As a Personal Vacation Advisor who has their own set of food allergies and sensitivities, I try my best to keep an eye out for good allergy-friendly options for both my guests and myself. I remember the day when I found out about my egg & dairy food allergies and my gluten/wheat sensitivity very distinctly. It was 2012, I was 19 years old and in college. I walked around the dining hall for about 30 minutes trying to figure out what I could eat, completely overwhelmed by the news and not wanting to put myself in any dangerous food-related situation.
Flash forward to 2022 and I am happy to say that I no longer experience those overwhelming feelings, since I have found a place that makes eating with food allergies and sensitivities much, much easier. And that place is called Walt Disney World!
While there is no “perfect” kitchen that is 100% allergen-free, Walt Disney World is definitely a place that takes food allergies highly into consideration, which makes it one of the better options when it comes to variety and alternatives to choose from.
Below you will find a few tips that I have found helpful for myself and my guests when navigating Walt Disney World with food allergies.
Know the Difference Between Quick Service vs. Table Service
There are two main types of dining options at Walt Disney World: quick service and table service. Each quick service location may or may not have an allergy-friendly menu online, however, they do have an allergen guidebook that you can ask to see before you order. Quick service locations also have a harder time balancing multiple food allergies due to smaller kitchens and their designated menu items. I have struggled to order at both Casey’s Corner & Sleepy Hallow Refreshments in Disney’s Magic Kingdom park due to their limited menus, but I’ve had the best luck with Satu’li Canteen and Flame Tree Barbecue at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park thanks to their more varied menus.
For those with multiple food allergies, my recommendation is to do as many table service restaurants as your budget will allow. Doing this will allow you to feel less rushed and/or frustrated if you or someone in your party cannot eat at a certain quick service location. Most table service locations have a dedicated allergy-friendly menu, and some even have dedicated allergy-friendly chefs/kitchens, so your chances of cross-contamination decreases overall (although never entirely, unfortunately). Three of my favorite allergy-friendly table service locations are Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen (Disney’s Magic Kingdom), The Plaza Restaurant (Disney’s Magic Kingdom), and Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera (Disney’s Riviera Resort).
Consider if the Restaurant is Disney Owned vs. Non-Disney Owned
If you are ever questioning whether a Walt Disney World restaurant may be a good choice for your food allergies, I recommend checking to see if the location is owned by Disney or not. Most of the food booths at the EPCOT festivals are not Disney-owned, which increases your chances of cross-contamination. Other restaurants that are popular and are not Disney-owned are Space 220, many of the most popular restaurants in Disney Springs, and the Italy pavilion in EPCOT’s World Showcase. You may still be able to find good allergy-friendly meals at these locations, but note that these restaurants may also have a different set of guidelines and standards that they follow when it comes to serving those with food allergies.
Add Your Food Allergies to Advanced Dining Reservations
As you make Advanced Dining Reservations for the table service restaurants at Walt Disney World, you have the option to add your food allergies right to your reservation. Once you have selected your reservation and your party, following the credit card guarantee, you will see the option to “Add a Special Dietary or Accessibility Request.” Make sure to check off your food allergies, or to click “Other” if your food allergy is not listed. The food allergies that are most commonly in this section are corn, egg, fish, milk, peanut, shellfish, soy, tree nut, and wheat/gluten.
Understand Mobile Ordering & Allergy Friendly Menus
Most quick-service locations at Walt Disney World encourage guests to mobile order their food through the My Disney Experience app. However, guests with multiple food allergies can still talk to a cast member and order in person to make sure their food allergies are handled appropriately. I always recommend speaking to a chef, especially if you have multiple food allergies.
You can also look ahead online to find the allergy-friendly menus at most Walt Disney World quick service and table service locations. All you need to do is type in the name of the restaurant and click on the menu button. For quick-service restaurants, you will see the different individual food allergies by clicking the “Allergy Friendly” button on the menu. This will allow you to see what you can order under your specific allergy. If you have multiple food allergies, I recommend ordering in person and speaking directly to the chef.
For table service restaurants, you can click on the menu icon near the restaurant’s name, and scroll to see what allergy-friendly options they offer. If on top of having food allergies you are also a picky eater, you can speak to the chef directly to find out what options would suit you best.
For any buffet (table service), you will be presented with an allergen guide for all of the items that are on the buffet tables, as well as anything that can be ordered separately. You may also request that a chef walk you through the buffet to confirm what may or may not be safe for you to eat.
Use a Vacation Advisor who Specializes in Food Allergies
If you have food allergies, although you may be able to work with any travel advisor, it is always good to consider working with someone who is already aware of how to navigate food allergies, either at Walt Disney World or any other destination. A travel advisor who’s been there, done that can make sure to take and advise the appropriate steps to help you and your family have a safe & fun vacation!