Dining at Disney World with Food Allergies is one of those things that requires some planning, especially for character meals! You want to be able to enjoy the experience, so the less you have to worry about finding allergen-friendly options, the better!
But thankfully, you also know you have more options at Disney World than most other vacations where they don’t do much to accommodate you at all. (A bowl of lettuce is NOT a meal 😒 but Disney World won’t do you like that!! 🥳)
Disney World Character Meals are some of the most special meals you’ll have on your vacation- seriously- they are a blast! And they can also be an area where you worry, because you want it to be special!
Note: The Characters listed may vary. It is not a guarantee, though you should see them there.
In a rush? Head over to this post of the Best Food Allergy Restaurant Recommendations at Disney World (by location!)
Finding all the best places to eat can be stressful…!
Cut the overwhelm with the Touring Plan for Disney World, complete with all the can’t miss places to eat (including Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Multiple allergens, Last Minute Planning and more! 🏰
Can every Disney World Character meal accommodate for all top allergies?
Disney World is designed to accommodate the top 8 allergens, and you can watch some more about the Top 9 in this breakdown, but I will readily and publically say that some places are better and some places suck.
Yes- Disney World has great options and I will not deny that- but the lack of communication- the difficulty with planning- and the “talk to a chef when you get there” makes my anxiety skyrocket.
Im sure you can relate.
Let’s translate that to Character meals.
Updated for 2022 Character Meal Reviews- Quick Reference Guide
There are still some character meals that are closed, so these reviews only covers those that are currently open and filled with characters (Like Crystal Palace is open, and so is Ohana’s but neither have characters right now!)
Here’s the quick guide of places I’d recommend for each occasion:
➡️ best allergy friendly breakfast Chef Mickeys (Tusker House is good too!)
➡️ best gluten free breakfast. Topolinos
🥳 best for a birthday celebration: Topolinos or Chef Mickeys (but go where your favorite character is!)
❄️ best for Halloween and Christmas: Hollywood and Vine seasonal lunch/dinner
😎 best for all you care to enjoy food: Garden Grill
📚Best for theming: Storybook Dining at Artist Point (though Be Our Guest is also cute!)
❤️Best for character interactions: Topolinos or Garden Grill (the others have a dance number that consistently cuts into meeting time, while Topolinos has dances, I’ve never been rushed with characters in the 7+ times I’ve been!)
Not mentioned was Tusker House… which has some pretty good eats and fun characters. It’s towards the bottom of the list as the food is slightly unique in that it takes inspiration from Africa (And my kids do not handle spice). Check it out if a safari type meal sounds like a wild adventure for you!
Is there a Risk For Cross Contamination at Character Meals?
In multiple places. Let’s chat about this so you can make an informed decision.
For one, like with any eatery, you have to be aware of the table, the high chair, the menu etc etc. I’m not talking about those.
I’m talking about characters and buffets.
Buffets give me the heebie geebies in general, and Disney World is not any different. You will find that many of the character meals are buffets (not all) and there IS A WORKAROUND.
You can simply wait to speak with a chef, tell them you are far too uncomfortable with the buffet, and ask for them to get your meal from the back. When we do this, it translate to a family style meal because we all manage allergies. But when I go by myself I tend to get very good portion, but not too much food.
For two, there is a very small, but totally possible, chance of Cross Contamination on the characters themselves.
Wild, I know, but consider the small kid with a sticky face giving mickey a hug, passing crumbs and food, and the character not catching it.
This has only ever happened ONE time to me. We just playfully joked that Daisy spilled her breakfast and would come back around because the kids have allergies. They were great about it.
Are Character Meals worth it when you have food allergies and dietary needs? 🙅♀️
Great question Dis Friends!
There are a few thoughts here- and I want you to make an informed decision about your individual needs (and some expectations!)
The best meals, by far, are at regular table service restaurants, then character meals, then quick serve. Character Meals are somewhat rushed BUT the difference between these and quick serve are that you get a dedicated server and most of the times, a wider selection of food.
So like, Hollywood and Vine had some ok food… but I could have had a much better meal with more selection at a regular table service. What makes Hollywood and Vine higher in price is the character experience.
But if we’re being totally honest, you are paying a lot to see the characters too. Character meals allow you to have a more relaxed visit (and see characters sometimes 2-4 times!) and get some much needed rest and A/C.
For my family, with 20+ allergies and the whole top 8, we enjoy character meals.
All the Pre 2020 Character Meals Reviews at Disney World!
Food Allergy Touring Plans + Planning Guide
We’ve done the researching and eating for you, and put it in an easy to use 7 Day touring guide perfect for any combination of allergens.