Peanut allergies are all too common. They can range from mild effects to life threatening. While I don’t have a peanut allergy myself, I have dined at Walt Disney World with someone who does. I also have a daughter with a non-life threatening dairy allergy, so I do have experience with having to make arrangements at Walt Disney World for an allergy friendly meal. It is very possible to find plenty of delicious options.
While the title implies that this information is for peanut allergies, it is in fact for anyone with allergies. I’m assuming that it is the person who has the allergy who is reading this. It should be easy enough to adapt it for a child or other member of your party. This article uses the name EpiPen for continuity. It could be a different medication that you use. The information provided here is not medical information, and is not intended to be taken that way.
Talk to Your Doctor
Before you leave home, make sure that you talk to your doctor. Ask about extra supplies, and check to make sure that your prescriptions are all up to date. Check your expiration dates as well. If you don’t have a medical ID bracelet or necklace, you might want to make sure that you do before you leave home.
If you’re flying, you are allowed to carry your EpiPen with you, but everything needs to be clearly marked and have the proper names and labels. Ask to have your medical supplies inspected manually because the effects of x-rays on an EpiPen are unknown. Pack your own snacks, unless you’re sure that the airline has allergy-free choices. Don’t take chances. For a severe allergy, talk to the staff at the gate to see if arrangements can be made to seat you as far away as possible from places where there could be triggers. (If you have a latex allergy, let them know, since many flight attendants wear latex gloves during serving and also for trash pickup.) If there is a problem in the air use the EpiPen first, and then inform a flight attendant.
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At Walt Disney World
When you arrive at a theme park, immediately make note of where First Aid is located. If you have extra medication that you don’t want to carry with you they can hold it for you there. Also, if you have a problem, find the nearest Cast Member. They will make sure that you get help. Teach all children in your party know how to identify Cast Members as well.
Full Service Dining
When you make your dining reservations, there is a place where you can mark off common allergies. The list is “gluten or wheat, eggs, fish, milk or lactose, peanuts and tree nuts, shellfish, soy, and corn”. If your allergy is not on that list, there is also a spot for “other”. If you have questions or concerns, email Special Diets at Special.Diets@DisneyWorld.com. Make sure that you email at least two weeks in advance, because it can sometimes take a little while for someone to get back to you.
When you check in, the host or hostess will ask about the allergy. There is a good chance that the server will as well. Often the server will go through the menu with you to point out what you can safely consume. If you aren’t happy with the situation, request to speak to a chef.
You’ll make the buffet reservation the same way as the table service buffet. It will be handled the same way upon check in as well. A Cast Member will then walk you through the buffet and point out the safe choices. You can still request to speak with a chef. If you are worried about cross contamination on the buffet, let someone know and a meal can be prepared specifically for you.
Most counter service restaurants have “allergy friendly” menus. Ask to see one as soon as you enter the restaurant. The menu lists the dishes that are free of common allergens. If you still have questions (the allergy friendly menu can be a little bit confusing) you can ask to see the ingredient binder. You can also request that your food be prepared in a special area that is free of contaminants. Give yourself extra time, because it will take longer than most meals. Do not use Mobile Ordering if there is an allergy involved.
Don’t think that you have to skip the food at Mickey’s Parties because of an allergy. At Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, ask for an allergy bag instead of the regular trick or treat bag. You’ll then receive tokens instead of candy. There are two different stations where you can turn the tokens in for allergy friendly treats. You’ll end up with a lot of treats, even if you don’t have very many tokens. At Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, there are allergy friendly options at the various stations. There are Enjoy Life cookies on hand, and other options as well. If you are unsure about something, ask to see the ingredient list.
A special shout out goes to Chef TJ at Trail’s End Restaurant, which is located at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Chef TJ takes great pride in making incredible meals for any dietary restriction. He makes children with allergies feel like they’re special, and his food is delicious. This humble man is a hero to many. You can’t call the restaurant and ask his schedule, but Chef TJ usually works on weeknights. Of course it is not guaranteed that he will continue to work at that restaurant (Disney does move chefs around from time to time), but it is well known that he is popular, so hopefully he’ll be at Trail’s End for years to come.
If you’re looking for a quick guide on where and what you can eat at Walt Disney World with different types of allergies, check out Allergy Eats Disney World. Put in the park or resort and the food that you want to avoid, and you’ll end up with suggestions. There are reviews from others who have dined there, which could help you to make better choices.