Gluten Free at Canobie Lake Park
Today we spent the day having fun at Canobie Lake Park in Salem, New Hampshire.
Canobie Lake Park is a fun amusement park featuring over 50 rides, including roller coasters, a log flume, a hand-painted antique carousel, a steam train, a Ferris wheel, the "Starblaster", "Dodgems", "DaVinci's Dream", over a dozen kiddie rides, a variety of foods, prize games, three arcades, live entertainment, Saturday night fireworks, and more.
Food service at Canobie is provided by Sodexo. There are twenty-one permanent food stands and multiple mobile carts throughout the park. There is also a catering area that large groups can rent out and prepay for their food.
The park is very strict about bring outside food, going so far as saying:
Canobie does not allow food or beverage to be brought into the Park. The Park offers a wide variety of foods and dining options for guests to enjoy inside the Park. Guests can also take advantage of our re-admission policy for lunch. There are no picnic tables or shaded places to sit in our parking lot. No grilling or alcohol is allowed in our Parking lot. Sodexo, our food service provider, has prepared a Food Allergy Guide to assist in planning your visit for those with particular food allergies. ~ From their FAQ section of their website.
Sodexo Allergy Guide
You can download a copy of Sodexo 2016 Food Allergy Guide. This is somewhat helpful but it doesn't answer the basic question, can I get a gluten free hot dog at Canobie Lake Park? If so where? Basically, you have to read through all the different food venues to see if they offer anything. Seems like a lot of work to answer a basic question.
In addition, some places say that the Hot Dog is contains gluten, is it because that it's served on a roll? Can I get it without a roll?
We decided to stop in the Portofino to try some of the gluten-free pasta. When we walked in we thought they had more gluten free options since they are "A touch of Italy at Canobie Lake Park." We were told that the only gluten free option they had was pasta and that they would have to make it. The pasta cost $7.99 and they only had one size - which means that my daughter would get a lot of pasta that she wouldn't eat.
We tried to reach out to Canobie Lake Park and Sodexo to explain what happened since the email bounced back, I'll just finish this post on our lunch experience:
For lunch we went to Portofino. I asked if they had gluten free pizza and they didn't, they told me I would have to go to Pizza Ria for gluten free pizza. I then had to ask ok do you have gluten free pasta. The girl helping me at the counter was not sure so she got someone else to help me. The next girl told me she could get me gluten free pasta, we would need to wait for it.
I asked if we could have sauce on it and she said no because the meatballs were in the sauce and there was cross contamination so it was not gluten free (there is no sauce without cross contamination in an Italian restaurant?). I said ok can we have butter and cheese. She said she could give me some butter and cheese was on every table. She then disappeared into the back. I let another girl know this was for an "allergy" and she reassured me that there would be no cross contamination. I asked if the pasta would be brought to our table and she said no I would need to come and wait for it because she has no idea where I am sitting.
I got up a few minutes later to see if my pasta was ready. I received two plates of cold gluten-free pasta and some baby carrots. The girl said I could grab some ranch dressing and she handed me one pat of very hard butter for each plate of cold pasta. The worst part of this entire situation is that I paid $7.99 x 2 for a horrible, horrible meal and I am not even sure I trust it was gluten free pasta.
As a mother and especially a mother with a child who has an autoimmune disease like Celiac, I plan ahead. I think it is disgraceful that I would pay $15.98 for terrible food, terrible service and at the mercy of your park because I cannot bring my own food in. While we had a great day, I don't believe we can ever come back because of the food situation. Your allergy guide is very detailed but far too complicated and overwhelming to read.
I think it is important in this day and age that a park like yours learns to be sensitive to those with food "allergies" and learns to either be more accommodating or allow those with an allergy to bring in their own food and not have to hide it in the parking lot and run out during the day to eat.