February 13, 2020

Gluten Free: Disneyland - Restaurants and Meals

This is part two of a two-part article about eating gluten-free at Disneyland. In the first part, we covered some logistics of visiting the Disneyland on a gluten-free diet and the resorts abilities to accommodate dietary needs. In this part I'll go over the specific gluten-free meals we had on our vacation and and our experiences ordering at resort restaurants. The prices and availability in this article are accurate as of February 2020.

We decided on two meals at the resort each of the five days we were in the parks, either a breakfast or lunch and dinner. We covered other meals and snacks by bringing in groceries we had delivered to or hotel. Here is the recap of what and where we ate gluten-free meals.

Day 1 - Disneyland

Breakfast Platter at Red Rose Taverne ($9.49)

Breakfast Platter at Red Rose Taverne - Disneyland
Being or first restaurant, we were a little unsure how to proceed. We found a cast member at Red Rose in Fantasyland and indicated we had someone in our party with celiac disease. We were given a printed allergy menu and told we could talk with the chef to discuss our needs.

My partner ordered the Breakfast Platter - eggs, potatoes and bacon or sausage. To make it gluten free, She had to forego the petit croissant. We skipped the chef consultation since the clerk was extremely knowledgeable and explained that the meal would be prepped and cooked in a dedicated area of the kitchen and come out separately from the rest of the meals.

Editor's note: All four of our meals came with three strips of bacon which meant I ended up treating my heart to 12 strips to start my day.

Trio of Street Tacos at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante ($13.49)

Trio of Street Tacos at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante - DisneylandFor dinner on day one, we ate at one of my favorite restaurants in the park, Rancho del Zocalo in Frontierland. My partner ordered the Trio of Street Tacos from the allergy menu - choice of beef, chicken or pork tacos in corn tortillas, served with bean and rice.

At Rancho, you order at the kitchen and pay afterward. The cast member who took my partner's order wasn't sure how to proceed to accommodate her dietary needs, but the chef quickly came over and explained that the food could not touch the standard line and needed to be prepared separately in the dedicated space in the back of the kitchen. She also instructed the cast member to toss her gloves, wash and re-glove before starting her meal. That was awesome.

My partner's meal was served from the same window as the other meals, but it was handled by the individual who prepped it all the way to the window.

Day 2 - Disney California Adventure

American Breakfast at Flo's V8 Cafe ($9.49)

American Breakfast at Flo's V8 Cafe - Disney California AdventureDifferent day, different park, different name but same breakfast...almost. The American Breakfast at Flo's V8 Cafe in Cars Land was nearly identical to the Breakfast Platter at Red Rose Taverne save for two slight differences. My partner was offered a gluten free biscuit and given the option to exchange her bacon for extra eggs or potatoes. Neither of these options were mentioned at Red Rose, but may have been available.

We talked with the chef at Flo's and he indicated that they uses dedicated space for gluten-free prep. He also mentioned that the gluten-free biscuits are the only items they serve that are are made outside the kitchen. They are prepped outside the park and delivered in individual, sealed containers to minimize risks of cross contamination.

Gluten-free Penne Pasta at Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta ($10.99)

Gluten-free Penne Pasta at Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta - Disney California AdventureDinner at Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta in Paradise Gardens Park was the first grab-and-pay restaurant we ate at. This is a style of quick service restaurant where you select a pre-made meal and pay as you leave the serving area. 

Again, we spoke with a cast member and received an allergy menu and chef consultation. Gluten-free pasta at Boardwalk is made to order in a separate kitchen space.

It does take a few minutes to cook, which was not a big deal for us, but something to keep in mind if you are in a hurry.

Day 3 - Disneyland

Oven-Roasted Turkey Sandwich at Jolly Holiday Bakery ($10.49)

Oven-Roasted Turkey Sandwich at Jolly Holiday Bakery - DisneylandWe hit Galaxy's Edge at rope drop on day three so our first meal in the park wasn't until lunch time. The Jolly Holiday Bakery on Main Street USA is one of the restaurants that still lists allergy-friendly meals in the Disneyland mobile app (editor's note: covered in Part One). It is also the only restaurant we visited that didn't have allergy menus available - they had recently changed up their offerings hadn't received the new allergy menus yet.

We spoke with the chef who indicated he could prepare any sandwich except the Thanks-Mas (which contained stuffing and gravy) gluten-free by substituting the bun. He also confirmed that the fryers used for the house-made chips are dedicated. This allowed my partner to order the turkey sandwich, which doesn't appear as a gluten allergy option in the app.

