I’d like to wrap up this fun series, “Walt Disney World the Food Allergy Way,” by pulling together all of the tips that I’ve shared throughout the series and incorporate them into one post. Disney vacations begin long before you step foot on Disney property. All Disney vacations are fun but as a food allergy parent, the best way to keep your child(ren) safe is by planning your trip in advance. Plus, as a side note, many of the Character Dining Restaurants and Special Disney Events book up fast — like 6 months in advance, fast. So let’s begin (much of this is taken from other posts, just complied into one post)…
Planning & Packing:
- Be sure to notify everyone about your food allergies as you make your reservations.
- Whether you are booking the trip yourself or working with a Disney travel agent (my favorite is Hi Ho Vacations). Every time you book a dining reservation, mention your food allergies. This way the chefs know in advance.
- Pack easy snack options for your food allergic ones so you have something to take into the park with you.
- All of the vendors selling ice cream and popcorn will have a fresh fruit option, like bananas, but beyond that they might not have a snack option for you. (This depends on your allergy – for my youngest, he couldn’t find anything.) You can always stop in at one of the dining locations and find something but many times you are grabbing a snack on the run to another ride or event. We drove to Disney this past time so I just packed extra packages of our favorite crackers, pretzels, raisins, fruit snacks and applesauce. I carried them into the park and made it easy for those times when my little men were hungry. If you are flying and don’t want to pack these snacks in your luggage, contact Garden Grocer and have the food you need delivered to your resort.
- Be sure you have all medicine with you.
- Don’t forget your meds. This may seem like a silly thing to say as I’m sure you never leave home without them, but sometimes the things I forget when I’m packing for a trip are the things that seem like the most obvious (like underwear). If you are traveling to Disney during one of their hot months, be sure that your EpiPens can stay cool. You may want to consider purchasing an insulated carrying case, like the ones made by AllerMates.
- Take lots of disposable wipes, a high chair cover, and disposable place mats.
- It you are going for reaction-free, you can never been too cautious. Every place we ate I would cover my youngest’s high chair with this cover, I’d wipe down the table with wipes and then I’d attach a disposable place mat. This may seem a bit extreme or overly protective but let me just say that we never had any allergy issues…we were 100% hive and reaction free.
- Consider Ordering Food Allergy Restaurant Cards.
- These cards are the size of business cards and are meant to be given to the chef (or anyone preparing your food). They include your contact information and a list of all of your allergies. They are especially useful if you are dining at one of the many countries at Epcot. This way the allergies won’t get miscommunicated due to minor language barriers. Here are my favorite places to order these cards: Allergy Free Table’s Chef Cards, Gluten Away’s I AM Cards or Tiny Prints’ Allergy Cards.
Food Allergy Safety at the Parks:
- Items to Include in Your Park Bag:
- Tips for Eating at a Sit-Down Restaurant (Character Dining & Table-Service Meal):
- Notify your hostess that you have food allergies.
- Notify your waiter/waitress that you have food allergies.
- Wipe down the table, cover the high-chair or booster seat with cover and attach the disposable placemat.
- Explain to the chef your food allergies. If you have Food Allergy Restaurant Cards, give him one.
- If you are at a buffet, request that the food be brought from the back to avoid cross-contamination. (The chefs normally do this without being asked, but just in case.)
- Tips for Eating at a Quick-Service Restaurant:
- Notify the cashier that you have food allergies.
- When the chef/manager brings over the food allergy binder, read over the ingredient lists thoroughly and make your selection. Ask about oil if you are ordering a fried item.
- If you receive a packaged item, read the label.
- Find a table and wipe it down, cover the high-chair or booster seat with cover and attach the disposable placemat.
If you’re just beginning to plan your Disney trip, I know how overwhelming the planning process can be. I hope this list has given you an idea of what’s worked for our family and perhaps a place for your family to start. If you’ve been afraid to travel to Disney due to your food allergies, hopefully I’ve encouraged you to give it a try. If you want to read more about our experiences at each park, click the links below.
What tips do you have for going to Disney World with food allergies? I’d love to add to the list.