Does Disneyland live up to the gold standard of DisneyWorld when it comes to food allergies?

[The main part of this AllergyEats Blog post submitted by community member Linda Brown]

Many of you read my 7-day AllergyEats Blog posts entitled The Disney Chronicles: Dining out with 3 food-allergic children.  (The first one is linked here, and all can be found by clicking on “March 2011” in this blog.)  In those, I reviewed my family’s dining experiences on a 7-day trip to DisneyWorld in Florida.  It will likely come as no surprise that most of our experiences there were very positive – after all, DisneyWorld is justifiably considered pretty much the gold standard in accommodating food-allergic diners (especially children).

When I wrote those posts, one reader asked if I would take my family to Disneyland in California next!  Well, I haven’t fulfilled that request yet (though my children think it’s a great idea… purely for the edification of AllergyEats readers, of course), and so I have still never been to Disneyland.  However, I assumed it would be like everything else Disney: perfect… including the accommodations made for food-allergic diners.

So I was caught quite off guard when Linda Brown submitted the following for publication in this blog: 

I’m just back from a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim. I have read all the positive stories about Disney in Florida – and walked into Disneyland with excitement about my days dining experience – but was shot down with my first question. I have a dairy and egg allergy and the first stop I made was at the Main Street office and asked about allergy issues and if they could assist me. I was told they had a Gluten menu – but as far as any other allergy – I would have to ask at each dining facility to find out what I could eat. While this answer seemed a bit helpful – I spent the entire day looking for possible foods to eat – asking chef’s in restaurants. While they were helpful – my menu for the day was very limited and it was a chore to ask at each stand/restaurant what I could have. At one point in the day I actually turned to my husband and said I was feeling so hungry from lack of choices! I can only imagine what a family with a child with allergies would have felt like.

Not exactly a glowing review for Disneyland!

So I’d like to hear from other readers about how their experiences have been at Disneyland.  Have you felt the same frustration?  Or have you experienced the “Disney magic” in taking care of your (family’s) food allergies?  Please click Comments or Reply below and share your thoughts.  So many food-allergic families ask about the allergy-friendliness of the various Disney vacations and your input would be very helpful to them.

In addition, if you’ve dined out anywhere recently, please take a moment to rate your experiences on our core AllergyEats site (  It only takes a minute and simply requires 3 multiple-choice answers.  Our wonderful community continues to build the largest and fastest-growing food allergy dining guide, and your input will help us continue to strengthen the value of AllergyEats for everyone!



    We have always had nothing less than GREAT experiences with Disney World in Florida! My son is anaphylactic to peanuts,tree nuts,eggs,shellfish and sesame. We have eaten all over Epcot,Animal Kingdom,Magic Kingdom, MGM and many,many of the resorts and character breakfasts without any problems whatsoever! HOWEVER,Disneyland in CA was a huge disappointment. Everytime we asked we got the “gluten free”menu,which doesn’t even come close to our needs. In fact, after specifically speaking with the chef about egg free pancakes,the order arrived with the server saying “here is your gluten free pancakes”. I asked her that they should be egg free and she said “yes,that’s what I meant”. Big mistake for son to eat it. He got incredibly sick and spent the next 3 days covered in hives and downing Benadryl and steroids,which our doctor at home in NJ was kind enough to call in to a local pharmacy. He also spent those 3 days laying on a couch in the hotel because the heat and activity makes the hives and reaction worse! I strongly caution anyone traveling with food allergies to think twice–or 5 times–about Disneyland in CA.


    We were in Disneyland in November, 2009 and had the same experience that Linda had. Our son is allergic to dairy, egg and nuts and we were told we had to ask at each restaurant/food stand. That meant that we couldn’t plan our day well since we never knew if he could eat in the area we were at. An added indignity was this meant my (then) 6 year old would have to wait on line (watching others get the treat he wanted, smelling it and getting more excited) only to find out he couldn’t eat something.

    This also made it tougher for the other children (the non-allergic one and the dairy allergic one) since they also had to deal with this inconvenience. Our package came with 2 days at Disney and we planned to add on more but didn’t, the food situation was the sole deciding factor.

    BTW – We booked an entire package through Disney and the affiliated hotel had a Disney office. We asked there as well and they said the same thing – they couldn’t help us and we’d have to do it restaurant by restaurant. Everyone was nice as can be, but friendly people only go so far.

