Allergies at WDW- recent experience

This is a copy of an email I sent to WDW, but I think it is important for people to understand the limitations with the allergy menus and current practices we saw this past week at WDW!

I hope it helps someone…

"My family and I just returned from a week at Walt Disney World. I am writing this email in hopes that other families with allergies will not have the same experience we did.

My youngest son is 5.5 years old and was diagnosed with anaphylactic allergies to peanuts and tree nuts at his 1 year birthday. We have been dealing with his allergy since then and have travelled many places, including out of the country and on cruise ships. Our favorite place to travel, however, has been Disney because of the care that they have taken with his allergies and the fact that he would often get to have special treats and not feel different than everyone else. We have been annual pass members at both Disneyland and Disneyworld and taken multiple trips. Our previous trip was less than a year ago to WDW and we had the same excellent care we had in the past.

This past trip, on the other hand, was a huge disappointment regarding his allergies. We came home from this trip deciding to not travel to Disney anytime in the next few years solely due to the way that his allergies were handled.

There were a few restaurants that did stand out and really take care of him, namely Hoop-de-doo review, Be Our Guest, Garden Grill and Crystal Palace.

Other than that, our experience was the same regardless of park. We would check in for our meal and be given an allergy menu. Most of the time, most things on the menu were listed as “safe for peanut/tree nut allergy”. Including desserts and breads. We would then sit down at a table and a server would ask some variation of “Well, it’s not a serious allergy is it?” To which my 5-year-old son would reply “I might DIE!”. They would then try to tell me that everything with a green check was completely safe. I would ask where breads and desserts were made, if there was a common bakery used, etc. Some servers would try to tell me there was no risk of cross-contamination. Eventually after asking I would be able to talk to a chef. On previous visits I would talk to a chef, walk through a buffet, they would offer to bring food from the back. Instead, this time, when I eventually was able to talk to a chef they would continue to tell me foods were safe until I pressed multiple times asking if they were made in the restaurant or somewhere else. Eventually they would tell me that most of their desserts were made somewhere else, in a place that also made their desserts that contain nuts. Comments such as “Well if you’re really going to care about where something is made, then I have nothing to offer you” were a regular occurrence. On previous trips I always found chefs to be incredibly helpful in knowing where different items on a buffet or menu were made, etc. This trip I had to ask multiple times and often chefs were unsure. Occasionally they would come back with a bag of enjoy life cookies and toss them at my son. The highlight of the trip for him was Crystal Palace when the chef brought out a doughnut, brownie and cupcake for him- he talked about it for two days, that they “had things that were safe for me Mommy, just like before!”

Our worst experience was Bon Voyage breakfast where the allergy menu stated that pastries were safe. A serving was brought to the table in the frying pain. Again, server tried to tell us allergy wasn’t serious. She told us “I have a gluten allergy so I know that it doesn’t really matter if things come in contact during preparation” Finally talked to chef who informed us that he had nothing in his restaurant to offer my son. He knew all of the pastries were made in a facility with nuts. I asked about allergy-safe muffins and was informed those were also made and baked in that same facility with nuts. My son wanted waffles and I was informed that those were also prepared in the same facility with nuts. I asked about an alternative such as Enjoy Life brand and was told he would look and see but was pretty sure they didn’t have anything like that. He did eventually return with some brownies but by this point the damage was done. We had been so excited about a meal with male characters for my two sons but the tone of this interaction set the whole day.

Another disappointing experience was the Pirate and Pals cruise, I had called and asked multiple times about options available to him and was told that they had alternatives. When we got the allergy menu the only thing that was safe for him was grapes, apples, chips and salsa. Even the chocolate coins were unsafe and there was no alternative. When I asked about it I was told that the servers inside would have alternative options. When we got inside my boys got in line to see the characters and I immediately talked to the servers who offered a gluten-free cookie. Another server offered to get an option from the back and returned with a plate with 3 little 1 inch cookies on it. That was it. Meanwhile, around him all the other kids and families are eating multiple different desserts. The reality was, none of our family had time for desserts, because by the time they took pictures with Captain Hook and Smee they were telling us to take kids to bathroom at end of hall as it was time for the fireworks cruise. Our entire time in the “dessert party” wasn’t even 30 minutes. Again, extremely disappointing but lesson was learned to not trust Disney to be prepared even when I call, indicate on booking, and speak with Cast Members upon check-in.

