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Friday, March 12, 2010

Autism + GF/CF diet + Disney World = best vacation ever!!

Last September we went to Disney World and had the best time!!! Why write about Disney World?? It's the only place where we could have a blast and not have to worry about food. I worry about food all the time! Having a child with autism on the Gluten and Casein free diet with multiple food intolerances to common things like rice, eggs, canola oil, coconut and many many more can very hard at times. We make everything from scratch. All the breads, muffins, cookies, cakes, seasonings everything is made at home. I didn't want to go some where I had to go back to the room and cook meals 3 deals a day, that's not a vacation to me. I started researching on the internet and came across the Disney World's special dietary website HERE. I thought it was worth a try so I emailed them, they got back with me the next morning! I was shocked! The lady was super nice and explained to me the locations that offered allergy free foods. I emailed her for a couple days (I'm sure I drove her crazy) I just wanted to make sure we wouldn't have to worry about anything. She emailed me ingredient lists, locations in each park for certain foods the boys like could be found. She even emailed me copies of the back of the chicken strip box! I couldn't believe the service. We were also going to be there on my husbands birthday and I wanted to surprise him with a mickey shaped birthday cake at our dinner at Chef Mickey's. Thinking it was going to be impossible to get a Gluten free (wheat), Casein free (diary), egg free, canola oil free cake, I called the special dinning number anyway. They told me that they would have one there waiting on us at Chef Mickey and to not worry about it. I can't tell you how shocked my husband and boys were when they brought out a chocolate Mickey mouse shaped cake!!
We got an awesome deal where we got the dining package for free. We had 1 table service. meal, 1 quick service meal and 1 snack per person per day. We used our table service for a character meal every day. It worked out great for us, the character came around when the boys were eating and we didn't have to stand in long lines out in the heat to meet the characters. (Most child with Autism have a hard time waiting in lines, and being hot doesn't help at all!)

Our character/table service meals were
breakfast at Donald Duck's Safari-Animal Kingdom
Best friends breakfast at Ohana with Lilo, Stitch and friends- Polynesian Resort
brunch at Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall-Epcot (we ate a late breakfast here, the breakfast is American but the other meals here are Norwegian buffet, we recommend the breakfast for more variety do to diet restrictions)
Dinner at Chef Mickey- Contemporary Resort
2 Dinners at Crystal Palace (Pooh characters)-Magic Kingdom
lunch at Sci Fi Dine In-Hollywood studios
Lunch at Rain Forest Cafe- *not on the dining plan* Animal Kingdom
At the Table service meals the chef will come out and talk to you about the food allergies. He will tell you what is on the menu you can order and they always offered to make things "off" menu just so the boys would have things they like. At the Buffets the chef would also come out and walk with me around the buffet pointing out everything we could or could not have, they also offered to make special items for us. Most of the times we would just eat what was available, but we did get the special mickey shaped waffles ( they were awesome !!!) Make sure you book your reservations for all your table service meals. If you don't you may not get in or you may have to wait a very long time. You also need to remember to tell them about your dietary needs, if you call in to book just tell the cast member, if you book on the internet it will have a place for you to mark any special dietary needs. You want to make sure they know you are coming so they are prepared with options for you.

Quick service meals we ate at:
Pecos Bill we had fries and hamburgers with GF/CF egg free buns with grapes- Magic Kingdom
Comic Rays they had hotdogs on special buns with fries and special cookies-Magic Kingdom
Our favorite place was Columbia Harbor House they have awesome chicken stripes and fries, the only problem is that they didn't have a dessert option but the boys were happy with extra grapes-Magic Kingdom
Abc Commissary they had hamburgers special buns and cookies-Hollywood Studios

We got French fries, fruit, waters, juice, popsicles, special cookies and brownies. We had so many credits, even after getting all of the stuff listed above that I went the night before we left and stocked up on juice and snacks for the drive home.

Guest Assistance Card
When you enter any of the parks go to the Guest Relations building to request a Guest Assistance card. Explain your child's needs, limitations and any of your concerns to the Disney World employee (they call all employees cast members), and you will be issued a Guest Assistance Card. This one card will work at all the parks the entire length of your stay. The card will help cast members who operate the rides know that your family should be permitted to use an alternative entrance when you ride. You will still have to wait, but the time will be cut down. If you need to keep your child in the stroller/wheelchair ask the cast member at the Guest relations for a special sticker that will allow you to keep your child in the stroller/wheelchair will waiting in line. They may tell you to use the fastpass system on rides that have that option available. We did get one of these cards the first day we were there, but we never used it. I think it was the time of year, there wasn't that many people there.

A few more tips

*If possible get up early and get the parks when they open. There will be fewer people and it's cooler.
*I also recommend going back to your resort to rest. Even though it's fun it can be overload and every one will do better after a rest. If your child won't take a nap or rest maybe a dip in the pool. It's always good to get out of the heat. Then return to the parks later that afternoon.
*Make sure everyone drinks plenty of water, it's hot and I know my kids get cranky when they don't get enough cold liquids.
*If possible go at an off time, usually when school is in. There will be fewer people and that usually makes it value season so you even get to save money!

We count Disney World as therapy, I know it sounds crazy but they made so many improvements while we were there. I couldn't believe how many new words came from that trip! I think it's a combination of characters they love, a break from the daily therapies, and even mom and dad are having fun. It's so great to get away and not even think about autism ,therapies, cooking and everything for a week. Just let go and have fun!!
If you have any questions please email me at savingforautism @ hotmail . com (no spaces when you type it in, it's just so people don't get it and spam)

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