This is my first time traveling to Walt Disney World after discovering a few severe food allergies. I’ve joined some Disney allergy groups and have been doing research on my own – even emailed dietary services. My problem is that I’m still confused about how to navigate eating on my trip next week because my allergies are unusual - mostly to food additives and preservatives that I’m not sure people would know if it was in the food being served. Does anyone have any advice about what I can do beyond requesting the allergy binders at each food location? I’m hesitant to do any sit down restaurants because of my restrictions, but I have no idea what I can live on for the three days I’m there. And do the binders have ingredient breakdowns for the foods at each location? Thanks!
Hopefully many other can chime in on this, but I’ve seen several trip reports of people with food allergies and it seemed that they ate TS almost exclusively because the chef will come out to your table and customize your meal however needed. QS is not able to do that and customized orders can take a long time for them to prepare.
My Dad is on a very, very low sodium diet. He only eats at TS (no QS). He asks to see the chef to discuss his food restriction when our server first comes to our table. The chefs have always been very accommodating.
Adding to my previous post, almost every TS restaurant we went to was able to make him an unseasoned piece of fish with plain rice or potatoes and plain steamed vegetables.
We have some major food allergies/intolerances in our family, so we have direct experience with this. We always do TS because they are the most reliable. If your food issue aren’t the regular kinds (gluten, egg, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy) then definitely fill out the form that Special.Diets@disneyworld.com sends you. Also, flag your ADRs with dietary restrictions. The chef will come out and talk with you to put together a meal you are able to eat. Always double check it you aren’t sure, though.
I should add that you should bring a copy of the form with you. Not all of the chefs received their email from Special Diets.
Plan at least 90 minutes to 2 hours at TS.
On QS, the binder lists the ingredients. It’s up to you to decipher. Honestly, I don’t really trust QS for most things due to cross-contamination. I’m allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.
I guess I wouldn’t feel comfortable unless I could see an ingredients list because the things I need to avoid are stuff like sorbitol, potassium sorbate, potassium phosphate, acacia gum, mannitol, red #3, aspartame, BHA, yellow #5 and Vitamin C (yes - it’s ridiculous). I haven’t dared eating out since I was diagnosed and this is my first time going anywhere. I’m just afraid that chefs can’t account for stuff like that, or maybe they can? I just thought if I could look at an ingredients list at QS locations that would solve the problem and cos less. I figure even at QS I could custom order things and leave off the stuff that I can’t have from something.
And thanks everyone for your responses! I appreciate it - I have no idea what I’m doing! LOL
My husband has similarly obscure food intolerances/allergies. There were a couple of times that the chef brought out ingredients lists for seasonings. You can be absolutely sure that the chef knows exactly he/she is putting into the dishes. Most food is fresh and the only ingredients they use are what they themselves put on it. DH usually ended up with fish and what vegetables he’s able to eat seasoned with black pepper and cooked in olive oil.
When our kids were young, we simply didn’t trust anyone. At WDW, we would bring our own “safe” food in for our kids who needed them.
This is a problem, not just at Disney, but everywhere. When it comes to severe food allergies (particularly when anaphylaxis is involved), I don’t care how trained a chef is…I can’t trust them. Not because they aren’t trustworthy as an individual, but that all it takes is ONE mistake. Even as parents, we’ve made mistakes.
If an allergy is more in line with an “intolerance”, I’d be more willing to take the risk.
We were at Cedar Point a few years back, and our DS14 was only JUST starting to outgrow his milk allergy. Prior to then, he was actually anaphylactic to milk…even just being touched by milk would trigger a reaction. Anyhow, despite our best efforts, we ordered him a sandwich that was not supposed to have cheese. We even asked the server about it. But when the food came, it had cheese on it…something we didn’t notice until after he took a bite!
So, bring your own food. A pain. Sure. But I do not hold Disney, or anyone else, responsible for having to manage my child’s “disability” (in a sense).
I agree with @ryan1 that you still have to be totally vigilant. Question everything.
I do have an epi pen which I thankfully have not had to use yet. I do get covered in hives and have swelling in my mouth when eat these ingredients. It’s putting a real damper on my travel plans! I have been thinking that maybe I’ll just hit up the nearest Walmart by taking an Uber and bring my own stuff. Thanks!
I have seen your photos of some of your husband’s meals prepared by the WDW chefs and the food looks delicious!
Great points Ryan. It’s very important to distinguish between allergies/intoleranaces/restrictions that can be life threatening and those that just result in some discomfort or minor issues.
My youngest and I have IC (Interstitial Cystitis) which means a long list of preservatives, food additives, and all types of healthy food that will put us in a horrible flare. I’m bringing the attachment sent to us by the Special Diets team as well as my list of foods that will cause me to flare or have a reaction.
I think if @SirGreggLadyV can do this you can too! I cook almost everything myself and mostly from scratch so going to WDW is a real treat for my family and I. I think Disney does a really great job assisting those of us with restrictions and allergies. I’m not going to say it’s always what I wish I could be eating but it’s nice to have a break!
I too have unusual allergies. The Disney chefs have been amazing! I usually end up getting simple food like plain steamed/fresh vegetable, grilled meat with S&P, baked potato with butter. I bring in fresh fruit & snacks. We mostly eat TS so the chef can guide my selection & look up ingredients.
The binders do list everything & the ingredient list is usually long unfortunately.
Others have mentioned this, but for QS or snacks CMs gave us ingredients lists to look at to check for ourselves what would work for our food allergy kiddo.
Definitely do TS! This is your best line of defense since you can sit and chat with the chef. Sometimes you might challenge them, but they have always come up with a great solution for me. It made it much less stressful than QS. This is one of the very few places I feel safe. Vacationing anywhere else adds another level of chaos and uncertainty. They take the allergies seriously at Disney.
I also have some unusual food allergies/intolerances. I have found that TS is the best bet for having meals that I can eat without worry as the chefs are very diligent. At QS, look at the binders, they will list every ingredient that is used in the food they prepare. The main difficulty that I’ve encountered with QS is that it is a limited menu and many of the items served are already prepared so it is difficult or impossible to customize.
Good luck and enjoy your trip!
We only did TS when we traveled with my nephew who has multiple allergies. We filled out the Special Diets forms, flagged the ADR’s. We were shocked by how well it went. The chefs from TH and Tony’s called me ahead of time to discuss the menu. Had we known that the food would be safe and delicious we might have done more than 2 meals out. It was incredibly stressful to trust someone else to keep him safe. The allergy lists helped us plan because we were able to know ahead of time that we would need to bring our own snacks (we made them Disney themed).