Pick a festival.. any festival… food booths galore, everyone has a favorite festival. Food and Wine, Festival of the Holidays, Flower and Garden… so many festivals to choose from. When it comes time to visit the festival of the day, you will find this food allergy mom with a printed list of food, a highlighter, and a fine tooth comb.
How do you handle food booths and allergies? If you have a single food allergy it may be pretty easy to navigate and choose your options. You can look on the official Disney website and see what types of food options are available. Gluten-free and vegan options are listed, which helps a lot. The new Food and Wine Menus are out.
However, If you have multiple food allergies to contend with, things can be a little tricky.
- Food can not be modified in the free-standing kitchens or food booths. What you see is what you get. For example, they can’t swap out a gluten-free bun for the regular bun to modify the dish.
- You can approach the booth with any questions and they will radio the chef, located in some mysterious festival location. The chef can review the dish and make sure it is safe to eat with your particular set of allergies.
- They are VERY careful about cross contamination in the booths. In our experience, the chef seems confident that they can eliminate these issues in a regular kitchen but NOT in the food booths. The chef is going to steer you strongly away from anything with even a minimal chance of cross-contamination.
- You will have to decide if the risk of cross-contamination is enough to pass on the dish. As an example: we wanted to try the white chocolate puzzle at the Epcot Festival of the Arts. We were told it did not contain any of the allergens my son has to avoid, but it was made in a facility with those allergens. That is why this puzzle was not listed as gluten-free on the menu.
We have tried to make a list of possible safe foods that we can try. Then we have to narrow that down to what a4-year-old boy might actually eat. After that, I pack some snacks. We have never had an issue bringing food into the parks. If we are hitting a festival with the intent of eating our way through Epcot, we pack lunch for the boys, just in case. There is nothing worse than a hangry Drennon staggering through the parks on a hot Florida day. This way we can have the best of all worlds: we save a little money ( by bringing lunch), try some foods and keep our little guy safe. You can enjoy food festivals with food allergies, it just takes a little planning, and a back up plan.
Thanks to @apopkapete and @dougdoesdisney for the use of their picture in this article.