Sep 28

Soy and Gluten Free Booths at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival

Laurie gives us the low down on the Soy and Gluten Free Booths at this year’s Food and Wine Festival.  Thanks for sharing with us Laurie.


This is a guide to what may be available for guests who cannot have soy, gluten/wheat, or both of those items. I asked the chefs or managers what was soy free then what was gluten free then what can they change to make items allergy free.  BE SURE YOU CHECK THE FOOD ITEMS.  I had some reactions to a few things and I am writing up an update!

Some items are made backstage thus they cannot be changed. Again this is a guide and you must speak with the chefs at the booths. Some booths require you going to another location to ask questions. Some guests avoid any cross contamination while others like me can tolerate cross contamination, items made on the same line, or even the item. It takes detective work as I am able to have soy lecithin so the NO SOY may not apply to me. The NO DAIRY may not apply to someone with lactose intolerance. Have fun and use this guide to help plan your trip.

ARGENTINA – Beef Skewer is gluten free, to be soy free you have to hold the sauce.

AUSTRALIA – both the lamb and shrimp are gluten free and soy free.

BELGIUM – nothing is soy free or gluten free, the items offered are on waffles. The chef said not soy free but the cook in me wonders why so ask at this booth to make sure there are no soy free items.

BRAZIL – the pork belly and the scallop are gluten free, the brine on the pork belly has soy and cannot be held.

CANADA – The trout and the beef are soy free and gluten free, the soup is soy free but not gluten free.

CHINA – Major language barrier where I do not feel comfortable with the information given. Everything has soy and gluten according to staff.

DESSERTS & CHAMPAGNE – everything has soy and gluten in it but soy free persons should double check with a chef.

FRANCE – Major language barrier and staff could not grasp that I needed a chef for allergies. I went across the path to Les Chefs de France where a pastry chef and main chef came out eventually. The Boeuf Bourgnion (braised short ribs) is made back stage so they are not gluten free or soy free. The escargot (snails) are assembled back stage so the bread bowl cannot be held but they are soy free. The creme brulee is gluten free but not soy free.

GERMANY – the bratwust is soy free, hold the bun to make it gluten free. Wether’s soft caramels use soy lecithin and glucose syrup (from corn or wheat). The apple ones have milk, soy, and wheat warning on the website.

GREECE – griddled cheese is soy free and gluten free, the chicken gyro is soy free but there is a risk of cross contamination, the chicken gyro can be served without the pita to be gluten free. The have yogurt which is not made by Greeks and is something you buy in the store. Some of these yogurts use carmine ground up for their color.

HAWAI’I – nothing is soy or gluten free.  The poke salad is made ahead of time thus exposed to soy and gluten.

IRELAND – the warm chocolate pudding is gluten free but the leavening agent has soy. The cheese on the cheese plate is gluten free and soy free but the chutney may have soy. The bread used on the cheese plate has both soy and gluten.   They can hold the bread so that it is soy and gluten free.

ITALY – Everything has gluten but the staff says everything is soy free. CHECK if you are soy free as this is another outside run booth where staff often has no clue on what is in the food. Disney run booths use Disney cooks from their restaurants who seem to be better trained.

JAPAN – very nice persons with a major language barrier. They use fake crab that uses eggs. The sushi rice must have had 20 ingredients thus not authentic. Everything has soy and gluten in it. I was lucky enough to see their ingredient book to verify the fake crab and ingredients.

MEXICO – Go across the path to the restaurant and get a chef. He will bring over corn tortillas. There is a communication barrier here. The chef said everything has gluten and soy. If you want Mexican food it is better to eat at the restaurant. This is nothing like the taquerias of Los Angeles.

MOROCCO – nothing is soy free or gluten free, the meat may have dairy in it. At the Garden Festival this year I had the chicken leg confit and the pita sandwich with no bread. The food was great so one might have to try on another day to see if things are straightened out.

NEW ZEALAND – The venison sausage is gluten and soy free.  Mussels are soy free if you hold the garlic butter as it is a blend with soy oil, also hold the bread crumbs, is made on stage.

POLAND – nothing is soy free or gluten free. They have a bread dish and the kielbasa dish with a pierogie. I am going back to check on this one to see if there is away around the limitations.