    We’d love to take our 3 young children to experience DisneyWorld but we are turned off to the Disney experience now. I am so glad you are noting this – everytime I hear of how wonderful Disney is for food allergic kids I get even more disgusted.


    It is disappointing if Disney Land is not as accomodating (not even in the ball park from the above comment) as Disney World. I went to Disney Land a few years ago. Though I had no problems, I did not enjoy it as much as Disney World. It was too small, the staff were rude at times, and it was not a great experience. I’ve gone to amusement parks all of my life and have enjoyed all of them but Disney Land.


    Do not think I will be making the trek to Disneyland anyway. Just wanted to post my recent trips to Disney in Orlando. Have now been there 3 times since March 11. I highly recommend Ohana in the Polynesian both for the brunch and the dinner. They literally bent over backwards for my FA son (gluten, casein, peanut, soy). We also had dinner one night in the Yachtsman Steakhouse in the Yacht & Beach Club. Another great place!


    I have to add that our Disney World experience was absolutely phenomenal! My son has anaphylaxis to milk. We were there for 7 days and everything (Disney Dining reservations, chefs, servers, etc) were wonderful! We look forward to our next visit.

    We just recently spent the day in Disney Land. On our way to the park, we called for reservations, told them about our son’s allergy and went for it.
    Our breakfast was at the Plaza Inn for Character Dining. The server sent the chef right over. He said there was not much on the buffet he could recommend aside from cereal and fruit. THEN he said he would be more that happy to make something special for our son! He, personally, brought out our son’s breakfast of special Dairy Free Mickey Waffles and fruit. My little boy was thrilled. No problems.
    For lunch we decided to leave things open. No, there really wasn’t a whole lot to choose from as far as a “quick meal”. Over by the Princess Storybook area and Toon Town, my husband and I were got a sandwich, but the staff at one food stand couldn’t give us ANY information or tell us if the brat or bun were dairy free. Very disappointing, but we always carry some “safe food” (and he had some fruit) for these occassons, so we were okay. We knew we were going to have a big dinner.
    For dinner, we ate at the Blue Bayou. Fantastic! Once again, the chef came out, took our order, said “No Problem!” and my son was completely satisfied and enjoyed his meal thoroughly. The server repeated the special dietary instructions when he brought out our food. No mistakes.

    I think WDW still gets the Gold star in my book. But DL was mostly very good. I think the “seated dining” was the way to go to meet our needs. I wish all you you well!

    Linda Brown

    I’m so honored to be the topic of the day today. I did have an opportunity recently to be in Florida – and while I did not go to the park – I did spend a few hours at Downtown Disney – and was thrilled to see that all the things that I had heard about Disney in Florida was true! First stop was for lunch at Earl of Sandwich – they called over a manager right away and said no problem – they would take care of me! What a pleasure – and the food was good. After that I was so excited to try a cupcake from Baby Cakes – I’d heard so much about it – but I had to ask as it was very hard to find – it is in Pollo Comparo – so unless you know what you are looking for you can miss it. The deserts were so yummy and all vegan!!! Had not had a cupcake like that in 3 years!

    Larysa Botwinick

    We have been to DisneyWorld/Epcot etc at least 6 times with child allergic to first milk and then milk and tree nuts. There used to be a special person in charge of allergy dining in charge for all the full service restaurants. You’d call the number weeks in advance and go over the menu and she’d make the reservation and when you arrived you were treated like royalty. Then…. on the Boardwalk at Epcot at the Flying Fish or some such name, they nearly killed my son. Ordered plain grilled fish and plain white rice. Went over the allergens as we sat down. Fish came suspiciously glossy. Called over wairtess and insisted she ask the kitchen again… oh yes they buttered the rice and broiled the fish with butter. I reported the incident to customer service at Disney and got no response. Bottom line is eat early, examine your food, and ask questions. Yes it is better than any other vacation place for allergic children. At least they try. As far as I’m concerned “gluten intolerance” has ruined the dining experience for truly allergic anaphylactic people. So many self diagnosed people are on a gluten free diet that the margin between true allergy and ” gluten intolerance” is so blurred that the staff have become numb to all the food concerns. Though my son hates to hear it, I always tell the restaurant staff that this is a serious deadly allergy and to please tell the chef. Always carry chef cards too.


