Parents of children with food allergies often spend countless hours researching and determining which foods are safe for their kids and which are not. It may not seem like a glamorous undertaking, but it is one born of love and devotion and a desire to protect children from the big bad that is nuts, milk, wheat, soy or any of the other “big 8” allergens that are so mercilessly embedded in the contemporary American diet. And sometimes, as parents tirelessly remain diligent, full of love, devotion and desire, their efforts are met by little ones, as little ones sometimes do, huffing and puffing and rebuttals, rebuffs and rebukes. It can seem a never-ending battle between what is safe or unsafe for your kids to eat and which, it seems, “everyone else is eating” at school, on television or on vacation.
But imagine vacationing in a magical land designed to enchant children while simultaneously catering to food allergies and celiac disease. This type of vacation is not the stuff of Sugar Plum Fairy Dreams or “Tink’s” Pink Fairy Dust, but rather a vacation families can take this November as the first annual Food Allergy and Celiac Convention celebrates awareness at the most magical place on earth – Walt Disney World!
The convention, which takes place Saturday November 22, 2014 at the Walt Disney World Coronado Spring Resort in Florida, is the creation of Sarah Norris, who created the website Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free at Walt Disney World, and Laurie Sadowski, a special-diet cookbook author. Both are experienced in managing food allergy issues and have developed relationships with chefs and event planners at Walt Disney World Florida. Their intent is to highlight awareness around food allergies and celiac disease through the Saturday expo and Walt Disney World, which is home to the some of the best food allergy and special-diet accommodations around the world. The Saturday vendor expo will feature new and emerging food allergy and gluten-free companies, organizations and foods. Vendor tables will be marked with signs that indicate each organization’s allergy focus.
The Saturday expo includes events and activities such as:
- A welcome breakfast
- A stage for featured vendors, sponsors and non-profit organizations to highlight their unique brands and products
- Cooking demonstrations featuring Disney chefs
- Speakers, panels and workshops focusing on all aspects of food allergies and celiac disease
- Non-dairy, No Nut, No Gluten Ice Cream Buffet
- Kids’ Corner
- Raffle baskets and giveaways
- Recipe booklets
- Downtown Disney “crawl”
The cost for attendance is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 3-12 if you buy in advance online, or $15 for adults and $5 for kids at the door. Additionally, to keep costs low, many Florida destinations are offering discounts to convention guests through “Destinations in Florida,” an authorized Disney vacation travel agency.
In addition to the convention events, Walt Disney World prides itself as “one of the best vacation destinations for those with food allergies.” So, if you feel yourself slipping into a slump of “cant’s,” maybe the Magical Kingdom is a “can” for you and your family to take a well-deserved vacation without the worry that often accompanies “the allergen free getaway.”