Planning a Disney Trip with a Special Diet: Quick Service Dining

Sometimes we want to eat a little, well, quicker than waiting for a Table Service dinner, and there are plenty of Quick Service options scattered throughout Disney World that are super Special Diet friendly. But navigating them to get the best experience possible is key.

Unlike Table Service restaurants, where you make a reservation in advance, at Quick Service restaurants you check in at the ordering podium and you let the cashier know that you have a special diet. They will then page a manager, who will bring a binder with their ingredient lists and go over your options.

The manager will take your order and then handle its preparation from start to finish themselves. The food will be prepared in a completely separate area from the other food, and some locations do have dedicated fryers for things like allergy-friendly chicken tenders and french fries. Sometimes food preparation at Quick Service can take a little bit longer than it normally would, so there might be a slight wait–especially if you make a special request. For example, many locations do have the allergy-friendly chicken tenders, but if you have a soy allergy, they are fried in the same fryer as the french fries (which contain soy), so they will likely offer to bake them instead… which tacks on an additional 20 minutes or so.

Before they go prepare your meal, the manager will either have you wait at the food pick-up counter, or if there is going to be a longer wait, they will bring it to your table. Often they also hand you a pager, so if you want to walk around (but stay close by) you’ll know when your meal is ready.

Some Quick Service locations offer more options than others, especially for those with multiple food allergies. We’ll outline locations specifically as we go long with these posts, but feel free to ask us about your favourites and we can share our experiences (and folks can add more in the comments).

But for the most part, if you follow the protocol above, you’re good to go! But, let’s be honest, we do have our favourites…

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15 thoughts on “Planning a Disney Trip with a Special Diet: Quick Service Dining

  1. An excellent article. I would like to add a caution/reminder, based on an experience I had this past fall at a WDW Deluxe resort’s Quick Service (QS) restaurant.

    We arrived and checked in to our favorite deluxe resort in the late afternoon. Once we were settled, one of the first things we did was make our way to the resort’s QS restaurant, also one of our favorite places to eat at WDW. Because I have multiple anaphylaxis-level food allergies (the relevant one in this case being dairy), I let the cashier know that I had food allergies and wanted to order food. She went and got the Manager for me. The manager and I had a great conversation, focussed on two main issues: (1) what I was going to eat THEN (which he would prepare — I chose the allergy-free chicken fingers and a salad), and (2) future food options for our nearly week-long stay.

    He and I both went over the ingredients binder. I identified the foods I would want to eat and we checked the ingredients. A couple things could not be done — no fake-dairy flatbread pepperoni pizza, for example :-( because they do not have non-dairy “cheese” — but many things were, according to the ingredient list already safe OR could be easily modified to make safe.

    Among the things we identified as safe was much of the breakfast platter — the scrambled eggs, the potatoes, and the bacon did NOT have any of my allergens, including dairy, according to the ingredient list. The following morning, we came down for breakfast. I went up to the space where one orders the breakfast platter, and explained that I had food allergies and that the previous afternoon the manager and I had gone over the ingredient book so I did not have to do that again. I told person what my allergies are, and what I wanted to order. The person got the supervisor, and I repeated what I had said. The supervisor informed me that although it may not be in the ingredient list, **when they actually make the eggs and the potatoes, they use butter**. I believe the reason she gave was so that they are moister, but don’t hold me to that. Anyhow, she then explained that she would make me a special batch that would be safe for my allergies, but it would take a while longer. Not a problem says I, and so I got a custom-made breakfast platter that was safe.

    Key point: if I had just gone off of the ingredient list and ordered the breakfast WITHOUT advising the staff of my allergies, I would have consumed butter and probably had an anaphylaxis reaction. Not good, and certainly not a way to start the second day of our vacation ! Although I always carry an epi-pen and benadryl, I really do not want to have to test the emergency response at WDW ;-)

    So, the reminder: *ALWAYS* *ALWAYS* inform the restaurant staff/server that you have food allergies and what they are. Even if you have good reason to believe what you are about to order is safe, as I did in the situation. It may take some extra time if the foods really are safe, but if they aren’t it could well save your life. Or at least your vacation!

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