As a travel agent, I often get questions from my clients about how to save money on food at Disney World. And it’s understandable, because it’s not unusual for food to end up being one of the major expenses on a Disney vacation. But as I always share with my clients, there are ways that you can plan your meals and save money. For many, a great option is the Disney Dining Plan, especially if you are able to take advantage of the very popular Free Dining promotion.
But if your travel plans don’t allow you to visit during Free Dining and paying for the Dining Plan is not the best option for your family, no worries, there are still a few things that can save you big money on your Disney vacation food budget.
- Make sure you have a frig or mini-kitchen in your room. All Disney World properties now provide a mini-frig as standard in each room, but if you want more in-room meal options, then the family suites at Art of Animation and All Star Music are perfect, as each of the suites have a kitchenette. (Other similar, albeit pricier options….with full kitchens actually….are the Fort Wilderness Cabins and Deluxe Villas.) We always use the frig to store milk, juice, water, and some easy breakfast basics. Bring or buy some fruit, yogurt, cereal or bagels, and you have a healthy, inexpensive breakfast each morning. Plus it is a time-saver too, when trying to get to the parks bright and early each day. If you make it a habit to return to your room each afternoon, take the in-room meals a step further and get some easy lunch fixings too: you have now provided two meals per day for substantially less than what you would pay in the parks. Even if you don’t return to your room, with a small cooler that you can store in a locker at the parks, you can bring lunch with you. Splurge on a nice dinner and you won’t feel deprived at all, and will in fact feel quite proud of how economical you are!
- Bring snacks with you. Simple trail mix, crackers, some fruit, all help provide a healthy, and cheaper alternative to lots of expensive snacks in the parks. Bring your own water (or water bottle) as well: you will save a boat-load of money, plus you will always have water when you need it, which is important on those hot summer days in Florida! Refill when passing water fountains and you will be fine…or bring something like Crystal Light packets for quick and easy lemonade.
- Think about sharing meals, especially if you have young children. Disney does not have a problem if you want to split a table service meal, and many folks often divide a counter service meal between multiple kids, or parent/child. In our experience, Disney is extremely generous with food proportions, so splitting meals saves dollars and also creates less waste, and that’s a good thing. Another option is to take the leftovers with you if portable, and put them in your…you guessed it…in-room frig for lunch the next day. 🙂
These are just a few quick ways to save on that Disney dining budget. Enjoy and happy dining!