Great Wolf Lodge Spring Break with Food Allergies
When taking a trip with a food allergy kiddo, you tend to know your routine. Call ahead. Check what the options are for eating, making sure there are no baskets of peanuts sitting out for all to enjoy. You review the menus, you check reviews from other food allergy parents. Then you pack for your food allergy kiddo. You know the routine. Most often it never changes except some trips you do more and some you do less. You know this routine is also the "extra" step you now take when dealing with a food allergy kiddo.
For our spring break trip this year, when needed to stay local since my husband was unable to take off work. With that in mind, our options were limited somewhat since I know that I wanted my little ones to be able to go swimming. We decided upon the Great Wolf Lodge. I had already called to see where the NUTS were located and was informed...throughout since there was a "sweets" cafe that included pastries, carmel corns, candy, chocolate, etc. and kids would purchase these sweets and often walk around to play their infamous game of Magic Quest. Other "obstacles" included buffet style eating (a food allergy no no), vending machines with nut products, and hundreds of kids roaming the halls at all hours with their peanut fingers. With this said, in previous years, this has always been a place that was not an option in my "safety first" motto for my food allergy kiddo; however, this year I couldn't resist his pouting and "mommy, I always wanted to go there" looks of sadness. So, the other mommy motto stepped in with "I want my man to have the same experiences as his fellow peers". This motto has been taking the lead lately as he gets older and wiser to my manipulative style parenting dealing with food allergy safety.
So, the extra work was needed in order to make this safe and fun all in one for this little man of mine. I stocked up on disinfectant wipes and spray, benedryl, and packed extra epi pens. My hope was that my overprotective nature would be unnoticed due to the excitement of my little ones and for the most part it was. I did my "pep talk" about not using hand rails, allow mommy to wipe all areas down before touching when in eating area, stay clear of the Sweets Cafe, keep hands to self, and the usual warnings of stranger danger, no fighting, etc. Then the day before leaving, I contacted the manager and planned our entire trip itinerary for playing Magic Quest, game room, bowling, shopping, and eating based on times when normally there are not a lot of quest around. Of course, this meant bowling at 9am, lunch at 11am, etc. The thing is, my little men didn't seem to noticed the odd hours of operation mommy planned because they were so excited!
Swimming was were we spend most of our time and didn't have many risks. Guest did not eat in the areas for my little men's age group and the snack area was kept on the other side of the swimming area. The water would clean up most residue if there were any. With that said, this is the area I would spend most of your time with a food allergy kiddo. They loved it and would only leave when they were exhausted and hungry.
Eating was another area of concern, as usual. We stay clear of all buffets due to the cross contamination risks. That left Starbucks (THANK GOD), Pizza Hut (OH NO!) and a Bar and Grill. With assistance from the manager on cooking and keeping clear of cross contamination, we were had 3 food options: plain hamburger (only using our brought buns), french fries, and a salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumbers and some of our brought dressing). Of course in our room where we brought food for snack, breakfast and lunch we had more options and even better options, but we know that these little ones want to eat out, especially when on vacation. All in all, no problems while eating in the restaurant for dinner each night and he was so excited to eat his hamburger and french fries along with the rest of his family.
The only major areas of concern was the game room, but since we went right when it opened in the mornings, I would wipe areas with wipes prior to his use. This is much harder to do when it is packed because of the chaos.
He wore not only his usually medical bracelet, but a shirt that he picked out that announces his food allergies for this "special occasion" and in the end, we are now home and we are happy to say, we did not have to use one epi pen on this food allergy kiddos spring break!
I have learned to do the research, call ahead and people always help me plan, take your own food, take the time to schedule events, be prepared, and never worry about the weird looks when you are using your wipes!