Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Gluten Free in Orlando, Florida - Part 1: Disney Animal Kingdom & Downtown Disney

In April 2012 we had an amazing fortnight in Orlando, Florida. It was amazing because of the parks, the dolphin swim, the weather and the magic of it all - but more than anything it was amazing because of the food! We have never found gluten free eating so easy anywhere else. We had a pretty crazy 2 weeks and visited pretty much all of the parks and quite a few different restaurants. I had researched heavily before we went and had pre-booked everything in advance, which I really recommend.

There's just so much to talk about I've decided to split this into several different posts, starting with the Disney Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney, out of all of the Florida parks Disney definitely do gluten free the best!

Disney's Animal Kingdom - Tusker House Restaurant
We started our holiday with a bang with an amazing character breakfast at the Tusker House restaurant in Disney's Animal Kingdom park. It wasn't cheap, but boy was it worth it, it was definitely our best gluten free dining experience in Florida! I have never seen such a huge breakfast buffet!  I had marked our ADRs (advance dining reservations) as being gluten free and the server had a ticket stamped with a big red 'allergy' stamp when we arrived. We reminded our server who immediately went to get the chef. The chef personally came to our table and took my son and I on a private tour of the buffet, telling us what we could and couldn't eat (most things!) he then asked if we would like him to make us some fresh waffles and blueberry muffins? of course we would!!!

We sat down to our enormous plates full of bacon, sausages (yes sausages!), potatoes and scrambled eggs and just as we were finishing chef came over with two huge plates full of gluten free heaven. He'd made us fresh Mickey waffles covered in syrup and two warmed blueberry muffins each, he also gave us some packets of chocolate chip cookies to take with us for later in the day. I actually cried at this point. Proper tears. It felt SO good to be normal, the look on my son's face when his Mickey waffles appeared was sheer joy and excitement - more than any the characters or rides produced.

Here he is tucking into his Mickey waffles.

If you are coeliac/celiac visiting Florida and needing gluten free food - the Tusker House breakfast in Disney's Animal kingdom is an absolute must. I can't recommend it strongly enough!

Disney's Animal Kingdom - Rainforest Cafe
Breakfast from the Tusker House was enough to keep us going until 5pm, when we had ADRs for the Rainforest Cafe. This experience wasn't so great.

If you haven't been to a Rainforest Cafe it's well worth it for the experience, my kids loved the 'storm' and animated characters hanging from the trees. The food is overpriced and mass produced, service really could be better too, but they were knowledgeable about gluten. That said they still catered for gluten free diners. My son and I both had a cheeseburger and fries, with a bun! sadly it was a very dry gluten free bun, but it was edible. We skipped desert as everyone was still full and a bit jet lagged!

Downtown Disney - BabyCakes 
We never ate a meal at Downtown Disney, but did visit twice to stock up on the *amazing* gluten free cakes on offer at BabyCakes bakery. This fantastic little gem, tucked inside Fresh-A-Peel was just wonderful. We went slightly mad and spent $50 on our first visit. ALL of their cakes and cookies are gluten free (and dairy and egg free too). It was literally a little slice of heaven.

My personal favourite was the cinnamon sugar doughnuts, although they were 'cake' type doughnuts, rather than the type we're used to in the UK, it was still soooooo good to eat a doughnut for the first time in 3yrs!

Seb tucked into their brownie, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate dipped doughnut and carrot cupcake. You can see their menu HERE for their Orlando store, all gluten free (another tears moment!).

Image Copyright BabyCakes

Part 2: Walt Disney World and Epcot: http://glutenfreechild.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/gluten-free-in-orlando-florida-part-2.html

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