Multi-Allergy & Autism Dining Review
My family has a lot of special needs that make dining interesting to say the least. We've got lots of allergies between the group of us plus DH is a type 2 diabetic (who cheats frequently) and DD15 has Asperger Syndrome which is a high functioning form of autism.
Here's our lists of allergies.
DD15: gluten, milk, eggs, citrus (citric acid is ok), yeast, msg, peanuts (minor - cross contamination not a concern)
DD12: gluten, milk, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, ,sesame, hops, peanuts (minor - cross contamination not a concern), blueberry, cranberry, raw carrots, lima beans, raw fruit skins besides grapes, citrus (citric acid is ok) soy products other than Tofutti and Follow Your Heart (soys not the problem but we havent identified what ingredient in Silk and other soy products cause Oral Allergy Syndrome)
Me: gluten, milk, sesame, hazelnut, peanuts (minor - cross contamination not a concern), pork (trace amounts ok)
During our trip we ate at the following locations:
Cooke's of Dublin post 2
Babycakes post 4
Kona Island Sushi Bar post 3
The Plaza post 7
Sunshine Seasons post 8
1900 Park Fair (supper) post 17
Kona Cafť (brunch) post 18
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre post 19
Tony's Town Square post 20
Biergarten post 21
'Ohana (brunch) post 22
In addition to food I'm going to try to explain about environment as it relates to DD15 and her issues associated with her autism.
Let the drooling begin. ;)
Cooke's of Dublin
February 21 was our arrival day. We knew wed be heading to DTD after checking in so the plan was to go to Cookes of Dublin to try the fish & chips and onion rings I had heard so much about. It was already getting close to noon by the time we got there so there was a bit of a line. It was a surprisingly hot day considering it was only February (I think it was in the 80s) and we were all wearing pants because we just flew in from New England and our luggage hadnt gotten to our resort yet. The line was moving very slowly and DD15 in particular has a lot of trouble coping when shes past her meal times. Thank goodness for the excitement of having just arrived at WDW as well as the excitement of trying her first onion rings or we would have been dealing with meltdowns. Our own ordering seemed to take even longer than everybody elses but in all fairness that was because the cashier was chatting with us and being really friendly and were talkers. I bet the people behind us were getting ticked off.
The cashier knew immediately what we were asking for when asking for the allergy fish and onion rings. I went over our allergies with her and she confirmed for me that they were free of our allergens and that theyre cooked in a different fryer than everything else. She also told me that shell sometimes order the allergy ones just because they taste better so that was very encouraging. We just asked for cups of water to drink so she gave us 4 small cups.
DD15 and DD12 at this point headed over the dining area to find a table. The tables are REALLY small. We had to pull 2 together for the 4 of us to have room to fit all of our food. The tables hadnt been wiped so I had to clean the tables and the seat so that DD15 would be comfortable sitting down (she wont sit if there are visible crumbs). The tables are also very close together so I was worried that DD15 would be uncomfortable because we were close to others but she was fine. The indoor dining room is very small but because of the heat and potential for flying insects outside I wanted to keep DD15 inside. At this point shes still really excited so shes coping really well.
I went to get things like ketchup and noticed that the only vinegar was malt vinegar which means gluten. I asked one of the girls working there if I could get white vinegar (I'm Canadian, what can I say?) and she went into the kitchen to get some. She came out a while later with a condiment cup containing the white vinegar.
It didnt seem to take too long for the food to be brought out. I think it was less than 5 minutes though I wasnt watching the time.
All I can say is YUMMY!! The fish was a large single piece of fish. It was nice and flaky and the breading had a great texture and tasted really good. This was the first time my kids ever tried onion rings and they loved them. They were a little greasy but I suppose onion rings are supposed to be greasy, right? The fries werent anything special but fries dont need to be; they were fine.
Allergy fish & chips
Allergy onion rings
For anybody reading along who doesnt have allergies, heres the regular fish & chips.
I told the kids we werent going to even discuss dessert there because the plan was to head to Babycakes later. They love Babycakes so there were no arguments.
Overall, we had a really good experience here. Well most likely consider this our go-to place to eat at DTD when we do actually venture there (we rarely do).
Kona Island Sushi Bar
My kids are weird. They love sushi. I mean LOVE sushi. DD12 is very particular about what sushi shell eat but she does still love it. I had promised them that wed get food from the sushi bar at least once during our trip. On our arrival day, we really werent hungry for dinner but I knew we had to eat something so I figured it was a perfect time to get something to go from Kona Island Sushi Bar. We were pretty tired so I just wanted to get it to go and head back to our room to eat there.
