Happy New Year! We just got back from a family vacation to Disney World. It was sure nice to get away and do something different and recharge the batteries. Of course, the kids had a blast as well. We really aren’t excited about being back to below zero temps that’s for sure! So, I decided my first post of the year will be about eating gluten free at Disney World. Anytime, we go anywhere out of the ordinary, I do research about places to eat. It’s always a challenge. This trip was no exception.
First step, before leaving was to make sure I had adequate snacks packed in the event we couldn’t find suitable gf options at the airport or at a park. Included in my stash were a few gf low sugar granola bars, protein balls, beef jerky and microwaveable rice packets (and plastic forks!). Pack a few in the purse for the day and the rest in the luggage, if nothing else I have peace of mind. And off we went!
Eating gluten free at Disney World
We arrived at the French Quarter at Port Orleans. And of course, as soon as we got there all of the kids were asking to eat (13 of us in total). It had been a long half day of travel after all, so most of kids sat down with hot pretzels from the bar. The bar did not have any gluten free options so I went to the main restaurant where I found some fries (forget about nutrition!) My son was happy. I was pleasantly surprised to see the other options offered for meals and snacks.
Quick snacks included a variety of fresh fruit and veggie containers. Milk and soymilk, V8 juice, hummus, yogurts, parfaits (not positive that was GF). I knew I would be able to get GF buns all over Disney. And this hotel offered that. When placing your order, tell the cast member that you are GF and they will get the chef. The chef will go through all of your options and prepare your meal separately. And as I learned, that was the routine for every quick service meal.
I would also like to make a note that Port Orleans serves gluten free beignets! Yes, you read that right. I hear they are amazing. Sadly, we did not try them as they are made with applesauce and that is a no no for fructose malabsorption. But, what a treat that would be for gluten free eaters!
Our first dinner was at the Port Orleans Riverside Mill, just a short walk away from our resort. Gluten free choices that I observed:
Grilled chicken sandwich
Create your own GF pasta
Other sandwiches, like club, turkey and roast beef
Make your own salad
Desserts: cookie, brownie and ice cream
TQ opted for a make your own pasta dinner and salad. The pasta was mixed with a marinara sauce and he added chicken and parmesan cheese. His salad had fresh greens, and other veggies that he selected. A good healthy and hearty meal to start off our first day of vacation.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The next morning we skipped breakfast to get to the Animal Kingdom Park as it opened at 7am. So, I had purchased a few fruit cups (red grapes and melon) and milk the evening before to go along with our protein bars for a quick start. We spent two days essentially at this park so I will go through all of our eating adventures there. Go to Harambe Fruit Market located in Africa, our favorite snack station. Here they had a large selection of fruit (as the name would suggest) clementines, fresh pineapple spears, grapes, strawberries, carrots, cheese and nut bowls, bananas, apples with caramel, chips (Lay’s) and yogurt. Each day was slightly different. Clearly, enough choices for everyone GF, low FODMAP, vegetarian, dairy free and our group encompassed all (yes, we are a high maintenance family 😊 )!
Next, Yak and Yeti Counter service (next to Yak and Yeti restaurant – which has an entire allergy friendly menu for everyone! Will try that next time, for sure) as we did not have reservations for the restaurant. Nonetheless, the chef came to inform us of the day’s special short rib platter. He recommended it as one of his favorites to eat himself and he is celiac! So, we jumped on that. They were tangy, sweet and mouthwateringly tasty. Another option was a fresh salad with chicken.
Our final meal at Animal Kingdom was also a quick service meal at Restaurantosaurus located in DinoLand. This is your typical burger place. We opted for a grilled chicken BLT sandwich with fries. (they also offer vegetarian burgers) There is a nice bar of fixings to add extra lettuce or tomatoes, pickles ect to your burgers along with sauces. I am not sure which sauces were GF as my son is a purist and opts for no sauce 😊 Worth noting, Flame Tree Bbque located between the Tree of Life and DinoLand, has a menu that covers the top 8 common allergies (gluten, dairy, egg, soy, peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish) They offer ribs, chicken and pulled pork.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Enjoy a quick service meal in Hollywood Studios at Rosies’ All-American (near Tower of Terror), connected to Fairfax Fare. Rosies, has a menu to cover all of the common 8 allergies. GF selections included chicken strips and burgers which my son opted for as he’s a burger freak. A turkey sandwich is offered for children’s meals. Fairfax Fare had TexMex offerings but I read conflicting reports that the pork and rice bowls were gluten free, plus other FODMAP ingredients could have caused trouble. They have a vegan chili rice bowl for all of my vegan friends worth noting!
The Magic Kingdom
Finally, the Magic Kingdom had suitable choices. We tried Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Café located near the Bear Jamboree and Splash Mountain. This was another restaurant that was well suited for our entire family. The menu covers all top 8 allergens and also features vegetarian. Gluten free meals included a chicken salad, a burger and rice bowls with chicken, beef or vegetarian. I enjoyed the chicken bowl, and you can customize the bowl to your liking at the salsa bar. Here you can get fixin’s like salsa, guacamole, corn salad and veggies to add to your rice bowls or top burgers.
All in all, there were many options for all of our special diet needs. All of the parks readily offered fresh fruit and veggies as snacks, popcorn, turkey legs and dole whips (famous dessert) which we didn’t partake in – but definitely an option. In my next post, I will detail our meals at several of the dinner shows and Epcot for sit down dinners. Do you have any experiences at Disney that you’d like to share? Any favorite restaurants?