Thanks to Katie for sharing her experiences of eating gluten free at Disneyland and sharing tips on the best places to go to eat safely while visiting.
Unfortunately this isn't a post I could write myself, no matter how much I want to go, I still haven't got to Disneyland yet. However I have been asked so many times about eating there and I don't like replying "I don't know", so decided to see if any of our lovely readers would be up for whipping up a post. I was rather snowed under with volunteers, Katie had been a few times though so it was her we chose to write this blog. If you are heading to Disneyland Paris, give Katie's blog a read to help you judge how well they handle gluten free. (If you want to make extra sure they can cater why not get a french/german travel card, never hurts to be prepared for language barriers!)
A big thank you to Katie Allen for writing this for us :)
Since my diagnosis, I have been to Disneyland Paris three times. The first of those trips, I was worried that one of my favourite holidays would become incredibly un-magical. Have no fear though, with a bit of work, it's not impossible to still have a great holiday! Something to look out for while you're booking, are the meal vouchers - for me at least, they make eating easier because you're carrying around less money and you can pre-book dinner slots at your favourite restaurants up to in the 60 days before your trip, knowing you're all set to have a great dinner. I would recommend having a look just in case they're something that would help make your holiday that little bit easier.
So, first meal of the day, breakfast! If you're getting breakfast in one of the Disney Hotels, for both coeliac and non-coeliac people alike, the food they serve is pretty much the same across all of the hotels. It's a buffet style continental type of thing, and not much of it is gluten free. But, if you find one of the servers or a chef and ask about gluten free options you'll be offered a fairly large variety of things to choose from. There's some bread rolls, some crackers and usually a couple of sweet things in there too. I had a pretty good brioche but my favourite was definitely the chocolate chip cupcake, it was amazing. There are some very cute biscuits too! They aren't stingy on portion control either, I was walking back to my table with a huge tray of food, so you won't miss out. Grab some ham or cheese from the buffet on your way back and you've got yourself a pretty good breakfast.
Disneyland Paris Plaza Restaurant
The only exception to the buffet is if you're staying at Davy Crockett Ranch, where you pick it up premade and take it back to your cabin. It's even easier here as you simply notify the hotel beforehand how many in your room need a gluten free breakfast and it'll be ready and waiting for you. Everything is packaged up, so the times I couldn't finish everything for breakfast, saving some of the cakes made for a great snack later in the day.
Snacking during the day was where I found I was struggling. With all that walking (and possibly dancing) I get even more peckish than usual, but a lot of the food in the shops around Disney aren't GF. You can look out for crisps and some sweets, but if you prefer savoury treats or don't like paying Disney prices for everything, I would recommend taking your own snacks for a day in the park. For me, it cut out risk, saved on time and meant I always had something I knew I liked. There are counter service places in the parks, but the majority of them sell the same sort of things as most take away places do - burgers, chips, hot dogs - none of which is a great quick bite for coeliacs. Quick food is where I found I struggled the most, so do bring some good snacks!
Lunch and dinner in the park does depend on the restaurant you go to, but a good number of them are buffet style too. Just like at breakfast, let a server know about the allergens you avoid, and they'll get you someone from the kitchen. I did this at Plaza Gardens, Billy Bob's and at the restaurant at Davy Crockett and had a chef come out and talk me through every dish, and they gave me an allergen menu too, so that I could double check everything. They are very helpful, and I found it pretty cool having someone come out to help me out. Ah, to be a princessâ€¦
If none of what's on offer on the buffets appeals to you, the restaurants do all serve allergen free meals that you can request, that are pre-made and pre-sealed frozen meals. I personally found that contamination at the buffets was not an issue. The bars are being regularly cleaned, there are staff on hand to keep tongs where tongs should be at all times and they were always able to help if I found a problem. I haven't had the allergen free dinners myself, so I can't give you an idea what they're like, but they are an option open to you for lunch and dinner too!
They can do similar things in table service restaurants, helping you through the menu and offering the allergen free options, though since my diagnosis I haven't done a table service restaurant - though this is more to do with me wanting to eat a lot rather than a lack of gluten free options. I just really, really love 'eat as much as you can' buffetsâ€¦ I would recommend Plaza Gardens to anyone who will listen, it's got great food from around the world and I didn't feel incredibly restricted unlike in some places in the UK. Plus, a view of the castle from the window? It's lovely.
To check before you book, you can have a look at dlpguide.com
, they have menus for the restaurants and information on the hotels, so you can see what appeals to you. I found that with a little careful planning and help from the awesome cast members in the Parks, eating GF wasn't a problem and I've had some really great holidays, but more importantly, some really great food.