Hello and Welcome. During this week’s Tuesday’s Travels – gluten Free, we’re visiting Epcot at Walt Disney World, in Orlando, Florida. This is our 4th WDW adventure of dining our way, gluten-free and allergen-free, through this multi-week series. Don’t miss our previous food finds and restaurant reviews from earlier weeks in Downtown Disney and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Epcot is unlike the other theme parks of WDW. Made up of two “worlds”, Epcot is home to Future World (the technology and science exploration side), and World Showcase (the re-creation of eleven countries from around the world).
Future World is where you can create, and ride, your own virtual roller coaster in Sum of All Thrills, sail through the air on a 45-foot high hang-gliding simulator, Soarin’, and travel to Mars on Mission: SPACE (the perfect ride if you seek over-the-top thrills). Future World is also home to the most amazing aquarium, housing a man-made coral reef that is dynamic and alive with turtles, angelfish, sharks, dolphins, and rays. This is one you don’t want to miss!
You can completely loose yourself, and track of time, in Future World and find you’ve developed quite an appetite. When the need for food finally overcomes your urge to play, Future World offers a few choices for the gluten-free guest.
For quick-service meals that can accommodate gluten-free, as well as other special diet requests, visit Sunshine Seasons, located in the Land pavilion. Here they offer a variety of food counters with a large courtyard-style seating area in the center of the pavilion. The atmosphere is fun and very kid-friendly. Be sure to speak with a manager at the food counter of your choice to ensure your order will be prepared safely.
For a sit-down meal in Future World, I highly recommend the Coral Reef Restaurant. Though we didn’t dine here on this trip to WDW, we’ve enjoyed dining at a table right next to the aquarium windows while rays, dolphins, and beautiful angelfish swam by and gazed at us while we watched in awe of them. Be sure to make your Special Diets dining reservations so the chef can create a safe meal for you, and you can be as relaxed as the atmosphere.
When visiting Epcot, once I’ve played, learned and explored to my hearts content in Future World, and the need for food becomes foremost in my mind, I head over to World Showcase – that’s where some great eats are to be found!
Surrounding World Showcase Lagoon, World Showcase offers the essence and vibrance of countries around the world. Not only is each country revealed with the architectural style authentically replicating its homeland, albeit on a smaller scale, but the restaurants and eateries scattered throughout the countries will have you believing you’ve temporarily stepped onto foreign soil. With more than a dozen upscale eateries, deciding which country’s cuisine to indulge in can easily become your most difficult task. By planning ahead, (and sometimes even being capricious) you can feel confident that those hunger pangs will be rewarded with a culinary experience you’ll remember for a very long time.
With so many choices, and knowing we’d never be able to feast our way through all of them, we opted for an early, light lunch/snack, then an early sit-down dinner.
For our light lunch, we stopped into United Kingdom’s British pub, the Rose & Crown Pub, where we noshed on some of the best “chips” I’ve ever enjoyed. Though we didn’t have reservations to forewarn of our allergies, the staff didn’t miss a beat in making sure the “chips” were prepared with great care and mindfulness to our dietary needs. I was so pleasantly surprised! Even without going through the Special Diets process, we were assured that should we decide to eat a full meal, it would be no trouble to choose from multiple items on the menu. I’ve learned that Disney chefs are like boy scouts … Always prepared! With gluten-free, allergen-free chips for half of our table, and “regular” chips for the other half, I was pleasantly surprised and excited to see that our basket of “safe” chips included a little allergy marker to prevent mix-ups between the unsafe fries and our allergy-friendly basket. LOVE it!
For a quick and easy early afternoon bite, the Rose & Crown offers the true spirit of the stereotypical English pub where everyone stands around the bar and throws back a pint or two. Much energy, endless laughter and fun, and delicious, safe food are easily found at the Rose & Crown! Be sure to stop in! Also find out when the hysterically funny street performances will be taking place. You’ll delight in the British terms and the sometimes slightly suggestive (though kid-friendly) entertainment.
Moving through the countries and making our way around World Showcase Lagoon, the sights of employees dressed in brightly colored attire from Japanese Kimonos to German Lederhosen, sounds of Chinese and Moroccan music, and scents of Danish and French pastries transport you abroad. Be sure to stop into each pavilion as some offer performances, a CircleVision show, and even calm rides with entertaining information. Marketplaces selling cultural wares are fun to explore as well.
When it was time for our dinner reservations, we dined at Morocco’s Marrakesh Restaurant. Knowing this is a cuisine we don’t get exposed to in our everyday lives, and would undoubtedly feel concerned about exploring with our dietary restrictions, we decided to embark on this adventure in a “safe” food environment. I don’t believe we would ever find a more knowledgable team of chefs, without a language barrier to contend with as well. So our Moroccan dining adventure began.
With our waiter, Taoufik, attentive to our every need, and a smile welcoming us as if we were his most beloved family, he collaborated with the head chef to create a deliciously unfamiliar, and unforgettable, three-course meal. The chef created traditional menu items in a gluten-free, dairy-free, and multiple allergen-free in my case, way that I defy anyone to distinguish from the “original” version.
We began our meal with the Moroccan Salad Combo Platter consisting of five “dipping” salads: green pepper and tomato, marinated olives, seasoned carrots, potato and cucumber, and an eggplant spread.
An appetizer to be accompanied by bread, our gluten-free bread basket was filled with warmed rice rolls by EnerG. They made the perfect complement to our appetizer and began our dining experience at Marrakesh with a feeling of being included in the entire meal, establishing that dietary guidelines don’t have to dominate the experience.
For our main course, the non-dietary-restricted diners enjoyed Lamb Shank and Lamb with Couscous, receiving high praises for both dishes. Our gluten-free dishes were Grilled Beef Tenderloin Shish Kebab with deliciously seasoned rice, and Braised Lemon Chicken with garlic, potatoes and green olives … oh my, so, so delicious! Gluten-free Moroccan is divine.
Each “special diets” dish was hand delivered by the chef. This is how WDW ensures that there is never confusion or cross-contamination of dishes. Throughout the meal the service was impeccable, and I must say that the way Disney carries out their special diets dining process creates a feeling of royalty – not inconvenience. I even caught glimpses of others expressing a look of, “Why do they get such special treatment?” A welcome turn of events for those of us having to explain ourselves through almost every dining experience.
Along with an exceptional meal, Marrakesh’s floor show completes the ambiance with a belly dancer who clicks her finger cymbals, or castanets, to Moroccan musicians. She even encourages dining guests to join her in the floor show and show off their belly dancing abilities. Quite entertaining.
With so many cultures and delightful flavors to immerse oneself in at World Showcase, and with the brain-stimulating and thrill-seeking opportunities of Future World, our Tuesday’s Travels notes were so much fun to gather. We hope you get a chance to visit Walt Disney World’s Epcot and go exploring for yourself.
For more information on making special diet reservations, check out our how-to guide to planning and enjoying safe dining at WDW.
Do you have dining experiences you’d like to share with us? We’d love to hear about them! Be sure to tell us your comments below.
Safe food is a journey … Thrive!™