It’s been almost a year since our trip to Disney Magic Kingdom in Orlando, and realizing many families are about to venture there for spring break,
I thought I’d finally take the time to finally tell you about our experience…
My husband and I were basically talked into taking our girls to Disney… Our ideal vacation spot is OBX in the off-season, where you can have an entire beach to yourself — not standing in line at a crowded theme park. Yet even so, we succumbed to the pressure of family and friends advising us to take our girls “at least once”….and actually ended up having a great time — and thanking them for the push!
First of all, we knew we would have to keep it on the cheap side. Thankfully we had friends who were renting a condo about half an hour away from Disney, so we stayed there to avoid hotel fees. Obviously we lucked out with that part. Secondly, we actually drove the 1,200 miles it took us to get there to avoid air fare! Third, we decided to just spend one day at the Magic Kingdom, and be there from the minute it opened until closing time at night to get our money’s worth. We got recommendations ahead of time from friends who have been there multiple times, asking which attractions were “musts” for 8 year old girls and what they liked about them. We found a map and planned to go to the most highly recommended rides first before the lines got long, then ad lib the rest of the day after we did our “must-sees”.
Another thing I did beforehand was ask people for gluten-free tips on my Facebook page. Thanks to the awesome group of parents on there, I received a bunch of advice and recommendations as to where to eat g-free, which was a huge help…
I’m pretty sure we covered the entire park that day — enjoyed a few GF meals, the evening parade, fireworks and everything else on our list. We knew it would be our only chance to cover it all, so that kept us energized and refusing to quit early. Obviously that’s not going to work for families with various aged kids, but our girls were almost 9 at the time and we were all physically well and able to make it through such a full day.
As far as gluten-free food goes, we did bring some of our own energy bars to snack on in the morning, but we also ate at two restaurants within the Magic Kingdom that day and bought a few other GF treats here and there. (FYI, you are allowed to bring your own cooler and food if you’d like to save even more money that way.)
For lunch we ate at “Cosmic Ray’s” in Tomorrow Land. My girls both had a hotdog with a gluten-free bun (quite possibly the only GF hotdog bun they’ve ever had — we usually just eat them plain) and I had a big angus burger with a gluten-free bun. This picture at left shows my burger…
The bun looked like it was going to be rock-hard when it first came out, but it was totally soft and delicious, as were the girls’ hotdog buns, also shown below… I don’t remember exact prices at this point, but I believe each meal was somewhere around $10 for hotdog, fries and a drink.
For dinner we ate at the “Pinocchio Village Haus” restaurant, which is in Fantasy Land.
We were drenched from an unexpected thunderstorm (I highly advise bringing ponchos!) so we came in to warm up inside and enjoy some food. We split two g-free pizzas (priced the same — $9.95 each — as the regular personal sized pizzas that were only half the size!) which were very tasty and filling, along with some oven-baked fries.
At both places a “Coordinator” took our order, gave us a check with “ALLERGY” stamped on it in red, a buzzer for when it was ready, and that same person followed the order all the way through, even handing it to us himself when it was ready. No confusion, no attitude, no problems….
They really went above and beyond to make us feel confident about our meals and the prices weren’t any higher than regular food. Both restaurants were a great experience. Disney recommends advance notification for sit-down restaurants, but the quick service places (like we went to) are ready to roll with set GF options. It couldn’t be easier! Just tell them you need your meal gluten-free and they take care of everything.
We also cooled off by enjoying their rainbow pops and splurged on (just a few) Mickey Mouse ice cream bars and fruit slushies over the course of the day!
As we were leaving the park that night, someone told us about “Downtown Disney” which is close to the Magic Kingdom — with free admission and free parking! Of course we just had to check it out the next day! After tooling around the Lego Store and checking out the huge Lego sculptures all around us, we ventured over to Babycakes, which is in the same building as Pollo Campero and Fresh-A-Peel. Their little bakery was in one corner and it felt so good to be able to tell my girls that they could get whatever they wanted…
There was also another window (not shown) that had all kinds of other baked goods in it: doughnuts, banana bread, and much more. We boxed our desserts up and had them after lunch…(after sampling each one first, of course…)
One of the attractions within Downtown Disney was T-Rex Restaurant, our family’s favorite dining experience of all time, recommended by a fellow Mom, Angel, who is a big supporter of the g-free kid Facebook page…
We had THE most fabulous lunch there. It is the most incredible place — huge, realistic-looking & sounding, moving dinosaurs, giant fish tanks, fossils on the walls, volcanoes, color-changing ice cave, meteor showers every 20 minutes — you name it. Besides an amazing atmosphere, the food was outstanding…
Our waitress sent out the Chef, who was super nice. He went through both the kid’s menu and the adult menu with us, telling us exactly how he could make things GF for us. The girls had pasta with white cheddar sauce plus cinnamon apples as a side, and also rotisserie chicken and chips. We split both meals between them so they could both try double the amount of GF foods. I ordered an amazing salad with rotisserie chicken and lots of other stuff on it.
The Chef said he would make
everything himself to assure no cross-contamination, and he also came back out once we started eating to make sure that everything was to our satisfaction, which it totally was.
I didn’t take any pictures of our food at T-Rex, only because we were just soaking everything in and didn’t want to take anything away from that by worrying about pictures, as I’m sure you can understand. Trust me, though…it was excellent!
The rest of our days in Florida were spent beachcombing, body surfing and just relaxing in the pool…keeping it as cheap as possible. Our indulgences at Downtown Disney may seem like a splurge for cheapskates, but it was so worth it to have such delicious GF food without having to worry about anything. Our girls still talk about it and I know it was an experience we’ll all remember for a very long time….and I truly hope yours is as well. Hopefully this information (and much more at the links below) will give you that “push” you may need to give your g-free kid a memorable experience that you’ll never forget — at Disney… where gluten-free dreams come true…
To help you plan your trip to Disney, here are fifteen valuable links:
- DisneyWorld.com: Special Dietary Requests
- How to Get the Best Gluten-Free Experience from Your Disney Vacation
- Secrets Behind Disney’s Meticulously Gluten-Free Food
- The Disney Food Blog: Eating Gluten Free at Disney World
- Allergy Free Mouse: Gluten Free at Downtown Disney
- Allergy Mouse: Gluten Free Products Used at Walt Disney World Parks
- Orlando Gluten Free: Gluten Free at Walt Disney World
- Gluten and Dairy Free: Disney World and Disney Cruiseline GF Dining
- Orlando Vacation: One Day Touring Guide
- Disney Food Blog: Dining With A Special Diet in Disney World and Disneyland
- Glutenista: Walt Disney World Gluten Free (see dining info & money saving tips)
- Jules Speaks Gluten Free Blog: Disney/Universal — GF on the fly
- Gluten Free Vegan Mom Who Knows: Their Disney experience (not for cheapskates)
- AllEars.Net: Read Multiple GF Dining Experiences from Guests at Disney
- Gluten Free Disney and Allergy Free Orlando? There’s an app for that!
Obviously, in my post, I only touched on a few ways to show your g-free kids a great time in Disney. Please comment below with your own personal experiences at Disney and share more tips and recommendations for other families — thanks!