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Disney Stories From Sarah Prye of Peanut Free Pirates

Our Disney World Vacation Begins at Art of Animation

From all the reviews and research I had done ahead of time, I knew going into our vacation that Walt Disney World in Florida was going to be amazing with Jack’s food allergies. We have been there several times already, but those trips were all BFA (Before Food Allergies). You certainly learn to appreciate this place even more when you know you can depend on them to help keep your child not only happy, but safe. read more

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Food Allergy Disney by Chris Popek from Clean Out the Pantry

No matter what your Disney and dining pleasure, the Magical world of Disney can accommodate it. Your magical journey begins with your Disney Reservation. Be sure to mention your food allergy, request a microwave and a special cleaning of your room. Most rooms come with a refrigerator. Remember, special requests are their specialty.

The next step in your magical journey is with dining reservations, 407-WDW-DINE, and notifying the agent of your special dietary restrictions. The agent will direct you to contact Special Diets at 407-939-3463 or SpecialDiets@DinseyWorld.com to coordinate your dietary needs with your hotel chef and with the chefs at your specific reserved locations. The Special Diets department is fantastic!

Special Diets will send forms to your email address requesting a list of each of your reservations, the number in your party and the specific special dietary requirements. They will also provide you with a list of quick service restaurants available to accommodate special dietary requirements. Within a short period of time, the majority of the chefs will contact you by telephone to discuss your needs and accommodations. They will also leave their direct phone number in the event of further questions or needs up to and during your Magical stay.

It may also be reassuring to contact the chefs a couple days before each reservation to confirm your reservations and ensure there are no surprises, such as changes to menu items available on a buffet line. An insider tip: try to make reservations early in the meal service. Restaurants can more easily accommodate during off meal times.

Upon arrival at the restaurant, notify the host/hostess of your allergies and request to speak to the chef. Typically as with any restaurant, the busier the restaurant, the longer the wait to speak to a chef. In our experience, the buffets had the longest wait for a chef and the greatest opportunity for cross contamination. Whereas the restaurants preparing all their meals from scratch were the most accommodating and the most knowledgeable. For example, our food allergy is peanuts; some restaurants thought the Mickey Macaroni and the child’s pizza dough were unsafe, while others considered them safe. We found this disconcerting considering the typical children’s menu offerings at the majority of restaurants was Mickey Mac n’ Cheese, Personal Pizza, or Chicken Nuggets for both lunch and dinner. Over the length of your stay, you may want to present your children with some variety, which can be better accommodated at scratch restaurants. The restaurants specializing in items from scratch have the ability to prepare exciting dishes that were not on the menu, in a safe, healthy and delicious manner! No matter where a food allergy family goes, they need to be within their own comfort level.

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By Gina Clowes

The following is my interview with Joel Schaefer, Disney's special dietary needs manager. Joel estimates that WDW serves over 7,000 special meals each month. Most of these requests are for children. The most common food allergies mentioned are peanut, tree nuts, milk, wheat and gluten but they have accommodated many others. Here is what Joel had to say about planning your visit to Walt Disney World.

Gina Clowes: Where do we start when visiting Walt Disney World with a food allergic child? Where can a parent get up-to-date information on meals and snacks at the parks?

Joel Schaefer: We appreciate you checking with us because some of the information that you had from earlier this year was already outdated. To get accurate, up-to-date information, please contact any of the following: · The MAGIC KINGDOM® Park Special Dietary Request Line is 407-824-5967 or by e-mail at wdwmkspecialdiets@email.disney.com

The Epcot® Special Dietary Request Line is 407-560-6395 or by e-mail at wdwecspecialdiets@email.disney.com

· The Disney-MGM Studios Special Dietary Request Line is 407-560-3551 or by e-mail at wdwstspecialdiets@email.disney.com


· The DISNEY CRUISE LINE special dietary request information is located at www.disneycruise.com or phone Disney Cruise Vacations at 1-800-951-7735

GC: How can we go about getting safely prepared foods during out stay? JS: Any Guest with food allergies traveling to WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort should call the Disney Reservation Center at 407-WDW-DINE (939-3463) to make their dining reservations. They should tell the dining reservation Cast Member that they have someone in their party with a food allergy. The Cast Member will indicate the allergy on their reservation and give the Guest a phone number to call so they can talk to a Food & Beverage representative. The Food & Beverage representative will further assist them with documenting their dietary request.

GCI have heard you have a form for allergic Guests. What does this form do?