    From Facebook (2PM Tuesday):

    Kristin: We had a horrible time at Disneyland in Feb of 2010. My daughter who has a milk allergy and had been to Disneyworld on many ocassions with no issue had trouble finding a place for her to eat in Disneyland. We spoke to Guest Relations in the park and their exact words to us were “there are plenty of places to eat out on Harbor Blvd” My husband and I were in complete disbelief that a Disney CastMember would give us that answer.

    Caroline: we thought they were great!-I have a mentally challanged son with Celiac Disease- Every resturant would send out their chef to discuss options ( and they always had plenty to choose from! )-Alex tried this tactic at Bob Evans after our flight home-“I want to meet the Chef”-needless to say,not so lucky!

    Jane: Kristin, I’m sorry to hear you had such a bad experience. I’ve generally heard only good things about Disney and food allergies, and our allergist has told us that’s the one place he’d be comfortable with my daughter eating out!

    Elisabeth: can never remember which one is which.

    Kristin: We have had nothing but great experiences in WDW in Florida it was Disneyland in CA we had the issue with. Florida the chef comes out and takes our order and they bend over backwards to accomadate my daughter. That is why it was so disappointing to have the issues we did on that trip. We are regular Disney travelers so I had done my homework and trusted on past experiences at WDW Florida that CA would be the same for us. Florida is more willing and able to accomadate food allergies.

    Kristin: Caroline was this in Florida or CA that you had visited?

    Amanda: We have had nothing but excellent experiences at DL CA. My children are Peanut/TreeNut/Sesame Seed and each of our 4 visits over the years have been trouble free.

    Raquel: Disneyland, in my opinion, is even better and due to its smaller size, easier to manage. We have eaten everywhere there, multiple times a year, even Asian food, with not a worry for our peanut/tree nut allergies!

    Jen: Disneyland did a wonderful job when we were there, but California Adventure did not. Twice in CA Adventure we had major issues. One of the fast food (Corn Dog Castle) stands simply contained no allergy friendly food at all, which we only found out after waiting in line.
    The other place was Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill in CA Adventure. They did have allergy friendly items, but it took a long time to get the information.
    I was frustrated with Disneyland as I was told that if we went to Town Hall we could get a list that would tell us where to eat, but there was a line at Town Hall every morning, so we never waited in line to see if such a list existed.
    That said, everywhere else we ate at Disney during our three day stay was wonderful and very accommodating to my son’s dairy allergy. The character breakfast at Goofy’s kitchen was amazing, and the chef prepared my son his own special meal to ensure it was safe. When we ate at the Storybook Cafe, the chef brought my son a second portion of noodles after he ate the first one and was still hungry. The dining in the park was also excellent, although it took a little longer than I would have liked to discern what was safe for him to eat.
    Our visit took place in June 2011

    Linda: Thank you AllergyEats for starting this conversation with my original post!

    AllergyEats: Thank YOU Linda for your insightful comments. (I wasn’t sure if you’d want me to use your full name. I can still add your last name if you’d like.)
    Elisabeth, Disneyland is CA, DisneyWorld is FL. (I personally always remember because “LA” is in the word Disneyland. Hey, it works for me.)

    Jill: after reading above comments, this concerns me, I was hoping that Disney would be very obliging, especially to helping chidren, I have no hope then being a grown up!


    We have been to Disney World a few times and they are wonderful. They have a binder with a list of everything and every item. The manager comes out and talks to you….if there is something special you are wanting (ie a peanut free dougnut) they have it in the back for people with the allergry. If you have a gluten alergry the manager tells you to give them a few minutes and they have a special alergren area and to give them a few minutes, so they can clean it out and clean themselves off too. My daughter can not have honey (which is rare) and peanuts. Downtown Disney, in Orlando is the same way…WE LOVE DISNEY in Florida.


