AIP at Disneyland
Is eating AIP at Disneyland even possible?!
Yes! 100% possible!!
I recently returned from a multi-day trip to Disneyland with my kids, and am so excited to share my AIP at Disneyland tips!
AIP at Disneyland: Bringing your own Food
In my opinion, the easiest way to eat AIP at Disneyland is to pack and bring your own food.
Disneyland is so great about allowing to bring in your own food and water.
However, Disneyland does not allow you to bring in any glass containers, so be sure you do not pack your food or water in glass containers.
If you forget to leave your glass containers at home, even if they have a silicone sleeve, Disney security will catch them and you’ll have to either take them back to your car, or surrender them to security. Totally speaking from experience here.
If you decide to bring your own food, you can either carry it with you throughout the day in a bag or backpack, or store it in a locker.
There are plenty of lockers in Disneyland, California Adventure, as well as outside the parks, in between the two entrances.
Lockers run $7 for a regular size and $10 for a large size. I recommend the larger size, so you can also store any souvenirs you purchase.
Ideas for bringing your own AIP food include:
Prepping some homemade AIP meals in advance, freezing them, and bringing them with you.
You can defrost your meal overnight, then reheat your meal up in your Hot Logic Portable Oven before you leave for the morning (allow at least 45 minutes to an hour).
Then you can either put your reheated meal in a Thermos or leave it in the Hot Logic and pack your Hot Logic in your backpack.
Or, if you are staying at a hotel close to Disneyland, you can reheat your AIP meal while you are in the park playing, then come back to eat as needed.
Another option is ordering Paleo On the Go AIP meals to either be delivered directly to your hotel, or to your home before you leave.
I LOVE packing Paleo on the Go meals with me when I travel, and they reheat very well in the Hot Logic portable oven as well.
Just be sure your hotel has a mini fridge, or pack a cooler and refill the ice at your hotel to keep the meals cold until you are ready to heat and enjoy them.
You can order Paleo on the Go meals here and use code SHANNA for $15 off your first order.
AIP at Disneyland: Eating AIP at Disneyland Restaurants
In my experience, Disneyland is very good about accommodating for food allergies.
My kids are gluten free, and they can eat at just about anywhere inside of the park. I always communicate their gluten intolerances when ordering, and they’ve never had an issue.
With that said, on our recent trip, I decided to eat AIP at sit down restaurants only. It is pricier, but I felt more comfortable speaking with the chef and servers in the restaurants about my cross-contamination concerns and dietary needs.
Note: you can still request to speak to the chef at the quicker eating options at Disneyland as well. I just opted for sit down restaurants this trip.
I also felt there were more menu options at the restaurants to mix and match to create an AIP meal. If you are new to eating out on AIP, please be sure to read this or watch this before eating out. You can also print an AIP allergy card to take with you to hand to your server or chef.
Also, eating at the restaurants is one of my personal favorite experiences at Disneyland. I love to take a break in the middle of the day, sit down with my family away from the crowds, enjoy a nice meal, and chat about our favorite parts of the day so far.
There are a number of sit down restaurants to choose from in Disneyland. Reservations are highly recommended, and can be made well in advance online or on the Disney App.
There are also restaurants in Downtown Disney, right outside the Disney parks. You can exit the park, go grab lunch or dinner, then reenter the park.
Café Orleans at Disneyland
At Disneyland, we ate at Café Orleans. We did not have reservations, arrived at the peak of lunch time, but were able to walk up and wait just 15 minutes for a table.
I will say my first restaurant choice was the Blue Bayou restaurant (in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride), but there were no reservation openings and they were not accepting walk-ins.
While initially disappointed, I ended up being very happy with Café Orleans. I spoke with the chef about my dietary needs, and ordered steak and vegetables.
Note: in my experience, there is rarely a menu option that is AIP. So I look for menu items to mix and match to create my own AIP meal.
While I do let the server and chef know of my main food intolerances/allergies, I communicate what I can eat. I explain I can have meat and vegetables, except nightshades.
When ordering, I am always careful to specify no butter, no oils except olive oil, no seasonings (I find it easiest to make the “no seasonings” blanket statement). I also ask to be sure the meat I ordered is not cooked on a common grill / no cross contamination issues.
At Cafe Orleans, when I let the chef know I cannot have nightshade vegetables, and the chef offered me a choice of vegetables. I chose Brussel sprouts and carrots.
Between a perfectly cooked steak and delicious veggies, I left full and happy!
My only gripe about Café Orleans? While the chef was outstanding, our server seemed impatient and frustrated. Also, be prepared to wait an extra 20-30 minutes for your AIP meal. They take extra precautions, which takes time.
Overall, I highly recommend the steak and vegetables at Café Orleans. My teenager and almost teenager both ordered the gluten free chicken dish and both loved it and highly recommend it! It is not AIP.
Also, please note the meat is not grass fed or pasture raised. I do not not seem to have issues when I occasionally eat non grass fed and non pasture raised poultry. But if you do, be aware I did not see any grass fed or pasture raised poultry options in the park.