JS: We can send the form to the Guest by email so the Guest can fill it out and return to us. ª This form contains information on the Guest name, contact information, allergies, food that can be eaten or not eaten, and reservations. ª The form is then sent to the chefs in the indicated dinning locations.

GC: Is there a specific procedure when ordering at a Disney restaurant?

JS: When you are seated at your table in any table service restaurant, indicate to the server that you have a child with an allergy, and the chef will come out to your table to discuss your allergy request.

GC: The character meals seem to be mostly buffets. Can we still do a character meal with a food allergic child?

JS: Yes. The chef will walk you through the buffet to tell you what can be eaten based on the allergy request. If it is a severe allergy, the chef will prepare the food from the kitchen.

GC: What do we do if we don't have a reservation?

JS: When you are seated at your table in any table service restaurant, indicate to the server that you have a child with an allergy, and the chef will come out to your table to discuss your allergy request.

GC: Can we eat with my allergic child even at some of the fast food stands?

JS: We suggest that you take your child to a Quick Service Restaurant in the Parks. There you can talk to a manager about the available options.

GC: Are there certain WDW restaurants that you would recommend? Are there places that might be better to avoid with food allergies?

JS: At WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort, all table service locations can handle most dietary requests. ª At our quick service and counter service locations there are limited selections of foods that will meet most dietary requests. ª At outdoor food locations, each location had an ingredient book for a Guest to review. We also recommend that the Guest reads the ingredient list on the label before purchasing any product. ª Always ask to speak to a chef or manager. Vendors and ingredients change. Chefs in most locations can modify their menu items to meet most food allergy requests. We recommend that the Guest asks to look at the food label of any product that is in question. Ingredient labels available upon request.

GC: How many special dietary meals does WDW prepare?

JS: We serve an estimate over 7,000 meals a month!

GC: Can you name some popular allergy friendly snacks?

JS: We have chocolate chip cookies, caramel popcorn, and jelly beans that are free of milk, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts. We have a brownie that is free of gluten, milk, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts. When you talk to a Food & Beverage representative, chef, or manager, they will be glad to let you know what products are available to meet the Guest need.

GC: Do your food safety precautions apply to all of the WDW hotel restaurants as well as the theme and water parks?

JS: Yes. All Food & Beverage locations follow all state and WALT DISNEY WORLD® Food Health and Safety regulations.

Thank you Joel!

©2007 Reprinted with permission of Gina Clowes, founder of AllergyMoms. Free online support and newsletter available at www.allergymoms.com

Visiting Disney With Food Allergies

Disney is the Most Magical Place on Earth. And when it comes to food allergies, this is especially true. Disney prides itself on being awesome with food allergies, and it's the one place at which I feel comfortable vacationing and dining with my family.
read more Guest Post on Milk Free Mom by Nina Fabinski

Story From No Peanuts Please

We just got back from a trip to Disney World and it was wonderful! I wish that I could say that I had tons of fabulous information for you but the truth is that we didn’t eat all that many meals *in* Disney. However, they are very knowledgable of food allergies and cater to those people extremely well. Here are some standout things that Disney does/has for food allergy sufferers: read more

Story From Allergy Free Mouse

Our daughter fell in love with Disney several years ago. But, we never thought we would become Disney theme park fans like we are now. However, travel and vacations with a daughter who has a severe dairy allergy have always been difficult. Then, a few years ago, we found out that Disney World has a system for handling food allergies at their restaurants and resorts. We had to check it out. We learned more about the program, the reservation process, and the parks and then booked our first trip. And, we had a blast! We still had a few issues with our daughter’s allergy, but we had a fabulous, and less worrisome vacation, and lots of great memories. Now, after several years of food allergy planning at Disney, we still find it difficult to plan. Additionally, we often meet other food allergy parents who did not even know about the program until they arrived! So, we felt it was time to put our planning tips and dining experiences together in a website, called AllergyFreeMouse.com. There is a lot of information about the Special Diets program available online, but it isn’t very well organized or maintained. We’ve worked hard to make the information easy to find and understand, and we are receiving a lot of favorable comments. Please visit our site if you’re planning a trip to Disney World. We also have a few tips for Disney Cruises and will be adding Disneyland information soon.

AllergyFreeMouse.com – For Disney fans with food allergies.

