These days more and more people suffer from food allergies, and if you or your children suffer from peanut or dairy allergies you might be worried about what you will eat when you go to Disney World.
The good news is that there is no need to worry. A little preparation in advance will ensure your allergy sufferer is given the red carpet treatment with not a tummy ache in sight!
1. Flag the allergy when you make your dining reservation
The first thing you need to do is let the Cast Member taking your dining reservations know that one of your party has a food allergy.
Advanced Dining Reservations can be made 180 days ahead of your vacation by calling (407)WDW-DINE or by visiting the Disney.com website.
Provide the Cast Member with as much information as you can about the allergy including what they can and can not eat. This information will be logged with your reservation and sent over to the restaurant.
They will then give you the phone number of the Special Dietary needs department at each of the themeparks and resorts that you plan to eat at.
When you call you will be sent a form to fill out and return. You do not need to return these forms until three to four weeks ahead of your vacation, but you must make sure that they include your reservation number.
2. What to expect at the restaurant
When you arrive at the restaurant the Cast Member who checks you in will confirm which member of your party has a food allergy and then arrange for the chef to visit your table. It tends to be the Head Chef so you might have a little wait, but it's worth it to speak to the person in charge of the food you will be eating
If you are having a meal off the menu, or a meal served family style then the Head Chef will talk to you about the menu. If you are having your meal buffet style then he will take you to the buffet and explain which foods are safe for you to eat.
They are very careful about cross-contamination and will often make your selection fresh in the kitchen so you do not have to worry about what foods might have come into contact on the buffet.
Most restaurants also offer "safe" alternatives of the main options. For example the breakfast menu always has Van's Waffles available.
Of course it is important to tell the restaurants about your allergy in advance so that they can make these arrangements for you. If you choose to just "walk up" on the day then you might have a different experience.
3. Allergy free snacks are available too
The Special Dietary Needs team will also provide you with a list of foods that are available at the Quick Service restaurants in the theme parks. For example you can buy dairy free ice cream from locations in the Animal Kingdom, and dairy and nut free cookies in the Main Street Bakery at the Magic Kingdom.
If you're celebrating a birthday or special occasion then remind the wait staff of your allergy so that they can provide a safe alternative to the standard cupcake that is unusually offered as part of the celebration.
Walt Disney World is probably one of the few vacation destinations where you will be well looked after if you have food allergies. So take the time to let them know and then you can forget about tummy aches and have a wonderful vacation!