Mickey Hats & Butterbeer
Updated: Jul 1, 2019
This year for spring break, my family and I traveled to California to go on a bit of an adventure. Our first stop was a place all my friends had been to, but I had never gone: Disneyland. I was really excited overall to go, but was a bit worried about the food allergy end of the situation because I had heard mixed things about how well the food services there handled food allergies, especially ones that weren't in the top eight. We stayed at the Grand Californian, sometimes known as the “Disney Hotel” and I felt a little better there. I had dinner at the hotel and I used my food allergy card, which basically explains my food allergies and how to keep my food free of them.
The cards have really helped me over the years and made me a lot more comfortable eating outside of my house. They’re very useful especially if the person preparing my food isn’t too sure on how to avoid cross-contamination. I’ve been using them for four years and they’ve made such a huge difference in my life. The cards are such simple tools that make such a big difference. They are very easy to use and to make, and I couldn't imagine going to any restaurant without them.
The food was really good, and I felt very safe there. They handled my food allergies really well by making it in a separate space and being very sure that there was no cross contamination. After breakfast at the hotel the next morning, we headed out into the park for a few hours. We had lots of fun on the rides, even though the lines were quite long, and eventually got hungry. This was going to be my only meal actually in the park, and I was a little worried about it because I hadn’t seen too many great options. However, we decided to go into a restaurant called Alien Pizza Planet which seemed to have a lot of options. I decided to talk to a chef about the pasta, to see what I could eat and he was nice enough to make me a whole bowl of pasta. It was really nice of him to go through the extra effort of making me a whole separate dish. Another thing I noticed that was really great was that they had a food allergy menu (the one drawback was that it only listed the top eight allergens) saying what people with those allergies could eat and what their policies were. I felt really proud that allergy menus were a thing and even though sesame (which I am anaphylactic to) wasn’t on the menu, it was still a really great experience. I wish that more restaurants could have menus like that because I think it would really help the food allergy community as a whole
The next stop on our trip was Universal. I had been to Universal once before six years ago, but it wasn’t the one in California. I remember having a good experience at the other Universal,which was in Florida and that they were easily able to accommodate my food allergies. We had gotten there around lunchtime but my siblings wanted to get butterbeer first in the Harry Potter area, so we stood in line for that. I asked about the ingredients in the butterbeer and really all they told me was that it “contained whey and could possible that it has peanuts or tree nuts”. That wasn’t helpful to me at all, so I decided to pass. Next, we went to have lunch at the Hog’s Head restaurant. My mom and I were able to talk to a chef, seeing if we could order mac n cheese because there really wasn’t anything else that was safe. The chef was nice about it and went to go get the box. After awhile, he came back but the last ingredient was “natural flavors”. Sesame frequently hides under natural flavors so I couldn’t eat it. I ended up walking across the street to a little stand and got a cup of fruit and some potato chips, which were seemingly the only things I could eat. After lunch we went on more rides and ended up in the Simpsons area. I was still really hungry and we saw a place where they served pasta so we decided to try that. I had to do something with my sister, so my mom ordered for me. I knew she had ordered plain pasta but when it came there were numerous spices covering the pasta. I couldn't eat it so the people at that restaurant made me another one, but it was exactly the same as the first so I still couldn't eat it. I was really disappointed overall in Universal because I had heard good things about how they managed food allergies. I think that if sesame was in the top eight allergens they would have have been able to help me more but because it isn’t the people were not educated and couldn’t do much to help me.
After we left Universal, we visited a bunch of friends before going home. I learned a lot about food allergies and theme parks and if I ever go back again I will be more prepared and know how to manage my allergies better at these locations.
The download for the food allergy card template from FARE is here.