The Jolly Holiday also had the most thorough handling process to avoid cross contamination. The chef explained that my partner's meal would be prepared ad handled exclusively by the two chefs, the cast members wearing black hats. We would be called to a separate window pick up that wasn't used for standard food. If our meal did not come out of the specified window, or was handled by someone other than the chefs, we were to send it back. Again, awesome effort to avoid cross contamination.

Kids' Chicken Breast with Rice at French Market Restaurant ($7.99)

Kids' Chicken Breast with Rice at French Market Restaurant - DisneylandThe French Market Restaurant in New Orleans Square was the low point in dining for our trip. It was very busy when we visited and the cast members who were serving, chef included, were working hard to keep the line moving. The only item on the allergy menu that met my partner's dietary needs was the Royal Street Chicken Caesar Salad (sans croutons), but the chef indicated they were out of lettuce.

Rather than go somewhere else, my partner opted for the Chicken Breast with Rice from the kids' menu. We noticed that the chicken and rice were served from the same warming tray and steamer that was used to serve non-allergy friendly meals. They did serve the food with dedicated utensils, but it did not appear than anyone swapped gloves or washed before handling the plates. My partner did not have any issues, but it was definitely the riskiest meal.

Day 4 - Disney California Adventure

Character Brunch at Storyteller's Cafe ($$$ a lot)

Character Brunch at Storyteller's Cafe - Disney California AdventureAfter taking advantage of a walk-on Incredicoaster a few times with my son (editor's note: who had worked up the nerves for his first real rollercoaster), we headed off to Storyteller's Cafe in the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa for the Mickey's Tales of Adventure Buffet Brunch. As I mentioned in Part One, when I booked the character dining through the Disneyland mobile app, I was given an opportunity to indicate dietary needs. My partner followed up with a phone call when she confirmed our reservation to confirm our needs.

When we arrived, the host also confirmed our dietary needs and our waiter explained what was and wasn't safe for my partner to eat from the buffet. He told us that care is taken to minimize the risk of cross contamination for buffet items being served by cast members, but also offered to prepare items separately in the kitchen on a dedicated grill.

My partner asked to have an omelet prepared separately and some gluten-free Mickey Waffles.

Street Taco Plate at Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill ($12.99)

Street Taco Plate at Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill - Disney California AdventureStreet Tacos at Cocina Cucamonga in Paradise Wharf were very similar to the Trio of Street Tacos at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante, but $.50 cheaper for those paying attention.

Allergy menu, separately prepared meals and separate handling. It sounds a bit repetitive at this point, but I think that goes to show how well the resort restaurants handle dietary needs. This is knowledge, preparation and handling we could only wish for at other restaurants, but by day four day in the parks it has become passe. Passe in a good way.

Ricemilk Choco Bar at Trolley Treats ($3.49)

Ricemilk Choco Bar at Trolley Treats - Disney California AdventureAs easy as eating meals was for us, enjoying the great, unique treats at Disneyland was quite a bit harder. We had asked the previous day at the Jolly Holiday Bakery. While they had gluten-free confections, they did not recommend any of them for someone with celiac disease. Likewise, at Trolley Treats they recommended staying with pre-packaged items that were marked gluten-free.

My partner managed to find a Ricemilk Choco Bar at Trolly Treats, on our way out of DCA for the evening that was both dairy and gluten free.

The bar is part of the Snacks with Character line of packaged treats that are vegan and free from the top allergy ingredients.

Day 5 - Disneyland

Oven-Roasted Turkey Sandwich at Jolly Holiday Bakery ($10.49)

We ended up back at the Jolly Holiday Bakery again for lunch day five. We spoke with a different chef, but they detailed the same stellar process for preventing cross contamination.

Gluten-free Pizza with Vegan Cheese at Alien Pizza Planet ($7.99)

Gluten-free Pizza with Vegan Cheese at Alien Pizza Planet - DisneylandFor our final meal in the park, the kids picked the newly-renamed Alien Pizza Planet in Tomorrowland.

We thought this one might be difficult with both the gluten and dairy restrictions, but my partner was able to order a gluten-free pizza with vegan cheese.

Like the pasta at Boardwalk, the gluten-free pizzas are made to order and will trail the rest of the grab-and-pay items by a few minutes.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned in Part 1, the Disneyland Resort does a fantastic job of accommodating dietary needs. Every restaurant we visited was knowledgeable about celiac disease and honest about their procedures and abilities to accommodate our dietary needs. Something else we noticed is that we were never changed more for a gluten-free version of a menu item. That was also refreshing when a gluten-free bun often comes with a $1-2 upcharge outside the resort.


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