Category Archives: Special Dietary Requests
One of the best-kept secrets at Disney World is their food allergy program, which is part of the Special Diets service. It’s not really a secret, and they don’t try to hide it, but it’s not widely known because they don’t advertise it. But they really go the extra mile to safely serve those who have food allergies.
Since you’ve already found Chip & Company, you may have also found information advising you to contact the Special Diets program at 407-824-5967 or via email at email@example.com. This is a logical first step to take, as they will send you information related to your specific food allergies. Here are some additional planning tips that will help you make sure you make the most of your vacation, safe and relatively worry-free.
Use online resources like Chip & Company or buy a trip planning book about Walt Disney to figure out the things you want to do and see. If you have a severe allergy that involves avoiding contact with your allergen, we recommend visiting at off-peak times so that crowds are low. For a dairy allergy, it’s especially difficult to avoid contact during the warmer times, when ice cream is more likely to be in every little child’s hands – and on park benches and rides.
If you plan to stay at a Disney resort or participate in Character or Fine Dining, it’s especially important to reserve your accommodations and dining reservations about 180 days out.
Special dining or quick service
If you plan to dine with Princesses or other Disney Characters, or you plan to visit any of the excellent fine dining restaurants, pick the ones your want and start with those reservations. They may determine which Theme Parks you visit on certain days. If you are just planning to maximize your ride time and site seeing, you may wish to simply dine at the Quick Service restaurants. If you plan to do a mix of Quick Service and special dining, make a list of the special dining events, to use for your scheduling.
The Theme Parks
Next, decide where you’re going to have your fun and line up the schedule for each park based on your dining plans. Review the Theme Park calendars, firework schedules and Extra Magic Hours for any events you wish to attend.
The Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios have exclusively Disney-owned restaurants and Cast Members are all well trained in the food allergy handling best practices. However, Epcot has a lot of Operating Partner restaurants that are not owned or operated by Disney. Therefore, while they will make every attempt to accommodate your food allergy, they are not part of the same standard as Disney-owned restaurants.
In planning your Theme Park visits, if you have smaller children and are planning to dine with Characters, “park hopping” may not work very well. It just takes a lot longer to get around due to their size, energy level and the constant distraction of Disney magic, not to mention the stroller parking and navigation.
Making your reservations
Once you have it all lined up, start by making your reservations at 407-WDW-DINE or via the Disney World website within the Dining section. Either way, be sure to identify your food allergies, either via phone or using the reservation form. If you have multiple food allergies, Special Diets will send you a Guest Allergy Dietary Request form. Fill it out with your reservations and send it as soon as possible. This will allow them to notify each restaurant to be sure they have foods free of your allergen. Don’t forget to reserve your hotel, too!
Driving or flying
Like any travel with a food allergy, make sure to plan for meals while traveling. If you’re driving, it’s much easier to carry your own food. And don’t forget the return trip. Fortunately, there are a number or grocery stores and a Whole Foods nearby, to restock allergen-free foods for the trip home.
Accommodations within Disney or outside the park
If you’re staying at a Disney Resort or Hotel, their restaurants are also part of the Special Diets program. If you’re staying off-site, there are a number of grocery stores and even a few grocery delivery options. We have a full list on our website. Regardless of where you stay, be sure to request a refrigerator for your room, and clean it yourself once you arrive, just to be safe.
While at Disney
Before you leave home, be sure to make copies of your itinerary, hotel reservations and dining reservations. Keep one copy with you and leave a copy in your hotel room. If you need to change anything, it’s much easier if you have these with you. Make sure to double-check the calendars for events, fireworks and Extra Magic Hours.
Most importantly: At each and every restaurant, be sure to identify your food allergy to the host or hostess and ask to have a chef stop by your table, or speak to the manager at Quick Service restaurants. The chef will discuss your options and will know the ingredients of every item. Don’t depend on the wait staff, no matter how well they know the menu. At Quick Service restaurants, they all have a book detailing the ingredients, and the manager is happy to review it with you. In fact, they will even review product packaging if necessary.
Visiting Disney is already a magical experience. And the Special Diets program really helps those with food allergies have a safe visit. We hope these additional tips help you effectively plan your visit in a way that allows you to make the most of your time at Disney World.
A quick disclaimer: All of the above will help you make the most of Disney dining with your food allergy. However, as always with a food allergy, you must use your best judgment while dining at these or any restaurant.
Liz & Jeff of AllergyFreeMouse.com – a website for Disney fans with food allergies.
- New AllergyEats website helps people with Food Allergies at Disney World (chipandco.com)
- I Won’t Be Able To Eat Anything – Special Dietary Requests at Disney World (chipandco.com)
Have you ever heard this? Do you think this is accurate? Would Walt Disney World allow this to happen? As science and medicine progress, it is being found that many more people than were previously thought have food allergies or sensitivities. There are also many food issues among folks with chronic diseases. This issue runs the gamut from the very young to Oldies like me. Thankfully for me, my only food issue is that I love it way too much.
