Oh yes we are. Girlfriend has been asking to do this for ages. And her 9th birthday is coming up.
I attended UCLA for my undergraduate degree and I went there so often I could tell if a roller coaster was slow or fast that day. And it was fun every single time. I know it’s changed a lot since I’ve been there (the whole parking lot in front? Gone. It’s now a hotel and other stuff). But, when thinking about a special birthday treat for Girlfriend, whose birthday is on the 26th, Disneyland was the natural choice.
Why? Because I’ve been hearing for years that not only is it fun, but the whole park and all the Disney hotel restaurants are attentive to food allergy concerns. And we’ve got those in spades. Between my gluten intolerance and Girlfriend’s life-threatening peanut allergy, it is a challenge (to say the least) to find food on the road. Especially when you’re stuck somewhere without a car. Especially when you have to rely on restaurants. Especially when crackers and carrot sticks won’t cut it for 5 solid days.
So, I’ve been doing a ton of research and homework. I found the phone number of the head chef for all the Disneyland and Disney hotel restaurants and gave him a call. I figured I would get a voice mail, or an assistant or something. But no. He answered himself and was extremely friendly. He seemed to have all the time in the world to listen to our needs and help me figure out what to do. He was quite informed about all of the allergy accommodations at each restaurant. He could recommend certain dishes to get or to stay away from. He gave me the phone number of the chef at the California Adventure restaurants (that’s the sister park next door)–and also took my phone number so that chef could call me.
Further, it turns out that they have all sorts of things available in gluten-free that normally I would have to stay away from: waffles, pancakes, pizza crusts, hot dog and hamburger buns. Oh, and if I forget where these things can be found, there’s a list in the City Hall on Main Street.
He asked me to send him a list of the restaurants and times we planned to go and he would alert each place and make sure they were ready for us. I just did this a few minutes ago and I just got a reply (on a Saturday no less) that he has forwarded our info to all the chefs at each restaurant. Wow. I am just blown away by this.
The main thing that amazes me is that this is a huge corporation. Zillions of people want to go there all the time. And only a small portion have food allergies. Disney doesn’t need to be so nice and friendly and accommodating of people like us. They would still make a bajillion dollars. And yet, when I call, an actual human being answers the phone. And it’s not even some overworked receptionist. It’s the head guy. And he acts like he was waiting for my call. I am almost speechless at being treated with such kindness.
So, we are going to Disneyland and we are eating out and I feel no anxiety about it! I can’t tell you how excited I am.
If you ever go to Disneyland, the head chef is Bill Orton. His phone number is: (714)-239-5610. His email address is: email@example.com. Thank you Bill!
Edited to add: I’ve been getting phone calls from Disneyland chefs all day to talk about our needs and to let us know they’re on top of things. I have now heard from the head Disneyland park chef (the one I first spoke with, Bill, is the head chef of the whole Disneyland Resort, including the hotels); as well as two chefs from different restaurants we’re planning to go go to.
The head Disneyland park chef (Chris Justesen) gave me some more tips on where and where not to eat. He knew the difference between an intolerance (what I have) and a life-threatening allergy (what Girlfriend has). Further, he was quite knowledgeable about anaphylactic shock and how serious it is. He also gave me the run-down on how Disney handles anaphylactic shock, just in case–including timing of when paramedics could get to us and how long it takes to get an ambulance. If you don’t have food allergies, this might not mean much to you, but it gives me incredible peace of mind that he even knows what anaphylactic shock is. His number is (714) 781-3569.
Wow. This whole thing is boggling my mind–in a good way.