About the Column

Admit it. You do it a lot. You ask yourself: Why Did Disney DO That?!? Maybe you ask others, too. Maybe you gather in groups, gnaw on turkey legs, and ponder what Disney does. But any such gab sessions inevitably lead to confusion and perhaps frustration. Because none of us have the answers. Disney has the answers, but it's not telling. The Mouse justifies its actions either with "it's part of our business plan" or the even more nebulous "it's part of Walt's vision". You deserve better. In his column, Lee Beatens will uncover the truth. Or at least deliver some entertaining rants.

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FROM: Why Did Disney DO That?!? Published As Necessary

Cruel Cuts: Disney Dietary Options

Those unfortunate souls who suffer from Celiac's disease require special dietary fare. Disney touts its chefs' abilities to craft excellent dining experiences for everyone, no matter their special requirements. But is your palate in peril all the same?

Let me tell you another true story that spans two of my Walt Disney World vacations.

Year One - A Pleasant Surprise

My wife and I first visited the Vacation Kingdom together in 2005. We were going to make it as memorable as possible, so we booked 14 nights and 15 days. What a vacation!

We enjoyed ourselves immensely, but one thing stood out, especially for my wife. You see, she was diagnosed with Celiac disease some time before our trip, and so naturally wondered how Disney would service her dietary needs. It's well known that Disney caters to diabetics and those allergic to nuts, two of the biggest and well-known dietary problems. But would they be sensitive to this lesser known problem?

The short answer is 'Yes'. For starters, we got a free fridge upgrade in our room so my wife could refrigerate some of the pre-packaged foods she takes with her on vacations. This perk is available to any WDW Guest with special dietary or health needs.

But the real surprise was that she was able to get better food than me, even at the counter service restaurants! I almost considered claiming to have the disease myself just to get the portions and variety that she was enjoying. Her pizza was bigger and tastier, and for the portion size, cheaper than mine. The chefs bent over backwards to cook just for her, and often gave her extra side dishes.

We left for home feeling that Disney really did care about Celiacs.

Year Two - An Unpleasant Surprise

We returned in 2006 for a 9-night and 10-day visit expecting to have the same great time we had had the year before. And we did! Until we went to order a meal and my wife asked about the options for those with Celiac disease.

To our great disappointment, they had decided to reduce the celiac options.

Why would Disney DO that?!?

Now there were fewer places to get food suitable for Celiacs. Fewer chefs seemed to know what to do. And some of the fresh baked goods were now pre-packaged, smaller, and way pricier. But perhaps it was just an off year...

Year Three & to Date - Resignation

Nope. I've read many on-line reviews about Celiac options at WDW and they seem to be fairly positive. But I wonder if the writers ever experienced 2005 at Disney?

The change is drastic.

But I will say that my wife still finds plenty to eat. I guess it's just because we have something wonderful from the past with which to compare the present that causes us to lament today's menu.

With the standardization of all menu options sweeping the Parks and Resorts, I think maybe there is more to it than that. How much more will the bottom line affect our dinner plate? Will we see a future wherein the waiter simply says: "Would you like to see the menu, sir? Or do you have the three options memorized?"


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