Even though our vacation won’t be officially over until Monday I have to say this has been one of my favorite trips of all time. I never thought the kids would be able handle the busy days we had scheduled for them, but for the most part they have done really well. My primary concern, of course, was how we would be able to manage all the theme parks, sightseeing excursions and meals with food allergies. I tried to think ahead in nearly every situation, and was pleasantly surprised at how well it all turned out:
Disneyland: This was the main reason we travelled to California in the first place. My kids have never been, and neither have I. ¬†I had always dreamed of going as a kid, and now at 34 years old I can finally say I did. It literally took my breath away to walk into the front gates and down Main Street. Everything was as magical as I had imagined it all these years. I was seeing it all for the first time, right alongside my own children. That is a moment I will treasure for a long time. Disneyland should really be called Dreamland, especially for those with food allergies. Snack carts were overflowing everywhere with healthy choices such as watermelon slices, grapes, apples, pineapple, etc. Just before lunch time I literally bumped into a head chef at Disney, Chris Justensen. I asked him the best place to eat with food allergies, and he responded with not only the best places, but he was incredibly well versed in food allergy awareness, cross contamination issues, their food safety protocol, and ingredient lists. He even let me know that if¬†a reaction were to occur on the grounds, emergency services would be there in minutes. The only negative was that Divvies was not sold there (I think Disneywold has them). I asked if they are going to put it on the menu again, and his reaction seemed to indicate no.
Legoland: Another great, kid friendly place with more rides and fun interactive stuff for the kids. They also had healthy snack carts (although no one beats Disney for doing things right….they’re kind of like Martha Stewart). We had lunch back at our hotel room that day, but dinner out at a local brewery was fabulous and our servers and chef were very responsive to our food allergy questions.
Wild Animal Park/San Diego Zoo: We took a Wild Animal Safari ride as well as saw Dino Mountain (well, my husband took the older two while I hung back with my two little scaredy cats). Again, we came back later to have lunch in our room but had a fabulous Italian dinner in one of the nearby coastal towns with gorgeous views. Our servers there were also very attentive to our food allergy concerns.
San Diego Padres Game: Yes, baseball games are typically a food allergy nightmare (especially with a severe peanut allergy) but my son is obsessed, I mean OBSESSED with baseball so we really wanted to show him a newer park that is totally different than our beloved Wrigley Field. We sat in bleacher seats, which¬†are very kid friendly and have grassy spots, as well as a sand pit in the outfield where young¬†kids can play with their sand buckets while mom and dad watch the game. Upon arriving at our designated seats, I saw just a few peanut shells that I removed. John sat in his seat and never moved anyway because his eyes were glued to the game. He LOVED it and I am so glad he got to go.
Sea World: This is another park that knows how to handle medical issues and food allergy questions. When we first entered the park, the security who checked my bag saw my EpiPens and proceeded to give me a map of all the nearest first aid stations in the event an allergic reaction occured. Later in the day when we were watching one of the famous Sea World shows, that information came in handy since my 4-year-old suffered his first bee sting. He screamed out in pain, and I immediately removed him to outside the show. I got a hold of medical personnel who treated my little guy. We were initially a little concerned as we didn’t know if he was allergic to bee stings so we kept a close eye on him for 30 minutes. All turned out OK in the end.
Hotel del Coronado: One of the most majestic, gorgeous and beautiful hotels I have ever seen. We took in breathtaking views of the island as well as the the historic hotel. Marilyn Monroe filmed “Some Like It Hot” there, and there amazing photo opportunities throughout the grounds. We had a beautiful lunch there, and the servers were awesome. The chef even came out with the hot dog bun wrappers to show me the ingredient list himself. It was perfect.
We still have the weekend here as my BFF from Scottsdale is driving in with her two adorable kids tomorrow. Then we are leaving Monday…and here’s to hoping for another safe and uneventful flight back home to the Windy City. I’m a changed person after this trip. I used to worry obsessively over travelling with John, but this expereince has opened our eyes that as long as we prepare well enough, a trip away from home can be a happy and memorable experience.
One more side note: my good blogging friend Lissa at Raising Food Allergic Kids is doing a fun contest with Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels (my personal good friends as well, and they are VERY food allergy aware….way more than most companies). Visit her site at www.rfak.org for more information….
Have a great weekend everyone!