SCOTLAND – Haggis is soy free not gluten free, bonoffee is not soy or gluten free, Salmon is gluten and soy free but the side may have cross contamination of gluten.  The salmon comes with malt vinegar that you can ask to hold. AWESOME FISH DISH!!

SINGAPORE – the lemongrass chicken curry and rice are soy and gluten free, the mahi mahi comes with a sauce that has soy and gluten.

SOUTH KOREA – the only gluten and soy free item is a hot dog with kimchi/Korean spices.  The hot dog is soy and gluten free only if you hold the bun and slaw, just the hot dog is safe.

TERRA – NOTHING soy or gluten free.

The following booths are ones I have not verified enough information or feel the information was wrong.

AFRICA – my notes are missing but the beef is supposed to be gluten free but not the spinach cheese pocket.

CHEESE – the almond crusted blue cheese souffle is soy and gluten free. I need to check on the cheese plate as it should be gluten free if they can hold he bread.

FLORIDA – shrimp ceviche is gluten and soy free.  The soy and gluten is in the slider bun so hold that for soy and gluten free however there is risk of cross contamination both on and back stage.

HOPS & BARLEY – the lobster tail is soy and gluten free, according to the chef everything else has soy and gluten, need to verify this information.

REFRESHMENT PORT – the Dole whip is vegan, dairy, soy, and gluten free. They use sweet and sour sauce on some dishes so those are not SF or GF.  The fritters have soy and gluten in the batter so check with them but the manager was sure about the soy.

Have you eaten at any of these?  Did you try anything with soy or gluten free?  Give us your opinions or tell us if we missed something.

Sep 27

Tips for Those Who Just Do Not Want to Wear the MagicBands

  • Laurie is back with some tips for the MagicBands……..

    Tips for those who cannot/won’t wear MagicBands.  It is not true that the bands fit all guests comfortably. I put my MagicBand on the second to last set of notches then I put the band on a soda pop can. The band was loose enough to turn but still snug. If a guest has severe edema or is a powerlifter they may find that the bands do not fit.

    A concern for some parents is what to do if the child will not wear the band. The MagicBand works even if a guest is not wearing one. Guests can keep their MagicBands in their purse, pockets, or backpacks. I keep mine attached to the handle of my scooter because I tend to remove anything on my wrists. Parents can use clips to hold the MagicBands or attach the MagicBands to the stroller handle as these photos show. magic bandWhen I am without my scooter I put my MagicBand on my purse strap or tote bag strap. I was having dinner last night when the waiter took my MagicBand, tapped it and handed me a device to enter my security code. At the end of dinner, I settled the check and left without having to dig in my purse for my wallet to store my room key or credit card. It is hard for me to enter my hotel room while holding a room key but with the band I can slip it on my hand or toss it on the bed when I come into the room. The best thing about the MagicBand is that there are no identifying marks to indicate who you are, where you are staying, or how long you are staying. There is a security code that guests enter into the system when they register if they want to charge things to their room.

Sep 15

My Day at Animal Kingdom on It’s 15th Anniversary

It is my pleasure to have Laurie back guest blogging with me again!  She was able to attend the Animal Kingdom’s 15th Anniversary and here is what she had to say……

I took a public bus to TTC then the Disney bus to Animal Kingdom.  A major storm stretching from Tampa to Orlando had been pouring rain off and on since the night before.  Arriving after 1pm I missed the opening festivities.  Inside the park I was given an anniversary button and map.  I headed straight for Tusker House hoping to get a dinner reservation. The previous night’s rain had left the park with a fresh clean look.  I was shocked that they were going to take me immediately but being a singleton makes it a lot easier for me to get into restaurants.  There is Dawa Bar for drinks including nonalcoholic ones.  The restaurant and bar are heavily detailed with African themed decorations and architecture.  The food stations give the feeling that one is in the court yard of a hotel in Northern Africa with rooms set aside for dining.  One can spend an hour or more just looking at those artifacts like masks, artwork, woodwork, artifacts, and barrels of fake food that make this place unique.  Yes, those are fake peanuts, fruits and vegetables in the barrels and baskets around the food service area.

