This summer my family and I were blessed enough to vacation at Walt Disney World. In my opinion, Disney is fabulous in and of its own right, but the amazing vacation experience they provided to visitors (especially those with food allergies) is simply unparalleled.
For this trip, we stayed at The Wilderness Lodge (a favorite spot of ours as it is where my husband and I stayed when honeymooning in Disney World). The hotel is like walking into a wilderness mansion where no detail is overlooked. Everything from the building materials to the light fixtures adds to the overall experience.
We ate at two establishments at Wilderness Lodge during our stay. Our absolute favorite was a full-service restaurant (sit-down meal) at the Whispering Canyon Cafe. What an experience! Where else can you get up mid-meal and do the Hokey Pokey and ride stick horses around the dining tables…and not get into trouble? Pixie Lizzie, a friend and fabulous travel agent who understands food allergies firsthand, highly recommended this particular restaurant and I’m so thankful she did. We did the dining plan and so our reservations were already set and my son’s food allergies and my gluten-free accommodations were already on record.
We were seated at Whispering Canyon Cafe in less than five minutes and the waiter said he would be bringing the chef to our table to discuss safe menu items…without me even mentioning we had food allergies. Talk about having your ducks in a row! Within minutes Sous Chef, Williere Justin, arrived at our table to discuss safe menu options for my son and I. Mr. Justin was extremely knowledgeable and understanding and made it clear from the beginning that he would do whatever he could to ensure that my son and I had a fabulous dining experience. Never once did he act rushed or frustrated with our special orders (food allergy parents…you know what I mean). Even more refreshing, was the spirit of fun in which Mr. Justin conducted himself. He smiled always, laughed often, and was unfailingly kind.
My son ordered the quesadillas and enjoyed an indulgent fudge-filled chocolate cake topped with ice cream for dessert. (And no I don’t have a picture of his dinner, because it really was consumed that fast!) I was able to snap this picture of his dessert, even though he was already halfway through it when I took the picture.
The smile and enthusiasm on my son’s face gave me so much joy, I doubt I will ever fully be able to put into words the gift Mr. Justin gave our family that night. I ordered roasted chicken, vegetables, mashed potatoes, and baked beans.
When I completed my order, Mr. Justin asked if I’d like some gluten-free cornbread with that.
When I paused and smiled at the thought of getting to indulge in my favorite gluten-free treat, he smiled and said, “You have to! It’s vacation!” For dessert, Mr. Justin made me a decadent crustless cheesecake.
All I can say is Y-U-M! Both my son’s and my dinners were absolutely delicious.
My son and I left the restaurant that night with two “safe” breakfast muffins for in the morning. And sadly, I have no pictures of those either because they disappeared even faster than my son’s dinner the night before. The muffins were chocolate and a gluten-free grain muffin with chocolate chips, and were such a treat for breakfast the next morning!
Our dining experience at Whispering Canyon Cafe was one of the top dining experiences of our trip. It was most definitely the perfect way to kick it off in style.
My absolute love and thanks to Sous Chef Williere Justin and his incomparable service to all diners and their right to a delicious, fun-filled dining experience.
Sir, Disney is truly blessed to have you on staff!!!
The second restaurant we visited at The Wilderness Lodge was Roaring Fork. This is a counter-service meal for those of you utilizing the Disney meal plan. I simply asked the manager on duty if he would be able to accommodate my son’s and my special dietary restrictions (we did not have a reservation) and he was more than happy to comply. He reviewed our dining options with me verbally and then let me review ingredients lists for meals in an organized food allergy binder they keep on hand at the register. It took less than five minutes to order and the manager personally prepared our meals to ensure our safety. The meals were delivered quickly and were great. My son ordered a flatbread pizza that didn’t last very long (aka…no I didn’t even have time to snap a picture). You work up quite an appetite walking all over Disney! I ordered a turkey sandwich that was divine with a fabulous cucumber side salad.
The cucumber salad had great flavor and was one of my favorite side dishes of the trip!
Thank you Walt Disney World and The Wilderness Lodge for an amazing stay. It just isn’t the same now that we are back at home. We are already counting the days until our next trip!