Gluten Free and the Disney Dining Plan...?

I am planning a trip to Disney in July 2019. In the past, we’ve always purchased a Disney Dining Plan and felt like we maximized our credits. However, our college age son was just diagnosed with celiac and must eat gluten free and now I’m wondering if paying out of pocket would be a better option. Does anyone have any input on whether it would be worth it to still purchase the dining plan versus paying outright? Thanks in advance!

My question is, was it worth it BEFORE? When we did the math to calculate what we would ACTUALLY spend out of pocket compared to what the Dining Plans cost, we could NEVER make it beneficial to purchase the dining plan.

I suggest you go through and realistically figure out where you would eat and how much the items you would actually buy would cost and add it up. I’m guessing it will be less than the cost of the DDP (and potentially significantly so). We’ve done it for our Disney 2020 trip already, and calculated we’ll save HUNDREDS by NOT getting the DDP.

That’s what I’ve been wondering, too. My son loves chicken over beef, and my middle tends to lean toward tofu. I know those are a waste on the DDP. I’ve also thought that we might want to do table service more often than counter service every day, and we don’t plan to do the pricier character buffets based on the risk of cross contamination.

In planning your DDP vs out of pocket calculations, are you also planning to bring snacks/food? I’m thinking it will be easier for us if we do a combination this time in order to have plenty of gluten free snacks on hand versus going to the hotel cafeteria and getting breakfast, etc.

We calculated in EVERYTHING, including a few daily in-park snacks, drinks, etc. DDP was still more expensive than OOP.

My son & I both have celiac. We have never used the DDP so I cannot help with that, but we have had no issues at any restaurant at WDW accommodating us. At the buffets, the chef will make you something special to prevent cross contamination. The only issue is quick service takes longer, like 20 minutes longer, so you need to plan for that.
There are several websites devoted to gluten free dining at Disney, plus a Facebook group, and an app so you should be able to find lots of resources to help plan.
Out of 11 week-long trips, I was only served gluten once. A server brought us a cupcake for my son’s birthday & said it was gluten free, but it was not. One bite & I knew. I find the allergy free cake they offer to be like a dry spice cake. :frowning:
A couple tips: Gluten free waffles can be made at most tablet service like Ohana, H&V, etc. The gluten free waffles at Akershus are terrible, frozen ones, not freshly made. Also gluten free muffins (blueberry & chocolate)and rolls are offered. Both are good. They usually bring you an extra. I take a ziplock bag to save one for a snack later. Gluten free brownies & donuts are good. I hear the churros at Nomad Lounge are good. I don’t care for the cookies. They are the Energy for Life brand. Hope that helps!

Thank you so much for your tips and input! I did not even think about how long it takes to get gluten free food prepared–he runs into that at his college cafeteria. That is something I definitely need to account for in making our plans.
Luckily, my son doesn’t like cake. He never has! But he would love churros, I think–I’ve seen those on instagram and it’s hard to believe they are gluten free.
As for digital sources, is there a Disney specific food app? I have the findmeglutenfree app that we use in general.
Also–what are your favorite celiac friendly table service and quick service restaurants?

I will second what @loveswalle said. GF foods are quite easily attainable everywhere. But you still have to be vigilant about what they give you because they can make mistakes.

My son also has autism so we generally stick to character meals for him. We’ve done most of them, & all were great with food. Our favorites are Park Fare, Akershus, Garden Grill, H & V, Ohana, and BOG. I really love BOG lunch. You can preorder through the allergy menu for lunch. It is my new favorite quick service lunch. Since you preordered, it is fast.
We’ve eaten at Pinocchio VH & Cosmic Ray’s at MK. And Electric Umbrella & Liberty Inn at Epcot & ABC Commissary at HS. Nothing special there. Just gluten free chicken, fries, salad, etc.
There is an app
Gluten Free For Disney Dining by Calypso Kid
There is a free version to try. The menus have not been updated since 2017 but it gives you a good idea of options.

I’m excited to do BOG quick service again–we loved the quick service over the dinner table service there, and the atmosphere is just gorgeous. I was wondering about Ohana–do they bring out separate food or is it all still family style when you need the allergy menu? Same thing with Hollywood and Vine. We have never eaten at H & V, but I think my youngest daughter would love seeing Minnie.

Thank you for the app recommendation! At this point he has been eating gluten free since August, so we are still learning the ropes. It really helps to hear real-world experiences and know that he can still enjoy eating at Disney.

At Ohana the allergy chef is Chef Harvey. He will bring one separate gluten free plate & a donut in place of the cinnamon bun. He is great! He’s been there the past 3 years. I always send a compliment about him. He is so nice.
At H & V, the server will give you a flyer about what is safe on the buffet. But I always ask for the chef to eliminate cross contamination. We’ve had several different chefs there but they have always been great. They always make me waffles for breakfast there.
I think you’ll find it pretty stress free. It does just take extra time. But for us it is most important not to get sick on vacation. Just don’t plan a fast pass too close to an ADR!
I honestly find it easier there than most places. They are very accommodating.

This is worth emphasizing. A lot of people eat gluten free in more of a “fad diet” sort of way, or due to a slight intolerance to it, but not really due to Celiac. This means that while they may have “gluten free” options, they might not be CROSS CONTAMINATION free. Such cross contamination isn’t a problem for a lot of gluten-free eaters. But for those with Celiac, ALWAYS ensuring there is no cross contamination is important even IF they otherwise say menu items are safe. Always ask, to be sure.

We went in 2016 and my wife has celiac. We ate on the DDP, but only because of our daughters and dong all character meals. When we did eat at QS restaurants, it always took significantly longer, as mentioned above. One thing I have planned when we go back is to get 2 separate orders. One for me and my daughters and another for my wife. One of us will be with the girls and go on a short ride, like the teacups or something and the other will order our food. Good way to maximize our time.

We definitely worry about cross contamination–so that is all good info to know! I’m excited to take him somewhere where people are actually knowledgeable and recognize that he’s not just going keto or something–he has an actual disease!

Great tip on the Fastpass/dinner reservations as well… I will build in some extra time. Thank you for taking the time to give some insight!

That’s a smart strategy. My son and youngest are 12 years apart, so I can see where having someone order food while the younger one is still occupied is a great idea!

This is so true! People seem to think picking croutons off a salad makes it gluten free… arggghhh! He is learning to be an advocate for himself for sure!

I have multiple food allergies and it didn’t make sense for me to get the DDP because even though WDW is good with food allergies, I can rarely eat any of the desserts. And if you’re not ordering dessert (and a drink), you’re definitely losing money with the DDP. You might check out the menus and see what your son is likely to order, and see if the price of the DDP makes sense. TP has allergy menus for most restaurants at WDW, although a few may be slightly out of date. usually has more up-to-date ones, along with a gluten free guide to WDW and reviews of most TS restaurants.

Those are good points–I have bookmarked that site to peruse and plan! Thank you!

While she doesn’t have menus (I’ve found the ones on this site more up to date than GFDFWDW in most cases), I find the reviews at to be more detailed and better written.

Oh wow–I follow her on instagram and never thought about looking for a blog/website…Ha! I will definitely check her site out. Thanks so much!

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