Surprise! Last week while I blogged about popsicles, I was in Disney World! I grew up as a Disney kid. In fact, my first vacation was to Disneyland when I was less than a year old. My parents still describe us walking down Main Street when Mickey and Minnie came over, pulled us aside, and took a picture with us! You guys, I wish I could still remember that moment.
Disney has changed A LOT since 1991. Characters now have assigned locations and times. Some even have cool backdrops! Disney began opening the park late for “E-Ride Nights,” which turned into Magic Hours. We upgraded from coupons to room keys to magic bands. MGM became Hollywood Studios, while California Adventure and Animal Kingdom opened. There may no longer be quite the spontaneous magic of meeting Mickey & Minnie on Main Street, but Aladdin or Jasmine may just hop in your magic carpet as you step on their ride.
While not all developments may be the best, my favorite change is the array of food options. Think back to 1991, there weren’t any options in the park beyond hamburgers, hotdogs, and fries. Today, you can find a wide array of foods including allergy stands with NYC Babycakes products, and chefs who will cater meals to your dietary needs.
Oh, and do you have a food allergy?! You’ll feel like a prince or princess. At quick service locations, you’ll alert the cashier who brings out a manager to help you select a meal, answer all your questions, and prepare it. It’s even better at restaurants when the chef comes out to your table. They’re all so friendly, and great for the whole party because the chefs want to make everyone happy.
You must be sure not to skip out on character meals just because they are buffets. You never want to miss a chance to kiss Mickey on the check, play baseball with Goofy, or take selfies with Donald. In fact, buffets might be my favorite. At Chef Mickey’s the chef would NEVER suggest that you eat off the buffet. Instead, he’ll prepare you your own plate (or a feast if you prefer) in the kitchen. The neighboring table is likely to look over in envy of your beautiful presentation.
But, here’s the catch. Going to Disney with a food allergy or celiac disease isn’t that different than without it. You NEED to plan in advance. Dinner reservations open up six months in advance, and it’s 60 days for fast passes. I recently checked out reservations for November, and dinner at Be Our Guest is already booked! You can plan an awesome trip within a month too, but you may not get the most popular dining locations. (Sometimes slots open up, so you should check often).
While you may not know this, I actually started GF Life 24/7 to blog about my celiac and allergy travel adventures. Let’s be honest, I’m not a gourmet chef! And, cooking is still pretty far down the list of my favorite hobbies. So, to share my adventures on this Disney Trip (and a couple more that I have planned), I’m starting a Magical Monday series. You can stop by each Monday to read about a new Disney restaurant, park, or tidbit of advice, from now through the middle of autumn!
Let me know about your favorite part or piece of advice about dining with food allergies in Disney World! What would you like to hear more about in this series?!
P.S: There is a cost to Disney, but the cost exists for everyone. For example, we saw a half pint of blueberries for $8.99 at one resort’s gift shop, but that’s an extreme. I’ll be sure to include whether Disney ranks a restaurant as $, $$, or $$$, but that’s the extent to which I’ll address prices in my posts unless you have a question!
Disney Tip #1: Be sure not to miss out on the magic, but pack some of your own allergy friendly snacks too! I always bring a Camelback filled with water into the park with me because it’s quite toasty in the summer.