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Gluten Free Vegetarian Adventures at Disneyland: Our 6th Anniversary at Blue Bayou
Posted By yum On June 10, 2008 @ 12:16 pm In Ca, California, Disneyland, Gluten Free On the Road, Pescatarian, Travel | 12 Comments
  
June eighth was our sixth wedding anniversary, and we celebrated all six of those years (eight, really) in grand style by hopping into our car and driving across California all the way to Disneyland. Who would have thought, eight years ago, that the cute blond boy sitting across from me in that fateful Japanese language class, would turn out to be THE ONE, and take me around the world and back again. Oh, the places we’ve been. Mexico, Jamaica, the Grand Cayman, France, Italy, Belgium, India (twice together!), Japan (our second home), Singapore, Austria, Germany… My honey has the travel bug and he delights in nothing more than sharing it with his friends and loved ones. He also handily has a knack of finding great airline fares online or using frequent flier miles in creative ways, so happily, all our travels haven’t been near as expensive as it all sounds. But, then, as DH says, while some people buy big vehicles or houses- we travel, instead. And the magic of travel is, once you get a passport and get past the idea of everything being far, far away- you can go ANYWHERE. And while being gluten-free still makes me nervous about certain countries, you can get by brilliantly in most places with a little creative thinking and some handy language cards like those provided by Triumph Dining.
For this anniversary we didn’t have the time or budget necessary for one of our ’round the world jaunts, though, so we started thinking about trips closer to home. The two main contenders were Portland, Oregon  or Disneyland, in great part because both places make gluten-free travel blissfully easy. Gluten-Free Living just did an article on travel to Disneyland. It was fluffy and didn’t have much of the nitty gritty detail I prefer, but it did indicate that Disneyland staff make serious efforts on the behalf of their gluten-free diners, and that was reassuring. DH loves his roller coasters and I was intrigued by the gluten-free friendly rumors, so finally we decided to celebrate at Disneyland.
*I would like to say Thank you to everyone at the SillyYaks Message Board for their helpful suggestions and tips. You made my visit so much easier!*
Here’s the breakdown of our experiences at various places:
We arrived and went through security. I had a few GF granola bars in my bag and no one commented or seemed to care. I think if you are trying to bring more substantial food into the park you might want to mention a medical dietary restriction. First stop was City Hall. We stood in the (short) line and asked for a gluten-free listing of foods at the park. They handed me a four page, double-sided printout with lists of gluten-free foods available at Disneyland Park and California Adventures. Sites were organized by place- Tomorrowland, Adventureland, etc. Also, vending cart offerings were listed. Guess what? We can eat the cotton candy, popcorn, and Mickey faced ice cream bars (not the ice cream sandwiches, of course.) Them as what eat meat can also have the turkey legs, but those of us of veggie dispositions won’t want that. One thing that I found somewhat aggravating was that I really wanted a breakfast, but both days, by the time we got to the park the breakfast menu was over or finishing. We tried several times to go to the Plaza Inn, where you can get GF waffles and other traditional breakfast fare, but the first day it was closed until Dinner, and the second day they had a special character meal for $23 per person. Much as I love Minnie, I didn’t think she would add that much to my meal, so we passed on that one.
Luckily, Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port, a “futuristic” (think 1970s Jetsons) cafeteria, had quite a few gluten free AND vegetarian options, so we ended up having “breakfast” there both days.
*Please verify information with the latest Celiac Offerings Reference Sheet available at Disneyland as offerings may change!*
When you walk into the Pizza Port, a cast member greets you and shows you to the cafeteria line. I told her right away I needed a gluten-free meal, and so she ushered me to a spot where the line was open to the kitchen and had me ask for the chef. The ladies working there called him, and he came out. I told him I needed a gluten-free meal, and he said “no problem.” Magic to my ears. I could have had rice noodles with pasta, a salad, or a Cheese Pizza with a gluten-free shell. *If you are dairy intolerant, the pasta is fine, but at least one of the salads has cheese and both pizzas (one meat) have cheese. You can ask the chef and he could probably modify it for you but it will require a special order.* I chose the cheese pizza, out of novelty. I’d heard that they only carried Amy’s pizzas, so I was surprised when it came out- if I’m not mistaken, it was a glutino or similar personal pizza crust that was nothing like Amy’s, so they must have changed distributors. We did have to wait about 20 minutes for them to fix it. Do yourself a favor and lean against the wall or find yourself a table with a view of the pick up counter. It came out, suitably cheesy and pizza-like. And, happily, I noted that they seemed to do the prep work out of view in some safe, sequestered area, and DIDN’T cut it with a contaminated knife. I actually felt safe eating pizza in a “pizza joint”- thanks to the segregation of work spaces. We were both pleasantly surprised when our two GF pizzas (DH ordered a GF pizza too, because he’s sweet that way) only came to about $12.00, costing a little under $6 each. It wasn’t even more expensive than the regular pizza, how cool is that?!! We carried our pizzas outside and enjoyed a little Disney pizza magic. How was the pizza? Well, I’m not that crazy about the crust they use- it’s not gourmet. But it is recognizably (reassuringly) gluten-free, the pasta sauce they use is good, and the cheese is suitably cheesy. Altogether a pleasant, if not mind-blowing meal. And the best part? I felt fine after I ate it, and all day. Yay for good gluten-free meal preparation training!
