Walt Disney World and Disneyland have introduced a new procedure for guests who need special care taken with their food due to allergies. The roll-out includes approximately 120 quick-service and table-service locations, buffets are not included at the moment.
“Over the years, the number of guests with food allergies and intolerances has continued to grow. In 2013 alone, our cast members assisted with more than 650,000 special dietary requests. These new allergy menus are another way in which we can provide high-quality, safe and more accessible alternatives, and the best possible dining experience for guests with specific dietary needs,” said Gary Jones, chef and culinary dietary specialist for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
The new menus highlight allergen content for each menu item, allowing guests to make informed choices without having to consult a chef or manager.
Previously, if you had a food allergy, you had to speak to a manager or chef at the location who would then to back to the kitchen and supervise your food prep. This new procedure will allow guests to save time if they want to. A chef or manager is still available for consult if desired.
As a family, we’ve had to use the old system a number of times. We always found Disney to be very prepared and ready to assist those with special dietary needs. However, it was not always convenient to wait for a chef or manager to talk with, so this new system could be a big help.
Check out a sample menu here.
Have you every visited Walt Disney World or Disneyland with someone who needed a special menu for food allergies? How was your experience?
We have a daughter with a tree nut allergy, and we’ve had a whole range of experiences, almost universally positive. We have gone to some restaurants (Via Napoli) where the server asked about allergies right away. We’ve had other where we had other where we’ve had to ask. In some cases, the server would go back and ask the chef. In quite a few (more than I might have thought) the manager or chef came to the table to talk to us and offer options (which is nice, because we are also vegetarians, which further limits choices off the menu). At buffets, we’ve sometimes had the chef walk us from station to station and explain the dishes to us.
It is nice, though, to see Disney displaying some info right on the menu, as some people don’t know to ask and/or call ahead.
We last visited Disney in January of this year with my new found food allergies of gluten and dairy. Each dining reservation we made noted that there was an allergy in the party, and we reminded the host and the server as well. At all locations, a chef came out and explained what they can do to modify the menu so that the food will be safe for me to eat. While each of the restaurants we visited were very accommodating, my favorites were Restaurant Marrakesh and Crystal Palace. The chef at Restaurant Marrakesh was very attentive and kept coming out to check and make sure I was happy with the food and offered me a variety of different desserts to try, but at that point I was too full to eat anything else! I enjoyed Crystal Palace because the chef walked me through each station and told me what I can and cannot eat, and then offered to make me something in the back on top of all the goodies I could eat out on the buffet line in case I wanted anything else! That was very different from the Sci Fi Dine In where all the chef could do was replace the bread for sandwiches with gluten free bread, and on top of that I was served the wrong food anyway.
Disney has been wonderful and it is the only place that I feel comfortable ordering out. The only “issue” I can potentially see with the menu is the way they can modify the food on the menus. I have seen a lot of menus where a dish might be gluten free but not dairy free, or dairy free but not gluten free, so I am interested to see how they can accommodate my particular allergy.