By Gina Withey
Kids bring great joy and copious amounts of love and laughter into our lives but they also bring us worry. Allergies, especially life threatening ones, are just one of those worries.
Whether your child has minimal allergies to certain grasses and flowers or a deadly peanut allergy, you don’t want to let the situation stop your family from living and having an amazing vacation. Where better to experience a low worry vacation than Walt Disney World? World renowned for the friendliest and most accommodating customer service, Disney’s cast members continue to set the bar high regarding special diet needs. If your child, or any family member for that matter, has a specific food allergy or diet requirement, you may be interested to know how Disney is available to help.
1. HIGH TECH
First and foremost, being Disney, there’s a specific e-mail! Using [email protected], you can alert the cast members of the situation. From this point, a cast member will make sure your restaurant reservations are tagged with the specific information and give you a list of places within Disney World where you can get what you need. If you need assistance making dining reservations, this is a good starting point for further information.
2. BOOK DINING EARLY
Booking early is highly recommended whether you have special needs or not. However, because you have special requirements, try to book as early as possible and confirm a few days in advance. Check during confirmation to be sure your reservation is still flagged with the correct requirement.
3. BRING YOUR OWN
Some kids have such serious allergies to multiple items, bringing your own prepared food might be the best way to go. Again, e-mail or speak to a Disney cast member for special needs such as storage or a method of reheating while on the go. Disney will allow coolers for special diets inside the parks, but as with any container, it must be checked by security before entering.
4. FIRST AID CENTER
Each Disney theme and water park has a First Aid Center staffed with a licensed nurse. Know where each center located within the parks and don’t hesitate to be seen in the event your child comes in contact with something questionable. If you think you need to go to an emergency room, the nurse can call for complimentary transportation to the hospital from the First Aid Station. An ambulance can be called if necessary as well.
5. JOIN OTHER PARENTS
Join website groups to read and share tips for dealing with allergic kids while traveling. kidswithfoodallergies.org is a great source for information and ideas.
6. PERSONAL REMINDER
Finally, upon arrival to any Disney dining establishment, remind the host/hostess and server of your situation. After all, as hard as they try, and most cast members give 110% every day, slip ups do occur. A kind reminder won’t hurt anyone and may save a life.
Obviously, planning a family vacation involving a member with serious allergies is more complicated. But don’t let that stop you from having fun. After all, you deal with the allergy at home and school. You might as well take on Walt Disney World too. Disney makes it easy as possible by working hard on their end to accommodate. Take a deep breath and enjoy yourself!
• Gina Withey has over 20 years’ experience in the travel and hospitality industry in the areas of sales, marketing and operations. Gina is currently regional director sales and marketing and oversees StaySky Resort Management’s marketing and advertising for StaySky Hotels & Resorts, which includes both Orlando and Daytona Hotels. She also sits on the Global Marketing Committee for Visit Orlando.