$500 for food...where to eat?

As seems to be the theme with me, I want to know how you would spend your food budget. There are 5 of us (me, DH, DDs 6, 8, 10) and we have 5 park days. We will have a kitchen at our resort and will be eating most of our meals there or will be packing sandwiches or other things to eat in the parks.

I know it seems an impossibly small budget for many, but we have about $500 to spend on food on property (or elsewhere. $500 to spend on eating out.). I am so torn as to how to allocate it. Should we do a dinner at LTT to enjoy the park for a few minutes after dark (I got a ressie for 6:40 pm on a 6 pm close…but will we be able to get back to our car in the TTC afterwards?) and then do no other TS and just one QS and spend the rest on snacks? Should we do no TS at all so we have more to spend on QS and/or desserts and snacks? Is there anywhere to get a break in AC if we don’t book a TS meal?

I guess I’m just wondering what others would choose to do. Have $100 per park day for QS and snacks/desserts, or keep a TS or two and just have around $40-50 a day for snacks/ice cream/dessert. I wish we had a larger budget but since this trip is kind of last-minute we just don’t. I want to make the most of what we DO have. So please give me your votes.


Remember, you can bring snacks, food and drinks to the park. That will save a lot of your budget.

My personal preference is to avoid sit down meals during a park day. I honestly don’t like stopping for QS. But I do enjoy some TS. I’ve been to Crystal Palace for breakfast every trip with my kids. But if your kids are too old for Winnie the Pooh,I don’t recommend it. If your kids are a little adventurous with food, Skipper Canteen is really good and one of the cheaper TS. I also really like Yak & Yeti.

I have no idea what’s open right now though.


My vote first is for a TS at which you can share - not LTT. One entree is usually enough for a light eating adult and child. We’ve done this.
Since our kids that age hated the usual kids meal stuff, we turned to appetizers for them. And now DH and I eat appetizers as entrees.

Perusing the menus can help a lot in finding restaurants.

Up until my grandniece was 10 or 11, 3 of us would share the combo meal at Flame Tree, with an extra order of fries, and water. But then DH and I are light eaters nowadays.

I think special things - like walking thru the park late or a favorite snack - are important. Those splurges would make me happier to have a sandwich from “home” to save money.


A character meal this time is just flat out. I got a H&V reservation and after figuring tax and tip it would be nearly $300. That’s just too much for not even a hug from Mickey. We did I think 4 of them on our last trip though!


Yes. I’m pretty sure the was a thread some time ago that listed these, hopefully someone can link it here. I’m on my phone so it’s kind of tough to search right now.

I think most of the Magic Kingdom QS restaurants have inside seating. I recommend going to Columbia harbor house and sitting upstairs. Even if you don’t buy food there.

1 Like

Probably a good choice. You might price some of the resort meals. I saw on a trip report some more reasonable prices right now.

1 Like

What about a cool ambiance one, like sci fi? I’d prob pick something different that you can’t do at home. Sci fi, I don’t think price is too bad. My thought would be a memorable lunch or dinner— maybe 2 after you add it up? Then leaving room for some fun treats through the week.

1 Like

Right now, I don’t think that Crystal Palace or Columbia Harbour House are open.
The Plaza might be a less expensive TS meal in MK.
Satu’li Canteen was a very satisfying QS meal for 7 of us at AK.
Les Halles in EPCOT has some good food at not such high prices. L’Artisan des Glaces has possibly the best ice cream that I have had in my life, but you will be taking it outside.


I second the idea for going places where you can share meals. We used to do this out of financial necessity, now we do it because we just don’t eat that much. (We is me and DD20 and DD17.) I would pick a few special places/times to eat and then bring a lot of snacks to the parks. We were there in August. I ordered food from Amazon Fresh and we ate breakfast and dinner most days in the room. We had a big meal in the parks each day so dinner was mostly snacking. Before we went, I checked out a lot of menus, booked a few reservations, and generally had an idea where we wanted to eat and what we might order. I definitely think you can do it! Just pick a few special meals to highlight!


I believe in getting some input from my family even though I’m their travel agent. Come up with 3 viable options on what you think they would like and whether those QS and TS are open right now. You know how much your family eats and how much snack they typically want. You have 5 days and $500. That’s about $50/meal for 10 lunches, 10 dinners, and 5-10 snacks. Can you brown bag 3 days? Can you eat dinner off site a couple of days? We love the pizzas at Flippers near Disney Springs. We’ve eaten at Steak N’ Shake, too. What is your family willing to do?

