Well, we're back from Disney - and in one piece!
Bella had a fantastic time with her cousins. It was strange though - she was scared of a lot of the rides this year. Some of the same rides she rode happily last year. Oh well, kids are a strange and fickle bunch I guess.
The greatest part of our trip was the ease in which we ate in the park. No reactions, not even a scare. I never did manage to speak with the Head Chef at Disney (Chris). To his credit, he left me 3 messages and we ended up playing a mean game of phone tag.
This was our third time at Disneyland, and I must say that each time is easier than the last. I only saw two instances of Peanut Butter sandwiches, and both were the Smuckers Uncrustables. It could be my imagination, but it seemed like the menus at Disney were more peanut-free friendly than the last. We really didn't stress out this time about Bella's allergy because the peanut/tree nut options just weren't there to worry about.
But I did keep an eye out for other allergies - avoiding foods beyond nuts is definitely a challenge there. Shellfish wasn't a big issue that I could see.
That being said, if your child has a wheat/soy/dairy allergy, definitely get in touch with the head chef at Disney about your options. Email me if you'd like Chris's phone number. I don't have the one for Disneyworld, but I am sure one of my readers does. If you do, can you email me?
So back to the wheat issue - there are lots of prepared foods there, and I'm sure many of them are wheat free (for example, they have these HUGE turkey legs you can eat - like a big drumstick - so good!), but many were in a booth with items that do contain wheat. The drumsticks were in a booth with burritos, for example, and I don't recall anyone wearing gloves. So you have to be really diligent about cross contamination. When I asked them the ingredients of the turkey leg, they couldn't tell me. I would imagine that the seasonings included soy but I couldn't be sure if there was something in the marinade that was wheat related or not. And I don't think I've seen as many churro stands in my life. So good, but definitely not safe for a wheat allergy.
But don't get me wrong, there were some fun snacks for kids with peanut and wheat allergies. Like the frozen MinuteMaid lemonade treats which I recall being wheat, dairy and peanut/tree nut safe. Lots of the snacks were prepackaged (like ice cream bars and popcorn) and showed the ingredients and warnings (even the bags of cotton candy had a label with ingredients). And the staff there was great about letting me look at the labels of everything. It was nice to be able to let Bella have something from a stand - that's part of the amusement park experience right? And every single booth sold bottled water. There are fruit stands throughout the park as well. I never did see any Divvies though (I was on the lookout - I really want to try one!).
Bottom line: Be vocal about your allergies. The staff is really helpful when it comes to packaged foods. But if you have multiple food allergies, you may want to avoid the stands due to cross contamination (unless you talk with Chris and get a rock solid list of safe places). You can definitely bring food into the park though - a small cooler would be a good idea for those with a limited diet.
We ate at the cafe near Tomorrowland (where I had a really good chicken salad BTW) and there was a really cool interactive Jedi show. They pulled kids out of the audience and trained them to be a Jedi. Darth Vader was there and Stormtroopers too! If you have little boys and want them to have a really cool and fun experience, definitely check that out. There aren't many things devoted to boys only (like the princess luncheons) so this is a good one (and girls can join in too)!
Lastly, I wanted to share a little oasis we found in Disney's California Adventure park. There is a little section of the park called Pacific Wharf. They have a tortilla factory (you can tour it and get a sample), a taco stand (yum!) a Boudin for fresh sourdough bread, and best of all a stand that sells beer and margaritas. So cool! And out of the way. I hope you don't think I'm a total boozer, but there is nothing better on a hot day than a nice frozen margarita. And they are very weak at Disney, believe me, so we weren't stumbling around afterwards. But if you find yourself at the park, wanting a break from the carnival food, or don't want to eat McDonald's (yes they have one there), head down to the Pacific wharf section (it's a left turn before the bridge to Ariel's Grotto) and have a semi-authentic taco or some sourdough. They even had an all female mariachi band (which is highly unusual!).
All in all it was a great trip and we didn't cart back too much useless junk. I know I've forgotten some of the other things I wanted to tell you, but I'll post them as I remember. If you have any specific questions about the park, feel free to email me.
I'll be back to the usual postings this week.