One of my family’s absolute favorite fall activities is Epcot’s annual Food and Wine Festival at Walt Disney World. We go every year!
Seriously… here’s a picture of me 9 years ago, with Jillian in the sling at 3 months old. Nothing stops us from getting that yummy, yummy food! (Skipped the wine this time, though.)
I’ve mentioned this before, but Disney is just absolutely fantastic when it comes to dealing with and accommodating food allergies. Top class. They know what they’re doing. They train their staff. They actually want you to be able to have a fantastic experience, so they are willing to do what it takes to make that happen.
This is one very important reason why we love Disney. Of course, there are a lot more, but this is a big one!
When Jillian got a little older (out of the sling), she loved to try new foods. Thank goodness, she has never been a picky eater. If I had to deal with a picky eater, on top of all of her restrictions (dairy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts), forget it!
Nope, she’ll eat just about anything (that’s safe… and NOT spicy). I have a whole theory on why it seems that allergy kids hate spicy foods — it makes their throats and mouths tingly, which they can easily confuse with an allergic reaction. But that’s just my opinion.
If you haven’t heard of Epcot’s Annual Food & Wine Festival, you’re in for a treat! Food & Wine Festivals are popping up all around the country, so you probably get the general idea… kiosks with appetizer-sized portions of a few foods and a few wines at each one. But the thing that makes Epcot’s so special is the countries, of course! Around the World Showcase lake in the back of the park, Epcot has permanent pavilions that represent 11 countries from around the world. Add to that a large number of other countries, plus kiosks that specialize in beers, desserts, cheeses, and you have a total of 36 dining opportunities around the lake!
For the past few years, Argentina has been Jillian’s favorite spot to eat. They had a delicious beef skewer that she just adores! (The girl can’t get enough meat!) When we looked at the map this year, my heart sank. No more Argentina. For the most part, the kiosks remain the same each year, even if the food changes. But occasionally old countries will leave and new ones will take their place.
Lo and behold, Patagonia!
Same menu as former Argentina. Sneaky, sneaky Epcot.
Now, along with beef, the girl LOVES salmon. I mean, she could eat salmon for the rest of her life, for every meal, and not get sick of it. It’s probably her #1 favorite food.
The salmon on here looked new to me, but as long as they don’t cook it in butter, we should be good to go!
Dining with allergies at Disney, you always have to let them know and speak to a chef or manager. This was super easy at F&W. The chef was right there each time we asked. I don’t know if this is always the case, but it certainly worked out well this year!
With milk, egg and nut allergies, not a lot of food comes without tweaking. This is okay by us, as long as there is safe food! The chef informed me that while the beef skewer was safe, the boniato puree (mashed potatoes) contained milk, and the chimichurri sauce might be cross contaminated with nuts. I asked if she could get 2 plain skewers then, instead of one with potatoes and sauce. He agreed. 🙂
Onto the salmon. Everything was safe! Fish allergy is the only one indicated for this entire dish. Hooray!
Here she is enjoying her first 2 dishes… beef skewers and salmon with quinoa. She approves!
The next place I wanted to check out was a kiosk called Farm Fresh. We were particularly interested in the “yard bird.” “Isn’t that just chicken?” I said to the chef. He sheepishly replied, “yeah…”
Again, all was safe! Only, remember that no-spicy-foods rule? Yeah, we skipped the habanero sauce.
And the verdict?
Well, Jillian’s thrilled! But Trevor? Not so much. You see, we hadn’t gotten around to food that he might like — anything remotely resembling mac and cheese, hot dogs or chicken nuggets. Meet my picky eater.
Now we’re on our way to Germany for some schinkennudeln (noodles with cheese and ham).
See his spirits brighten?
After the noodles, we paused to enjoy Trevor’s absolute favorite part of Epcot: the train village at Germany.
Jillian noticed that they even put tiny “Food and Wine Festival” banners on the itty bitty lampposts in the town’s center. Cute!
As we headed around the lake, the rest of us enjoying not-Jillian-safe-yet-utterly-delicious food, we took our time. It was a gorgeous fall morning. We started a bit early, around 10:30, so the lines were non-existant and the pace was wonderful.
I wanted to try one more thing for Miss J — a blood orange cupcake at the vegan kiosk, Terra (introduced in 2012). Generally, vegan food is perfectly safe for her… as long as it doesn’t have nuts.
But as we made our way back around to Terra, which was where we had started, bad things happened. Crowds. HUGE crowds! A sea of heads coming at you, kind of thing. Lines that looked 30-minutes long. EEK!
So we respectfully bowed out at that point. Cupcake or no cupcake, Jillian had some wonderfully delicious food that day, and she enjoyed every minute of it.
She wasn’t quite full yet though (the girl can eat a LOT for her tiny size), so we opted for popcorn and a popsicle from a cart near the entrance.
Maybe, if she’s lucky, I’ll take her back next weekend. But we’re starting early again!!!