For this Disneyland trip I promised myself that I would do it differently, in terms of eating out with food allergies. When we went in 2007, I took Julia's meals with us everywhere and chose not to trust "the system". Fast forward to 4 years later and learning about how well the Chefs at Disneyland are well trained when it comes to food allergy safety, I thought why not trust "the system". The Disneyland "system" of dealing with food allergies is that when you arrive at any of their restaurants, you need to ask to speak to the Head Chef and let him or her know of your food allergies and they will offer you safe suggestions.
For the first day, I packed safe snacks and water bottles, and we were ready! Off we went with a wish, a hope and a dream of a food allergy safe trip....oh and great time with Mickey and Minnie of course!
We arrive the day after Memorial day, with the hopes of all of those holiday travelers gone by time the we get there. We couldn't have been more wrong! The week after school lets out probably wasn't our best bet! The amount of people there made it seem as if we needed a border collie to heard us in the right direction. Way too many people!! For lunch, Julia ate a turkey sub sandwich and some veggie straws, with a water bottle (that I had packed). Oh yes...do not forget to pack your own water, that is unless you plan on spending about $5.00 on a water bottle.
The following day we ALL ate at Red Rockets Pizza Port. My youngest Emma (who is allergic to poultry) ate the cheese pizza and my husband and I ate some yummy salads. For Julia who is allergic to (milk, egg and peanut), she ate the spaghetti with marinara sauce. The head chef El Rey, told us that those two items were free of her allergens. He even showed me the ingredient labels for both the spaghetti and the sauce! He also made sure to go to the back and get new utensils for serving her food! We were so pleased to see him take her food allergies so seriously! Julia felt safe and I felt reassured knowing that she would be safe eating there!! She had no reaction to the food, it was a complete success! It was an amazing day and we were thrilled, we even ended the day with Disney's new attraction World of color! It couldn't have been more perfect!
The next day we woke up and Julia ate some cereal with rice milk in our hotel (that I had packed). Since we had such a great experience with our pasta at Red Rockets Pizza Port, we decided to .....or shall I say Julia demanded we go back;) And we did... the day after that and the day after that. We pretty much figured that we would eat there at least once a day while we were there, to kind of make things easy for ourselves.
Well, our last day wasn't so eventful. Our meals at Red Rocket Pizza Port were great, because Chef El Rey always prepared and hand delivered Julia's meals. So with that in mind, we figured the other restaurants would be safe as well. Why not try something new, right?? And so we did, unfortunately....! We decided to go to Ariels Grotto(where previously a couple years ago was safe for Julia). It's a restaurant where you get to experience lunch or dinner with all of the Disney Princess. The girls were thrilled to say the least! Well, I did what I was supposed to do and asked to speak to the chef. She came out and seemed very helpful and offered some suggestions. Although she did mention that with milk in the restaurant, she could not ensure that cross contamination would not occur. As weary as I was, we decided on tri-tip strips with steamed veggies on the side. Since I mentioned to the Chef that Julia's allergies were very severe and potentially life threatening(in private), I expected for her to hand Julia her plate just as Chef El Rey did previously. She didn't, and that should have been my first red flag. Our server brought out all of our meals at once. Julia did not feel comfortable about that, and neither did I. I just felt that she should have brought Julia's meal out personally to ensure safety. Well, needless to say Julia reluctantly ate her meal because we had no other choice;( As we were headed out of the park on our way home, I shouted out... YEAH, THANK GOD......what a wonderful trip we had!! We went back to our hotel and loaded our luggage in the car and headed on back to our home. Within 10 minutes of our car ride, in the middle of LA traffic, poor Julia vomited all over our souvenirs!!! And so that was the end of our Disneyland Trip 2011!! Pretty little Disneyland pins and trinkets covered in vomit...nice! Obviously there was milk in her meal somewhere!!
Needless to say, we did have a great time there in Disneyland! My lesson was that while sometimes you may get great accommodations, it might not be worth the risk. I guess until food allergies are taken more seriously, we will be packing our food again. Ahh.....my wish upon a star would be to walk into a restaurant with my family and truly know that my daughter is safe. Maybe someday that will happen.....