Eating at Walt Disney World With Multiple Food Allergies- Part 3
Table Service Dining
Vacation should be fun and relaxing, even with food allergies. Disney World helps take the stress away and offers modified solutions to meet your dietary needs. In our case, at each table service restaurant, we were treated like royalty.
If you made reservations for table service restaurants at Walt Disney World, which I highly suggest, make sure you note the food allergies you have on the form online or by email. Many of the popular restaurants fill up quickly. You can make your reservations up to 6 months in advance. It is possible to make spur of the moment reservations the day of, but you probably won’t get your 1st choice of restaurant or time. My recommendation is to plan ahead, especially if you have allergies in your party. There are certain restaurants that cater more towards those with allergies, meaning they have better variety and options. When arriving to the restaurant they should already have in the system (if you have filled out the form online when making reservations or emailed: SpecialDiets@DisneyWorld.com) there are food allergies in your party. If for some reason you have not specified this or you walk up to the restaurant to eat, make sure you inform them. They are always happy to accommodate. When checking in we were told that the chef will come to our table to go over the menu and options with you. If beforehand you look at menus and do not see something you can eat don’t be discouraged. The chef will listen to your allergies and make suggestions on what you can eat based on your particular allergy and what they have in the kitchen. Chefs are trained to be creative and come up with alternative dishes for those with special diets.
Wondering where to make reservations?
You can find personal reviews of the table service restaurants at the following websites:
Allergyfree Mouse- this site is a great resource to read before and while you are at WDW. They have helpful tips and reviews as well as pictures.
AllergyEats Disney World- AllergyEats is a web guide to allergy friendly restaurants. AllergyEats Disney World is their new microsite that focuses on eating with allergies at Disney World. You can search by allergy and/or location.
Here are a few of table service restaurants we dined at during our recent (December 2011) trip:
Crystal Palace Restaurant
This was our first table service restaurant. The Crystal Palace is a character dining restaurant, meaning characters walk around and visit with you. You can get your picture with them as well as their autograph. My son LOVED getting the characters autographs. I catch him every now and then in his room looking through the book of autographs, which makes me smile. At the Crystal Palace you will find the characters from Winnie the Pooh. We saw Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, and of course Pooh himself.
The food was buffet style and self serve. For our party this was great since everyone had something they could eat. A server brings you drinks and helps with special requests. The chef came out within a couple of minutes to show me what my son and I could eat in the buffet line based on our allergies. She also pointed out the dishes that were vegetarian (didn’t have meat broth, meat, etc.)
What we ate:
My son ate broccoli, sliced turkey breast, sweet potato wedges (big hit), and rice. He was happy with the food and seeing all of the characters up close and personal. For dessert he got a yummy treat from the kitchen, Rice Dream ice cream. I enjoyed salmon, salad, mashed potatoes, curry rice noodle dish, and sweet potato wedges. For dessert I indulged in flan which I thoroughly enjoyed. My husband ALMOST had to roll me out of the restaurant.
I expected a better experience than we had at Mama Mia since I had read great reviews beforehand. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t horrible or anything, just not what I had expected. Part of it was trying to tame my children and the low lighting (which I only tolerate when I am on a romantic date with my husband). Maybe all of the other restaurants we had eaten at were overly-accommodating and that is was my only comparison. I mean, how many Italian restaurants have food for a gluten intolerant person? Not too many. The chef, who seemed in a hurry, graciously and patiently came out and asked what on the menu looked good and they would try to modify it. I ordered a vegetable pasta dish (rice macaroni noodles) with a spicy tomato sauce. If it wasn’t so crazy during the meal (now that I think about it, my experience could have been tainted because my youngest was melting down) I would have asked for some more sauce, the dish was a bit dry.
What we ate:
We both had a tapioca roll as an appetizer. My son ordered spaghetti noodles (rice based) with a basic marinara sauce which he chomped down within a couple of minutes. For dessert my son had Rice Dream ice cream and I savored every last bite of the flourless chocolate cake, even though I was full already. This was simply divine! Even my non-gluten free family members thought it was amazing. What started out as a stressful ended with a welcoming chocolate coma.
We went to Chef Mickey’s on our last full day at WDW. Our reservations (made 5 months prior) were for 8 in the morning. I literally had to drag myself out of bed from all the previous days of torturing my body walking around to every ride and attraction we could fit in. My other incentive was remembering that I packed a Minnie Mouse outfit and was planning on surprising my son by wearing it that day. My mom wore it over the years as an elementary teacher during the annual Halloween party and passed it on to me when she heard I was going to WDW. It was worth seeing my son’s face when I turned the corner wearing the Minnie outfit. It was also worth going to Chef Mickey’s. It isn’t a relaxing dining experience. Since Chef Mickey’s is placed on the 2nd level of the Contemporary and is open to the monorail passing through and the tall ceiling the reaches to the top level of the hotel, the acoustics are not anything to write home about. It is loud in the restaurant and the character’s Chefs Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto are walking around visiting tables. At times they play loud music too. But, that is all a part of the experience. The kids LOVE it and WE love seeing their smiles. The Chef came to our table and showed us the buffet to let us know what we could eat.
What we ate:
The chef immediately ordered my son and I gluten free, dairy free, soy free Mickey waffles. They were pretty good. My son devoured them. The buffet has fruit, yogurt, a few different kind of breakfast potato dishes, egg casseroles, scrambled eggs, croissants, cereal, bacon, sausage, bagels (not GF), muffins (not GF), French toast, pancakes, and biscuits and gravy (again not GF). So, there is plenty to eat for the dairy free, soy free, gluten free individual. Both my son and I were stuffed afterwards. I was told their scrambled eggs do not have milk in them, but ask to make sure. My son’s allergy to milk isn’t as serious as others. They are happy to customize for you. The highlight was seeing all of the characters while eating Mickey waffles. And for me, getting my picture taken with Minnie Mouse was the syrup on the waffle.
Key Points to Remember:
- register your allergies with Disney
- make reservations early/in advance up to 6 months
- if you need to change your reservations keep the phone number handy to Disney Dining (provided on their website) or use the handy Disney App for your smart phone.
- Have a handy list of all your allergy restrictions that the chef can review on-site and develop a customized plan for you before your order your meals