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.