There’s lots of reasons vacationers bring in food to Disney World, and there’s lots of tips for making it a successful ‘park picnic’!
Here at MouseEarMemories we are bringing in food for food restrictions and allergies. But we also bring in items to make it Budget Friendly (And you’ll find that many people do the same!).
Bringing in food also helps with waiting in lines, and saves you time on vacation as those 10 minute lines here and there for snacks really add up.
Below you’ll find tips, best items to bring in, and frequently asked questions for bringing in food to Disney World.
Can I bring a Cooler into Disney?
Yes! You can bring in small soft sided coolers, and also small hard coolers. These cannot have loose ice, and they will be checked by security. You can also bring in cooler backpacks or a small lunchbox. The bags need to be smaller than 24″ long x 15″ wide x 18” high.
***As Always, please speak to a qualified restaurant employee when ordering food. In order to see the most accurate ingredients and risk assessment, you will need to confirm allergy safety in real-time. This is my personal experience, I am not employed or endorsed by companies or brands mentioned.***
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Disney World Rules for Bringing in Food Items
Per Disney World, you cannot bring in glass containers, or items that need to be refrigerated, reheated, processed etc (As they won’t do that for you!)
You also cannot bring in alcoholic beverages into the parks, but you can purchase and bring in those beverages to your resort room.
Guests are allowed to bring outside food and nonalcoholic beverage items into the park for self-consumption, provided they are not in glass containers and do not require heating, reheating, processing, refrigeration or temperature control and do not have pungent odorsDisney World
You should also not bring in loose ice unless it’s in small clear plastic baggies (so it can be checked by security).
Can I bring Water into Disney?
Yes! You can bring in Water to Disney World. I’d recommend you get a water bottle and utilize the water refill stations throughout the parks.
The Best Types of Foods to Bring into Disney World
So what food to bring into Disney World? The food that you’ll eat of course! Consider items that are easy to eat, easy to store, and taste good. Now is not the time to be trying a bunch of new recipes or snacks as you might not like what you bring (so eat those snacks before coming, you’ve got a good reason to try them!)
How do you pack lunch at Disney World?
- Familiarize Yourself with the Items Allowed (and not allowed) in the Parks.
- Select Food Items that Can Withstand the Orlando Heat Without Melting or Spoiling.
- Prepare a Cooler that Can Be Conveniently Carried Throughout the Day.
- Consider if you need to use Disney’s Locker Service or if you want to carry it around with you.
- Consider a ‘Half Picnic’ where you supplement with items and snacks from Disney. Examples include bringing in fruit, but ordering fries or bringing in a sandwich but getting dessert at Disney.
There are several nearby Grocery Stores (all within 15 minutes or so of Disney World resort) that have food options. All of these locations have allergy options as well!
Nearby Grocery Stores include: Target, Walmart, Whole Foods and Publix.
You can also consider Amazon delivery to your resort or hotel, or bring items with you if you drive in.
Best Types of Foods to bring in include: Prepackaged single serve items, food items that don’t need refrigeration, food items that can compliment a meal (like if you get a hot dog at Disney, you bring in chips and fruit), items that don’t require reheating.
My favorite types of items to bring in to the park are:
- Fruit Strips/Gummies (these could melt!)
- Whole fruits that don’t need refrigeration (apples, bananas, blueberries)
- Nut/Nut Alternative Butters (we do Pumpkin Butter)
- Protein Bars
- Snack Bars
- Cookies/Brownies/Crisped Rice in Single Serve Baggies
With a smaller cooler you could also bring in:
- Avocado single serve
- Sandwiches (I’d avoid mayo and do another sauce)
- Pasta salads without meat
- Muffins / protein cookies / baked goods
- yogurt pouches
- precooked pizza
Where to Eat when you’ve brought in your own food
There are several locations in each of the parks that you can enjoy your picnic meal, or rest and relax and munch on some snacks.
While many quick serves have outdoor seating, and you’ll also find outdoor seating at several of the parks.