As I stated before, Disney has been our “go-to” option for vacations due to the comfort level we have always had in talking to chefs at restaurants and not having to explain “cross-contamination” etc and their willingness to go the extra mile to let him have desserts that we knew were safe. The comfort we felt in talking to someone who understood the issues and (up until this past trip!) volunteered all the information I needed including where things were processed, what they KNEW were safe (because they were processed in the restaurant) vs things that were processed in other places not to mention the offer to bring food from the back to decrease risk of cross-contamination made our previous trips to Disney less stressful for all of us.

As previously stated, we have lived with his allergies for a long time and are well-versed in risks and questions to ask. Your new policies and procedures scare me because I know that there are people that would trust the allergy menu that states things that are known to be produced in same area as nuts are safe. Eventually someone will have a serious reaction (probably already have) and may even die. I understand the previous method of talking to chefs immediately was not convenient for them, but I think it’s important that in cases of anaphylaxis and not “intolerance” that there be a higher standard of information available.

Thank you for your time, I am happy to discuss this further with anyone if our experiences can keep someone else from having the same experience or even being hurt."


I think allergies should be taken more seriously as a business practice by places like Disney, but I don’t believe I can ever fully trust others, nor do I think they HAVE to service in this regard. Even living with 5 kids where 4 of them are anaphylactic to peanuts, tree nuts, and for a time, milk (m son only recently outgrew his milk allergy…but not until he was 14 years old), the truth is we have messed up ourselves. We check EVERYTHING every time, no exceptions. Yet, more than once we have given our kids something containing allergens. Fortunately, we were immediately aware of it and handled everything appropriately. But if my children’s parents can’t be perfect, I certainly can’t expect a place that serves thousands of people daily to be just as knowledgeable, etc.

So, we continue to be diligent and teach our children to be diligent. But our kids also spent all their time when eating somewhere other than home with epinephrine auto-injectors attached to their waists.

The truth is, we have friends who have kids with severe food allergies who mess up a LOT with their own kids…one incident in particular almost ended in tragedy.

So, Disney will hopefully do their best. And I will continue not to trust their best.

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That really is awful. I’m so sorry the whole trip was like that, it would have over-shadowed so much.

I have a nephew who would have severe anaphylactic reactions to gluten, pulses, so many things. Even touching bread crumbs could require an epi-pen.

Truly horrific to think that Disney doesn’t have the same attention to detail that they used to have. My sister and her family stayed onsite once and said they felt so safe with the way they handled his allergies.

I hope Disney reply, and quickly.

Did I see you post a little about this on chat too? I am so sorry!

Thanks for posting @Katgilla8. We will be visiting Disney World for the first time in April, with one child who has anaphylactic allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and green peas. I will be bringing safe chocolate bars from home and also making a stop at Erin McKenna’s to pick up some cupcakes so that if there are no options for him at the restaurants, at least he can still have a special treat. Disappointing to hear of your experience. Travel is never easy with an allergic child!


I agree that it is ultimately our responsibility and we definitely carry epipens everywhere that we go. My biggest frustration this trip was the poor information we were given repeatedly that made it difficult to make safe decisions. I mainly want people to be aware of potential for risk even as they are asserting things are “perfectly safe”.

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yes, I did. Trying to help other people not have same issues we did! Or at least understand how Disney is defining “safe”.

We also carried safe treats and made it work. The biggest recommendation I have is to continually, politely, ask to speak to the chef. If you ask enough they will bring them to your table and they should have the most accurate information that you need to make decisions.

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Thank you! I love that you can share it here! It is so powerful!

Very nice letter–clear examples of problems interspersed with compliments. I also understand @ryan1’s point that Disney doesn’t HAVE to cater to allergies, but the op seems upset because Disney used to go above and beyond to accommodate and win the trust of allergy customers. It is hard to expect and be told one thing like when you call and talk to CMs and then have your concerns be less than important when you are there. I realize that Disney has to accommodate huge numbers of people but allergies are common. And I’m sure it is hard to trust them especially if they act as though allergies are not serious business. I’m sorry you had to go through this.

