Eating at EPCOT festivals with Food Allergies or Gluten Free

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It’s that time of year! The time for Festival festivities to take over EPCOT and I absolutely love it (plus there’s so much non-food stuff here to do!)

The good news is that there have been some wonderful changes for food allergies and those of us with food restrictions. The not-so-good news is that it is still riskier than a regular restaurant by nature (they bus over food and operate in small kitchens)

Let’s talk about some changes this year, plus how to eat as safely as you can, and then you can go in prepared!

*note this is my personal experience, so always confirm in person with qualified disney staff.

Some Changes for this year 2022

First up, let’s talk about cross contact. Previously everything had a huge cross contact risk because we knew nothing about how things went in the kitchens. Chefs even stated it was a gamble. 

Good news! They’ve changed procedures in the kitchen. Cross contact will always be a reality, but they have procedures in place, including dedicated stations for things like cold veggies, proteins, baked goods etc.

AND the chef was proud to share that the team is trained, familiar, and the same people working it consistently to reduce any confusion. 

The chefs were clear that they want to make the festival more inclusive, which we can see by the amount of labeled GF items available this year! 

Next up! Info for the top 10 allergens.

Previously you could ask for top 8, but the other two it would require the chef to read the item and it would take longer.  Now they have that info for all top 10 (gluten/wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanut and treenut. Plus sesame and corn) they are also being very clear about what item has a cross contact risk, not just slapping a label on in a generic sense like they used to. 

Lastly, the cast members working the festival are highly trained to constantly get their info from the Chef.

It’s been in the works for a few festivals now, but to see them call the chef without hesitation (as we still don’t have allergy books at the booths except japan) is amazing. It takes the stress and anxietyy out of asking, especially when there’s a long line. 

But the real question… will my kids with severe allergies eat at the festival? Normally we don’t let them, but I think there’s a few small items this year that have a very low risk of cross contact (like the corn on the cob at trowel and trellis, and the soft serve at refreshment port and dole whip) that we will consider. ALWAYS listen to YOUR comfort level 🥰🥳😘

How it used to be at Festivals when managing Food Allergies and Dietary Needs

It used to be that the Chef’s, Managers and staff would tell you that because of the shared kitchens, they didn’t recommend anything.

Then in 2020 they started using a ‘call’ in system to talk to the Chefs. It was new, and a work in progress, and some Cast Members were so confused they would hand me the phone so I would talk to the Chef.

Things have improved, and now we can talk to the Chef’s and they are able to make some modifications!

Tips for Eating at EPCOT with Food Allergies

-Avoid booths that have your severe allergens if any – as the booths are small and cross contact risk is higher than if it was a permanent restaurant.

-Create a bucket list of items ahead of time. (see our image guide)

-When ordering, state your allergen(s) and they should automatically call a chef to confirm. If not, ask for them to call a chef to confirm.

-Consider ordering when lines are shorter- typically mid afternoon after lunch but before dinner (or right when the booths open at 11).

-Enjoy your food options, but don’t feel pressured if something makes you uncomfortable. There’s lots of amazing items at EPCOT to enjoy (see the list of EPCOT food allergy/gluten free options here!)

-when in doubt, stick with the drink options (but still state allergens and double check, as some have known allergens, like dairy, wheat, soy, nuts, sesame, corn, dye etc etc)

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