Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Food is one of the easiest places to save money.
With a family of seven, I have lots of tips for dining at Walt Disney World on a budget. I'll also share our favorite lunches and snacks to pack into the parks.
Combine these tips with 25+ Ways to Save at Walt Disney World and Tips for Your First Trip to Walt Disney World to maximize your savings and make the most of your trip!
Here are my best tips to help you save money on food at Walt Disney World.
Many Orlando hotels will accept grocery deliveries and hold your food in refrigerated storage – but not all. Check with your hotel before you schedule a delivery.
AmazonFresh, Walmart, and other major chains and services offer grocery delivery in Orlando, so you have lots of options. Uber and Lyft also work well here, if you want to go to a grocery store and don't have your own car.
Don't forget to add items like these to your shopping list:
- Ziploc bags in sandwich and gallon sizes
- paper bowls and plates
Plan for a Mini Fridge
Many Orlando hotel rooms have in-room mini-refrigerators. Contact your hotel to confirm that you'll have one. Disney World has in-room refrigerators at all their value resorts.
Here are some tips for making the most of your mini-fridge.
- Buy foods that don't need refrigeration like bagels and bananas.
- Save limited fridge space for deli meat and dairy.
- Most mini-fridges will fit a half-gallon of milk, but not a full gallon.
- Many mini-fridges don't have freezers.
I wanted plenty of milk for cereal, so we brought a small cooler that would hold two gallons of milk and filled it with ice at the hotel. With our cooler and the mini-fridge, we only had to grocery shop once.
Related: 25+ Ways to Save Money at Walt Disney World
Eat Breakfast in Your Room
Eating breakfast in your room will save you money and time. You'll want to arrive at the parks early for the shortest lines.
Here are some easy hotel breakfast ideas:
- yogurt with granola and fruit
- cereal and milk
- bagels and cream cheese
- fresh fruit, like bananas or berries
Disney World Resort food courts have toasters and microwaves available to their guests if you want to heat up breakfast sandwiches, toast, Pop Tarts, or oatmeal.
Related: Tips for Your First Walt Disney World Trip
Pack Your Lunch
Walt Disney World allows you to bring food into the park, so save money by bringing your own lunch.
Stow it in a day pack or stroller. Double bag Ziploc bags filled with hotel ice to keep it cold. Locker rentals are available if you don't want to carry it around.
Plan variety in your lunches, and throw in some favorite treats to make them fun.
Want to save money but skip the hassle of packing a lunch? Buy lunches in the park and eat sandwiches in your room for dinner.
Here are some of our favorite lunch ideas for Disney World:
- cheese and crackers
- peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
- deli meat and cheese sandwiches
- tuna sandwiches
- bagels and cream cheese
- hummus with crackers or veggies
- beef jerky
- leftover pizza from a previous night's dinner
- string cheese
- apples, grapes, oranges, clementines
- carrot sticks, cucumbers, sweet peas
- crackers or chips
- juice boxes, water bottles, or soda
Related: Tips for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando
Eating a funnel cake at a Disney park is a delightful splurge, but we save a lot of money by bringing most of our own snacks into the parks.
It's smart to pack healthy snacks like apples and carrots, but pack other favorite snacks and drinks too. You won't be tempted to buy a $5 bottle of soda if you have the same soda in your day pack.
Here are some easy-to-pack snack ideas:
- granola bars
- apple slices
- string cheese
- fruit snacks
- juice pouches
- water bottles
Set a Snack Budget
There are so many great snacks at Walt Disney World! Dole Whip, churros, and international treats at Epcot will be calling your name. If you want to try a few, set a snack budget.
I recommend that you set a limit for each person, like $15 or 2-3 snacks per week. This gives kids a chance to practice budgeting. And when you want a churro, you don't have to buy one for everyone.
Related: 6 Tips for Eating Healthy on Vacation
Consider the Disney Dining Plan
A Disney Dining Plan will allow your family to enjoy the delicious restaurants and snacks at Walt Disney World for a set price. These plans are available to guests who purchase a Disney Resort Hotel Package.
Basic Disney Dining Plans include 2 meals with specialty beverages and 2 snacks. We haven't tried it yet because buying groceries is less expensive. However, if enjoying Disney fare is a priority for your family, these plans will allow you to enjoy restaurants and snacks without wondering about your final bill.
Learn more about the Disney Dining Plans at https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/plans/.
Want to save more money?
We recommend Get Away Today Vacations to help you save even more on your Walt Disney World trip. Disney experts can help you book your park tickets and hotel for the best price. They will book your character dining and FastPasses too!
Buy individual tickets or book a vacation package. Get Away Today sells Walt Disney World tickets for less than Disney’s official site!
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We worked hard to save money on food so that we could splurge on a character meal! A late breakfast buffet at Chef Mickey's was our reward for packing sandwiches all week and it was worth it!
Walt Disney World dining does not have to drain your bank account. Buying your own groceries and planning simple meals will bring your food budget way down.
