Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Gluten Free at Legoland

When amusement parks come into mind, first thoughts usually revolve around the rides, the entertainment and, of course, the deliciously unhealthy pounds of food. After all, what's an amusement park ride without worrying about that pizza and fries making a reappearance?

With so many tempting foods available and tons of demanding customers to feed, going to any amusement park on a gluten free diet sounds risky. Celiac disease should never stop you from doing anything you put your mind to, though, amusement parks included. As I touched on a few articles ago, we are lucky enough to live in an age where industries are accommodating people with dietary needs like us. 

I was super surprised when I looked up all of the gluten free options in Legoland (remember...go Internet!). Not only do they have gluten free fries and burger buns (no need to smuggle some in!), but people gluten-free can also munch on a Japanese chicken stir fry or indulge in some sauce-free barbecue chicken. When my mom and I saw that the Pizza and Pasta Buffet offers gluten free options, we knew that was our top pick. We hadn't eaten pizza from a restaurant since my diagnosis and a girl can only go for so long until she starts having cheesy heaven withdrawals. 

We hoped this would save the day...

When we walked in, the manager immediately met with us after we told the server that my mom (who went gluten free with me) and I needed gluten free pizzas and pasta. He outlined the cooking process on our food to limit contamination, including a new pot of boiling water as well as opening a fresh can of sauce and cheese. All we had to do was wait

My dad and sister were already eating and said the regular food (pizza, pasta, bread sticks) tasted great. When I asked the manager about the salad bar, he offered to open a fresh bag of lettuce and brought two salads with all the gluten free toppings for my mom and I to eat while we waited. The salads were fairly large in size and the ingredients tasted extremely fresh. The manager even served us with gloves, which made me feel even more confident about the food. 

It was prettier before I started eating...

It took a little bit (twenty to twenty five minutes) to get our pizza and pasta but they were definitely worth the wait. First, we dug into the pizza. Like most gluten free pizzas, the crust was very thin. They toasted it perfectly though giving the crust a nice crunch without being too hard. 

YUM!

One nice thing about ordering the pizza instead of eating from the buffet was our ability to specialize the toppings. We settled on a simple pepperoni and green pepper combo, which tasted heavenly. The peppers kept the pizza from becoming too chewy and the pepperoni was well dispersed throughout the entire pizza. Mom and I ended up devouring one pizza together and I have no regrets

Then we ate the pasta, which was good but didn't outshine the pizza, in my opinion. I'm not a huge pasta person, but  the elbow noodles had a great texture, being neither rubbery or overcooked. 

This is one serving...

You could definitely taste the potato base of the pasta, but the meat sauce counterbalanced it nicely. If you do special order it, though, I recommend splitting because we ordered two and didn't put a big dent in either bowl. The best part about the Pizza and Pasta Buffet, though, was its central location. While my mom and I waited for our special order, the rest of my family ate and then rode the rollercoaster a few feet away. While I can't guarantee your stomach's health with this plan, it worked out great for us.

Besides meals, Legoland also has a variety of gluten free desserts. Instead of sorbet, we decided to be daring and try out some of Granny's Apple Fries. The line was super long when we got there, but after tasting them we knew why! The "fries" are composed of deep-fried green apple slices dusted with Cinnamon, and served with a dollup of whipped cream.

So good!
Although I usually don't like fruit-oriented desserts, I had to admit that these were extremely good for a gluten-free snack. Unlike other fried foods, the "fries" retained a satisfying crunch and the Cinnamon was abundant without being clumpy or overwhelming. I especially liked the whipped cream, which added a smooth texture that fit well with the fries. The only thing better, we decided, would be some apple fries with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

When we first talked about going to Legoland, I was worried celiacs would hold me back. That is definitely not the case! I have to thank the lovely Legoland staff who adjusted their menu to fit people like me, and my delicious gluten-free pizza and apples definitely made my trip even better!

If these amazing food options didn't exist, though, it wouldn't be the end of the world. After two months of my diet, I feel confident in my ability to provide for myself. Because of celiac disease, I know several new recipes, can analyze an item's ingredients in thirty seconds flat, and am able to talk to authority figures about my dietary needs without worry.

Celiac disease has accelerated my individuality, and, at this point, I'm just waiting for the rest of the world to catch up and equal Legoland's amazing gluten free food choices!

What was your first amusement park after diagnosis? Comment below!

4 comments:

  1. All the food looks so yummy! Glad that Legoland is embracing people with gluten free diets!

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  2. Yep! Thankfully, there are tons of options at Disneyland and Disney World. For big meals, they say that calling ahead is best so they will be prepared (or, if you do a reservation, make sure to mention that you eat gluten free). Besides that, though, there really aren't many limitations eating GF at Disney. :)

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  3. That's really cool that they have all of those options. There are a few places I've been where there just weren't any gluten-free options, including a basketball game where I had to eat a bag of potato chips for dinner and a restaurant in my small hometown where I had to eat a wrap that I had brought along just in case there wasn't anything I could eat. The most disappointing one was a restaurant that my friends had picked because it was mostly gluten-free, but I found out from the servers that they bake the gluten-free bread on the same equipment as the gluten bread and that their food was probably cross-contaminated because they had such a small kitchen. Then I had to sit there while my friend enjoyed their sandwiches which smelled delicious.

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