Often when we travel to Walt Disney World we want to save money on some of the more mundane things so that we can spend it on fun things. For instance, why spend big bucks for a bottle of water in the park when you can purchase a Mickey Bar from the same vendor? This is where today’s article helps you out. There are many ways that you can stock up on staples like bottled water for “normal” prices and save that park money (or snack credits) for something more unique and enjoyable!
- Bring it from home
With baggage fees these days this really only works if you are driving to the World. My family does drive and we bring a lot of staples from home to save our time and money on vacation. With one kid under 10 this includes lots of food and snacks. For the older kids and adults we have been known to bring muffins (the giant ones from Costco), bottled water, cereal, and snack food; anything that won’t spoil on our 9 hour drive.
- Shop when you arrive
You have a couple of options for this method. First, if you have a car (rental or you drove down) there are several convenient grocery stores and supercenters near Walt Disney World. We like to visit Publix to pick up groceries when we need to buy them in Orlando. The prices are great, the stores are clean, and the quality is very good. There are two Publix stores close to Walt Disney World and we have visited both. Here we often buy bread and deli meat for sandwiches, bananas (easy to carry and good for potassium for those sore legs from walking), and the usual staples of water, soft drinks, milk and juice. As a side note, their deli department has a great deal on a fried chicken meal that you could take with you and enjoy in your room to save some money, and the fried chicken is quite good. Other good options close by include a Super Wal-Mart (where you can also find a lot of low price Disney souvenir items), a Target, and a Whole Foods that is fairly convenient. If you are flying down and not renting a car you might elect to pay for a town car to pick you up at the airport. Some of these services will include one stop on the way to your resort so that you can pick up these staple items.
Then you could have Magical Express return you to the airport for your flight home. If neither one of these options work for you, you do have some opportunities to save money onsite. There are a few Speedway Gas Stations on property where you could purchase staple items at non-Disney prices. One is located near Disney Springs, one near the exit of the Magic Kingdom parking lot, and one across from the BoardWalk Resort. If you are staying at an Epcot area resort you could walk to the last one, as long as you’re not planning to buy too much. Also onsite you could purchase staples from your resort gift shop. Although this is going to be more expensive than a grocery store, you will save over purchasing everything one serving at a time from a vendor or counter service/food court location. For instance, the gift shops sell half gallons of milk and gallons of water. This would be a less expensive option than buying the small individual servings each time you needed it.
- Side Note: Storage
If you decide to purchase your beverages in large portions (like a gallon of milk or water) you will need a way to transport the drink and keep it cold in the parks. I highly recommend investing in a Hydroflask. I cannot say enough good things about this company and their product. The double wall vacuum insulated stainless steel bottles will keep your drink cold for 24 hours, and I can tell you from experience it works! On a hot June day in the parks I still had ice in my bottle at the end of the day. There are several styles, colors and designs available, and the bottles do not sweat. This way you always have a cold drink handy in the parks to avoid dehydration and you are not paying for it (or using a snack credit) every time. Plus, it is environmentally friendly and the company contributes a portion of each sale to charity.
- Grocery Delivery Service
For a small fee you can have someone else do the shopping for you and deliver it to your resort. Two services that I am aware of work with the Walt Disney World resort area: We Go Shop and Garden Grocer. I have never used We Go Shop, but I have successfully used Garden Grocer several times. To use this service you go to their website before your vacation and fill your cart with the items you need and select your delivery date and time. If you are going at a busy time of year be sure you shop early enough to make sure your arrival dates are available. When I have used this service my groceries arrived before I did and Bell Services stored them for me (keeping the cool things refrigerated and even the frozen items frozen), and delivered them when I called upon arrival. For Garden Grocer there is typically a minimum order of $40. For these services there is a delivery fee, gratuities are sometimes required (if left with bell services), and the prices are slightly higher than going to Publix and shopping for yourself, but the time savings and convenience could be well worth it!
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- Ship your staples
Many savvy Walt Disney World guests decide to purchase their staples online and have them shipped to their resort. Online you can find several resources and websites dedicated to particular resorts that have shipping addresses and information (for instance, portorleans.org has a wealth of information about everything you could ever want to know about the Port Orleans resorts, including shipping addresses and advice). A Google search should be able to discover these websites for your resort. One caution is that some resorts with convention centers have a charge for receiving packages—again those websites will help you figure that out. Since a lot of online merchants offer free shipping if you are a member of their rewards program or if you place a minimum order this can be a great way to send just the basics like bottled water to your resort and have it waiting on you when you arrive. Although I have never tried this myself, I have read and heard about people doing this from merchants like Staples, Wal-Mart and Amazon.
- Other Staples to Consider
While the key thing to bring/ship/deliver seems to be bottled water, don’t forget other staples (food and non-food) that will be much cheaper to buy outside of Disney like sunscreen, milk, juice, coffee (especially depending on the quality of Disney coffee), fresh fruit, breakfast items like cereal, and baby items if your family needs them (food, diapers, wipes, swim diapers, etc.)
These are just a few suggestions on ways to get those basic staple items on your vacation without paying an arm and a leg for them as small servings from Disney. Whether or not you have the Disney Dining Plan, you don’t want to waste money or credits on something that you can easily get somewhere else for less money. Save those Disney dollars and/or credits for the unique signature items like Dole Whips, Mickey Bars, Turkey Legs, Churros, Grand Marnier Slushies, French Pastries, Carrot Cake Cookies . . . .
How do you save money on your Disney vacation?