fireworks above an illuminated Cinderella's Castle at Disney World
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21 Top Tips for a Gluten-Free Disney Vacation

You’re going to Disney! Yay!

These are my best tips for eating gluten-free in the happiest place on earth. The tips cover both coasts, Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California.

1. Know That Disney is the Most Magical Place on Earth for Gluten-Free

You’re visiting one of the best places in the world for those of us on a medically-necessary gluten-free diet.

Disney’s allergy training and protocols are top-notch. Cast members all the way down the line have a basic understanding of dietary restrictions, food allergies, and cross-contamination. And there are Special Diets trained cast members and chefs who handle allergy order preparation.

In addition to procedures to keep you safe, “exceeding guest expectations” is part of the Walt Disney Company’s culture. You’ll see this value when Disney chefs go above and beyond to make your gluten-free wishes come true.

Some of the links on this post are affiliate links. To learn more, visit our Disclosures.

2. Understand Disney’s Allergy Disclaimers

While Disney is fabulous at gluten-free and has stellar protocols to avoid cross-contamination, it does not guarantee gluten-free. Disney’s allergy offerings are called “allergy-friendly.” When I use the term “gluten-free” below, it refers to Diseney’s “gluten/wheat allergy-friendly” items.

We use reasonable efforts in our food preparation and handling procedures to avoid the introduction of the most common allergens into your menu choices. While we take steps to prevent cross-contact, we do not have separate allergy-friendly kitchens and are unable to guarantee that a menu item is completely free of allergens. 

Additionally, allergy-friendly offerings are reliant on supplier ingredient labels, and we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the contents of each food item. Allergen advisory statements (e.g., “may contain”) are not regulated and therefore not taken into consideration when developing allergy-friendly meals. It is ultimately up to your discretion to make an informed choice based upon your individual dietary needs.

Disney’s Allergy Disclaimer

In my personal experience after countless visits to Disney parks, Disney follows best practices. It’s also important that we understand and participate in the process, so we can eat safely gluten-free.

3. Research

A Disney trip requires a certain amount of research for every visitor, from park reservations to special experiences. For the gluten-free guest, there is the added research of finding the best gluten-free food.

The good news is you can be accommodated in nearly every Disney-owned restaurant. And for the few places that can’t provide gluten-free food, there is always something nearby. So, primarily, research the rides and entertainment that interest you. Then plan the gluten-free food around your itinerary.

Additionally, in your research, you may come across some fabulous food experiences that you want to go out of your way to have. Fit them into your park plans. For example, Nomad Lounge in Disney’s Animal Kingdom serves must-have gluten-free churros. Plan a slow time in the afternoon before/after visiting Pandora – the World of Avatar to sit and watch the character flotillas float by while you enjoy gluten-free churros.

Once you book your hotel, the clock starts ticking before the booking window opens for: park reservations, advance dining reservations, and most of the magical extras and special experiences. You’ll want to start your research at least three months prior to your vacation.

Resources:

2 books on a table: Walt Disney World with Kids and Walt Disney World 2024
Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids

As you research, use my free Gluten-Free Disney World Planner or Gluten-Free Disneyland Planner!

Pink background with 8 Printables: Bucket list (blank), reservations, bucket list (filled out) food planner week-at-a-glance, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom
Pink background with 8 Printables: Bucket list (blank), reservations, bucket list (filled out) food planner week-at-a-glance, California Adventure, and Disneyland

4. Use a Disney Travel Agent

Do you know who always says to use a Disney travel agent? Disney travel agents, of course. But they are right!

Especially for Disney World, which is a beast.

Disneyland, in California, is a bit more manageable on your own. Still, a travel agent is helpful.

In Florida’s Disney World, it is essential. There are so many choices: resorts, theme parks, non-park days, rides, restaurants, shows, character experiences, and magical extras. The possibilities are infinite. Throw in extra planning for the best gluten-free food in Disney, and you will want someone holding your hand.

A really good, Disney-expert travel agent will help you simplify and narrow down your choices based on your budget and interests. Disney pays the travel agent a commission, so it doesn’t cost you a thing.

Discuss with your Disney travel agent in advance, but many will book your Advance Dining Reservations and Special Experiences, making your gluten-free planning much easier.

