SeaWorld San Antonio invited me to visit the park to help them determine which of their menu items could be considered gluten free. I accepted this offer, and spent a hot Sunday afternoon escorted by Steve Johnson, VP of Culinary Operations. We walked around the park from one restaurant location to the next, and I inspected labels in every kitchen. We observed the processes in each kitchen to see how careful celiacs might need to be concerning cross-contamination when ordering different items. There is lots of good news!
First I will share their policy regarding food brought into the park. If you have unusual circumstances, it would be a good idea to make advance arrangements by calling SeaWorld and asking for the Culinary Operations Department. They do allow small coolers to be brought in, but do not allow you to bring in large coolers to feed the whole family. If you have a specific request it is good to contact the Culinary Operations Department in advance and please allow them time to respond back to you in a timely manner. Celiac disease falls under the category of "special dietary needs" and you will be allowed to bring a small 6-pack size cooler and food into the park. I suggest that you just consider bringing small amounts of bread or buns to go with the gluten-free hotdogs and hamburger patties in the park. That way you won't need to carry a cooler around all day.
SeaWorld has consistently used the same suppliers and rarely change or substitute them. Some of the locations offer menu items that are specific to that restaurant, and some are available at multiple snack bars. As we visited each location, I scribbled madly so that I could contact the suppliers later and check on the ingredients that were questionable. For instance, I ran across modified food starch on many labels. I got Web sites, phone numbers, or addresses for these companies and contacted them to ask them the source of the food starch, and I also asked whether they considered their product to be gluten free. I heard from most of them. Those that I have not heard from will be omitted until I find out more about them.
At all food facilities there will be a supervisor or manager on duty who you can direct your questions to. Imagine feeding 3,000 or more people at one location after each Shamu show lets out! This happens several times a day. To keep everyone happy they need to have a quick and simple plan. SeaWorld is very talented at this, and the system they use is very streamlined. They make many of their products in house.
For instance, at Rio Loco they smoke their own meats, and the questionable sauce is not added until just before serving, so you can ask for the meats without the sauce added.
Please remember that I have done everything possible to determine the gluten-free status, and have names, phone numbers, e-mails, and faxes. This is not a certified program. I am just a celiac grandmother trying to help find safe food at a favorite theme park. If you have any doubts when trying to make selections, I suggest you check with the manager at that facility for more information. There is a FAQ section on the SeaWorld website that addresses the current policy regarding food brought into the park.
The above review was written in June, 2006 and updated in September, 2010 by Anne Barfield.
You can find a list of the restaurants at Sea World on the web site for the Alamo Celiac GIG at www.alamoceliac.org.
This list only applies to SeaWorld San Antonio. Other SeaWorld parks may have different menus.
Gluten FreeMaybesDo not eat:Courtesy of Alamo Celiac GIGŪ. www.alamoceliac.org