Experiences at Disney with a Special Diet: Melissa’s Story

Today’s blog post features reader Melissa. She shares her personal experiences at Disney World with Celiac Disease. You’ll be blown away by her magical experiences at Disney. Take it away, Melissa!

disney guests

Where do I start? In November of 2007 we took our girls for a quick trip to Disney World to celebrate a birthday, how magical this was! We decided that we loved this place, a place where every day is full of smiles, good times and making memories of a lifetime. There are two different types of Disney World goers, the type that go once in a lifetime and the type that go on a regular basis. Those that go regularly might live in the area and go several times a day, or they might live across the country and go every year, two years, five years, but they know they will go regularly for the rest of their lives. We fall in the latter category, we fell in love with everything about Disney, too many things to mention here. Every year we fall more in love and find more amazing things that Disney provides. In 2010 one of those amazing things was still being able to go to Disney World annually with food intolerances.

Our first year with special dietary needs was 2010, in which I, myself was dairy free and sulfite free. I did not think most people had a clue what foods contained sulfites, but each and every chef at Disney World knew exactly what I was talking about. By far, my favorite meal was at The Wave, located in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The Chef came out to our table (as they do at every restaurant) and asked about my food intolerances. He whipped me up a bowl of pasta with the best chicken and steamed broccoli I had tasted in a long time! Another wonderful experience was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Flame Tree BBQ, where this Chef made me the most moist chicken breast I’ve had to date, mmm!

Goofy & child at DisneyIn 2012 one of our daughters was diagnosed with Celiac disease, and due to my experience with Disney Dining I knew she’d be safe during our September visit. I almost felt more relaxed than when I fixed her meals at home. Again, at each table service restaurant, the Chef would come out to speak with us, and make us something delicious! This trip, our favorite meal was at EPCOT’s Chefs de France! Then, in 2013 we had another daughter diagnosed with Celiac disease. Again, we knew during our June 2013 trip we’d be safe!

I can’t rave enough about how wonderful the dining experiences are throughout all of Disney. We feel safe and this is due to the knowledge of the Disney Chefs and how they seem to make you feel like you are their only guest. Disney is our ‘safe’ vacation spot, the place where we know we can eat out. Any other vacation we take means making our own meals at a kitchen within our condo rental. Disney Dining is simply the best and if you have special dietary needs, whether they are allergies, intolerances, or an autoimmune disease like Celiac Disease, you MUST experience this for yourself. I believe, your first visit, won’t be your last and you will truly be amazed at how relaxed you will feel with the care the Chefs take putting extra time into your meals!

Child with Babycakes

Melissa is a mother of 3 girls, two of which have Celiac Disease. She has done much of her own research to help keep her daughters gluten-free and feeling healthy! She also loves to share the information she’s found, good tips for eating gluten free and gluten free recipes via her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BeingCeliac.

Melissa enjoys spending time with her family and has a love for travel. Planning trips has become a hobby. Melissa and her family frequent Disney World regularly and love the experiences and memories that Disney brings to their lives. Disney has so much to offer, most importantly, one of the best special dietary needs dining experiences you can find!

Planning a Disney Trip with a Special Diet: What To Pack

Folks who are privy to following a special diet (or any kind of modified lifestyle, whether it is medically-driven or by choice) are often accustomed to having be prepared in advance. Our luggage is often indicative of that… I know that when I travel, my suitcase is probably 40% full of food/medications to get me through my trip!

overloaded luggage


Lucky for us, Disney World covers a lot of our needs. There are plenty of safe food options, loads of snack choices, and they’re pretty good at stocking the necessities in gift shops and stores around the World. Plus, it’s within driving distance to various grocery stores (including a Whole Foods Market), so in the worst scenarios, you’re likely taken care of.


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Planning a Disney Trip with a Special Diet: Value Resorts

It’s always exciting when you’re planning the details for your upcoming trip, and when you’re deciding where to stay, narrowing down the choices is half the fun!

disney entry way

Disney World resorts are divided into different categories: Value Resort Hotels, Moderate Resort Hotels, Deluxe Resort Hotels, Deluxe Villas, and Campgrounds. In this part of our Trip Planning Series, we’re going to dish out some details on the different resorts, starting with the Value Resorts, and what it is like staying there with a special diet.

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Meet Our Vendors! >> Bee Nut Free

Meet Our Vendors! is an ongoing series where you’ll be able to get a sneak peek of who you’ll see in November! Feel free to leave comments and questions–for us and for the vendor–about products, practices, and anything else that’s on your mind.

Bee Nut Free, LLC is an allergen-friendly snack food company that is both gluten-free and free from the “Big 8” food allergens (milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat).  Their granola bars, energy bars, trail mix, and cookies are made with all natural, organic, Non-GMO ingredients which create a flavorful, nutritious, safe snack option.  Inspired by family members and friends with food allergies, Bee Nut Free strives to normalize eating and make snack food choices easier for those with food sensitivities.

