We spent two days in Disneyland Paris earlier this year. It was a surprise for the boys, we didn’t tell them until we were at the airport and they were so excited! We had a wonderful time, loved every minute.
While I was planning it, I wondered how we would get on food-wise. I had been there in 1992 when it first opened and remembered the food quality not being great, but I had hoped it had improved, and I now had to consider the boys’ allergies. The food I’m afraid was pretty much as I remembered it. Fast. Fried. And expensive. I think it’s to be expected in a theme park though, you don’t go for the food.
In doing research beforehand I came across this site with information on dining in the parks with food allergies. I thought this looked amazing, not only would the boys be able to eat lots of places, but would also have choices! I was reassured and thought it would be easy to find dairy free meals, as such a large list of restaurants were supposed to have these specially prepared meals. I did ask in each restaurant and although they were quickly able to tell me which items on the menu did contain milk, there was never ever any mention of a special allergy menu.
What Did We Eat?
We ate breakfast in our hotel, the Explorers Hotel a short bus ride from the parks. We managed well for breakfast and had plenty of dairy free options, including soya milk. There are plenty of restaurants in each section of the park, there are slight variations in menus but you can mainly expect hotdogs, burgers, pizzas, nuggets, fries and other fast food options. Our first restaurant was Casey’s Corner around lunchtime. It was easy to find out which options contained dairy, the staff spoke English and were knowledgeable about allergies and there was an allergy guide behind the counter. The boys had chicken nuggets and a hotdog here.
After a day of adventures and excitement we avoided the queues in the restaurants within the park and ate just outside the gates in Planet Hollywood. I thought it would be a little easier allergy-wise but the waiter thought that gluten free and dairy free were the same thing, now where have I heard that before!? We did manage to get dairy free sorbets for dessert though so the boys were happy out! For mains one had bolognese and one had a burger with a gluten free (and dairy free) bun and chips.
At this stage I was starting to think the golden arches of McDonald’s was going to be an improvement on what we had found so far. I hadn’t seen it yet though although I had heard from someone that there was one. On day two we tried to eat at a place called Colonel Hathi’s which was a pizzeria but all the pizzas were pre-prepared and there was no possibility of getting anything on the menu without cheese or other dairy. So on we went and ended up eating at a big cowboy eaterie in Frontierland. Very nice food, but everything in meal deals which the French call menus. They had ice-pops which would have been dairy free for dessert but they were part of a meal deal which contained milk in the main and it was impossible to swap around items from different meal deals, even if allergy was the reason. Very frustrating. We ate there anyway, the 5 year old devouring an adult’s portion of ribs much to our amusement.
That evening we finally found the McDonald’s, it is in the area outside the gates, but tucked away a little. It was easy pick the safe foods there and they had fresh fruit packs or apple pies for dessert which have no milk.
There were plenty of snack stalls dotted around the park but they either served coffee and crepes or popcorn. I didn’t ask if the popcorn had butter or contained dairy. The crepes definitely did. Sob! We did get toffee apples which were basically sugar coated apples which were dairy free. My advice would be to bring your own safe snacks and plan for however many days you will be in the park. I bought a few bits in the supermarket a bus ride away from the park.
If you go there knowing the following two things you will avoid being disappointed when you get there. The first thing is that the food is not amazing anyway, it is fast food. ‘Theme park food’. Some places have a healthy option like salad, but there is little choice overall. There were some fancy restaurants such as the Ratatouille restaurant but prices were so high we didn’t even consider them. The second thing is that while the staff are knowledgeable about allergies and they have allergy books at hand with details of each food they sell, they will not be flexible or accommodating if you need to change something due to an allergy.
My top tips for doing Disneyland Paris with a food allergy:
Bring your own safe snacks.
Picnic if you can, but if you are in a hotel this may not be feasible.
Be sure and ask the staff about your food allergy, get them to show you the food allergy guide.
We did have a fabulous family holiday and it would really have been the icing on the cake to be able to have been able to eat better and with more choice while we were there.
Have you been to Disneyland Paris with children with food allergies? I would love to hear how you got on?