Vacationing with Food Allergies: Disney World

Disney Receipt

This post has been brewing for over a year. I wanted to write about our first trip with SG to Disney World last year.

We were so excited. We heard great things about Disney and food allergies. We stayed at Port Orleans resort with Disney in December 2013 and bought their meal plan- the one with one quick service meal and one sit down meal a day. We made our meal reservations with our special dietary requests and were thrilled to safely eat out.  We spoke to the chefs every single time.

But still… SG broke out in hives. Every. Single. Meal. It was horrible! The worst was when she had a hamburger. At that time, we didn’t know about her beef allergy, so we know that was most likely the reason behind her allergic reaction. At the other non-beef meals, she broke out in 3 to 5 hives. It wasn’t a major reaction, but a reaction never the less. And any hives on her stress me out and put me on edge= Not relaxing. Not magical.

I even cried talking to the chef at our resort’s restaurant. I cried because I was stressed out and just wanted something SAFE for my child to eat.

Disney tried, but failed us.

The rides, however, were magical! We quickly developed a system to keep SG safe. I went first with a baby wipe in my hand. I wiped down the lap bars and seats as I got on the ride. Then the Huzz and SG joined me. The second we were off the ride, we’d all wipe our hands with baby wipes. SG did great at the theme parks. No hives from rides!!!

Fast forward to October of 2014. We decided the problem last year was the food at Disney. We decided to try Disney again in December 2014.  To be safe, we decided to get a room with a full kitchen so I could cook all of our dinners. We would bring a safe lunch and safe snacks for SG in the parks. We would eat lunch at the park, but all grown ups would need to eat dairy and egg free to keep SG safe. She ate her safe packed lunch and a special dessert snack (Skittles one day and a Cocoa Loco bar the next.) We snacked on safe snacks I brought and ate dinner in our villa. That part was great.

Here’s where the HUGE problem was. We checked into our “deep cleaned” room at Old Key West Resort and immediately started wiping down every surface. Even though we had requested a deep clean and had supposedly received it, our room just wasn’t up to par. There was some red sauce splattered on several white wood surfaces on the kitchen chairs. There were more red splashes on the side of the fridge. There were white droplets of some food (milk? ice cream?) on the side of the kitchen island. Clearly, we needed to clean it all again.

I told SG (she’s 4) to not touch anything while we wiped everything down. She started touching surfaces as any excited 4 year old would do at a Disney resort. And within 30 minutes, had hives on her face and eyes and a bright red neck. I was terrified and thought this was “the time I was gonna have to Epi her.” She didn’t ingest any dairy, though, so we gave her Benadryl, gave her a quick shower, and then the hives started calming down. All of this within about an hour of checking in to our “relaxing and magical vacation.”

SIGH.

I broke down and cried, y’all. I was so upset. I emailed our travel agent, who was equally appalled at the lack of deep cleaning and she was upset SG had an allergic reaction. She notified the resort. The managers came to our room. We talked and I cried again as I explained to them what happened and tried to stress that even though they claimed our room was deep cleaned, I saw plenty of food “leftovers” in the room.

The manager offered to have the upholstery steam cleaned the next day while we were at Hollywood Studios. That night, we had all of the furniture covered in clean white sheets and towels.

The next day, we came back to freshly steam cleaned sofas, chairs and kitchen chairs. I appreciate that. Really, I do. We still covered it all in new sheets, though, just to be safe.

The managers even had this set up for SG when we returned from Hollywood Studios. SG loved her gifts!

The managers had this as a surprise for SG after she broke out in hives from the room.  She loved these gifts!

SG’s surprise from the managers after she broke out in hives from the room. She loved these gifts!

After the first night, SG didn’t have any more reactions.

I can’t tell you how stressful it was to start off vacation with our daughter having hives and almost taking a trip to the emergency room.

I know tons of food allergy families safely dine at Disney World and have had great experiences. We are two for two at not being completely safe at Disney. Our time in the theme parks and meeting princesses has been the highlight of our visits. The first year the food was the problem. The second year the room was the problem. Yikes.

My princess meeting Merida.  One of her favorite moments from our trip.

My princess meeting Merida. One of her favorite moments from our trip.

Anyway, I wanted to share how our trips to Disney panned out.

My daughter loved her Disney visit. No matter the obstacles, I’m grateful we were able to give her that gift two years in a row.

But for now, I think I am done with vacations. They really stress me out.

Note:  Lots of food allergy families have had great success dining at Disney restaurants.  I applaud Disney for being so food allergy aware.

Our daughter is obviously contact reactive, with RAST numbers off the chart.  Still, we try to provide her with every opportunity to have a “normal” childhood.  Having fun at Disney has been checked off of our list.

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2 thoughts on “Vacationing with Food Allergies: Disney World

  1. Merry Christmas!
    You are a great momma for all that you do to make SG’s experience real and safe. Didn’t occur to me all you had to do to keep her safe on vacation. Wish I could do something to help ya. Wonder if you could offer some consulting to Disney or any company offering to accommodate families with allergies? I know you already are a spokesperson in your area. But seems like a natural fit for you on a greater scope.

  2. Pingback: 20 Days of Dairy & Egg Free Dinners | Blessed Little Family

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