5. Make Advance Dining Reservations 60 Days in Advance

The opening of the reservation window applies to every Disney guest, but it is particularly important for gluten-free guests who have their eye on a particular gluten-free dish or dining experience.

Disney has two primary types of dining:

  • Table Service Restaurants: reservations recommended, you’ll sit at a table with a server, and order off an allergy menu, with the exception of buffets and some special dining experiences
  • Quick Service Restaurants: no reservations, place your order with a cast member at a register or mobile order

The window for Advance Dining Reservations at Disney World and Disneyland Table Service Restaurants and Special Dining Events opens early in the morning 60 days before your visit.

Most Enchanted Extras and Special Experiences also open up at midnight at the 60-day mark. Your travel agent can provide the latest information on booking windows, but most recently Dining Reservations open online at 5:45 am ET (3:45 am PT) for Disney World and 10 am ET (7 am PT) for Disneyland.

If you are staying at a Disney resort hotel, the entire length of your stay (up to 10 days) opens up 60 days prior. This gives you an advantage in booking in-demand restaurants, especially when scheduling them a few days into your trip.

a gluten-free dessert trio on a dish (that looks like a stained glass image of a rose), left to right: raspberries macaron, "grey stuff" in a white-chocolate "Chip" teacup, and a chocolate truffle
“the grey stuff” in a white chocolate “Chip” cup

Once you’ve researched the best gluten-free options and decided that you MUST eat in the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride at the Blue Bayou (California) or try “the grey stuff” at the Beast’s Enchanted Castle (Florida), you will want to be online when reservations open to snag those popular spots. Note, if you have your heart set on the grey stuff, check out the next tip!

Sign up for Mouse Dining! If you can’t snag a reservation for your desired restaurant and time, Mouse Dining will alert you when a spot opens up. There is usually more availability as it gets closer to the date and guests drop reservations, so be patient. The free version includes up to six alerts.

6. Email Special Diets (in Certain Circumstances)

In general, you don’t need to email Special Diets. In fact, most requests will result in a generic response with answers you may already know, as Disney makes so much information available online and in the app.

There are some circumstances where an email is recommended.

Email Disney World Special Diets or Disneyland Special Diets no sooner than 14 days before your Disney vacation, if any of the following apply:

  • You have “4 or more allergy-friendly requests, require pureed meals, or adhere to a medically-restrictive diet (such as very low protein)”.
  • You have a Disneyland reservation at Blue Bayou or Cafe Orleans and plan to order the gluten-free Monte Cristo sandwich, which requires an advance request.
  • You have booked a pricey special event and want to make sure you are happy with the experience and food provided for the cost. In this case, email Special Diets and request a chef consult in advance.

A word about the last one. This is not necessary and depends on the event and your expectations.

For Florida, I have personally emailed Special Diets to make sure my daughter had the grey stuff at Disney World’s Be Our Guest. I do not send emails for Disney World’s Fireworks Dessert Party, as the default options are pretty spectacular.

For Disneyland (California), I recommend an email to Special Diets for the dessert parties, as options at the west coast Disney parks vary and are more limited.

7. Mobile Order off the Gluten/Wheat Allergy Menu

While I sometimes have a love/hate relationship with the My Disney Experience App for Disney World and the Disneyland Mobile App, using Disney’s app for mobile ordering is a game changer.

You can place a mobile order at most Disney quick service, fast-food-style restaurants.

Before Disney introduced mobile ordering, all guests placed “quick service” orders with a cast member at a register (you still can). For those with allergies or special diets, this process is not exactly quick if you want a consult with a chef or Special Diets cast member (recommended). Mobile ordering revolutionized this process and is my favorite and primary way of dining at Disney.

When placing your mobile order in the app, look for the triangle-shaped allergy icon on the far right. Click that, and you’ll see several allergy menus.

screen shot w/ red arrow pointing to triangle indicated "allergy menus" which pulls up menus for a variety of allergies

Select the “Gluten/Wheat Allergy Friendly” menu and select only from the gluten/wheat allergy-friendly options. While items on this menu may look the same as the ones on the regular menu, ordering from the Allergy-Friendly menu triggers all of the allergy protocols designed to prevent cross-contamination.

screen shot with "gluten/wheat allergy-friendly" circled in red, and a selection of gluten allergy-friendly menu options below

Gluten-free meals usually take longer to prepare, so I often place my order early and then click “I’m here” when I’m walking over to the restaurant. My food has not beaten me, yet!

