Tips and Hacks to Save Money on Food at Disney World (for your 2024 trip!)

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Food is a hot topic right now. There’s shortages, price changes, dining plan updates etc etc.

And when we talk about Disney World, besides the tickets, the food is one of the biggest expenses! There’s fun meals, character meals, special treats and the benefit of not being stuck in the kitchen. Did I mention it comes at the Disney Prices?

It can be a lot to take in, but with a little research and some planning, budgeting your food at Disney World is doable!

How to save money when eating at Disney?

There’s several tips and tricks for saving money at Disney with your food budget. The top 5 tried and true options are: Eating Snacks as Meals, Eating from the Kids Menu, Eating outside of the Parks, Skipping the Expensive Drinks (and opting for free or low cost options) and prioritizing Quick Serve locations.

How much does the average person spend on food at Disney World per day?

If you are headed to Disney World soon, you’ll find that prices on food items tend to fluctuate upwards with subtle price increases a few times a year. For an Adult, eating primarily snacks and quick service, plan to spend around $75 per day (and children under age 10 would average around $45). For adults planning to eat at Table Service, plan to spend around $100 a day before tips and drinks (with children under the age of 10 averaging $65 a day)

Have food allergies and headed to the parks? Things are alittle different for you!

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Plan your Meals Ahead of time

That means that you only need to pack (or buy) specific meals at the parks and all the snacks and drinks you might need. 

But, you might think an option will be ‘cheaper’, but if it eats into your park time, it costs you in other ways.

For example, if you look below at Sample Day 1, if the family leaves for the day at 7pm, they get ‘cheaper’ food options, but they loose out on time inside of the parks (that they’ll already paid for with their ticket!)

For example, your day could look like one of the following by planning ahead:

Sample Day 1

  • Ate breakfast at the Resort, $12 for adults and $9 per child
  • Ate lunch at Quick Serve locations, $18 for Adults and $12 for kids
  • Purchased one Snack per person, $10 per person
  • Ate offsite for Dinner at 7 pm after leaving the parks for the day, spent $15 for adults and kids are free.
  • No drinks purchased
  • Average spend today was Adults $55 and Children was $31
  • Total for a family of four: $172

Sample Day 2

  • Breakfast in the room (under $5 per person)
  • Brought in Snacks and a Sandwich per person, paid $10 on additional lunch food per person
  • Table Service Buffet at Dinner, $35 for adult and $25 for kids
  • No Drinks or Snacks purchased
  • Average spend today for Adults was $50 and Children was $40
  • Total for a family of four: $180

Order from the Kids Menu

A classic tip, this is a tried and true way to get a good amount of food at a lower price point!

This tip only works if you are eating at Quick Service locations (think fast food, not the sit locations), as Table Service locations will direct you to the Adult Menus.

Here’s a comparison of an identical Adult portion and Childs portion at Columbia Harbour House in Magic Kingdom. For this experiment, I did not have my kids with me and ordered at the Register (I didn’t use mobile ordering, which is easier!)

Large Buffet paired with lots of snacks

There are several fantastic Buffets at Disney that are all you care to enjoy!

I really like to pair these with a few snacks and maybe one other quick service meal to round out the day, and this is especially helpful if you aren’t a breakfast eater or like to do version of intermittent fasting.

Here are some quality Buffet Locations at Disney World to add to your meal plan!

  • Round Up Rodeo at Hollywood Studios
  • Hollywood and Vine at Hollywood Studios
  • Biergarten at EPCOT
  • Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom
  • Whispering Canyon Cafe at Wilderness Lodge (a boatride away from Magic Kingdom)
  • Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Sebastian’s Bistro at Caribbean Beach Resort (on the Skyliner Loop)

Skip the Park options and get food here instead

⭐ Eat at the Resorts

Prices are generally similar between the Theme Parks and the Resorts, but the one thing that stands out is the portion sizes! At the Resorts, the portions are larger, I’d say 20% on average. While that doesn’t seem like much, when you are dependant on a kitchen to make all your foods, it adds up each day when it comes to being full or being hungry at the end of the night!

⭐ Grocery Store options

The most obvious one is you bring your food with you but that might not always work, depending on how you travel.

My two favorite options are going to the Grocery store before Disney and using Amazon to have things delivered to my room.

I’m a big fan of Publix (and I like to get my kids balloons there!) because we have some allergies and food preferences. You can also get delivery from places like Target and Whole Foods.

Great items to get include:

⭐ Get it Delivered locally

Pizza is a no brainer, and can be very inexpensive depending on what you order. You can also have other restaurants delivered through multiple delivery services. I’m serious, there almost too many to list here! Theres Amazon’s Same Day delivery, Instacart, Garden Grocer etc etc.

A quick google will show you all your options or you can ask your resort. The Locals cater to Disney, and lots of restaurants would be happy to have your business!

Only use Delivery locations that you can verify on Google, and not locations that have slipped a flyer under your door.

Skip Drinks (or do this instead! )

Drinks are the hidden budget breaker at Disney World.

Water bottles can get very expensive at 4-6 dollars a bottle, and it can quickly add up when purchasing items. Let’s say you stop for popcorn and some water bottles for your family of four… there goes 25 dollars. If you repeat this a few times a day (one stop for Dole Whip, one stop for Mickey Bars, one stop for churros) you’ll quickly spend over 100 dollars on snacks and drinks.

Instead I’d recommend a reusable water bottle and using the refill stations, or simply refilling a plastic bottle (or even just getting free cups of water!).

