5 Ways to Save Money on Your Disney World Food and Beverage
Are you dreaming of a magical trip to Walt Disney World, but can’t figure out how to fit a trip into your budget? Although we would love to say “the sky’s the limit”, most guests have a set budget for their travel. And whether your budget includes signature dinners or packing sandwiches … let’s face it … we all have to eat.
Today, I’m going to share some easy tips on how to save money at Disney World on food and beverages which can expand that budget a bit wider to enjoy more of the magic while you are there!
FIVE Ways to Save Money on Food and Beverage at Disney World
1. Get a Dining Plan
I know, I know. It’s controversial and heavily debated. Let me know in the comments below how wrong you think I am. But we WILL start with the most highly debated topic on this list – Disney’s Dining Plans. Disney offers Vacation packages which typically start with a room at a Disney Resort and tickets. One of the additional package options is to add on a dining plan. By adding a Quick Service, Disney Dining, or Deluxe Dining Plan to your vacation package, you can dine on credits instead of dollars while at the theme parks. Highly discussed by theme park fans on whether these plans CAN really SAVE you money, I believe the correct answer is YES — With a big IF.
I’ve crunched the numbers multiple times for my own vacation plans over and over and over and compared our trip cost on the dining plan to trips where we paid for meals out-of-pocket. Every time, the plan has paid off for our family IF we use the included credits to their fullest potential. If a guest dines in a manner that mirrors the included credits on a dining plan, they will find additional savings on food by purchasing a plan vs paying “out-of-pocket” for the same items at the theme parks. ESPECIALLY now that the dining plans include alcoholic beverages. If you like to enjoy a drink when you dine, these dining plans can pay off in spades. Further, by paying up front for the package before you go, you won’t be constantly crunching numbers or worrying about the cost of an item while you on vacation. If it’s included, you can enjoy it. So, get that Mickey Bar … It’s on the plan! With a dining plan so you can sit back, eat what you like, and enjoy the MAGIC!
Finally … you know that little thing called Free Dining that Disney offers each year? Yep. If you can get that deal, you eat. for. FREE. You can’t beat Free!
2. Split Meals
So, the dining plan is not a good fit for your family? What is the best way to save while at the theme parks and still enjoy some of that fun theme park food that Disney is known for? (Side Comment: It really IS good and unique and fun!)
The amazing thing about Disney Quick Service locations (walk-up counter spots) is that many of the entrées on the menu can be large enough to split if you find the right item. If you are traveling with another adult or child that has similar dining preferences, you can pick an entrée from many quick service menus and split it while staying full and satisfied. My favorite pick for splitting is the 1/2 Rotisserie Chicken with mashed potatoes and green beans at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in Magic Kingdom. It’s half of a chicken. Enough said. Light eaters can delight in splitting and still end up with a very nice portion of food with this one. There are gems to be found on each and every menu at Disney World if you are flexible to look for the larger platter options AND have an agreeable dining partner willing to split it with you.
3. Eat Snacks as Meals
Do you have a light eater in your family? Snacks at Disney World are not just sweet or salty treats. Kiosks located in every theme park feature snack items that are hearty enough to be eaten as a light meal. Why not try a loaded mac n cheese at Eight Spoons Cafe in Animal Kingdom or the Sweet and Spicy Chicken Waffle Sandwich at Magic Kingdom’s Sleep Hollow? For the Fall, my favorite spot to enjoy a snack as a meal is at the outdoor kitchens during Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival. Fine dining on a frugal budget at its best!
4. Grocery Stop or Delivery Service
If driving to Disney World, a quick stop at a local grocery store like Publix, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, or Target can allow the family to pick up staples like bottled water, boxed cereal, snack bars and fruit before checking into your Disney Resort. If you decide to forego Disney’s complimentary Magical Express airport transportation, a variety of third party transportation services offer a FREE 15-30 minute grocery stop, giving you just enough time to pick up the essentials.
Here’s a list of some nearby Orlando area grocery stores in close proximity of Disney World. I highly recommend a stop at Publix for a slice of their Key Lime Pie or Carrot Cake from the bakery.
NEARBY ORLANDO AREA GROCERY STORES
8003 Turkey Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32819
Regency Village Shopping Center, Vineland Avenue, Orlando, FL
4795 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee, FL 34746
8323 West Sand Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32819
With the wonder of the internet, having groceries on a vacation is so much more convenient and accessible even without a car or third party transportation. Take that complimentary Magical Express and have groceries delivered directly to your resort. Services like Amazon.com, GardenGrocer.com, and local services will deliver refrigerated or nonperishable goods directly to your Disney Resort. Just be sure to check with your Authorized Disney Vacation Planner Agent before ordering or contact your Disney Resort directly to ensure that a charge is not applied for your grocery order.
5. FREE Water
Florida sunshine and a full day at the theme parks requires hydration. It’s an obvious statement, but I’ll state it for emphasis. In order to stay hydrated, you must. drink. water. Right? However, every time you purchase a bottle of water, you are throwing money at the bottled water industry. Water is FREE at Disney World. Yes, FREE! You don’t have to buy it. Let me repeat. You don’t have to buy the water. Situated all over the theme parks are cute little kiosks selling tasty treats like Mickey Bars, frozen lemonade, popcorn, etc. Find that nice cast member at one of those kiosks and ask them for a cup of water. They will pour you a delicious cold cup of water and hand it to you, for FREE. Did I say FREE enough? Save those dollars on something interesting like …. a Dole Whip and stay hydrated for … FREE!
How do you save on food and beverages at Disney World? Share in the comments below. Interested in Free Dining or saving money on your next Disney Vacation? I can help! Contact me today for a FREE quote!