Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Disney Difference: Dining

Welcome to those of you joining me from Capturing Magical Memories and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 2nd stop on our Magical Blogorail and I am thrilled to be joining the talented and wonderful bloggers of Magical Blogorail Teal this month!

Today we are discussing what makes something "Disney." When I first heard of this topic I thought it would be easy to pinpoint. But instead I have found this to be a very difficult topic. When you think about all the companies that have tried to replicate the product and success of Disney and have failed miserably, it isn't surprising that I (a Disney fan and blogger) cannot pinpoint what makes something "Disney."

After racking my brain there is one glaring difference between Disney and everybody else. SERVICE. Instead of talking about everything Disney does right (impossible to cover in one post) I am going to focus on Disney dining.

It's not a secret that I love good food. It also isn't a secret that I have ulcerative colitis and have certain food sensitivities. Before I go out to dinner at home, I usually review the menu online and try to find something bland to eat. However, I never really have to worry in Walt Disney World.

Others, especially those who have severe food allergies and who suffer from penut allergies or diseases like celiac, must truly plan ahead. A small slip up can mean a ruined vacation at best, severe reaction at worst.

Instead of leaving these guests hanging out to dry, they do their best to make their dining experience as seamless as possible. This is an effort that must be assumed by everyone in the dining process. This includes the person taking the reservation, the worker on the phone a week before the dining reservation that listens to the guest's special needs, the seating hostess, the waiter/waitress and the chef.

Do you have a food allergy? Does your child? Take these steps to help the Disney Cast Members help you!
  • Make your dining reservations as soon as possible. You can make Advanced Dining Reservations up to 180 days in advance. Do it! You can even make your ADRs online and list your allergies on the reservation.
  • About a week before your visit, call (407) 824-596 or email specialdiets@disneyworld.com. In this situation, I prefer calling over e-mail but that's just me. Explain the allergy and the effect. They will even order special food to give you on your visit.
  • Arrive at least 15 minutes in advance of your reservation. If you followed the above steps, the host/hostess should have all your allergy information. Go over it again with them.
  • Go over your allergy with your server. They also should already have this information.
  • THANK EVERYBODY. Be stern, do not feel bad about asking them to handle your food in a certain way. But be sure to thank these Disney Cast Members who are giving you this magical experience.
I went for lunch at The Wave at the Contemporary a few years ago. At the time I was having bad reactions to certain foods. In fact, if I consumed so much as one sesame seed I would be in a lot of pain for a quite a few days. I asked my waiter (without doing any of the above steps) if a meal I was considering contained sesame seeds. After a few questions, the chef of the entire restaurant came over and addressed me. He explained how he prepared the entire dish. He offered some different ideas if I wanted something else. Finally, he thanked ME for dining at his restaurant.

I have heard from several parents that cry tears of joy during every meal at Walt Disney World when they see their allergy-prone child eating like every other kid. I have heard from kids who said they finally felt "normal" when they ate at a Disney park or resort. This is not easy to accomplish. This takes a real effort by everyone invovled, from managers to bus boys, from waiters to seating hosts. But Disney's focus on safety and focus on service makes all the difference.

A focus on service and safety makes a restaurant a "Disney" restaurant.

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is YourFirstVisit.net.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Loop should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

Mary ~ Capturing Magical Memories
Rosanne ~ The Disney Point (You are here!)
Dave ~ YourFirstVisit.net
Faith ~ The Disney FAITHful
Kathleen ~ The Many Adventures of a Disney Lovin’ Spectrum Mom


Kathy Kelly said...

I absolutely agree, Rosanne! The Disney chefs do an incredible job accommodating special diets and food allergies. We found that out on a recent trip with my husband's aunt who has Celiac Disease. The chef at 50's Prime Time Cafe made a special gluten-free meatloaf just for her -- she felt like she was treated like a queen!

Thanks for joining us on the Teal Line this month!

Rosanne Mottola said...

It was my pleasure to joing the Teal Line! Disney does a great job of teaching cast members that there is no such thing as a "disabled" guest, there are guests with disabilities. The "guest" part always should come first. While a food allergy isn't a textbook disability, they still make sure that the guest always comes first. :)

david shute said...

Great post, Rosanne!  And thanks for hangin' with the tealies...

Unknown said...

Great post with great tips!

Capturing Magical Memories said...

Great post!!!  I love that you can tell any parent of child with allergies that it is ok to go to Disney.  

Rosanne Mottola said...

 It really is stressful for parents who have to constantly worry. It must mean so much to them to see their child enjoy themselves.

Rosanne Mottola said...

 Thanks for welcoming me, tealies :)

Rosanne Mottola said...

 Lori! This comment brought tears to my eyes. There is no price tag that you can put on this experience. May you and your son have MANY more experiences like this in the future. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog!

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