Dining gluten free at Walt Disney World was a DREAM.
I’m now going into withdraw not having a gluten free Mickey Mouse waffle for breakfast. I was so surprised and relieved at my experience at Walt Disney World. I am very impressed with how Disney handles food allergies. It truly has been the only vacation, I have been on this past year, where food is not a worry. At almost every restaurant we went to a chef came out to speak to me personally. I had heard this was the case, but when it actually happens it’s such an amazing experience. All the chefs were so nice and happy to accommodate any requests.
I’ve always loved food but it not something I ever thought I’d have a problem with. I never thought anyone could need to take such care with their food just over a year ago. Now, I am so grateful for trained kitchen and dining staff all over Walt Disney World. My quality of life depends on others doing their job to keep me healthy. That’s an amazing relationship built on trust. It takes trust to feel comfortable with a chef cooking your meal. Sure I’m nice and ask lots of questions but to actually trust someone will get how to cook my food to keep me healthy-wow that’s amazing. Eating at friends’ houses was always a bit disconcerting as I have always been aware of cooking practices but now it’s even harder. In a professional setting, I do believe that many chefs out there do want to keep celiacs and other food allergy guests healthy. However, I’m not sure that many know to the degree they need to go in their kitchen and with training of their staff to make this happen. There’s a lot of training and thinking thorough ingredients, recipes, and kitchen practices. It’s not just about what’s on my plate but also on how it was cooked. Now days being gluten free is trendy. That doesn’t help keep me safe as it can water down the importance of cross contamination and keeping a clean kitchen. However, Walt Disney World takes all food allergies seriously. I was impressed by the imposed routine and training of their staff. Their hard work made it easy for me to eat out at restaurants for an entire week. I amazingly didn’t feel awful when I returned home. That hasn’t happened since my diagnosis over a year ago.
Breakfasts, to me, are the hardest meal being gluten free. Without gluteny pancakes, french toast, and even plain toast breakfast out can be a bit disappointing. However, this was not the case at Walt Disney World. I did not expect to eat breakfast out everyday. However, we had such a wonderful experience at Cat Cora’s Kouzzina at Disney’s Boardwalk the first morning that Meyer and I kept trying different places for breakfast on the property. Much to our disappointment, Kouzzina will be closing in September. We hope that what ever replaces it has as delicious food and such helpful staff.
We decided to make a reservation for breakfast as that gave a heads up to the restaurant about my food allergy. The Disney app on the iPhone made it very easy to make reservations for all of our meals. I really appreciated that the host confirmed my food allergy and then stamped our ticket for the server with a red allergy stamp. There was missing the food allergy. Our server noted that they saw the food allergy and mentioned that the chef would be out to speak with us. Just a few mins later, the chef did come out to the table asking what allergy we had, if we had any questions on the menu, and what did we want for breakfast. Never, did I feel like I was being constrained by my allergy on what I could eat. I mentioned the breakfast skillet which he said would be fine and could have gluten free toast instead. I also asked if I could have a gluten free waffle as I had read about these mickey waffles at Disney. He suggested the waffle topped with mascapone, honey, and pecans since I had never had one before. Ohhh my! These were delish. I really didn’t want to share with Meyer. But I did.
The skillet was delicious as well. I’m going to have to recreate their breakfast skillet with eggs, potatoes, bacon, piquillo peppers, and greek cheese–topped with arugula. It was huge and tasty. And maybe as a real treat make the waffles once in a while. Yum.
Other Disney restaurants where we ate breakfasts: Olivia’s at Old Key West, The Wave at the Contemporary, The Grand Floridian Cafe and the Kona Cafe at the Polynesian. We thought that our best breakfast was at Kouzzina. We enjoyed it so much that we went back a second time for the very same breakfast!
I now know that I can at least once a year, when we visit Disney, I can have that treat of breakfast out that I used to have before Celiac disease. I won’t worry about contaminated waffle makers or toasters it’s just a great family breakfast treat. That makes Disney an amazing vacation even before adding a theme park or activities. As Meyer says it’s worth the trip not to have the worry about dining out.