Are These Disney Prices Fair? Let’s Talk Food.
We recently discussed whether Disney has gotten too expensive. I know from reading the comments that some of you unequivocally said yes.
I suspect a few didn’t even read the article. You just stated your opinion and moved along with your day. Hey, we’re all busy.
Still, I wanted to do a deeper dive on this topic because it’s so important…and controversial.
So, let’s examine several parts of a Walt Disney World visit to decide whether Disney has priced them fairly. This time, we’ll focus on food.
Let’s start with the gimme. Yes, bottled water at Disney has grown ridiculously overpriced. Nobody could possibly argue otherwise.
On Amazon, I can order a 24-pack of Fiji Water for $20.88, which is less than a dollar a bottle.
At Disney theme parks, you’ll pay…$3.50.
Meanwhile, a bottle of Coke, my life’s blood, now costs $4.50. I can buy a two-liter bottle at Kroger for $1.49.
Yes, Disney charges way too much for these items. However, it’s akin to popcorn at a movie theater.
You know this going in. So, it’s momentarily annoying, but we all accept it and move on.
Quick Service Meal Items
Do you ever eat at places like Applebee’s or Outback Steakhouse? There are like ten million of these restaurants. So, someone must be dining at them.
These fast-casual restaurants charge guests about $15-$25 per person on average. In fact, they’ve been doing that since 2015.
Prices are even more expensive now, as most restaurants have increased food costs during the pandemic.
Quick Service meals at Disney aren’t quite fast-casual for the most part. Instead, they’re closer to high-end fast food, albeit with some exceptions.
The point here is that you’ll pay about the same for a meal at Five Guys as you would at Sunshine Seasons or Satu’li Canteen.
I filtered through several recent Quick Service restaurant purchases. I never paid more than $50 for a two-person meal.
When we order Outback – and we do this a lot since one’s across the street – it usually costs right at $45.
Sometimes, I paid less than $30, which is below my average purchase at Five Guys.
The other factor I’ll introduce stems from my locale, which is close to Dollywood, another theme park.
The meals there AND the nearby tourist restaurants are similarly priced. So, I would view Disney’s pricing as fair.
Table Service Meals
I’m taking one specific kind of Table Service meal out of this conversation, as I believe it blows the curve, so to speak. I’ll explain in the next section.
Disney suggests that its Table Service restaurants cost from $15 to $34.99 per person. In my experience, it’s toward the latter end, save for a few exceptions.
I know that I can eat cheaper at a place like Grand Floridian Café, a surprising turn of events given the restaurant’s name and location.
However, I’d be hard-pressed to eat anywhere for less than $25 per person unless we both ate burgers.
That brings us to the question of whether, say, $30 per person seems like a lot.
Coincidentally, I dined at a local steakhouse last night. Our party paid about $75, including tip, which is $37.50 per person. And I wasn’t at Disney.
I just checked, and a (mediocre) steak at Tony’s Town Square would cost $34, meaning my meal would probably be about $40 per person.
I would eat that on Main Street, U.S.A. in Magic Kingdom. That’s better.
The beauty of Walt Disney World stems from the freedom of choice. You can pick the restaurant that fits your budget, even in the Table Service category.
Okay, here’s where I side with the haters. And I’ll be a massive hypocrite in doing so.
When I have my pick, I choose character meals at Walt Disney World instead of literally anything else.
Seriously, if my choices are California Grill and Chef Mickey’s, I’m never getting to the top floor at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
You enjoy the fireworks; I’ll wave to Mickey & Minnie Mouse like I’m five years old forever…which I kinda am.
When I’m on the Disney Dining Plan, I never hesitate. I book pretty much every character meal that I can during my trip.
You can ask my family and friends about this. They’d rather eat like, you know, non-tourists some…but not me! I’m a sucker for a costumed cast member!
Still, I feel that Disney has gone crazy with its pricing on some character meals.
Storybook Dining with Snow White at Artist Point costs $55 per person. Akershus is $65 per person. I’m mentioning these two since they’re not open.
In a way, their absence proves the point, at least from Disney’s perspective. Guests like me really miss these places. We’re clamoring for their return.
So, Disney can justify those prices, knowing full well that a character meal restaurant will sell out on most dates.
I’d never notice it if I were always using a dining plan. It’s only when the server hands me the bill that I realize that I’m spending $55-$65 per person.
Where I live, there are maybe five restaurants in town that charge that much for a meal, and I’m in a metropolitan area with nearly a million people.
The sticker shock is too much to ignore on character meals.
Disney Springs Restaurants
There’s one final piece to the Disney food puzzle, one that is at least somewhat beyond Disney’s control.
For more than 40 years now, guests have flocked to the entertainment district on the Disney campaign.
We seek the food and fun available here, and the shopping’s terrific, too.
At Disney Springs, some third-party restaurants join Disney in serving delicious cuisine. But how reasonable are the prices?
As with Table Service restaurants, that answer depends entirely on your wallet. You can find something that fits your vacation budget.
Restaurants like Blaze Pizza, D-Luxe Burger, and Earl of Sandwich will let you dine cheap AND well.
If you want something even less expensive, head to the food trucks. It’s a haven for delicious street food.
Then, when you want to splurge, you’ve got your choice of The BOATHOUSE, Paddlefish, or STK Orlando.
Of course, Disney fans know where to find the best value, which ensures that you’ll get the most bang for the buck anyway.
Given this knowledge, I must conclude that Disney Springs restaurants feature fair prices.
Overall, I only have the (mostly) joking quibble about water bottles and the frustration with character meals.
Even then, the extreme demand for those justifies the charge. As such, I consider Disney’s meal prices quite fair.