Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Amusing? Sometimes

Karen at Avoiding Milk Protein asked me for some summer travel tips, and m is concerned about her 13-year-old dairy-allergic son's upcoming trip to Hershey Park--without his parents. So let's talk amusement parks, shall we?

Go to the website of the amusement park you will be visiting and look for allergen information, usually somewhere under food/restaurants. More and more locations are posting this information on their sites. Print it out and keep a copy for reference at the park. HOWEVER, you never know how often the information is updated. Or maybe they ran out of the hot dog buns listed on the site and had to substitute with another brand. You just don't know, so you still need to be on the alert at the park.

With that in mind, look for contact information. Using the Hershey Park website as an example, yes, they do list the ingredients of some allergen-free foods online. They also provide contact information for those with questions about allergens. Use this contact information. Personally, I like to use email because then I have everything in print. Explain your situation, then ask whatever questions you have, such as:
May we bring allergen-free food with us into the park?
Who do we ask at the restaurants to let us see ingredient labels?
Who do we contact if we run into a problem at the park?

Even if some of these answers are provided on the website, I like to have them with me in print in an email from a high-ranking employee of the park. Then if I run into any resistance, I can pull out the "permission slip."

This is an especially important technique for parks that don't have as many allergen-free options. We have been allowed to bring food for Katherine to various locations that don't usually allow outside food and have never been questioned. But I had my email copies with me just in case someone asked. In these instances, I had to dig around on the websites a little more to find someone to write to. Sometimes I've used the generic "contact us" address and my email was forwarded to the appropriate person. A reply may take awhile, so as soon as you know where you will be going, start writing.

Traveling with food-allergic children is stressful. Sending them off on their own is even more stressful. So until all amusement parks become as forward-thinking as Holiday World, write those emails. Write them before to ask your questions, and write them after to say, "Thank you."


  1. Good advice, Sarah. We have never had any problems bringing food in for our son.

    As for Hershey, I left a voice mail at the contact number last week and never got a call back. I will be trying again today, but you're right -- e-mail is probably the best way. I'll do that, too.

  2. Thanks for the tips. I never really thought about where I am "allowed" to bring food or not. We just put crackers or some pop tarts in my purse and go about our day. It doesn't make for the healthiest diet when we travel, but so far we haven't had any problems.

  3. Thanks, m. I look forward to hearing what they say.

    MBM--I tend to worry about permission at amusement parks more than anywhere else because I don't want to be stuck there all day without food. Also, I think the note routine is a good way to go when children are sent on their own and might be given a hard time for bringing food in.

  4. Got a call back from Hershey today after leaving another message AND writing an e-mail as suggested. Woman was very nice and the "Kosher Mart" seems to be dairy-free. My son will be vigilant, label-reading, and Epi-packing nonetheless. I'll let you know how Friday goes.

  5. Thanks, m! We'll be thinking of your son.

  6. We take the girls to an amusement park by us and although I've never checked out the food, but thankfully they welcome everyone to bring in food and have a ton of picnic tables for their guests. It's so great to know we won't get hassled or have to deal with any questions.

    Good tips though - I'm always one for having things in writing.

  7. You have some very good suggestions. We are planning a trip which includes a visit to an amusement park, and now I will bring those email messages with me so we can bring food in, etc. Thank you for these tips!