When looking at the display case and menu, I was surprised at how many of the rolls have tempura in or on them. I think in the past weve typically ordered off menu so I never realized.
I knew we wouldnt want much because we had a big lunch and had been snacking and still had a whole lot of snacks in our room (we had just stopped at Babycakes so we had a half dozen donuts with our names on them sitting in our room). After looking over the menu, I figured some kind of combo would be best so I figured the Kona Combo Plate would work well. Generally we cant get California rolls because most places use artificial crab mean which contains gluten but I know from past experience that they only use real crab and weve enjoyed them in the past. Since I know what I want, I ask the CM at the cash to speak to somebody about ordering with allergies. The CM asks me to wait a minute while he got a chef.
A few minutes later, out comes a chef. It was Chef Katrina who weve met on a few occasions in the past, the last time being at Kona. We both recognized each other immediately and smiled. It was nice seeing her again.
Anyway, after a few minutes chatting, we discussed our order. I hadnt realized it but the tuna poke typically has sesame oil making it not safe even using the gluten free soy sauce. I know weve had it before from there but I guess they made it without the oil (another chef made it later in the week in the club lounge without the oil so it can be done but it wasnt a big deal). She asked if plain diced tuna served the way the poke would normally be served would be alright and it was. Actually, its really more to my kids liking that way as they dont like spicy and tuna poke has Siracha in it so this was probably better. She went over our order with the sushi chef and then left.
I was able to watch the sushi chef and it did look as though he had a separate rolling mat from a different area from the ones he had been using to put together the regular sushi that he had been working with and he prepared it in a different part of the sushi bar.
Chef Katrina came back with a covered condiment cup containing the gluten free soy sauce (San-J gluten free tamari) while the sushi chef was still working on our food.
Cant beat freshly made sushi. The Kona Combo Plate consists of (from the left) tuna poke (in this case diced tuna), salmon sashimi and Luau California roll without the pineapple (this was just a request and not an allergy issue because DD12 just didnt want pineapple in her roll).
It would be enough for a single person for a meal. DH got some food from the club lounge so he didnt have any of the sushi. This was enough for the kids and I to each have a bit. Since we really werent very hungry, it was enough so that we still had room for our donuts. We have our priorities straight obviously.
My only regret about Kona Island Sushi Bar is that we didnt get an opportunity to get full meals there. Theres always next trip.
What can I say about Babycakes? Well, how about ITS WONDERFUL!! Weve eaten some things from Babycakes before but those were always ordered to restaurants for us. This was our first time actually making our way down there since we typically skip DTD. This trip we had plans to check out DQ so the days plan included going in to Babycakes before heading back to our resort.
Not being familiar with DTD, I wasnt sure how far it would really seem or how easy it would be to find based only on maps. It was pretty easy to find actually even though I dont recall seeing any signs from the outside. It was only easy to find because I knew it was in the Pollo Campero building. If I didnt know that, Im not sure I would have found it.
It was around 4pm-ish during Presidents Week. I was nervous that they may be running low on choices by this time of the day because of how big the crowds are this week. I didnt need to worry as they had a pretty full display case. They had a nice variety of different donuts, cupcakes, cookies and other goodies including even chocolate dipped strawberries.
I should apologize right now because I didnt take any pictures. Im so ashamed. Please dont revoke my dining reviewer card.
I wasn't sure how wed be able to choose. I asked how long they stay good if refrigerated to which I was told that the cupcakes and donuts should really be eaten by the next day at the latest if theyre going to still taste good and that cookies could last several more days. She did say that if we wanted cookies for eating another day that wed be better off grabbing the ones by the Pollo Campero checkout that are wrapped rather than the ones from the jar at their counter as theyd stay fresh longer. That was fine by me. I did grab several packages.
We've tried some of the cupcakes before so we decided to go for donuts, especially since Ive read so many reviews saying just how good the donuts are plus we really enjoyed the ones we got the previous year at Trails End. They had 7 different kinds of donuts but I only wanted to get a half dozen (its a little cheaper to get a half dozen or dozen compared to the individual donut price) so I convinced my kids to skip the one with coconut since I dont like coconut very much. The girl behind the counter put them in a nice box for us.
