Going on vacation with food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities can be scary and stressful, especiallly when you don’t know what to expect.
Here’s my experience at Disney World with my food sensitivities to canola oil and soy lecithin:
Last year, I went to Disney World for the first time with my food sensitivities, which I blogged about, so I have more of an idea of the food I will be able to eat and I can be even more prepared for my 2019 trip.
I found out that I was able to eat pizza at most places I went to as they make it all from scratch, so I should be okay with most pizzas. I learned that the restaurants I went to use canola oil for everything, so I pretty much can’t eat those restaurants, although I’ve only been to The Hard Rock Café at Universal in Florida and The Sci-fi Dine-In at Hollywood Studios in Disney World.
I’ve learned to always bring your own snacks, especially while on vacation and headed to new places where you’re unsure what food will be there and whether you’ll be able to safely eat anything. That way, you’ll always have your safe snacks with you, especially when you can’t find anything to eat. I packed my Enjoy Life protien bites and bars and I’m ready to conquer my trip.
At the airport, when we landed in Orlando, there’s a bunch of restaurants you’re able to choose from like McDonald’s or Chipotle. Although, those restaurants I know I can’t eat at nor am I able to find the ingredients as the food is just sitting there out in the open and not wrapped up with ingredients listed. There was one restaruant where I found pre-packaged food that had the ingredients, but the ingredients were not helpful. The ingredients was what the food consisted of, which you could obviously see like a bagel and cream cheese, for example. But, it didn’t have the ingredients that make-up the bagel and cream cheese. So, that didn’t help me at all as I was unable to find the actual ingredients where I could know for sure, whether the food was safe or not. I ended up not getting anything to eat for dinner, but only eating a couple of my safe-to-eat snacks and then a sandwich when we arrived to the hotel as well as our food.
HOTEL: Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa:
The resort we stayed at, in the market area, The Artist’s Pallete, had a couple of pre-packaged allergy-friendly sweets like Enjoy Life cookies, although it seemed to only have cookies and one brownie option. So not many different sweet varieties for us with allergies and you most likely can’t get any of the freshly made bakery items like a cupcake, candy apple, rice krispie treat, or anything else. Like for me, I was only able to get Enjoy Life cookies, which is cool, but sometimes I want something different and sweeter like one of the cute, decorated cupcakes, but most likely can’t eat them nor can I find the ingredients. That can be hard and challenging not being able to eat the same, fun, fancy sweets.
The market area also has a few grocery items like bagels, English muffins, Little Bites, Mac N’ Cheese, crackers, chips, popcorn, and so on, so there’s plenty of snack items you can get, although there may not be snacks for your allergies. They also have meal items like sandwiches, pizza, salads…etc. I know from last year, they have a gluten-free crust for the pizza, you just have to ask the chefs. Disney is great with accommodating allergies, so I’m sure you’ll be able to find something to eat.
I only had one downfall where we tried to order pizza for room service, which came from a local pizza shop, but they use a vegetable oil blend of olive oil and canola in the sauce, so no pizza for me. That’s the first time I’ve heard of canola oil in pizza sauce. It’s usually always olive oil, if any oil at all. It’s the first time I haven’t been able to get pizza because of canola oil out of the places I’ve been to or tried to get pizza from. If anything, they may have soy lecithin in the dough if it’s not made fresh, which I’ve had happen before, although I’ve always thought to ask about canola oil in the sauce, which is exactly why I don’t eat pizza unless I know what the ingredients are and that it’s safe to eat. So, everyone else got pizza while my mom made me a chicken quesadilla. The good thing about room service is that we were in our room with the grocery food we bought, so I was able to eat something else.
Grocery Shopping: PUBLIX
We usually have my uncle take us grocery shopping when he visits us, but last year we heard about Publix that will deliver to the hotel, so this year, we tried it out. My mom orderd the food on the bus ride there, which worked out because once we got there, she waited a few minutes for the food to arrive and bell service brought it up to our room. It was our first time ordering food, so the delivery was free. We were able to get all the same foods we usually get at home, which worked out because then I didn’t have to worry too much about finding food I could eat because it was all the same stuff I always get.
The only con about the app and ordering online is that we were unable to find the ingredents for the food. So some items like bakery bagels, and cooking spray, where the ingredients are different everywhere you go, something like a bakery bagel that is usually safe to eat, you just hope for the best. I got lucky with the bagels as I’m able to eat them, but we didn’t know that until the food arrived. But, the cooking spray, as it’s olive oil, which is good as it’s not canola oil, it still had soy lecithin in it, but we didn’t know that because we couldn’t see the ingredients.