We chatted with Jo-Anne, the owner and brains behind the business, and asked her a few questions (the really important ones). This is what she had to say:

Bee Nut Free Boxes

1.     You’re packed up with you Trails End Trail Mix and heading out the door for a hike.  Where’s your dream location?

My dream location for a hike is in the rainforest of Costa Rica. Doing a canopy tour and swinging with the monkeys in Costa Rica is on my “bucket list” – I can hardly wait to get down there! Bee Nut Free’s Trails End Trail Mix will be a huge hit with the resident monkeys because we add banana chips and dried blueberries – two delicious dried fruits rounding out the sweet/salty taste of this scrumptious trail mix.

2.    Ultimate (nondairy) ice cream sandwich combination:  what flavor with which of your cookies?

I’m a bit of a traditionalist so I’d have to combine our new large 5” Chocolate Chip Cookie with vanilla bean ice cream – really, who wouldn’t love that???  Although now  that I’m craving an icy treat, I’m thinking our large 5” Oatmeal Cinnamon Cookie with Carmel Sea Salt ice cream could be a hit.

3.    If you were shipwrecked on a tropical island and could only bring one of your products with you, which one would it be and why?

This is a no-brainer!  Our Ten Mile Tropical Granola Bar, of course!  When in Rome….right?  A medley of pineapple, mango, goji berries, with a heavy ginger finish is   the perfect blend of flavors to kick off any luau!  If you’re going down with the ship, go out dancing, I say!

4.    If you could create a cookie/bar inspired by a Disney ride/attraction, what would it be?

I kind of already have – our Sunny Honey Cookie Drops remind me of the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  Bathed in honey with a sunflower seed spread accent, we’re sure Pooh Bear would love these cookies!

pirates of the Caribbean disney

However, you asked if I could create a product inspired by a Disney ride/attraction… I’ve always loved the dark mysterious and ominous feel of the Pirates of the Caribbean boat ride.  This granola bar will of course have a Certified Gluten Free Oat, Quinoa, Organic Applesauce, and Organic Palm Shortening base but then we’ll add anise, chopped turmeric root, and a hint of coriander to finish this bar with a smoky, almost musky taste.  The anise will complement the other flavors highlighting the spunky, vivacious character of the pirates portrayed throughout the ride.

5.    What’s the craziest/funniest/most memorable time you’ve experienced with a fan?

2011 was the first summer we participated and introduced our products at the Vail Farmer’s Market in Vail, Colorado.  A 40-something gal was vacationing with some   girlfirends and became overwhelmed that she found something to satisfy her Celiac diet.  As she stated, “I’m used to coming to events like this and NEVER being able to  participate in all the delicious food opportunities because of my food sensitivities.”  She was so excited after tasting our products, and having a difficult time deciding what to bring home with her, she vaulted over our table and gave me a HUGE hug!  With tears streaming down her face, choked with emotion, she was overwhelmed from her experience of eating a granola bar for the first time in her life.  It was an emotional and uplifting experience for me!  We love that our products are helping to normalize eating for those with food sensitivities!

6.    Your cookies, bars, and trail mix are totally portable.  Where’s the most unique place you’ve seen your products travel to?The Heads Knysna SA

There are two places that stand out in my mind.  The first is to South Africa.  A neighbor of ours, who happens to be Celiac, picked up a few mixed cases of our bars and traveled throughout South Africa with Bee Nut Free in hand.  From what she tells us, she was so happy she did because she couldn’t find a single gluten free item anywhere!

The second place is the Great Wall of China.  It was really neat to receive photos of our Chocolate Chip Granola Bars and Cranberry Citrus Energy Bars along the turrets and stone steps of the Wall!  This travel location is particularly special to us since our daughter Lily was born in China.  We look forward to someday bringing our own stash of Bee Nut Free bars AND Lily to China to tour the highlights of her birth country.

Facebook:  /Beenutfree
Twitter:  @BeeNutFreeLLC
Instagram:  @BeenNutFree
Google+:  BeeNutFreeLLC

Planning a Disney Trip with a Special Diet: we want your experiences!

Part of our Friday Trip Planning experiences involve you, of course! We know that Walt Disney World is amazing for those with food allergies, and we love to share our own experiences with others so they feel safe when they travel to the most magical place on earth.

Whether it’s making plans before your trip, talking to the Special Diets department, or choosing your dining options, we’ve got you covered! Stay tuned as we navigate pre- and post-trip travel, snacks, cross-contamination, non-Disney dining…. and more!


But we want your voice, too. If you’d like to share your safe allergy dining experiences, feel free to add them to the comments below! But if you have a lot more to say than will fit in a comment, drop us an email if you’d like to guest post — we’d love to have you!

If you’re just tuning it, get all our tips so far here!