If there’s one thing that’s always true on trips, it’s that food costs more than I anticipate. Especially, at Disney World where you’re paying theme park prices for every meal.
Skip the Dining Plan
Disney is in the business of making money. If they offer it, they profit from it. The dining plan is no different. You will spend more money by paying for the dining plan than you would if you just bought the food. There are only 2 reasons you should ever get the dining plan:
#1 – It’s just part of the Disney experience and you would like to do it
#2 – You’d like to pre-pay for the entire trip before you leave
#3 – It's included as part of a discounted package rate
Never buy the dining plan thinking it will save you money or be easier; these often aren't realistic.
Have water and snacks delivered right to your hotel. If you’re staying on property, Garden Grocer is a good option for this.
Breakfast in the Hotel Room
Sure, having Mickey waffles is a fun Disney experience but do you need to eat them every single day of your trip? Probably not. We always have at least one breakfast out, but otherwise we eat in our hotel room from the delivered groceries.
Bring Snacks into the Park
There is some serious FOMO surrounding Disney snacks right now. Some of them are delicious. But some of them are just overpriced, mass produced, long-line snacks. Do some research so you can spot the difference beforehand. If there’s no easily accessible amazing snack nearby, I just grab a snack from our bag.
Bring Bottled Water into the Park
Bring as much bottled water as you can feasibly lug around.
Bring Special Treats
When my kids were younger, I would bring special treats from home that I would never regularly buy. We’re talking giant lollipops, bags of cotton candy, etc. They looked like they were from a circus. I’d use these to fill in the snack gaps. We still let the kids pick out unique food items at the confectionary in Magic Kingdom, but it’s not a stop we do every single day of the trip.
Quick service restaurants are cheaper than table service restaurants. There’s no rule that says you have to eat at a table service restaurant every day just because you’re in Disney. You can eat only at quick service if that suits your family. They are not all created equal. Research which ones have the best food that everyone will enjoy. If you’re using mobile order, you can generally get more kids meals than you have kids. If you’re wanting a light lunch, maybe grab a kid’s meal instead of an adult entrée.
Have a Plan for Epcot
Especially if it’s the Food & Wine Festival. Those little bites at the kiosks add up quickly!
Know when to Break the Bank
If you’re going to spend a little extra on a nice meal, make sure it’s the best option for your family. Research the menu, the reviews, the location, and make a reservation well ahead of time. Not all character meals are amazing. Decide what’s the most important aspect for your family.
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