What happened is the following: My wife's company paid for families to go to Sea World in San Antonio for a Saturday (May 12, 2012). We bussed there, and got dropped off to be picked up later.
Since we would be there all day I made a sandwich with gluten-free bread and certified gluten-free sandwich meat.
The guards at the gate search peoples' bags and one guard found the gluten-free sandwich in my backpack and asked, "Do you two have a child?"
My wife and I responded, "No."
She then said, "Unless you have a child I can't let you bring that inside."
I told her, "I have food allergies, I can't eat the food served here safely. I need this."
She looked at me and said, "Sir, I can't let you take this inside."
I repeated, "But I have food allergies - ".
She interrupted and said, "You can bring it back to your car and eat it there."
I told her I was dropped off by a bus with a large group and the bus left already. She told me again that I couldn't take the sandwich inside, she grabbed it and then asked me, "So do you want me to throw this away?"
I said, "I guess if you want me to go hungry!"
And she took it.
Fruit and smoothies are very hard to find at Sea World, so I went hungry that day.
I wrote a letter to Sea World, starting off with "I'm writing to try to encourage Sea World to add an exception for people with food allergies to its 'no outside food' policy." I went on to describe Celiac disease, what happened at the gate, etc.
Sea World's response to my letter:
Based on that, they say they allow "Special dietary food, diabetic, health related or dietary needs." So it seems like food should be allowed for people with food allergies. We'll see, I'll post any further correspondence if it happens.
From: SWT Guest Correspondence <SWT.GuestCorrespondence@seaworld.com>
Date: Tue, May 15, 2012 at 9:15 AM
Subject: RE: New Website Contact Request Form
To: "xxx" <xxx>
Dear Michael xxx,
I wanted to thank you for bringing to our attention the incident that you encountered while visiting SeaWorld San Antonio. We appreciate hearing from our guests, as your feedback will aid to improve the SeaWorld experience for all our guests.
I was very disappointed to hear we failed to meet your expectations and our standards regarding our Outside Food Policy. Please accept our sincerest apologies. Please see the list below of things allowed and not allowed in our park.
· Small ice chests of six pack size or smaller (one per family)
· Special dietary food, diabetic, health related or dietary needs. These types of specialty food may enter the park (subject to management approval).
· Baby food, bottles, jars and other baby items
· Fountain drinks, single serve drinks, refillable mugs (if opened prior to turnstile)
· Reasonable quantity of bottled drinking water. Juice boxes (straw must be disposed of)
· Single servings of snacks
IS NOT ALLOWED:
· Alcohol is never permitted in through or out of the turnstiles. Any alcohol from outside SeaWorld must be disposed of prior to entry. Any alcoholic beverage purchased at SeaWorld must be disposed of prior to exiting through the gates.
· Ice chests larger than six pack size
· Straws and Lids
· Bags of fast food items, picnic baskets, sandwiches, or loafs of bread (meals)
· Soda, sports drinks, or energy drinks (single serve is allowed if open)
· Large servings of snacks
Your concerns and comments have been forwarded to the appropriate management for immediate follow up. Thank you for your suggestions to improve SeaWorld San Antonio. We appreciate and encourage constructive input from our guests as part of our continuing commitment to excellence in guest satisfaction.
Representative, Guest Correspondence
10500 SeaWorld Drive | San Antonio, TX | 78251
Has anyone else had to give up gluten free food just to enter a place? Or any experiences like this?