It’s no secret that eating at Walt Disney World isn’t cheap, and the prices keep going up. At the same time, Disney continuously brings us new and innovative foods to try. So, what are a couple of girls on a tight budget to do?
I’ve compiled a list of the six things we do to save money while still enjoying the many tasty offerings. We averagely spend between $30-$50 for the two of us to eat at the parks for a day. That comes to about $15-$25 a person (cheaper than the Disney Dining Plan). Here’s our strategy:
1. Sharing Is Caring
I usually don’t want to stuff myself to the point of lethargy when I’m at a theme park, but I still want to try a bunch of things. Sharing is a great way to try a lot of new snacks while saving money. There is no way that I could eat some of my favorite items on my own (Germany pretzel, I’m looking at you). Many items at quick service and table service locations are easily shareable too. The rice bowls at Pecos Bills can easily fill up two people once loaded up at the toppings bar, and table service restaurants don’t have a problem splitting an entree onto two plates if you ask.
2. Meatless Monday
While everyday is “Meatless Monday” for us, it is still a good money saving strategy for non-vegetarians to opt for a meatless entree or two during their stay. Even as a vegetarian, I get sticker shock when I look at the menu prices, but then I look at what meat eaters are paying and realize that it could be worse. It’s worth noting that this is a better money saving strategy at table service locations than it is at a counter service locations where some plant-based burgers and items can sometimes be slightly more than the non-veggie options. The other benefit for going meatless for a few meals is that Disney does a really great job coming up with creative and tasty options for vegetarians and vegans. The plentiful of veggie options are almost always our deciding factor between visiting Universal Studios and Disney World. It’s also a great way to try something new!
3. Happy Meals
If I know that I will be having a larger meal at a table service location later in the day and I just need something to hold me over until then, I’ll often get a kids’ meal at a quick service location. It’s usually nothing spectacular, but it’s cheap, fills me up and keeps the “hangry” monster at bay until I get to have the meal that I’m really looking forward to eating. Disney has stepped up their kids’ meal options recently to include tofu selections and other healthy options.
4. Skip the Bucks to Save a Few
I know that people love their Starbucks, but it’s definitely a huge money waster. I, personally, don’t enjoy waiting in those crazy, chaotic long lines to spend $5 or more on my morning coffee. We will normally get our coffee and breakfast outside of the park. If we’re staying on property then we keep our room stocked with our breakfast and caffeine needs, since the resorts also charge too much. While everyone else is waiting for their morning coffee, we are already off to the attractions with some extra money for snacks later in the day.
5. Variety Is the Spice of Life
Disney has some great table service options and it would be great to try them all, but the quick service locations can be pretty great options too. I think the best strategy is to mix it up. Pick a few table service locations that you MUST eat at and then sprinkle in some new counter service locations. If there is a festival at EPCOT (which is pretty much all year long now) then maybe just try the foods at the booths for a day.
One of the easiest ways to save money is to skip the beverages and hydrate with water throughout the day. Iced water is free and available at almost every food location. You don’t need to buy anything to get a cup of ice water. Just ask.
Samples of what we eat while at the parks…
Dole Whip (share) $5
Kids’ Meal Rice Bowl at Pecos Bill (share) $7.69
Perkins Thai Noodles at Jungle Skipper Canteen (share) $24 (plus tip)
Kids’ Pizza at Pinocchio Village Haus for late snack (share) $7
Total $43.69 (plus tip and taxes)
Vegetarian Platter at Tangierine Cafe (share) $15
Tartine Aux Fromages at Les Halles Boulangerie (share) $6.75
Pretzel in Germany (share) $10
Kakigori at Kabuki Cafe (share) $4
Total $35.75 (plus taxes)
Totchos at Woody’s Lunch Box (share) $9
Crabless Cake and Milkshake at Sci-Fi Dine-in (share) $19 (plus tip)
Popcorn (share) $5
Total $33 (plus tip and taxes)
Mr. Kamal’s Seasoned Fries (share) $6
Kids’ Meal Crispy Tofu Bowl at Satu’li Canteen (share) $8
Korean Roasted Cauliflower at Yak and Yeti (share) $17 (plus tip)
2 Grilled Corn on the Cob at Harambe Fruit Market $10.60
Total $41.60 (plus tip and taxes)