I scream, you scream, we all scream for…..well, you get the picture. It’s summer and it’s Florida, so everybody is going to want to snag a nice cold treat at some point during their Walt Disney World vacation. However, if you’re managing food allergies during your trip, you may be a little concerned about WHERE you can find safe ice cream options on property. Since our family has been doing this for quite some time, I thought I would share some of our favorite spots to snag a sweet treat on a hot Florida day!
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Now, I’m going to preface this post by saying this is certainly not an exhaustive list. In our family, we are managing allergies to eggs, peanuts and tree nuts. I have tons of friends who have to manage dairy, wheat and soy allergies. Either way, finding an ice cream venue that can accommodate you without potential cross contamination is going to be very similar in the long run.
Believe it or not, we have not tried EVERY single restaurant or quick service at Disney World yet ~ nope, but it certainly is a personal life goal (wink, wink). We have, however, been visiting the parks since 2007 and now have the magical pleasure of living very close to the pixie dust. With that in mind, we do have the chance to try things out a little more often and hopefully bring some of those positive experiences to you.
Finding Food Allergy Safe Ice Cream on Walt Disney World Property
Now, the Disney rule is that it’s perfectly acceptable to eat ice cream for breakfast when on a Walt Disney World vacation. I admit, we did allow that to happen a few times while actually vacationing here. Living as close as we do now, though, we did have to put up some boundaries on that one. Needless to say, it’s not an easy task to deny your Littles that opportunity to indulge when you’re staying on property.
However, when you’re traveling with food allergies, a little extra effort has to go into planning those ice cream “meals” and pit stops. A myriad of questions flood our food allergy protective brains and an inquisition forms with such worries as:
- Will they let me see the ingredient labels?
- Will they use clean tools and equipment?
- How clean are their hands? Will they wear gloves?
- How much potential is there for cross contamination?
- Do they have a separate prep area?
- Can I really trust them back there??????
To be quite honest, that’s barely a sampling of what runs through our minds. In many circumstances, we could be talking life-altering, life-threatening consequences. So, the answers to these questions become our lifeline.
So, Let’s Talk First Things First: Our Responsibility
When planning to indulge in an ice cream treat at Walt Disney World, here are a few steps we need to take.
- First – do some preliminary research and join Facebook groups like the Food Allergies Adventure Club: managing food allergies at Disney. You can ask if anyone in the group has had a positive experience at a particular restaurant or venue.
- When you finally reach the venue, ALWAYS mention any and all food allergies to the host / server / Cast Member immediately upon arrival.
- Ask to speak with a manager directly. This is a MUST for us and we insist on making EYE CONTACT!!! In our situation, this is critical for our son. He HAS to know he can trust the person preparing his food (based on prior experience). If he doesn’t get to speak with a manager or doesn’t feel comfy, we will leave.
- Let’s say you’re comfy with the venue ~ what next? Review all available options with the manager / chef. Decide on what ice cream is best. TIP: It’s always nice to go with an idea of what flavors or creations you or your child is looking to enjoy.
- Ask about toppings. Which ones may be safe, have disclaimers or pose potential cross contamination issues? We usually have no issues with whipped cream and sometimes the chocolate syrup is safe.
- Ask for the order to be brought out separately from the other orders. This helps to prevent potential cross contamination.
- If a cone is not an option and you get your ice cream in a cup (that’s what we normally do when we are out), be sure to ask for plastic-ware that is prepackaged. We have found some restaurants have “kosher” utensils, which are prepackaged and handed directly to the Guest upon request.
- WIPE DOWN THE TABLE AND CHAIR if you choose to sit somewhere to enjoy your sweet treat. We always have some kind of baby wipe or sanitizing wipe to clean potentially dangerous surfaces.
Okay – now to share our top experiences!
As noted above, we have to manage egg, peanut and tree nut allergies. Cross contamination is dangerous and any label that has a disclaimer is immediately off the list, as well. With that in mind, tons of ice cream flavors have these allergens included.
