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Old 03-26-2013, 01:05 PM   #1
mangofandango
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Questions about food allergies: when planning the trip and when in the parks!

Hi!

I emailed Special Diets, and they gave me some boiler plate info, but didn't answer all my questions. Someone referred me to this board, so...I'm new here, hi.

My daughter has a severe, life-threatening allergy to eggs, tree nuts, and peanuts.

My in-laws want to take me, my husband, and our daughter (she will be 4) to WDW in the fall/winter sometime. We have been before, but pre-daughter - I think it was 5 or 6 years ago. I know my in-laws will want to be on a meal plan, and they tend to eat cheaply - a muffin here, a shared dinner there. I know from the research I've done that we can bring some safe food into the park, and we will totally do that, but we will probably also want to eat out if that is in fact doable (it sounds like it is). I guess that's my first question: does a meal plan make sense for us if we are going to likely bring snacks and eat out at the restaurants more than the counter service? I don't know a lot about that, and how meal plans work for people with special diets.

My next question is about booking the trip, with regard to food allergies: If we don't want to share a meal plan with our in-laws for dietary reasons, can we book together and stay in adjoining/close-by rooms? Or will we need to book separately so that the allergy will be flagged for my family, but not for my in-laws? Speaking of "flagged", is that a thing that happens? I guess I'm also asking what the whole procedure should be, when booking a trip with a severe allergy. I do know I'm supposed to contact each place we plan to eat ahead of time, and talk to the chef and/or manager at each, which I absolutely will. But Special Diets couldn't/didn't tell me anything about the booking/trip planning part of things, and I just want to know as much as I can. If you all don't know, I'd love to get a better idea of who I can call at WDW to find out more.

And then...I know people do this trip with severe food allergies, from reading here and elsewhere. But if anyone shares my daughter's specific allergies and could tell me about their experience, the best places to eat safely, and so on, I would really appreciate it very much. I am both looking forward to this trip and worrying about it, and I would feel so much better with just a bit more information.

PS: I am new here and doing everything I can to understand the acronyms, etc., but if you could try and spell things out for me that would help a lot. I am a newb. Thank you so much for reading and for any information you can give me!!

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Old 03-26-2013, 01:24 PM   #2
clanmcculloch
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If you're staying in a separate room from your ILs (inlaws) then you can do different dining plans than they are or they can do a dining plan while you don't. If you share a suite with them then you'd need to all use the same dining plan. If you're in separate rooms and are hoping to get them with a door between them then make sure that the reservation numbers are linked (just tell the CM (Cast Member) this) and that you want connecting rooms. If you say adjoining rooms then they may be even on different floors. They'll try their best to get you connecting rooms if you specify that you want connecting but it's definitely not guaranteed.

Generally, the note about allergies is attached to the restaurant reservations, not the room reservation. The only people who need it attached to the room reservation is if they need a deep cleaning done due to concerns about allergens on room surfaces in which case you have to say that you need a deep allergy cleaning, not just that you have food allergies.

Whether or not a meal plan will work best for you really has more to do with what types of meals you want to eat rather than having allergies. I will say that if your ILs are picking up the dining tab then let them decide. If you're paying your own way then you want to sit down and think about the meals that you want (how many TS (table service), how many CS (counter service)), how often you think you'll want to order drinks and desserts and then look to see if any of the plans actually fit. If they don't then you have your answer. If they do then you can start adding up prices for the types of foods you typically order and see if financially it makes sense. For the allergy meals, if ordering something premade like pizzas or chicken tenders then on average add $2 to the price of the meal but most meals are the same price for allergy vs non-allergy. When using dining credits you don't pay any kind of upcharge for allergy food.

You really don't contact chefs any longer. Since you're talking about 3 allergies all of which are top 8, you won't even be asked to fill out an allergy form. Just check the appropriate boxes when booking your ADRs (advanced dining reservation). A chef will come out to your table to talk to you at each restaurant. Special Diets will send you some reference sheets to look over but that's all they'll do unless you have specific questions (which you've already seen they don't respond to very well).

For TS restaurants, we typically stick with the ones owned by Disney. They're much better equipped to handle allergies than the ones not owned by Disney. There are a few exceptions such at Teppan Edo and Kouzzina who have great reputations but for the most part the non-Disney owned ones are places we skip.
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Old 03-27-2013, 06:08 PM   #3
mangofandango
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Thanks, that is very helpful!

