discretion to make an informed choice regarding whether to order any particular item. Always inform the server of any restrictions upon arrival – even if you have noted your restriction on your dining reservation.
Personal Food Items
Any guest with food allergies is allowed to bring food into Walt Disney World theme parks and dining locations. When entering a park, simply inform the Security Cast Member at bag check that someone in the party has a food allergy and you are entering with your own food for that purpose. Cast Members are prohibited from storing, preparing, cooking or reheating any food brought by Guests into the hotels or theme parks so be sure what you bring with you is “ready to eat.”
Refrigerating and Heating Personal Food Items
Guests staying at a Disney Resort hotel who have items that need to be refrigerated may use the small refrigerator in their room or call Housekeeping to request an additional small refrigerator (subject to availability). Microwaves are available in most food court locations throughout the resorts.