The Disney parks are known for having some of the best food options, from dining with princesses inside a castle, to having lunch overlooking a lagoon with a giant roller coaster on the other side, and even walking around with a churro or Mickey ice cream sandwich. If someone in your party has food allergies or a special diet, however, dining at a Disney park can seem daunting.
Luckily, Disney has made it easy for anyone with just about any dietary need to have an exceptional meal. Restaurant chefs are trained about cross-contamination and have special recipes for any sort of dietary need. No matter where you choose to dine at a Disney park, you can rest assured that your allergy or diet will be addressed with the utmost care and safety in mind.
If you’re planning a trip to the Disney parks and have a dietary need or food allergy, consider the following tips and tricks to be sure you have a safe, but delicious meal no matter where you choose to eat.
1. Look for allergy-friendly menus while planning your trip.
Disney has become much more forthcoming with its allergy-friendly menus online, with some restaurants across the parks listing out allergy- and diet-friendly meals. Not all of the restaurants listed online have this option yet, so you can do a secondary search on Disney blogs and other third-party resources. Most of the restaurants listed on the official Disney websites with allergy-friendly menus are quick-service locations, and the allergy-friendly menu can be found all the way at the bottom of the page.
2. The chef will come to your table to chat.
Whether you’re dining at a table-service restaurant like Lamplight Lounge at Disney California Adventure or a quick-service location such as Satuli Canteen at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a chef can talk to you about the menu. They can suggest items that fit within your diet or even create something completely custom just for you. If you’re dining at a table-service restaurant, be sure to tell the host or hostess at the front about your dietary need and that you’d like to talk to the chef, and they will make that note on your reservation card.
If you plan on dining at a buffet at one of the Disney parks, you’re still going to want to tell the host or hostess about wanting to talk to the chef. When the chef comes to your table, they’ll have a few options for you. The first is walking you around the buffet and showing you what you can eat that’s safe and accommodates your diet. The second is creating a meal that fits your needs based on what the restaurant has in the kitchen. You could even do a combination of both if there isn’t enough on the buffet that you’d like to eat.
3. Look for the green leaf icon on menus.
Disney’s recent rollout of plant-based menus across the parks and resorts has been helpful for many families who are looking for alternative meals. The best way to know if something is completely plant-based is to look for the green leaf icon on restaurant menus. You can currently find plant-based items at Disney World and Disneyland’s quick-service and table-service restaurants, as well as snack carts. Disney’s definition of plant-based means dishes are made without animal meat, dairy, eggs, or honey. Some of your favorite treats, such as Dole Whips and Mickey-shaped soft pretzels, have been plant-based all along and you just never knew it!
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4. Try mobile ordering at quick-service locations.
Getting a meal quickly and efficiently so your family is able to hop on more rides is even easier with Disney’s mobile ordering feature through either the Disneyland app for the Disneyland Resort, or the My Disney Experience app for the Walt Disney World Resort. Mobile ordering means you can order a meal from anywhere in the park (even while in line for a ride), virtually check in at a restaurant, and then have your food ready when you arrive or a few moments later. With mobile order you can see all of the options available for dietary accommodations without having to talk to a chef, and each meal is completely customizable. Mobile ordering is a great way to save time and ensure you get a meal you enjoy.
5. Talk to your hotel concierge.
If you plan on staying club level at a Disney resort, you should know that there are snacks and light meals throughout the day offered as part of your experience. When you check in the club level desk at your resort, be sure to remind the host or hostess about any food allergies. They can make a note or bring a chef over to be sure there’s something you can munch on after a long day in the park.
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6. Bring your own food.
For families staying at any level of Disney Vacation Club, or at one of the hotels with family suites, bringing your own food is a wise choice. Because of the setup of the room, you should have be able to make a few meals in your room, even if it’s just a quick breakfast or a meal in a slow cooker. Bringing your own food on vacation might sound counterintuitive, but it’s a great way to ensure your family can eat safely without the fear of cross contamination, and it will save you a little bit of money at the parks, too.
Know that you can also bring your own food into the parks as long as it’s not stored in glass containers; bring a soft cooler bag instead. Snacks and drinks that are allergy-friendly are a good choice, and it will keep you from having to stop each time someone wants something to eat or drink.
Megan duBois is a theme park expert and frequent traveler to magical places. She covers all things Disney and Universal and runs marathons for fun. She thinks you can tell a lot about someone by the name of their signature lipstick, and hers is NARS Dragon Girl. You can follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter.
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