Regarding TS vs. CS, we'd be willing to eat CS fairly often but aren't sure whether that's generally doable with eggs and nuts out of the picture. I can't quite imagine waiting in line to ask at each place without having a backup plan, though it seems that is what one does? Do people have experience with our specific allergies and CS? I'd love to know more ahead of time what I can expect, which are good places to go, etc. (It should be noted: we are also semi-vegetarian - we do eat fish, but not red meat or poultry.)

Actually, any personal experiences with egg, tree nut and peanut allergy combined at any type of Disney eating establishment would be very much appreciated. I'm a bit unclear - I made ADRs wherever I want, regardless of whether there are menu items that can accomodate us, and they will let me know if they can make it work? Is that all there is to it?

Special Diets really stressed - like, repeated over and over - that we should talk with a chef or manager before ordering. But I guess they mean at the restaurant, and on the ADR, rather than over the phone.

Thanks again! I'm going to do some more reading now too. I feel a bit like I've fallen down the rabbit hole...
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:06 PM   #4
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I'll let others answer to the specific allergies. It sounds like her allergies are fairly common and several people here will have info for you about CS and TS locations. (CS does not necessarily mean McDonald's-type fast food.)

But as to dining plan or not...from what you described, it sounds like a dining plan - even the Quick Service Dining Plan (QSDP) - would be a waste of money based on how your ILs eat. They each cheaply with shared meals, they'll be spending money for food not purchased or eaten. But if they want to "live it up" and do some heavier dining, then a dining plan might work. Personally, unless it's free dining we don't use any of the dining plans - our families meal habits just don't fit. While it's convenient to have it "pre-paid" - what I prefer to do is set that amount of money aside and bring it on a gift card (or my Disney Rewards card). Therefore I still get the "pre-paid" feeling but we eat what we want, where we want, when we want, and only as much as we want. To get full value of the dining plan you need to order pricey meals. You can check-out menus to get an idea of where you might eat and how much it would cost - then see if that fits one of the dining plan options.

Enjoy your vacation!
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Old 03-27-2013, 08:22 PM   #5
mistysue
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Egg, peanut and treenut are a subset of my son's allergies. If it helps you feel any better, in the rare cases where we have had trouble with him ordering food, those ones have NEVER been part of the problem.

Every time you get somewhere to eat (table or counter service) one of the first things you do is let them know there is an allergy and you need to speak to a chef, then at a CS they page the chef who asks what she wants and figures that out. At a table service, in addition to telling them at check in, make sure it comes up with your server right away so they notify the chef who will come to your table. Either way, they will prepare the allergy meal in a different part of the kitchen... at counter service the chef will bring you the food (in part, so it doesn't get mixed up) and usually we saw the same chef for table service delivery as well.

As clanmcculloch said some of the places around the world showcase in Epcot and a couple places in downtown Disney seem to be the ones that get complaints most often. We had good luck with Wolfgang puck's in downtown disney. I made little cards with my son's allergies and suggestions of things he liked to hand to the chef, in most cases it seemed to help.
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Old 03-27-2013, 08:37 PM   #6
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DS has the same allergies though we are resolving egg so that is MUCH easier now. WDW is great and those three are easy for them to handle. Just let the server know and a chief will come out to see you. Most TS will bring you nothing until a chief sees you. NEVER had an issue except desserts are pretty limited for PA/TA. DS mostly ate one kind and brand of ice cream but he was good with that. The problem with the DDP, is that kids meals rarely have fish and not always another entree choice. You may do better without a plan but I would choose the same thing as your parents do just to make it easier.
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Old 03-28-2013, 12:12 AM   #7
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I have been to WDW 9 times in the last 9 years but in Sept. of 2012, I had my first trip since being diagnosed with 40+ food allergies and intolerances (you can imagine how miserable I was in the years prior to my diagnosis with that many offending foods). My allergies include tree nuts, egg and peanut and my other major allergies are soy, garlic, wheat and dairy. They are not life threatening allergies as of yet but do cause me extreme digestional pain that last for hours, severe anxiety/panic attacks and skin issues. Prior to our trip I had not eaten one food, one snack, one CRUMB that I had not personally prepared in over 6 months so I was very scared to allow someone else to cook for me. However, our trip was fantastic! I had 12 reservations made and 10 out of 12 chefs called me prior to the trip (per my request) to work with me and give me options of what I could order. A few of them even made plans to bring in extra/special foods to accommodate my long list of allergies. I ended up canceling at the 2 restaurants that never returned my calls and I made double reservations with two chefs that had been so helpful to complete our allotted 12 meals on the meal plan. At every table service restaurant, the chef came out and spoke to me and every single chef came to my table prepared with the list special diets sent them and most had personal notes from when we spoke on the phone- weeks prior to my trip! I was so impressed. Every restaurant was able to give me at least two full-meal options except Le Cellier and the chef was honest with how little they could offer me. I still chose to go there because I knew DH would love their food. It wasn't my favorite meal but it was safe and tasty albeit small due to their limited menu regarding my allergies. I loved being on the dining plan because no matter how many alterations they had to make to feed me, only one meal credit was used. The same was true at counter service restaurants but I did have a few managers turn me away simply because they knew they could come up with enough safe food to equal a meal (I'm allergic to flax seed so even the allergy free chicken tenders weren't an option). Even with being turned away, I found other good options and was NEVER hungry in 12 days. I can't say if everyone has had as good of experiences as me but I was so elated with 1. The service 2. The chefs' willingness to accommodate me 3. The taste of the food. If you stay on site, I can highly recommend both POP and AOA as places that accommodate these allergies with a variety of options. Good luck with whatever you decide and let me know if you have any questions as to where I ate!
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Old 03-28-2013, 12:22 PM   #8
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By the way,

