Photo from Disney
If it's not the special fireworks, the once a year parade or the rare character meet and greets and low crowds that have you excited about going to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, it might be the epic trick or treating! The internet is full of pictures of candy piled high. People reporting backpacks full of sugary sweetness, but this year, there's a trick that some people have been playing, that isn't very nice.
Once of the best parts of Disney is the fact that they are not only allergy aware, but allergy friendly. In addition to the regular candy passed out, Disney has a (limited) supply of safe, allergy friendly treats too, redeemable at two locations in the park.
Imagine...that time of year when everyone's getting yummy treats, handfuls at each stop, and your child is getting a single allergy token, with the promise of redeeming it for a treat at the allergy friendly station. They get there, and either are handed a half full bag, or, even worse, being told not even two hours into the party, that they have run out of allergy friendly treats.
This year, that has been an all too common scenerio for children and adults who are there to enjoy every aspect of the Mickey's Halloween Party. multiple reports from partygoers have said that those taking the allergy bags are greater this year, and that the majority of the people they've talked to, are laughing, saying they want the healthier, or organic candy, because then they won't feel guilty eating it.
I say shame on them. they SHOULD feel guilty eating it.
The organic Surf Sweet gummies? Might just taste like gummies to someone, but to a child, that's a treat made in a top 10 free facility. No nuts, no dairy, no sesame, no soy, etc...10 allergens that are the most common this treat is FREE of. The Enjoy Life chocolates? Also free of dairy, nuts, and many other things.
By choosing this "healthier" candy, it is being taken away from those who do not choose to have an allergy, or choose to eat a Gogo Squeez applesauce instead of a Hershey bar, particularly children.
Please, if you don't need the allergy candies, take the regular ones. let those children who are excluded and different during birthdays, and holidays, and classroom parties and family get togethers, and every day restaurant meals feel normal, and excited, and be a regular kid when at Disney. There's already so many treats that they can't have at Disney that those with allergies can have. Please, leave those allergy friendly trick or treats for them.
When you go to a place as expensive as Disney, sometimes every dime counts. Often, they ask if you want your drink in a souvenir cup. Some of these cups are a fairly good bargain, like the rapid refill mug, and others are simply to collect. No matter why you get one, there is one thing to remember: unless the cups say they are refillable (and most of them are not) it is a one time use purchase. Is that all bad though?
This last trip, we did go ahead and buy two souvenir cups for the kids. That was included in the cost of when we saved a TON by NOT doing the Disney Dining Plan. I ended up buying our first cup after reading about them on the Be Our Guest online menu. Since the youngest isn't a breakfast food person, I figured I'd get him a mug to go along with the snacks we packed. It was a very sturdy mug, and has a flip top lid to prevent spills.
Though I have boys, they didn't mind getting Beauty and the Beast cups. My only complaint, is because breakfast is a set price, it includes a drink. When I ordered the second cup, even though my oldest son's meal came with a drink, I was charged additionally for the souvenir mug. $10.
Now let's look at these next cups! These are my favorites!
I like these second souvenir cups better. They came from Big Top Souvenirs in Magic Kingdom, and were filled with a Goofy's Glacier. It was just under $10 for the filled mug. Since our youngest couldn't have a lot of the fun treats he used to have, I decided to splurge on getting the cup for him, and one for his brother and me. Just want to say..get the Lime flavor. I have dreams about how yummy that is, and I can't wait to get another. They had a lot of other flavors, too.
These cups also have a sturdy lid, and a plastic (YAY! A must have for a frozen drink!) and the design is very cute!
IMPORTANT, ALLERGY PARENTS! As they were getting the straws, the cast member told me she'd be right back, she always had a friend with gloves put the straw in, since they were loose in the box. I turn around and there, the friend in gloves, stopped stocking the case filled with nutty treats, stuck the straws in and came back. I was embarrassed, I mean, these weren't just throw away cups, but I apologized, and asked if I could have just one of them remade, because of traces of peanuts and tree nuts possibly now being on the straw. Without blinking, she did.
So are these cups a good deal? for around $5, you can buy just the drink. It's around $10 for the drink AND cup. To buy just a cup? I saw prices in the gift ship starting off at $10.
We reuse our cups a ton at home. If you aren't the sort to reuse your Disney souvenir cups, and don't collect them, I'd pass and save money. Our kids have used these a ton, and dispute multiple washings in the dishwasher, they are holding up great! Far better than this year's rapid refill mugs, actually. For us, these cups will be a sometime thing, especially since it can make a plain drink, and one of the few Disney treats our youngest can have, seem even more special!
This year we decided NOT to get the Disney Dining Plan. For months we went back and forth on if it would save us money, or if we would spend more, or if would simply be a hassle handing over a gift card. I almost wore out the Disney Dining Plan Calculator, I used it so much!
The three reasons we chose not to get the dining plan, were:
1. Now that our oldest is now considered a Disney adult, truthfully hes not an adventurous eater, and always wanted a kids meal, instead of an adult, unless it was pizza.
2. Now that food allergies are in our house, getting desserts are a lot more complicated at Disney. While Mr. Disney and the oldest can get anything they want, since the youngest can't have any baked good really, and was limited to churros, sort serve and slushies, I sure as anything wasn't going to be eating cupcakes without him!