Disney takes these food issues very seriously and offers solutions at the large majority of their restaurants so their guests will not be subjected to the problems that can happen as a result of these allergies/sensitivities. Let’s take a look at what some of the major food allergies are:
- gluten or wheat
- lactose or dairy
- peanuts and tree nuts
The best way to avoid problems with these types of allergies/issues is to note them when you make your table service reservations or if you prefer, discuss them with the Chef or Restaurant Manager upon your arrival. These things can generally be handled quite easily
There are other types of dietary issues that can cause problems for those folks with either metabolic disorders or multiple allergies. Some of these are:
- Allergy or intolerance not listed above under Common Food Allergies
- Metabolic disorders
- A single guest with multiple allergies/intolerances or multiple guests with allergies/intolerances within the same party
These types of dietary issues require a bit more planning and Disney would like you to contact them at least 14 days in advance of your arrival by e-mailing them your information (restaurant, specific issue, how many members in your party with the issue, and any other pertinent information). The specific e-mail address is: SpecialDiets@DisneyWorld.com. You should have all of your reservations made and the reservation information assembled before contacting them.
You are not restricted to table service restaurants if you have one of the simpler allergies mentioned above. The following counter service eateries can also deal with the simpler allergies:
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café
- Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café
- Main Street Bakery
- Columbia Harbor House
- The Pinocchio Village House
For further information you can visit the Walt Disney World Special Dietary Requirements web page. Walt Disney World is vastly experienced in handling dining needs of every type from those mentioned above to providing Kosher Meals upon request. Trust them but make sure you give them the correct information when they ask. After all, they have your and their best interests at heart. As always, enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!
Ken of Chip and Company and Disney For Seniors
- Top 5 Snacks for Small Children at Walt Disney World (chipandco.com)
- Five Ways To Ruin A Walt Disney World Vacation (chipandco.com)
On my latest trip to Walt Disney World, I decided to put two very different types of cupcakes to the taste test while at Downtown Disney (DTD).
Call it a cupcake challenge. Or even the Downtown Disney Cupcake Showdown, if you will. I ate, side by side, one Candy Cauldron seasonal cupcake and one DTD BabyCakes NYC cupcake, the vegan and gluten-, dairy-, egg-free baked goods store.
To give each cupcake a fair taste test, I chose two different flavors. That way, I could evaluate each cupcake in its own right. I thought if I got two similarly flavored treats – eating them side by side – one would inevitably have to be “better.”
Downtown Disney’s Candy Cauldron cupcake
Downtown Disney is one of my top five WDW candy stops. So how does it rate for cupcakes? For the cupcake showdown, I tried a fall flavor: a yellow cake with cinnamon frosting that measured over one inch in places. The cake was light-headed-toward dense side of the cupcake continuum, but was consistent in texture. It also offered the mild flavor I associate with a yellow cake.
The frosting had a very slight grainy texture, in part because I took it outside in the heat to snack on. What I mostly tasted in the frosting was the sugar; the cinnamon taste became less noticeable after the first couple of bites. And that’s what I normally think of in a cupcake – a portable vehicle for my sugar rush.
DTD BabyCakes NYC’s cupcake
DTD BabyCakes NYC’s brownie cupcake, with vanilla frosting, contains no dairy, egg, wheat, gluten free. I chose the brownie cupcake because it’s one of their best sellers, along with the red velvet cupcake.
First, I don’t claim the BabyCakes NYC’s cupcake tasted exactly like a “regular” cupcake. It was far less sweet and – like the Candy Cauldron cupcake – fell more on the dense side of the cupcake continuum, but moister. That said, this cupcake was a tasty bit of sweetness in its own right.
The BabyCakes NYC cupcake was smaller, about 75-80% the size of the Candy Cauldron. Most of the difference in size could be attributed to the frosting, as BabyCakes used about 1/2″ or less. The frosting, however, was nicely creamy and had a marked vanilla taste. It was sweet but not overpowering. Again, not like a typical frosting – even though it melted just as quickly in the heat.
I could also taste the difference in the cake portion of the DTD BabyCakes NYC brownie cupcake. It was a subtle difference in texture rather than taste. As for the chocolate flavor? The BabyCakes’ chocolate flavor was subtle, with small pieces of chocolate for extra kick. Better yet, there wasn’t a sugary aftertaste I associate with cheap chocolate.
See the DTD BabyCakes NYC menu.
The Real Challenge – Choosing just one Downtown Disney cupcake
As ambitious as is my sweet tooth, I found impossible to finish both cupcakes. They were both worthy of the term dessert.