From a reader:

My son had his first and only anaphylactic reaction requiring an epipen while using the dining plan at Disney. He is allergic to milk, egg and treenuts and had the reaction after eating dinner at Wolfgang Puck's in Downtown Disney in Sept 2008. We spent the rest of the evening in the ER at Celebration Hospital. Luckily, we had an epipen and he recovered quickly. The caveat the other chefs who we told our story to is that Wolfgang Puck's is not owned by Disney only affiliated with Disney. That was not apparent to us as their reservation system and system for noting allergies was the same. We also spoke directly to our server and the chef. He was first served the wrong dish (had shaved cheese on top) then the next dishes seemed fine. (Should have ran out of there then.) We had no problems at the other restaurants and surprisingly the quick service places were really helpful. I did not like the attitude of the chef at the Epcot French restaurant, however. I would avoid that one and downtown Disney.


Our Story: The good, the bad, and the food allergies

Stories from Janeen:

Day 2     Day 3     Day 4

Travel information Airplane information, and personal stories travelling with food allergies.

Our story happened about 10 years ago.

Our son, Ollie, was about 2 when we learned we were moving from Allentown, PA to Orlando, FL. We took a trip to Orlando to house hunt, and took our kids to eat at a “Character Breakfast” at the Polynesian in Disney World. There was a Luau theme, and Minnie Mouse and other Disney characters walked and danced around the restaurant and visited with the families.

At the time, we were still learning about Ollie’s food allergies-he was allergic to eggs, milk, and peanuts. When we sat down, we saw that the breakfast was served “Family Style”, so there were bowls of different typical breakfast foods, such as scrambled eggs, that Ollie couldn’t eat. We told our server about the food allergies, and he brought over the manager. That manager was so sweet! He asked us questions and bent over backwards to find food that was safe for Ollie. There wasn’t much, with all of the pancakes and waffles and such. My main memory was of a caring man who kept coming back to our table if he found something else that Ollie could eat in his kitchen. He was so eager to help us and insure that Ollie was fed and happy.

(I think we ended up with some dry cereal and fresh fruit for Ollie.)

I do hope that you are receiving other positive stories about Disney and food allergies. I hope that what you are compiling is a help to travelers with food allergies.

Erin From Kasas City

Disney: You Can Eat Safely, Just Not Healthy by Ria Sharon

I know, everyone loooooves Disney. They won an award from FAAN the year I went to the conference. Gina at Allergy Moms just published her interview with Joel Schaefer, Disney's Manager of Special Dietary Needs. I had heard both from friends in the real world and online how amazing they are about accommodating food allergies... so I was excited for our first trip to Disney World. We planned to celebrate both my daughter and my son's birthdays there (both in November). We made all the arrangements by the book... waking up at some ungodly hour 90 days prior to each reservation we wanted, and then notifying them of our special needs. Great. And yes, at the Crystal Palace buffet for T's birthday, the chef came out to tell us which dishes to avoid.

But making special arrangements for a birthday cake was disappointing. I had just assumed since everyone had been raving about Disney and Food Allergies, that this was a no brainer. It was one of the reasons we decided to go. We were informed that we had to call a special number 24 hours beforehand to order a peanut-free cake. I started calling the day we got there (Sunday) to make arrangements for both birthday days on Thursday and Friday. We could special order cakes but since they had to be nut-free, someone would have to call us back. Every day, I had the same conversation with someone else. No one ever called. We never got cakes.

Don't get me wrong, we will go again. Probablty for another birthday extravaganza. But next time, I'll be prepared. I'm going to order that cake kit online that you decorate with Disney stuff when you get there. If I can find that website again. Does anyone know what it is?!

My other pet peeve was that outside of the Character Meals at the fancy restaurants that you have to have reservations for (90 days in advance), the only things available are hot dogs and candy! Regular readers of this blog know I'm a bit of a nut about healthy food. :) After a week of this regimen, I think I might have developed an allergy to... hot dogs. I know, I know it's the Magic Kingdom after all... a spoonful of sugar and all that... surely kids can't be forced to eat their vegetables. It would just ruin the fantasy!

Ria Sharon

Well, I don't have much of a story besides the fact that we had a great a hotel, bring all of our food, pack it and eat at restaurants that we knew we could eat at. Sorry I don't have a story to help you out!

-Andrea G.

Hi Karen, I have been to Disneyland a few times, several years ago. But to be honest, from what I remember, we brought our own food for the day, and then left the park and went out for sushi afterward! Not much of a Disney food allergy story. Thank you for including me though!


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