Budgeting for meals at Disney is an important part of planning out your vacation. It is no secret that Disney World is an expensive place and paying for meals at Disney World can be a big portion of your expenses. From eating at Disney World without a meal plan to taking your own food to Disney World this post will give you strategies to help pay less at the most magical place on Earth.
Also, make sure to not make these 14 Common Disney Dining Mistakes
1. Bring your own food into the parks
One of the best ways to save yourself money on food while at Disney is to cut down how much food you are buying by bringing your own in. All Disney World parks allow you to bring in your own outside food and drink. Even by just packing your own snacks you can save a considerable amount of money. Anything from sandwiches, trail mix, to fresh fruit are great options to bring into the parks with you.
2. Never Buy Bottled Water
Buying bottled water in the parks is such a waste of money. Instead of buying water you can either bring in your own water bottle like this collapsible one HERE or get water from any quick service location for free. That’s right you can go up to any Quick Service dining location in Disney World and ask for water and they will give you an ice cold cup for free. Now the cups of water that they give out are small, but you can request several small ones or even a large cup of water if you are really thirsty. Also, do not ever use your snack credits on bottled water in the parks as this is one of the worst uses of snack credits.
If you are not from Florida though this water can taste really funny to you as it is just regular iced tap water ( although the ice helps) if you are afraid you or your family won’t drink the free water bring along a couple of bottles of water flavor drops. Even with the added expense of these drops, you will still keep your family hydrated at a 90% saving over bottled water.
3. Order Groceries to be Delivered to your Hotel
For those of you not driving to Disney World, and taking Disney transportation you have the option of getting groceries delivered to your hotel. This is especially great for getting drinks and snack to bring into the park and can save a significant amount of money over paying for snacks in the park. Your best bet for grocery delivery is Amazon Fresh.
You can have them deliver your groceries to the front desk and they will hold it for you until you get back to your resort.
4. Don’t Assume the Disney Dining Plan is Always your Best Bet
Disney will do a lot to convince you that going with their dining plans will always save you money. In reality, there are plenty of times where you will end up spending less eating at Disney World without a meal plan then if you did the dining plan. Make sure that you plan out at least where you would like to eat beforehand and do your research in order to avoid overpaying.
Once you plan out your meals and see if there are any must-have snacks you can really start to figure out what budgeting for meals at Disney is going to look like for you.
5. Purchase a Gift Card from Target for Food Before Going to the Parks
If you are a Red Card holder you can get 5% off of gift cards for Disney. This may not seem like a lot, but when you are going to Disney any little bit of money you can save adds up. You can also use these discounted gift cards to pay for everything Disney vacation related.
6. Find Sharable Meals
There are plenty of meals that are sharable in Disney World especially at quick service locations. One of the best places to do this is at the Magic Kingdom’s Pecos Bills. The toppings bar here can stretch most meals into a two-person affair.
7. Make Breakfast your Character Meals Choice
First I have a disclaimer for this one: If you are on the dining plan this will not apply to you especially if you are looking to get the most bang for your buck… unless you plan on paying for some meals out of pocket then, by all means, use this tip!
Character meals are some of the priciest dining options on Disney World property, and prices are especially higher at lunch and dinner time. To negate this high price just a little when paying out of pocket make breakfast your choice time of day to have that character meal. You can cut the price of your character buffet in half at places like Garden Grill, Crystal Palace and others just by going earlier.
8. Have breakfast in Your Room
The other consideration you have for breakfast is to just eat it in your room before going to the park. This is a great way to utilize the aforementioned grocery delivery as you can have pastries, pop tarts, fruits, and cereal all in the comfort of your resort without having to pay high Disney prices.
As you can see there are plenty of ways to help stretch your dollar when budgeting for meals at Disney World. All you need to do is plan ahead, and be willing to get creative with your daily meal plan. Also, do not forget to pick up your free Disney Dining Planner!