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Old 04-06-2013, 01:23 PM   #9
mangofandango
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So now it sounds like we may be staying at Coronado Springs in September. Any experience with the chefs there and allergy-friendly meals? For those just tuning in, my daughter is severely allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and eggs, and we eat seafood but not other kinds of meat.

Any specific recommendations in the parks are also welcome!
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Old 04-06-2013, 01:47 PM   #10
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The food options at Coronado Springs are not owned and operated by Disney. People seem to have mixed experiences there. I stayed there once with a friend who had all your daughter's allergies and more. She only had a problem once when Pepper Market ran out of mashed potatoes and got their mashed potatoes from Maya Grille. Pepper Market's mashed potatoes were dairy-free at the time, but Maya Grille's weren't. Luckily, that happened the last night of the stay so when the CM at Pepper Market tried to tell her the mashed potatoes were safe, she knew to say that they definitely weren't and that they needed to give her some other side. Otherwise, her experience was fine, but that was 6 years ago and one thing we didn't ever eat there was breakfast (we brought food from home that was safe for her to eat). My friend also eats any food that isn't on her allergy list (so has no problems with eating meat and poultry). With the fact that your daughter also doesn't eat meat or poultry, I'm not sure how much she'd be able to eat at any of the CSR food locations. Because they're not Disney owned and operated they may not have some of the allergy food substitutions that the Disney restaurants tend to have.
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Old 04-06-2013, 06:49 PM   #11
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We were just there in December. I am anaphylactic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and shellfish. I am also mildly to moderately allergic to wheat, oats, coconut, ginger, broccoli, sesame, sunflower seeds, dairy, soy protein.

In addition, I have oral allergy syndrome which means I cannot have any raw fruits or vegetables (except grapes).

Honestly, IME, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts are the easiet allergies to deal with.they are very well known since they are three of the top 8 allergens.

We had no issues the entire time we were there with any of my allergies. We did about 7 TS meals, breakfast at POP century everyday and 4 other CS meals.

We just noted the allergies on the ADRs and the chefs came out to talk at each meal. At the park CSmeals we spoke to a manager and got the ingredient book and the manager dealt with the meal personally. At POP century, I spoke to a chef every time I ordered and they personally made the food in the back (by day 3 the chefs knew me...it was great)

We never actually ever emailed special diets last time. But I will be emailing this time because there are a few specific items I need to make sure they have available at our resort.

