PassPorter Online
Award-winning travel guidebooks
Home Florida - Walt Disney World Caribbean - Disney Cruise Line California - Disneyland Resort Anywhere and Everywhere! Travelers Store Message Boards PassPorter's Club Help!
  About Us  |  Customs Office   |   Register Your Book   |   Book Updates   |  Newsletter  |  Articles  |  Photos  |   Follow Us on
Articles Menu
PassPorter Articles
Disney Dreaming
What Keeps Us Coming Back
Disney for Veteran Visitors
Rumor Round-Up
Finding Answers
Best Disney Trip Advice
Getting Your Disney Fix
How Young Is Too Young?
Top Ten Disney Questions
Tipping (Gratuities)
Timeshare Vacation Offers
Disney World on a Budget
Credit Cards 101
Money-Saving Strategies
Preparing Kids For Disney
Taking Toddlers to Disney
Planning Trips for Others
Convincing Others To Go
Importance of Being Lazy

Preparing For Your Disney Cruise
Ten "Must Pack" Items
Touring With A Group
Chaperoning A Group Trip
Ten Travel Tips
Luggage Tips
iPhone, I Travel
Driving to Disney
Driving With Kids
Child Safety Seats
CARES Harness Review
Rental Cars
Amtrak Auto Train
Airline Security
Flying With Kids
Surviving Long Flights
Surviving Bumpy Flights
Surviving Bad Vacations
Surviving Long Airport Waits
Staying Healthy
First Aid on Vacation
Solo Travel
Pregnant at Disney
Dress For Travel
Traveling With Pets
International Travel
Taking A 'Greener' Trip to WDW

Orlando Sanford Airport
Choosing a Resort
On-Site Lodging vs. Off-Site Lodging
Disney Resort Primer
Reserving a Room
Key to the World Card
Fun at Resort Hotels
Disney Vacation Club
All-Star Movies
All-Star Music
All-Star Sports
All-Star Vacation Homes
Animal Kingdom Lodge: Perfect for Teens
Villas at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Beach Club
BoardWalk Inn & Villas
Contemporary Resort
Ft. Wilderness Camping
Old Key West
Wilderness Lodge
Home Sweet Home
Grand Californian #1
Grand Californian #2
Grosvenor Resort
Hilton Resort
Orlando Airport Marriott
Radisson Resort Parkway
Shades of Green
Westin Century Plaza
Making The Most of Bell Services at Disney's Deluxe Resorts
DVC's Old Key West Resort
Preparing For Your Disney Cruise
New Ships!
Cruise Security
International Port Security
Convincing a Husband to Cruise
Palo Dinner Review
Vow Renewals Onboard
Cruising With Special Diets
Cruising St. Martin
One in a Million Cruise
Zip-A-Dee-Zip-Line: A Canopy Adventure
A 'Magic' Time In The Mediterranean
A Wrap-Up From DCL's Inaugural Mediterranean Cruise
DCL: Not Just for Kids!
Spa Villas Review
Laugh Floor Comedy Club
Mickey's PhilharMagic
Fantasyland For Adults
Mission: SPACE
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
Star Wars Weekends
Animal Kingdom
Expedition EVEREST
Surviving the Parks as First Time Parents
Surviving the Holidays
Overcoming Kids Fears
Planning Park Days
Four Parks in One Day
Touring with Toddlers
A Kid's Perspective
A Teen's Take
Educational Epcot
Flower & Garden Festival
Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
Scary Places (Halloween)
Playing "Millionaire"
Winning "Millionaire"
A Day With Allie
Past Attractions at Magic Kingdom
Meeting Mickey
Disneyland at 50
Future of Disneyland
Beyond the Disney Parks
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Monorail System
California Adventure
Expanding Disney's California Adventure
10 Reasons to Love Disneyland
A WDW Veteran's First Trip to Disneyland
A Disneyland Veteran's First Trip to Walt Disney World
Disneyland Homecoming
Walt Disney World With Pre-Teen Boys
Keys To The Kingdom Backstage Tour
Pirates & Princess Party
WDW with Teens? Absolutely!
Disney Dining Plan
More Dining Plan Tips
Dining Plan Revisited
Dining Plan Answers
Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) Strategies
Artist Point Review
California Grill Review
Nine Dragons Review
Spoodles Review
The Turf Club Review
Crystal Palace Review
Yak & Yeti Review
Tutto Italia Review
Character Dinners
Dine With A Disney Imagineer
Eating Healthy at Disney
Food Allergies
White Water Snacks
MurderWatch Mystery Theatre
Disneyland Dining: Yamabuki
Disneyland Area Dining: Pirate's Dinner Adventure
Party For The Senses
Artist Point
1900 Park Fare Dinner Review
Making Magic
Romance At Disney World
Beating The Post Trip Blues
Discovering the Magic
Magic of Slowing Down
Unexpected Treasures
Wishes Fireworks Cruise
Backstage Tours
Epcot's Segway Tour
Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival
Taking Great Photos
Taking Great Fireworks Photos
Digital Photo Q & A
Souvenirs on a Budget
Pal Mickey
Birthdays at Disney
Reunions and Gatherings
Holidays (Christmas)
More Holidays
Disney Intimate Weddings
Disney Vow Renewals
Custom Events
Preserving Memories
Scrapbooking Supplies
Finding Scrapbook Supplies at WDW
Memories and Milestones
Scavenger Hunts
Hidden Mickeys
Hidden Mickeys Book Review
Richard Petty Experience
More Richard Petty Rides
Ft. Wilderness Trail Ride
Disney Podcasts
MouseFest 2006
Cirque du Soleil: La Nouba
Making of PassPorter
Rest of the World
United States:
Big Apple Greeter
City Pass Cards
Hilton Head Island #1
Hilton Head Island #2
Celebration, Florida
Key Largo & Islamorada
Miami, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
St. Augustine, Florida
Space Coast, Florida
Tampa-St. Petersburg
WonderWorks (Orlando)
Knoebels, Pennsylvania
Las Vegas
Los Angeles
San Diego
San Francisco
Anza-Borrego Desert
Grand Canyon
The Poconos
New York City
New York Splash Tours
New York City Dining
New York: Antiques
New England
New Orleans
Nashville, Tennessee
Adventures by Disney: Wyoming
Fort Sumter, South Carolina
Zoos of the World
Universal Studios Orlando
New Attractions at Universal Orlando
Seuss Trolley Train Ride at Universal Orlando
Sanibel & Captiva Islands
Universal: For Non-Thrill Seekers?
Madison County, Iowa
The Great Smoky Mountains
Discovery Cove (Orlando)
Busch Gardens Africa: SheiKra Coaster Review
NASCAR AllState 400
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Niagara Falls, New York
Blue Horizons at SeaWorld Orlando
International Travel:
London Museums
London's Globe Theatre
Kent, England
Bath, England
Great Britain via Harry Potter
Stockholm, Sweden
Helsinki, Finland
Quebec City, Canada
Prince Edward Island
South Africa
Leeds Castle
Windsor Castle
Dover Castle
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Dining Safely: Food Allergies at Walt Disney World

