Just Back from Disney Vacation

Posted on: Mon, 05/24/1999 - 2:51am
Christine's picture
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Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

Well, we survived our 9-day trip to Disney and got back this past Friday night. It was relatively easy to feed my peanut/egg allergic son during the trip; however, nothing is perfect. On a scale of 1-10, I would give Disney an 8 for performance. Several weeks prior to my trip I contacted the Disney offices regarding special diets. A person was "assigned" to us and contacted the various restaurants we were going to. We were also given the chefs' phone numbers and told to call 24-hours ahead of time to arrange for a special meal. Well, I did this for all of the restaurants I knew I was going to. The first one was 'Ohana's (a Polynesian style restaurant). They serve spring rolls, dumplings, salad, sesame noodles, salmon, grilled turkey, shrimp, and steak. I was told that the ONLY problem there would be was the peanut dipping sauce for some of the meats. This would be put on the table in a bowl separate from everything. I told the chef that my son would probably not want to eat most of the food so the chef agreed to make some egg-free chicken nuggets. Well, I arrived at the restaurant and the chef (a different one) came to the table. He was not aware of any prearranged meal and went over all of the food items with me to assure me there was no egg or peanut except for the dipping sauce. So, I began giving my son the spring rolls and other items. I was so nervous because these foods are quite "exotic" and they are something I would never give him at home. But the Disney folks seemed so knowledgeable about ingredients that I did it. It was so nice to see my child eat things that were new and he loved it. We had an incident free meal. Our next pre-ordered meal was at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Review. The fried chicken there has egg in the batter as does the strawberry shortcake. The waitress was aware that we had a special meal ordered. The only problem was that she forgot about it during the food serving time and he got his meal of baked chicken late. This was okay because he had plenty of bread and other things to eat, but if not, he would have been watching us eat. For dessert they brought him a sliced banana and some whipped cream. My next pre-arranged meal was at the Liberty Tree Tavern. When I spoke with the chef earlier he informed me that there was egg in the macaroni and cheese there along with egg in the Sally Lund bread. This chef told me he would have some special french bread brought over and he would make a dish of egg-free mac and cheese for my son. Of course, when we got there that particular chef was not working that day and there was no special anything. We all sat and ate bread and salad while my son looked on. I was not happy. They finally brought out some rye toast with butter for my son. You can imagine how well rye toast goes over with a 4-year old. No macaroni and cheese was made either so he did without. The best chef we ran across was at Cinderella's Castle for breakfast. He whipped up some egg-free pancakes for my son which were delicious. This was also done at the Artist's Point character breakfast. At the Cape May Dinner Buffet (which has a fabulous dessert bar) they only had two egg-free/peanut free desserts. One was a home made rice krispie treat and the other was some hand made white chocolate covered pretzels. I did allow my son to eat the pretzels although I realize there was some minmal risk here with the white chocolate that was used. At Chef Mickey's he was only able to have soft serve ice cream. For the most part, we had the best luck with the buffets versus the sit down meals. There is always something that will be safe. Overall, I had very little problem with the peanut allergy. Disney is virtually peanut free. They do not use peanut oils or additives; however, they do use nuts in some of the desserts. The egg allergy is MUCH more challenging and you can see from my report that this was the problem. If my son only had a peanut allergy, this trip would have been a breeze. I did do one "very bad parent" thing on this trip. I let my son have a Mickey Ice Cream Pop. I don't know why I did this and fortunately it was without incident. These are made specially for Disney by the Nestle corporation and consist of vanilla ice cream with a dark chocolate coating. I'm sure there was a definite cross contamination risk and I am thinking of calling the Nestle company just to see how risky I was. The only reason Disney did not score a "10" on this trip was that most of the prearranged meals seemed to be forgotten about by the time I got there and we were scrambling. This was not a big deal in most places, but had I known they weren't going to actually fix something I would have never wasted the money calling. I also got a bit peeved when my son had to wait for his food. There was no reason for this to happen had they listened to my phone calls. But they are very knowledgeable about what is in their food--more so than you will find anywhere.
Christine

Posted on: Mon, 05/24/1999 - 6:08am
dhumphries's picture
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Joined: 02/02/1999 - 09:00

Hi Christine,
We just got back from Disney two weeks ago, and I just imagine your agony of having to deal with the combination egg/pnt allergy. My son is only allergic to peanuts, but we had a horrible time in the food court of our Disney hotel, Dixie Landings. We got there quite late the first night and were all very tired. So, we went to the food court hoping to get a bite to eat there. I was horrified to see peanut butter and jelly served every place except the pizza place, and unfortunately, my son doesn't care for pizza. So, we ordered chicken nuggets and fries and I watched the preparer through every step of putting his meal together. Then we went to the check out counter where I saw peanuts in the shell for sale! By this time, I was feeling nauseous about the whole event. Then we went to sit down at the tables, which I had to thoroughly reclean because I was afraid of the left over pb residue. Needless to say, we never ate at the food court again. Disney hotels are first class, but I would not recommend Dixie Landings to the pnt allergic. We have stayed at the Carribbean Beach resort before, but this was prior to finding out about my son's pnt allergy, so I am not sure about the other hotel food courts.

