A Look at Dining, from a Different Perspective

It is my pleasure to welcome Laurie Smith as today’s guest blogger.  In reading Laurie’s blog about how she picks a restaurant, I had to confess that I have never encountered any of this because sadly I have never looked at it from this perspective.  It gives me a new look on Dining from a Different Perspective……

What I look for in a Restaurant:

Lighting:  I look for enough light to read the menu and see the food.  It is not romantic to use your cell phone or cigarette lighter to read the menu.  Partially sighted guest have a hard time seeing their food, where to walk and read the menu in dimly lit rooms.  I have good vision but even I have been in places that I need a flashlight to see the menu and what I am eating.  I like to see what I am eating as I do not like cole slaw mixed with mashed potatoes.  Darkened rooms prohibit me from seeing if the meat is properly cooked, if there is a bug in my salad, and if that is the meal I ordered.

Seating:  In a restaurant, I look for at least some armless seats or banquets with movable tables. Guests with prosthesis, casts, and fused spinal columns can find it hard to get into and out of
booths that do not have movable tables.  Guests with wide midriffs or hips find seats with arms uncomfortable.  I hate Sci Fi Diner because I was crammed into a seat that pressed against my ribs.  I could not stretch out or move.  By the end of the meal, I was in a rush to leave and in pain from being stuck in one spot.  I am a fat lady nearing 300 pounds, so how would a 400 pound woman, a pregnant lady, or a barrel chested man feel in such tight quarters. The ease of moving a wheelchair to a table is
important.  Guests with autism, post traumatic distress syndrome,phobias, etc. do better in semi private dining areas and areas that do not have elbow to elbow seating.  At one restaurant in Anaheim, the tables were so tightly packed to the point that, service at the table next to me meant, the waiter’s rump was in my face or bumping my table.

Food:   I look for staff that understands cross contamination and knows how to deal with special diets.  I look for knowledge and ease of preparing a meal with limitations as well as variety of food available.  Vegans need protein like everyone else which means a green salad is not going to keep them going through the day.  Hoop Dee Doo Revue has a set menu but they have plain corn on the cob, vegeterian beans, plain baked chicken, plain ribs, plain salads, and strawberries for guests who
are vegan or cannot eat certain foods.  I had gluten and soy free cornbread, honey butter, barbecued ribs, baked chicken with side of barbecue sauce, buttered corn, meaty beans, and a bowl of whipped cream slathered strawberries.  At a restaurant in Kissimmee I was served salad with no dressing, baked potato with butter, and plain steak for dinner with no dessert.  Other people rave at the restaurant were I got the plain steak but for me it was just plain food.

Everything Else:  The final part is about the less important things.  The best themed restaurant is of no use to a guest who is embarrassed because they do not fit in a booth or to a guest who sits there with water and plain rice while their friends indulge in fine foods.  How can a partially sighted person enjoy the decor, if the room is so dim that the person cannot see.   If guests are packed in tight, then how can they enjoy their meal.

It is not hard to see the world from another person’s shoes.  Trying dining without soy.  For me that often means no salad dressing, dry sandwiches, no French fries, no side dishes, broccoli as a side dish instead of the carbs I need for doing parks, no tempting desserts, and no barbecue sauce or meat.  Try wearing dark glasses in a restaurant to see how the partially sighted experience a restaurant.  Put on a knee brace or back brace to see how hard it is to get into and out of restaurant booths.  Try using the bathroom while wearing a knee brace.  Try spending a day in a wheelchair and you will feel the bumps of cobblestones, the jarring stops when a wheel hits a hole or crack in the ground, and the bruises from hitting things. Try getting to a table through a restaurant with narrow aisles and guests sitting in the aisles, in a wheelchair.  Then you will know why, at times, I am so negative about some restaurants.

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.