Tusker House1ATusker House is a family restaurant with comfortable wood seats and tables which made it easy to go back to the buffet. I like that they have wide aisles that make it easy to get around in a wheelchair.  The lighting is just a tad dim in places but most guests should not have a problem with the lighting.   Talk to your hostess if you have issues with lighting or need a bit of privacy due to difficulties with noisy or crowded areas.  During character meals the characters dance around the room as the kids follow along while shaking percussion instruments.  Even at dinner this is a family restaurant so expect running kids and families chattering as they eat with gusto.  The chef walked me through the buffet because I cannot have soy or gluten/wheat and makes special dishes in the kitchen if that is needed. They will bring out fresh from the kitchen dishes if one is concerned with cross contamintation.

I started off with a dessert which was a dark chocolate flower filled with strawberry mousse and the cutest tiny striped swizzle stick. It was good but it did not knock me over with anything but berry mousse and heavy dark chocolate.Tusker House pic  I decided to try side dishes next.  I loved the delicious saffron infused root vegetable medley of cabbage, squash and unidentified root vegetables.  Most of the veggies were cooked to the proper firmness but some were less cooked and crunchier.  The mashed potatoes were flavorful with bits of skins but I really loved the roasted potatoes. The basmati white rice with toasted almonds, cardamon, cinnamon and lemon is a light dish that would be good for light eaters. The curried rice with golden raisins is served cold with a good curry flavor that is not overpowering.  The yellow rice was a gentle dish with the soft red pepper then POW you are hit with raw green bell peppers like shooting off fireworks in the library.  There also was a corn and carrot medley dish that was properly cooked but the flavorful green bean dish was sauteed into submission.  The delicious sweet plantains have a fruity banana flavor even if they look more like roast potatoes. Apple and endive salad with blue cheese crumbles, spiced walnuts, and apple vinaigrette with Ocean Spray Craisins BRAND dried cranberries was an interesting salad with lots of crunch but I did not see the walnuts and cheese.

I turned to the meat dishes where I found fresh salmon  with salsa-like tomato chunks, which, in my opinion, the fish did not need.  The spit roasted chicken had skin on it that was full of herbs and wonderful flavors that I wish I had started off with.  The turkey and roast beef are carved for you thick or thin with bowls of honey mustard and horseradish sauce available.  The horseradish sauce is just dairy and horseradish root which is a sign that they are allergy friendly as some places use Worcestershire sauce.  I loved the honey mustard sauce because it has stone ground mustard for a nice kick.   The turkey is moist and tender with deep flavor.  The beef was well done on the edge and rare in the middle with some gristle but that was the best part.  The pair of meats had me sucking for more flavor, one of the best meats I have had in a while.   They have a sandwich fixings station with sliced turkey, sliced ham cold cuts, and Swiss and American cheesses that are equal in taste and quality to Boarshead.   I tried the excellent stone ground mustard and ate 3 crunchy dill pickle wedges but I skipped the mixed field greens with vinegar and oil dressing and the side of shredded cheese as there was no more room on my plate.

ChutneyMy final stop was at the spicy South African preserves station for chutney.  The mango chutney chutney was sweet and fruity then POW the kick hits you.  The mango chutney would be great with white meat such as turkey or pork. Next was the apricot chutney called blatjang that was a sweet medley of raisins and apricots. The final one was the mixed fruit churtney that was sweet with at least 5 dried fruits with something like bits of nuts but not sure what it was.  This has to be my favorite part of eating here as I loved adding the churney to white meat but it could go well with vanilla ice cream.

The friendly staff will keep your drink glasses filled, carry trays if you need help, open doors, and find you a spot that best suits your limitations.  The staff took time to explain what was on the buffet as I am not familiar with African food.   I highly recommend this restaurant to families, large groups, disabled guests, and those with dietary limitations.  They have a wide variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes and they can handle most dietary restrictions such as religious, medical, and allergies/sensitivities.  I find them a bit short on the bread and desserts available to me as a gluten and soy free guest.  The only soy free option was oil and vinegar but I think the honey mustard that comes with the meat would do fine as a salad dressing.

I left on my fully charged scooter for Lion King because it was so late in the day and rain was coming.  The place was not very crowded considering it was the 15th anniversary.  I just missed the show but was given permission to enter.  I declined as I cannot leave my mobility scooter in the rain.  I headed over to the kiosk for an over flowing cup of vanilla-chocolate swirl ice cream.    I sat aside waiting for the next show when I got hit with a deluge of melting ice cream.  The nice lady from the kiosk was outside cleaning up so she handed me a wad of napkins.  I was happy as a kid licking as fast as I could.  Finally I hid next to the bathroom until show time was near at hand because a rain storm hit hard.