I place the order for my entire family (including gluten-eaters), so all of our food is ready at the same time. Disney will put the items ordered from the allergy menu on a separate tray.

I cannot say enough about how normal you’ll feel at Disney with allergy mobile ordering. If you value flexibility in your day, you can practically fly by the seat of your pants with mobile ordering.

Occasionally, you’ll come across a quick service location with no allergy menus in the app. Speak to a Special Diets cast member to see if you can be safely accommodated.

Important! There is no option to mobile order from more than one allergy menu. If you have multiple allergies, Disney advises that you order in person with a Special Diets cast member.

The app also notes that “guests must speak to a cast member about their allergy-friendly request.” Special Diets Cast Members have repeatedly told me that ordering off of the Gluten/Wheat Allergy-Friendly Menu triggers allergen protocols. I personally use the mobile app to order and then confirm at pick up that my meal is “gluten-free”.

8. List “Gluten/Wheat Allergy” on Your Reservation

When you make your online advance dining reservation for a Disney table service restaurant, you’ll see an option to add Special Dietary Requests. Click add.

screenshot titled "special dietary or accessibility requests" in bold. a red arrow pointed to the "add" button

Then select the box next to wheat/gluten. Add any other applicable dietary needs for your party. This is also where you would mark if your party requires wheelchair accessibility.

screen shot with title "How May We Assist You?" and subtitle "Special Dietary Requests".  The words "wheat/gluten and a checked box are circled in red

9. Look for the Allergy Pick

When your wheat/gluten allergy-friendly food is served, it will have an allergy pick in it. This lets you know that allergy protocols were followed. If your food does not have the pick in it, ask. Note, some table service restaurants remove the allergy pick right before serving.

gluten-free breakfast sandwich, wrapped and stuck with a pick that says "allergy"

The one time my daughter was glutened at Disneyland could have been prevented by this tip. This was many years ago before mobile ordering existed. There were a couple of reasons for the mistake, including a computer error, but we could have caught it if we had known to look for the allergy pick.

10. Speak to a Cast Member.

Every time you order food, let a cast member know you are on a medically necessary gluten-free diet. At Disney, most dining cast members are familiar with celiac disease, but you can always say “gluten allergy”.

At table-service locations:

  • Inform the host(ess) you have a gluten allergy noted on the reservation and request an allergy menu and/or a chef consult*.
  • When you place your order, remind your server you are ordering off the gluten-free menu. (The same dish may be on the regular menu, but with gluten-containing ingredients.)
  • Confirm that your dish is gluten-free when it is delivered to your table.
  • Inquire about any extra food items, such as bread, that are placed on your table. Usually, the server will clarify which are gluten-free and which are for the rest of the table, but this is an easy place for a mistake to be made.

*My daughter and I have celiac disease, and we request a chef consult every time. This extra step ensures the chef understands your dietary restrictions. More than that, it will provide you with the best culinary experience. If you see a dish you really want on the regular menu, sometimes the chef can modify it to make a gluten-free version.

In-person ordering at quick-service locations:

  • Let a cast member know you have a gluten allergy. Request an allergy menu and/or to speak to a Special Diets trained cast member. (I always speak to the Special Diets cast member to be safest.)
  • State you are placing an allergy order when you order your meal.
  • Confirm it is gluten-free when you pick up your food.

Mobile ordering at quick-service locations:

  • Confirm your meal is gluten-free when you pick it up. Your food will be handed to you by a knowledgeable Special Diets cast member or chef.

Note, when you mobile order off the gluten/wheat allergy-friendly menu, that 100% counts as letting Disney know you have a serious gluten-free diet. You do not have to order in person, unless there is no allergy menu at a particular location or if any one person in your party has more than one allergy.

At a small stand or kiosk:

  • Let a cast member know you have a gluten allergy.
  • The cast member will show you an allergy binder or let you read labels on prepackaged products.
  • In some cases, such as Food Festivals, there may be a chef or Special Diets cast member you can speak with.

11. Order the Gluten-Free Menu Items off the Allergy Menu

This sounds obvious, but ordering from the wrong allergy list is an easy mistake to make.

