Canada’s Wonderland does Gluten Free
Here’s something you didn’t know, Canada has it’s own prestigious amusement park right in your back yard called Canada’s Wonderland (you can check out this park by going to their site HERE) and it’s everything you’d expect it to be. Roller coasters, 4D interactive rides, carnival like games with barkers and big assed stuffed animals and of course food.
That’s where I come in.
I was invited to come to the park to witness the awesome spectacle that is the amazing stride in dietary restrictions, and for my purposes and in my case that is having Celiac Disease and needing to be 100% gluten free, that Canada’s Wonderland has made. All under the guidance of Chef Shane Cristoffer and it is quite the sight to be held. When I first met Shane he told me, that if you even call up that park and explain that you need to eat gluten free, the park will in fact pass that info around to all the restaurants and food carts around the park, and if you can send a picture of yourself the better. It’s a pretty amazing and personal touch to a company that you’d never expect.
The park has been around since 1981, only a year younger than me, and I actually haven’t visited the park in close to twelve years and I can tell you, a lot of stuff has changed. Not just with Canada’s Wonderland, but with myself. Celiac Disease and all.
When you visit Canada’a Wonderland you’re already hit in the face with the sounds of children playing and adults laughing. It’s a beautiful view of Wonder Mountain as you enter the park, but when you get further in and realize that all the french fries are gluten free. Any establishment that serves french fries has it’s own fryer and therefore makes a mean gluten free french fry. A staple of theme parks are chicken fingers and fries, if you ever had a memory of eating food at a plastic/metal at an amusement park, I bet it include chicken fingers and fries. Well guess what? You can get that at Canada’s Wonderland, and it’s pretty awesome. Fries you can’t screw up, but gluten free chicken fingers you could totally, I have to tell you, there chicken fingers were the greatest. I would frequently just keep talking while eating, professional courtesy was not being given when those chicken fingers were in front of me.
A chef will personally make your food in the back and bring it out to you when you ask for gluten free. When the food is being made in the front with the other park attendants, the food is made and served my one employee, start to finish who changes their gloves and uses a separate surface on the regular cutting board or wrap making shelf. I witnessed them make a gluten free wrap for a young woman when I entered the Backlot Cafe and these practices, the practices of eliminated cross contamination go well above what you’d expect of an amusement park.
Sure they still don’t have gluten free funnel cake, but I know they’re working on it (I’m so on the inside yo).
At the Backlot Cafe you can get gluten free hamburgers on GF buns, wraps, pizza (which is a pesto pizza and comes served to you in a special cardboard box that makes you feel so safe by way of cross contamination that it’s awesome) and muffins. The emphasis on the gluten free food at Wonderland isn’t just an alternative food source, it’s to have everyone feel happy. It’s for everyone to come to the park and enjoy their day. Just because a person diagnosed with Celiac can’t eat something that the guy next door can don’t meat that he (read me) can’t have a great day at Canada’s Wonderland, and Chef Shane and Jill Aitchison (digital community and events specialist for the park) made it perfectly clear in out afternoon together that the main goal is to make each park goer happy and feel wanted.
I felt that way.
At The Marketplace, the international buffet they serve regular pizza and since you paid for a buffet ticket, you can request a gluten free pizza. Guess what? They’ll just keep making them because it’s a damn buffet. A buffet where the soup is gluten free and the brownies come wrapped with a certified Canadian Celiac Association sticker right on the cover. Outstanding.
This place really was my heaven: Gluten free food, Roller coasters and french fries.
An average of 20,000 come to Canada’s Wonderland daily over the course of the summer, and if you can figure out how many of those people have Celiac Disease, the number is still low and humble compared to 20,000 and it’s epic for a large amusement park to cater to those people, no matter the low number. Yes there are the fad dieters and the NCGS peeps, and their numbers outrank the diagnosed Celiacs, but our specific group is targeted to have a good time at Canada’s Wonderland, and I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about that. I can’t give the park’s commitment to gluten free food and emphasis on cross contamination more thumbs up that I have. It’s an all fingers kind of positivity.
I have only great things to say about the way food is handled at Canada’s Wonderland. Only positive things to say about the staff that tends to my needs as diagnosed Celiac. Only wonderful things to say about an Greater Toronto Area institution of family fun. The attention paid to Celiacs is truly a blessing and a welcome treat from every one at Canada’s Wonderland.
Plus, all the popcorn is gluten free and that’s just awesome.
Make sure you head over to Canada’s Wonderland dietary needs webpage, just click HERE.
Thanks to Katrina Middlebrook of Mad Hatter Media for the pictures.