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Robert Niles

Tip of the week: Don't go hungry - call in advance for special meal requests at theme parks

Published: September 18, 2012 at 8:03 AM

Do you have food allergies? Are you on a restricted diet? Or are you simply looking for a special meal while you're on vacation, even if you can eat pretty much anything?

Salmon salad at Cafe Orleans in Disneyland

You don't have to go without or leave the park to get the food you need or want on your theme park vacation. Parks are set up to accommodate just about any dietary need you have. Gluten-free? Low cholesterol? Peanut free? Theme parks can handle any need or request you have - you just have to know where and when to make it.

Special meal requests aren't just for people with dietary needs, either. If you're celebrating a special occasion - a birthday, an engagement or an anniversary, theme parks can create a special, off-menu meals for those occasions, too. Again, you simply have to ask. (And pay for it, of course.)

So how do you do that? The simplest way is to tell the operator what you need or are looking for when you make a dining reservation. Here are some of the phone numbers and webpages you can use to make restaurant reservations or special meal requests at top theme park resorts. (If there's no advance reservations number, just ask when you arrive at the restaurant.)

By the way, did you know that you also can make reservations at the Universal Orlando restaurants via Open Table, the popular online restaurant reservation service? (I didn't.)

For more tips on getting the most from a theme park vacation, please visit our new tips page: 100 Travel Tips for Visiting Theme Parks. And if you some advice for other readers on booking special meals at a theme park, please share it with us in the comments.

Replies (3)

M. Ryan Traylor

Published: September 18, 2012 at 9:09 AM

On our recent trip to IOA, we found that CityWalk has a reservation booth for their restaurants. They also have all the menus available. She being a vegetarian, asked what the best restaurant for that diet is. The lady stated every place has good selections and that the chef could help you out. She then handed us a Gluten-Free/Kosher menu book for the entire area, but called it "gluten-free and casher". We had to chuckle.
Amanda Jenkins

Published: September 19, 2012 at 10:56 AM

I have a severe shellfish allergy. Disney has always taken care of me with dining. Whether I booked a reservation ahead of time or we were just lucky and able to walk in, I have always had the waiters and chef talk to me beforehand. The chef even makes recommendations or offers to cook me something else. This is really a special above and beyond kindness to me. My allergy causes hives, vomiting, tongue sweeling and then the inability to breathe. This would definitely ruin a vacation if I even had anything cooked in a pan that had shellfish in it preivously. The chefs are exceptional when it comes to this attention. Even at the Coral Reef restuarant at Epcot, the chef took very special care with my food. Goodness knows I don't get this treatment from my hometown restuarants.
Mark Hollamon

Published: September 20, 2012 at 4:31 AM

Robert- Thank you for referencing the post I penned a few years pack in your article. I think it shows just how far above and beyond chefs will go to make a meal special.

You never know unless you ask and if you ask nicely and aren't too demanding with details more often than not you will be in for a treat!

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