Many of the hard-copy, allergy menus at Disney feature all allergens, with a parenthetical note stating which allergies apply. Be sure to order only the items that state “gluten/wheat allergy-friendly” underneath and not “egg allergy-friendly” for example.

Remembering to let the server know you are ordering “the gluten-free pasta off the gluten-allergy menu”, for example, is an extra safeguard against this error.

12. Don’t Eat off the Buffet

Serving yourself directly from the buffet is not worth the risk if you have celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten cross-contamination. Other guests can (and do) move spoons from one gluten-filled dish to a gluten-free dish… or drop croutons in the lettuce on the way to their plate.

Good news! You can still safely book buffets.

Just request a chef consult when you arrive. Ask the chef to prepare a plate for you straight from the kitchen. The chef can walk you around the buffet to point out available gluten-free items and let you know about other items not on the buffet, such as gluten-free Mickey waffles and an ice-cream sundae with a gluten-free brownie.

13. Self Advocate

While Disney does a fabulous job at giving us safe, gluten-free food, we still have to be aware and ask questions.

So politely speak up if you aren’t sure about something. If something doesn’t have an allergy pick, doesn’t look or taste gluten-free, or differs from what you ordered, ask questions. If you aren’t comfortable with the answers, don’t eat. Ask for something safer.

Disney prides itself on top-level guest service, so this is the best place to learn to be brave (and kind) and speak up. This is a life lesson for our children, one I am teaching my own daughter with celiac disease.

14. Don’t Eat “Behind the Glass” Sweets from Candy Shops

The risk of cross-contamination is very high.

To save yourself or your child the sadness of looking at forbidden treats, I recommend skipping the candy shops altogether.

There are so many other gluten-free goodies that are handled with proper allergy protocols. Here’s my list of the Best Gluten-Free Snacks & Treats at Disneyland. There are even more treats at Disney World, like gluten-free churros and gluten-free beignets.

If you do go inside a sweets shop, look on the walls for “Snacks with Character”, Disney-branded, pre-packaged, allergy snacks.

bag of "Snacks with Character: Chocolate Chip Cookies" with Minnie Mouse in a blue outfit on the front

15. Be Aware of Non-Disney Restaurants

Disney dining locations are truly top-notch when it comes to handling allergies. But, allergy education and cross-contamination prevention vary widely at non-Disney restaurants.

Wait! Non-Disney restaurants?!

Did you know, not every restaurant in Disney World is Disney owned and operated?

Non-Disney-owned Restaurants in the Disney Entertainment Districts:

  • At Downtown Disney (in California) the restaurants are not Disney owned and operated.
  • At Disney Springs and the Boardwalk (in Florida), most of the restaurants are not Disney owned and operated.
  • Near the Boardwalk (in Florida), The Walt Disney Swan & Dolphin Hotels and their restaurants, are not Disney owned and operated, despite the name.

Each of these Disney out-of-park entertainment areas has Disney hotels with fabulous food nearby. Head to one of those hotels to dine with Disney’s allergy protocols.

For non-Disney restaurants at Disney Springs in Florida: the Boathouse Restaurant and Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant and its quick-service Cookes of Dublin are not Disney owned, but are very popular in the celiac and gluten-free community. And of course, there is always Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC, a completely gluten-free bakery.

D-Luxe Burger in Disney Springs is a Disney-owned restaurant, and you can even order via the app.

In California’s Downtown Disney, I have enjoyed many great gluten-free meals at Tortilla Joe’s and Naples (note, the staff says the pizza is not safe). The managers have been well informed, always pass my usual restaurant cross-contamination questions, and my daughter and I (both celiacs) have never gotten sick at either restaurant. But others have had mixed experiences.

gluten-free rigatoni covered with parmesan cheese

Non-Disney-owned restaurants at the parks:

  • Starbucks & Joffrey’s Coffee
  • Animal Kingdom: Rainforest Cafe (just outside the park) and Yak & Yeti (inside the park)
  • Epcot: Space 220 and, sadly, many of the World Showcase Restaurants (Mexico, China, Italy, Japan, and France)

Stick to Disney-owned and operated locations, or well-vetted restaurants.

