Wednesday, 21 May 2014

I said, 'What about Breakfast at... Disney?'

A little background...

There are various ways to 'do' Disneyland Paris. You can stay completely outside of the Disney Resort, and be completely independent; you can stay in a Disney 'Partner' hotel, or you can stay in one of the Disney Resort Hotels. 

Having heard reports that Disney could cater for those with food allergies, The Hub suggested that we try one of the resort hotels - in order to save time as much as anything. The Hub, being self-employed (every day he takes off work for holiday he is basically losing money - so each day costs him twice over), was prepared to spend the extra - so we could make the most of our short time there. 

Big gulp! 

I agreed, but must admit to feeling some trepidation about putting our food fate in the hands of unknown others!   

The four star hotel we chose, New York, was about as close to the Disney Village and Parks as you could get. The only hotel closer to the attractions was the five star Disneyland Hotel - which is basically built right over the entrance to Disney Park. 

Our deal included half board: breakfast (eaten in the hotel) and vouchers for dinner that could be redeemed in resort restaurants/hotels, as well as a voucher for a refreshment break. This could, apparently, be exchanged at a number of venues within the parks, for a hot or cold drink and cake.

Now you might think that paying extra entitles you to a better quality of food, but it would appear not!

Back to Breakfast...

Mickey Mouse place mats! 

You are expected to book a time for breakfast! No rockin' up at whatever time you choose! You have to tell them at check-in. We opted for an early-ish hour, just before it was due to get busy - that way we thought we'd get more choice.

It was nice and fairly empty, at the time we chose...


If you have an allergy, you need to mention it to the staff who seat you. You then get presented with this - every morning!

A basket of Free From

A basket of Valpi Form products. That's it!

Everyone else gets buffet tables loaded with all sorts of stuff to choose from.

Put quite simply, Disneyland Paris Resort Hotels do not negotiate over food with anyone. If you have an allergy, or are coeliac, Valpi Form is all they're prepared to give you for breakfast. It stays in it's packets and you help yourself - presumably to reduce the chances of cross-contamination. 

That's great if you have multiple allergies, and are anaphylactic, as you know exactly what you are getting, but then you've got to hope that the last person to handle the packets had clean hands too - that weren't smothered in your allergens!

I mean, someone else with no milk allergy might have handled the boxes with buttery fingers - you just have no idea.

However, if you have just one allergy or are OK with 'may contain traces' you might wish for a bit more flexibility. When you compare this experience with our breakfast at Beefeaters in England (read about it here), you might feel a bit hard done by! 

What's in the basket...

1. One serving (two slices) of gluten free and milk free bread (wrapped). This appears to be soya free, but doesn't state anywhere that it is. Also it is made without egg but may contain traces of egg. No mention of nuts!

See the English Ingredients label?

This bread was quite hearty. It was quite moist, not too crumbly and not at all holey (unlike some gluten free breads I could mention). I liked it.

It was a good job that I liked it, as I had to eat it as it was - the toaster on the buffet table was (inevitably) used by anyone and everyone.

The other problem was that there was no margarine provided in the basket. There were individual sunflower margarine servings on the buffet tables, but there were no ingredients labels on them. So, The Hub Googled them. 

The only information The Hub could find online was for larger tubs of sunflower margarine by the same firm, which did contain milk. Now, sometimes products of different sizes/packaging contain different ingredients and these could have been okay, but because we couldn't tell, we just stuck to straight jam or honey on our toast (you could check the ingredients list of these, because they were on the side of each jar)! 

2. One box of Crac Form (the name made me laugh) which is a bit like Crackerwheat crackers. You can clearly see what it's free of on the front: 

Love the free from labelling on the front!

I must admit, this stuff doesn't float my boat - it's not at all filling and feels like you're eating some form of polystyrene!! However, if you're egg free, well, there's not much else you can have!! It came in two large packs inside the box - so basically, if you weren't the first person opening the packet (and you wouldn't want a whole one) you ran the risk of other people having handled it.

3. One box of Chocolate Chip Cakes (individually packed, within the box).

Individually wrapped

These were gluten, dairy, soya and peanut free, but not much good if you can't have egg!! They were quite nice as free from cakes go - they were soft and not dry or crumbly. Not my usual breakfast fare, but... needs must!

4. One box of Marble Cake (individually packed, within the box). These seemed quite popular, but were basically the same as the chocolate chip cake, without the chips!

5. One box of Chocolate Chip Cookies (in packs of three, within the box).

Not much translation skill required here :)

These tasted like standard chocolate chip cookies, so were quite acceptable, but... I wouldn't have biscuits for breakfast. However, when there's not much choice...

The ingredients. Bit blurry, I'm afraid!

so what can you do??

These were gluten, milk, soya and peanut free. No mention of egg in the ingredients, but no indication why not.

5. One box of Shortbread Biscuits (in smaller packs of about three or four, within the box).

Sorry, not the best shot!