Speciality drinks start at 5 dollars, but can easily be around 10-15 dollars for themed options. I do like to try the drinks occasionally, and I’ll use my snack budget to ‘drink’ my sugar instead.

Alcoholic drinks are on a different level, as these are much pricier and reminiscent of Concert or Ball Game Prices. Prepare to spend at least $15 dollars per drink. (And might I suggest Disney’s Boardwalk if you want to drink at Disney? Directly out the back entrance of EPCOT, this location boasts fun options like a Margarita Stand and Jellyrolls Piano Bar!)

Character Breakfasts over Lunch or Dinner

The Absolute Best way to experience a Character Meal while on a budget is by going to Breakfast!

While the food options are more ‘American Breakfast’ and not as meat heavy, it’s still a wonderful spread while enjoying the Characters.

Character Breakfast for Adults is around $40+ (typically under 45) and for children $27

Here’s a list of all the Character Breakfast Options and their locations:

  • Topolinos Character Breakfast at the Riviera Resort
  • Cape May Cafe at Beach Club Resort
  • Akershus Character Dining at EPCOT in Norway
  • Tusker House Character Breakfast in Animal Kingdom inside Africa
  • Chef Mickey’s Breakfast at The Contemporary Resort (near Magic Kingdom!)
  • ‘Ohana Character Breakfast at The Polynesian Resort
  • Crystal Palace Breakfast in Magic Kingdom
  • Cinderella’s Royal Table Breakfast in Magic Kingdom
  • Garden Grill Breakfast in EPCOT inside the Land Pavillion
  • Hollywood and Vine Disney Jr Breakfast in Hollywood Studios

*Note that Trattoria and 1900 Park Fare Breakfasts are not offering Character Meals at this time.

Use the Mobile Ordering App

Previously I would get a menu and sit down to plan out my family’s meals but… Mobile ordering has changed how I purchase food.

Now I just order from wherever I’m at on property (like in line!!!!!) and I can figure out the food needs and budget from there. SO easy! 

Eat Snacks as Meals

Easily my favorite recommendation, Eating Snacks as Meals is a Budget friendly option for your trip!

At first glance it seems counterintuitive BUT when you consider the time savings (since you had to buy a ticket to get into Disney World!) it starts to make sense.

For Example… Popcorn in the Reusable Container is a filling and delicious addition to your snack line up!

Mickey Premium Ice Cream bars are under 7 dollars and around 300 calories, making it an instagram worthy pic (and checking off the Mickey Shaped treat box!) while also being a decent snack.

Cupcakes are fun and flavorful, plus pumped full of sugar and calories to keep the good time rolling.

Other Items like Turkey Legs, Ears of Corn, Caramel Apples etc all pack a punch nutrition wise with energy to get through the day while being 1. quick to find and 2. friendly on the wallet!

Consider a ‘picnic’ style meal

Along with sharing your larger portion sizes is mixing them with some snacks or leftovers that you brought.

I love to bring in sandwiches  and then order fries or soup to go with them. Likewise, I bring in a lot of fruit and trail mix, which goes great with a salad or main entree from a quick service restaurant.

 I use this collapsible cooler which has literally saved me thousands! Seriously- it’s great to carry around and then collapse when your done with your meal. I’m all about convenience when it comes to vacation.

Disney Dining Plan

Are you considering the Disney Dining Plan?

In a nutshell, this plan is purchased with your room, and it basically gives you ‘credit’ for your food. Kind of like if you had stayed on a cruise ship, and all the food is “free”

Another way to think of the dining plan is that you prepaid for the food, or that you are getting food on vacation without having to pull out your wallet.

Here’s the thing about the dining plan though, it’s not always worth it! Here’s a list of conditions that would make the dining plan worth the money you pay for it (but still not a savings, you would just break even

  • Drink a lot of soda (for the resort refillable mug)
  • Plan to use up both snack credits each day (most people forget and then end up taking a bunch of stuff home with them on the last day)
  • Do a character meal buffet for DINNER (not breakfast or lunch) This means you need to be really prepared for getting those ADR for your time frame. If you have a travel agent they may be able to help.
  • Eat your quick service meal for lunch or dinner at the park not the resort

If you have more kids in your party than adults (like 3 kids and 2 adults) it’s could be worth it with the character meals compared to the price of the kids dining credits.

But if your kids don’t eat a lot (kids can purchase an adult sized meal at quick service), you may be left with “leftover” dining credits.

This could work if you have an off day planned. If you have hungry teenagers that eat everything in sight, it can be worth it if you follow the recommendations above. 

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3 thoughts on “Tips and Hacks to Save Money on Food at Disney World (for your 2024 trip!)”

  1. We just got back from Disney. I took my 9, 12, and 14 year old. They all have a bad habit of wanting the adult meals and then only eating half of what they order. For our trip, I made the rule that they had to eat 100% of whatever they order. I told them I was happy to buy them whatever they were hungry for, we just have to eat it, and I was happy to share with someone if they wanted. This worked great! We also brought breakfast and snacks with us, and the MOST I spent was $135 for one day when we got up too early to eat breakfast and ended up buying 100% of our food at the park, and we ate a lot that day and bought loads of that punch in toy story land ha ha! The Disney dining plan would have been $275 per day so it was awesome to save so much, and not wasting anything.

    • I’m so happy to hear this Maurine! That is a success story considering how expensive food can be. I have to agree with you- SO much food gets wasted at Disney World. The portions are really big! Glad to hear that you made it work for you.


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