We’ve had an amazing week with our family at Disneyland. Our daughter had lunch with the Disney Princesses and heard Snow White tell her own story. My son spent special time with his dad on all the fast, breathtaking roller coaster type rides – he even went upside down on California Screaming! This was a special trip for all of us, for very different reasons and we’re bringing home incredible memories.
For each of the past four years we’ve been to Disneyland when we visit family in Orange County, but this was the first time with my son’s dairy issues. If you or someone in your family has a special diet, you know how challenging travel can be. Last year I was eating a vegan diet when we visited the Disneyland and was so grateful for the Gumbo in New Orleans Square. It was amazing – and I enjoyed it often!
The vegan options at Disneyland are great, and many blogs and sites are very helpful in directing you to the right restaurants if you have a special diet. Many of the vegan dishes, like the Gumbo, weren’t going to work for my son, however (the gumbo was too spicy). And in planning, we found it difficult to track down whether the hamburger buns had dairy or if there were any dessert options in the park.
So we took matters into our own hands.
We brought our own food for many of our meals. We brought yogurt (he eats soy yogurt) and granola for breakfast and we’d eat on a bench or while we waited in line. For lunch, we filled a cooler with sandwiches, chips, apples and carrots sticks that we stored in a locker all day. When we were hungry, we enjoyed a relaxing lunch in the picnic area just outside the main gates – no crowds, no lines, no screams from the nearest ride. It was wonderful. And I’m guessing we saved a ton of money too!
For our dinners, we had pasta marinara at the Pizza Port one night (with no cheese), mexican food at Rancho Del Zocalo, and chicken bento bowls at Lucky Fortune Cookery in California Adventures. I packed our Yummy Earth organic lollypops and EnviroKidz chocolate crispy rice bars for treats.
The best part: there were no complaints. My kids didn’t feel left out. I call that a success!
I’m sure that Disneyland has options for my dairy-free son, but the amount of time and money that it would’ve taken to find food he’d like just wasn’t worth it when we could do it oursleves. When you have a child with special diet needs, whether it’s food allergies or sensitivities, you just get used to providing your own “safe” foods.
We checked in at Town Hall for a dairy-free list of doods in the park. While they had gluten-free, vegetarian and kosher, they didn’t have lists for dairy-free or vegan options. I hope this changes soon. It sure would make eating there a lot easier for those with food allergies.