In our opinion, everyone deserves a trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth. That said, visiting Disney World is incredibly expensive. Fortunately, there are ways to make it a little bit less pricey. One of the best ways to do this? Saving money on dining in Disney World.
There are actually a number of ways to save money on food while in Disney World, and if you’re willing to cut enough corners, you might find yourself saving hundreds on your Disney vacation.
Not sure where to begin? You’ve come to the right place!
Below, we’ve compiled a list of our top money-saving tips for dining in Walt Disney World. Use these Disney dining tips and you can keep both your wallet and your belly full for the duration of your Walt Disney World vacation.
Go Camping and Cook Your Own Food
One of the best ways to save money on food when in Disney World is to skip the Disney park food altogether. If this is your plan, we highly recommend getting a campsite at Fort Wilderness.
If you stay in an RV, you’ll have a whole kitchen to yourself without spending a small fortune on lodging. Meanwhile, those who choose to tent camp will save on lodging and can take a camp stove, grill, ice chest, and other camping cooking necessities.
Eat Breakfast in Your Hotel Room
Even if you don’t choose to camp, you can still save on food by eating things from the grocery store rather than dining exclusively on Disney food.
For instance, many families will choose to eat breakfast in their hotel rooms. You can have groceries delivered to your Disney Resort hotel or go pick them up once you arrive. Items such as protein bars, fruit, cereal, and milk work well.
All rooms have mini-fridges and some have microwaves, making storage and prep easy.
Carry Lunch and Snacks into the Parks
When ordering groceries, also order items to eat as snacks and light lunches in the theme parks each day. Sandwich fixings, protein bars, fruit, raw veggies, pretzels, peanut butter, and other light, healthy items are ideal and pack well. Make sure you bring an insulated, soft-sided lunch bag along (hard-sided coolers are not allowed) and avoid packing anything in glass containers.
Having quick and easy food on hand while in the parks will help fill in the gaps between meals, helping you save money on food purchased in the parks, and even saving you time that might otherwise have been spent waiting in lines for food.
Grab a Popcorn Bucket
Disney World popcorn is some of the best out there. Unfortunately, a small box of the stuff costs quite a lot of money and really doesn’t go very far.
The solution? The souvenir popcorn bucket. These are pricey upfront, but once you have one, you are allowed to refill it as many times as you like for the duration of your Disney trip for only $2 per refill.
This is a great addition to your in-park snack stash and allows you to have a Disney treat every day of your trip at a very reasonable price.
Choose All-You-Can-Eat Spots Between Meal Times
When you do splurge on a Disney meal, we recommend heading to the all-you-can-eat table service meal spots and timing these meals for “in-between” meal times. Doing this means one large meal can serve as both breakfast and lunch, or both lunch and dinner (keeping in mind that breakfast is cheaper).
Choosing a character meal will add to the cost a little, but we think it’s worth the extra cost to experience character dining at least once.
On top of all that, kids under 3 eat free at all-you-can-eat restaurants in Disney, saving those with little ones even more money.
Find Shareable Meals
Another option for those times when you want to eat at a Disney World restaurant is to find shareable meals. This works especially well when you aren’t super hungry or if you’ll be sharing with a kid. Sharing is allowed in both quick-service restaurant locations and table service restaurant locations.
Some of the best shareable meals in Disney World include:
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe or Restaurantosaurus – 8 Nuggets Meal
- Flame Tree Barbecue – Half Chicken Meal
- Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Cafe – Fajita Platter
- 50’s Prime Time Café – A Sampling of Mom’s Favorite Recipes
- Via Napoli – A pizza for the table
- P&J’s Southern Takeout – Fried chicken to share
- Any resort – Pizza to share
Eat Kids Meals
Often, kids’ meals are big enough for an adult to fill up on. You will save a few bucks choosing a kids’ meal at any quick-service restaurant (this won’t work at table service restaurant locations) but we actually prefer sharing an adult meal when possible, as there are more options and you save a bit more money that way. Still, when you don’t have anyone to share with, a kids’ quick service meal is a good alternative.
Visit During Your Birthday Month
There are a number of birthday freebies you can claim while on Disney property. While most of these won’t be helpful in the parks, if you plan on heading to Disney Springs, having some birthday rewards to help pay for your meals and snacks can be helpful.
Some of the best birthday freebies include:
- $25 birthday dining credit when you join Landry’s Select Club (can be used at Yak and Yeti, Rainforest Cafe, and T-Rex Cafe)
- Free cupcake at Sprinkles
- Free coffee at Starbucks (can’t be used at in-park locations, but can be used in Disney Springs)
- A free sandwich from Earl of Sandwich in Disney Springs
Skip the Drink
Lastly, we highly recommend skipping the sodas and teas for the most part while in the Walt Disney World Resort. Not only are they overpriced, but they also dehydrate you, something you definitely don’t want while on vacation (especially in such a sunny place). Instead, take advantage of the free ice water offered at every eatery in the parks. If you must have some flavor, add flavored drops to the water to change things up a bit.
As you can see, there’s absolutely no reason to spend a small fortune on dining in Walt Disney World Resort. In fact, you can eat quite well for much less than you might imagine, meaning your Disney World trip might just be within reach. Why not try budgeting using these tips to see how much you can save?