I must say, I was so disappointed that I had to make sure that they were gone that night. It was torture, but we were forced to devour them. Hee hee hee. OK, they were delicious. I cut each one of them in thirds so we could each have a piece of each one. Later in the week a friend of ours came by to see us and brought us another four. They were gone just as quickly.
I definitely prefer the texture of the donuts over the texture of the cupcakes. I believe my kids said the same thing. The cupcakes just like the regular cakes when we had them in the past definitely did have a different texture than people who aren't used to gluten free baking would expect though to me the icing texture was more what seemed unusual. The donuts on the other hand had a perfect texture in addition to the great taste.
The cookies were just as good as I remembered them from a previous trip. My kids liked them over the Enjoy Life ones, though that could partly have been because we also get Enjoy Life at home while these ones are only available to us at WDW. I think DD12 liked the OMG cookies a bit more but DD15 can't eat those one. I liked the Babycakes ones a bit more.
I had originally planned to pick up some kind of loaf to have for breakfast the next couple of days but we ended up staying club level so breakfast was already being provided by the lounge meaning it would have been overkill. This just means we have to go back.
Babycakes will be the other part of our go-to meal whenever we go to DTD.
I hope I was clear that I was saying that tongue in cheek. They really were delicious.
Were you staying offsite? I wish we had a freezer in our room but we stay onsite and not in DVC units so no freezer. I'd love that if we could get more at one time. Though, we'd probably just eat them all right away making ourselves sick from eating too much so maybe it's good that I don't get more at one time. Clearly I have issues with lack of self-control.
Weíve enjoyed The Plaza several times in the past so I was pretty confident in this meal, though the fact that this would be the first time since DD12 went gluten free and the fact that she canít eat the GNI buns that are popping up all over WDW had me nervous. She can be fussy.
Like always, when we checked in we were given a buzzer and asked to wait. I think we waited about 15 minutes which brought us up to our ADR time since we were early like everybody is asked to do. We were seated by the front window over by the wall which is nice because that means not a lot of movement around us, not likely for DD15 to get bumped (we sat her by the window) but we can still have a lot to look at with the nice view out the window. Because of the size of the restaurant it never seems to get too loud which is nice.
I asked the girl seating us for the allergy binder (this is the only TS restaurant where they have ever brought it to the table for me and they always do) but she had to go find it. Our waiter came by to get our drinks and I mentioned that weíd be ordering allergy milkshakes so he said heíd get the chef and also find us the binder. I told him that the girl who sat us was already looking for it but he said heíd make sure she found it. It was at our table a few minutes later.
Lately Iíve been hearing more and more of people getting different chefs than we were used to so I was a bit nervous since Cousin Ken (he told us to call him that because he spends so much time with us that he feels like family) is one of the reasons we love The Plaza. We asked if he was working and YAY, he was. So of course we spend a while chatting before we ever get to discussing food.
Of course, we started out with milkshakes. He makes them for us using Tofutti ice cream and Pacific rice milk since the soy milk has gluten and DD12 canít drink soy milk even though sheís not allergic to soy (see allergy list above). As always, theyíre YUMMY.
Next came the discussion about our meals.
DD15 has never been able to eat any of the breads at WDW so we knew sheíd have to get something bunless. She enjoys tuna salad so she asked for a scoop of tuna salad. Cousin Ken opened a new can of tuna and made up a batch of tuna salad for the girls because they canít eat the regular one, I think due to lemon juice but I canít remember for sure (Iíve been able to eat it but they canít so I think itís citrus). The regular house made potato chips were also off limits (canít remember the ingredient but I know they were off limits) and he couldnít make fries due to other things being cooked in the same fryer so he offered her some of the WDW brand chips. These are pretty much her absolute favourite snack so she was thrilled. Later in the meal he brought her a few more for the road. She was THRILLED.
DD12 as I said was the one I was worried about this meal. She used to love the meatloaf prior to going gluten free but the meatloaf has oatmeal making it unsafe. Cousin Ken did confirm that he only had the GNI buns which DD12 canít eat because they use oranges in them. After Cousin Ken and I tried going through options that might be good without a bun, Cousin Ken said heíd see if he could find an Udiís bun somewhere in the park. She agreed to have the tuna salad with or without the bun but sheís definitely prefer with. Well, heís a miracle worker. I donít know where he had to send a runner to but he managed to get an Udiís hamburger bun for her from somewhere. Phew! She had the same issue as DD15 with the sides but sheís not a big fan of kettle chips so she didnít want the WDW brand of chips. She opted for grapes instead. She wasnít thrilled about not getting fries or chips but what are you going to do? At least she likes grapes.
