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Special Dining Needs at Disney World

Having a special dining need or request will not stop you from enjoying the restaurants at Walt Disney World. Whether your dining needs are different because of personal choice or they are health related, the staff at the restaurants are more than willing to work with you to find something that you will enjoy. Chances are that the chef has heard a similar request in the past and will know exactly what to do.

With the exception of vegetarian (not vegan) dining, you should let them know about your special requests at least 72 hours in advance. If you make your reservation online by visiting http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/reservations/dining/ there is a box to check for special dining requests or allergies before you confirm your reservation. From there you can check one or more boxes to let the staff know what your needs are. The choices are rather limited, included is “other” but there is no place to elaborate. If your need is not included on the list you may want to call 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463) and speak directly to an operator. That way you will be sure that the restaurant knows ahead of time what you need and will have the right ingredients on hand.

Gluten Free

Eating gluten free at Walt Disney World is definitely possible. Since more and more people are cutting gluten out of their diets the chefs are well prepared. It is still something that you will want to inform the restaurant about ahead of time. A couple of the restaurants have a separate “gluten intolerant” menu. You will still want to ask about the dishes, just to make sure.

Those restaurants include Tutto Italia in the Italy Pavilion at Epcot and Jiko – the Cooking Place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Another choice for gluten free dining is at the Chef’s Table at Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. There the chef will come to the table and discuss all dining preferences before the meal has been prepared, so gluten free food will not be a problem.

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If you’re dining at any of the other full service restaurants and you have a question ask to speak to the chef before placing your order. In most cases he or she will be happy to discuss your options with you.

If you are planning to eat at a counter service restaurant and you are on a gluten free diet ask to speak with the manager. He or she will be able to tell you which items will be right for you. If that is the case you might want to dine during a time that is not too busy so that the line will not be held up and you will not have to wait.

When dining at a buffet, talk to a cast member before making your selections. He or she will be able to tell you which ones are gluten free. If the first cast member does not know the answer he will find someone who does.

One final note on gluten free options, if you have a sweet tooth stop by Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC at Disney Springs. They sell gluten free baked goods that also have no soy, no processed sugar and are vegan. They are also delicious.

Vegetarian and Vegan

Vegetarian dining is simple at Walt Disney World. If you are eating at a full service restaurant ask your server which items can be made vegetarian. Not all items that look vegetarian are, so if you do not like things like added chicken broth you will want to ask. (For instance, the vegetarian-sounding Vegetable Lo Mien with Tofu at Animal Kingdom’s Yak & Yeti is made with an oyster sauce but a vegetarian version can be ordered.)

Meatless dishes are so common at Disney that it’s not even a choice when you make your reservation. Some restaurants have vegetarian menus, others might have the word “vegetarian” listed next to specific dishes.

Vegan dining is more difficult but still extremely possible. Once again, check out Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC at Disney Springs for vegan baked goods. You might also want to get a frozen treat at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street U.S.A. at the Magic Kingdom, they carry both Rice Dream and Tofutti. Jiko – the Cooking Place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge comes through once again, they have separate menus for both vegetarians and vegans.

Talking to the chef or the manager is key to vegan dining at Disney. Often they have great substitutes in the back and are just waiting to use them. Many chefs love coming up with something special and will talk to you about what you like and your dining needs.

One such place is ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. While the menu may not look vegan friendly you will end up with a feast that will leave you full and satisfied. Calling ahead to (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463) at least 72 hours in advance and asking for a vegan meal will make a huge difference. You should also ask again once you are at the restaurant, you might find a surprise like a vegan shake at 50’s Primetime Café.

Vegan meals are possible also at the counter service restaurants but you will need to ask. The vegetable burgers at most places are vegan but the rolls have dairy. Ask for a vegan roll, most likely they will have them in the back.  You can also grab a vegan snack, not only do all of the parks sell fruit but the popcorn and pretzels are vegan. You will still want to ask in case something has changed.

Most of the buffets have several vegetarian options but you will want to have someone point them out to you, just to be sure. There aren’t as many vegan choices on the main buffets but if you let them know in advance of your needs there will be plenty that you can eat.

Kosher

Kosher dining at Disney is a little more complicated. You will still be able to eat at the various restaurants but the choices are limited. If you made your reservation online call and talk to someone at least 24 hours before you arrive at the restaurant. A credit card may be required to hold your spot and you will be charged if you do not show up. Depending on the restaurant, the food might have been made elsewhere.

Each of the four parks has one counter service restaurant with kosher options. Reservations or advance notice are not required at any of them. In the Magic Kingdom you can get a kosher meal at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios head to the ABC Commissary, the Epcot option is found at Liberty Inn and at Disney’s Animal Kingdom go to Pizzafari.Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC at Disney Springs has kosher baked goods.

Character dining with buffet or family style meals are also available for those who follow a kosher diet. The difference is that you will not be eating from the buffet. You will instead be given a premade meal. You are only given one, it is not all that you care to eat like the buffet is. You will pay the same price.

If you have any questions the best thing to do is to call (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463) and talk to a cast member. The person who answers will be able to help.

Food Allergies

The staff at the Walt Disney World restaurants are very sensitive about food allergies and will do all that they can to make sure that you do not have an issue. When you make a reservation you will see a place to check “I have special requests or food allergies”. That will open a section which lists several common food allergies.

If your allergy is one of those then checking it should be enough. If your allergy is not listed you will want to talk to someone at (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463) 72 hours before your reservation time so that they restaurant will be alerted to your needs.

If you’re eating at a counter service restaurant you will want to ask for a manager. That is the best way to make sure that your food will be safe for you. If eating at a buffet you will want to do the same thing.

Other Needs and Requests

For all other needs and requests the best thing to do is to call (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463) 72 hours before your reservation and talk to someone directly. There is no place on the online reservation form to elaborate on your needs. Disney will do its best to meet your requests but they do need time to make sure that the restaurants will have the right ingredients.

When you have special requests at a counter service restaurant you need to ask for the manager. The same holds true for the buffets. The cast members at the front will do their best to help you but they are not going to know everything about each selection. The manager should have access to the ingredient list. Eating at slightly off hours (a late lunch or an early dinner, for example) will make it easier for the restaurant to accommodate your needs in a timely manner.


 

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.