Disney – the most magical place on Earth!
Based on my most recent trip to Anaheim, CA I would say that holds true when it comes to gluten free food options and catering to special diets.
It is clear the park makes a conscious effort to cater to those with food allergies and it seemed like everywhere we went, the staff was educated when it came to gluten free menu options. We stayed in Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel which is very convenient and within walking distance to both parks, as well as downtown disney. You cross the street and are surrounded by Mickey ears, restaurants, and that famous Disney energy. Since Disney is so expensive (I mean wow – really? How do families afford this?!) we decided to get the evening passes for Friday night and Saturday night and not do the full-day pass.
Upon arrival Friday evening, the first restaurant we went to in Downtown Disney was called Uva Bar.
What I ate:
- Corn Arepas – Corn cakes with pulled pork – have cheese inside but pork on top, so I chose to pick off the pork on top to make it dairy free.
- Mediterranean trio – hummus, baba ghanoush, & mouhammara. The major disappointment was that cucumber was the only gf dipper.
Overall, I was not super impressed and although the staff seemed fairly knowledgeable, I did not feel like there were enough options to keep me satisfied. Other ideas I found in downtown disney: Tortilla Jo’s, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, Naples
In Disneyland Park:
Blue Bayou– So incredible! Quality service and atmosphere. Find it in New Orleans Square.
Wow, does this restaurant know how to accommodate. Located inside of the Pirates of the Carribean ride, there is an impressive atmosphere, very dark with accent lighting and much quieter than I would have expected, for being in a ride. You definitely pay more than most dining options in the park, but the chef and management clearly take dietary needs very seriously. When we called to make the reservation we told them about my needs and upon check in at the hostess stand they asked if we had any special dietary needs. When the waiter came to the table, he checked the card and said “Ok so we have someone who is gluten and dairy free – no problem.” He then sent the chef out, without question. Edek the assistant chef came out shortly thereafter and went over what I was able to eat and made sure everything would meet my needs. I was impressed.
- Dairy free/gluten free rolls – warm but strange, kinda doughy, not much flavor but nice to have the option!
- Tesoro Island Chicken Breast – so incredibly yummy
I cannot recommend this restaurant enough and would go back in a heartbeat. The price is definitely worth the peace of mind when it comes to Blue Bayou!
You will want to make reservations far ahead of time. We called about 2 weeks ahead and only could get an 8 pm reservation (although it was a busy weekend due to the race going on).
Goofy’s Kitchen Character Breakfast: Located in the Disneyland Resort. They will take care of you!
Gluten Free/ Dairy Free Mickey Pancakes and Waffles? What! That’s right. Meet Goofy, Mickey, Minnie, Chip & Dale, and all their friends at Goofy’s Kitchen. The restaurant is a large buffet with a pre-set price that includes waffles and pancakes made separately in the kitchen upon request. The waiter was not super convincing when we arrived, but finally the chef came over to our table and assured me that he could make pancakes and waffles that were not only gluten free and dairy free, but also sugar free. Within 10 minutes I had a waffle and pancake in front of me AND they were wonderfully delicious! I did not use the syrup, so I grabbed some fruit off the buffet because they were pretty far away from the gluten-containing items on the buffet.
In downtown disney you will also find a special treat in this Starbucks with special brews that are not found anywhere else! They are in small batches and therefore cannot be sold everywhere – what fun!
On Saturday we did not have plans for lunch and decided to head down to the pool bar – but since it was January, we found it closed! Instead, we opted for the lobby cafe – Surf Side Lounge. Luckily I had brought a frozen chili lunch from home, but decided to ask just to see if they had anything I could eat. Sure enough, without hesitation the staff member informed me that almost anything on the menu could be gluten free. They have gluten free buns, a dedicated fryer for the french fries, and the staff education to go along with it!
California Adventure Park was on the agenda for evening number 2.
Some blogs and lists show Paradise Garden Grill as having gluten free options. This was my plan for dinner, but I soon learned it is NOT gluten free any longer. They have changed their menu and did not have the skewers they used to. It is now hamburgers and chicken nuggets.
In the end after racing around the park, only to find every restaurant completely booked with reservations for the night, we decided to leave the park and head to Downtown Disney for a very late dinner.
Unfortunately, even at 9 pm, we found the same issues outside the park, with every restaurant having a 30+ minute wait. The first place we got into was Rainforest Cafe – not my ideal spot but I was completely starving and they had gluten free menu options, so on we went. Walking around disney is completely exhausting and my fitbit by the end of the day said >10 miles and I set a record for steps in one day! We were so wiped, I literally put my legs up on the chair across from me at the table – no wonder there are so many sleeping kids in strollers at Disney!
I made up my own menu item and asked for a simple BBQ chicken that ended up being covered in mushrooms (not a fan) but some healthy cooked veggies on the side. Not my favorite meal, but it did the job and got some much-needed protein in me before the day was over.
On our last morning, we were lazy and stayed in bed 🙂 That leads me to Paradise Pier hotel room service for breakfast. The room service was surprisingly reasonably priced, when compared to other room service in other hotels and the typical price of disney-area food. I decided to have another Mickey waffle and also shared some potatoes, bacon, and eggs with my mom! They were also made in a dedicated gluten free waffle maker and very relaxing and tasty after walking 20,000 steps the day before and being completely exhausted.
Overall, Disney very much impressed me. It could easily be junky fast-food type of options like at most parks, (and don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of that) but gluten free options and upscale food options can be found throughout the parks with a little research done before. I also highly recommend making some reservations, especially for dinner and a character breakfast.
Find a more extensive list of gluten free options at Disneyland on this blog here but as always check for the most up-to-date information and do not rely on this site as it could be out of date.