Hello again! It’s been a crazy few weeks with work and Ryan visiting, but it’s time to catch you all up with my latest gluten free adventures. One of our trips was to Kings Dominion Amusement Park in Doswell, Virginia (16000 Theme Park Way, Doswell, VA to be exact). It’s a bit north of Richmond, Virginia, to orient you so it’s pretty easy to get to from
Charlottesville, the beach, or DC/Northern Virginia. 🙂 Kings Dominion has both rollercoasters AND a water park–your ticket for the day gets you into both. It’s average size–think Knotts Berry Farms or Six Flags. To preface this, I am a rollercoaster junkie/snob—I’ve never been scared by a rollercoaster and could ride them all day long with no problems…There are about 5 “big” rollercoasters so not as many high thrills as Busch Gardens but still plenty to entertain. Don’t like rollercoasters? Have no fear! There are a ton of rides for all ages and thrill seekers. There is even a Snoopy section for the kids! (Side note: although you can’t ride most of the Snoopy rides due to height maximums…it was extremely annoying that apparently you can’t ride the snoopy rides unless you are riding with a child. Ryan was not okay with trying to find a random child to ride with me so I could ride the snoopy rides!! Go figure). We did not end up going to the water park–in fact, we only could ride about 5 rides because the lines were so long!!!! Everything took over an hour. Word of caution: go during the week and not on a Saturday during the summer (oops!).
And now to the part you all really care about…the gluten free food! Kings Dominion is great about sharing their gluten free here on their website so I was able to scope out my
options before we left for the park. The park seemed knowledgable about gluten free so I was excited to try! So off we went to Kings Dominion. After riding a few rides (again way too long of lines!!), we tried to find some lunch. On the maps at the park, there are symbols next to the restaurants that have gluten free options. These are in addition to the website restaurants. This confused me a bit because why would the website not have as many restaurants listed. Feeling like pizza, we headed to Victoria’s Pizza where I questioned the staff like crazy. I was informed that I could have gluten free cheese or pepperoni pizza (only two options. None for vegans or dairy free). Only staff trained to handle food allergies were allowed to take my order, which I appreciated–a new staff member informed me that she could not prepare my food because she was not trained. The gluten free pizzas are prepared in back to avoid cross contamination and are placed on separate surfaces to cook. Clean gloves and clean everything is utilized. The staff was very prepared to handle my food and took many precautions. It took about 15 minutes for my gluten free pizza to be prepared so allow for extra time. The pizza was good (not worth over $10 as it actually was). I was able to eat it all and had room for dessert. Crust was thin and soft. Lack of topping options was disappointing but I was happy I was not glutened and could at least eat something (unlike at Darien Lake where they didn’t even have a salad option when I went! cough cough)
Ryan did not feel like pizza and decided to try a different place called Country Kitchen that was listed on the map (but not the website) as having gluten free options. Ryan wanted to remain gluten free for me for the day since we were sharing water bottles and iced drinks and obviously we couldn’t do that if he had eaten gluten. So he spoke to the staff at Country Kitchen who brought the chef out to talk to him. The chef informed him that they have food options that are prepared without gluten but cannot guarantee that these items are actually gluten free. Ummm..what?? Ryan pressed on to find that there are no precautions taken against cross contamination for these items. Therefore, these would not be safe for me. While my pizza had precautions and separate prep areas, this was not the case for Country Kitchen. Later on in the day, while searching for some air conditioning (did I mention that the heat index was OVER 100F??!!??), we ended up in another restaurant that gave us the same response. Gluten free buns were available at several places but the items put on the buns could not be guaranteed to be gluten free but would rather be prepared without gluten. Two very different things. This was very very disappointing. I had such high hopes after having a great gluten free pizza experience!!! It seemed like my only true option that was safe was the pizza! After we realized that, we left before dinner to get dinner somewhere else.
And now for dessert!! SO MANY GLUTEN FREE DESSERT OPTIONS!! Overpriced of course (I mean, it is an amusement park), but I was never short of options. I ate dessert 3 times during the course of our day there. The first dessert (and actually also the second because I loved it so much!) was the chocolate covered frozen banana with sprinkles. This was located in a little cart and was clearly marked gluten free. These were also dairy free and had no trans fat. They came in three different styles, but of course I went for sprinkles both times. The same cart had gluten free, dairy free, fat free, lactose free, Dole Soft Serve in a bunch of different fruit flavors. Finally, we stumbled upon Rita’s which has LOADS of gluten free options. I was incredibly impressed with the knowledge of the staff at Rita’s. All of their Italian Ices and Natural Ices are gluten free (see allergen info here ). The woman working there knew exactly which flavors were gluten free of the cream ices–the only type of ice that has some flavors that contain gluten. It was so exciting that I could have any Italian ice or custard I wanted. The Italian Ices are also dairy free and egg free! Needless to say, we were pretty full of dessert by the time we left so we did not stop by the Sweet Frog which also has gluten free and dairy free options. The park lists dipping dots as having gluten free options, but beware if you have celiac/allergy, because they share scoopers and always have a gluten containing flavor. I avoided that cart like the plague.
Long story short…Are there gluten free options here? Yes, the gluten free pizza is good and is prepared separately (remember to always check though to make sure this has not changed! Stress your allergy/celiac and explain to the staff. make sure that they truly understand and that you are comfortable with their measures!!). If you have celiac/allergy, it appears that the gluten free pizza is your only option…if you also have a milk allergy or are vegan, you have no options then for food. If you are on the gluten free diet for your own preferences, you will have loads of options. Personally, I found it very disconcerting that the website did not match the map in terms of gluten free places and felt as though the map was misleading and overselling gluten free as these restaurants (aside from the pizza places) did not have true gluten free options. On the other hand, for dessert options, this park is very friendly for gluten free, dairy free, and vegan.
Have you been to Kings Dominion? Let me know your experiences! 🙂 Have a great weekend everyone! Thanks for stopping by Gluten Free and Glittery!