I love the winding drive down the queues through trees.  The doors to the theater was open which made me happy as it was still drizzling and storm clouds were surrounding the park.  I was put on the left side of the giraffe section.  I cannot wait to see the new theater as it is hard for guests in the first section of the bleachers to see over guests in scooters.  Disabled guests sit on bench seats on flat ground in front of the bleacher seats.  This means three rows of guests must see through the people sitting in front of them.  Sometimes guests in those seats are stuck behind a scooter or wheelchair and other times behind a tall person.  Being in a scooter means I get to sit on the side with a good view.  I got a lot of exercise from clapping, swaying, singing, and bouncing to the lively music.  I had an awesome time and one of the tumble monkeys shook my hand.

I left the park as fast as I could because of the high winds and and incoming rain.  Overall it was an awesome 15th Anniversary celebration even if I missed all the festivities.  What more could I want besides good food, ice cream, talking with guests, nice cast members, and the Lion King show.  I have many happy memories from that day.  IT WAS AWESOME!

My name is Laurie Smith and I have lived in Kissimmee, FL since March, 2012, so that I could learn about WDW and help people enjoy WDW.  I love to watch cooking shows so I can learn about food.  I love exploring new places, eating out, cooking, helping people, and playing online games.  I have been going to Disney parks since 1960.

Sep 15

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, is it worth it?

I had the opportunity to go to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on our last trip.  So was it worth the extra ticket cost?  In my opinion, YES!  It was fabulous.  I know it is expensive but if you can afford to do it, then do it.  Some ways that you can help with cost.  Instead of buying a ticket for that day, let this be your ticket.  With MVMCP tickets you can get into the park as early as 4:00 p.m.  Go to Downtown Disney for the day and then head to the party at 4:00.  Go visit some of the resorts and explore or have a pool day and then head over.  There are lots of things to do before you go to the party.

We were waiting on our room to get ready over at the Polynesian so we didn’t head to the party until about 4:45.  It was still crowded from all the people that were already at the parks.  We had dinner reservations at Be Our Guest so we just headed that direction and enjoyed hanging out in Fantasyland until our dinner.

During the party they have special t-shirts and pins just for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  Of course if you miss getting yours you can bring your ticket back to the park the next day and show it to a cast member at one of the shops that was selling the merchandise and you can get it then.  However, you may be out of luck on some of the sizes or out of luck on the pins (I know this because I missed getting it the night before and they had sold out of the adult shirts and were out of a few of the pins).

We watched the Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade at 8:15 p.m. (that one was VERY crowded so we watched it again at 10:30 p.m.).  The second time we got to see EVERY bit of it.  Wonderful parade – not to be missed.

We also watched Holiday Wishes.  Those fireworks were unbelieveable!  I took so many pictures of the fireworks that night.  I kept thinking this is the last one and each time it was better.  Honestly by the time we watched the 2 parades and the fireworks, we didn’t have much time left to find characters and ride rides.

But let me tell you, after 10-10:30 p.m. the crowds were so thin in the park you pretty much had the park to yourselves.  It was FANTASTIC!  All of the rides we did ride, we pretty much walked right on.  I think at the most it was a 10 minute wait.  We closed the park down that night.  We had about 15 minutes left before the park closed and our son wanted to ride Peter Pan.  So what did we do?  We took off RUNNING (yes, I said running – when can you run in Magic Kingdom?) to get to Peter Pan before they closed.  We did make it – and walked right on.  After that we slowly made our way to Main Street and took some AWESOME pictures of Cinderella’s Castle with no one in the picture but us!

After we finished with our picture taking we headed over to Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant (they had were open until 12:30 a.m.) to get our FREE hot chocolate and cookies.  We leisurely walked down Main Street and ate our cookies and drank the hot chocolate and then headed out to call it a night.

The only thing that would have made it better was a listing of what characters were where.  Thankfully we were able to find a cast member that could tell us some of that information.  The main ones we wanted to meet were the Seven Dwarves since they are not usually out.  This night was by far the best night of our whole trip.  We had a great week at Disney but to be able to spend that much time in the Magic Kingdom with SO LITTLE of a crowd, it was so worth it to me and I would do it again!