Safety Alert: Health Concerns Emerge at Disney Parks Due to Food-Related Illness Spread

in Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World

Main Street, U.S.A, station with the Disneyland Railroad train arriving at the station above the Mickey Mouse floral array that greets guests in the entrance to Disneyland Park

Credit: Disney

While Disney World and Disneyland are both meant to be full of magic and whimsy, there is one thing that is not magical, and that is getting violently ill on your costly vacation. Unfortunately, sickness is becoming a bigger issue at Disney parks, according to recent reports, and it surrounds the food that is being served, as well as surfaces and germs in the parks.

A skillet of breakfast food from Garden Grill
Credit: Disney

For foodies, the Disney parks are more than a theme park for attractions, but also a theme park for flavors. Every Disney park has dozens of eateries, with many other snack stands along the way. Some might hold the classic churro, popcorn, and Mickey Premium bar options, but others will have cheeseburger spring rolls or buffalo chicken mashed potato bowls in a waffle cup.

Then, the table service dining locations offer an entirely new palette for you to enjoy, with every single culture and food style represented in the theme parks.

Disney is a place where you can start your day eating Mickey Mouse waffles, grab lunch in Italy, a snack in France, and then jet off to space for dinner, making food one of the more exciting things that guests look forward to on their visits.

That is why food poisoning is such a tragic event to take place during a trip. The Ted Hallowell took to the internet recently to share his experience with food poisoning at Disneyland, “My wife has been up all night getting sick every 10 minutes because of food poisoning from us eating at Blue Bayou. She ate the Prime Rib and I got the Cajun Chicken (I’m not having any symptoms). I don’t think this is a widespread thing, but just be cautious about eating in the park.”

While Ted was just giving a simple warning, he likely did not know that there were many others who had also been hit with food poisoning at Disney, as well as Norovirus.

Blue bayou Magic key
Credit: Disney

Norovirus, the culprit behind the dreaded winter vomiting bug (though it can strike year-round), is a highly contagious intestinal illness. Catching it can be an unfortunate consequence of everyday activities. The most common way to become infected is through direct contact with infected individuals.

Tiny particles of the virus live in the stool and vomit of those who are sick. If proper handwashing isn’t practiced after using the bathroom or changing diapers, the virus can easily be transferred from hand to mouth, leading to infection.

Indirect contact is another way norovirus spreads. The virus can linger on surfaces like doorknobs, countertops, or toys for days. An unsuspecting touch of a contaminated surface, followed by touching your mouth or face, creates a perfect pathway for the virus to enter your body. Contaminated food or water, particularly shellfish from polluted waters, can also harbor the virus and lead to infection if consumed.

Once inside your body, norovirus targets the cells lining your intestines. This unwelcome guest disrupts your digestive system, causing a series of unpleasant symptoms. The most notorious are nausea and vomiting, often striking suddenly and intensely. Watery diarrhea, accompanied by abdominal cramps and discomfort, is another common consequence.

Blue Bayou Restaurant sign
Credit: Disney

You might also experience stomach cramps and pain, along with a low-grade fever and general aches and headaches. The good news is that these symptoms typically appear within 12 to 48 hours of exposure and usually only last for 1 to 3 days. While certainly unpleasant, norovirus doesn’t usually pose a serious threat to healthy individuals.

However, it’s important to be aware that young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems may experience more severe dehydration and require medical attention.

As we have recently covered, there is a Norovirus epidemic sweeping the nation right now, and it has already heavily targeted Disney World as well as Disney Cruise Line. While it has been a bigger issue on the East Coast lately, it appears to be traveling west and attacking Disneyland Resort as well.

On Ted’s post, the majority of comments brought up the fact that there is a good chance that the illness his wife caught was Norovirus, especially due to the fact that it is hard to get food poisoning from beef, which can be eaten raw.

Credit: Disney

One commenter wrote, “It is sweeping through Southern California right now. My kids had it one after another a couple of weeks ago, then I got it. It was absolutely horrible. Throwing up for a whole night and day, had terrible diarrhea, and couldn’t keep anything down, including fluids. We had been eating out a lot and all ordering different things, so not food poisoning. The first either got it at school or from someone at the restaurant handling their food. It lasted a few days longer than food poisoning typically.”

Another commenter and Disney guest shared that Disney should bring back more handwashing stations to combat this, “I wish Disney didn’t get rid of those outdoor handwashing stations they had when they reopened. Those were genius.”

Many others chimed in, stating that they had recently contracted Norovirus after visiting Disneyland, “I live in OC and frequently visit the Parks. My whole family has had it this past week.” and “Yes, I got norovirus last time I was there. My aunt even got covid that trip (isolated as soon as she knew) and I didn’t get that.”

On its planning page, Disney shares,

“If a member of your travel party is feeling unwell and needs to see a health care provider, there are a few options. If you are in the theme park, you can visit the First Aid center in each of the theme parks to speak with a nurse. If you are in your Disney Resort hotel, you can request in-room medical services by calling the Front Desk of your Resort. Guests can also receive complimentary transportation to a Centra Care Urgent Care clinic. This service can be arranged through the First Aid center in the theme parks, at the Front Desk of your Disney Resort hotel, or by calling the number listed for AdventHealth.”

We cannot be certain if what was contracted here was food poisoning or norovirus, but there is a chance that it did come from the food at Disneyland or surrounding germs on surfaces at the parks.

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