Hi all! I’m a full-time single mom and i saved up to take my 14 year old to Disney in 2 weeks! However, now I’m panicking about not having enough money for food etc. Any tips to save on food etc?
some ppl have been telling about sharing a plate for an ADR. I know my DD and SiL shared an order at Olivia’s and our waiter just brought an extra plate for them.
fill up on breakfast… it’s usually the least expensive meal of the day
Order groceries to your hotel- Instacart is who I use. Get soda, water, breakfast foods, snacks. When you buy a meal in the parks only get water, have soda back in the room. Do not buy water in the parks, one bottle will cost you almost the same as a case from Instacart. Just get a good backpack, I usually have 2-3 bottles in my bag when it is hot, your teen can carry his in his own bag.
Look at menus before you go so that you can add up food costs. This is the best way to ensure you have enough money planned and are not surprised when you get there.
Big fan of bringing your own snacks and breakfast items. We packed bagels, cereal bars, granola bars, beef jerky, fruit snacks, apples, bananas and more to save time and not even do sit down breakfasts!
Also bring empty bottles to refill water can reduce drink costs!
Also worth knowing the best QS places at each park in case you’re being very limited on TS restaurants. Sharing entrees was a good tip above and also good recent reports like @OBNurseNH ordering lots of apps and calling it a meal!
Can you get free water at the food courts at Pop?
Yes, if it’s served in a cup. No if you’re thinking of bottled water.
Great tips to bring snack and drinks instead of buying in the park.
Some great value QS dinner places are Pecos Bills, ABC Commissary, Sunshine Seasons, Flame Tree BBQ.
Bringing breakfast instead of buying it at the parks can save you a couple hundred dollars for 2 ppl.
TS in the parks tend to be more expensive then at the resorts, if you want to do TS dining.
Also a great budget friendly snack is to get a refillable popcorn bucket at the beginning of the trip (if you like popcorn and are ok with eating it often, I am).
Free water at QS locations if you ask. Bring a refillable water bottle.
Defiantly of to share a meal! A snack can be a meal as well. Order a kids meal at quick service locations. When on vacation anything goes! Bring your own snacks and a water bottle for sure.
I’m not sure what our food plan will be for this trip, but last time we ate breakfast in the car on the way to the park (stayed offsite), ate QS lunch at the park, and had dinner (something like frozen pizza) at the apartment at the end of our afternoon break before heading back to the park. We also didn’t always get an actual ‘meal’ item from QS. When you add up the pretzel and dole whip and such, I’m not always that hungry.
This page has a lot of good money-saving ideas:
I ditto what everyone has said. Are you and/or your daughter foodies? If so, what do you have to eat at WDW in order to feel content and not cheated?
Like someone else said, you need to look at the menus and plan out your food so that you can estimate how much money you need. You may find out you have more than enough money for your meals and can afford a splurge! I think it is better to be prepared than to be disappointed and/or over spend.
Someone can chime in with more up to date estimates. For my trip in 2019, I budgeted $13/person for QS and $7/person for snack. For us, I over budgeted because we hardly ordered a QS meal for every person. And we tend to share snacks.
Another thought to save food money is to bring your own lunch a few times. If you have a freezer, you can freeze your water and use it as ice and later as water. My family won’t do sandwiches because they tend to get flattened. But we do lunch meat and cheese rolls. I think you can put ice cubes in zip lock bags and that is okay for security. If not, you can bring some zip lock bags and ask for ice in the park. The beauty of bringing your own lunch is that it is easy to eat in line and that saves time! On our last visit, we ate our lunch meat rolls in line for MFSR and POTC. We have had a couple of different small, lightweight cooler backpacks over the years.
Here is the one we bought recently:
Cooler backpack is convenient to throw in a couple of water bottles and maybe a plastic bottle of soda/sparkling water. Other park essentials can also fit into the backpack.
I agree with the others who said to look through the menus and get an idea of what you might need to spend. We purchase Disney gift cards with a discount from places like BJs or Sam’s to cover the amount we are going to budget.
Filtered ice water is available at QS for free. Bring one of those little bottles of drops to flavor the water.
As for souvenirs, pins are great keepsakes and don’t break the bank. We went to a Disney Character Outlet on our way in and bought pins there that we then traded at the parks for a ones we liked better.