Want more tips for making the most of your Walt Disney World trip? Visit our Walt Disney World page to browse articles that can help you save money, avoid long lines, and share memorable experiences that will help your family become stronger, smarter, and happier.
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How did we miss Club Cool at Epcot?! That’s a new one for me. We have also had success with several of these tips. To make the peanut butter sandwiches even easier, I have purchased the frozen Uncrustables several times on trips like these. Crackers, sliced cheese and deli meat with carrots, grapes and cookies on the side make a lunch that can go straight from the grocery store to the park with no prep time in between. Freeze water bottles in your in-room fridge, or fill a water bottle with hotel ice to keep the perishables cold until lunchtime.
These are great tips. We’ll be staying in a vacation rental home, so that will help with breakfast and some dinners, but it’s great to know we can bring our home food into the parks. Also, Club Cool is a great tip!
Yes, Club Cool is easy to miss but I was so glad to discover it this time. We stopped by twice it was so fun! Enjoy your trip!
One trick We found on my honeymoon, go to downtown disney, go across the parkinglot next to the McDonald’s (which charges normal prices not elevated Disney prices) and just across the street is a convenience store where we were able to get bread, milk, cereal and sandwich fixings. We had no off park transportation, so this helped us save a quite a bit.
Might I suggest a tip you left off? If you are dining outside the park, be sure to pick up the local tourist guides that are EVERYWHERE outside the park (and many can be found online now….but the better deals are in FL). You will find them crammed with high value off coupons. And since the competition is massive in Orlando, my friends who live there often eat out, finding it far cheaper with coupons then the cost of cooking! And if you have a car and a Costco, or similar, membership, you can save a ton by going there and paying real world prices, not inflated convenience store prices! Honesty, for a large family I would suggest renting an house site house, with pool, which would be a fraction of the cost of on property accomodations, and using the saved $$$ towards more meals in Disney. (While I much prefer staying in the parks, IMHO anyone considering a Value resort should realize how much nicer houses & condo rentals are in comparison). Of course, so much depends on what is important to each family. Hope this helped a bit, for some folks 🙂
Toni @ Debt Free Divas
Using site like VRBO or HomeAway have been a huge cost savings in recent years – especially now that I have children. Right now, hotel accommodations are just a bit too cramped for any length of time (for us). Plus, I really don’t like to feed the kids so much of the restaurant food and I apparently don’t mind cooking when I’m on vacay – it’s daily cooking at home that I could do without. LOL! So for health and price reasons, I’m with you.
Alison or Katie, I would like to know what’s the minimum age you would take children to Disney?
Toni, I am so sorry I missed this question earlier! For me, I think 3 is the magical age for a child’s first visit to Disney. I think they are old enough to appreciate the Disney magic at at that age and can handle the excitement of the park. I have definitly seen people successfully take younger kids, but for me, I like 3 years old.
This was so awesome! I actually get really sick of eating out and my stomach ends up not liking me. 🙂 I was researching how/if we could bring our own lunches into the parks and found your awesome tips. Thank you so much for writing this, it will help my family on our first trip to Disney both financially and in health!
We bake pepperoni rolls at home and freeze them. Keep them in the fridge at the hotel. Also you can get free water at the parks–if you ask. We also packed some fresh fruit – sliced apples and nutella ( I bought very,very small disposable tupperware type cups at my local dollar store to pack dip), and we were all happy and full. This was lunch at least twice during the week. Also if your kids are a fan of lunchables, make your own. Pack diced ham, sliced cheese and packs of crackers, add some grapes..instant kid friendly lunch.
Thanks for the great tips, Robin!
I placed the order with Orlando Grocery Express, an online shopping website. They were great!!!! We have used them a coupe of times. The food was delivered to our room. We had also ordered for some dairy products, Shampoo, snacks, fresh fruits, etc all items were exactly as ordered. so u can also try http://www.orlandogroceryexpress.com
Thank you for the recommendation!
Are you allowed to bring coolers into the park? I was thinking of bringing a rolling cooler with lunches and snacks and drinks. Then we would have to store it while we were in the park. Do they have storage for that?
Thanks…leaving in July
Disney World does NOT allow “Suitcases, backpacks or coolers, with or without wheels, larger than 24″ long x 15″ wide x 18 inches high.” Large lockers are available for storage for $10 per day, plus $5 key deposit. These lockers are 17x12x16. Other than the lockers, there is no place inside the park to store a cooler, and the park will “deal with any unattended object in such way that we deem appropriate.”
I prefer to store snacks, sandwiches and drinks in a backpack or stroller so we have them with us whenever and wherever we want them. Frozen water bottles help keep everything else cool, and are nice for a cold drink later in the day. Hope you have a great trip!
Getting some groceries delivered to your room for quick snacks and breakfast to keep in the room is a great idea too. The Grocery Stork offers delivery to resorts around Disney. They delivered it right to our resort and it was waiting for us when we checked in. Made the trip get off to a nice start.
Good tip. Thanks for the recommendation!
Thank you for this post. It was very helpful to our family
I’m so glad. Thank you for your comment!