I went to Disney World ... and survived
For those who have been following my blog, you know about my son's salicylate allergy and Sensory Processing Disorder, and you know that it is a very, very tough allergy to manage. It is not life threatening, but I decided I was going to avoid the foods that were his big triggers and enjoy the rest of the trip.
First I want to mention my last post on travel beCAUSE. Christine Potthoff, the site's founder, was amazing to work with and made the planning so easy. I discussed our food allergies, and she said that she would have the allergies noted in the system when she booked character meals. That took quite a bit of pressure off me.
Here is a round-up on our experience dining Gluten Free and Allergy Free in Disney World:
We arrived to the Boardwalk Villas in the late afternoon on Monday and were hungry. I asked our concierge for the best place to dine on the boardwalk if you need gluten-free meals. She said there were two choices: a brewery and ESPN Zone. We chose ESPN Zone, where the chef was super cool about our needs and noted their fries were not fried in a separate fryer. My son got chicken breast with roasted potatoes and green beans. I had a gluten-free and dairy-free burger. The buns are from Udi's and made for a decent fast food meal.
We were pumped up for our Supercalifragilistic Breakfast with Mary Poppins and friends. The chef at the Grand Floridian 1900 Park Fare was fantastic. He made very special Mickey waffles, hash brown potatoes and sausage for my son. My daughter got her own gluten- and soy-free waffles, and mine were gluten, soy and dairy free. The muffins were from Kinnikinnick-after being gluten-free for several years and sampling many products, you begin to notice what is what. This also was the only place that had coconut milk that I wanted for my coffee. Overall, this was my favorite character meal - characters included. Again, hats off to the chef and their homemade special juice!
That evening we went to Hollywood Studios to see the extreme stunt show with Lightning McQueen. I scoped out where to eat ahead of time and chose the ABC Commissary. I got us all gluten-free meals since their fries are made in a separate fryer. The kids also got gluten-free and allergy-free chicken tenders by Allergy Free Foods, created by a former Disney chef. They were great and the kids loved them. They even asked for more! I ordered the chicken sandwich with carrots and apples and got my daughter carrots, too. We all received Enjoy Life Foods chocolate chip cookies (It's always nice to see local companies).
On Wednesday, since we had homemade Mickey waffles left over from the day before, the kids were able to eat breakfast in our room, which was nice to do. My daughter and I headed to Epcot for her Storybook Princess lunch. She really wanted a grilled cheese sandwich, so I asked if the chef had gluten-free bread. He agreed and she was so happy. That's something she does not usually get when we go out to eat, so it was a treat indeed. Their blueberry muffins were fantastic and gluten, soy and dairy free. The chef made me a nice breakfast and we were able to take the leftovers home.
That evening we went to the Animal Kingdom and opted for a little Chinese at Yak and Yeti. The staff was great and made us a gluten free/dairy free meal, although we had to wait almost 25-minutes for them to cook it separately. My kids got grilled chicken tenders with rice, my husband had the honey chicken, and I got the sweet n sour grilled chicken. It was all great and we had leftovers, which I knew would make for a perfect lunch break during our Magic Kingdom trip the next day.
Thursday was the big Magic Kingdom day and the kids were excited. We ate breakfast leftovers in our rooms. Then I packed up some snacks and we headed out. Our meal didn't come until the evening, when we ate at Liberty Tree Tavern for a Thanksgiving-style dinner. Although they were accommodating, I felt like we were more of a burden there. This was my husband's favorite place - the pork and beef were tasty and they made my son dairy-free mashed potatoes. They had the best gluten, soy, dairy and corn -ree buns, but I didn't feel the allergy free love. They brought out vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit for dessert, which my daughter loved, and some berry-flavored sorbet, which my son enjoyed a few bites of as well (even though fruit is a no-no on a salicylate free diet).
We ended our last meal at The Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom for Winnie the Pooh and Pals Breakfast on Friday. The meal was average, but the chef was great. They had those same allergy-free buns as Liberty Tree Tavern, so we enjoyed those again. My daughter had a chocolate chip muffin from Kinnikinnick and some bacon. The potatoes were seasoned with Lawry's Seasoned Salt. Having cooked with it in the past, I recognized the taste, but I knew it had cornstarch in them, which is a no-no for my son. There was only dairy or soy as an option for a creamer, which was one of my disappointments on the trip. Rice milk, which was available, is just awful in coffee.
We had so many snacks to use up from our dining plan, so we got the OMG… It's Gluten Free brownies and the gluten and dairy free chocolate cookies. And yes, the brownie is OMG!
Last year on a business trip, I took my daughter and we did Magic Kingdom for the day. That time, we ate lunch at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café and dinner at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Café. Both cook food separately and safely for an enjoyable fast food meal.
On this trip, my son did get some salicylate-based foods. Overall it is super-hard to avoid, but the chefs and teams did a wonderful job in helping us eat gluten-free there.
I know there are better gluten free products in terms of buns, breads and other desserts, but I won't complain. Hopefully Disney will look into Canyon Bakehouse for their amazing buns, breads and muffins.
I was really glad to get home. We are now finally back on track; it has taken my son about a week to recover from being overtired and overstimulated.
I'm happy we were finally able to do a big family trip to Disney and found it is possible to have fun and make those classic family memories without constantly worrying about allergies.
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Jasmine blogs to inspire you to make positive, healthy changes.
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