So this weekend, we are going to be hitting up Orlando to spend a few days with my in-laws, who are bringing my niece and nephew from Kentucky. Given that Orlando is the home of the theme park, and my nephew Joseph has never been to one, I’m excited to spend a few days with them and escape reality for a bit.
I’m still on restricted running right now, so I won’t be so caught up in making sure I get my 2-3 mile walk/run in before we spend a day walking at the park because… well, we’ll be spending two days walking around Universal and Islands of Adventure. I’m almost certain that we will be logging 10+ miles easy with the steps we will be doing there. However, I want to make sure I’m sticking to my cleaned up diet.
Sure, I’m still on the 80/20 plan but that doesn’t leave a lot of room for junk food that theme parks seem to have in massive supply. Plus, gluten free options are lacking as well. So what does that mean for me? How do I plan? First things first: research. A quick Google search has me on the Universal Studios website, and I’m looking at the Casual Dining page. I’ve been to Universal a thousand times (it’s my favorite park!) but I never really paid attention to the food options because usually when I go, we eat outside of the park. Since I’m going to be there all day with the family, I wanted to be aware of what is out there.
Cafe 4 is a great option for kids: pizza, spaghetti, subs and salads are all up for grabs here. The Captain America Diner is, as expected, your all-American diner: burgers, chicken sandwiches, chicken fingers, and crispy chicken salads. The COmig Strip Cafe is the same way. Not bad for grab and go, not great for Gluten Free options. I could get the Caesar salad without the croutons or see if I could get a burger without the bun, but usually it’s all pre-made stuff. And of course, there are the carts floating around with sodas, ice cream, slushies and the like.
A new restaurant there called Three Broomsticks is in the Hogwarts area has a lot of good grabs: Fish and Chips, shepherd’s pie, turkey legs, and more. This has potential as shepherd’s pie is usually gluten free, assuming they don’t use flour to thicken their potatoes. Then there is Mythos Restaurant, and they serve a bit of a more “uppity” fare when it comes to theme parks: Pork, beef, salmon… pad Thai (YUM!) along with burgers. It also has a wine list, but serve lunch only.
There are a lot of other smaller “grab and go” places that are listed, but they have the usual “grab and go” fare: burgers, hot dogs, pizza, subs and the like. While there are a few gluten free options on the list, I can’t eliminate the possibility of cross contamination which happens quite often in massive places like this.
So what do I do? Do I forgo the gluten free thing for a weekend, and bring lots of stuff with me in hopes that I won’t end up looking like a giant beached whale when it irritates my system, or do I just grab snacks at the park and hope for the best? Another quick search on the Universal page brought me to their allergy policies.
It says that most of the restaurants are prepared to work with any food allergy or food intolerance that you might have, and that makes me feel slightly better…but it still causes concern because most of the places do things with bread and buns. Then I found that we are welcome to bring our own food if we have a major concern. Just notify Security when I am getting my bagged checked that I have a food allergy/intolerance and I should be good. But again – is it worth the hassle?
I don’t have a decision on what I am going to do yet. On one hand, I really could just make a bunch of food that can handle the heat of being carried with me all day (IE: A PB&J with gluten free bread, or hummus and veggies) but do I want to carry a bag with me the entire time with three other adults and two teenagers? On the other hand, I could just suck it up and make do but do I want to take a chance and eat salads or try to get a burger without the bun when we stop for food? Or just eat snacks throughout the day and hope for a “real” restaurant for dinner?
Do you have issues with food at theme parks? Have you ever run into any issues with bringing your own food in? What did you do?