I have been trying to write this for a couple of days now, and keep hitting a brick wall when it comes to the best way to organize my thoughts. I finally decided that I am going to lump the things together and pray that it makes sense.
1) Guest Relations will no longer give out a list of the Gluten Free options available in the park. This is because ALL restaurants will have GF options and sometimes they change so frequently it is difficult to keep that list up to date. While I applaud the fact that all dining establishments will have GF options, sometimes that option is a plain old, run of the mill, boring, garden salad. At least, that was my experience at The Golden Horseshoe where all of the food options were deep fried. YUCK.
2) If all restaurants are going to have GF options available, there needs to be signage available so that people know what options are available GF. When I was there in February (not a busy season), the line at Jolly Holiday was still 10 minutes. If I had been able to know what I could eat in advance, then I could have used the time I stood in line to make up my mind. Instead, I had to wait until a manager came out (not complaining about that, in fact, that is one of the things I greatly appreciate) to let me know, then decide between my options. When I asked about desserts (because it is a bakery and there were many baked goods on display), I was asked if I saw their sign. I hunted and I finally saw, in about a 2×2 square: “Gluten Free Options Available.” TINY SIGN! IN A CORNER! And it did not say what was available.
3) This is something I experienced at WDW and I think DL needs to incorporate it. At counter service locations at WDW, when you mention you have a food allergy they bring out a binder. This binder has a copy of the ingredient label from EVERYTHING you may be eating. That way, you can look for other allergens and make an informed decision. This is especially important and necessary when people have multiple food allergies.
4) I liked that the staff took the time to prepare my food in a safe environment. If it was warmed up, they ensured that it was in something clean and not contaminated. That level of care and concern is amazing and hard to find.
5) Ok. Peeve of peeve. The incident that irritated and pissed me off like no other. First off, knowledge. The fact that the chef in charge did not know everything that was available GF, but acted like he did, therefore putting my health into danger — not cool. It is important that you know everything, and if you do not know everything admit it and find the answer. The fact that he blamed his delay in getting to me on it being busy in the kitchen? Not good because I know that park will be much busier during the Summer and over Christmas. Another part of this peeve is that the chef with the knowledge was at another location. I do not know if it was scheduling because someone was out/on vacation, something being done because of budget cuts, or what, but it would be nice to have someone on hand to answer guests questions/concerns at all locations.
6) It was a pleasant surprise when I was in the Marceline’s Confectionery and wondered out loud if any of them were GF. The cast member who heard me stepped right up and let me know that, unfortunately, I could not have any of their treats as the pans are coated in flour. I stood there, torturing myself for a couple of minutes, when she returned and let me know that I COULD have the chocolate dipped pineapple wedge. AWHA!?!??! What is this?? My mouth had never heard of this. OF COURSE my chocolate craving, pineapple loving self was going to try it. SO GOOD!!!! And bonus points to the Cast Member who made the recommendation!
I am trying to think if there was anything else that I really wanted to say. Overall, I would say that if I were to rank my Theme Park Dining Experiences, WDW would be first (those binders seal the deal), DL would be a close second, and Universal Studios Florida would be a so far distant third it is 3 states over stuck in traffic.
Thanks for reading!
So, I recently was lucky enough to fulfill a life long dream to visit DisneyLand. The occasion that got me out there was the Golden Birth Anniversary for my friend, Voices. But, I am going to do more about that whole AMAZING event later. Also, the food recap is going to be a 2-parter because it was so tasty and there were so many options.
What I need to talk about first is my Gluten Free Experience in the parks. The DisneyLand resort is made up of DisneyLand and Disney’s California Adventure, from here on known as DL and DCA.
My hotel offered a breakfast buffet, but because I figured that would not be safe in advance, so I brought a variety box of Glutenfreeda Wheat Free/Dairy Free Instant Oatmeal. I am SO GLAD that I did. The hotel buffet was actually better than some I have had, but the majority of the offerings were things that were unsafe on so many levels. Waffles, pancakes, sausages, egg patties, cereal, bagels, donuts…pretty much a Glutards worst nightmare. The only things that I could guarantee any level of safeness was the yogurt, the milk, the juice, the already peeled hard boiled eggs, and the apples and oranges. Not a lot of choice, so I was thankful for my bit of oatmeal to start the day.
