When my daughter recently discovered that she was gluten intolerant, she was stunned but also relieved, because now she knows not only what was causing her digestive problems, but also how to deal with the problem. The best solution is a gluten free diet. At Walt Disney World special needs menus are available at a majority of the table service, counter service, and quick service restaurants at all four parks. “Gluten free” does not mean you are stuck with a “bland” diet, simply a “different” diet plan that will enable you to enjoy a wide range of food choices, without the harmful side effects.
Here, in no particular order, are some gluten free dining choices at Walt Disney World.
7. Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Café—Magic Kingdom—Frontierland
How about a lunch or dinner right out of the Old West? At Pecos Bill’s the theme is the wild, wild, West, and the wood floors, flickering lamp light fixtures, wood tables and chairs, all add to the “ride em, cowboy” atmosphere. Some of the gluten free choices are thick, juicy hamburgers or cheeseburgers, BBQ pork sandwich (sandwiches are available on gluten free buns upon request), Southwest chicken salad, taco salad, veggie burger, French fries, onion rings, and a topping bar with an endless supply of chopped or sautéed onions, pickles, tomatoes, mushrooms, nacho cheese sauce and much more. After some of these “high-falutin” western vittles, you probably won’t be hankering for a dessert, but they do sell gluten free cookies. You might want to buy some to eat as a snack later. So, stop on buy Pecos Bill’s, sit a spell, and chow down on some good old western grub.
6. Tusker House—Animal Kingdom—Africa
Decorated like an African Marketplace, this popular buffet style restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Some tantalizing choices for your special needs are: Breakfast—whole grain breads, bagels, muffins, cinnamon sugar doughnuts, gluten free Mickey Mouse waffles with 100% maple syrup, roasted ham, red skin potatoes, etc. Lunch & Dinner—spit roasted beef sirloin, marinated baked salmon, pork loin, mashed potatoes, green beans, curried rice with golden raisins, and much more. For a really scrumptious dessert, try the strawberry mousse cup or gluten free fudge brownies or chocolate chip cookies. This amazing restaurant will not only satisfy your appetite, but delight your soul also, with the sights and sounds of an exciting African jungle.
5. Be Our Guest Restaurant—Magic Kingdom—Fantasyland
This “Beauty and the Beast” themed restaurant offers quick-service meals for lunch and table service dining for dinner. Being inside the Beast’s Castle with its ornate French decor, beastly statues, suits of armor, and gorgeous dining halls adorned with elaborate French style aristocratic furniture and brilliant chandeliers is awesome. The gluten free menu is incredible with choices such as a savory potato leek soup, pan seared salmon, braised pork with assorted vegetables, and for dessert a yummy lemon raspberry cream puff filled with lemon custard. Here at Beast’s special dining hall, you are the special guest, and being gluten intolerant will have no affect on your magical, memorable dining experience.
4. Columbia Harbour House—Magic Kingdom—Liberty Square
Ahoy, Matey! Come join us in this quick service nautical-themed eatery for some delicious seafaring goodies, served at lunch and dinner. Everywhere you look, you are reminded that you are in a seaside village off the coast of colonial New England. There are nets hanging on the walls, ships’ steering wheels, portraits of beautiful sailing vessels, an oversized nautical map of the world’s oceans, and many more artifacts from the maritime adventures of the early colonists. There is plenty of indoor seating, including a second story, which is especially handy for large groups. The menu offers chicken tenders, grilled salmon, garden harvest salad with chicken, macaroni & cheese, French fries, steamed fresh broccoli and gluten free brownies or chocolate chip cookies. “Be ye pirates colonists, or hungry travelers, you’ll surely enjoy this bountiful feast!”
3. ABC Commissary—Hollywood Studios
This is a counter service restaurant designed to give you the feel of a major studio commissary, with a large seating area, and the Art Deco style of the golden days of Hollywood. The walls are decorated with plenty of celebrity pictures, and there are movie artifacts in glass cases. All around the dining area are TV monitors showing clips from current ABC television programs.
On the gluten free menu the choices are limited but the atmosphere makes this dining choice worth it. You can choose from chicken tenders, a seafood platter, cheeseburger or hamburger with French fries, and packages of chocolate chip cookies for your sweet tooth. Go ahead and pretend you are starring in a movie or TV show, and are here at the commissary on your lunch or dinner break, and before you know it, you’ll be hearing, “Lights, cameras, Action!”
2. The Plaza Restaurant—Magic Kingdom—Main Street
This cozy little table service bistro is located at the end of Main Street toward Cinderella’s Castle. The décor resembles an old-fashioned dining room of the early 1920’s. The cast members are dressed in turn-of-the-century costumes, with ruffles and long dresses for the female servers, and long-sleeved shirts and fancy vests for the gentlemen servers. The menu consists of a large variety of specialty sandwiches, including meatloaf, grilled chicken, tuna salad, cheeseburger, grilled Rueben, turkey, vegetarian, and a chicken strawberry salad.
Any sandwich can be specially prepared with gluten free bread, and the housemade chips are cooked in a special dedicated fryer (for those recently diagnosed with gluten intolerance, many restaurants are now incorporating “dedicated fryers” for gluten free items only). For dessert, indulge yourself with a luscious thick, chocolate, gluten free milkshake topped with a special gluten free whipped cream and ripe red maraschino cherry.
1. Coral Reef Restaurant—Epcot—Futureworld
At this fanciful table service restaurant located in the “Living Seas” pavilion, your dining experience will become an “undersea adventure”. There’s an aquarium wall with 8 foot high windows offering a breathtaking view of the “Living Seas”. Seating is tiered which makes it possible for everyone to get a great view of these unique and beautiful underwater inhabitants. There are plenty of gluten free choices on the menu, including Coral Reef lobster, grilled Mahi Mahi, orange, ginger-glazed Scottish salmon, seared rainbow trout, just to name a few. Also on the gluten free menu is grilled New York strip steak, maple and Ancho braised beef short rib, seared chicken breast, and marinated grilled vegetables with a vegetarian Chick’n breast. Is your mouth watering yet? Well, get ready for dessert. How about some gluten free chocolate cake, butterscotch crème brulee, or special gluten free cookies? Dining at the Coral Reef Restaurant is a bit expensive, but the delectable menu choices combined with the view of the “Living Seas” aquarium is well worth it!
Dining at Walt Disney World with any food intolerance or allergy problems is definitely not a problem. One tip is to check with the manager or chef of each dining establishment you choose, and they will be more than happy to accommodate your special needs.