This post is part of my Disney with Little Ones series. We recently went with our family to Disney World and took our 4 year old, 23 month old, and 5 month old with us, and I survived with my sanity in tact…I think. We’ve already talked about babies at Disney, toddlers at Disney, naptime, stroller rentals, packing tips, and a fun alternative to the autograph book, as well as a great way to keep up with those fun Disney memories.
While it’s true that Disney Parks are probably the safest places to vacation when you or your child has a life-threatening food allergy, some restaurants are better than others at ordering and accommodating those allergies.
Our toddler is allergic to peanuts and cashews. Since he wasn’t even 2 yet, he was too young to purchase a meal plan or park admission. We usually shared food with him from our own meals or let him share with his 4 year old sister, who wants to live on air most of the time instead of eating.
All of the Disney literature says that if you have food allergies, you should notify the restaurant when you make your reservations. However, I knew that it would be difficult to plan all of our meals with reservations at table-service restaurants. We were going with my huge family and everyone loves to have low key vacations without reservations. We would definitely want to eat at one quick service restaurant per day, which is also what our meal plan permitted, but quick service also means no reservations. This puzzled me.
I called the helpful folks at Disney in advance and they said we should just let them know when we placed our order at the quick service restaurants. But when we did have reservations, we definitely let the restaurant know of our nut allergies in advance so that they could easily accommodate. When we arrived, we notified the servers again about the food allergy.
Typically, the restaurant employees referred us to a manager and/or a chef as soon as we walked in to make sure that food allergies were handled well. This always gives me great confidence when I eat anywhere, whether it’s here in my small town or at Disney World. At the parks, every restaurant was a little bit different in how they handled our needs, so here’s the breakdown on how it went.
Room for Improvement
The snack locations around the park were probably the worst places for dealing with allergies in the Disney Parks. I found that the workers weren’t educated on food allergies and often could not tell me which items were safe. They would give me a confused look and just hand me their menu binder through the serving window, so that I could pore over their menu items while other guests waited in line behind me.
To avoid this hassle, we often waited until our toddler was napping to grab a chocolaty snack or ice cream. Then when he woke up, he could snack safely on Goldfish crackers or something else that I’d packed for him. Thankfully, Disney allows you to bring in outside food.
The absolute best, without a doubt, is Be Our Guest Restaurant at the Magic Kingdom.
This restaurant is in a league of its own. It’s the newest restaurant at any of the parks, which leaves me wondering if this is a format that other restaurants will follow. I certainly hope so!
We braved an hour long line and ate at Be Our Guest for lunch, which is quick service. At night, they become an elegant table service restaurant, but reservations must be made months in advance. The ambiance alone is enough to make them the best because we felt like we’d been transported into Beauty and the Beast. But the fact that their gourmet-style food completely accommodates for all food allergies with just the touch of a button makes them the easiest place to eat with food allergies that I’ve ever been to. Seriously, it’s that amazing. Check out the pictures of the ballroom on Disney’s website. Gorgeous!
Why are they the best?
The restaurant uses touch screen menus. At the top of the screen, you can select food allergies and enter in your allergy (peanuts & tree nuts for us). Immediately, the menu changes. Anything with nuts or processed with nuts was completely removed from the menu or modified for safety. My sandwich oprtion substituted millet bread to make it safe for my child to share with me. And every single dessert on the menu was nut free, including the amazing triple chocolate cupcakes. Until we ate at Be Our Guest, my child had never eaten a chocolate dessert that I did not make because most chocolates are processed with nuts.
Eating out is often stressful for our family because of nut allergies, but that wasn’t the case at Disney. We were completely amazed at how easy it was to navigate nut allergies during our vacation at Disney World back in January. The peace of mind that comes from knowing my toddler is completely safe on vacation is something I can’t put a price on.