One of my anxieties about travelling abroad with M surrounds the prospect of feeding him safely whilst away from home. The long list of foods we now need to avoid make it challenging enough to go out for meals when at home and we inevitably have to make a small compromise somewhere along the line, with our fingers tightly crossed that the fall-out isn’t too major. Whilst we often choose to holiday somewhere where we can either cook or eat out, a holiday spent cooking is not really my idea of a break. This time around, however, we decided to avoid any form of self-catering and so I gave myself the job of finding safe places for us to eat.
Now, I can’t speak for all the WDW resorts around the world, but I can wax lyrical about the Walt Disney World resort in Florida. My starting point was at the WDW website, where I discovered that the resort is keen to meet any special dietary needs that its guests might have and encourages visitors to book ahead and let the restaurants know what foods they need to avoid. I gave them a call and chatted through M’s food requirements and was reassured that, as soon as I knew where we wanted to eat, then they could append a note to our booking to state all of M’s current food allergies. Mike and I spent hours reading restaurant menus and looking for reviews of the allergy-friendly offerings that are available. I discovered the brilliant blog, Gluten Free & Dairy Free at WDW and soon became very excited about what we might be able to get for M to enjoy.
The 180-day mark arrived, the point at which we could start to make ADRs (Advance Dinner Reservations for the uninitiated amongst you) and I hopped on-line to make as many of the bookings we had chosen as possible. The system was delightfully easy to use and I was able to make note of all our dietary needs without hassle. One of the many experiences we wanted to treat the children to was a dinner show, something we hadn’t enjoyed since our last Disneyland Paris trip, pre-diagnosis and multiple food allergies. We’d settled on the Hoop-de-doo musical review, but I was anxious to confirm that they could cope with M’s allergies as this is a set menu and there were several things on it that he just can’t eat. Rather than risking confusion through an on-line reservation, I called the WDW call centre and spoke to a lovely lady who was amazingly helpful. She made a note of the allergies and reassured me that there would be no problem in meeting these needs at the dinner show.
Booking made, she then also checked all of our other reservations to confirm that my notes were clear and talked me through the process of ensuring that M eats safely at any and all of the WDW restaurants. Upon arrival, we should find that the table will have some kind of allergy marker on it to make it clear to all waiting and serving staff that we have special dietary needs. The chef will then come out to talk through what is and isn’t safe on the menu, point out any safe foods at the buffet (if relevant) and finally will discuss whether we would prefer them to prepare something fresh and. if necessary, off menu to give us all the most reassurance about what M and G will be eating.
At no point did I feel that my questions and requirements were a problem and I felt 100% reassured that WDW would be working hard to make sure that M and G have the best holiday food experience whilst we’re there. M is looking forward to being able to eat “proper” burgers, something he hasn’t been able to enjoy away from home for an awfully long time, whilst G is just keen to try any gluten- and dairy-free desserts that might be on offer. Mike and I are most excited about seeing their faces at our first breakfast, when we will be able to order them a plate each of Mickey waffles, something that they both love the idea of, but have never been able to order before.