Planning a Disney Trip with a Special Diet: Celebrating this November

Blogger Street Team member Amy (aka Allergic Foodie) shares with us her excitement of travelling to Disney World this November to celebrate her recovery. Her blog Adventures of an Allergic Foodie provides help to fellow adults and families by sharing strategies, research, helpful products, personal stories, and more with insight in living food allergies, celiac disease and eosinophilic esophagitis. 

Go Back to Spring Break 2004. There I was in the happiest places on earth—Disneyland—feeling miserable. While my husband and two sons ran around the park enjoying a lifetime experience of rides, attractions and food, I crawled back to our hotel room and slinked into bed. The pain was unbearable and I was so exhausted, a kind of exhaustion I’d never felt before.

We’d flown to Anaheim from Colorado Springs to promote my second nonfiction book, The Pregnancy Bed Rest Book. Ah, I see the irony now–the book was for pregnant women, but I was spending my downtown under the covers. It was a trip none of us would forget—but for very different reasons.

When we returned from California, I sought answers for my health issues. Every doctor seemed to have a theory for my pain and GI woes that required a medical procedure followed by a surgery followed by rounds of antibiotics and painkillers. While I should have been getting better, I felt even worse–year after year.

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Planning a Disney Trip with a Special Diet: 11 Tips for First Timers

Blogger Street Team member Patrick Boyd shares with us his top tips for folks who are visiting Disney World for the first time. A seasoned Disney traveller, Patrick is gluten, dairy, and soy-free, and shares details on everything Disney-related on his blog, Stitch’s Home

You’re heading to Disney World for the first time for a trip of fun and pixie dust.  How about some tips and info to make life easier?

1.       First thing to know The Walt Disney World Resort is huge, comprising of four “theme” parks, two water parks, several golf and miniature golf courses, several resorts, and a shopping area that also contains a multi-story indoor video game “park.”   In short, odds are good you will not see everything there is to see and do in one trip, but that what future trips are for.

walt-disney-world-trip-planning

2.       In the parks themselves, an average guest walks about five or six miles a day, so bring comfortable shoes and clothes for walking.  If you want to get from one side of the park to other, it takes about ten to fifteen minutes walking and that assuming routes aren’t blocked from a show or parade.  This is important to keep in mind when deciding how to use the FastPass returns or if you need to be across the park for a dinner reservation.  While you are trekking back and forth in the parks remember to slow down a bit and take in the scenery.   It also is helpful to take a break and grab a drink to rest and relax a bit.  You can do that in general, or just plot out periods of time to eat, watch parades, shows, etc.  Many people often find it handy to break the long day up by returning to the resort during the middle of the day to nap or hit the pool and return that evening.

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Planning a Disney Trip with a Special Diet: Long time Disney’ers with a new diagnosis

This Friday we welcome Heather, a multi-published author and mom who blogs over at  disneyforfive.wordpress.com. Though she’s visited Disney many times in the past with her family, this was the first year they visited with a new celiac diagnosis (but with a bit of a twist). Check out the bottom of her post for more information about her, her books, and her blog loaded with Disney fun! We’ve inserted a few comments throughout the post in regards to Heather’s notes about managing a special diet!

This was an atypical Disney trip for us. Not because we went in the heat of summer, we’re old hands at that. There were a couple of other factors that made this trip unique. One difference from past trips was that my brother’s family of four met our family of five at Disney World. The All-Star Music Resort even managed to put us in adjoining suites – hooray! Being at the most magical place on earth as part of a big group added an extra layer of excitement to the trip. Also, this was somewhat of a transition trip for us. Our oldest son, age 14, was diagnosed with celiac disease over the summer. He didn’t have to totally cut gluten from his diet until after seeing a dietician, so this was his last glutenous trip to Disney World [but don't worry! He'll find plenty of options next time]. He made sure to get in some of his gluten-filled favorites while he still could. I, on the other hand, kept my eyes open for gluten-free options for future trips. After all, we’ll soon be back for the Food Allergy and Celiac Convention in November! [And he'll have a blast!]

I’d love to talk about every detail of our trip, but that would make for a very long trip report. Instead, I’ll highlight some of the things that were new to us. Let’s start with the Magic Kingdom’s latest additions: both the Festival of Fantasy Parade and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train were wonderful! I’ve heard some complaints that the new ride is too short. It is, indeed, a quick one, but it’s smooth-riding and very exciting. I highly recommend it!

Seven_Dwarfs_Mine_Train

Another new thing for us was dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table. There’s nothing in the World like eating inside Cinderella’s castle while princesses stroll about, stopping at each table to chat. The food was amazing, hands-down the best meal of our trip. And, I understand, if you have food allergies or sensitivities, the chef will come talk to you to discuss what you’d like to eat. [They sure do! You'll also want to be sure to submit your food allergy needs to the Special Diets department in advance.] We’ll definitely be back to test this out!

We’ve dined at many Disney World restaurants, both quick service and table service, but had never been to Biergarten in Epcot’s Germany pavilion until this trip. It was fantastic! The buffet was delicious, and the Oktoberfest-style show kept us very entertained while we ate. Again, although we weren’t yet totally gluten-free while on this trip, my research shows that there are several gluten-free options on the Biergarten buffet. I’ve heard that a manager will walk you though any buffet at Disney World, pointing out the items that are safe for particular allergies. [Yes! And they can prepare many items safely in the back, too, to avoid cross-contamination] We haven’t done this yet, but I did witness this very thing happening at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom. A manager walked a woman and two young boys around the buffet, pointing out gluten-free items. This is another aspect of the wonderful Disney customer service that I’m looking forward to trying out!

