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We visited Sea World while in San Diego last weekend and had the pleasure of speaking with the executive chef Axel Dirolf and other team members from the park about their process for guests with food allergies.
I don’t think he has food allergies, but then again his food is already gluten free 😉 The team at Sea World was surprisingly knowledgeable and willing to work with guests with ANY sort of food allergy. A LOT has changed since we were there last and in a great way. Here’s what you’ll see when you walk through a number of the restaurants at Sea World San Diego.
It’s a special card for you to fill out and list your allergies. You grab one in line, fill it out and present it at the counter. A supervisor will have access to (one of the best I’ve seen) ingredient binder for you to look at so that you can choose what you want to eat. Chef Axel told me that he wanted guests to be able to see and choose exactly what they wanted instead of being directed to a very limited number of choices – leaving the food choices in your hands. They will pull you aside so you’re not hurried in line as you make your choices.
We were eating at the Seaport Marketplace where you can build your own burger. Parker and I filled out our burger choices based on ingredients we found from the menu that were safe for us.
Each restaurant has a special box with tools (cutting board, knives etc) that are used and sanitized to keep guests with food allergies safe. This is my favorite way for restaurants to do it because the act of taking out the box sets the entire “safety” theme in motion for the person preparing your meal. You can ask for fruit to be cut separately using these tools as well!
Chef Axel and his team were VERY passionate about great food and creating options that not only taste good, but that are safe for everyone as well. I had no idea but Sea World San Diego smokes their own meat and bakes a lot of their own bread right there on property. It’s not food thrown in the microwave – it’s food you’d find at any number of “regular” restaurants even though it’s at a theme park. The smoked meat is all gluten free and doesn’t even need the sauce to taste good! (Smoked turkey leg anyone?!)
Another thing they’ve added (which I know lots of Mom’s will love) are these quick grab and go allergy safe snack packs at most stands and restaurants throughout the park.
People don’t realize how time consuming it can be trying to eat safely when you’re out and about so I love that they have these. Great if you ran out of the snacks you brought and your kids are still hungry (can you tell I’m a mom of growing boys?!)
We chatted about some ideas we had to continue improving upon eating at the park with food allergies but they are seriously doing a fantastic job. Here are some of my tips for eating gluten free (or allergy free) at Sea World San Diego
- fill out your allergy friendly card
- ask for a supervisor
- look through the ingredients to choose your menu options
- don’t be afraid to double check with the supervisor – they’ll be the ones who know if for some reason a substitution was made and/or can check labels for you
- check out the restaurants before you get to the park to see which one you might want to try (the Calypso Bay Smokehouse had an amazing looking safe salad that I wish I had made time to try)
- if you’re eating somewhere and your gluten free kid just wants a pizza – ask the supervisor and they’ll go get one for you! If you’re dining with Shamu you can add notes for your allergies and the
chef will make sure something is ready for you at your reservation!
I am so happy to highly recommend the dining options at Sea World for families with allergies, they do a great job and don’t make you feel like a burden.
Here are some more photos from our trip
We got to pet a baby dolphin! SO cute!
Have you visited Sea World recently with food allergies? I’d love to hear about your experience! Let me know if you have any questions or comments I can pass along as well!