Affordable Disney Dining: Getting the Most Value for Your Meals

Continuing this series on affordable Disney dining, I wanted to talk today about some ways to get the most for your money when eating, whether with the Dining Plan or paying cash. There are some good deals on food if you plan your meals a bit…

  • Magic Kingdom: There are several choices here for making the most of your dining dollars, places where you can eat for less than $6 (sometimes significantly less). Main Street Bake Shop offers a variety of baked goods as well as breakfast items like quiche or fruit. We have enjoyed the hot dogs with cole slaw and fries at Casey’s Corner, and one of my personal favorites is Columbia Harbor House for their clam chowder or vegetarian chili. For many folks, splitting meals is the best choice for both the wallet and the waistline, and if you wish to do this too, you will want to check out Cosmic Ray’s for their half rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes and vegetables for less than $10.
  • Epcot: Sunshine Seasons in the Land pavilion is probably our family’s personal favorite for the variety of types of food for both breakfast as well as lunch/dinner. You will also find a half rotisserie chicken with two sides as an option here. We also have found some good, economical choices in World Showcase, several for less than $5. Consider croissants, quiches, or fruit/cheese in France, or egg rolls in China.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: An affordable breakfast is easy (and yummy!) at Starring Rolls Bakery where there are tons of miniature baked goods for under $2. Some great options for lunch or dinner include Toluca Legs for a chili dog, Rosie’s All-American Café for soup of the day (a nice change of pace!), Catalina Eddie’s and Toy Story Pizza Planet for (what else?) pizza………any of which will be less than $6.
  • Animal Kingdom: For those who love being able to split meals, look for the half smoked chicken platter at Flame Tree Barbecue for under $10. Other economical food options include Pizzafari’s cheesy break sticks, fruit/cheese at Harambe Fruit Market, egg rolls and fried rice at Anandupur Local Food Café, and the delicious muffins or sweet rolls at Kusafiri: the fruit/cheese plate will be less than $6, and the rest will be less than $4.

You may also want to consider the fruit stands that are in the parks: each has at least one (Magic Kingdom actually has 3). In addition to finding a healthy selection of apples, bananas and oranges, you may also find items like carrots, melons, grapes, strawberries or even yogurt and fruit salad. The best thing is that everything is less than $4, with many of the items being about $1. You can’t beat that value!  🙂

Getting the Most Value from the Dining Plans

What if you are on the Disney Dining Plan? Consider the following tips to make the most of those Dining Plan credits:

  • All of the meal credits for everyone in your party are grouped together, so all credits belong to everyone. This means that you can really use whatever meal credits you want, whenever you want during your trip. It gives you flexibility and options for making the meals work for your family (especially helpful for little ones who may not be hungry when/where everyone else is.)
  • Don’t want the drink that comes with your Quick Service meal? Get a bottle of water to go, and save your snack credit for something else.
  • Likewise, since you will receive dessert with both lunch and dinner, get those to go for a snack later on, and use snack credits for healthy items like fruit, yogurt, or muffins that can be breakfast the next day.
  • Share, share, share. The Dining Plans are a lot of food. Stretch your dollars and avoid over-eating by sharing quick service meals: you may be able to stretch those credits to cover two meals a day!

In addition to all of these tips, I recently asked my Blog readers for their suggestions, and got some wonderful ones!

  • By Kristy: Well, the dining plan can be a great deal, depending on your family. But, especially at CS meals, many can be shared. We will get a couple meals to share for an early lunch and then if we feel hungry a couple meals later for an early dinner and a couple later to keep us going through the parks. That way no one is really full at any time. Our favorites to share are at places like Cosmic Ray’s. The ribs and chicken is plenty for 2 and getting the fresh veggies which are not only tasty, but good for you is great! It would spread your $ for sure and again, no one wants to be too full when you are riding rides.
  • By Amy: My big dining tip is to eat at the expensive dining places for lunch at the latest time possible. That way you can enjoy the delicious food and experience the atmosphere of the dining spots and not have to pay the dinner prices. Our other way to save money is to split meals at counter service places. Our favorite is the rib platter at Flame Tree BBQ.
  • By Teresa: For adults, it’s easy to stock up on items for breakfast and snacks to supplement one meal splurge during the day. Noon meals are cheaper than supper-time dining. Bringing a collapsible cooler or requesting a fridge in your room will help keep items cold. With kids, it’s harder to do so if you can get a deal with the free meal plan that’s your best bet.
  • By Becky: My tip is to order breakfast and snack items from Garden Grocer to be delivered the day you arrive. It’s convenient to eat in your room and much cheaper than the food court.
  • By Dawn: My tip is to bring breakfast items and snack items from home. Eat at the table service places at lunch time since the price will be cheaper than at supper time. Free dining plans are also the best.
  • By Whitney: Don’t think that you have to eat THREE meals a day. Eat a filling breakfast (definitely include a protein!), take ‘brought from home’ snacks to munch on at the park, and then eat a very late lunch/early dinner. What we do is schedule our Character dining either really late (like Breakfast at 10:45 or 11:00) or really early (like a lunch at 11:30) and just skip the other meal.
  • By Christina: I generally try to bring healthy snacks and meals from home. Granola, cereal bars, dried fruit, etc. You can also buy fresh fruit in the parks to add to it. The nice restaurants generally are less crowded and cost less at lunch time, then for dinner, try counter service. One of my favorite dinner items is a turkey leg that you can buy at the Magic Kingdom and the other parks. It’s not expensive, and it’s PLENTY to eat!
  • By DeAnna: If we have access to an in-room fridge, we take advantage of it. One of the best things I’ve found for breakfast are seedless grapes. They’re wonderfully refreshing, they give you a healthy fill-up, without feeling weighted down and miserable like some bigger breakfasts tend to do at times, AND they are kid friendly. You can give them grapes and no need to worry about them staining their clothes before they even make it to the park. Also, if you’re running behind (if you have a “schedule” like us!), they’re a great on-the-go breakfast to take with you on the bus/monorail.
  • By Tammy: I hate wasting money on park food!! We do cereal/donuts/coffee cake in the mornings. I pack sandwiches and snacks. We usually do one character dining and other dinner nights include things we can share ~ like pizza

So there you have it: a few ideas to help you make the most of your meal budget at Disney World. If you have any additional suggestions, please share in the comments below, on our Facebook page or Tweet about it. 🙂

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