If you are like me, part of the fun in going to Walt Disney World is not just the rides, shopping, and monorails, but also the chance to enjoy some exciting restaurants and fun food. But for some folks with special dietary needs, even Disney World can’t help them escape the reality that they have to make special arrangements for food.

Rebecca Dolan wrote an interesting article for the Huffington Post about Disney’s latest dietary efforts.  Disney has plenty of experience when it comes to making special arrangements for guests.  According to a Disney chef, the Disney parks in the United States serve more than a half million guests every year who have special needs (Source).

Disney has been working on initiatives to provide more meal choices that are not only healthy but are already tailored to special needs diets, such as allergen-free.

Easy Ingredient Swaps

Many different Disney World restaurants make accommodations on a variety of meals and foods, from Italian restaurants such as the Magic Kingdom’s Tony’s Town Square exchanging wheat noodles for gluten-free pasta to the Liberty Tree Tavern offering vegetarian burgers.

Someone Will Talk With You

If you have any concerns about your meal, ask to speak to the chef.  He or she will come out and speak with you personally about your concerns and special needs.  If you have chosen to eat at a buffet location, the chef will walk down the buffet line with you and discuss which foods might be good for your special needs.  Also, since people who have strong food sensitivities can be affected when one food cross-contaminates another, Disney chefs are happy to cook up a new serving of anything from a buffet that could get contaminated with allergens.

Beyond speaking to someone when you are in the park, it is always a good idea to plan ahead.  Several Disney fan sites such as AllEars.net offer menus from Disney restaurants.  While they aren’t always fully up to date, they can provide a useful starting point that allows you to do some initial research and planning for your vacation meals.

The Liberty Tree Tavern in Disney World's Magic Kingdom is one of the many restaurants that makes accommodations to meet many kinds of special dietary needs.

The Liberty Tree Tavern in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is one of the many restaurants that makes accommodations to meet many kinds of special dietary needs.

Many families with members that have special food requirements often struggle to accommodate the needs of everyone.   Disney isn’t perfect, but it does far more than many restaurants to deal with these situations.  In some cases, a family dinner together at a Disney restaurant might just be the first time ever that these families have been able to all enjoy a meal in any restaurant.  It just goes to prove that Disney’s magic reaches far beyond the shops and attractions and goes all the way to the food served in the parks – and the very special restaurant chefs, servers, and staff who make it happen.