When I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007 and told I would need to follow a gluten free lifestyle, my first worry was not about the foods I could no longer eat but about how I was going to follow a gluten-free diet while on vacation.
As a foodie who loves the connection that sharing a meal brings, I knew restaurants and cafes would require a layer of complication that I wasn’t quite ready to tackle.
A lot has changed in the years since my own diagnosis and ‘gluten-free’ is becoming more of a mainstream way of life.
Still, travel can raise a certain level of anxiety and preparation when it comes to staying gluten free.
The good news? Disney has been one of the easiest and most seamless vacations when it comes to dietary restrictions.
Even still, I’ve gathered some of my best tips for making your next gluten-free Walt Disney World vacation as magical as it can possibly be.
Book your trip early
Scheduling your trip in advance will ensure you have the widest variety of options available to you when it comes time to reserve meals.
Disney lays out their basic dietary request process HERE. They also have an email address on that page where you can reach out to guest services for specifics if you need a more detailed plan.
Dining reservations can be made 180 days prior to your vacation (hence the suggestion to book your trip early). If you’re staying in a Walt Disney World Resort you can book for the length of your stay, up to 10 (you can add your vacation stay dates on top of the 180). Certain table service locations book up FAST, so if you’ve got your sights set on a specific place to experience you’ll want to book as soon as you can.
Have snacks on hand
Even the best laid dining plans can be derailed. If you get stuck in line for a ride, you end up in a different park than you expected, or a location is out of the specific treat you were looking for. Don’t forget to pack your favorite snacks – granola bars, fruit, cheese sticks. You can bring coolers or backpacks with food into the park, so there should be no issues having these on hand.
Let a Cast Member know your needs
I made sure to let Cast Members know I needed to follow a gluten-free diet. They all immediately got to work providing support whether that be alerting my server, a chef, or letting me know what my options were. It was refreshing to not be met with confused stares but instead be fully understood and taken care of.
Pack your patience
The one downside is that sometimes your meal (especially at quick service locations) will have to be specially prepared. With that in mind your gluten-free diners may have to wait an extra 10-15 minutes to eat. If your gluten-free eater is a child this may be a great time to have an extra snack or two to make the wait a bit more bearable.
The best part about a gluten-free trip to Walt Disney World is that there are so many options! Some of my favorites I shared in a previous post HERE. One thing’s for certain…get ready to enjoy a full belly on your trip. There’s so much to enjoy about eating gluten-free at the most magical place on earth!
(Photo from the author’s personal collection.)
To learn more about Beryl and read her recent posts for WDW Radio, visit her author page by clicking the link on her name at the top of this post.