For quick reference here are some of my favorite places to relax and enjoy my food:
- Seating area in Magic Kingdom by the Tangled Bathrooms (between It’s a Small World and Haunted Mansion)
- In Liberty Square at the Liberty Square Market in Magic Kingdom
- On the Hub grass (the green fake grass) in front of Casey’s Corner and Plaza Ice Cream in Magic Kingdom (anytime before 4pm)
- In Animal Kingdom in the seating area by Finding Nemo or Everest (it used to be a water stadium show)
- In Animal Kingdom behind the Mickey and Minnie Meet and Greet
- Seats in Animal Kingdom between Africa and Asia
- In EPCOT there’s benches all around World Showcase.
- In EPCOT in the UK, there’s a ‘square’ where the Hedge Maze is found that has lots of benches and shade.
- in EPCOT in the American Adventure Pavilion,
- in Hollywood Studios outside Pizzerizzo (there’s a portion that’s only for Pizzarizzo and another area that is for anyone).
- Behind Starbucks (Trolley Car Cafe) in Hollywood Studios
Hacks to make Bringing Food to Disney World Parks more Magical
Bring a Cooler
There’s so many options for coolers nowadays that it makes sense to bring one in with your food. After all, Disney World can get really hot and humid and it’s no fun if your food spoils.
For my family of 5 (4 of those with restrictions) we use the Clevermade Collapsible cooler so I can fold it up after our meals and store it easily. I also have a smaller lunchbox with a clip if I’m only bringing in a few items for the kids. Another item we are considering is a Cooler BackPack as you can take that on the rides with you (the cooler can go on the rides, it’s just bulky!)
Don’t pack loose ice- unless it’s in small baggies.
Security will make you dump the loose ice in your cooler out. Prevent this by putting ice in small clear baggies that can be removed so they can check the full cooler.
Grab a Locker to Rent
Disney has several lockers you can rent, all at the front of the park. They range from 10-15 dollars and come in three sizes. This is a great option if you want to bring other things like clothing or buy souvenirs early in the morning and then put them in the locker.
Consider Preferred Parking and put a large cooler in your car
Wanna skip bringing in the food all together? Just pay for preferred parking so you park up close to the park. Then load a cooler full of food and ice, and leave that in the car. When you’re ready to eat, come back to the car and have a picnic. (Note: this doesn’t work for Magic Kingdom as you have to park so far away).
Here’s the three things I bring in every trip as a Disney World Blogger.
A safe snack. Because I have food allergies, I always bring a safe snack. I never know when I’ll get trapped by the weather, or the long lines, or find out my safe place is randomly out of my selection. Bringing in a snack gives me piece of mind.
A plastic baggie/reusable baggy. When I get Food I love, I try to order extra so I don’t have to wait in line again! The lines can really eat up vacation time, and having a quick snack on hand does wonders for the ‘hangries’.
A Water Bottle. Lots of people prefer to buy a bottle and refill, or just buy lots of bottles. All of those are valid, but do decide ahead of time what you plan to do for water. I’ve found a double insulated metal water bottle that it 32 ounces or less works best for me and isn’t too heavy, plus keeps my food cold. Another great hack is a collapsible water bottle to maximize your storage.
FAQs for Bringing Food into Disney World
Do I need a note from my Doctor to bring food into Disney?
Nope. Florida law prohibits Disney from requiring a Doctor’s note for bringing in meals or snacks. Within reason, you can bring in meds, food, or equipment you need related to your food restriction.
Do I need to let them know I’m bringing in food for a Special Diet?
At Disney World, I’ve never had anyone ask, and I see people bring in snacks/small meals all the time. One time I saw a Teacher/Coach bring in a literally garbage bag full of lunches for the 15 kids on his soccer team that went to the parks. If you come into a situation where they ask, let them know its for a food restriction.
Are there Microwaves inside the Disney Parks to heat up my food?
No, there are no microwaves inside the Disney Parks to heat up outside food.
Where can I find Ice inside Disney World?
At the quick service or table service locations, ask for a cup of ice. Then you can add that to a plastic baggie you brought in with you to keep your food cold.
Bringing food into Disney World isn’t hard, but it does require some planning. Consider foods that are yummy and safe for you to eat (while preventing any food illness from not storing it at the proper temperature!)