3. The final reason was that we ALWAYS have loads of snack credits left, that get used on candy and treats to bring home, that often don't get eaten, or were a last minuite got to spend them unwise bang for the buck choice.
With those reasons, and hours of menu research and number crunching ahead of us, we put the balance that we would have spent on the Disney Dining Plan onto a gift card, (bought discounted!!) and decided to experiment.
The rules were:
1. Order whatever you want
2. Rapid Refill Mugs are a must
3. Bring home a few treats
4. No cringing at prices allowed
Doesn't sound so bad, does it?
Here's what happened. We swiped a gift card almost every time. Even places at Disney Springs like Wolf Gang Puck Express took out Disney gift card! I did have to use cash twice, at Epcot, when their system was down, so I was grateful I had a few emergency dollars with me.
What did we spend though?The numbers are exciting!
For 8 nights, 9 days, the Disney Dining Plan would have cost $1450.24
For 64 meals and a ton of snacks, including ones to bring home we spend $1068.59
That means, we saved $381.65
That's a loooot of money. There were a few times Mr. Disney wanted water with a meal, once I shared a meal with the youngest of chicken nuggets and fries and we did bring drinks inside the park, but even if he bought a drink each time, and we had chosen more take home snacks, we would still have come out ahead.
Things change, appetites are sure to grow as my boys do, but this trip, we saved enough to cover most of the souvenirs we wanted! There's a good chance if your kids are now Disney Adults, you might save a bundle, too!
Disney Value Resorts are well, a great value. Not only are there great meals that the whole family would love, but Chef's are easily accessible too to ask questions about food allergies. For example, I ordered a pot roast, mashed potatoes and mushroom risotto at Pop Century a few days ago, my husband went for a giant sandwich, our oldest for Mickey Waffles, and the youngest cheese pizza. Before we ordered the pizza though, I needed to know if it was safe for our son's allergies.
Finding a chef to ask the necessary questions is quite easy, just let someone at the station you wish to order at know you have a food allergy question, and they will get a chef right away.
A note on this. We ate multiple times at Pop Century, and even though it's just a short walk over the bridge of Art of Animation, I like Pop's food court better than AoA. We didn't have a good interaction with the chef at Art of Animation, for something as simple as pizza, and the food court there was much more chaotic, so we actually left, and went back to Pop.
If you have never ordered with a food allergy at a Value Resort, let me assure you, our experience was fantastic. The chef took a lot of time to answer my questions about particular foods. Never once did I feel rushed, or that it was a bother. He even pulled out his cell phone, which was filled with pictures of ingredients, and scrolled through to help me find the information I was looking for. He was knowledgeable, patient, and made sure he asked if I had any more questions, before we parted ways. He offered that a chef could make my son's pizza, but said it would be the same as everyone else could order regularly, so we opted to just order from the counter, and not wait.
There were multiple others I saw over our trip at Pop with food allergies, in fact one evening, while waiting to find out if the ingredients for a particular food had been found out yet, a young woman struck up a conversation saying she only vacations at Disney, because they take her Celiac's seriously, and she knows they will always take good care of her.
While most meals can be easily adapted, or perhaps are already safe for you or your child, you probably already know that desserts are a little different. Our chef pointed out the few allergy friendly options they had, (not many) and let me know the ice cream, and dole whips, and churros would be safe, but anything in the glass bakery cases would be subject to cross contamination. To be honest, I guess in an effort to be more eco friendly, or perhaps just to save money, very few treats now, including the cupcakes are packaged individually. I saw more children than I would care to see touching, touching, touching until they finally decided which one they wanted.
While I was disapointed in the snack offerings allergen wise in the gift shops, they did have prepackaged jumbo Hostess muffins and other treats, that, after a quick phone call to Hostess confirmed they would be safe for my son's allergies. It's worth a look in your own gift shop for a treat too.
For our first visit to Disney with food allergies, I felt like we were able to make confident choices, and ended our trip reaction free, and feeling normal, and isn't that the best thing anyone can hope for?
Stay turned (once I'm unpacked, and the photos unloaded from memory card to computer) there will be some reviews of the places we ate at, including their allergy menus. In the meantime, we are already planning next time...what's your favorite resort to grab a bite at?
Did you know that in just a few minute's time, you could be munching on Disney's Funnel Cakes? It's a copycat recipe, that takes almost no ingredients, and can be ready faster than you can sing most any Disney song! I love this because I know my son can eat it safely, even if he can't get one at Disney!
Let's get started! This will make 6 batches
You'll need oil, and either a large pot, or a fryer. Get your oil heating. If you don't have a fryer with a level to fill, just fill a few inches deep in a pot.
Gather your ingredients
1 1/2 TBSP baking
2 cups of all purpose flour
2 cups of milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 TBSP sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Mix all of your ingredients together. Stir until there are no lumps. Set our toppings off to the side.
Once your oil is hot, work is small batches. Either with a funnel, or a measuring cup, drizzle the batter into the hot oil. Be careful!
When the batter starts to turn golden, flip the funnel cake over, with a heat safe sppon or spatula or tongs. It doesn't take long. About a minute on the flipped side is all you need. Pull out, and set on a plate with a paper towel to drain off excess oil.
Smother in toppings, and enjoy!
Mr. Disney made his creation in the top picture, the oldest just wanted powdered sugar!
Dress it up as much or as little as you want...you can't go wrong! Try it, and let us know what toppings you used!