Special Dining Needs at Disney: The Wide World of Food

I just got back from my most recent trip to the happiest place on earth, this time for a different reason then usual.  Most often people visit Disney to go to the parks and enjoy a vacation.  What some people may not realize is that Disney has a sports location that can host competitions and spring training.  It was there, at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports that I spent most of my time on my most recent trip.

Although I played sports often I never played there.  I was there once before, prior to my Princess Half Marathon run but did not spend enough time there to eat.  This time I went down to see my cousin’s cheerleading competition.  Having never been to a cheerleading competition before I had no idea what I was in for.   I also didn’t realize that when I’m not the one competing, I get hungry sitting and watching all day.  As I have shared before, I have Celiac Disease, which means gluten is off limits.  Little did I know what it would be like at the complex trying to get food. 

If you are unfamiliar of the layout of the complex there are a lot of fields and different buildings where different size competitions can be held.  There are concession stands located through out the complex, and they just started having food trucks there as well.  They also have a quick service counter with a seating area in the air conditioning with a bar in the back section.  So there are many options for most people, though not so lucky for those with dietary restrictions.

I went down looking forward to gluten free chicken fingers and french fries.  I love Disney food and the safeness of it.  But their chicken fingers are my favorite!  I waited online at their quick service counter one day.  I knew I would get up there and ask for a gluten free menu while my Dad ordered his food.  Well when I asked for one they explained they didn’t have one but not to worry, they would get the chef.  This isn’t uncommon, some quick service restaurants have to call a manager or a chef no matter what, other times they have a binder right there that you can look at the options and the ingredient lists.  So I waited eagerly imagining the wonderful crispy gluten free chicken nuggets that were moments away.  When the chef came out with his yellow notepad he asked what my allergy was.  Being the knowledgeable Disney chef that he was he knew all of my gluten free options without having to reference anything.  Unfortunately I was spoiled, I’m used to being able to get just about anything.  At the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex my options were not as plentiful.  They did have a gluten free bun so I could have a plain chicken sandwich, pull pork sandwich, or cheeseburger.  The other options were tacos or a salad.  Fries were not an option and neither were my wonderful chicken fingers.  I was a little disappointed but was grateful that there were some options.

Over the two days I spent at the complex I had the chicken Caesar salad, and the bacon cheeseburger.  Both were good but nothing spectacular.  What I will say to anyone going there for an extended amount of time or to compete, if you have an allergy bring some of your own food.  The only place I was able to accommodate my food allergy was at the quick service counter.  All of the concession stands referred me there to get food. 

I did not get sick, and the food was good, two things that mean a lot when it comes to dining with a food allergy.  For anyone travelling and spending time there I would also recommend calling ahead, then they can discuss all of your options and possibly work out some other options ahead of time.  Whether you are heading to Disney for vacation or a sporting event, Disney can accommodate many dietary issues.  The best advice I can give in the case of not spending the time at the park, is to call ahead.  It can’t hurt to ask and they’d be happy to help any way they can.  However even if you don’t call ahead, you wont starve, they have something for everyone! 

Until next time my pixie perfect friends, have faith and trust in the Disney chefs, and they’ll sprinkle on some allergy free 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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