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A trip to Disney World can be expensive, especially if you have kids. So, how do you have the trip of a lifetime without breaking the bank? Dining is one area of your vacation where you can easily save some money. Here are some practical ways to save money on food at Disney World. And don’t worry: I’m not going to recommend that you to starve!
Money Saving Tip #1: Disney Dining Plan
For some people, the Disney Dining Plan is a great way to save money on food at Disney World. However, it is not ideal for everyone.
Whether it is a good value for your family will depend on several things, including the number and ages of people in your party, your eating habits, your park touring strategy, and which restaurants you plan to eat at while on vacation.
To know whether the dining plan will save you money, do the math and think realistically about how your family eats.
My family usually either breaks even or saves a few dollars by getting the dining plan. We eat better (and more) while at Disney World because of the plan.
For us, it is worth the price because my husband loves experiencing the table service meals at Disney. And I love the ability to pre-paid for our food.
The dining plan means I don’t have to worry about food costs while we are on vacation.
Money Saving Tip #2: Snack Credits
If you get either the Quick Service Dining Plan or the Dining Plan, you will get two meals per day on the plan. But, you also get two snack credits per person per day.
So, avoid paying out of pocket for food, while also saving yourself some money, by using your snack credits for one of your meals.
We typically use our snack credits for breakfast. Because we are not big breakfast eaters, it’s perfect. We can get a bagel, fresh fruit, or a pastry for breakfast using a snack credit, which is what we normally have for breakfast.
We find that we don’t really want snacks later in the day after eating a quick service lunch and a sit down dinner. So, these snack credits are a great way to extend our dining plan and save money too.
Money Saving Tip #3: Groceries in Your Room
Another option to save money on food at Disney World, especially if you don’t have the dining plan, is to bring food so you can eat in your room.
If you drive to Disney World, pick up some groceries before you arrive. If you fly, ship them to your hotel, order from an online grocery store, or take a taxi to a local grocery store to stock up.
We have used them several times in the past and they are wonderful. They have everything that an ordinary grocery store would have. There is a small delivery fee, but it is very reasonable.
If you stay on property in a moderate or deluxe hotel, you should have a small fridge in your room. If you will be staying at one of the value resorts, you can request to have a fridge in your room for a small fee.
We usually order breakfast food, snacks, and bottled water. This definitely saves us money because the groceries are cheaper than paying to eat at restaurants. You could also get sandwich ingredients or other quick fixes for lunch or dinner.
Money Saving Tip #4: Split Some Meals
You can also save money on food at Disney World by splitting some meals. Many of the meals at Disney World are large enough to share, especially if split between two small eaters. This can cut your food costs in half.
Sharing meals is also a good option if you have multiple children who don’t eat much.
Money Saving Tip #5: Snack Away the Day
Another way to stretch your meal dollars is to snack when you get hungry instead of eating full meals. Or try ordering several appetizers to share instead of paying for entrees at some of the table service restaurants.
Snacks and appetizers will always cost you less than full meals. Even if you order several of them throughout the day, you should still come out ahead on your food costs.
Money Saving Tip #6: Eat between Meals
Instead of eating three separate meals each day, try eating brunch or a late lunch/early dinner to save some money. By eating in between normal mealtimes, you can eat fewer meals in a day without starving yourself or your family.
Another way to reduce the number of meals you eat in a day is to eat a large breakfast at one of the table service restaurants, then snack during lunch time and eat a regular dinner.
Regardless of how you do it, fewer meals in a day means less money spent on food during your vacation.
Money Saving Tip #7: Bring Your Own Food
A lot of people don’t realize this, but Disney will allow you to bring your own food into the parks. This is a great way to save money on food at Disney World, especially if you are staying off property.
Before heading to the parks for the day, pack an small collapsible ice chest for lunch and/or dinner. When you get to the park, rent a locker to hold your food until you are ready to eat. The cost of a locker will be much less than paying for lunch for the family.
Please note that loose ice is no longer allowed in the parks. So, use reuseable ice packs in your cooler.
Another option is to freeze your drinks and pack them in a backpack with your cold food items. The frozen drinks will keep your food cold until lunch time. By the time you are ready to eat, your drinks will be thawed.
If you don’t want to pack a meal with you, bring your own snacks to eat throughout the day.
Disney World can be expensive. A large part of the cost of your trip will be for food. For those of us who travel on a budget, it is nice to be able to save money while not sacrificing our vacation fun.
The above ideas will help you save money on food at Disney World while still enjoying Disney World with your family. I hope these tips help you have the most magical vacation possible.
Check out our Disney trip planning tips in our step by step guide, best resources, packing tips for Disney trips, the perfect age to take your kids, the best time to visit, and quick tips for Disney trips.