Carthay Circle at California Adventure
Carthay Circle is quite the fine dining experience. Rich with history and filled with ambiance, it is the perfect environment for a quiet and peaceful meal.
Eating at Cathay Circle has been on my Disney bucket list for years. So when I saw a reservation popped open, I snagged it! With that said, I am not a fancy restaurant type of girl, and keep that in mind as I share my following thoughts.
I found our server to be very helpful, and thorough when it came to taking time to understand my dietary needs. However, we did up end up waiting at least 45 minutes for our food to arrive, and looked on as other tables received their meals much quicker.
When our meals did finally arrive, my heart sunk as I saw the portion size of my meal. I ordered the sea bass, roasted sweet potatoes, and green beans (AIP reintro). The food tasted wonderful, but I needed about two or three times as many vegetables to fill me up.
If you decide to eat at Carthay Circle, I recommend ordering a salad for an appetizer in addition to your AIP meal. They do have olive oil and balsamic vinegar you can request as a salad dressing. Just be sure to modify your salad to be AIP.
Also, be prepared to pay a pretty penny for your meal. If you love fancier restaurants and it’s just you and your man, you’ll love Carthay Circle! If you are not the biggest fancy restaurant fan, I recommend finding another sit down restaurant at California Adventure to eat at.
Gluten Free Options at Carthay Circle
Carthay circle offers many amazing looking gluten free options, including a gluten free bread basket my kids said was amazing!
My daughter ordered the adult pasta dish entrée, in which they sub chicken for meatballs as a gluten free option. She loved it! My son ordered the steak, mashed potatoes, and green beans off of the kids menu. He loved it!
AIP at Disneyland: AIP Snacks
Even if you plan on eating at restaurants inside the park, I highly recommend packing AIP snacks to have on hand.
You’ll be shocked how much walking you will end up doing! Even with our Disney MaxPasses (more on that below), we walked over 6.5 miles our first day and over 7 miles our second day, and you’ll be on your feet most of the day.
So chances are, your hunger levels will increase, and you’ll want some AIP snacks while you are waiting in line. I have a whole AIP snacks blogpost and YouTube video you can check out here.
What did I pack this trip?
I always pack more snacks that I think I will need. That way, I am always covered. I also pack extra snacks for my kids.
If you forgot to pack AIP snacks, there are a number of options inside the park. Look for the fresh fruit stands. They offer an array of fresh fruit and veggies. I do recommend, from personal experience, eating a protein source of some kind with fruit and veggie snacks.
Southern California Health Food Stores and Organic Restaurants
If you need to pick up some AIP food and snacks while in Southern California, you are in luck…there are a number of options for health food stores!
Depending on where you stay, search for nearby Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, or Mother’s Markets.
Looking for somewhere outside of the park to eat? Do an online search for “organic paleo restaurants” near me. There are a number of healthier places to eat out at in Orange County, especially In the Newport Beach area where I stayed.
AIP at Disneyland: Staying Hydrated
Days at Disneyland are typically long, exciting, and it can be easy to let the day go by without realizing you forgot to keep your water intake up.
Add to the excitement and distraction the price tag of a bottled water inside the park ($5!), and it’s easy to get dehydrated at Disneyland.
I recommend picking up a case of bottled water (you can buy a case of 24 for less than the cost of one bottled water in the park) at a nearby store the day prior.
Then, figure out how many water bottles you need to bring with you (aim to drink AT LEAST half of your body weight in ounces of water), and how many water bottles you need to bring for your family.
Pack a couple of backpacks with any food you’d like to bring and your bottled water. Your packs will be heavy, but snag a locker right when you enter the park, and store the bulk of your bottled water, food, and one backpack in your locker.
Just carry one backpack with some water and food/snacks for 2-3 hours, then head back to your locker as needed.
AIP at Disneyland: Mindset
Be prepared to see non-AIP and unhealthy food everywhere at Disneyland. Many, many people go for the food and treats alone.
Know yourself, your needs, and have a plan. For example, pack some of your very favorite AIP treats. I LOVE the Carob Chunk Cookies from Paleo on the Go. Or make some of your favorite AIP homemade treats before your trip to pack with you.
Address any emotional eating struggles you have prior to your trip, if possible. You can click here to read my AIP emotional eating experience and tips.
Remember your why, and keep in mind others may not understand the choices you make to support your health. And that’s okay.
If you feel so inspired, learn the science behind WHY the autoimmune protocol works. Here is my favorite resource that was truly a game changer for me. Worth every penny in my book.
AIP at Disneyland: AIP Lifestyle
Remember AIP is not just all about nutrition. Getting plenty of quality sleep, managing stress, moving your body, and more are all important AIP lifestyle factors.
I find it so important to support AIP lifestyle factors as I travel so I can feel my best.
It can be tempting to try to do ALL the things at Disney parks. However, I found it works out best to communicate as a family and to prioritize Disney rides and experiences. That way we can slow down, enjoy the moments more fully, and not run ourselves ragged.