I remembered reading somebody elseís review of a phili cheese steak sandwich so I thought Iíd ask about that. They donít have any kind of non-dairy cheese so if I wanted it I would have to get it without the cheese. Fine. It would still have the onions and peppers. For those who have never seen the GNI buns, theyíre all pretty small. Cousin Ken had to give me two smaller sandwiches since he was using hot dog buns. They tasted pretty good though they would have been better with the cheese. They were nicely seasoned and he grilled the buns to try to improve the texture. Theyíre definitely not as good as Udiís in either taste or texture but with the grilling they were ok and at least edible. I decided to give the broccoli slaw a try and I was glad I did. It was a nice alternative to the standard fries or chips. I was nervous about the GNI buns because I had emailed them some questions about cross contamination prevention procedures and never got a response but I didnít end up having any problems later so I guess they were ok.
For anybody reading along who doesnít have food allergies, hereís DHís meal. He got the regular phili with the broccoli slaw.
Every time we eat here I tell myself Iím not going to eat a lot so that Iíll have room for dessert. I didnít order a milkshake for myself knowing that it would fill me up more plus I also know DD12 never drinks her whole shake so I figured Iíd just finish hers. Well, of course, we were all stuffed. SighÖ..
Cousin Ken has got a great rapport with DD15. Even a couple years ago when strangers couldnít come near her, she let him get close and didnít freak out when he touched her arm. He really is like a giant teddy bear. He can also seem to get a smile and some cooperation out of my moody DD12 who sometimes sulks when her options are limited (I get it and donít really fault her but itís not like it changes anything so sheís just making herself and the rest of us miserable when she does it).
With the changes in the bread and the lack of side options, Iím not sure if weíll be back for a while unless itís maybe an ADR around late lunch time just to get dessert. Cousin Ken is like always amazing but he can only do so much when he doesnít have as much to work with.
Every trip we eat at Sunshine Seasons. This trip was no exception. We just love the fact that itís a CS location in a park where we get to talk to a chef rather than a manager. I know that there are lots of options that are safe for us and that the chefs will even customize something but we seem to have our favourites that we just stick with each trip.
DD12 loves the chicken. She always gets it. Sheís not a big fan of the half chicken but a kids meal is too small with only one drumstick. If you order a meal with 3 drumsticks they charge for a half chicken and give you the same amount of sides, but she only ever eats 2 of the drumsticks. After doing a bit of Mickey Math, I figured out that it made more sense for us to just order her 2 kids meals instead of the adult meal. With both meals she just wanted white rice (there really are more options but she loves white rice). Usually she likes a drink like Poweraide (not that she needs it) but since this was a pair of kids meals she had to get something that goes with a kids meal so she got an apple juice and a water with it. I asked the chef about the dessert options and he said to tell the cashier that he told us to grab something from the allergy shelf for her. The cashier didnít want to allow the chocolate bar or OMG cookie but ended up ringing it through after we explained that the options available with the kids meals arenít safe for her due to allergies and that we were following the chefís instructions. You could see from her face that she didnít like it but she rang it up as part of the kids meals anyway (Iím not sure why she cared but it seems she did).
DD15 is much more adventurous and will try anything once. Ever since trying the seared tuna, itís become one of her favourite meals. She orders it in any restaurant that has seared tuna steak on their menu. So of course she wanted the seared tuna this time as well. She canít have the noodles itís normally served with so we had to discuss alternate options with the chef. Like DD12, sheís also a huge white rice fan so she typically just asks for a lot of white rice. We were standing by the salad station talking to the chef and she started asking about some of the things on display. After chatting a bit he asked if she wanted to try the beets and being the adventurous eater that she is, she said yes. He gave her both the yellow and purple beets. It turns out sheís not the biggest fan of beets but she ate a bit and I enjoyed the rest.
Like DD15, Iím a big fan of the seared tuna. Like her, I also canít have the noodles but unlike her, I like the salad. The salad comes with some kind of additional vegetables that go on top and theyíre quite tasty. He also talked me into trying the beets and Iím glad he did as they were tasty.
I donít like these new containers theyíre using for serving. Iím pretty sure itís a smaller portion now. Iím glad I had DD15ís beets because even with that I could have eaten more. I knew we had a big all you can eat dinner ahead of us that night so it wasnít a big deal but I was disappointed that they were using these smaller dishes in order to cut back on portions (I assume thatís why anyway).