The first day in the park was my “splurge” day. Since it was a celebration of my friend, I planned on buying lunch and dinner in the park along with whatever treat caught my fancy. There were three places in the park we were set to eat, so I was good. In advance of my trip, I checked out the DisneyLand resort website for their food allergy information. Since I had experience in the past of getting a rough list (because offerings can change) of the restaurants that offer GF food and what the choices were, I also e-mailed Guest Relations in the park to get that information. What I found out is that, because people plan meals based on those lists, and then get upset when the offerings change, Guest Relations is not offering them anymore. But more on that later.
Day 1 the food places were Tiki Juice Bar, Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe, and the French Market. 2 out of 3 of these experiences were FANTASTIC!
Tiki Juice Bar serves one of my favorite Disney treats — Pineapple Dole Whip. Unlike the option offered at WDW, this one does not have a vanilla swirl option. It is straight up frozen pineapple juice. You can get just the Dole Whip, a Dole Whip float with pineapple juice, pineapple spears, basically pineapple with a side of pineapple. There are no cones, so you don’t need to worry about that cross contamination. Plus, the float comes with a cherry on an umbrella stem so you feel extra festive and tropical as you drink it…preferably while watching the pre-show for the Enchanted Tiki Room!
The second stop on my food adventure was the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe. The name alone has two words that tend to make me cringe — Bakery and Cafe. Well, I went in knowing that they had SOMETHING I could eat. Since there was no one at the door that I could talk to and notify that I am Gluten Free, I stood in line with my party and went up to the cashier when called. My friend Hula and I both told the cast member behind the register that we were Glutards and he went right to the back to get the chef. The chef came out promptly, and told us what we could have to eat. Well, I heard all the fruit that was in it and promptly chose the Chicken Waldorf sandwich with a side of homemade potato chips. SO GOOD!! The bun, although cold, did not require 50 sips of water to force down my throat, like some other cold buns do. Nope, this whole thing was tasty and easy to eat. The chips were perfectly crisp with just enough salt, and all of it was washed down with the restaurants “Practically Perfect Punch.”
It is probably telling that there are NO pictures of my last meal of the day at the French Market. From beginning to end this was a glutards worst nightmare. I had consulted my handy dandy list before I left the hotel, so I knew there were options there, but walking in I noticed it was cafeteria style. Cafeteria style is scary when you are a glutard because you have to question EVERYTHING. So, I decided to continue my plan of attack of grabbing a cast member and trying to find a chef. Which I did. And was told he would be right out. 10 minutes later, the first of the group is starting to pay, no chef. I am told “it is busy in the kitchen.” It is February 1. Busy has not even HAPPENED yet. 5 minutes later, a chef finally arrives and tells me that I can have the jambalaya and the red beans and rice. Great! I love me some red beans. So, I get in line and order the red beans and see some veggies and say, “hmm, those would taste good. Do you happen to know if they are seasoned?” I had already had the GF conversation with the folks behind the counter, so they told me to hold on, they needed to find out. They have me place my food under a warmer and step back from the line. Oh, this can NOT be good! 5 minutes are spent trying to find a phone number, another 10 minutes go by waiting for a chef…at this point, I have just about lost my patience. Finally a different chef comes up, and apologizes for the delay, but he was at a different restaurant. This is not a good thing DL! You cannot have the person who knows what is and is not safe unavailable for almost 30 minutes! I was then informed that the red beans I was planning on were NOT safe, as they did not know what was in the casing, and I was told more options that I could have. So, I finally ordered, got a 15% discount (WHAT!?!?!), and sat down to eat as the rest of my party was enjoying their dessert. I hate to say that I was more than a little steamed, had heard that I was going to get a discount and expected more than that. I left my food, went back inside and talked to the person at the register, where I was told the supervisor and chef had told him 15%, when I had heard 50. With a “Fine”, I went back to my table and started eating. Not 5 minutes later, someone I was with noticed that a staff member (the supervisor) was in the dining area and she wondered if he was looking for me. So, I raised my hand to get his attention and found out that, yes, he was looking for me. He brought out 2 NON GF deserts (what the heck?!?!), and what I had paid for my meal. So, I did end up getting my meal for free, but I had to get annoyed to do it.
Next time, I am going to cover the other 3 meals and the snacks that I purchased and talk about the changes DL is making for their allergen diners. You know, I have an opinion on those and will slide it in.