The second day after we passed up our chance to eat with Minnie and Friends, DH pulled me back to Redd Rockett’s. I get grumpy when I don’t eat, so he was determined that I eat, and fast. haha.. This time I wanted to be more adventurous, so I ordered the rice noodles with marinara sauce (on the chef’s recommendation), the Planetary Pizza Salad, and one personal cheese pizza. Keep in mind the pizzas are around 4-6 inches across. Regardless, it was a lot of food, especially with the mountain of rice pasta that came with it. I was a little startled because the planetary pizza salad did come with meat- pepperoni- that I wasn’t expecting. Doh. Had I known I would have asked for it without meat, but as it was I stole some of the olives and peppers that came with the salad and added it to the rather bland pasta. Additional salt also helped the pasta taste better- salt packets were available with the plastic utensils inside the cafeteria. The pasta was clearly rice pasta, and as DH said, looked very different than the regular pasta they served. Funny the things that are comforting when eating out. We ate our GF feast (DH shared everything) while Darth Vader and other Star Wars heroes performed on a nearby stage and kids played with a sphere fountain. Altogether, I was thoroughly happy with the experience. It wasn’t fancy food, or even especially flavorful (although the olives on the salad were higher quality than one might expect), but it was gluten-free and reasonably vegetarian friendly. The salad and pasta were a bit pricier than the mini pizza, so our second bill was about double the first one, but I was glad to get the chance to try everything.
Later we went to the Tiki Juice Bar (and saw the show with the chorus birds-don’t ask) in Adventureland. I was a little confused by the gluten-free list as the names didn’t exactly match up, so I asked the servers if it was gluten-free. They didn’t know, but gave me a great ingredient list- not only did it list all the ingredients but had a “special notes” section with a nice, brightly highlighted “Gluten-free” tag. Yay! To be honest, I took one bite and left the rest to DH- it was too sweet and artificial-tasting for me, but it was gluten-free! There are also many fruit stands all over the park where you can get fresh fruit like pineapple, oranges, and apples. I’m a little embarrassed to say that we didn’t get any- but we could have!
So- that was our gluten-free, vegetarian (with excursions into pescatarianism) experience at Disneyland. You will notice many of the dishes I had included cheese- if you eat meat, it’s easier to avoid the cheese, and it is probably possible to get the pizza without cheese, although I don’t necessarily recommend it. There are salads, possibly taco options, and pasta that could be made dairy free, though- and the fancier restaurants do seem to offer at least one vegetarian main dish. We had a great time and it was so nice not to worry about food the entire time. Not having to lug around food made it easier to enjoy the real point of Disneyland- the rides, and spending time with my honey celebrating our Anniversary!
  
I hope this will encourage you to give Disneyland a try, post-diagnosis. It really is one of the “happiest,” or at least the easiest places, to eat Gluten-free on vacation, and I highly recommend it. Happy trails, and may all your gluten-free dreams come true! (I can’t help it- the mickey ears get to you after a while…)
Looking for more tips on Disney travel? Try Disboards  or wdwmagic .
Here’s a very thorough photo essay  about eating gluten-free and dairy free at Disney WORLD
and various reviews of GF Disney  – somewhat dated.
And now… I’d love to hear about your gluten-free adventures at Disneyland, so please share in the comments!
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 Disboards: http://www.bookofyum.com/blogwww.disboards.com
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 photo essay: http://sleepingbean.blogspot.com/2007/01/gluten-free-dairy-free-walt-disney.html
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