Disney World made gluten-free news again recently with the launch of Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC (formerly BabyCakes), in Downtown Disney Marketplace, and the subsequent article in Huffington Post. The delicious-looking gluten-free vegan donuts looked great and certainly helped to spread the news online. Until I went gluten free after I was diagnosed with celiac, I was really unaware that Disney could have such incredible dining options for those of us that need to modify our diets. I’ve never been a huge Disney theme park fan – or a fan of theme parks in general – but after I saw Disney’s awesome food options, I was changed into a Disney-phile!
As a kid, I only went to Disneyland a few times and was never wow’d. I really was more of a “watch Beauty & the Beast a million times on VHS until I knew all the words to all of the songs,” kind of kid. But just the other day, I turned to my partner and begged him to drive with me to Disneyland just so we could spend a day or two eating our way through the park. Rides? Forget about it. Lines? Not worth it. Eating at every restaurant in the park? Sign me up!
But it’s not just Disneyland that offers great food – you can also find dining to accommodate most food intolerances and allergies at all Disney properties including Walt Disney World and Disney Aulani Resort & Spa in Hawaii.
Even though Disney takes incredible precaution for those with food sensitivities, make sure that you’re still dining with caution!
When making reservations via phone: Please inform the Cast Member of your food allergies or intolerances when making a reservation over the phone.
When making reservations via online: Please note all food allergies when reserving a table online.
For all dining experiences: When being seated, please inform the Cast Member of your food allergies. Once seated, inform the server and/or manager of food allergies. You can always ask to speak to the chef or ask the server questions to directly ask the chef if the chef cannot come out to speak directly to you.
Please note, like any restaurant, here is their disclaimer from Disney, “Walt Disney Parks and Resorts will use reasonable efforts to prevent the introduction of the allergen of concern into the food through close attention during our sourcing, preparation and handling processes. However, it is ultimately up to the Guest to use his or her individual discretion to make an informed choice regarding whether to order any particular items. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts cannot guarantee that allergens may not have been introduced during another stage of the food chain process or, even inadvertently, during preparation. We do not have separate kitchens to prepare allergen-free items or separate dining areas for Guests with allergies or intolerances.”
Gluten Free Disneyland
Disneyland can be a magical place, and can accommodate food allergies and sensitivities including gluten or wheat, lactose or dairy, peanuts and tree nuts, shellfish, soy, fish, eggs, and corn. I’m also beef sensitive and had no issues asking about this as well.
You can see all of the dining experiences at Disneyland here. You can request a special meal directly from Disney via phone, email, and find out more details about specialty diets here. Disney Eats has a list of gluten-free items across multiple parks in the Southern California area here. Keep in mind that Southern California has more to offer than just Disneyland – there’s also Disney California Adventure Park, Downtown Disney, and a few beautiful Disney hotels with appetizing culinary menus.
If you are staying outside of the park, there is plenty safe foods to eat. PF Chang’s and other chain restaurants are less than a mile from the entrance of Disneyland. While I was just in Anaheim, we found a great Indian food restaurant at the Anaheim Packing District – a short cab ride from the park.
Gluten Free Walt Disney World
I recently visited Walt Disney World and explored the Magic Kingdom. While I wish I had enough time to explore all of the parks and document the dining there, luckily there are plenty of bloggers to cater to that! Alexis from Gluten Free Orlando and Sarah from Gluten Free Dairy Free Walt Disney World are incredible writers from Florida that have seemingly endless reviews from Walt Disney World and the surrounding area. Allergy Free Mouse ha a great reference post for gluten-free friendly options at Walt Disney World on their site, as well as gluten-free offerings at Downtown Disney. I posted about Be Our Guest – the Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant at the Magic Kingdom here. My Life With Food Allergies’ blogger Pam just visited Walt Disney World and you can read about her time at the park here. Needless to say, we all think the Magic Kingdom is pretty darn magical.
Gluten Free Disney Aulani, Hawaii
I had the pleasure of being a guest of Disney as they sent me to Hawaii last year to tour the Aulani Disney Resort & Spa. It was an amazing experience to visit Hawaii for the first time, but also to tour the beautiful Disney-themed property. You can see all of the available dining options at Aulani here. Most restaurants and shops have a gluten-free option and food-allergy-friendly modifications available. I was pleasantly surprised at the great meals I had while on property. I wrote about my experiences on my blog here, including videos with one of the head chefs of the resort. You can see more videos from my time at Aulani here, like this video of the Aulani Character Breakfast, featuring Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Chip & Dale!
Aulani noted that I was gluten-free in all of my reservations, and you can easily note specialty diet concerns into any online booking. They stamped a big read ALLERGY note on all of my tickets that went straight into the kitchen, followed by a receipt where all of my allergies were noted. From start to finish, they really took care of me, and helped me modify any menu items I wanted to eat during my stay.
My favorite restaurant was the high-end table service restaurant – ‘Ama ‘Ama. ‘Ama ‘Ama is open-air dining with beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and a patio that always seems to be packed with people taking photos of the picturesque beach. My other favorite, oddly enough, was the kid-friendly buffet. Now, I know what you’re thinking – a buffet isn’t typically safe for anyone with food intolerances. But Disney takes care of their guests with special needs. The chef came directly to my table, asked me what I wanted, and came back with a full plate of food that was free of gluten and dairy just for me. I could party with Mickey Mouse along with everyone else. Every child there could have a safe meal, and enjoy the time spent with the characters – just like everyone else. As long as the chef knows you are there, you will be taken care of – although, it does take more time for your special plate to come out to you. The time spent is worth the risk for an awesome meal and a great time at a beautiful resort.
I’m so happy that Disney can cater to an ever-growing community of people with food allergies, intolerances, and celiac disease with chefs and cast members that understand true customer service. Have you been changed by Disney and a delicious and safe meal?Originally posted April 2015