If you opt to eat at a non-Disney restaurant, do your research and ask questions at the restaurant. Check guest reviews in the crowd-sourced Find Me Gluten Free App. There is a free version. If you want the premium features, use the code GOGLUTENFREELY for $5 off. When you arrive at the restaurant, ask for a manager to discuss gluten-free and cross-contamination.

16. Stay on Disney Property

Not a must by any means, but consider staying at a Disney resort for the magic of Disney’s Special Diets protocols throughout your entire trip.

Check out the BEST Walt Disney World Resorts for Gluten-Free to choose between dozens of options at the Florida parks.

giant lobby of Animal Kingdom Lodge, chandelier, sofas & seating groups, and very small in the middle is CJ with arms outstretched and Mickey ears

In California, it’s much easier to choose one of only three Disneyland-owned hotels: Disney’s Grand California Resort & Spa, The Disneyland Hotel, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel (which is currently under renovation to become Pixar Place Hotel).

The Grand Californian has the most food options, and therefore, the most gluten-free options. It is also the most expensive. If the Grand Californian is over budget, no worries! The hotels are all about a 10-minute walk from each other.

17. Share meals or Order a Kids’ Meal

This is a great tip for anyone at Disney.

It’s simple. Disney meals are a lot of food. If you share meals, you’ll have room for more treats. And you want room for the gluten-free treats at Disney. From Mickey ice cream bars to Dole Whip.

a boy wearing Star Wars Death Star Mickey ears and a eating a Mickey bar

Most Disney restaurants will let adults order a kids’ meal. Note, this does not apply to fixed-priced meals, such as buffets and character dining, where children are very specifically ages 3-9. Yes, your 10-year-old is an adult at Disney!

Not only do you save room for more variety with smaller meals, but you’ll also stretch your Disney dollars.

18. Packing Snacks Is Optional

When you’re gluten-free and on the go, you bring snacks. Always. Except at Disney. Maybe.

Still pack snacks if you have a two-year-old. Pack snacks if you have a tendency to get hangry. Pack snacks if you’d rather eat a sandwich in line so you can get in one more ride. That advice applies to everyone.

But, at Disney, you don’t HAVE to pack snacks just because you are gluten-free.

This is the one place, you can count on gluten-free food available for purchase at every turn.

a bucket of popcorn on a table

19. Plan for Breakfast

If you need a substantial breakfast to start your day, there are several gluten-free options:

  • A character breakfast
  • Gluten-free Ronto wrap at Ronto Roasters in Hollywood Studios (Florida) – recommended
  • Gluten-free Ronto without the wrap in Disneyland (California) – good, if you haven’t tried the one with the wrap in Florida
  • Gluten-free breakfast sandwich in Disneyland (California) – recommended
gluten-free breakfast sandwich with eggs, cheese and bacon

Consider eating breakfast at your resort in Disney World for more options. Most have Mickey waffles!

For the west coast parks, check out this detailed guide to Gluten-Free Breakfast at the Disneyland Resort.

You can also eat a quick breakfast in your hotel room. Pick up groceries at your resort gift shop, bring some from home, or order grocery delivery via Amazon Fresh or Instacart. You’ll have room for a few small items in your mini fridge.

Easy on-the-go foods for a gluten-free breakfast:

  • fruit, nuts, cheese & gluten-free crackers
  • yogurt or bottled yogurt smoothies
  • cereal, milk & fruit
  • breakfast bars
  • celery & peanut butter
  • hardboiled eggs to-go
  • gluten-free oatmeal (if you tolerate oats)
  • gluten-free bagels: Most Disney food courts have toasters available for guest use, just bring your own toaster bags.
Package of toaster bags with toaster bags laid out next to it.

20. Schedule a Non-Park Day for Gluten-free Resort Hopping

There is so much gluten-free Disney magic outside the parks.

Disneyland, in California, is easy to navigate. You can walk everywhere for your resort-hopping day. Make the most of your stress-free day out of the parks. Book character dining at a Disneyland Resort hotel, enjoy shopping in Downtown Disney, and take advantage of your resort pool and activities.

In Florida, you could easily spend a month eating your way through all the gluten-free finds the Disney World hotels have to offer. Here are my favorite things to eat and do OUTSIDE the parks at Disney World.

21. Relax & Enjoy!

You are in the happiest place on earth for gluten-free dining!

Miss E wearing Minnie Ears and kissing Heather on the cheek - the Matterhorn in the background

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