Pressed pennies are also a nice keepsake.
You can also buy trading pin ‘fodder’ & lanyards on Amazon (cheaply) and trade up in the parks. Pin trading has been a family fav activity.
If you have a car and want to go to the Disney Character outlet you can save A LOT of money on souvenirs, but it is hit or miss on what you’ll find. If you are limited on time I would not go there.
If you have the Target Red Card, you can purchase Disney gift cards for 5% off. I know it’s not much of a discount but it can also help set a budget. I think we even used the gift cards to pay for our hotel room as well.
We’ve been experts at scrimping at Disney. We no longer have to do that as much, but here are a few suggestions.
As much as you can, do NOT eat Disney food. So, bring yourself some oatmeal packets to have for breakfast in your hotel room, as well as other snacks for various times throughout the day or evening…but be careful not to bring anything that requires anything more than a microwave or a fridge.
We actually would bring into the parks a light lunch. This is easier to do if you are staying off property or someplace where you can have groceries.
Plan to JUST drink water…so bring water bottles in with you so that you can easily fill them at opportune times. Beverage prices at Disney are highway robbery! And we found that paying for the refillable mugs at the resorts aren’t a great money savings because you end up NOT being at the resort enough to take advantage of it (usually).
Avoid eating Table Service as much as possible. Prices there are going to be significantly higher than Counter Service. (However…the caveat to that, which folks have mentioned, is if you choose to split a meal rather than each get your own.)
When ordering Counter Service, just order from the kid’s menu. Disney doesn’t care, and it can save you quite a bit. Not as many choices, but as long as you are fine with the options they have, go for it. This is particularly “not awkward” if you are mobile ordering.
Check menus and prices ahead of your trip to determine where you can get the most bang for your buck. For example, the Golden Oak Outpost used to be place you could get quite a lot of food (chicken strips and fries) for the price, so more shareable. (I don’t know if that is still the case, since it is has been a couple years now.) But in the very least, by doing this, you can KNOW how much you are going to spend ahead of time. Even NOW, when money for us isn’t as tight, we still plan out every single meal and calculate how much we are going to likely spend based on the on-line menu pricing. This allows us to budget and plan accordingly. (This really should be number ONE on this list!)
Eat outside the parks! Specifically, Disney Springs has some good options that are less expensive than what you’ll find in the parks. We always end up eating at Earl of Sandwich, for example, because you can get a meal more cheaply there than other places…including some good basic dessert options. If you have a car, you might even drive off property entirely. We’ve done that in the past, for sure!
Mentally, prepare yourself for ONE snack per person per day. Not only for a budgeting standpoint, but because it helps make up for perhaps some of the scrimping you might be doing elsewhere. Even a $6 Mickey bar (or whatever it is these days), while still expensive, can feel like a treat when you sharing meals, and such. You are still on vacation, so eliminating snacks from your budget, for us, isn’t a good way to save money. I found saving money other ways in our food while still planning for a snack for each of you each day made it seem more special. (This isn’t to suggest you not also bring snacks into the parks with you as well…but that is more to help stem off hunger and hangriness than to be a replacement for buying the Blue Milk in SWGE, or that scrumptious Cream-Cheese Filled Pretzel at whereever they have it these days!)
I will just add to the eating breakfast in your room and packing a lunch. It doesn’t just save money but also so much time! Our first few trips were super budget- later trips we have been able to be less tight with the spending. But I still like to do breakfast and lunch that way to save time.
While you’re checking out menus don’t rule out appetizers. If you’re a small portion eater, appetizers are wonderful. In 2019 at 50s Prime Time for lunch with extended family I ordered crab cakes and a root beer float. Very full, content and less expensive than the good looking mountains of entrees the others had in front of them.
When Marrakesh opens again I hope the seafood bastilla is still on the menu. Along with the dessert bastilla.
At counter/quick service we’d always share items like the ribs and chicken combo at Flametree BBQ, along with an extra order of fries. Two adults and a kid shared this successfully several visits. It’s one of the pricier things on the menu if just for one.
Our family of five rarely needed five meals. If it’s your son and you, there could definitely be times to get one entree and an app with likely plenty to go around