So, grocery shopping online may not be the best for those with food allergies or sensitivities as you’re unable to see the ingredents and someone else is doing the shopping for you, so you can’t double check. Although, if you’re familiar with the foods, and they have the same foods you always eat that you know is safe without having to double check the ingredients, then grocery shopping online, definitely saves on time and you just have to wait for it to be delivered. I reccomend trying it out. Then you don’t have to do all the hard work while on vacation.
ALLERGY-FRIENDLY SNACKS: Enjoy Life Foods
I know for a fact that there is Enjoy Life snacks at Disney Resorts and parks. Like mentioned above, I found Enjoy Life in the market area of the resort. Unexpectedly, when I thought I wouldn’t be able to get some candy, I found Enjoy Life at Goofy’s Candy Co. at Disney’s Springs. At first, I didn’t know it was Enjoy Life because of the Disney characters on the front of the packaging and it wasn’t in their teal packaging, but I saw the allergy-friendly symbols on the bag. I thought, “oh, maybe I could eat this?” I looked at the back to read the ingredents and saw the Enjoy Life symbol. I was like, “what?! Enjoy Life is here too?! Yippee!! Definitely buying some snacks.”
I found some Enjoy Life at Animal Kingdom. They were located at Zuri’s Sweets Shop, right next to The Lion King shop, across from the safari.
I know from last year, that Enjoy Life is also at Magic Kingdom at the Liberty Market next to The Hall of Presidents. It’s cool to see Enjoy Life at the parks and resorts, you just have to find them. Enjoy Life could be at other locations, but that’s all I saw without going nuts looking for allergy-friendly snacks.
Besides Enjoy Life, the parks have plenty of different snack varieties for all different eating styles. There’s not just Mickey pretzels and popcorn. I found plenty of stands with fresh fruits and vegetables and a bunch of other healthy snacks. Just keep looking around for different options.
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant: Hollywood Studios
The first dinner we ate was held at the Sci-Fi Dine-In. When we ate there last year, the chef made something special, not on the menu and that’s exactly what I ended up getting this year. What’s cool about the restaurant is that if you tell them you have allergies, they hand out an allergy-friendly menu that has allergy-friendly desserts and meal options. It lists the allergens the food does not contain under each item. Although, for me, I don’t have allergies, yet uncommon food sensitivities, so an allergy-friendly menu doesn’t really help that much.
I had to talk to the chef and look at the ingredients for anything I had in mind. I first thought maybe oven roasted turkey, but we found out that the turkey is soaked in canola oil, so that was eliminated. We then mentioned that we ate here last year and what the chef did last year, which was make pasta, but put olive oil on it and add chicken and veggies. So that’s what the chef agreed to do this year. The meal came out and it was delicious even with only olive oil on top. I definitely could taste the olive oil, which was a good thing because then I knew that it was in fact olive oil. And then I got an allergy-friendly vanilla milkshake with my meal, which was also delicious and perfect to end the night after a hot day.
Going to the same restaurant I did last year definitely helped as I had an idea of what to order. The chef last year was super helpful coming up with and offering to make a non-menu item to satisfy my needs. That helped as this year, we were able to tell the chef what was provided last year, so he could make the same meal, which still came out good and I ate the whole bowl. With food sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies it’s always good to talk to the chef. If you’re unable to eat any of the menu items then you could work things out with the chef and give each other ideas on what to possibly make that will be safe for you to eat. At the end of the day, I was able to enjoy my meal problem-free thanks to the chefs and the experience I had last year of making a non-menu item that helped me enjoy the night.
Crystal Palace: Magic Kingdom
The Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom in Disney World is buffet style character dining where you get to eat with Winnie The Pooh and friends and pick the foods you want out of the options they have. I talked to the chef beforehand and she said that they use a vegetable oil blend for the food, which includes canola oil. She offered to make everything fresh using olive oil and I got to pick the foods I wanted. Boy was I spoiled. I started off with salad and fruit. Then got chicken, mashed potatoes and broccoli & cauliflower. Followed by a dessert of vanilla ice cream and Enjoy Life cookies. It was very delicious. Thanks chef Lauren!
I never had such special treatment like that before. I’ve had the chef make a different meal for me to eat, but never go out of the way to the extreme where the food just kept coming and the options were never ending. I got a lot of safe-to-eat food and definitely didn’t go hungry that night. The only downside about having my food made fresh was that I had to wait for it to all cook while everybody else got to get up and get their food right away at the buffet. Although, we had to wait a long time for the characters to come, so it didn’t really matter that I was still eating my food while everyone else was done because the characters didn’t even arrive until I was finishing up my dessert.
Getting my own special food with special treatment was a good way to end the night. The food was delicious and I had a great, positive experience thanks to one chef that spoiled me. Sometimes all it takes is one person to change the mood, make your day, and make the night/dining experience a magical one.