So, where have we gone on property for ice cream?
Table Service Options
Beaches ‘n Cream Soda Shop (Disney’s Beach Club Resort)
Yes, we have visited the ultimate destination for ice cream creations on Disney property! This is the home of the ginormous kitchen sink!! While it’s not something we will probably venture to attack, we did find something sweet and delicious for our son to enjoy. It wasn’t the most magical of experiences to start, but he ate there safely and ended up satisfied. This venue is small inside, so having a reservation is almost critical here. Nonetheless, we followed our standard process (noted above) and our son was able to enjoy a delicious sundae.
The Plaza Restaurant (Magic Kingdom)
This one was fun because it was the last dining experience we were going to have during one of our vacations (this was pre-moving to the area). It was JUST a dessert rezzie, so the older two boys ordered a ginormous sundae to share and I think Hubby and I shared a plate of fries (I can’t do the heavy cream in ice cream).
We had an amazing manager who took such fantastic care of him. Our son had been eyeing the mini Micky’s Kitchen Sink (the small red one). We were concerned about what was included and how it was made, so we talked it over in tremendous detail with the the manager and he found a way to make it work for our little guy. Check this out!
Actually, if I remember the moment correctly, we didn’t think the sink was going to be an option. The manager surprised our son with the final product!
Quick Service Options
The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor (Magic Kingdom)
This was our most recent win! Now ~ first off, this is NEXT DOOR to the Plaza Restaurant and is more of a quick service ice cream parlor. The line can be long at times – particularly in the summer months – but is a great place to grab a sundae, mini (or “Minnie”) kitchen sink or some other unique delicious creation.
This was a celebratory treat. The youngest had finally finished his last homeschool course and is now officially ready to head back to an actual brick and mortar school for his freshman year. I felt it was something worth commemorating and wanted to do more than just pick up ice cream at the local grocery store. So, I proposed we try this out.
We waited in line, but were fortunate enough to catch a supervisor / manager while IN line. We asked our questions, discussed our situation and she was ready to make some magic. In fact, she was already heading to the back to make another allergy order. PERFECT!!
Here, they have a designated area and use either newly opened containers or those designated for Guests allergic to at least the Top Eight. Sam, the supervisor / manager who helped us out that day, reassured us by telling us her process – washing her hands, fresh gloves, newly washed equipment and designated areas. She went through the various ice creams and vowed to look for disclaimers, as well as prevent cross contamination to the best of her ability. She was ready for this and my son felt comfortable enough to proceed.
NOTE: He was actually quite nervous about this particular venue at first ~ primarily because it’s a quick service and there are so many allergens all over the place.
WE WERE MET WITH SUCCESS!!
He was able to enjoy two scoops of cookies and cream ice cream with some whipped cream on top! He declined the cherry, but Sam said it would have been safe for his situation. Toppings other than the whipped cream made Sam nervous, so she didn’t want to take any chances with him. I really should have asked if she had access to any Enjoy Life cookies. Those would have added a nice crunch! Either way, he had plenty of delicious yumminess to enjoy.
Is there a food allergy safe option at the snack carts?
That’s a question MANY people ask me. Is there a safe option at the snack carts for those who have food allergies? First, what do I mean by snack carts? I’m talking about the stand alone carts that sell the ice cream novelties, popcorn, bottled beverages, etc.
Now, the easy answer to the original question is ~ Yes! We have had tremendous success at these carts and I have used these as go-tos when I want to get something for my son when he has been so patient when I’m “working” around the parks.
The best thing about the snack carts?? Every cart has a book that contains the list of ingredients in each of the snacks. ASK FOR THIS. You will want to review the treat yourself because we all know how brands will change things up from time to time.
