Disney World Food

disney tickets

Do you like to eat well? Do you hate to overpay for food?
Would you like to save money?

If you answered yes to any of these questions this page is for you. When visiting Disney World, knowing where to find quality food at reasonable prices is essential Read this page thoroughly. It contains invaluable information to help you save money. The average family spend somewhere between $20 to $50 dollars per person per day on meals, drinks, and snacks. That adds up to between $560 and $1400 dollars for a seven day stay for a family of four. I'm not going to pretend that you can eat for little or no money. Instead, I will concentrate on reality and make practical suggestions that you can really use to help minimize some of the expense without sacrificing quality.

As a frequent visitor to Disney World, I have had to find ways to keep food costs down without sacrificing either the quality or quantity of meals. With a family of four ( five if my mother-in- law is with us) including a growing 14 year old boy who seems to spend most of his waking time thinking about where and when his next meal is coming from, finding affordable food has become something of an obsession with me!!

Money Saving Tips Inside Disney World If you are a frequent visitor to Disney World, you may be familiar with some of the tips to be found here but certainly not all of them. Even frequent visitors miss things. If you are a first time visitor you will find a wealth of money saving ideas to help you plan and enjoy your Disney vacation. Every time I visit Disney I pick up little gems of money saving information, some I find for myself and others are passed on to me by fellow Disney World enthusiasts. At one time or another, my family has tried all of these tips. They all work and over several years have saved us a considerable amount of money. I hope that you will find them as useful as I have.

Free Ice Water

Ask for ice water instead of soda when ordering food from counter service restaurants. It's free. Sodas are expensive and in the Florida heat, water will quench your thirst better than soda and save you money. My family are not big soda drinkers so drinking water is not a problem for us but if plain water is not for you, buy packs of powdered drink to mix with the water and create your own soft drinks. The average soda in the parks cost around $2 and this adds up fast. If you are a family of four and drink two sodas each a day for seven days, you will spend over $100 dollars. Cost of Ice Water Zero!!

Consider buying a filter water bottle, they remove all funny tastes,and impurities from any water source and are completly portable. While the initial cost is a little high they last six months before the filters need replacing.Fill these handy bottles at drinking fountains or fill them from any faucet/tap and you have an endless supply of great tasting water.Click Here for more details

Soda If you really have to have a soda, consider sharing. Like the food portions, sodas at Disney are super- sized and many people don't finish them. Get two straws or bring an extra cup and cut your cost in half.

Portion Sizes When ordering food at counter service restaurants, consider how much you will eat. Portions at Disney World are large and one meal can often be split by two people. Over a period of seven days splitting meals can add up to substantial savings.

If You Don't Need A Full Meal Ask For Just The Sandwich At counter service restaurants, the menus very often list only a price for a meal package, which usually includes french fries (chips to our UK friends) , or chips (crisps) and a drink. This does not mean that you have to buy the whole meal. Sandwiches and other items can be purchased separately but you have to ask, Disney does not volunteer this information. You can save $2 or more by buying just the sandwich instead of the whole meal package!!!

Ordering Kids Meals For Adults ? Having two children we have purchased many a kids meal, but not just for the kids. My wife and mother-in-law are not big eaters so occasionally I have also bought kids meals for them as well as my children. This can sometimes be a very cost effective way to eat. This only works at counter service restaurants as they have no way of knowing who you are ordering for. Table service restaurants don't allow this tactic.

Bringing Your Own Food Into The Parks Bring power bars, chips, and candy that won't melt to the parks with you. Its amazing how those little snacks you buy throughout the day add up. Disney have a policy of not allowing outside food in the parks, but as long as you don't try to bring in large coolers, glass bottles, alcohol, etc they seldom enforce it. I have never had a problem.

Buy Bottled water before entering The Parks

Bring your own bottled water with you as it is outrageously expensive in the parks. When the water bottle is empty, it can be refilled at any drinking fountain. If plain water is not to your taste bring powdered drink mix, add it to the water, give it a shake, and make your own soft drinks. If you don't feel like carrying water bottles around all day, inexpensive bottle straps can be purchased at places like Walmart, K-Mart and at many locations in the parks. You can then sling the strap and bottle over your shoulder and have your hands free.

Annual Pass Discounts Consider buying a Disney World annual pass. It offers 10% discounts at many Disney restaurants (mainly lunches) and 10 to 20% discounts at select Downtown Disney locations. An annual pass will also give you access to special seasonal discounts on accommodations at Disney hotels. Only one member of your party needs to have a pass to get the discounts for everyone else.

If you are able to vacation at Disney World when pass holder hotel room discounts are being offered, you will save big money and the savings can almost, and sometimes will (depending on length of stay and type of hotel), equal the cost of the pass.

An Annual pass also offers free parking at all Disney theme parks, discounts on behind the scenes tours, dinner shows, mini golf and more. You will also be eligible to buy an annual membership in the Disney Dining Club (see below for details).