We each pick our very favorite rides or experiences we do not want to miss, and we prioritize our day around our family choices. Then, we fill in any extra time we have with rides with short wait times.
Also, remember to pack sunscreen! There are a number of safe, non-toxic options. This one is my personal favorite.
On this Disney trip, we visited the parks two days in a row. Since I had points for free nights at a hotel, and we planned the trip last minute, the closest hotel where we could stay for free was at the Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach, at the John Wayne Airport.
It took us about 25 minutes to get to Disneyland in the morning and about 30 minutes to get back to the hotel in the evening.
If you can stay at a Disneyland hotel, that would by far be ideal! Not only do you get into the park a whole hour before everyone else, you can also go back to your room to rest and refresh as needed. You can also go back to eat any AIP meals you bring.
Are you a morning person or a night owl? Play to your strengths. I am a morning person, and naturally go to bed early and wake up early. Which meant, we arrived at Disneyland early, enjoyed a fun filled day, and headed back to or hotel in the evening to get a good night’s sleep.
With that said, Disneyland and California Adventure really are magical at night too, with all of the lights, so if you’ve never seen the parks at night, I do recommend staying after dark to enjoy the lights!
I also always pack my favorite sleep mask and white noise machine when I travel. If you do not have room to pack a noise machine, you can play white noise from Apple music on your phone, or download an app.
Be prepared to walk. A lot. If it is in your budget, I highly recommend the Disney MaxPass.
Disneyland offers “Fast Passes” for a number of their most popular rides. A fast pass is free and enables fast pass holders to arrive at the ride at a designated hour and skip the regular line to get on the ride faster.
However, you can only hold one fast pass at a time. Unless you purchase a Disney MaxPass, which allows you to reserve fast passes for multiple times, thereby significantly cutting down on the time you spend standing in lines.
The Max Passes are currently $20 per person per day. This was our first time every purchasing the Max Passes, and I personally found them to be worth every penny. We were able to ride all of the major rides with minimal time spent standing and waiting in line.
If you do not want to shell out the money for the Max Passes, but would like to cut down on wait times, another option is to opt for the single rider lines. Many of the major attractions offer single rider lines.
Your party will most likely not sit together on the ride, or be on the same roller coaster, but single rider lines can significantly reduce wait times.
For example, we opted for the single rider line for the Matterhorn. The wait time was over an hour, and we were on the ride within 10 minutes via the single rider line.
Keep in mind, my kids are 12 and 14, so they are happy to do single rider lines. However, when they were younger, it would not have worked.
So we did a combination of the MaxPass, single riders lines, and we did do a couple of standard wait lines as well.
Also, as I stand in line, I try to stretch here and there throughout the day as much as possible.
Disneyland can be stressful…
The crazy crowds of people,
the long wait times,
trying to navigate the park AIP,
trying to squeeze in everyone’s favorite rides,
and so on.
Remember this is a “fun” experience that should bring your family together.
Take a deep breath, take breaks as needed, and enjoy every moment!
It really will fly by, and you will be left with priceless memories!
I personally know and understand the fear of trying new things again after years of undiagnosed health struggles and hitting rock bottom.
My mind plays the “what if” game every time I try something new.
As I packed up the kids and I for our recent road trip to Disneyland (my husband and I stayed home to work), even though I knew deep down that I felt ready for it, my mind filled with “what ifs.”
What if I feel unwell on the 10 hour drive down or back, and I have no one to take over the driving for me?
What if I drive ALL the way down to Disneyland and I find myself in a nasty flare out of nowhere and am stuck in the hotel room and it was all a waste?
What if I run into a cross contamination issue while trying to eat AIP at Disneyland, get horribly sick, and trigger a flare?
What if everything goes beautifully, but then I overdo it, trigger a flare, and am too exhausted to make the 10 hour drive home?
What if going from the freezing cold weather at home (it was 15 degrees when we left) to the warm sunny weather in Southern California is shocking to my system (it was 79 degrees our first day at Disneyland)?
And so on and so on.
As you can tell, my mind is REALLY good at the “what if” game. So how do I handle the “what ifs” my mind throws at me, and overcome the fear I feel?
I face it.
I look it square in the eye, see it for what it is, then I walk right through it.
I understand my mind is trying to protect me and keep me safe.
I acknowledge that okay, maybe one or all of those things will happen. And that it will be okay if they do.
Then I also acknowledge that maybe none of those things will happen. And I will reach a beautiful new milestone in my wellness journey.
Most importantly, I rely on my faith.
I trust that when I have that deep down, peaceful feeling that I am ready to try something new, that no matter what happens, it is the right experience for me at that time.
I choose to believe, trust, and walk in faith. Understanding that sometimes things will not go the way I want them to, but that even then I can learn, grow, and become a better version of myself.
Cheering You On
Please know I am cheering you on so loud in your wellness journey.
I believe in you.
I am sending you so much love and support.
You are exactly where you need to be, and I cannot wait to see where you go from here! Get excited…it’s gonna be good!
You got this, my beautiful friend!
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