If you want to learn how to eat cheap at Disney World, it is going to require a few clever tricks. Save money on your Disney food with these family-friendly hacks.
It is no surprise that a Disney family vacation is going to be quite expensive.
With constantly rising prices for park passes, hotel stays, and transportation, often the real shocker is just how expensive dining at Disney can be for a family.
But never fear:
Smart Disney vacationers know how to make their Disney dollars stretch far with a few clever tricks.
When you know how to eat cheap at Disney World, you know you need to plan ahead before you go.
Once you have a conversation with your family about your strategy, you'll still have a fantastic time, eat well, and have a great Disney vacation together.
The Best Tips for Eating Cheap at Disney
These tips were tested by my family of four (two adults, two kids) over the course of several Disney vacations over a decade.
1. Quick Service vs. Table Service
The most obvious tips for eating on a budget is to avoid the table service restaurants and rely most heavily on the quick service dining available at all of the Disney parks and resorts.
However, this IS supposed to be a vacation.
Our family's strategy often involves one table service restaurant reservation per day of the trip.
We choose to eat cheaper food at other meals of the day so we can relax and splurge on one nicer meal.
But if table service still isn't in your budget, no problem!
There's tons of great food available at quick service restaurants if you know where to go.
2. Bring Refillable Water Bottles
We pack a refillable water bottle into each of our park backpacks to bring into the Disney parks every day.
You can get FREE cups of ice water at any quick service restaurant in the parks.
Not only did this save money on our quick service meals but it helped save on our beverage costs for the entire day in the park.
You can hop into a quick service spot and ask for more water any time your bottle runs dry.
3. Order Less, Share More
There are so many delicious things to eat at Disney, no family could fit them all in or afford all of them every trip.
If you want to sample as many goodies as possible, I recommend that you share, share, share.
Order just one item to split and sample more things, more frequently!
This is a great way to make sure no one is ever totally starving during the day, too.
But sharing works on the main entrees, too!
Disney portions tend to be big. 2 - 3 entrees plus maybe a salad could be eaten family-style for 4 - 6 people.
It's ok that no one is completely stuffed after the meal because it just leaves room for more snacks and treats later!
4. Disney's Refillable Resort Beverage Cups
If you're staying at a Disney resort, consider getting one of the refillable resort cups right away on Day 1.
The cost of the cup makes sense if you plan to have 5 or more beverages during course of your stay.
The refills will not work inside the Disney parks, only at any of the Disney resort restaurants.
However, the savings could really add up if you plan to get a soda at each of your meals.
5. Bring Emergency Snacks
You are allowed to pack outside food into your Disney backpack for a trip into the parks.
I strongly recommend packing things that won't melt and could hold up to a day in the heat.
Also be sure your snacks are not delicate (like potato chips). You don't want them getting crushed in your bag.
We love to pack trail mix, granola bars, peanut butter crackers, and pretzels for "emergency fuel" when a kid is melting down and we're not quite ready for our next meal.
When you head to your quick service meal and you're not totally starving, it is easier to split and share fewer items from the menu.
6. Pack Food for the Hotel Room
The best budget tip for saving money on food at Disney, or any vacation really, is to plan to eat breakfast in your hotel room before you get going.
This cuts down one entire meal that you'd need to buy in a restaurant and it lets you get out the door and to the park a little bit faster.
Kids can be eating one of these easy hotel room breakfasts while the rest of the family is getting ready for the day and then you can all head out on the adventure together.