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Trips to Disney World can be expensive. Yet, it’s the type of place where you don’t want to feel like a Scrooge. 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 tips on how to save money on food at Disney World. And don’t worry: I’m not going to recommend that you to starve!
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.
We usually either break even or save a few dollars by getting the dining plan. We eat better (and more) while at Disney World because of it. It is worth the price for us because my husband loves experiencing the table service meals at Disney. I, on the other hand, 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. For a more in-depth discussion of the dining plan, see whether you should add it to your next trip and tips for using it.
If you get either the Quick Service Dining Plan or the Dining Plan, you will only be getting two actual meals per day on the plan. But, you get two snack credits per person per day. So, you can 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, fruit, or 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 each day. These snack credits are a great way to extend your dining plan and save money too.
Groceries in Your Room
Another option for saving money on food at Disney World, especially if you don’t have the dining plan or don’t want to use your snack credits for a meal, is to bring food to keep in your room. If you drive to Disney World, pick up some groceries before you arrive. If you fly, you can either ship them to your hotel, order from an online grocery store, or take a taxi to a local grocery store to stock up. The most convenient of these, for me at least, is to order from an online grocery store, which will deliver them to your hotel room. I recommend Garden Grocer. 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, you should have a small fridge in your room if you are staying at a moderate or deluxe hotel. 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 and snacks. This definitely saves us money because the groceries are cheaper than paying to eat at restaurants. You could also get sandwich stuff or other quick fixes for lunch or dinner.
Split Some Meals
If you will not be on the dining plan, you can save money on food at Disney World by splitting some meals. Many of the quick service meals are large enough to share, especially if shared between two small eaters. You could also split some of the table service meals too. 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.
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.
Eat in 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.
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. If you are staying off property, this is a great way to save money on food at Disney World. Before heading to the parks for the day, pack an small collapsible ice chest for lunch and/or dinner. Please note that loose ice is no longer allowed in the parks. So, use reuseable ice packs in your cooler. 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. 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. Food is a large part of the cost of your trip. 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 good news is that there are ways to save money on food at Disney World. The above ideas will help you cut down on the cost of food while still allowing you to fully enjoy Disney World with your family. I hope these tips help make your dreams of a Disney World trip come true. For more money-saving Disney tips, see how to save money on souvenirs. Happy travels!
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