Keeping in mind that my son’s allergies are to eggs, peanuts and tree nuts, we have had success with the Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars and the Minute Maid frozen treats (he prefers the strawberry one). Some parents feel the need to contact the brands directly and that is totally understandable and acceptable ~ not to mention sometimes a necessity when you hear around the water cooler that something “may contain” an allergen potential. Fortunately, we have not had to do that of late. Our son has enjoyed many, many Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars over the last year or so and he looks forward to many more!
Note to those with dairy and other allergies
I have many friends who visit Walt Disney World and have to take other dietary restrictions into consideration. I can imagine how much more difficult it could be for those who have dairy allergies to find a safe alternative. However, I do know that Disney Supervisors, Managers and Chefs do their very best to find something that fits the sweet tooth bill. One of my friends who has some significant food allergies and dietary restrictions finds her smile at Erin McKenna’s Bakery in Disney Springs. I willingly admit that we have not braved this venue yet. This is more because of a pre-packaged cross contamination concern for us. However, I have many food allergy friends who have had successful treats here.
My friend also just happens to be a vegan, so if you’re looking for options to satisfy that situation, you can check out her post for more information!!! She even talks about “nice cream!!”
Other locations and options
Sometimes, the chefs go aaaalll out and spoil this kid rotten with sweetness. I know it’s not ice cream, but I absolutely had to share the pixie dust some of these chefs sprinkle (or pour) over kids with food allergies or dietary restrictions. Chef TJ just happens to be one of those chefs. While this pic was taken of him while he was working at Trail’s End, Chef TJ is now located over at Cape May Cafe.
We have found that many of the Disney managers and chefs will not hesitate to share if they are nervous. Most of the concern lies with disclaimers or cross contamination potential. In those cases, they usually have a raspberry sorbet on hand. It is packed with flavor and they will sometimes add Enjoy Life cookies as Mickey ears. I love this shot from our dinner at Boma!
If dairy is an issue, some restaurants will carry Rice Dream or Toffuti. Here’s a list of some lcoationsand options.
- The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor – Rice Dream, Toffuti
- SciFi Dine-In Theater Restaurant – separate blender dedicated to desserts using Rice Dream and So Delicious.
- Trattorio al Forno Restaurant – Basic strawberry sorbet
- Chef Mickey’s – dairy-free ice cream option
A Note About Dole Whips
Dole Whips are dairy free treats, but they do have a tree nut disclaimer on them. This is for coconut, not pistachio, walnut, almond or the like. The biggest concern over Dole Whips is the potential for cross contamination. Definitely do your research, ask your questions and make a well-informed decision on this one. Our son has not tried one as of yet, but many of my food allergy friends have.
Final Thoughts on Food Allergy Safe Ice Cream at Walt Disney World
IT IS POSSIBLE!! Walt Disney World just happens to be one of the best places on Earth to find options for those who have food allergies or dietary restrictions. I’ve said it over and over again, this is a HUGE reason why we moved our family down here. We love to travel and experience life, but living here in Central Florida, we have the opportunity to provide our son with more safe experiences than anywhere else.
For those who visit regularly, are planning to visit in the future or just dream of visiting the happiest place on earth while managing food allergies, I hope that this is a post that inspires, encourages and excites you. Ice cream is a huge indulgence on vacation and it doesn’t matter whether you are six or ninety-six. However, if you have food allergies, you have to be careful and cautious, but you can also remain hopeful. There are options!!!
HAVE YOU SEEN THIS POST??
If you’re looking to make dining reservations at Walt Disney World, be sure to check out the positive food allergy experiences we have had!
DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional ~ just a mom looking to provide the best possible and safe experiences for her son who just happens to have life-threatening food allergies. The above is a testimony of our personal dining encounters meant to bestow hope, not promise. Our experience does not guarantee your experience. Our allergies may not be the same ones you are managing. Therefore, it is your responsibility to make a well-informed decision as to whether or not you feel safe enough at a particular venue or eating a particular food. Please also remember that Cast Members are people, too. Be kind, be articulate, be patient and work together with them to help create a safe memory for you or your child.