The packet just said 'gluten free' and 'lactose free' but there was no other mention of milk or indeed of soya, so we took a risk and both 'Baby' and I seemed fine with them. They did actually taste quite nice.

Taking a chance...

However, not entirely satisfied with what was on offer, and being less risk adverse than myself, when it comes to feeding 'Baby,' The Hub sourced some bacon and fried potatoes for her, from the buffet table. I wasn't exactly happy with this, but it happened whilst my attention was elsewhere and she was happily tucking in, before I realised what was happening!

From time to time The Hub does this - uses his own man logic. To him, it's logical that bacon is cooked in fat. He is not so aware as I am, dealing with 'Baby' day-to-day of cross-contamination issues, although I do try to 'educate' him. 'Baby' is very sensitive to traces of milk, but not anaphylactic, so it's never fatal, but it's still unpleasant for her. Sometimes it pays off, but there are other times when it doesn't. 

Risks taken and survived (on this occasion), I risked the bacon (visual inspection revealed that they were served in big metal trays, in which they may well have been cooked, with nothing drippy served either side), but not the fried potatoes, as processed potatoes (which these clearly were) are often coated in wheat flour of some kind to make them crispy. Having no idea if this was the case, I steered well clear!

'Baby' loves her bacon!

'Baby' didn't come to any harm from eating either these or the honey-coated cereal, that was also available from the buffet table. Although, I must admit, The Hub did Google the cereal ingredients first! These were served from large plastic dispensers.

'Baby' eats her cereal dry!

'Baby' often eats her cereal dry, although there was actually no need for her to do so, as soya milk is available, on request,  from the hotel. We, in fact, brought our own milk for 'Baby' as she is extremely fussy. Being long-life, it was OK to pack, and once open, was stored in the fridge at hotel reception!!

It turns out you can store stuff there as long as you package it appropriately (we tied 'Baby's' milk inside a plastic bag, and wrote our name all over it). You also have to sign a form to say that you are leaving it there at your own risk (there was a small fridge in the hotel room, but it was stuffed full of hotel refreshments, so we didn't use that).

There were a few other items on the buffet table that we helped ourselves to - fruit and drinks. However, the coffee needs a mention!

Pour moi!

I don't know about you, I NEED coffee in the morning - first thing! 

But... this coffee was served from a machine - the kind that also dispenses coffee with milk, or hot chocolate!! Not to be recommended for those with milk allergies, or who are breastfeeding an infant with milk allergy, then!!

You could however have bottled water or fruit juice.

Good job we passed Starbucks on our way to the Parks each day, then!!

Some reflections...

If you're gluten free, you'll be fine with a Euro Disney breakfast. It may not be what you're used to, but you won't starve. You'll also be fine if you're dairy free and okay with soya. Beyond that, you may want to bring your own bread/muesli/dairy free milk/whatever. 

I took some Genius dairy, gluten and soya free brioche in my luggage, and some almond milk for me, but it wasn't necessary - there was bread and cake for me and as I couldn't eat any cereal and usually drink my coffee black, the almond milk was useless.

All in all, although I know the restaurant staff are probably fairly low paid and possibly low-skilled in terms of food preparation, I can't help wishing that the hotel was more flexible in terms of catering for food allergies. It shouldn't be that hard to make sure that bacon or fried egg was gluten, dairy and soya free, at the very least!! And as for the coffee... pfft!!

If I'd known how generally inflexible and ill-informed the staff at Disney were, I'd have taken 'Baby' some bread rolls from good old Angleterre, as by the end of the week, my lil' wheat eater was begging for bread. Although bread in the UK is generally milk free, I had no idea about French bread, so wasn't giving in to her desperate pleas. Who'd have thought that something so simple as bread would have been such a sticking point?? It's hard when they're little and don't understand. I'm just glad she didn't have any non-allergenic siblings, to make her jealous!!

My conclusion is: Beefeater definitely did it better - for us, anyway!!

Related Post: 

Travelling Eurostar with the Dairy Free Baby and Me


  1. Wow -this is totally different to our Disney Florida experience. Although we didn't stay in a Disney hotel, we did eat at the restaurants in the parks and found the staff to be knowledgable and helpful. There were lots of options for my dairyfree nut free child. Snacking was harder, but the proper restaurants were great. Disney produces allergen menus that you can consult prior to your visit to help choose the best place to eat for your allergy. At a buffet style restaurant the chef would come talk you through the ingredients and possible cross contamination risks. Where there was nothing suitable (ie the dessert buffet) they prepared a special plate. It's disappointing that Paris has made so little effort in comparison.

    1. Y'know, that seems to be the message I'm getting from everyone on Twitter! I think we should have saved up our pennies for a bit longer and gone to Florid as well! Oh well, you live and learn! :)

  2. Thanks for this! It's so helpful. We are heading there in Nov (same hotel) and I'm already pondering what DS will be able to eat as he's wheat- dairy- and soya-free (although currently challenging his diet with dairy).

    1. Hiya!

      Glad you've found this post useful! As that is the aim of this blog. There's more to come, so watch this space! :)