    I can’t wait for the day we have enough money to travel to Disney World! Being a SoCal resident, I had hoped DL would live up to the allergy hype of DW. It did not. We only go once a year for my daughter’s birthday and take her food with us. I call ahead and explain to Disney Dining who assured us they’d accommodate the character meals. We will sadly skip lunch with the Princesses next year as she was charged full price for a small bowl of strawberries and bowl of gluten-free pasta of which she couldn’t even have the sauce. I had even spoken to the chef days before I visit. Upon arrival, they weren’t ready for us. I must say though, the chef and staff at Paradise Pier brunch with Mickey and friends was amazing and had options. They even made a “cake” out of strawberries and put a candle in it. My daughter has allergies beyond gluten and casein, so I know it’s harder to accommodate her, but not impossible if people are willing. Maybe the great folks in the “allergy department” of Disney World could give DIsneyland some lessons.


    We have an annual pass to Disneyland. My daughter is allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts. I frequently bring food with me. We had a wonderful experience at The Blue Bayou. The chef came out and met with us. He made her a special dinner and since it was her birthday he brought out a sorbet. I also had a good experience at a fried chicken place. It’s on Main Street right before the rocketship ride. I just discovered it recently so it’s name is slipping me. Otherwise we stick to hot dogs and hamburgers (minus the buns) or turkey sandwiches.
    We’ve done two character breakfasts and I never thought to ask the chefs to make her something allergy friendly. I figured they wouldn’t know how to NOT cook with dairy and eggs. I bring a travel size of soy milk and she gets cereal and fruit. I am annoyed that I have to pay full child price for her when she can’t eat the foods. But when I called to ask “I’m paying for the experience of dining with characters.”

    Tamera Scharer

    I am an annual passholder at Disneyland. I have a latex allergy which means I can’t eat any food that has been prepared by anyone wearing latex gloves, nor can I eat a whole large list of fruit. All restaurants in DL are latex free. Downtown Disney is a different matter. When eating at a cart I asked if the sandwich had been prepared using latex gloves. The worker was very accommodating. She called the kitchen and asked what kind of gloves were used in food prep. I never thought of going to town hall. Disney is fairly responsive. I would recommend people write, or call Disneylaand and express their concern and ask that they make changes to their restaurant structure. Anyone who has been to DW should use that example when contacting DL.


    I would agree that the buffet at the Paradise Pier hotel was fantastic when we we there for breakfast one morning. I am peanut/tree nut/shellfish allergic and there were plenty of options. They offered to make me pancakes separately as well.
    Napa Rose at the Grand Californian was probably one of the best meals I have ever had. GRanted it’s very pricey, but sometimes peace of mind to enjoy a fantastic dinner with family doesn’t have a price limit.
    I have also had multiple meals at Whitewater Snacks at Grand Californian without any problems. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner…never an issue.
    I have had no issues eating in DL and California Adventure either. Counter service locations have brought out a book and called a manager over to discuss it with me.


    We had great experiences at Disneyland. Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel was especially great. Although it’s a buffet, the chef walked us through and explained what was safe and what wasn’t for my daughter’s peanut allergy.

    We didn’t have any issues from the food, and the food that was unsafe was far enough away from the other staions that we felt okay. However, our daughter did get hives where the characters touched her (patted her head many times, and she got hives on her forehead).

    All the kids eat that peanut butter and jelly pizza. Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale touch all the kids hands during interaction, and pat kids on the head constantly. Minnie and the princesses weren’t as touchy.

    Thankfully, my four year old didn’t choose any finger foods, and ate with her fork. Beware that when the charaters touch kids hands, you can come in contact that way. If your child is eating finger foods, try to get them to use their fork.


    Just returned from DisneyLand with both my boys who have anaphylactic nut allergies and had a really terrible time finding food for them to eat in the park. The hotel restaurant was great at explaining what was safe and what wasn’t but still couldn’t offer any breads/rolls as alternatives. In both Disney and CA Adventure Land I had to ask at each counter and WAIT for the chef to come out to explain it all over and over again. Still very limited options. One lady had the gall to say “we cannot guarantee anything is safe and I’m sure that will be park-wide”. Kids ended up eating turkey drumsticks and a lot of churros plus our own snacks. I heard Disney World is much better.


    Linda, the Happiest Place on Earth quickly fades into the Unfriendliest Place on Earth when one is hungry, yet faced with rejection at every attempt to find food. Sit down restaurants are one thing, but sometimes, you need a little something to sustain you between meals. And you don’t want to have to go clear across the park to find something to eat in a pinch. (I am allergic to soy. Almost everything in Disneyland contains soy, although it doesn’t have to.) I wish that Disneyland did have better accommodations for people with food allergies, because currently, it’s completely behind the times.