In magic kingdom we ate at:
The Plaza
Crystal Palace (twice)
Liberty tree tavern
Cosmic rays
Columbia harbor house

In DHS we ate at:
Sci Fi
50s prime time
Studio catering company

EPCOT:
Sunshine seasons
Electric umbrella (allergy chicken tenders)

POP century food court

1900 Park Fare


We are going back in June and we are staying at POR and we have reservations at:
Liberty Tree Tavern
1900 park fare
Sci Fi
50s prime time
Crystal palace
The plaza
Yachtsman steakhouse
The wave
Cape may cafe breakfast
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Old 04-06-2013, 08:04 PM   #12
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We've done over a dozen WDW trips with my DD who has severe peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish and resolved egg allergies. Every restaurant we've eaten in has been a good experience. I do wipe tables at CS places just to be safe. When she was little, I would bring lots of single serve snacks it's just easier. Honestly Disney is one of the only places we felt comfortable vacationing when she was little.
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Old 04-07-2013, 05:18 PM   #13
mangofandango
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reservation etiquette with allergies

One more question that just came up:

I know that Disney is generally quite relaxed about making dinner reservations and then cancelling them the day of/not showing up/etc. -or at least, that's what my family tells me! I feel like the etiquette of this might change in our case, because I'm making ADRs with allergy specifications and I feel like the special requests mean we should make an effort to be where we say we'll be. On the other hand, it's hard to know exactly where we will want to be and when, and it's tempting to make two reservations for a couple of nights and cancel one the morning of, or whatever. Is that as rude as it feels to me, or is it normal by Disney standards? I feel awkward asking, but I really don't know.
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Old 04-07-2013, 07:41 PM   #14
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I believe that the current policy is that you will be charged $10 per person on each reservation that is not cancelled at least 24 hours prior to the reservation. That was the case on our last trip in September 2012. It does make it hard sometimes to have to be so scheduled (I prefer to have a bit more flexibility myself), however, ADRs are much easier to come by last minute now due to this policy (since people are better about canceling their unneeded reservations) and that is one positive to this change in how they handle ADRs. Happy planning!
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Old 04-08-2013, 09:06 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mangofandango View Post
So now it sounds like we may be staying at Coronado Springs in September. Any experience with the chefs there and allergy-friendly meals? For those just tuning in, my daughter is severely allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and eggs, and we eat seafood but not other kinds of meat.

Any specific recommendations in the parks are also welcome!
I won't stay at CSR because we eat at our resort a lot and I only go to very select few restaurants that aren't owned by Disney and the ones at CSR aren't on my short list.

Pretty much any Disney owned TS restaurant in the parks are good options, though since you don't do meat other than seafood I'd look over menus to be sure that there are enough non-meat options. If they have the protein (fish, shellfish, tofu) on the menu then there's a good chance they'll be able to customize a safe dish for you though I'd definitely ask the Special Diets department to have a chef confirm that there are safe proteins to work with if there's only one or two options showing on the menu (safe meaning not previously marinated or seasoned or breaded with something not safe).

Quote:
Originally Posted by mangofandango View Post
One more question that just came up:

I know that Disney is generally quite relaxed about making dinner reservations and then cancelling them the day of/not showing up/etc. -or at least, that's what my family tells me! I feel like the etiquette of this might change in our case, because I'm making ADRs with allergy specifications and I feel like the special requests mean we should make an effort to be where we say we'll be. On the other hand, it's hard to know exactly where we will want to be and when, and it's tempting to make two reservations for a couple of nights and cancel one the morning of, or whatever. Is that as rude as it feels to me, or is it normal by Disney standards? I feel awkward asking, but I really don't know.
Any restaurant that has characters at any time of the day plus any signature restaurant has a 1 day cancellation policy where you'll be charged $10pp if you don't cancel the day before.

Personally, I'm a big fan of having a firm itinerary based on predictable crowd patterns to be sure that I'm in a park that's going to have lower crowds. I use easywdw for this but there are other sites that other people like. Once I've done this, it's easy to then choose one restaurant based on the park we'll be in that day.

Rude is in the eye of the beholder. I personally think it's unfair to others and I'm trying very hard to teach my kids to be considerate of others so I don't do it. Well, I also don't because when having an autistic child you have to have very predictable plans so the scheduling I mentioned before is also because of that. I don't judge others who do schedule more than one and frankly I don't even think about the fact that it's done. I try to focus on my own behaviours and things within my own control and not let what others do impact my day.
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September 2007 WDW Pop: me, DH, DD9, DD7 * April 2002 DLR offsite: me, DH, DSD19, DSD17, DD4, DD1.5 * June 2000 DLR offsite: me(pregnant), DH, DSD17, DSD15, DD2
January 1994 WDW offsite: me, DH, DSD11, DSD9 * January 1992 WDW offsite: me, DH, DSD9, DSD7

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