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Tips for Dining at Walt Disney World With Food Allergies

by Mommy Frog on May 22, 2024
Orlando Video

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You're on your way to Walt Disney World! You've bought the tickets (and saved some green buying from us!), booked the perfect resort hotel and planned all the fun things you'll do along the way. One of our favorite parts of planning a Disney vacation is deciding which restaurants and food we want to try. (For the record, this Mommy Frog is always dreaming about Disney snacks!) But we understand that if you or a loved one has a food allergy, this is where the planning might start to feel a bit daunting. There's a lot to think about when dining with a food allergy. Where can I find allergy-friendly foods? How do I make special dietary requests? Are there allergy-friendly quick-service meals or snacks? What about character dining? The list could go on, right? In this post, we're sharing our tips for dining at Walt Disney World with a food allergy. Follow our froggy pointers and you'll be a pro faster than we can down a Mickey waffle (allergy-friendly, of course!).

Disney World Food Allergies - The Hollywood Brown Derby Allergy-Friendly Menu

Dining at Walt Disney World With Food Allergies

For guests with food allergies, deciding what and where you'll eat at Disney World might seem like a giant puzzle. And while we agree there's a lot to think about, allow us frogs to provide you with a little reassurance. Over the past several years, Disney World has made giant leaps to accommodate guests with special dietary needs or requests, including those with food allergies.

In fact, did you know that the Disney World resorts and parks have received a FARE award? FARE stands for Food Allergy Research and Education and the award was given "for dedication to providing a safe and enjoyable dining experience for vacationing families." Pretty cool, huh?

Disney World Food Allergies - allergy-friendly stir-fry

A Disney World trip with a food allergy is 100% doable. You'll have plenty of delicious options and it's probably a lot easier to manage than you're anticipating. Whether you're dining in the theme parks, resort hotels or Disney Springs, almost every restaurant can accommodate the following common allergies; wheat, shellfish, soy, sesame, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish or eggs.

Disney can also accommodate less common allergy-friendly requests such as gluten, lactose, corn, citrus, nightshades and MSG when possible. In most cases, there's nothing that you have to do in advance. However, if someone in your travel party has four or more allergy requests, requires pureed meals or has a medically-restrictive diet, you can email [email protected] to request a Special Dietary Request Form. You can do this no sooner than 14 days before your visit.

There are a few more key things you need to know (we'll cover those as we go), and if you're already familiar with dining out with a food allergy, a lot of this information might even just be second-hat. ;)

Disney World Food Allergies — Table Service Restaurants

Disney World Food Allergies - allergy-friendly filet

Sit-down or table-service restaurants (including character dining locations) can be found across Walt Disney World Resort. From fine dining such as Topolino's Terrace to the casual pizzeria, Via Napoli, there's no shortage of amazing restaurants to try. Table-service restaurants are typically the most accommodating when dining with a food allergy with many having dedicated allergy-friendly food prep spaces to limit cross-contamination. In addition, some table-service restaurants offer dedicated allergy-friendly menus.

Advance dining reservations can be made at table-service locations up to 60 days before your trip. If you're staying on-site, you can make dining reservations for the length of your stay for up to 10 days. But before that magical 60-day mark, take some time to do a little homework. The table-service menus are listed online and in the My Disney Experience app. Take a peek at the menus and make a list of restaurants and food items that will work for you. The allergy-friendly options are usually located toward the bottom of the menu.

When it's time to make your advance dining reservations, you can add a special dietary request to your reservation. On the My Disney Experience app, tap Edit on the "Dietary Requests" tab and then specify your food allergens to avoid. This notifies the restaurant staff that you have an allergy-friendly request, so they can make the advance preparations. Once you arrive, you'll also want to inform your server about your dietary needs.

Disney World Food Allergies - My Disney Experience app Dietary Request screenshot

Once you're at the restaurant, be sure to ask for an allergy-friendly menu. If an allergy menu is not available, don't be shy about asking about food substitutions or modifications. Many regular menu items can be modified to accommodate food allergies upon request. Sometimes it's as simple as asking for a gluten-free bun for your burger or even more complex requests such as omitting dairy in a certain dish.

Still have questions? You can request to speak with the chef or restaurant manager. This is particularly helpful when dining at a buffet. Many times, the special diets-trained cast member or the chef will walk you through the buffet and point out exactly what you can eat and maybe more importantly, the foods you'll want to avoid. Keep in mind that there's always a possibility of cross-contamination at a buffet, so use your best judgment on whether to steer clear.

Disney World Food Allergies — Quick-Service Restaurants

Disney World Food Allergies - allergy-friendly quick-service grilled cheese meal

As you're hoppin' through the parks, sometimes a quick-service meal is the way to go. Quick-service, also known as counter-service restaurants, do not accept dining reservations. You'll order your meal at the counter, or better yet, use the Mobile Order feature in the app. Just like the table-service restaurants, you can access the menus online and view the allergy-friendly options available. In the app, look for the "Allergy-Friendly" icon at the top of the screen, then click on the specific allergy concern, such as wheat/gluten, to see a list of all the wheat and gluten-free options.

