Visiting Disneyland with Food Allergies
Travel used to be easy for me before I developed food allergies. Nowadays, planning my trips requires a bit more effort, and such was the case for my last trip to Disneyland in August, 2016. Since I was traveling to Disneyland for the first time with food allergies, I reached out to Disneyland’s Special Diets Team. I wanted to share my experience with you today so that I can, hopefully, make your trip a bit easier.
I had already planned every aspect of my trip, including my dining reservations, when I decided to contact the Disneyland staff. I emailed the Special Diets team at firstname.lastname@example.org. I told them the dates I would be visiting and asked for their assistance. I was already aware that the Disneyland Resort Food and Beverage Team has a strong commitment to accommodating guests with food allergies and intolerances, but I think pre-planning as much as possible is key to any successful trip.
The table-service restaurants that accept reservations can accommodate most food allergies or intolerances. Common food allergies include: gluten or wheat, shellfish, soy, lactose or dairy, peanuts and tree nuts, fish, eggs and corn. Guests with any of these common food allergies should ask to speak with a Cast Member when arriving at the dining location.
Guests with PKU, metabolic disorders or with 4 or more common allergies/intolerances are asked to complete a special form. Because my allergies include more than just those listed above, I was asked to complete the Guest Allergy Dietary Request Form and return it by email to the Special Diets Team. The form provides spaces to list the restaurant names, reservation number(s) and dates where you plan to dine. The team encourages guests to return the completed form no earlier than 30 days prior to your arrival date.
I completed the Guest Allergy/Dietary Request Form and submitted it to them via email. I received an email acknowledgment confirming receipt of the form and stating that they would forward it to each of the dining locations at which I planned to dine. It further stated that, once I arrived at each dining location, I should alert my server and ask to speak with a Chef or Manager.
If you have just booked your trip with me and have not made dining reservations, please let me know of any and all allergies when requesting your dining reservations so I can note that on your dining reservations. If you plan to book them yourself, be sure to advise the Cast Member of your special dietary restrictions. If you book online, please make sure you include your allergies/dietary restrictions on each reservation. If you have already booked your reservations and you are not sure if you included the restrictions, please contact me if I am your agent or Disneyland Dining directly to have the allergies noted.
There are many options at Disneyland for quick-service dining, table-service dining and snacks. Select quick-service restaurants offer allergy-friendly menus and other meal options that may accommodate certain food allergies or intolerances. Most table-service restaurants are able to provide allergy-friendly menus and alternate meal options. At buffet restaurants, chefs are available to walk guests through the buffet to explain what can be eaten based on specific requirements.
Disney cannot guarantee they will always be able to meet all dietary requests, but I have never had an experience where there was no alternative for me. I have had to leave a quick-service location for lack of offerings (as I stated above I have many food allergies), but I have been able to quickly find an alternative location with a good choice.
Below is some information regarding the dining locations around Disneyland. I hope you will find this information helpful.
It is highly recommended that guests with special dietary needs not get into the line to order food at quick service locations until they have spoken with the Cast Member who has been specially trained in the special dietary process. Look for a Cast Member that can walk around, preferably not the cashier, and alert them of your dietary request. Disney recommends dining earlier or later than the normal lunch hours in order to avoid the longest wait time and I couldn’t agree more.
When I submitted my Guest Allergy/Dietary Request Form, I received a list of Quick Service locations that have menu items or products that, upon request, may accommodate common food allergy or intolerance requirements.
– Galactic Grill
– Hungry Bear Restaurant
– Jolly Holiday Bakery Café
– Plaza Inn
– Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante
– Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port
– Refreshment Corner
– Village Haus Restaurant
Disney California Adventure Park:
– Award Weiners
– Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta
– Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill
– Flo’s V8 Café
– Lucky Fortune Cookery
– Paradise Garden Grill
– Smokejumpers Grill
Just so you know, most Quick Service locations in the Disneyland Resort Hotels are able to accommodate special dietary needs and provide menu items and ingredients upon request. All of their Quick Service locations have designated Cast Members that have received extensive training to better understand and handle special dietary needs. Since there are many variables for which the cashiers and front-line Cast Members might not be aware; these Cast Members are on location and happy to discuss and attempt to accommodate all dietary requests. The larger Quick Service locations tend to have more items on hand and a Designated Trained Cast Member is generally more readily available.
All chefs in Disneyland parks and resorts are trained to handle allergies and they take every precaution against any cross contact, but they highly encourage guests to alert the Cast Members of special dietary requests when the guest arrives at the restaurant. Guests are always welcome to speak to a Chef or a Manager on duty when arriving at the dining location. I HIGHLY encourage this!!
Whether dining at a Table Service or Quick Service restaurant, guests’ food allergy or intolerance requirements will be addressed when brought to their attention. Please don’t take for granted that all is well as products served sometimes change. Vendors and suppliers occasionally swap out product, so menu items and preparation is often updated.
Disney has always been very accommodating and more than happy to assist me with my selections. When I have requested it, they have provided me with allergy-friendly menus as well as product labels for menu items.
I have dined and both quick-service and table-service locations that I think did an exceptional job. These included: Plaza Inn breakfast, Carthay Circle World of Color Dining Package, Blue Bayou, Steakhouse 55, Wine Country Trattoria, Flo’s V8 Cafe and Jolly Holiday Bakery.
Please do understand that it will take longer to order and receive food than dining normally. This is for your safety and the staff does give their very best effort to provide you with a safe and enjoyable experience.
Regarding snacks, there are fresh fruit stands available at several locations throughout both parks. For prepackaged items, please read the ingredient list on the label before purchasing any product.
I do recommend taking safe foods with you or having them delivered to your resort. If you have a vehicle, you could visit a local grocery store.
Pack more snacks than you think you might need for the park on the first day, just in case you feel uncomfortable or nervous until you see how the processes work.
If you enjoy chocolate like I do, I recommend bringing your own chocolate.
If you want your child to have extra special treats during your vacation, you can order from Sensitive Sweets at http://www.sensitivesweets.com/order_online.html or (714)968-9169 and they will deliver to your hotel room ($50 minimum).
Dole Whips are an awesome treat and they are free from the top 8 allergens.
Any time I asked to see an allergen book or label, I was provided with it with no problem at all. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
The chefs tend to speak directly with the guest with the allergy, if they are not too young. This makes them feel special and cared for, because they are.
While at the parks, if you should have any questions or just want to be double-sure of your choices, you can stop at City Hall for a list of dining locations that can easily accommodate guests with food allergies.
Disneyland Resort makes every effort to prevent the introduction of the allergen of concern into the food through close attention during sourcing, preparation and handling processes. Still, they can’t guarantee that allergens may not have been introduced during another stage of the food chain process or, even inadvertently, during preparation. They do not have separate kitchens in which to prepare allergen-friendly items or separate dining areas for guests with allergies or intolerances. As the guest, it is ultimately our call whether or not to order any particular item.
Having traveled to many destinations, both in the U.S. and abroad, I can tell you that I have found no destination more committed than Disney to making each and every guest feel special. Disney doesn’t just make something you can eat, they will make beautiful, happy food for you. They pride themselves on plussing the experience. That is one of the many reasons I became a travel planner with an Authorized Disney Earmarked Platinum Agency. To me, they are parallel to none.
Have fun and enjoy your vacation. Rest assured that Disney wants the best for their guests.
Happy travels everyone!