Okay. So if you have stumbled across my page here, just know upfront that I’m about to show to you all the Magical Highlights of our Disney Vacation, but also include those tips when the vacation includes a food allergic child. We’d always wanted to do Disney, but when it involves food allergies, you become a bit more hesitant in pursuing a vacation in that big of a theme park. Nevertheless, the adventure turned out to hold the opposite reaction.
Let me tell you first, that No Way could I have done this without the help of my wonderful travel agent, Jamie Locklear of Key to the World Travel agency. She was a priceless addition to the vacation. Yes, I said addition. It’s as if she is right there vacationing with you. It was our first time at the parks, and having her expert advice on speed dial was a definite highlight. She was there for us on email and text anytime we needed her. However, she certainly reduces that need by providing a complete itinerary for your entire trip upfront. All you need to do is tell her what foods you like, what rides you enjoy most, what parks you want to visit and Voila! You have a trip planned sitting right in your inbox. I’m sure her planning on other vacations are just as great, but as far as Disney, she’s got our vote! My advice from all the above: Get a travel agent! Here are a few screenshots of our itinerary she did for us just to show you how helpful it is.
As you can see, we even had maps to help us navigate the parks. How awesome is that to have a GPS of Disney World. The Touring Plans she gave us were great. We would never have been able to do all the activities we did had it not been for her expertise in knowing when to arrive, what time to meet the buses, where to stand for the best view of the fireworks show, etc.
I certainly can’t go further into the post without discussing the food allergy issue. Natalee’s food allergies made us more apprehensive to take this vacation, but with Jamie’s advice and knowledge of the restaurants and assuring us that Disney is great with food allergies, lessened our stress level. She added the Dining Plan to our trip and that was certainly a huge plus. She was able to add an Allergy note to all our reservations. When we arrived at the restaurant, they were already aware of the food allergy and ready for us to speak to the chef. We were also immediately handed a food allergy menu to look over so we could make our recommendations and coordinate with the chef.
Chef Angel Velazquez was particularly helpful and understanding at Hollywood and Vine for Minnie’s Seasonal Dining located in Hollywood Studios. The restaurant is buffet style and he graciously came out and personally walked us through the buffet to show us what foods were safe for her, even asking if he could make her anything personally that may not be on the buffet. He then visited our table to ask if she was happy with her selections and that he was making her a special dessert. The expression “icing on top of the cake” certainly fit that statement as she was ecstatic she was getting dessert. Having a full dairy allergy makes having desserts few and far between. Thank you Chef Velaquez and Jamie for your recommendation.
Misting Fans: Invest in a couple of misting fans. They help so much with the heat. We found ours at Walmart for around $8 each. You can also sit them on the table while you are having lunch or dinner for a bit of cool air on your face.
Floppy Hat: Nat’s floppy hat was definitely worth the $18 I spent on Amazon. Keeps the sun out of your eyes, protects your face from the sun, and…..helps protect the hair from humidity too. 😉
Cooling Towel: I purchased one of these not knowing if we would really use it. WE DID!! So it turned out to be a great investment. Also, you have the misting fan to help re-wet the towel when needed.
Water Bottles: Absolute necessity! You need these. You can get them refilled at no charge from most of the quick service places in the parks. Water Only! I don’t have a link to these because I found them on sale at Walmart for only $6, but it was the stainless steel kind.
First Aid Kit: I’m almost certain you can find a band-aid in the parks, however, it’s way more convenient to just carry your own first aid kit and have those bandaids readily available.
Insulated Medication Pouch: Definitely a great buy if you have temperature regulated medications to carry as we did. Having food allergies, we carry three EpiPens with us for our daughter. These certainly do not need to reach a certain temperature so the insulated pouches are great to carry them in the parks.
Ponchos: Well, we took the ponchos, but here’s a good tip for these. Spend a few extra bucks on these if you can. I bought some cheaper ones from Amazon and they turned out to feel like humidity wraps. All it did was stick to me. Yes, just me because no one else would attempt to put them on. They saw the struggle I was having and decided it wasn’t even worth it. Plus, the extra money may ensure you can use them over and over as we could not with these. 🙁
Staying at a Park Resort: I can’t express how helpful it was to actually stay at the Pop Century Resort. Once we arrived, unloaded the car and got it parked, we didn’t move it again until we left to come home. Before arriving, we went ahead and stopped at the local grocery store and stocked up on our snacks, etc. for the week. This eliminated us having to drive anywhere during our stay. We took the bus each day to and from the parks. They run about every 20 minutes. Plus, you do have perks of staying at the resorts, so be sure to look into those before making your hotel arrangements.
Memory Maker: Okay, so you look at the price of this and think, “Nah, I’m not going to take that amount of pictures worth that price.” Well, maybe or maybe not, but whatever the number of pictures you receive, you get them done at the hands of professionals. The parks have so many meets and greet with the characters and there is always a professional there to take your pictures. This gives you and your entire family time to enjoy the meet and greet as that professional worries about the pictures. They not only get those pics of you all smiling so nicely for the camera, but even those of you actually chatting with the characters. You also get the ride pictures as well. Take a look at the sample pics (and they allow you to take individual pics if requested as well as entire party) below that I received almost immediately on my magic band after being taken for download.
You are also allowed to carry food and snacks into the parks. So if you are traveling with someone who has food allergies, you can certainly bring your own ‘safe foods’ if your prefer. If you are doing the Dining Plan, you are allowed a couple of snacks on the plan, which can include a drink, chips, fries, etc. So if you are comfortable enough with the parks snacks, then it certainly helps to keep your backpack free of food to allow for all your other necessities you will need.
Overall, we had a wonderful vacation and it turned out better than what we expected. Having everything planned out was a great option for us since we were traveling with a food allergic child. My advice is to research all your options and do whatever you need to make your stay enjoyable. If you are going to spend the money to go, make it worth your while!