by Dr. Marla Shapiro, Guest Columnist

As the parent of a child with severe food allergies, I'm always more than a little wary of eating out in public. Although I luckily don't have to worry about airborne contaminations or exposures, my 5-year-old daughter Dana has had an anaphylactic reaction after ingesting even tiny amounts of dairy or sesame products.

When we first started planning our trip to Walt Disney World, I was very nervous about how we'd manage the "food issue." I envisioned a not-so-mini fridge in the room, a portable cooler on our backs, and a suitcase just for safe foods. My nervousness began to evaporate, however, as I began to learn what Disney has to offer guests with food allergies. By providing a wealth of dining alternatives for those with special dietary needs, Walt Disney World can indeed provide magical vacations for all.

Based on my initial information-gathering (from friends and printed sources like PassPorter), I learned that Disney provided "some accommodations." But as the time for making that first Priority Seating grew closer, I was still concerned about making PS's (priority seatings) in restaurants in which Dana would be able to eat. We would be staying at the All-Star Movies (ASM) resort, so I called the head chef at the ASM food court, hoping to get some guidance in determining which WDW restaurants might provide some safe choices. I was blown away by his response! Not only was he incredibly helpful and knowledgeable, he completely (well, almost completely) allayed my fears, and all without making me feel like the pain that I often seem perceived to be when dining out locally.

For starters, he assured me that at WDW, accommodating special dietary needs was routine. By asking me questions about Dana's susceptibility to airborne exposure, specific ingredients, and requirements for food preparation, I could tell immediately that he "got it." Dealing safely with food allergies isn't exactly rocket science, but I've found that people either "get it" or they don't; and if they don't, I simply can't provide enough instructions to cover any/all possible scenarios. But he clearly understood which immediately put me at ease. I quickly came to realize that we'd be able to have a "normal" vacation like other people -- that asking about allergens was no big deal, that chefs across WDW were all highly knowledgeable and willing to deal with special dietary needs, and that -- most exciting to us -- we'd be able to eat just about anywhere we wanted to go. All that we needed to do was provide "a little advance notice."

