Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom Gluten free, soy free, and peanut free

Crystal Palace

We have found over several trips to Disney, that although all Disney owned restaurants (beware that not many in Epcot at Disney-owned!) will do a fairly good job at serving safe food and accommodating food allergies, the best food quality and servers/chefs seem to be at the resort restaurants instead of in the parks.  I will start with those places we ate in the parks, since those are often most popular!  We ate lunch at Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom.  This is a character dining experience and we saw Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger too!

*As always, all my meals are gluten free (to the celiac standard), peanut free, and pork-free, but this trip had the added complication of completely soy free (previously I tolerated soybean oil & soy lecithin).

Crystal Palace roasted sweet potato slices best

Crystal Palace is a buffet, which would make me nervous anywhere except Disney. At Disney, they will get you fresh items from the back and supplement as needed. The first item on the buffet and not near any contamination issues were these roasted sweet potato slices, dusted I think with some cinnamon and sugar–they were heavenly! They were the only thing I got from the buffet, the rest the Chef (Ron) brought or made in the back.

Crystal Palace salad

I also had a mixed green salad the chef made in the back, with yellow mustard (my preferred dressing when I’m away from home–more flavor than oil & vinegar, but still gluten and soy free!)

Crystal Palace gross steak great potatoes

Chef Ron also brought me some sliced steak and mashed potatoes from the back, the mashed potatoes were delicious but the steak was too fatty to even be edible. Luckily, we had a large breakfast so I was no too upset at the lack of protein in this meal. It was not my favorite, but tolerable.

Crystal Palace strange seeded rolls

Bread service here was terrible. There were some strange brand of gluten free rolls that made me nervous as they looked to have ground seeds in them (I’m severely allergic to pumpkin seeds)–the chef said they weren’t seeds, but appeased my request for Udi bread. First, it was served very burnt, but on a subsequent trip he realized it and served me some less dark toast. Crystal Palace burnt UdisCrystal Palace bread re-served

For dessert, since I’m not dairy-free, I was able to have the soft serve vanilla ice cream but I was full. They also brought me some Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies, packaged.

Overall, it was safe and I loved many of my side dishes and the chef was very kind, but I was definitely disappointed in the sub-par meat quality (and lack of meat options) as well as the bread issue.

I was not compensated by Disney in any way, I just like to share my experiences to help others enjoy allergen-friendly travel!

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Mama Melrose Gluten free at Hollywood Studios

This was one of my favorite meals of the entire trip!  I had found out they had gluten free chicken parmesan and therefore had been looking forward to it for some time now!  When we got to the restaurant, we were seated promptly.  The chef came out to discuss my options, and I told him I was hoping for the gluten free chicken parmesan, but I was also allergic to pork and peanuts and that I was hoping for the tomato sauce on the side (I was having some acid issues). Image

The gluten free rolls, (the new GNI brand I believe) were heated fairly well but hardened as they cooled until they were almost inedible. The butter was unsalted and needed salt badly for some flavor.

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The chef was so reassuring, telling me he would need to pan cook the chicken instead of grilling it because the pork is grilled. He apparently then broiled the chicken with the cheese on top, to make it perfectly melted, served on top of very yummy pasta that I would swear wasn’t gluten free if I didn’t know better by not getting sick!
The waitress was not super knowledgeable or attentive, I had to ask for separate butter for my gluten free rolls without being offered it, and she didn’t check on us again after the bread delivery until the end of the meal (someone else delivered our food).

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This restaurant was also quite affordable (at least by Disney standards), with this meal coming in as quite filling at only $18, keeping in mind most fast food choices in the park are at least $10.  Also if you eat at quick service, it typically requires a long wait for allergy needs and doesn’t have air conditioning–which was a MUCH welcome need in a park where almost everything is outside in the heat.  Despite what they try to make you think with this snowman on display around the corner from the restaurant, it was HOT!

(As usual, I was not compensated in any way for my review unfortunately! I would love to be compensated to check out all the lovely Disney gluten free restaurants!  But, these are just my honest thoughts to help others gluten free or with food allergies! It’s also not medical advice.)

Disney World Counter Service Meals & snacks gluten free

First, we only had a few counter service experiences because I find between the extra wait time, higher chance of cross contamination usually, and sometimes extra cost for allergy foods, it’s just nicer to sit down with A/C and talk to a chef.  However, sometimes you just have to have something or can’t get reservations, so here’s what I found for gluten free (and peanut and pork free) counter service or snacks in the parks in June 2013:

In Magic Kingdom, we ate in Tomorrowland at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.  It was intimidating at first because it’s divided into different “bays” depending if you want chicken, burger, or soups/sandwiches/salads.  I didn’t know what I could have, so I didn’t know which bay to enter (we had not planned to be here for dinner, but plans change and I wasn’t ready.  “Even the best laid plans of mice and men…”).  I actually walked away and wasn’t going to eat and just told my non GF husband to get the burger he wanted.  However, sweet as he is, he asked about gluten free and got me a safe meal.  Here, the manager was knowledgeable but we did have a long 25-minute wait for a burger with gluten free bun and fries (in a dedicated fryer of canola oil).  The burger meat was good, but the bun taste and texture were terrible!  I just ate the meat from the middle.  The fries were also good.  Important tip here, they have a condiment bar which is ripe for cross contamination, but they have individual condiment packages (with ingredient labels), if you do not see them, just ask.

