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What to do for Anaphylaxis at Walt Disney World

The Disney Companies are well known for taking the lead on ensuring the safety of their food allergic guests with staff training and stocking at their properties. While they do a very good job, the...
Disney leads in stocking Epinephrine, there is room for more

On Disney's website, under "Tips to Keep the Whole Family Safe," they suggest you apply sunscreen, hydrate frequently, ensuring your kid(s) knows your phone number, and designate a meeting place if anyone gets lost. But what about preparing for food allergy emergencies?

The 32 million Americans managing diagnosed life-threatening allergies need to know.

Allergy Advocates New York heard that Disney is the benchmark for entities to stock non-patient-specific epinephrine auto-injectors. Yet, details are missing from the Disney website. If you type "epinephrine" into the Disney search engine, information about in-room refrigerator availability pops up. We wanted to dig deeper to uncover the facts.

Therefore, we sent one of our associates to Walt Disney World Epcot Park to learn how Disney is prepared to respond to anaphylaxis. Our associate asked Disney employees, "What does a person do if they, or a loved one, have an anaphylactic emergency at Epcot?"

View of the Disney first aid office.

Here are the Learnings:

  1. For an anaphylaxis emergency, administer epinephrine if you have it. Then, call 911 immediately and ask the nearest Disney employee for assistance.
  2. The Odyssey First Aid Center stocks epinephrine, but they do not administer it. Go inside for support if you're right in front of that building. If you are not by the Odyssey First Aid Center, help will come to you.
  3. The Odyssey First Aid Center medical staff will evaluate the person with a food allergy emergency. They will assess and take your vitals; if the findings match their protocol, epinephrine will be supplied.

From all the conversations with various Disney employees, including staff at the ticket counter and guest services, one piece of feedback stood out. An employee at the First Aid Center stated that they always give Benadryl before epinephrine. However, epinephrine is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis. Antihistamines (aka Benadryl) should only be administered for anaphylaxis after epinephrine. With this proposed adjustment, we are delighted that Walt Disney World stocks non-patient-specific epinephrine.

While the allergy community is grateful for Disney's leadership on stocking epinephrine, there are a couple of things they can do to improve the safety of their guests managing allergies. One recommendation is that they ensure that all of their staff is trained, equipped, and encouraged to administer epinephrine as a first line of defense for a suspected anaphylaxis reaction. Benadryl is insufficient and wastes time. If a first aid staffer has to travel from the Odyssey First Aid Center, across the vast park to where a guest might be in grave danger, an unnecessary tragedy is a risk. Another is more streamlined staff training and communication across the park. While everyone was mostly on the same page with the official Disney allergy protocol, there is room for building confidence of the staff at all levels to safely administer epinephrine in an emergency.

Many thanks to the Disney organization for taking the lead on the importance of safely stocking and administering epinephrine. You can look forward to more updates and profiles from other food service businesses are following Disney's lead.

Allergy Advocates New York is dedicated to helping in the prevention of anaphylaxis with training, legislation passage, and implementation. The mission of our association is to help inform, educate, and raise awareness of the public at large and at-risk individuals to allergies and anaphylaxis. "Not another life lost. Not another life lost to any life-threatening allergy."