One of the many things we love about Walt Disney World is that they allow guests to carry outside food into their parks. This may seem like a silly thing, but considering most theme parks don’t allow this, and taking into account the price of food at Disney World, this can actually make a big difference for those on a tight budget. This is especially true right now, as the Disney dining plan is not currently available. It can make an even bigger difference for those who choose to eat a vegan or gluten-free diet and those with other dietary restrictions.
All that said, there are some things you’ll want to know before you start packing snacks and lunches to take into the parks. Below are all of our top tips for taking food into Disney parks. Use these tips to ensure that you only add things to your packing list that are allowed, and that you take full advantage of the ability to take food from home (or your hotel) into the parks.
No Glass is Allowed
First, we must note that there are some things that are not allowed in your lunch box at Disney World parks. One of these things is glass. This makes sense, after all, it wouldn’t do at all to have shattered glass lying around a Disney park. Still, it does require a bit of extra planning from you to make sure every glass container stays behind.
Alcoholic Beverages are Off Limits
Another item you can’t bring? Alcoholic beverages. Sure, you can purchase alcohol in most of the parks in Walt Disney World Resort now, but you can’t bring in your own. Skip the wine and beer and stick to water in your thermos. You can always buy a yummy adult beverage in between rides.
Leave Knives Behind
You might be tempted to pack a knife to cut an apple or another piece of fruit. Don’t do it. Sharp objects like knives are strictly prohibited in every Disney theme park. Instead, slice all food before you head out for the day, or buy pre-sliced fruit.
Skip the Big Cooler
Obviously, you will want to keep your food cool throughout the day. This might entice you to bring a large cooler filled with ice. However, this is another thing you’ll want to skip, as Disney doesn’t allow large hard-sided coolers. Instead, stick with smaller, lunchbox-sized coolers. These are easier to carry and store in a stroller or locker anyway.
Grab Ice Packs
Sure, you can’t bring a big cooler, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep things cool in a smaller lunch box. If you’ll have a freezer available, grab a few ice packs to stick in your snack bag each day. Otherwise, head to the Disney hotel ice machine and fill up a couple of baggies with ice. Double-bag the ice to ensure it doesn’t leak, and stick those homemade ice packs in with your food.
Order Grocery Delivery
If you’re flying into Orlando, the idea of finding a way to get to a grocery store and do some grocery shopping while on vacation may not seem very appealing. Fortunately, there is another option. Instead of heading out of your hotel, have your groceries delivered. There are several area grocery stores that will deliver to Disney Resort hotel locations, making grocery shopping quick and painless.
On-the-Go Foods Work Best
You’ll be so busy in the parks that you likely won’t want to stop and sit down every time you need a snack. For this reason, we highly recommend packing foods that are easy to eat on the go. Sandwiches are a good pick, as are bananas, snack bars, small bags of chips, crackers, pretzels, and cheese sticks.
Choose Supplemental Foods
To make your meal budget go further, consider packing some foods to supplement whatever you order when eating quick service. This will allow you to purchase kids’ meals or split larger meals, stretching the smaller portions of food with fruit, veggies, and other side items brought from home.
Protein-Packed Snacks are Great
We also recommend considering protein content when choosing snacks. Protein-packed snacks such as hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter, pepperoni, and cheese sticks will help really fill you up and keep you full between meals and will allow you to purchase less food from Disney restaurants.
Carry a Water Bottle
Every Disney quick-service restaurant with a fountain will give you free cups of water. This is excellent news, as it means you can stay hydrated while in the parks without spending a dime. That said, you can’t very well take a cup of water on a ride. Because of this, we highly recommend bringing a refillable, spill-proof water bottle to pour your cups of water into.
…and Water Flavoring
Free water is great. That said, the water at Disney World (and in all the Orlando area) isn’t exactly the best tasting water out there. Therefore, some people like to pack water flavoring. Whether you choose water drops or individual portions of powdered drink mix, you’re sure to appreciate having something to cover up the taste of the water you’ll be drinking throughout the day.
Throw in Some Wet Wipes
While washing your hands with soap and water is always best, it never hurts to have other options on hand. Packing some antibacterial wet wipes will allow you to clean your hands quickly before eating a snack when no sink is nearby. These are also great for cleaning tables and high chairs before using them.
Pick Tubs Over Baggies
If you’ll be packing sandwiches or other soft foods, consider packing those items in small plastic or metal tubs rather than baggies. This will ensure the softer foods don’t get crushed in your park bag or lunch box as you walk through the park.
Pack Extra Containers
Speaking of baggies and tubs, we highly recommend packing some extras. You never know when you might have leftovers –we’re looking at you, baskets of breakfast pastries –n and having some baggies or other containers to put the leftovers in is fantastic. This will give you something to snack on later and help reduce food waste.
Don’t Forget Cutlery
Generally speaking, we prefer finger foods while in the parks. That said, if you do pack foods that require a fork or a spoon, don’t forget to pack those things. Napkins are another item you’ll want to make sure to throw in, as well as things like ketchup or mayo packets.
Budget for Some Park Food
Packing food to take into the Disney parks is great, and we love that it’s an option. That said, there’s something extra magical about eating Disney food. For this reason, we highly recommend budgeting to have some food from the parks. This might be a single character dining meal for the whole trip, one of the many amazing Disney snacks each day, or a quick service meal each night. Choose what works for your budget and plan for it. You’ll be glad you did, as it will enhance your overall Disney experience and make your Disney vacation more memorable.