I have a food allergy and the chef at T rex was fabulous last trip coming to talk to me and guiding me in the menu after the server erroneously told me that my allergen was not in the food I ordered and then it turned up on my plate. Hope you get a good response.

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Now this is what Disney have always said will happen if you note the allergy on an ADR when you book, or add a note to it later via the dining line.

It’s the fact that it didn’t happen in this case, that the CMs consistently tried to fob them off with vague and incorrect information that worries me.

It should be quite simple. You ask to speak to the chef and the chef should be able to answer questions accurately.

Your letter is awesome! Thanks for posting here. I will say we have had similar uneven experiences. Before the allergy menus, chefs were more accommodating. Now I feel it is a battle just to get the server to let you talk to the chef.
My son & I both have celiac & get very sick with cross-contamination. My son also has autism & will eat only about 12 things. One trip I got so sick my husband had to fly down & drive us back home as my gluten contamination happened the night before I was supposed to drive us 9 hours.
We also were disappointed with Pirates & Pals. I had spoken to special diets & they promised me a special treat. Just one gluten free vanilla cupcake was my request. We were offered the brownie & cookie. My son ate nothing there & I spent the whole time talking to the CM. Very disappointing.
I hope you will post the response you will get. I plan to use Twitter to recognize the chefs who are excellent when we go in April!


Having Celiac is, in my view, worse than having anaphylaxis because the risk of food being cross-contaminated by gluten is far higher than other allergens. I mean, it is hard for egg to accidentally make it into some other dish, for example…but with gluten…one mis-dumped cup of flour and poof you’ve just contaminated something sitting 6 ft away. I’m familiar with having to prepare for persons with celiac…it can be stressful. I’m not sure I would trust ANYWHERE! :slight_smile:

That’s awful :frowning: My DD has an egg allergy and a severe peanut allergy so I can relate. When we were there in 2015 everywhere we ate were great. I had noted the allergy on the reservation so as soon as we sat down the CM took our drink order and said they were sending the chef to speak with us. We stuck with TS meals just to have the time to really go through the food versus QS. I know CRT can’t accommodate allergies b/c they have a small kitchen. I wish they would post this on their site versus having to find out third hand.
Thankfully, she outgrew her allergies and this trip coming up will be a lot easier but I still try and fight the good fight regarding allergies b/c it’s just so darn scary!

My wife has celiac. I know it’s awful and to hear “I have a gluten allergy, so it’s not really that bad” is completely bogus. That’s called gluten intolerance. Celiac is the real deal where you can’t have any gluten.

One of my daughters has autism as well and we deal with the same problem about the number of things she will eat. My wife has made a sausage rice casserole about every day so she will eat something. That being said, most places had chicken strips, so she ate those pretty well while we were in WDW.

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Did they reply back to you in any way? my DD8 has a peanut allergy. We had pretty good experience the last 2 times we went to WDW.

Wow, that’s just unacceptable, after you’ve told them your son might die from it.

You know, though, I think they’ve heard “allergy” so many times when it’s actually “I don’t like” from other customers, that it makes them skeptical. As you know, it’s a big deal to make a dish separately for someone with allergies. When staff go to that effort for customers and then see that customer have a taste of someone else’s “contaminated” food makes them feel duped. I know that’s not you, but sadly, there are selfish people out there that are spoiling the good will that others, like your son, desperately need.

Thanks @loveswalle, I’m glad I wasn’t the only one disappointed with Pirates &Pals… I’m always afraid I might be expecting too much but I had specifically asked prior to booking, and called and confirmed and was reassured that they have a regular protocol for it with special desserts available. :frowning:


Thanks Maeghan for caring even when you don’t have to anymore! It’s so important!!

@jason.darnell1976- That was our last day of vacation and I was so tired of it that she is lucky I didn’t tell her exactly what I thought of her comment.:slight_smile: But I knew that my sons were watching, and we have taught them better so I took the high road.