I need to make mention of a less than magical experience that I had at the Riverside Mill food court in Disney's Port Orleans Riverside hotel. This situation was out of the ordinary as Disney is usually an all-star when it comes to special dietary needs.
For breakfast, I ordered what is basically a gluten free version of the bounty platter. Minus the biscuit, of course. At this particular location, gluten free breakfast items are prepared in a separate kitchen which is next to the main one and behind closed doors. I waited near the food station for the chef to arrive with my meal as I was not given a pager.
Unfortunately, on his way through the main kitchen, someone bumped into him. This resulted in half my food landing on the floor. As did my container of maple syrup.
I figured no worries, accidents happen. Surely he's going to go grab me some more gluten free stuff from the back. And he will for sure grab me a new maple syrup container.
I watched him pick up the syrup container from the floor and put it back on the plate. Gross! Unsanitary and a plethora of other things.
To further my horror, the Chef then replenished the half empty plate with food from the main serving line.
As you can see from my photo's, this is an extremely high-risk area. Gluten is everywhere. This serving station is not set up to prevent cross contamination. Disney Chefs prepare gluten free meals in a separate area for this very reason.
When the chef called me over, I was beside myself. He knew I was Celiac as I had advised him of this when he took my order. I explained politely, that the food would not be safe as he used items from an area riddled with gluten. He did not seem to grasp this at first and tried to hand me the plate, twice. After a few moments, he gave up on that and said he could get me a fresh plate from the back instead.
Well, at this point my trust had diminished. Entirely. I declined his offer and said that I would just eat at Magic Kingdom. Not a great way to start the morning.
I Felt Like A Jerk
I understand that the chef probably just didn't want me to have to wait longer for my meal. It was 7:00 am and not busy at all, so I doubt he was in over his head. That being said, this is a trained chef who is well aware of special dietary procedures.
When I finally arrived at the table, where my husband and son were finishing off their breakfast, I was near tears. It took some time to regain my composure and explain why I had no food with me.
Who wants to risk getting glutened? Especially so when on a very pricey vacation. Let's face it, Disney is not cheap. For my family, this is a once every few years (sometimes longer) type of vacation.
Had I not seen the ball drop in regards to the handling of my gluten free meal, I would most likely have become ill due to cross contamination. A few days worth of park tickets and Table Service reservations would have no doubt been out the window for me.
As we headed to the park via Disney bus, I broke down and cried. It was a stressful experience. I felt like a jerk. I was super hungry and really quite shocked at what had happened. It was overwhelming, to say the least.
Later that evening, we arrived back at our hotel, which is home to the Riverside Mill Food Court. I spoke with the kitchen manager about the morning's fiasco. The kitchen manager said he would address the seriousness of the incident with said chef. I felt confident with how the kitchen manager addressed my concerns.
This situation has taught me that constant vigilance and a sharp eye are important both at home and on vacation.
Don't worry though. I have some amazing gluten free Walt Disney experiences to share in future posts.
This dining experience took place in January 2015
About the Author
I'm Sandra and I write about my real life experiences in a sometimes not so Celiac friendly world.This includes those everyday adventures that coincide with being gluten-free. I also openly share all those ups and downs that come with living life free from gluten. Read more articles on my siteFollow on Twitter More Content by Gluten Free Doll