Disney Dining Club ( This Is Not The Same As The Disney Dining Plan) If you are an Annual Pass holder or are a Florida Resident, you will be entitled to buy membership in the Disney dining club. Cost $85 for Florida Residents per year, $65 for annual pass holders (this was previously only available to Florida residents.). The dining club gets you a 20% discount on food and drinks (including alcoholic beverages) at most table service restaurants and lounges plus a very few counter service locations on Disney World property. One card covers a whole family. (As a Florida resident I have used the dining club discounts many times and believe me the savings soon add up to more than the cost of the membership fee.)

Disney Dining Plan If you book a Vacation package through Disney for three days or longer that includes park tickets, enquire about the dining plan package. For $38.99 per day, per adult and $10.99 per child you will be entitled to one table service meal, one counter service meal , and one snack per day including soft drinks but excluding all alcoholic beverages.

Note the dining plan no longer includes gratuities/tips.If your party numbers six or more an automatic 18% gratuity will be charged.

The dining package has to be purchased for the entire length of your stay. You must be staying at a Disney resort and everyone in your party has to be included ( you can't buy it for some but not others). Some high end table service restaurants such as the California Grill and Cinderella's Castle, as well as dinner shows, take up two table service meal credits so you have to keep an eye on where you eat and how many credits you use.

Although, at first sight $38.99 a day may sound expensive, if you intend to eat at table service restaurants during your stay the dining plan will definitely save you money.

Character meals and buffets take one table service credit with the exception of Cinderella's Royal Feast which requires two.

I have never used the dining plan as it can't be combined with my Florida Residents discount, but everyone I have spoken to who have used it tell me it is great and saves a ton of money. Every once in a while Disney will offer the dining plan free of charge to fill rooms at slow times of the year, so it always pays to ask if this is an option during your stay.

If you are visiting Disney World at a busy time, I recommend that you make advance reservations for as many of the table service restaurants as you can. Owing to the popularity of the dining plan, many are booked up weeks in advance.

Eat Your Main meal At Lunch Time If you want to eat at a table service restaurant, consider eating your main meal at lunch time. Switching lunch and dinner can save a lot of money as lunch prices are considerably cheaper than dinner. Portions are a little smaller but are still substantial.

If a restaurant is open all day you can often get lunch prices until 4 or 4:30. I have often been able to walk right in to several restaurants without making priority seating reservations, by eating at an off time.

Saving Money At Table Service Restaurants Have you ever wanted to eat at a nice restaurant but been put off by the high prices? I know I have. But there are ways to cut costs and still enjoy the fine dining experience. Here are a two ideas I have successfully used.

Order appetizers, desserts, and drinks while skipping the entree. This is a great way to try out a restaurant without spending $20 to $30 dollars each on a main course.

One thing I have done on a number of occasions is order appetizers for two and then split an entree with my wife.( With the cost of dinner entrees ranging from $15 to $40 this can be a huge money saver.)

Disney have always been happy to oblige and have always provided us with an extra plate at no additional charge. This also works at many non Disney restaurants but you may be charged a few extra dollars for the extra plate.

Rainforest Café Safari Club

Join the Rainforest Café Safari Club. My family and I have been members of the Safari Club for several years (my kids love the Rainforest Café) for a one time fee ( it was $10 when we joined. I believe it has gone up to $15 now). You get a 10% discount on food and merchandise plus members only priority seating.

This last option is what makes membership really worth while if you want to dine at the Downtown Disney location at a busy time as waits often exceed 2 hours.

On presenting your card at the podium, you get first available seating. In our experience we have usually been seated within 15 to 30 minutes. When you have hungry kids in tow this is a lifesaver.

Cheap Dining Options at downtown Disney There are two inexpensive dining options at the Marketplace that we use frequent, McDonalds and The Earl Of Sandwich. McDonalds needs no introduction, fast food with no frills at cheap prices.(Though the prices at this location are a little higher than your average MickieDs). The Earl Of Sandwich offers a variety of high quality hot and cold sub sandwiches for around $5.75 and salads around $5.95. They also offer an assortment of bakery and dessert items with prices from $1.45 to $2.50 and two types of breakfast sandwiches for $4.95. Sandwiches are large and in most cases, unless you are really hungry, can easily be split by two people.

Eating At Disney Resort Hotels. On busy days when lines for food are long, consider leaving the parks for a while and have lunch or dinner at one of Disney's resort hotels. All of Disney's hotels have restaurants. Deluxe and moderate hotels have table service and either counter service restaurants or food courts, as well as a pool side snack bar. Value hotels have food courts.

While it may be true that the table service restaurants are expensive, the food at counter service and food courts is generally of a very high quality, portions are large, and prices are moderate.

There is a wider variety than in the parks and as an added bonus, the lines are much shorter and you don't feel like you are eating in the middle of Grand Central Station.

This is particularly true at lunch times when most hotel guests are in the parks and the restaurants are almost empty.

While it is true that at counter service and food courts you have to wait on yourself, you also need to keep in mind that you won't have to leave a 15 to 20% tip as you will when eating at table service restaurants, both on and off Disney property.

