Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is widely known as the gold standard when it comes to accommodating Guests with food allergies. In 2014 alone, domestically the company handled roughly 650,000 dietary requests, all part of the commitment to elevate guest service and do everything possible to make each visit the best possible experience for each and every Guest.
This week reports of a new Disney-branded allergy friendly line of prepackaged snacks surfaced on several blogs. Yesterday the Disney Food Blog debuted these “Snacks with Character” from Enjoy Life Foods. This line includes snacks such as Chocolate Chip Crunchy Cookie, Sugar Crisp Crunchy Cookie, and Mountain Mambo Seed & Fruit Mix. This is a picture of the Chocolate Chip Crunchy Cookie from the Disney Food Blog website:
All Enjoy Life Foods products are made in a dedicated gluten free and peanut/tree nut free facility, and most products are free of many of the other top 8 allergens. Enjoy Life Foods products have been available in the Disney Parks for a while, but now in conjunction with Disney© and Disney Theme Park Merchandise, specific Disney-branded snacks are available.
On Monday Gluten Free in Orlando detailed products already in the parks from WOW Baking Company and Enjoy Life Foods. Now available at Mouse Gear in Epcot, these two product lines provide Guests with certified gluten free and allergy-friendly snacks. At Mouse Gear the Mountain Mambo Fruit & Seed Mix was available from Enjoy Life Foods, as well as a RiceMilk Chocolate Bar, a Dark Chocolate Bar, and a Chocolate Sunseed Bar. These bars are all free of gluten, nut, soy and dairy, and the Chocolate Sunseed Bar also is free of egg.
WOW Baking Company products include Lemon Burst Cookies and Chocolate Chip Cookies, both made in a dedicated gluten free facility. Notable, these two products do contain disclaimers for nut cross contamination, so unfortunately they would not work for my kids, but are a great addition to the Disney Parks for Guests needing certified gluten free snacks.
You can visit Disney Food Blog and Gluten Free in Orlando for more information on these products.
To many people having “Snacks with Character” that are Disney-branded allergy-friendly prepackaged snacks available in the Disney Parks may not seem to be a big deal, but to a food allergy family it is a huge step forward in helping kids with food allergies feel included and just like every other Guest. During our family’s first visit with food allergies in October 2010 to Walt Disney World Resort, there were prepackaged peanut/tree nut free snacks available. They looked exactly like they would in any store anywhere in the United States. But as any parent of a 6 and 8 year old knows, anything labelled with the face of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy is the snack all children want, and not to be able to have that snack truly is like a kid in a candy store who cannot buy anything. The disappointment for many kids with food allergies is heartbreaking. It is something I still experience with my children today, even though my kids are now almost 11 and 13 years old. To have these snacks available, branded with the faces of such beloved Disney characters, for Guests with food allergies and special dietary needs goes such a long way in ensuring these Guests experience the same magic as every other Guest.
I’m not sure what standard comes above gold – platinum maybe? Whatever it is, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts clearly has gone above the gold standard with introducing these “Snacks with Character”. Recognizing that all Guests want to have the same magical experience at the parks, this is just another example of the commitment to accommodating Guests with food allergies and special dietary needs. Already this year we have seen the introduction of Allergy-Friendly menus at over 120 restaurants at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, as well as the partnership with Mylan to provide EpiPens at designated locations in the parks, and the creation of the new website My Allergy Kingdom. As a food allergy mom, and pastry chef and former owner of a peanut/tree nut free bakery and chocolate company, I for one cannot wait to see what comes next from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts with regard to accommodating Guests with food allergies and special diets. One thing for sure, I know it will be magical and spectacular.