As the mother of a child with celiac disease and a dairy allergy, eating out is quite difficult…traveling even more so. At least when we’re in town we can pack lunch and snacks easily made in our home. When we travel, we have to stay at hotels that have full kitchens and bring our own pots/pans, spatula, wooden spoon, slotted spoon (takes up less space than a collander), cutting board, sponge, and dish washing liquid. Plus cooking supplies assuming there isn’t a gf friendly grocery store nearby, to go snacks, clothes, toiletries, etc. Yes, it’s a lot. But, it’s necessary because most tourist attractions and restaurants are not celiac safe. If we arrive somewhere and the restaurants are accommodating, it’s a welcome surprise but I’d rather be prepared and over pack than under pack and have a huge issue. Don’t get me wrong, family vacations are tons of fun for celiac families, they just require more packing and planning in advance to ensure that gluten or other food allergies are not the focus of the trip.
I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback about Walt Disney World and how accommodating they are in all of their parks to celiac and food allergy families. We packed all of our typical cooking supplies just in case, but decided to try it out and see. We were there for two days and nights. Each day, I brought snacks and back up lunches/dinners to the park and to our delight each day we didn’t need to eat the packed lunches and dinners. We did need the snacks, so I recommend bringing them. The parks have gluten free and top 8 free snacks in certain shops, but what we saw were mostly desserts. While we’re ok with extra desserts on vacation, I knew the days would be long in Disney and I didn’t want to add meltdowns from sugar crashes. So, we ate our own snacks and the kids were perfectly happy with that.
Here’s a recap and review of the restaurants we dined in while in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
Day 1: Gluten Free in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom
The kids had a blast in Magic Kingdom. There are so many toddler friendly rides there and we spent most of our time in the Fantasyland section. Their favorite rides were It’s a Small World, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, and Enchanted Tales with Belle. We went on a Friday so the lines were shorter until mid-day and after that we had fast passes.
Wondering how to maximize your time on rides without waiting all day on lines? Our strategy is to get to the park when it opens. The lines are short for the first couple of hours and the crowds don’t become unbearable until lunch time. My kids are toddlers and need a break come 11:30, so we scheduled lunch at that time in a sit down restaurant and then had our fast passes ready to go after lunch when the lines are the longest. Each Disney guest can sign up for 3 fast passes per day, but once the fast passes are used you can keep signing up for one more at a time an unlimited number of times. The free Disney app is very useful for this as well as scouting out wait times and making reservations.
We had lunch at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant on Main Street. We had noted on our reservation that our meals needed to be gluten and dairy free and when we checked in the hostess mentioned it. Shortly after we sat down, Edward the chef came to talk to us and go over the allergy friendly menu together. Yes, I said Allergy Friendly Menu. In fact, there was one side for adults and one side for kids under 9. I was impressed that they noted all of the top 8 allergens and gluten. Even though they had gluten free menu options, I asked the chef about how they prepare the foods and where the foods come from to find out about potential cross contamination and was happy to hear about all of the precautions they take. Our meals were prepared with separate pots, pans and utensils and were marked with special allergy toothpicks to make sure they wouldn’t be mixed up.
I ordered the Chicken Primavera and my daughter ordered the Spaghetti with Marinara and grilled chicken with a side of apple slices. Both were delicious and so was the gluten free bread that they brought to our table while we waited for the main course. When was the last time you went to a mainstream restaurant that had warm bread in addition to entrees, appetizers and desserts you could safely eat?! I can count on one hand the number of times, not including dedicated gluten free restaurants, so it was a definite treat.
Tony’s offered sorbet for dessert that looked terrific, but I had heard about Aloha Isle’s Dole Whip and wanted to take the kids there when we came back that evening.
I’m including pictures of the menu as of February 2017, so that you can see all of the options. Please note the menus are updated regularly so always check with the restaurant in advance.
After lunch, we went on two more rides and then went back to our hotel to rest for a couple of hours. We ate an early dinner in our hotel room that I had prepared the night before and didn’t want to waste. Then we headed back to the park in search of the Dole Whip.
It is so rare that we can go to an ice cream shop and find safe frozen desserts for them, so I wanted them to experience getting soft serve “ice cream.” It was made from frozen pineapples and was gluten and dairy free. The kids were so excited and loved it. So, we definitely recommend stopping by this quick service stand too.
Thank you to Walt Disney World for making vacations to your parks safe for celiac and allergy friendly families. We had a blast at Magic Kingdom. Check back for tomorrow’s post on Epcot Center & Disney Springs.