This is a big week for Disney fans! We’ve got a hurricane on the way, some space ship thingy opened in the Studios, and the 2019 Food & Wine Festival is in full swing in Epcot!
We spent late this week posting videos on our Instagram page showing real TouringPlans subscribers trying food and giving us reviews of each dish. (We also stopped at La Cava del Tequila to celebrate their 10th anniversary, because you gotta do what you gotta do.) Our primary focus on day one of Food and Wine was to highlight new items and get a feel for how the outdoor kitchen teams were handling the usual challenges that come with a new festival. We quickly noted the significant number of vegan and gluten-friendly dishes this year and wanted to highlight what we found.
First things first. As many of you probably already knew, the GF on the menu boards and inside the festival passport does not mean “gluten-free,” it means gluten friendly. This distinction doesn’t have much of an impact on those people trying to avoid or reduce gluten in their diets but it is an enormous issue for people who cannot have any gluten at all, like those afflicted with Celiac Disease. The festival passport also has clear language explaining that it is not possible for them to guarantee allergen-free dishes in the outdoor kitchens.
Page 6 of the Festival Passport shows a menu legend and allergen disclaimer.
The “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon at the Canada outdoor kitchen has an orange GF.
There are 10 outdoor kitchens at the festival this year that offer a total of 14 gluten-friendly dishes. One of the gluten-friendly dishes our team tried on opening day was the Madras Red Curry from the India kitchen. The passport says this dish contains baby carrots, chickpeas, and basmati rice.
India outdoor kitchen menu
The curry dish we tried was one of the few that wasn’t as photogenic as the example on the menu board, but it tasted good and was a decent value for the money. The fact that the curry dish and the filet from Canada are wildly different and both gluten friendly got us wondering about alterations to the festival dishes. As the passport clearly states, Disney encourages guests to consult with a chef or “special diets-trained Cast Member” prior to ordering to discuss allergy concerns. We wound back to the India kitchen to inquire about the preparation of the curry dish and were advised that it is simply spooned into the serving bowl on top of the rice. No real changes possible. The filet in Canada, however, can be changed from the standard serving style on the menu. Guests may ask for the truffle-butter sauce to be omitted, but the plain filet is still in the same kitchen as the other menu items, thus the possibility for allergen contamination remains.
How do you manage Disney with food allergies? What advice do you have for people impacted by food allergies who are attending Disney festivals?