We’ve all been there, getting charged 4 dollars to swap out the regular crust for the allergy version. Or getting charged for a lettuce wrap because they took off the gluten-full bun!
You might be so used to paying extra that you don’t even know what it’s like to not pay for an allergy swap out… but in continuing with all of the things you need to know for an Allergy Friendly or Food Restriction at Disney World, we’ve got to cover the elusive allergy upcharge so you know what to expect.
In this post we’ll cover the three areas where you are charged more for Food Allergies, and then three things you can do to work around those charges.
Does Disney World Charge for Food Allergy Modifications?
The simple answer is No, Allergy Food does not cost more at Disney World and you will not see an upcharge or allergy charge for modifying allergy items at most Disney Locations. But you will be paying more for allergies just like in regular life, in the form of an Allergy Tax, Waiting Longer for Food, and at Third Party locations on Disney Property.
⭐ If this is your First Time to Disney World, you’ll want all the insider tips and done for you plans found in the Food Allergies at Disney World Made Easy Guide
***As Always, please speak to a qualified restaurant employee when ordering food. In order to see the most accurate ingredients and risk assessment, you will need to confirm allergy safety in real-time. This is my personal experience, I am not employed or endorsed by companies or brands mentioned.***
Allergy Tax on Food Items
The Allergy Tax is the hidden upcharge, or the included price, that you pay when purchasing allergy items.
For example, at Cosmic Rays Starlight Cafe Quick Serve in Magic Kingdom, my kids can’t have the three kids options currently available. They are Tenders, Mac and Cheese and BBQ Chicken.
So even though their allergies don’t mesh with the offerings, they can be accommodated by ordering the Adult Hamburger modified with a gluten/allergy bun and with toppings removed. Which is frustrating in one area, as we are paying a hidden allergy tax, but also good that they can still be accommodated.
Another example is the Pizza at Pinocchio Haus in Magic Kingdom. The adult regular portion comes very large, it’s like the size of a medium pizza, comes on a larger plate, and hangs over the edge.
BUT the allergy option is the same pizza that you find all over the Resort. It’s a small sized personal pan pizza. You don’t get two of them when you order the Adult allergy pizza, you just get the one pan. Again- not a huge deal and happy they can accommodate, but still a tax as you are paying the same price for less food. (You can see all the allergy pizza locations here)
Which leads us to some of the dessert or holiday options. This year the only gluten free and allergy gingerbreads at the Grand Floridian are in a larger bag for 15 dollars. It’s great they have them, they taste great, I recommend them, but just know that even if there isn’t an obvious upcharge, you still pay more in many areas.
Time Tax- paying for tickets and food only to wait in line because of Allergies
Time is literally money at Disney World. You are paying a premium price just to set foot into the parks. I’ve run calculations before, when you add in your resort costs, parking, souvenirs, food and ticket prices it’s around 75 dollars an hour just to be inside a park for the average family of four (or 22 dollars a person an hour)
Let me repeat, 75 dollars an hour just to be inside the parks.
So standing in line for food that you’ve already paid for that other people don’t have to stand in line for can be frustrating. I do have some tips below, but I don’t want to mislead you.
It is common for me as a solo traveler to wait between 5-20 minutes for my allergy meal, after I’ve waited to talk to a Coordinator or Chef to order.
It is common for me with a family of 5, 4 with allergy needs, to wait an hour for my food at Table Service locations and 30 minutes at Quick Service locations (especially if traveling with other’s who don’t have allergies). This is not a one time occurance, but common practice as I go so often to test things!
Third Party Operating Participants charge for modifications
There are lots of third party food locations at Disney World. These are formally called the ‘Operating Participants’ and they do try their best to accommodate options.
But, at the end of the day, they have their own procedures. This isn’t a bad thing- just something that you need to be aware of. In some instances this also means that they are charging more and might not have the same options or brands that Disney Restaurants do. See all the list of current operating participants here.
This is also the case at Universal Orlando. Inside Universal, there is no upcharge on 95% of items. Inside the Loews Resorts, which includes all of the Universal Resorts, they do have upcharges on some allergy items.
Three Things you can do to avoid paying more for Allergy Eats
Bring or Delivery Allergy Snacks and Items
Paying 7 dollars for a box of the Top 14 allergy free and gluten free Enjoy Life Cookies (with zero Disney branding) isn’t at the top of my recommendations list! While it is great that they have these treats, you can bring them in, have them delivered to your resort, or pick them up/have groceries delivered!
Save Character Meals and Signature Dining for no ticket days.
Character Dining takes at least an hour, and throw in allergies and it becomes a two hour affair! Save Character Dining and Signature Dining for days where you don’t have a park ticket. This way you aren’t paying for the ticket AND paying to wait for a custom meal. See more about eating at Character Meals without a Park Ticket.
Plan Ahead based on your party
Here’s a few quick ideas that you can test out to see if they work for your trip!
-At a Table Service reservation, see about ordering an extra meal or extra items that you can store and eat in a few hours. This is a great option if you leave off things that can spoil (like mayo) and when the weather is not too hot to encourage spoilage. I love grabbing items that can sit at room temperature for a few hours like pasta with sauce (no meat), or sandwiches, or desserts like churros! French Fries or extra allergy rolls, or even
Split up Allergy and non Allergy Family. Have your family order the Allergy food separately than the Non Allergy options! For example, you could do a table for two for the two family members that need Allergy Table Service, and then have the two without dietary needs do a mobile order at a quick serve. Or you could do mobile order, just two seperate orders, and then double check your mobile order with the allergy book before you ‘place your order’ that you’ve arrived.
Do a lot of snacking in the parks, and then eat at the resorts when you are done for the day! We just did this with my family of 5 and my 2 non FA family in November. We had a big breakfast, light lunch with lots of allergy friendly snacks (some we brought in, some we bought), and then a big dinner back at the resort. You can use this Snack Guide with allergy details for planning!
That’s all for now…
Everyone should eat well on vacation! Learn more common questions and concerns in the Food Allergy FAQ or the Gluten Free Disney FAQ.
Plus the latest Disney News when it comes to Food Restrictions, eats, and offerings. Connect with the MouseEarMemory Allergy Community at the socials listed below or @Mouse.Ear.Memories