Special Dining Needs at Disney: No Advanced Dinner Reservations, No Worries

10848616_10207315787440318_9105549380430915917_oWhen you’re planning a Disney vacation, the most frequent tip given is to make your reservations at the earliest opportunity, which in most cases is 180 days in advance.  This is the most shared tip whether you have food allergies or not.  If you have some restaurants in mind that you want to go to, then you need to make your advanced dining reservations.  What happens though when you think you’ve made all the dining reservations you want but you’re walking around the park and smell some delicious aroma wafting out the doors of one of the restaurants and you don’t have any reservations?  Fear not!  You may still be able to eat there without a reservation!

Say you’re walking around Animal Kingdom between your Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids Fastpass times.  You happen to walk past Yak and Yeti and decide you’re definitely in the mood for some Asian cuisine.  You stop to look at the abundant menu posted right outside and your stomach growls.  Only problem is you didn’t make a reservation.  This exact thing happened to me when I was on my honeymoon, which is why I know how it feels.  There is good news though, all you have to do is go on inside like we did.  Go up to the hostess and ask if they have any availability for your party.  Often they have no problem seating parties of two and can sometimes fit in a table of four.  Any parties larger then that though tend to be a little harder without reservations.  Keep an open mind, if you don’t mind splitting up but being seated around the same time they may be able to do that.  They can’t always seat you at once but they will tell you the available times. 

Be open to coming back later for dinner or a later lunch.  Or if you stroll by early enough in the day, check out the menu and decide you want to give it a try, make sure you get there when the restaurant opens and then try to get a reservation.  That’s what we ended up doing.

Now, just like when you call or book online ahead of time, make sure you let the hostess know that you have a food allergy.  They will mark it on your reservation so that someone comes to talk to you.  At Yak and Yeti we were seated right away with my gluten allergy clearly marked on our ticket.  Once we were seated I was given a normal menu, which made me a little nervous.  However the waitress said that the chef would be right out to talk to us and tell me what my options were on the menu. 

12002336_10207315787360316_6230680436709581325_oSure enough there was a multitude of options, which was why they didn’t make a separate menu.  I settled on two things I haven’t had since I found out I had Celiac Disease, Honey Chicken and Chicken Lo Mein.  The Honey Chicken was grilled chicken that they put in the honey sauce in a separate wok with baby carrots, broccoli, and onions served with rice.  The Lo Mein was fantastic!  It was just like I remembered it except with rice noodles.  I highly recommend it!

The next time you’re in Disney don’t be afraid to walk into a restaurant just because you don’t have a reservation.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t eat there.  If you can’t get in that day you may be able to get in another day while you’re there.  I still recommend making an advanced dining reservation if you know where you want to eat, there are some restaurants that are hard to just walk into like Le Cellier and Be Our Guest among other new restaurants.  But try your luck next time, you never know what you’re missing and your taste buds will thank you! 

Until next time my allergy friendly friends, have faith and trust in the magical world of Disney dining, and may Tinkerbell sprinkle your day with pixie dust!

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Jess was born and raised on Long Island, New York but once college began so did her adventures. She’s lived in Florida, Wisconsin, and now South Carolina. Her family is part of the Disney Vacation Club and has been visiting since she was a little girl, and continuously goes every year. Besides being a big Disney fan she has also been a Disney Cast Member working in Magic Kingdom, and she counts it as one of the most magical experiences. She worked with everyone’s favorite elephant Dumbo, Cinderella’s Carousel, and Mickey’s Philharmagic. Jess has also visited Disneyland, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, and gone on two Disney Cruises. She has so many great memories from Disney besides running half marathons and 5ks, birthday parties, and family reunions. If asked where she would want to go it is almost always Disney, and when asked why, it is almost always because she can eat awesome gluten free food! And it doesn’t hurt that there is always faith, trust, and pixie dust with magic in the air!

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