We decided to purchase the Memory Maker photo package before our trip, and were so glad that we did! This package allows you to download all of your PhotoPass pictures, character dining photos, attraction photos, and the new Tower of Terror ride video. Because we had linked my brother’s My Disney Experience account to mine, I was able to access his family’s PhotoPass pictures, too.

Though we had previously experienced FastPass+ while still in the testing stage, this was our first Disney World trip where it was fully functional. It worked well for us. With a large group, it was nice to break into smaller groups so that everyone could do what they wanted, and then all come back together for a FP+ ride. The only slight problem was that the FP+ kiosks can be a bit tricky. Once we had used our three FP+ reservations on any given day, we would visit a FP+ kiosk to see what else was available. There were always quite a few choices (though not the most sought-after attractions, such as the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train). The problem was that the touch-screens were difficult to use. We almost always resorted to asking a Cast Member for assistance.

And then there was Villains Unleashed. We were really excited about this first-ever, hard-ticketed event at Hollywood Studios. Unfortunately, Disney grossly over-sold the tickets, resulting in huge crowds and very long waits to do anything event-specific. I politely expressed my frustration with this event to Disney, and they promptly gave me a refund for my five tickets. As usual, they went above and beyond with their excellent customer service. It’s part of why we love Disney World! [Wait 'til you see what your son can eat! He'll never miss his gluten days once he gets the Disney Chef treatment]

With our big family trip behind us, it’s nice to have the Food Allergy and Celiac Convention to look forward to. We can’t wait to make our FastPass+ reservations for November!

About Heather:

Heather Fraser Brainerd is a multi-published author and a renaissance woman. After earning a degree in Anthropology, she embarked on an incongruous career as a workers’ compensation insurance adjuster. She rapidly climbed the claims-handling ladder before surprising her colleagues by leaving the high-powered world of lumbar strains and carpal tunnel syndrome to run a child care center. Thousands of dirty diapers and gallons of strained peas later, she decided that maybe the insurance industry wasn’t quite as bad as she remembered. Unfortunately, it was. Fortunately, a few years later, she met the most wonderful man in the world. Now a stay-home mom to three amazing boys, she is able, at long last, to focus on her writing. She works in a variety of genres, including paranormal mystery, Young Adult paranormal romance, and Middle Grade fantasy. Heather lives in New York with her family and their crazy pug/terrier.

Blog: disneyforfive.wordpress.com
Like her on Facebook: facebook.com/BrainerdFraser
Follow her on Twitter: @HFBrainerd

Check out her books:
MuseItUp Publishing: museituppublishing.com
Amazon: amazon.com
Barnes & Noble: barnesandnoble.com

Planning a Disney Trip with a Special Diet: Celiac, food allergies, and more!

This Friday we have a guest poster, Kaila, from www.glutenfreelife247.com a blogger who has recently visited Disney World and dished us her experience. Her blog is filled with recipes, reviews, and everything in between… all of which are celiac-friendly, egg-free, milk-free, and other allergies. Read on for more! 

Some envision Disney World as the perfect vacation for young children, but with two college age kids, it’s still a hot spot for our aging family. The parks, the characters, and the magic seem to keep up with us as we age. This year at Chef Mickey’s, Donald took my mom’s phone (that we set up for him) and took a selfie with her. It’s her first and only selfie, but we were smiling all night long!

All Decked Out for the World Cup (June 2014)

One of the many reasons we keep returning to Disney World is because they are amazing at accommodating my celiac disease and food allergies. My food allergies range from the Big 8 (milk and egg) to less heard of allergens (rosemary and cinnamon).  Yet, the Disney chefs are equipped to deal with each one.

While Disney chefs are well trained in food allergies and look up every ingredient, uncommon allergens can be tricky to accommodate. For example, my rosemary allergy means that I can’t eat Enjoy Life’s cookies and my tapioca allergy means that I can’t eat any of the GF rolls or Mickey waffles.  However, chefs always check every ingredient and find a way to make something tasty that I can eat.

My quick service meal at the Backlot Express is the perfect example. When the manager arrived, I was pretty convinced that I wanted a burger without a bun. However, the manager noted that I could eat the Southwest Salad. While it typically comes with chicken, he prefers it with a burger on top. It turned out to be a delicious, off the menu combination!

salad

Backlot Express Quick Service (June 2014)

Every time I enter the parks, there are a bunch of signs that Disney is a safe place for me to eat. When we go to restaurants with a dedicated fryer, the chef or manager looks up all the food items that went into the fryer to see if I was allergic to any of them.  When we eat at quick service locations, my meal is always overseen and appears on a different color tray. When I go to any dining establishment, the chefs never dismiss me, answer all my questions, and are very specific about prepping procedures.

Despite being able to eat almost anywhere (after talking to a chef/manager), I still have my favorite spots. One is the Allergy Friendly Stand in the Animal Kingdom where they have a wide array of snacks, and Babycakes NYC doughnuts (my favorite!).

And, my new favorite quick service stop is Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom, where I can order the quinoa salad without any substitutions! If you check out this unique dining experience, be sure to arrive early. We head over by 10:30, which makes for a very early lunch.

Lastly, one of my favorite dining experiences occurred during our stay at the Polynesian hotel. After talking to the chef, he realized that I was limited in both breakfast and dessert options. I caught him completely off guard when he realized that I couldn’t eat the allergy-friendly waffles.

Nonetheless, he crafted up a delicious meal. Then, the next morning, I received a message on my room’s answering machine that the chef had gone to the Grand Floridian to pick up a dessert just for me!

It turns out that whether your dining with food allergies or celiac disease, there is still an extra pinch of pixie dust waiting around the corner. For our family, sometimes the meals are the most magical part of all!

Wishing y’all a magical week!

Kaila

[www.glutenfreelife247.com]