FYI: They moved the allergy snacks. They were on top of the very first counter immediately on the right once you pass the signs showing whatís available, before you get to any of the actual food stations. They had quite a few options like always, including the ever popular Enjoy Life chocolate bars. They do have a variety of different special dietary needs treats together there so make sure youíre grabbing the right thing. The no sugar added brownies are pretty close to the gluten free brownies, etc.
The biggest problem we have at Sunshine Seasons is timing our food. DD12ís food comes from a different station than mine and DD15ís and is as simple to serve as just putting stuff on a plate so hers is often ready before ours. We end up having DH get his food and go pay for him and DD12 while DD15 and I are still waiting. It means theyíre half finished their meals when weíre just sitting down. I need to do something about how we place the order and actually ask the chef to do hers last next time.
The only other problem we ever have at Sunshine Seasons is the crowded chaotic feel. Thereís no sense of order at the various stations and people are just wandering. While waiting weíre never sure where weíre supposed to stand and we keep having to go back and forth to get all of our stuff together before we go pay. In addition to this, the tables are all very close together and itís pretty much impossible to get through a meal without your chair being bumped. A booth works a lot better for a kid who canít handle being bumped but the booths are very limited and your food might get cold while waiting. Even just getting between the tables to get to an empty table can be difficult. The acoustics in the area are also not the greatest making it seem much louder than it should be. I have no idea why but the line at Living with the Land was insanely long (the queue was completely in use and it was still extending quite a bit into the eating area) so that made it even harder to navigate. Luckily Epcot is DD15ís favourite park and she loves the food at SS and was having a really good day that day so she handled it all beautifully. If she had have been struggling at all then I donít think she would have made it through lunch.
Weíll definitely be back but like always weíll eat early and make sure DD15 is still in a really good mood when we go or else weíll just head back to the resort to eat.
I haven't had the chance to read the whole thing yet, but thanks for sharing! I look forward to reading more! You are such a help to the many looking for allergy questions. I would LOVE to get some fish and chips but I think my soy allergy would get in the way of that... Hope your trip was wonderful!
Thanks for the info! When we last went to Disney Udi's was available everywhere. Do you think that gni will still be offered when we go in Oct? I am not familiar with that brand. It looks like my son (gluten, dairy and peanut allergy) will be able to eat it, but he will only like it if tastes similar to Udi's buns.
I really don't know if the fish & chips have soy or not. You'll have to ask. Sorry.
By October I wouldn't count on many if any places having the Udi's buns. While the Udi's buns have a much better texture, they have eggs while the GNI ones don't. That makes GNI something that covers more allergies which is what WDW is aiming for. It costs more to carry multiple brands so I think more places are switching. Some may keep the Udi's since there are a few that still even have Ener-G but I wouldn't count on it. Taste-wise I don't know that it's much different than Udi's but texture is very different. Udi's has a texture that's a lot closer to regular bread while GNI has a very gluten free type of texture.
On the GNI website it says they do have eggs (egg white) in the ingredients. Did you have a type that was egg free or are egg whites safe for you all? I wish they would have Ener-G everywhere but I'm sure that would alienate someone too, so at least they are trying.
My DD who is egg free can't have the GNI buns regardless because she's also allergic to yeast. I was surprised that all the buns on the GNI website look like they have eggs yet the package they've got at the resort is egg free. I sent GNI an email asking about this as well as a few other things but I never heard back from them which IMO doesn't bode well for them. I wonder if they made these ones specifically for WDW?
Please update us if you ever get that response- I also read this, went to their site and was confused that they all list egg whites.
That's a little scary, I hope they are special and not labeled wrong! :scared1: What a nightmare that would be. I feel so bad when places who are actually trying get mixed up.
Random extra from another thread I lost somewhere, I emailed enjoy life about their cookies (did you see they are all GMO free now? That made me happy) and they are no longer doing the soft cookies in small packs but did not address my question about whether they made different special packs for places like Disney. Do you know if you got any small soft packs on this trip? Or how long it's been since you saw them?
Thanks for the update about GNI. I did notice in TINY writing at the bottom of their home page a statement about how they are working on a vegan and dairy free version of their breads to come in the near future. Maybe they have already incorporated that into the Disney offerings? I may call GNI. One of the chefs at POP gave me their phone number last year and talked to me about GNI as well as told me to call if I was ever concerned about any allergy issues regarding upcoming trips so maybe if nothing else I can give him a call when our trip gets closer. I will report back on the boards if I find out any solid info. :)
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