Hollywood & Vine: Hollywood Studios
Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios in Disney World is the last restaurant we ate at, which is similar to The Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom where it is character, buffet style dining. We spoke to the chef once again, although this experience was the complete opposite from The Crystal Palace. The chef wasn’t helpful at all. He didn’t give me any ideas or suggestions of what I could eat. He told me that I couldn’t eat any of the buffet food because they use a olive oil and canola oil blend like the other restaurant, but then didn’t suggest any food. My mom then told him that we ate at the other place and the chef made a meal for me. I told him that the chef cooked chicken breast in olive oil with salt, pepper and garlic, mashed potatoes from scratch using butter, and broccoli. So that’s what he agreed to make.
He then suggested that he could make a salad so I had something to eat while the food was cooking, but didn’t give me any ideas of what he could put on it. He asked what I wanted, but I wasn’t sure what to get. I just got cucumber and carrots because I couldn’t think of anything else and that’s what came to mind. He said he was going to make a balsamic and olive oil dressing blend for the salad, but he came out with separate bowls, one with olive oil and one with plain balsamic. I tried mixing them together on my salad, but it didn’t work out well. I got plain balsamic bites and plain olive oil bites, which is gross when they’re separate. Didn’t really enjoy my salad that much.
However, the main meal was good, tasted just like the meal from the other night and I’m happy I was able to get something to eat even if we had to give the chef suggestions. I got no options for dessert unlike the other night, so I was a little upset about that as the other night was such a great experience, I set myself high standards and high expectations for this restaurant. We did get candy at the end, which was cool and the characters came by a lot faster than the other restaurant, so that was better.
Plus this restaurant did have an allergen guide of what foods contained what allergens out of the top main 8 allergens, so that could be helpful for those with allergies. You always have the option to talk to the chef to come up with safe meals, although I guess it all depends on what chef you get for a better experience.
It was Haloween season when we went, so we got to experience Minnie’s Halloween Dine, which was cool because we got to see the main Disney characters, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy dressed up in their Halloween costumes, which was a great character experience. Overall, a good night, although not as magical as from the night at the other character dining.
Conclusion: End of Trip
Disney is very accommodating for those of us with dietary restrictions. They want to make sure everybody enjoys their meal and has a magical time. For the most part, at the sit down restaurants, I have been able to enjoy a meal problem-free even if it was a non-menu, special, made-up meal to accommodate my needs. I found out that most restaurants use a olive oil and canola oil blend, which stinks because of my canola oil sensitivity, but worked out as I was able to get my own special meals cooked in olive oil.
But, walking around the parks, looking for a snack or lunch to eat at one of the stands or quick service, fast food restaurants, I haven’t been able to get anything to eat other than fruit or the snack bars I brought with me. At the stands and quick service restaurants, you can’t see the ingredents; they’re not out in the open and you can’t really ask a chef whose on the other side of the restaurant away from the register and way from the food being served. Do the people at the registers know the ingredients? You don’t have time to pick out what you want while at the register, you have to know ahead of time, so even if you can find the ingredients at the register, now you’re wasting time at the register trying to figure out what to get. It’s not easy finding the ingredients, if even possible, and finding safe foods to eat at quick service restaurants and stands. I always played it safe and didn’t get anything unless I knew it could be okay for sure like some fruit.
Even with fruit and/or my grain and seed bars, I mainly had a small snack instead of a meal that would keep me full for a few hours. So, for the most part my lunch was a snack and after walking around the parks all day and barely eating, I got back to the hotel starving. If we ate dinner at the restaurant, I ate my whole entire meal. If we came back to the hotel and ate, once again ate my whole entire meal and them some if I happend to have extra safe snacks to eat. Every night I was HUNGRY and never had enough to eat during the day as when we were out at the parks, I couldn’t find much to eat if anything.
So, I got lucky that I was able to go grocery shopping and buy the same foods I always get, knowing it will be safe. I always had my safe snacks with me and was always able to eat something, which is better than nothing. I had great experiences at the sit-down restaurants and was able to get something to eat. I did find some fruits to eat, so atleast I was able to get something and was only unable to get a lunch or small snacks at the parks, but made it up at dinner.
Besides the food, at the end of the day, I had a great vacation with family and friends and a super fun time at Disney World. I love everything Disney, I love amusement parks, I love all the rides, I love Florida, and I love being on vacation and spending time with family and friends. It’s the perfect way to end the summer and I can’t wait to come back. We went at a good time too as it seemed to be a lot less crowded in September as kids are back in school and summer is over, so that worked out very well too. Being at Disney World is always a great and fun experience and a good time spent among everyone. Disney is my happy place. 🙂