Disney World Food Allergies - allergy-friendly quick-service meal

At the restaurant, you'll want to look out for the green leaf icon on the menu. This symbol notes plant-based items that are made without animal meat, dairy, eggs or honey. For more allergy-friendly requests such as soy, wheat/gluten, ask to speak with a special diets-trained cast member or the chef/manager to discuss your dietary needs. While there's a bit more limitation as to what can be modified at the quick-service locations, there are almost always allergy-friendly choices.

Disney World Food Allergies - allergy-friendly burger and fries

Keep in mind that you might have to wait a little longer than usual for your order. Sometimes the preparation requires more time to make because of the extra precautions taken. Just be sure to pack your patience and build extra time into your vacation schedule, so you don't feel frazzled or short on time.

EPCOT Festivals

We love eating our way around EPCOT's World Showcase, especially during one of the four EPCOT festivals. However, for guests with food allergies, we find that this area is trickier to navigate. There's also not as much flexibility to modify dishes because of the specific ingredients used at the festival food kitchens. That being said, there are still allergy-friendly options!

We have found that the most concise and helpful information regarding allergy-friendly festival foods is listed in the My Disney Experience app. Type in the name of the festival in the search bar and you'll see a link to the allergy-friendly menus at the festival kitchens. This information is also on the Walt Disney World website. We've linked them here for convenience.

Where to Find Allergy-Friendly Snacks

Disney World is filled to the brim with snack options, mostly available at snack carts, kiosks or specialty shops. Snacks such as cupcakes and cookies at the Main Street Confectionery or churros sold at snack carts, are premade. In such instances, you should request to review the ingredients list. For prepackaged snacks, the ingredients label is on the back.

Disney World Food Allergies - nutritional binder

Many of the snack kiosks have a nutritional book or binder listing the ingredients for each snack. At The Smiling Crocodile in Animal Kingdom, where tacos are made-to-order, they can make ingredient substitutions. Just be sure to communicate clearly about allergy concerns and ask for accommodations before you place your order.

Disney World Food Allergies - allergy-friendly tacos

Pre-packaged allergy-friendly snacks can be found as grab-and-go items at select retail locations such as Magic Kingdom's Liberty Square Market and EPCOT's Sunshine Seasons. Look out for brands such as Surf Sweets Jelly Beans, Rocky Mountain Popcorn, Enjoy Life, OMG Manufacturers and Snacks with Character, the Disney-branded allergy-friendly snacks. These usually have cute Disney characters printed on the front of the bag, so it's a fun treat for kids (and adults) who can't have non-allergy-friendly treats.

Disney World Food Allergies - home free allergy-friendly cookies

Allergy-Friendly Dining Disney Springs

From award-winning restaurants, food trucks, dessert shops and everything in between, there are so many delicious eats at Disney Springs. Many restaurants at Disney Springs are not owned and operated by the Disney company. Although restaurant information and menus are available online and in the My Disney Experience app, not all list their allergy-friendly options. But fear not! We assure you that almost every single restaurant can still accommodate special dietary requests and food allergies.

Disney World Food Allergies - Magical Sundae from Ghiradelli

Just like in the theme parks and resort hotels, you'll want to make your reservations in advance and note that you have a special dietary request. Your server will probably ask, but always inform your serving team about your specific needs. Don't overlook asking for an allergy menu or inquiring about any precautions the restaurant can take to accommodate your requests. The same goes for snacks. Don't hesitate to ask to see the ingredients list or a nutritional binder (when available) which lists the common allergens in each food item.

Top Tips for Disney World Food Allergies

Disney World Food Allergies - allergy-friendly carne asada

As a quick recap, here are our top tips for dining with a food allergy at Disney World:

  • Before your trip, take some time to research the Disney World menus at the theme parks, resort hotels and Disney Springs. Read over the menus online and make a list of restaurants that you want to try and that will meet your dietary needs.
  • For table-service restaurants, make your advance dining reservations 60 days before your trip. If you're staying on-site, go ahead and make your reservations for the length of your stay. (Fewer things to worry about later!)
  • Contact [email protected] after making your dining reservations no sooner than 14 days before your trip if you have more than four food allergies/intolerances and need additional support.
  • Remember to note that you have a special dietary request and select the specific food allergen(s) to avoid so that the restaurant will know in advance.

Disney World Food Allergies - allergy-friendly chicken parmesan

  • Always inform your server at any restaurant about your allergy before placing your order. Double-check before eating your meal.
  • Request an allergy-friendly menu or inquire if the restaurant can adapt certain items to accommodate your allergy.
  • When in doubt, request to speak with a special diets-trained cast member, the chef or manager about your specific needs.
  • Don't see the allergy-friendly menu listed online? Call ahead and ask about the allergy-friendly options.
  • Bring your own snacks to keep you fueled throughout the day. You can even bring your own meals into the parks if needed.
  • Consider skipping buffets if you're highly sensitive, or request guidance from a specially trained cast member regarding safe food options.
  • Pack your patience. The preparation time for special dietary requests can sometimes be longer than usual.

Dining with a food allergy at Walt Disney World does require some additional thought and planning, but can be accomplished! Be sure to use our tips to ensure a magical and yummy vacation! What questions do you still have? Let us know in the comments!

Related: A Guide to Gluten-Free Dining at Walt Disney World

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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