Disney Springs – Disney Dining Without The Cost of Admission
I visit Walt Disney World at least once a year. But if you know me, you also know that I hate rides. I get really motion sick, so even riding the Pirates of the Caribbean is a little risky for me. So what do I do at Walt Disney World every year? Eat. Eat to my heart’s content. Walt Disney World is one of the most allergen-friendly dining experiences in the country. I’ll be writing about my favorite spots, and the spots of my local blogger friends, in a series about Disney and Disney gluten-free dining.
Gluten-Free in Disney Springs, Walt Disney World
First, let’s talk about Disney friendly dining outside of the parks. That’s right, you don’t have to pay $20 for parking and $100+ for admission to get to this dining hot spot. Disney Springs, formerly known as Downtown Disney, is a theme park of shopping, dining and entertainment in the heart of Walt Disney World. With free parking and free admission, you’ll definitely want to spend a day in Orlando visiting Disney Springs – especially if you love to shop.
Like all Disney restaurants, they recommend making reservations well in advance of your time at the parks. While you can just stop in and try to grab a bite at these places, even on a slow time, the wait can be an hour or more for a small party. You can book your Disney Springs dining experience though Walt Disney World’s dining reservation site. Under locations, select “Disney Springs” under “Other Destinations.” You’ll be able to pull up all restaurants in Disney Springs that accept reservations. These restaurants are sit-down, where a server will come to your table, and a manager or chef is always around to speak to if you have questions about allergens.
Here are a few of my favorite options that I’ve eaten safely at in Disney Springs.
The Boathouse is a more upscale restaurant – but don’t worry, it’s still Orlando in the summer and there’s plenty of people wearing shorts and flip-flops. I had an awesome dining experience here. The chef came out and went through every item that I wanted (not what he recommended) and told me that he could make it to fit my needs. I was gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free at the time, and we found a way to modify the fish tacos to fit my needs. He was more than willing to spend time with a table of three folks – each with different dietary needs – and get our meals to us safely.
Morimoto Asia clearly marks gluten-free items on the menu (or visit their website in advance to see what dishes they can make safely). I was so happy to get gluten-free sushi in Orlando! The servers are more than happy to write down your allergens and communicate them to a chef. You can have sushi and pan-Asian dishes at this awesome restaurant, but don’t try to eat at the take-out version of this restaurant. If you need to get take-out that is gluten-free, visit the bar and they can help you out! If you’re of drinking age, they also make delicious cocktails!
Raglan Road™ Irish Pub and Restaurant is the restaurant I always recommend to friends and family to visit. Not only is it a restaurant, it’s an experience. There is live music and traditional Irish dances and music performed nightly. You’ll definitely need a reservation, this place always fills up quickly. But most gluten-free folks are too wrapped up in their gluten-free fish and chips to notice! That’s right, you can get breaded and deep fried fish and french fries here! And if you ask nicely, you can also get fried onion rings too! These come from a dedicated fryer and served with allergy picks on the meals so you know that they’ve been prepared safely!
However, some of the best parts of Disney Springs do not need any reservations.
Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC is a 100% gluten-free bakery smack in the middle of Disney Springs. They are a small bakery, with only enough room for about 10 people inside. They offer all sorts of gluten-free and vegan baked goods – from donuts to tea cakes to cupcakes and beyond. It is always my favorite part of my trip to Orlando! They recently launched their vegan soft-serve ice cream and it’s not to be missed! I stock up with absurd amounts of baked goods and attempt to take them home with me, but they never make it past the airport! They’re too tasty! I eat my weight in baked goods every time I come to Disney Springs! Get there early, because they sell out of delicious things daily! If you like this, visit their bakeriers in Los Angeles, CA or NYC!
D-Lux Burger is a typical burger joint. Only when you hear the rumblings of “gluten free buns” and “gluten free fries” from others do you understand the magic of this burger restaurant. While there is no allergen-friendly menu, you can ask the cashier/server (it’s a quick-serve restaurant) to get the chef and they’ll be able to prepare you a meal that fits your needs! This restaurant was a hit with the teenagers from the Gluten Intolerance Group’s Gluten-Free Teen Summit. Why? Teenagers were able to get a burger, fries, and a soda with their friends, and hang out at a big table together and just be – normal. But as an adult, I was just happy that every dipping sauce is gluten-free so I could pig out to my heart’s content!
While I love to recommend Walt Disney World to gluten-free folks looking for a delicious escape, maybe add some time on your trip to visit Disney Springs. Don’t forget Disney Springs as part of your visit to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida!
Written by Erica Dermer, originally published in Gluten Free & More.