The chef told us that Dana would even be able to have a choice of foods in the food court, though it might take a little longer to prepare them, and encouraged me to let him know if we had any questions or concerns when we were there. And, as we made each PS, the cast member noted our special dietary concerns and reminded me to contact the individual restaurants 7 days prior to that meal.

As an example of the wonderful service and understanding that we encountered, our first meal was at Chef Mickey's, a special surprise for my Dana. When I checked in at the podium, I asked to speak to the chef as I'd been instructed to do when I dutifully called seven days in advance. After asking me specific questions about Dana's dietary restrictions, he walked me down the buffet lines, talked about each and every dish, and told me what she could and could not eat. When we encountered foods that she couldn't eat, he asked if that was a food she liked and, if so, suggested alternate ways that he could prepare special portions for her. Moreover, he assured me without prompting that his staff would be sure to take such precautions as cleaning the cooking surface, using separate utensils for her, etc., in order to avoid accidental contamination by allergens. He even offered soy milk and non-dairy ice creams for dessert. For the first time in her life, Dana could go into a restaurant and eat just about anything she wanted that was on the menu -- and dance with Mickey and Minnie to boot. It was truly a magical evening!

The rest of our trip was equally enjoyable. She had a delightful dairy-free breakfast with princesses and more at character dinners, soy milk and "her" ice cream upon request, and we even knew which carts and counter-service dining spots offered "safe" food for more spontaneous dining (thanks to tips from the ASM chef). We learned to ask for the head chef at each restaurant, and we tried to dine at off-peak hours so that the extra time needed to prepare her foods wouldn't make much of a difference to us.

The only problems we encountered were at non-Disney owned restaurants, though not all. Although we'd eaten at a Rainforest Cafe in Connecticut with no problems, we had a poor experience at their location at the Animal Kingdom. I had trouble getting a knowledgeable person on the phone when making my 7-day advance call, and we had even more trouble finding someone at the restaurant when we were there who seemed even somewhat understanding of our needs. After waiting over an hour for our food at an off-peak time, we still weren't entirely confident that Dana was served foods that were safe to eat (and luckily had enough snacks in our bags to give her). We also discovered that only the Disney-owned restaurants stocked non-dairy supplies like Soy Dream or Tofutti, but we were at least able to feed her safely and confidently anywhere else that we went.

I realize that there are far worse things than food allergies, but until you've known the gnawing anxiety of trying to feed someone with life-threatening food allergies away from home, you won't really appreciate the extraordinary relief and pleasure we took in each Disney dining experience. And while fortunately Dana's allergies aren't as severe as others, I'm confident that she'd be safely fed at WDW even if airborne contamination were an issue. I'm not sure what difference it really made to call each restaurant seven days in advance, particularly since I was told that most Disney restaurants often have non-dairy beverages and desserts on hand, but I'd do it again anyway.

It was a truly amazing, magical and safe vacation. And we can't wait to do it again!

For more information on accommodating food allergies at Disney -- and delicious details on all the eateries -- check out our PassPorter's Walt Disney World for Your Special Needs guidebook.

This article appeared in our July 22, 2004 newsletter -- subscribe to our popular newsletter today for free!

Return to | Visit the PassPorter Message Boards

Updated 04/06/07 

Read additional articles from

Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter, PassPorter News, published for more than 58,000 opt-in subscribers worldwide. As an added bonus for subscribing, you will receive a 20% discount coupon for the PassPorter Store -- no catch!

E-mail Address:

First Name:

E-mail Format:
-Text/Don't Know  



We respect your privacy and never sell or rent our subscriber list. Subscribing will not result in more spam! We guarantee it.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Copyright 1999-2015
by PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.

Learn More With Our Award-Winning Guidebooks

PassPorter's Walt Disney World guidebook

PassPorter's Sidekick for the Walt Disney World Guidebook e-book

PassPorter's Disney Vacation Club Guide

PassPorter's Disney 500: Fast Tips for Walt Disney World Trips e-book

PassPorter's Disney Speed Planner: The Easy Ten Step Program to a Perfect Walt Disney World Vacation e-book

PassPorter's Disney Weddings & Honeymoons

PassPorter's Festivals and Celebrations at Walt Disney World e-book

PassPorter's Treasure Hunts at Walt Disney World

PassPorter's Disney Cruise Line guidebook

PassPorter's Disney Cruise Clues: First-Class Tips for Disney Cruise Trips

PassPorter Disneyland Resort and Southern California Attractions guidebook

PassPorter's Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line guidebook