Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Eating Gluten-free at Disney


This is the time of year that everyone is packing up and looking forward to getting away to some place sunny; Everyone...except US :/ I can't really complain, though.  Between the house, baby, new jobs (all wonderful things that we are very thankful for :) we don't have the time or money to go anywhere but the park down the road.  So instead of being bitter toward all of you headed out, I've been spending happy time in my mind thinking of memories of vacations past...aka crazy cabin fever behavior :)

I have to admit, since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease I haven't had much of a desire to do a "real" vacation - I mean, a vacation is all about letting-go, relaxing, and total enjoyment; Let's be honest, that just doesn't happen when you have to be gluten-free. Not only do all of the rules of safe gfree dining-out apply, now add to it the fact that you've never been to this place before and all the gluten-free'ers around town could be a bunch of crazies for all you know!

That's why most recently my favorite vacation was my last time to Disney World! I'm not sure it qualifies as a vacation because it was so short and running 26.2 miles in the blazing hot sun was involved...but that just tells you how awesome the rest of it was! I've been to Disney World a few times, but January 2013 was my first time gluten-free. 


My brother, mom and myself stayed at the Coronado resort.  The resort is geared more toward an adult crowd looking for a island-y tropical stay - there is a lake/bay of water lining the was beautiful. We ate breakfast at the main restaurant 2 of the 3 days.  We were so impressed after our first day that we could hardly wait to get back again - on the second day: pretty much picture two grown adults furiously scrambling to get to the restaurant and front of the line, tossing happy disney-minded kids aside in pursuit of another round of gluten-free pancakes, bacon, hashbrowns...the works!!! The only reason we didn't eat breakfast there all 3 days was because we had to be at the marathon site at some ridiculous time like 3am.  


We decided to make our one park day Hollywood Studios since we had never been before, and we ate lunch at the Sci-Fi cafe.  Again another WIN for was all around an awesome experience.  When my gluten-free Reuban sandwich, french fries and vanilla milkshake arrived I swear I heard a choir of 5,000 angels rejoicing! In all honesty, I was so in-love with my food I couldn't even tell you what my brother had! Not only was the food great, we were so happy to be able to take part in the whole atmosphere - we could eat and experience just like everyone else!!! The restaurant is set up like the yard of a vintage drive-in, complete with retro-convertables and cheesy old "scary" movies. To those of you with kids - it is fairly dim inside so keep that in mind. Also, the convertables seat two in the front side-by-side and the same in the back...but there are round umbrella tables to actually sit around in the back if you need those accomodations instead. 


Our last night we met my cousin and his family and ate at T-Rex in Downtown Disney (I read recently that they had a fish tank crack so they may not be open right now? I'd check that out before going any time soon). Its an interactive restaurant with moving dinosaurs and simulated rainstorms - fun for the kids. The sounds were pretty realistic and forceful so, again, just something to keep in mind.  Personally, I loved it.  I had the gluten-free salmon and it was perfectly cooked, delicious.  Mostly the reason we wanted to go in to Downtown Disney was to visit Babycakes bakery stand.  They are a gluten-free and vegan bakery that originated in NYC.  We stocked up on cupcakes for our post-marathon pig-out - now when I say 'stocked-up' and 'pig-out' I mean I ate 6 cupcakes immediatly after arriving back at our room and it was glorious!!! I specifically delight in the memories of the french toast cupcake, yum :) The hipster styling of the cupcakes and their packaging is cute...although Ricky could care less about that, he still loves the cupcakes.


It is very clear that Disney has their act together when it comes to gluten-free food service...of course...everything they do is magical! By the end of our short stay Ricky and I were trying to devise a plan as to how we could live in Disneyworld...telecommuting, finding "serious" work at one of the parks...yes, two grown adults, we aren't ashamed :) At every place we ate the chef/cook came out to talk with us specifically - this is how I train the restaurants I work with...I don't see how or why it should be done any other way! I recommend Disneyworld to all my friends and clients - especially if its your first time vacationing gfree.  Below is a checklist of the system we used that made our gluten-free trip to Disney a sucess.

Now all we need to do is get the Disney Aulani resort in Hawaii all set-up with gluten-free food and that will be my next vacation *sighs dreamily*... Last time I checked they were "in the process" of getting the other Disney landmarks up-to-date with their gfree food service - hoping that good news comes sooner rather than later :)