By Felicity Logie and Jennifer Stuart
When a child is diagnosed as celiac or with any other severe food allergy eating out and travel suddenly become much more problematic. Can we find something to eat? Can they handle multiple allergies? What is the prep area like and will there be a risk of cross contamination? All this and more will go through your head when you are dealing with severe food allergies. Read on for our experiences eating gluten and dairy free at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
The first thing that is very reassuring about eating at Disneyland is how seriously they take dealing with allergies. When approaching a counter and informing the cast member of our allergies a chef will always come out to talk with us. They can let us know what menu items we can have or what substitutions can be made. It is very reassuring to meet the person who will be preparing your food.
*** Now available on the Disneyland website or through the Disneyland App restaurant menus now list allergy friendly menu items that they can offer. These include gluten/wheat allergy, egg, fish/shellfish, milk, soy and peanut/tree nut friendly menu items. This is a great option as it allows visitors to preview possible choices in advance. As always make sure that you notify cast members of any and all allergies. For more information about the Disneyland app read our posts Why You should download the Disneyland App and 10+ Reasons you need the Disneyland App.
Plaza Inn -- Disneyland
We can’t enjoy the famous Plaza Inn fried chicken as it is breaded but we can have a chicken dinner here. The chef will prepare a gluten free chicken dinner that has baked chicken pieces. If you are not worried about dairy you can also enjoy the mashed potatoes with your green beans. We have been able to substitute a really good brown rice pilaf for the mashed potatoes as needed. They were also able to offer gluten and dairy free dinner rolls.
Red Rose Taverne -- Disneyland
We have mainly eaten lunch and dinner at the Red Rose Taverne in Fantasyland. The burgers here are all available on a gluten free bun. The famous pommel frites are available as gluten free but do include dairy. Regular fries can be substituted for a dairy free fry. The fries do have a soy coating but apples can be substituted if there is a soy allergy. There are also several salads available. We find that the chefs are very helpful when you are dealing with multiple allergies.
Smokejumpers -- Disney California Adventure
This is your typical burger and fries place which is something we don’t get to enjoy very often as we are worried about cross contamination. There are gluten free buns available for the burgers and the waffle fries are prepared in a separate fryer. Note that you may not be able to have fries if you have a soy allergy. If you can’t eat the fries there are also carrot sticks and apple slices. Also available are meal salads that can be adapted to be gluten free, including a delicious chicken salad.
Goofy's Kitchen -- Disneyland Hotel
This is a must do for us – a great character dinner buffet. It is fun to meet and interact with the characters and so fun to be able to go to a buffet where we can eat without worry. When we check in with the cast members they take us over to meet the chef. After explaining all our allergies he gives us a tour of the buffet and points out what we can eat. With a buffet there is always a higher risk of cross contamination. Anytime we were concerned that there might be contamination from neighbouring food they would get some fresh food from the back kitchen. For example the rice spoon looked like it had been used to serve something else as well so the cast members were very helpful about getting fresh rice for us.
Things we could eat included:
Fish (some kind of white fish but I can’t remember which kind)
Mashed potatoes (contains dairy)
corn on the cob
Soft serve (dairy)
also not generally available but we have had a dairy free sorbet that was brought from the back especially for us.
We are label readers. Searching the internet we had read different things about whether the dole whip was both gluten and dairy free. The cast member assured us that it was but when asked was able to give us an ingredients list to double check. We were so happy to be able to add this iconic cool treat to the list of things we could enjoy. We like to mix it up so sometimes we will get the plain soft serve while other times the float. Both are delicious!
If you aren’t in the parks you can also get dole whips and dole whip floats at the coffee house in the Disneyland Hotel (also available at that location with a float of rum for those over 21 but must be consumed within the hotel premises)
Another cool treat that we can enjoy gluten free is the Minute Maid iced lemonade. These are prepackaged in a small cup at most iced treat carts.
The fruit carts scattered throughout the parks are a great source of snacks. We usually eat pickles, pineapple spears, mango , bananas etc.. The dried apple crisps are delicious too!
Sweet treats that we enjoy are the packaged Goofy’s Gummies and the Packaged Caramel Popcorn (contains dairy).
Turkey drumsticks – gluten and dairy free. Great for an afternoon snack or even dinner. Available at Turkey Leg Carts throughout Disneyland.
A Last Note
These are our experiences eating at Disneyland with allergies. As well as being celiac, family members allergies also include dairy, treenuts and corn. We would love to hear your tips for eating at Disneyland with allergies. Is there a menu item that you love that we can add to our list? Let us know. We would love to hear from you.
Photos by Felicity Logie and Jennifer Stuart
Comments? Questions? Do you have a favourite gluten-free Disneyland menu item that we haven't tried yet? Let us know in the comments. We would love to hear from you.
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