Tips for Navigating Walt Disney World with Food Allergies #FPIES #Disney

As I shared in a previous post, my kids and I recently visited Walt Disney World (WDW) and had a magical experience.  My youngest child (4 years old) has severe and rare food allergies due to having Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES) and was able to feel completely normal at nearly every meal we ate. While Walt Disney World itself does it's best to be accommodating of special diets, I strongly believe that it's a partnership with the family and that there are things you can do that help to make it a real success. Below are my top five tips for successfully navigating Walt Disney World with food allergies. 

  • Dining allergy info card. Create a food allergy notification card (see above.) This is a paper card that you give to every chef/special diets-trained expert upon dining anywhere on property. The card should contain each allergy/restriction individually and contain pertinent information regarding cross-contamination, etc. I suggest making them so that you can fit 4 onto a standard 8.5"x 11" printer page and then cutting them out. Bring enough for at least 3 meals a day plus extras. If you don't use them all, you can always use these at restaurants you frequent at home.
  • Have patience. Do not expect that the allergy-friendly food will come out as quick as the standard food offerings. Disney World absolutely takes food allergies and intolerance very seriously and takes their time to ensure the safety of the item they are serving their guests. This means that while you might be able to order the standard french fries and receive them immediately, the allergy friendly version will take longer as they prepare them fresh in a separate area of the kitchen. Personally, waiting an extra 10-15 minutes for my child to have safe food to eat with the rest of us was well worth it.
  • Don't hesitate to ask questions. If you've been there a week and every allergy-friendly fry has been shoestring and suddenly a restaurant brings out waffle fries, don't hesitate to ask. This exact scenario happened to us on the final night at a restaurant we had already frequented during our trip and I immediately moved the plate away from the daughter until the chef came out and showed me the exact ingredients for the waffle fries and assured me they were prepared separately. Just because it's Disney World, doesn't mean they're perfect. Trust your gut and question them. Anytime I did ask for verification or clarification, I was met with smiles and understanding. After all, they don't want to feed anyone something that can potentially make them ill or worse. 
  • Be Realistic. If you or your child have a large number of restrictions, Disney World will do their best to accommodate. However, as adults, let's be realistic that there's no such thing as magic pixie dust and they can't create a safe version of everything or anything you might desire. Going in with a realistic understanding that there will be limitations will allow you to not be "surprised" if they can't provide a safe food. 
  • Take photos. Obviously, it's Disney, so you're going to take a large number of photos. But, what I'm saying is to take photos of you or your family member(s) who require a special diet enjoying their food. While, yes, you are spending a good chunk of change on your vacation, this doesn't mean that Disney World ever had an obligation to be so accommodating with special diets. In fact, even if they weren't, they'd still make millions. But...they've taken the time to put in a ton of effort and training to accommodate even the rarest of dietary needs and I think that they should be praised for it. After you've come back from your vacation and gotten through the post-Disney hangover, make sure to share your photos and/or appreciation of their efforts on social media. You never know who's watching and you just might make one of those chefs feel extra special! 
I hope that this greatly helps you navigate WDW with ease and allows you to enjoy your vacation! From our food-allergy family to yours, have a magical day! 

No comments

Thanks so much for participating and commenting on this post! It should appear shortly!