Our family just got back from four nights/four days at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It was the second time taking our boys there -- the first was 3 1/2 years ago. It was a whirlwind trip, and yes, it was once again "majukl," as our son Ryan (the one with Celiac) wrote in a first-grade writing assignment the day he got back!
I have to confess...I had never been fanatical about "the mouse," as so many people are. I went to Disney once or twice as a child -- and then a few more times as a teenager and young adult. While I always had a great time, there were other places I'd choose to travel instead, if given a choice.
That all changed a bit after Ryan's diagnosis with Celiac 4 1/2 years ago. Suddenly, planning trips revolved around places that could understand and accommodate a gluten-free diet. Enter Disney. We'd heard a bit about how well they worked with all sorts of special diets, so when our boys were 3 and 5, we decided they were old enough (just barely!) to appreciate a trip to Disney World. Getting detailed information through their Special Dining Department was a great experience. (Call 407-938-3288 for Animal Kingdom, 407-560-6395 for EPCOT, 407-824-5967 for Magic Kingdom, and 407-560-3551 for Hollywood Studios.) We did indeed have a "magical" vacation, with friendly chefs coming to the table to consult with us before each meal. I literally almost cried after that first trip...it was the first time in the year since Ryan's diagnosis that we were able to travel somewhere without having to bring our own food -- and were able to rest easy knowing he'd get a fun, safe, and delicious meal, just like all the other kids. Now THAT's a vacation from worry!
So, here it was 3 1/2 years later, and we found ourselves back at Disney World, in large part due to the great deals they were marketing back in the summer. And again, it was "majukl," as Ryan would say. I can't help but think that, for him, it's partly due to the fact, beyond the rides and characters and excitement of it all, he can enjoy fun "kid" things like gluten-free Mickey-shaped waffles and the Mickey ice cream bars throughout the four parks. In fact, in our experience, there are very few Disney restaurants (either quick counter-service OR sit-down table-service) where you CAN'T get a gluten-free meal. And all in all, the food is pretty good quality. They also offer healthier side dishes for kids (like carrots, grapes, and yogurt) as alternatives to the ever-ubiquitous fries, and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and brownies are available at many of the quick-service restaurants.
Our family traversed all four parks in four days and had the Dining Plan as part of our package, so all our meals were on the Disney property. You can find detailed reviews of restaurants like Le Cellier Steakhouse in EPCOT's Canada and T Rex Restaurant in Downtown Disney...character breakfasts at The Crystal Palace, Tusker House, and Hollywood and Vine...and various "quick service" meals -- all on our sister site GlutenFreeTravelSite (just select Florida under the United States pull-down menu when you Search Reviews). Others have posted many Disney restaurant reviews here as well.
If you have your own Disney stories to share -- good OR bad -- please add to our reviews by submitting one of your own. It's easy and helps so many others planning trips to this "majukl" place! And be sure to stay on top of other great places to dine and travel by signing up for our free monthly e-letter from GlutenFreeTravelSite.com and by following us on Twitter.