What are the conclusions of my taste test? First, both are dense cupcakes, so you’ll be happy if that’s the cupcake camp to which you belong. And they’re better cupcakes than I’ve eaten in other places at Walt Disney World, including – gasp – Main Street Bakery at Magic Kingdom, Writer’s Stop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or even the Cupcake Duo at the DTD AMC Theatres Fork & Screen. I’d order from either Downtown Disney place again.
But if pressed to choose just one place for my WDW cupcake fix, it’s got to be DTD BabyCakes NYC. Because I don’t have dietary restrictions, the fact that it’s vegan and free of so many allergens is secondary to its taste.
The taste was more to my liking, more subtly sweet, and relied on its high-quality ingredients for taste. And with DTD BabyCakes NYC, I found the elements I like in a cupcake: a smaller treat that offered a better balance between cake and frosting, a creamy frosting texture with a cake that is both moist and dense.
Want to see another cupcake showdown? How about DTD BabyCakes NYC vs. Starring Rolls?
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to share your Downtown Disney snack finds with Chip and Company readers in the comments!
Healthy Eating options for Adults at Disney World
Walt Disney World is famous for many things – one of them being its FOOD. They really work hard on creating unique and delicious dining experiences for all of their guests, and in my opinion, they do a great job of it!
I don’t know about you, but I tend to eat pretty healthy at home – lots of vegetables and fruits, and not a lot of fried food. Luckily, Disney understands this and offers a lot of both the amazing-but-not-good-for-you stuff, as well as many healthier options.
Almost all quick service dining locations have some kind of healthier alternatives, for example, most have some kind of salad/grilled chicken sandwich/veggie burger option (so if you’re in a hurry, you’re not stuck with just burgers and fries or pizzas as options) One thing I have noticed is that portion size at counter/quick service locations is pretty generous, so much so that a sandwich or ‘personal pizza’ could easily be split between two adults, so keep that in mind too, as that could potentially save you some money as well (…which leaves more money to spend on souvenirs!).
As for snacks, there are many carts/bakeries/shops etc that offer fresh fruit as well as other healthier options for snacking mixed in with the bad for you (but still delicious) items, like no sugar added frozen fruit bars, fruit cups, and the line of Chip and Dale’s snacks (packaged nuts, pretzels, dried fruits, etc)
Buffets/all you can eat meals are common at Walt Disney World, and I know I personally love them, it allows me to try a wide variety of foods while making me feel like I am getting my money’s worth. Unfortunately, a lot of people share my thoughts on this and tend to overeat-by a LOT-in these situations. My advice in that situation would be to fill half of your plate with green vegetables or salad before you even look at any other parts of the buffet (and when I say salad I mean the raw veggies and lettuce kind, not the macaroni salad and 1 cucumber drenched in ranch dressing kind). Sure, the veggies might not be the biggest bang for your buck, but if you fill up on those, you are much better off (trust me!)
Table Service restaurants can be a little trickier as far as healthy eating, but many restaurants have options such as baked fish or chicken, and there’s always salad/vegetable side options available.
Some of the more noteworthy healthy options at WDW include:
- Sunshine Seasons at Epcot: a food court style quick service eatery fresh salads and soups (made from vegetables grown right there at Epcot’s The Land!), stir fried veggies and noodles, and rotisserie chicken. The best part is it’s all prepared super fresh right in front of you, so you can tell they really are using the best, freshest ingredients possible
- The Wave at the Contemporary Resort: A casual restaurant offering, according to Disney, “American-style cooking blended with world flavors, healthful fresh menu selections and trendy cocktails”. Sounds right up my alley, with items on the menu like pan seared sea scallops, oven roasted chicken, and no sugar added chocolate mint mousse, you can feed your appetite and still stay on your diet
- Tusker House in Animal Kingdom Lodge: a buffet offering both African and American fare, and many lighter options such as a large selection of salads including Green Bean and Onion salad, Tandoori Tofu, Salmon Filet, and a delicious Marrakesh Couscous with roasted vegetables. Of the buffets, it is definitely one of the healthier options out there
- Cosmic Ray’s in the Magic Kingdom: a counter service restaurant offering rotisserie chicken meals, Turkey and Vegetable sandwiches, and a delicious Greek salad. Cosmic Ray’s is pretty big with a decent selection, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding something healthy here.
Do some planning before your trip and check out WDW restaurant menus to see what you might like and what healthy options are out there
On a side note, should your dietary needs extend beyond just keeping your waistline small, you should visit Disney’s Special Dietary Requests page, which will help you figure out what to do if you require a special menu (ie gluten free, sugar free, etc)
- WDW Tiki Room Trivia Facebook Contest – Win “Hidden Mickey” Novel Collection (chipandco.com)
- Eating Vegetarian and Vegan at Disney World. (chipandco.com)