Sharing meals is another way to save. We are 2 adults and 2 college aged kids. We only ordered everyone an entree at the Grand Floridian Cafe, Garden Grill, Storybook Dining, and CA Grill last December. All 4 of us were there together for 11 days. For lunch, dinner, and snacks, we spent about $130/day. We also had TS at Homecomin’ and Boathouse where we did not order 4 entrees. We brown bagged 2 lunches and ate instant noodles for dinner twice (one noodle dinner with leftover prime rib from Storybook Dining). With the exception of Flippers this trip, we ate the remaining lunches and dinners at WDW. Most days, we shared 3-4 snacks because we were full or saving our stomachs for TS. We had some expensive TS but we still came in at about $130. We didn’t give ourselves a budget. We ate whatever, whenever we wanted. The bag lunches were just helpful to save time in the park. The instant noodles gave us a light dinner after heavier lunches and snacks.

Tell your family the budget and ask them what they want to do. You may not spend as much as previous trips on food but it will be okay. Next time… Going to WDW is already a big treat! And you will have a fabulous trip. Enjoy!


And unless you really want to eat there, I would avoid any place that is fixed price.

Oh, and ice water at meals is your friend!


If your kids like popcorn, buy the refill-able bucket. It’s pretty cheap to refill!


When my kids were young, I would stash paper cups, plastic spoons, plastic knives, and zip lock bags in the stroller. When we bought scooped ice cream, we would get a double scoop and spilt in our cups. A double scoop is much cheaper than 2 single scoops. This also worked with drinks, soft serves, and Dole Whips. Zip lock bags come in handy for leftovers. When they graduated from the stroller, I stashed in my mommy purse. Nowadays, we split so that we have stomach space to enjoy different treats and foods. Those cupcakes at Contempo Cafe were ginormous last December. We bought 2 and spilt each into quarters, allowing us to enjoy both flavors. Last trip, the kids and I creatively spilt a Mickey ice cream, a churro, and a cream cheese pretzel into thirds.

But there is no way last trip that we would split Dole Whips or Dole Whip floats! We each got our own! And it’s been that way for a long, long time.


We have done budget eating. Buying groceries and cooking for yourself in your room is the number one thing you can do to save, for sure. But the realities of Disney suggest to me you should plan on one lunch or dinner I’m the park each day. If you can brown bag those days, all the better. That way you can save the money for special treats/snacks each day and then perhaps have a nice TS place once during the trip. One TS for 5 people can easily run $100 or more. Even QS can add up quickly.

If you do eat QS, find a place that has Kid’s meals. That gives you the most food for the money. Stick to drinking water as much as possible.

I personally would aim low on eating, because you will undoubtedly want to get a snack or something special along the way that you might not have thought of. In other words, plan for spending $400 instead of $500, which allows wiggle room. If you plan all $500, you might end up going over.


You know, Sci Fi has never really appealed to me. Maybe it’s because my kids still need so much encouragement to eat (and stop paying attention to every single distraction) that I’ve felt it wouldn’t work well for us. Are there any TS in WDW that don’t have cool ambiance? I mean, theming seems to be awesome almost everywhere!

I was thinking Satu’li for our AK day. We did Flame Tree both of our AK days last time because it was so good and a good way to split food.

I have a Plaza reservation and I was kind of thinking just banana splits and maybe a corndog…my kids love corndogs, lol. I should look at the actual menu instead of just the dessert menu. :slight_smile:

Where is L’Artisan des Glaces? I had Les Halles on the “maybe” Epcot list…they have croissant sandwiches and such, right?

1 Like

DH and I frequently share food. Heck, we just went on a date on Monday and got a t-bone with an extra baked potato and split it and it was plenty of food. If we get our own we tend to overeat and are miserable.


I have already polled the audience. They don’t mind bringing PBJ’s some days but they don’t want to do it all the time. We will for sure eat dinner at our resort on our AK day since they close at 5. Maybe I should start another thread titled “Meals big enough to split” and let everyone chime in. I know about the combo platter at FT in AK, we did that last time. I’m thinking the fried chicken at 50s…2 of those plates would be enough for all of us, I think. Nobody likes meatloaf here. We did T-Rex for my daughter’s bday and the portions were huge. I am 100% fine with sharing. I just also don’t want everyone to feel pinched. Stinking money. Why can’t we all just have it all? :joy:


I’ve never considered splitting meals at WDW :exploding_head: we share…like “Hey can I try some of that?” I thought Disney frowned on sharing plates though? It’s SO expensive to eat there and little kids can be so wasteful (not in a bad way) even with desserts ( @longwalk got it correct this time :rofl:). Love all the saving tips here!

Yes…I only have that one LTT booked and am doubtful about keeping it. I just so want to be in a park after dark! And I tried to get my husband to buy a refillable popcorn bucket last time. He misunderstood and bought individual ones. I was so frustrated.

This is a good idea.

The real problem is that there are too many yummy things to eat. I want to eat them all. But I don’t have the stomach space or the budget.

@ryan1 I thought of you when creating this topic. :slight_smile: Good tip on aiming low. I think if we go over a little it’ll be ok. Like, we actually have around $550 but we’re planning on ordering pizza one night with friends who will be there at the same time as us, so I didn’t include that.