For dessert, we went next door to Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies.  They serve soft serve ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, twist) that is gluten free.  Obviously no cone and most syrups had gluten (although since you pay first, you are holding up the line to read the allergy book which is at the register not the counter!?!, so I didn’t look at each syrup).  I do know that strawberry had gluten in it. But the ice cream in a cup was very good.

In Animal Kingdom, we got too hungry to skip lunch and so we made an unplanned stop at Pizzafari.  The cashier and manager were excellent and said they had gluten free pizzas (with regular or dairy-free cheese), but there is a very small cc nut possibility that the manager mentioned.  For me, this was acceptable risk as nuts are less likely reactive for me with cross contamination than gluten).  There is only one set price whether adult or child allergy pizza (about $9.75-ish) and it is thinner crust and a bit smaller than the adult regular pizza but larger than the child regular pizza.  It is supposed to come with a nice-sized caesar salad which they offered to make without croutons, but I didn’t get the feeling they would be mixes somewhere different from the other salads, so I was told I could instead have the packages of carrots and grapes that come with the kid’s menu, which worked out.  I had no problems after eating this and was very happy with their service.

At Hollywood Studios, it was too difficult to get to the few options for quick service, so I relied on the fact that the mickey ice cream bars at gluten free.  Our sit down dinner at Mama Melrose was fantastic though!  Below is an unnamed person who shall remain innocent indulging in one of Mickey’s ice cream ears (it’s me 🙂 ).

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In Epcot, the one snack I wanted was Werther’s caramel popcorn in Germany, however there is a great debate as to if it is gluten free or not with the official word saying it is not.  Some others who are sensitive said they have eaten it without getting sick, but I did not want to chance it.  So I only had a Kaki gori (snow cone basically) in Japan and a mickey bar until we had our sit down dinner at Coral Reef.

(As usual, I was not compensated in any way for my review unfortunately! I would love to be compensated to check out all the lovely Disney gluten free restaurants!  But, these are just my honest thoughts to help others gluten free or with food allergies! It’s also not medical advice.)

Coral Reef at Epcot, gluten free

The first place I’d like to review from our Disney World trip is Coral Reef. This restaurant is inside Epcot, set beside an aquarium with a view of sharks, turtles, and fish and serves primarily seafood. As is typical at Disney restaurants, the chef came to speak with me when notified there was an allergy at the table. I told him I needed gluten free, pork free (an allergy), and peanut free (not a diagnosed allergy, but I don’t respond well to them).  Here is a view of the aquarium the tables are next to:Image

Upon reviewing the dinner menu and consulting with the chef, I decided on the Orange Ginger-glazed Scottish Salmon.  It’s usually served with a vegetable Stir-fry but because that has soy sauce that was not gluten free, it would be plain vegetables, so I changed the side to something more exciting: Chive&Cheddar mashed potatoes (forgot the picture, my apologies, I was still so excited by the toast I’ll tell you about in a minute!)  The chef also said he would send out gluten free bread.  I presumed it would be the dinner rolls, but did not know if it would be the older Udi’s or the newer ones–much to my suprise and pleasure, it was neither!  It was Udi’s gluten free bread, toasted in a safe pan with butter and it had the most amazing texture and flavor! It appears at first glance to have a burnt spot, but those were just carmelized butter, it tasted great! See the picture?Image

The server was so kind and knowledgeable, when he brought my toast and separate butter dish, he told the others at my table in a nice but stern way “Now don’t touch her bread or butter!”  In this case, my husband and nephew knew better, but this could be so helpful as a reminder if we were dining with others who were unfamiliar with strict gluten needs!

The salmon had very good flavor and was cooked perfectly and a nice sized portion.  The mashed potatoes were two large scoops and had flavor that was out of this world good! I highly recommend these choices for gluten free and hope they stick to the pan-cooked toast as well!

(As usual, I was not compensated in any way for my review unfortunately! I would love to be compensated to check out all the lovely Disney gluten free restaurants!  But, these are just my honest thoughts to help others gluten free or with food allergies! It’s also not medical advice.)

Gluten free in DisneyWorld

I’m starting this blog to share the trials and tribulations of those in the gluten free world! Together, we are able to arm ourselves with more information than ever!

First up–going gluten free in Disney World is easier accommodated than most other restaurants, but for those of us with celiac or extreme gluten sensitivities, it never hurts to have extra research done ahead of time for the extra good or bad ones!

We went to Disney World last week (June 2013) and so I have recent tips and meal reviews on eating at the following restaurants coming up in my next posts: Coral Reef (Epcot), Narcoossee’s (at the Grand Floridian), Mama Melrose (at Hollywood Studios), and Raglan Road in Downtown Disney, as well as some comments about snacks in each park and a post about cooking if you are staying in a rental home while at Disney.