We had such a great trip to Disney World! The staff at the restaurants we visited were well trained in gluten free and allergy friendly protocols, and we were able to enjoy delicious, safe meals in the parks. I wrote about our first day in Magic Kingdom yesterday, and today I’m going to tell you all about Epcot Center and Disney Springs.
Day 2: Gluten Free in Epcot Center
The lesson here is to arrive early. If you don’t already know, there is a new ride in Epcot that is all about Frozen starring Elsa and Anna (Frozen Ever After). If your kids are anything like mine or the thousands of others obsessed with the movie Frozen, then they will love this ride. We couldn’t get a fast pass for it in advance as they were all booked, so we got to the park 30 minutes before it opened hoping we would be able to get on the ride before the line got too crazy.
Guess what we found out when we got there? Disney opened the gates 15 minutes before the park was supposed to open! This happened once before when I went to Hollywood Studios years ago, so perhaps it’s a regular occurrence. I’m not sure, but what I can say is that being there early made a huge difference. When the gates opened at least 100 people started running, many with strollers, and they were mostly heading to the Frozen ride. By the time we got on line there was a 10 minute wait and the park still hadn’t officially opened. Within two minutes of waiting on line we saw the wait time behind us change to 30 minutes. We had made it just in time! By 9:45, it had an hour line and by the afternoon a 135 minute line just to put things in perspective.
The Frozen ride was awesome – one of the better rides in Disney overall the kids and I both think, so check it out if you can. Being there so early also meant that the lines to meet Elsa and Anna were short so we did that too all before 9:30 am. So my husband and I felt like rock stars for making that happen 🙂 . We also liked Journey into Imagination with Figment, Living with the Land, The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Turtle Talk with Crush, and Spaceship Earth (not to be confused with Mission Space which is fun for older kids).
For lunch, we went to Tutto Italia Ristorante and it was fabulous. They have a gluten free menu, but it didn’t specify dairy or other allergies. The manager came out to speak with us. He was very friendly and knowledgeable about celiac disease and food allergies so we worked together to adjust the menu items slightly to make them work for us. He personally brought the order back to the chef and brought the food to us when it was ready. My daughter ordered the pasta with pomodoro sauce (the caprese minus the cheese) and I ordered the steak with rosemary potatoes. I was starving as I ran out of the hotel so quickly that morning that I didn’t get a chance to eat breakfast. Everything was delicious, in fact that was some of the best gluten free pasta I’ve ever had. I asked the manager who makes it and he said Gillian’s which is located in Canada but they service the US as well.
After lunch we went on a few more rides and then headed back to the hotel to rest for a couple of hours before going to Disney Springs that evening. If you’re going to Disney with toddlers, taking a break in the afternoon is key. It let’s them rest and relax from all of the stimulation so that they can be refreshed and ready for the evening.
Gluten Free in Disney Springs
We went to Raglan Road for dinner and had such a great experience. It’s an Irish pub in Disney Springs, formerly known as Downtown Disney, which has lots of shops, restaurants, and a lego store not to be missed. Raglan Road doesn’t have a gluten free menu – because as the manager told us 90% of their entire menu is gluten free. Plus, they have a dedicated gluten free fryer. How awesome is that?! Their whole staff is well trained on celiac disease and cross contamination, so we were very comfortable. I ordered fish and chips, my daughter ordered a burger and fries, and my husband ordered their Shepard’s Pie (gluten free, but has dairy in it). The plates were empty by the end of our meals – a sign of a great dinner! We highly recommend Raglan Road, not just because the food is delicious, but also because it’s super fun. They have traditional Irish step dancing on stage and a house band. Our daughter bravely went on stage (at the age of 4!) and learned to do an Irish dance. It was so cute, and I was really proud of her. Wonderful feeling to watch your child be able to really enjoy a restaurant – the food and atmosphere – worry free and just be a happy kid.
After dinner, we went in search of Erin McKenna’s Bakery, a dedicated gluten free and vegan bakery. Translation – we could eat ANYTHING in the bakery that we wanted!
The look on my daughter’s face when we told her that she could pick anything she wanted was priceless. Wish I’d captured it on camera. She didn’t believe us at first and so we repeated “pick anything you want” and then she started to jump up and down and giggle. So, naturally we went overboard and got a lot of things to share….couldn’t help it, we got caught up in the moment. We ordered a frosted cupcake top, a chocolate chip cookie sandwich with frosting inside, a cinnamon bun, and a mint chocolate cupcake for dessert that night. We also ordered a samoa donut, a french toastie muffin, and banana bread to save for breakfast the next day. They were all seriously delicious. They told us that they also have stores in New York and LA, and they ship throughout the US so check them out!
And that sums up our two days in Disney World. Lots of terrific, safe food and tons of fun. A truly memorable vacation that I hope you all can experience at some point.