Affordable Disney Vacations Step by Step. Part Fourteen: 10 Easy Tips to Reduce Your Food Budget

This is part fourteen in my blog series: Affordable Disney Vacations Step by Step. You can read the rest of the posts here.

I get many questions from people who are thinking about visiting Walt Disney World and want Disney World vacation tips and suggestions. Disney vacation planning can be very involved and confusing as well, so the goal of this series is to start at the beginning, and look at everything you need to think about, in the general order you need to think about it. Each week’s post will be numbered and link to all the others so that, when complete, you will have a guide with all the steps and information you need to plan your own Disney magic.

In the last post, I discussed how to use the Disney Dining Plancooking as a way to help you have an affordable Disney vacation.  Today I want to share some additional tips, ideas, and strategies that can help you save money on food at Walt Disney World.

Let’s start by saying that you CAN spend a lot on your meals on your Disney vacation…but you don’t HAVE to.  Here then, in no particular order, are 10 ways that you can cut your meal costs for a truly affordable Disney vacation.

  1. Cook/eat some meals in your room. If you are staying in a vacation home, villa, condo, or even a hotel suite, you will probably have access to a kitchen. Use it to do some simple cooking. Even if you have a traditional hotel room, you should be able to have a small refrigerator: get some milk, juices, and even some lunchmeat and cheese to keep in it. We have done this and had cereal in the morning before leaving for the parks, and made some sandwiches to bring with us for a quick, easy, and inexpensive lunch.
  2. Bring your own snacks, juices, water etc. Not having to pay park prices on these things will save you a lot of money…plus it is so much more convenient to just grab a bottle from your backpack instead of standing in a long, hot line.
  3. Consider sharing meals, especially if you have little ones who don’t eat much. Disney portions are usually quite large and sharing…whether between 2 kids, or an adult and child…will not leave anyone hungry. This works, by the way, whether you are eating counter service or table service.
  4. Speaking of table service, are you planning some sit-down meals? Look for buffets, as you will get more for your money! Or think about having your table service meals for lunch: you will still get a lot of the same delicious food options but at lunch prices rather than dinner prices.
  5. Consider foregoing table service meals altogether and just eat quick service. Many families find that this is the best way to go with small children, as there are no long waits for food, and the meals tend to be more “kid-friendly”.
  6. Eat some meals away from Disney. Non-park restaurants may be less expensive than those you find in the parks.
  7. Consider off-site hotels that offer free breakfast.
  8. If staying off-site, ask your hotel for local restaurant discount coupons or promotions. Or invest in a local Entertainment Book for restaurant coupons.
  9. Check local Florida/Orlando websites for discount coupons for eating establishments.
  10. As mentioned last time: If offered, try to book a Disney Package during any Free Dining promotion. It will save you a LOT of money.

OK, so there you go, 10 easy ways that you can pare down your food budget on a trip to Disney World. Clearly, all will not apply in all situations, but you should be able to use a few on your vacation, and when it comes to trying to have an affordable Disney vacation, every little bit helps! 🙂

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2 Responses to Affordable Disney Vacations Step by Step. Part Fourteen: 10 Easy Tips to Reduce Your Food Budget

  1. ShepW says:

    I keep seeing references to “family this,” “your family,” etc. How come you don’t say anything about solo travelers or couples? Do you not think that solo folks avoid Disney because they’re so focused on family stuff? I’ve been to Disney many times as a solo visitor, and the only times I feel singled out as a solo visitor is when I board buses, enter parks, rides, restaurants, etc., is a stare I get from families at Orlando airport, or the question, “You’re here by yourself? Where’s your spouse and kids?” Reply: Yes, I’m here by myself, and I have no wife, no kids, and I don’t think that visiting WDW requires that I have to be in a family to visit the parks. The last time I was at WDW I stayed at the Caribbean Beach resort and had a great time at the parks, especially the one I hadn’t visited: Animal Kingdom. Moreover, because I was celebrating my birthday early, the check-in person at Caribbean Beach gave me a special pin that said “Happy Birthday,” and many cast members greeted me w/”Happy Birthday.”

    I also experienced the Disney Dining Plan, and discovered just how quickly those points disappear, especially when eating at places like that buffet at Animal Kingdom and the place at in Japan: by the time I wanted to eat at Fulton’s came around, I had no credits left on the plan. I think I had the Basic Plan for that visit. For my upcoming visit, if I did the Deluxe plan, I’ll get more than the Basic plan along w/the refillable mug (which took one of the credits away). If I took the Premium plan, I’ll still get more but at nearly double the cost.

    • Nancy says:

      Thanks for your thoughts Shep! Actually, while “most” of Disney’s guests are families, we often note that many people visit the Disney parks as adults only and as solo travelers. I have personally visited all by myself multiple times and think it is a great way to visit Walt Disney World! 🙂 And I will also say that not once have I ever felt anything but welcomed!

      As for the Disney Dining Plan, the Basic Plan provides credits based on the number of nights you are staying. While a few of the Signature restaurants or dinner shows will require 2 table service credits, the vast majority only take one credit. Using those credits are not related to what you order (buffets don’t take more credits than non-buffets) and the refillable mug is part of the plan and does not take any credits. I totally agree that if you plan more than one table service meal per day (or want multiple Signature restaurants or shows) the Deluxe Plan is a better way to go.

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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