    I have allergies. When you walk thru security. You announce to them that you have a food allergy and an epi-pen. You are allowed to bring your own food in after the announcement. I have had not issues with annoucing at security that I have a severe food allergy. That I cannot take the risk in the park. And the park cannot guarantee I will not get sick. So If you have allergies and kids especially. You paid to be on that wonderful vacation. Bring your own stuff to stay safe.


    I have taken my kids to DL 7 times and WDW once. (Allergies – DS11: milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, peas and soymilk (soy as ingredient is ok); DS15: tree nuts; me: shellfish.) We LOVE LOVE LOVE Disneyland! But we always bring food with us and only buy snacks or the occasional meal in the parks. It is so easy to go back to your hotel room for a mid-day break. We usually do this daily when the heat and crowds and our tired feet let us know we need a rest and recharge. Then we enjoy a big home cooked meal in our room. Our next trip is in a few months and we are renting a condo with a full kitchen.

    We have never had to announce that we have food allergies in order to bring food into the parks. You can’t bring glass containers, alcohol or hard coolers, but we’ve brought snacks as well as full meals into the parks with zero problem. Same thing goes for our meds. A bonus to doing this is not having to wait in line for lunch. If we’re in line for a ride and someone is hungry, I just reach into my bag and voila!

    We have never met a rude cast member ever, but Disneyland is not as food allergy friendly as WDW seems to be. I say seems to be because our one and only trip to WDW (2009) was awful as far as food allergies go. No one seemed to be knowledgeable about food allergies back then, options were very limited and we had to eat in the parks because going back to the hotel wasted so much time. I once waited in line at 4 different places until I found something my son could eat. Great improvements must have been made since 2009.

    At Disneyland, any time we go to counter service places we ask for and are given the allergy book. This is good and bad. Good because we can check ingredients. Bad because there is usually not much on the menu that is dairy free. We had a fantastic experience at the Pizza and Pasta place in DCA near Goofy’s Sky School, but terrible service at he Blue Bayou. We waited for so long to talk to the chef, then even longer before anyone bothered to take our order. After an hour we left, even though they offered to comp our meal.

    Here is what my MFA son has enjoyed at DLR:

    Dole Whips (discovered them last trip and had at least 1 per day)
    Hot Dogs
    Turkey Legs
    Meat kabobs from Bengal BBQ
    Sweet Potato Fries from The Hungry Bear restaurant
    Fresh Fruit
    Frozen Fruit Bars
    Frozen Lemonade
    Giant Pickle
    Plain Pasta with olive oil
    Flatbread with olive oil and sea salt
    Mickey Head Lollipops

    I wish there were more special treats and desserts that were dairy free. We enjoyed dairy free ice cream in WDW but it was no where to be found on our last trip to DLR.


    Elizabeth, I have tree nut allergies, along with others, but was surprised you listed Dole Whips as those your son ate. The mix used has coconut oil, so I don’t eat them. I wonder if I should try them.



    Coconut is a fruit (classified a drupe). It is not a tree nut, though many people think that it is.

    *The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) states: “Coconut is not a botanical nut; it is classified as a fruit, even though the Food and Drug Administration recognizes coconut as a tree nut. While allergic reactions to coconut have been documented, most people who are allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut. If you are allergic to tree nuts, talk to your allergist before adding coconut to your diet.” (Food Allergy Research and Education,

    It’s possible to be allergic to coconut, but neither of my children has a coconut allergy.

    Mary P.

    Elizabeth, I understood the churros contain both milk and eggs. Can you confirm yes or no?

    Doug mack

    I am at disneyland in california atv5his moment. I jave been trying to start a dialogue with disneyland, even askinh my email to be directedvto mr iger.

    I am disaapointed that disney cannot make a greater wffort to accommodate those with severe life threatening food allergies. My ideas, although i am sure is not original , is why not create a unique dining area for those guest with allergies with suppliers for ingredients being those who do not process their inhredients in facilities where there is rosk of comaniation. The menu could br a truly allergy free dining area. That would make me, as a parent feel more comfortable with my children with food allergies dining there

    If you look st didneys own site they still basically say we will only make so much of an effort… then.. you dine at your own risk.. and we, disney, are only willing to go so far, to reduce that risk

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