Disney World in Florida aims to accommodate special dietary requirements like no other park in the world. Our review includes top tips, ideas, good places to eat for gluten-free and dairy-free delights plus a couple of places where cross-contamination might be an issue. Overall, get ready to enjoy a relaxing trip, as the chefs at Disney really know how to cater to food allergies!
Disney is truly one of the happiest place for those on a gluten-free and/or dairy-free diet. All the hotels are great on the Disney properties, especially ones along the monorail. At check-in, be sure to confirm notifications of allergies with your Disney wristbands and meal plans. Most of the time waitstaff is aware of food restriction before even saying a word, but we recommend calling all restaurants beforehand the day of your reservations to make sure waitstaff are aware and prepared. An ounce of preparation goes a long way to making your Disney experience successful! We organized our post by meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), so you can easily make your own itinerary!
Disney – Breakfast
→ BREAKFAST: Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)
Cinderella’s Royal Table is a fantastic experience. Upon walking in the castle, you have the chance to line up and meet the Cinderella for a wonderful picture, autograph and short conversation. It’s sure to be delightful for any age. Afterwards, guests are directed upstairs to the dining hall for a set breakfast. Allergies were taken very seriously and with gluten-free/dairy-free waffles, sausages, and eggs offered. Having breakfast at the palace means you are already in the park ready for rides first thing!
→ BREAKFAST: Hollywood & Vine (Hollywood Studios)
This buffet-style dining experience is fun to meet some characters and get an okay breakfast. Here you can get plenty of gluten-free and dairy-free items, just not as extensive or satisfying as a platter of muffins, bagels, donuts, and waffles!
→ BREAKFAST: 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian Resort)
Come to the Grand Floridian to meet all your favorite Prince and Princesses at the 1900 Park Fare breakfast. Experience a range of easy gluten-free and dairy-free foods. Reservations highly recommended!
→ BREAKFAST: Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom).
This restaurant is a family favourite for the excellent service, and in less busy times of the year it gets you into the park before the crowds. During major holidays the park opens earlier, so this benefit is lost, but the breakfast is still worth going to experience. Crystal Palace is where you can meet Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Tiger and Piglet in a buffet style atmosphere. Amongst the many excellent Head Chefs we encountered, Ron is supreme. Having a family member with an allergy made him much more attuned to special dietary needs and understood the need to separate foods from the normal production line and that everything needed to be clean. He also brought out the most amazing spread of donuts (the first gluten-free donuts we ever ate) plus waffles and muffins! It was an incredible smorgasbord.
Disney – Lunch
→ LUNCH Capt. Cooks (The Polynesian Hotel)
This was a difficult place to get takeaway the first time. At the cash register is a book of allergy-friendly meals on offer. However the cross between dairy-free and gluten-free items was small. It was easier to find items that were either dairy-free or gluten-free by themselves. Fortunately, in the refrigerators you can find apple slices and carrots. Along the ordering stations you will find gluten-free and dairy-free cookies and brownies plus fresh fruit. We found it easiest to order hamburgers without buns, grab the pre-prepared sushi rolls (minus the soy sauce) and fill in with the fruit and vegetables.
→ LUNCH: Tony’s Town Square Restaurant (Magic Kingdom)
Tony’s Town Square is an Italian sit-down restaurant towards the entrance of the Magic Kingdom. The food and service is fun and light. Gluten-free/dairy-free pastas and sauces plus other options are all available. This is an easy place to eat, and they can accommodate larger parties. Reservations strongly recommended.
→ LUNCH: Hollywood Brown Derby (Hollywood Studios)
Step back into this classic looking restaurant for a delicious sit-down meal. Hollywood Brown Derby is perfect for large groups, accommodates special dietary restrictions with ease, and will leave you feeling full and satisfied. The meals are generally heavier than other restaurants, so be prepared for a full dining experience! Reservations are required.
Disney – Dinner
→ DINNER: Sushi from the Kona Cafe
Sushi at the Kona Cafe was sometimes excellent and sometimes exhausting. Give yourself plenty of time to order and wait for the food to be delivered. This place is always jam packed! Allergies were no problem here, though. Just be sure to plan ahead!
→ DINNER: Spirit of Aloha Dinner (Polynesian Resort)
→ DINNER: Paddlefish (Downtown Disney)
Paddlefish waitstaff knew exactly how to help our table. We had a warm and engaging waitress that took our allergies seriously straight from the beginning. She knew exactly what we could and could not order. If you are on the Disney Dining Plan, this counts as 2 meals. Children had access to a very nice menu and could order off the adult or children’s menu; no matter which one you order from it counts as two meals.
→ DINNER: Tokyo Dining (Epcot). This restaurant was difficult to work with on the meal plan, and it was overly busy despite a reservation. This made ordering stressful and the waitstaff needed a lot of help. It took over an hour to get our order in the end. Sushi is generally a safe option; Tokyo Dining had gluten-free soy sauce and most Japanese food is generally dairy-free. Reservations here were an absolute must.
A Couple of Extras
→ SNACKS/TREATS: Erin McKenna’s NYC Bakery (Disney Springs)
If you are a gluten-free, vegan, baked-good lover, Erin McKenna’s is a must go in Disney Springs. This is the same park where Paddlefish and the massive Lego store are located on the Disney grounds. It’s an easy bus ride from any hotel or park. Erin McKenna is an expert in crafting the most delicious gluten-free and dairy-free treats. Be sure to check out the frosted cupcakes, donuts, and chocolate chip cookies amongst her other yummy treats. While you are there, pick up one of her cookbooks and make some after you get home or order items for a special occasion.
→ BREAKFAST: The Kitchen (Hard Rock Hotel)
8:00am start at Universal Studios. By having breakfast at the Hard Rock Hotel, you are only a short walk away from the entrance to Universal. The head chef here was fantastic. He made sure everything was safe to eat, and several times made items back in the kitchen just to be certain.
→ DINNER: Whole Foods
At Whole Foods everything is labelled and ready to go. If you have concerns about cross contamination, just talk to the staff before dipping into the shared buffets tables. Of course, in instances like this there are no guarantees, especially when tongs can get switched around. If you need to be extra careful, it’s easy enough to grab gluten-free, vegan, paleo cereal or frozen foods like one of Amy’s Gluten-free, Dairy-free Burritos for the microwave.