Posted on: Mon, 05/24/1999 - 6:18am
carrie's picture
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Joined: 05/15/1999 - 09:00

Thanks for your Disney report. I am going with my peanut allergic son in two weeks and I am extremely nervous. I am planning to bring all his snack foods. He likes pasta with red sauce, french fries(I make homemade fries as home), sandwiches, pizza. Do yu think I'll have a lot of problems with these types of foods for him? Could you share those numbers and any other suggestions? I did hear that the Disney resorts will let you store food in their refigerators? Thanks and I hope our trip is as successful.

Posted on: Mon, 05/24/1999 - 9:02am
Christine's picture
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Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

Carrie,
You will not have a problem with any of the foods your child likes. The french fries are cooked in regular vegetable oil and not of the pizza contains any peanut products--we had quite a bit of pizza there! I don't have the number handy right now but if you search on one of the old topics for Disney it is in there. Also I will look around for it tomorrow.
Christine

Posted on: Mon, 05/24/1999 - 1:32pm
Lynda's picture
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Joined: 03/08/1999 - 09:00

Christine: My 18 month old Sean is also peanut/egg anaphylaxis. Since finding out about his allergies, after an anaphylaxis episode, we have been successful avoiding peanut products. However, we have not been so successful recently avoiding egg exposure. Last week he picked up a soda can that his 3 y.o. brother was drinking out of. My 3 y.o. must have had some mayonnaise residue on his hands and thus some was on the can. Sean immediately started scratching from hives and both of his eyes swelled. Thank God, no anaphylaxis. Then just 2 days ago, while at a baptism, my sister-in-law had dip made with mayonnaise out on her table and Sean immediately dug right in before I new it was even there. His eyes became very red and started swelling. Again, thank God no anaphylaxis. Both times I was able to give him Benadryl and his symptoms went away. I am almost afraid to take him anywhere anymore. I was so happy that his levels went down and was saying that it was probably because we have avoided exposure and then wammo, exposure left and right. I look forward to the day that hopefully this egg allergy will go away. It is really taking a toll on our nerves.

Posted on: Tue, 05/25/1999 - 9:41am
dhumphries's picture
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Joined: 02/02/1999 - 09:00

I agree with Christine - you should be safe with the french fries, as the master chefs at all the parks said they use only canola oil for frying (with the exception of the oriental restaurants, which of course, we all avoid)
We ate at all the parks with no problems. We ate at Tony's at MK, and the only thing there to avoid is the pesto dipping sauce which has pine nuts as an ingredient. We also ate at the restaurant between Fantasyland and Frontierland (I think it is called the Columbia House) where my son ate the nuggets, fish, and fries with no problems. At Epcot, we ate at the Mexican restaurant in the World Showcase and they were wonderful about the allergy. At MGM, we ate at the burger and fries restaurant by the Indiana Jones Theater with no problems. Although none of the restaurants at the Animal Kingdom are owned by Disney, there is a McDonalds there where we felt safe eating. I brought all of Matthew's snacks into the park, so we didn't have to worry about that. In addition, we ate at a Red Lobster and a Chili's outside of the park, and the staff there was also wonderful about the allergy. They said that they get asked a lot about peanut allergy! Just goes to show how many folks really are peanut allergic.
if you need more info, just e-mail me. As I mentioned we just got back a couple of weeks ago after spending 7 days there. We also spent two days in the Universal parks with no problems. They were also very good about the allergy.

Posted on: Tue, 05/25/1999 - 9:46pm
Christine's picture
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Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

Just wanted everyone to know that after my trip a posted a complete Disney trip on two Disney boards (one on the net and one on AOL). Wherever it was appropriate, I slipped in some information about dealing with my son's food allergies on this trip. I've gotten back a lot of questions/responses from readers of my reports asking more about the peanut allergy and some showing lots of compassion for what we all go through. Most people were so nice about. It made me feel good to know that I educated just a few more people out there about this and hope that when they run across a peanut allergic child at their child's school, that they will have a bit more empathy about this.
Christine

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