Last week my husband and I, without the kids, drove 2,000 miles to Disneyland and back. We camped for a week enjoying each other’s company (without being interrupted). Did we miss them? Oh yeah! On the way back, at least some of our conversation was about when we were going to bring the children. We decided this was a scouting trip. We found out where to stay, the best places to eat and the optimal time to visit. We have a lot of allergies in our family, so knowing where to go is a big bonus. Sure it’s a great excuse to go to Disney with my honey, but really we had important business. 🙂 Here are some of my Food Allergy findings.
DisneyLand Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Egg Free (and Vegan)
The Magical World of Disney is full of wonderment. The lights, sounds, and smells all give you an experience you won’t soon forget. Amazing smells include food. The question “Can I eat it?” isn’t usually the first thing people think when they smell a tantalizing aroma. It’s kind of a funny question. Most Americans go about their day asking themselves what they are hungry for, not what can I eat. Here is my experience with food allergies at Mouse Land.
I commend Disney on taking food allergies seriously. Every food stand has a book that lays out the basic allergens in each food and if they can alter it. In the kitchen, they are super careful of cross contamination. Many places have a “fries only” fryer. I am so thankful for their attention to detail with food allergies. Though I could tell that every food handler has gone through allergy training, you still get elevated service as you pay more. The crew follows the procedures Disney has laid out for them at the over the counter places. You don’t always fill like they understand why, but I mostly felt confident that they were obedient. During sit down meals, the waiters would enlist the chef to come talk to you. In some cases the chef actually brought the meals out to you. Super cool! Try to avoid the busy character dinners. That was the only time I was a little leery of my meal. I couldn’t hear (from the chaos). The chef barely spoke English and seemed too busy to make the difficult conversation work (Arial’s Gratto). The best service we had was a waitress that was very knowledgeable about their food and allergies (Carthay Circle Lounge). Be prepared to pay the premium prices and take the extra time to wait in lines just to ask if they can make anything you can eat, or you can always bring your own food. The most important thing to do is to stop at the City Hall at Disneyland or California adventure and pick up a Celiac dinning list. It is very comprehensive with a total of eight pages. This is definitely a “Disneyland” for Celiac patients. There are considerable options and a lot of safety surrounding preparation. If gluten was my only issue, I would have gained some pounds on my vacation. Gluten free, dairy free is difficult for all who attempt the adventure. Add vegan to the mix (My body doesn’t like to break down meat and eggs.) and the real challenge begins. If anyone can do it, surely Disney can. Here are a few highlights I found:
Over the Counter in the Park:
I’m sorry to say, Desserts are super limited in the park. That is if you don’t want sorbet at the end of every meal. The sorbet is excellent. But eating it (every meal) while others in your party have more decadent chocolate covered moist cakey things is…well…a bummer. –BYOC Bring your own chocolate– There is no dairy free, gluten free chocolate in the park. Though limited there are four other dairy free, gluten free, and egg free treats in the park. Kettle corn, Dole Whip (Disney Land has it without the ice cream twist. I believe you may request it at Disney World.), Cotton Candy and potato chips. They also have fruit throughout the park. Bring your own special cookies and Cakes. The Wine Country Trattoria at the Golden Vine Winery does have a gluten free, dairy free brownie (not egg free) and a very excellent Tuscan Salad with wine vinaigrette (substitute avocados for the shrimp, if you can’t have them).
Bread: They have a gluten free, dairy free bun at most restaurants, but it isn’t egg free. If you are vegan and gluten free, bring your own bread. If bread isn’t important to you, most restaurants will substitute lettuce for a bun and avocados for EF, GF, SF, DF mayonnaise (Carnation Cafe did this for me.) They will also substitute rice or rice noodles for you.
Meals: If you are vegan and/or gluten free, you must try the Chef’s Vegan Burger with avocado (instead of mayo) on a lettuce “bun” at Carnation Cafe in Disneyland. Wow!!!!! It was so amazing I asked the chef for the recipe. You can really do that! They will email you the recipe. I can’t wait! It really was that good. The Portobello Mushroom with Macque Choux at the Blue Bayou in Disneyland is definitely worth mentioning along with the Tuscan Salad at the Wine Country Trattoria in California Adventure. I was also impressed with the refried beans, rice, guacamole and salsa at Cocina Cucamonga in California Adventure. And a good between-meal snack is an order of sweet potato fries (have them use the fries only fryer) at Hungry Bear Restaurant in Disneyland.
Beware: Lucky Fortune Cookery rice and vegetables with yuzu sauce. The tofu is the raw squish stuff (not baked at all) and yuzu is code for lemonade. Only get it if you are in the mood for lemonade flavored rice, vegetables and slabs of raw tofu.
Bring your own: There is a natural food store near Disney! Sprouts has pre-packaged goods that
will likely work for you. A thermos and/or cooler will assist you with preserving your meal in the park. I started bring my own cookies and “protein” snack food.
Sunflour Baking Company has the best prepackaged cookies I have ever tasted. They are vegan gluten free and absolutely wonderful. I particularly enjoyed the Chocolate Chip Shortbread and the Mint Chocolate Chip cookies. http://www.sunflourbaking.com/
Go Raw has some super great, healthy treats. I like the Go Raw Super Cookies Ginger Snaps and the Go Raw Pizza Flax Snax
Most everyone cheerfully seemed to do their best to help you understand the foods you could eat at their facility. And best of, all they were very conscious/cautious of cross contamination. It was quite a blessing! I am thankful for Disney’s efforts. They just need a few more delicious desserts. While we wait for them to catch-up, just bring your own. Remember to focus on your blessings and so that your “want to haves” will fade away. Have a great time!!!
Liz over at AllergyFreeMouse.com has a great blog about dealing with allergies at Disney. I wish I would have found it before I went. There are many testimonials from those who have gone before us with all sorts of different allergy experiences. The site will tremendously help with planning. Click here to link back to my guest post on her site.