One thing Disney restaurants are good at is accommodating individuals with special dietary needs. Those who must go gluten-free have several options to accommodate their diets while at Disney World, so the trip can be painless with a little know-how.
First Thing’s First…
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org to open up dialogue immediately. Contacting a Disney specialist prior to your trip will help determine where to go and what to eat. Incorporating this information into your itinerary is useful.
- Prior to your trip, call 407-824-5967 to talk with a Disney representative. They will provide a form for you to fill out regarding the dietary needs you need accommodated, that way if you need to make reservations, your information is on file so wait staff and chefs know to prepare your food a certain way.
- Make reservations in advance. Making reservations prior to your trip and telling the restaurants directly will help them better prepare your meals since they will already be prepared to make the necessary accommodations.
- Prepare a list or a doctor’s note to keep with you at all times while at Disney. The list can be given to the chef or manager so they know what you can have or can’t have. The doctor’s note could include specific medications and precautions just in case you have children who may venture off on their own and may try some food without being aware it wasn’t gluten-free. This note can help anyone who needs to assist your child.
- Consider a medical alert bracelet for anyone who is gluten-intolerant. You can write your medical history in these bracelets just in case something happens.
- Whenever you visit any Disney World restaurant, also talk to your server to let them know about your dietary needs. The staff is knowledgeable about what options are safe and what options are not. Plus, there are occasions when the chef will respond to your questions directly in order to help improve your dining experience. Counter-service restaurants will have you discuss options with the manager over the chef.
- Question everything! Don’t just take the chef or manager’s words as gospel because there may be something they overlooked. You know yourself and your child, so consider everything. Some questions to consider are:
- How clean is the kitchen?
- Where are gluten-free foods prepped in relation to regular food options?
- Does staff wash their hands thoroughly and wear and replace gloves?
- Are there different chefs and staff who prep gluten-free food, or do they prep regular and gluten-free options at the same time?
- When you arrive at your resort the first day, let the front-desk know that someone in your party is gluten-free. They will be able to provide information regarding what restaurants offer gluten-free options.
Some Restaurants Are More Knowledgeable Than Others Regarding Gluten-Related Issues
Many individuals with gluten-allergies often note that certain restaurants are more helpful than others regarding dietary needs. Restaurants that often rank high in the knowledge and assistance departments are:
- Tony’s Town Square, Magic Kingdom: Many dishes at Tony’s are gluten-free except the sauces, so these should be left off; ravioli is also a no-go. Chefs go out of their way to explain the ingredients in each dish while making sure there is rice-based pastas and veggies replace rolls and many sauces.
- Tangierine Café, World Showcase Epcot: In exception of the rolls, many of the dishes can be prepped for gluten-free dining. Lamb and chicken dishes are prominent, and there are many veggie dishes to choose from in place of richer options.
- Garden Grill, Epcot: The food options here are fresh and grown on Disney property. Garden Grill is a family-style dinner that contains a platter of meat and side dishes, but chefs at Garden Grill will create a separate platter for gluten-free individuals.
- Flame Tree Grill, Animal Kingdom: The chicken and beef options can be prepared gluten-free without loss of flavor.
- Mama Melrose’s, Hollywood Studios: The desserts are mostly flour-free, and veggie options are prominent, including fried-eggplant that uses rice-flour. Always talk to your chef to discover what other options are available.
While these restaurants are consistently rated high for service, others have experienced issues.
- Sci-Fi Dine-In, Hollywood Studios: The restaurant is mostly known for its atmosphere, but options are limited. Hot dogs and steak are safe options, but everything else is off-the-table, so to speak.
- Yak and Yeti, Animal Kingdom: Gluten-free options lack flavor. Regardless of what the food is, it will taste the same: Tamarind rich with ginger hints. While others who are not on a gluten-free diet may find the food tastes better, gluten-free options are largely bland due to missing ingredients.
- Pizza Planet, Hollywood Studios: Often, the number one complaint with Pizza Planet is an immature staff. Since the restaurant is often crowded, the staff tries to usher people in-and-out quickly, so telling them you have gluten-free individuals could fall upon deaf ears. Try to get ahold of the chef immediately and speak to that individual individually in order to spare yourself from unnecessary frustrations.
- Akershus, World Showcase, Epcot; Crystal Palace, Magic Kingdom; Hollywood and Vine, Hollywood Studios: The biggest threat here is cross-contamination due to these restaurants being buffets. While the chef may take you through the buffet to point out gluten-free options, visitors placing food in different locations, tongs being moved around, and the close proximity of each dish poses a risk.
- Ohana, Polynesian Resort: Many foods at Ohana contain soy and soy sauce, so there are issues in this direction. Ohana is also family-style dining, so while others may enjoy bread and other gluten-laden fare, the risk of cross-contamination may run high here.
- Peco’s Bills, Magic Kingdom: Many complain about food portions. Many gluten-free options are considerably smaller than gluten-containing products, and options lack softness that flour-based food have.
- Always prepare in advance in order to make sure your resort and different restaurants are aware of the special dietary needs.
- Ask plenty of questions of the staff and chef in order to ensure safe-eating.
- Whenever the staff is unsure about anything, go to the manager or chef to ask direct questions.
Keeping this information will ensure safe and happy-eating!