We had such a great trip to Walt 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, and today I’m going to tell you all about Epcot Center and Disney Springs.
Gluten Free in Epcot Center
Tip 1: 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.
Tip 2: Favorite Rides
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 love:
- Journey into Imagination with Figment
- Living with the Land
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends
- Turtle Talk with Crush
- Spaceship Earth (not to be confused with Mission Space which is fun for older kids)
Tip 3: Favorite Sit-Down Restaurant
Every time we visit Epcot Center, we go to Tutto Italia Ristorante, which is located in Italy within the World Showcase part of Epcot. The food is incredible, the staff is so welcoming and we just love it!
They have a gluten free menu, but there are also many items on the regular menu that can be safely adapted to be gluten free. Every time we go to the restaurant, the manager comes to our table to personally take care of our order, and go over the menu items that are available. They then go back to speak with the chef and personally bring each dish to us throughout the meal. It always impresses us how knowledgeable they are about celiac disease and food allergies.
My daughter and my favorite dish is the Caprese Pasta. It’s a pasta with a pomodoro style sauce and we order it without the cheese since we’re dairy free. I have sampled so many different gluten free pastas over the years and I have to say that this is one of the best gluten free pastas I’ve had to date, so well done Disney!!! I asked the manager who makes it and he said Gillian’s which is located in Canada but they service the US as well.
They also have delicious steak and potatoes (pictured below), mixed salads and fresh, warm, gluten free bread that they bring to the table.
After lunch we usually go on a few more rides and then head 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 Dining in Disney Springs
We often visit Raglan Road for dinner and always have 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 are very comfortable eating there. 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! 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.
Erin McKenna’s Bakery
After dinner, we often go to Erin McKenna’s Bakery, a dedicated gluten free and vegan bakery located inside Disney Springs. They have so many delicious treats, and the fact that we could eat ANYTHING in the bakery that we want makes it a must stop!
I still remember the first time we went. The look on my daughter’s face when we told her that she could pick anything she wanted was priceless. I 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 (pictures below). They told us that they also have stores in New York and LA, and they ship throughout the US so check them out!