My family's favorites are Captain Cook's Snack Company at Disney's Polynesian Hotel, the Riverside Mill Food Court at the Port Orleans Resort, Beaches and Cream at the Yacht and Beach Club, and the Pepper Market at Disney's Coronado Springs.

(The Pepper Market is an exceptional and unusual food court. This is the only food court that adds a gratuity to your bill (10%), but the many food stations offering great food much of which is cooked to order before your eyes and the unique Caribbean market atmosphere make it more than worth a visit).

Disney Hotel Lounges Disney resort hotel lounges are not only a relaxing place to enjoy a cocktail or beer but are also a great source for light snacks. They provide tasty and sometimes quite substantial appetizers and snacks. The quality is generally high as the food comes directly from the kitchens of the hotels signature restaurants.


What does  ebay have to do with cheap food? Plenty! While the connection may not seem obvious at first glance, if you read this article in its entirety, you will discover exactly how ebay can be the single biggest money saving idea you could ever use. It has saved me a considerable amount on both accommodations and food.

It is a little known fact that if you sign up for ebay (signing up is free) and bid on timeshare rentals you will be able to rent Luxury condos and houses for less than the price of many standard hotel rooms.

Having been a timeshare salesman, I know that many owners buy multiple properties and have to pay an annual maintenance fee of several hundred dollars on each one. They will rent out properties that they are not using through ebay to cover their expenses and make a small profit, which means that you can get bargains. And no, you won't have to attend a sales presentation (unless you want to) if you rent one.

I recently usedebay to bid on a two bedroom, two bathroom, 1200sq ft luxury condo that slept up to eight people at Fairfields Bonnet Creek Resort (right next door to Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort). It came with a full kitchen, 3 tv's, a washer, dryer, and my wife's personal favorite a whirlpool tub in the master bedroom.

It cost me $275(low season) for three nights.That's less than the price of one night at most Disney deluxe hotels. Not only did I save a bundle on accommodations but I saved a small fortune on food as we had access to a fully equipped kitchen and we could cook anything at anytime we wanted.

Even if all you do is cook supermarket pizzas, microwave frozen dinners, pop popcorn, and have toast, coffee, and cereal for breakfast, you will save a small fortune on food. We found having a full size fridge freezer to be particularly useful. With the money you save, you can afford to indulge yourself at some of those expensive restaurants you might otherwise not visit.

Plus you have space and privacy that even the most expensive hotel rooms can't provide. Bidding on ebay has enabled me to stay in places I previously could only dream about.

Prices vary by season with the summer and major holidays being the most expensive times. click here to check for deals on ebay

TIPS FOR BIDDING ON EBAY I have made it a practice to only bid if the owner has a feedback rating of 99% or higher. These people have a proven track record with ebay and jealously guard their reputations. I have never had any problems when using this rule.

Offers That Require Attendance At Sales Presentations

Avoid any auction that offers free or heavily discounted theme park tickets along with accommodations at ridiculously low prices, they are usually solicitations for timeshare companies and will require you to attend a sales presentation.

However If you are interested in buying timeshares or don't mind spending a 1/2 day or more listening to sales pitches, they can be a source of some great deals.

Food Outside Disney World

If you choose to eat outside Disney's gates, you will find all the major chain restaurants well represented. In the Kissimmee, Lake Buena Vista, and Orlando areas, you can find everything from fast food to all you can eat buffets, family style chain restaurants, fine dining, counter service, steak and seafood houses, Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, and more.

I prefer the Lake Buena Vista area as it is a little less crowded than Kissimmee. But Kissimmee does have more representatives from the major chains such as Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Applebee's, Sizzler, etc..

On checking in at your hotel, the first thing you should do is check the brochure rack. All the maps and guides to be found there contain money saving restaurant and attraction coupons. Next, talk to the hotel concierge or front desk clerk and find out where the locals eat. (Concierges are a great source of local knowledge).

If you have a family, check for restaurants that offer Kids Eat Free Nights. These are great money savers. I like to try and find small independent Mom and Pop diners. They are usually cheaper than the large chain restaurants and service in many cases is better.

My family really likes Panera Bread Bakery Café. This counter service chain has great sandwiches on fresh baked bread as well as tempting bakery items all at reasonable prices. Of the family style table service chain restaurants our favorites are Steak and Shake, and Bob Evans or if you don't mind basic surroundings, Waffle House serves up good (if a little greasy) diner style food at very reasonable prices.

For more tips and practical advice on Disney Dining written for families by a mom who knows all the ins and outs, click here.

If you would like my help planning and booking your vacation contact me using the box below.
As an independent travel agent I can book travel from the USA to any destination in the world including Disney,Las Vegas,worldwide cruises and tours,destination weddings, group tours and cruises and much more.There is no obligation on your part, and my services are for the most part free of charge. Through my affiliation with Dugans Travels I have access to all the major travel suppliers.See below for personal information and contact details.

Stephen P Temple
Independent Travel Agent

Dugan's Travels, LLC, is a Proud Member of IATAN, CLIA, OSSN, NACTA, and Vacation.com. California Registered Seller 2054922-40 / Washington Registered Seller 602327942 / Fla. Seller of Travel Ref No. ST35992

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