HOW TO SAVE
When it comes to saving money on a Disney vacation, there are several areas to consider. One of the easiest ways to save on your visit to Walt Disney World is to plan ahead for all of your meals. While each group of guests is different, there are a number of tips to know before you go.
For starters, it makes sense to mention the Disney Dining Plan, since it can be a great value depending on the dining needs of your group. If you typically have big appetites and a desire to try some of the more expensive dishes on the menu, the dining plan can actually save you money when exploring the culinary offerings of Walt Disney World table service restaurants.
Alternatively, if you are lighter eaters, there are a number of quick service restaurants that offer meals large enough for two people to share, allowing you to spread your credits over a longer period, or use them for several meals. Knowing the general eating habits of your group can help you decide whether the dining plan is a good value for you.
Check out the Disney Dining Plan Calculator on Dadsguidetowdw.com to help you figure out if the DDP makes sense for your family!
In general, sharing meals can be an excellent way to save since you are splitting the cost of a single meal between two people. Many of the quick service restaurants have generous portion sizes and come with a side. Add to that a drink big enough for two and you have a great way to cut down on costs.
There are also certain menu items that seem like they’re made for sharing. At the Magic Kingdom, the new Fajita Platter with steak or chicken at Pecos Bill comes with three tortillas for you to fill with the rice and beans provided and a trip to the toppings bar can fill up any fajita you create. Over at Animal Kingdom, Flame Tree Barbecue offers a Ribs and Chicken combo or for an extra few dollars, you can try the Ribs, Chicken and Pulled Pork Sampler which is not only perfect for sharing, but gives you an opportunity to try more of their incredible flavors.
Staying hydrated in the parks is important in order to have enough stamina to be on your feet for most of the day. While it may be tempting to purchase drinks to stay refreshed, there are other options to help you be frugal during your vacation. One of the easiest ways to stay hydrated is to bring your own refillable water bottle and fill up at the water fountains scattered throughout the park. If carrying a bottle or two seems like too much effort, you can go to any of the quick service restaurants and they will give you a free cup of ice water if you ask for it.
If you’re staying at a Disney resort, the Rapid Fill Mug might be a good value for you, depending on your desire for fountain drinks and how much time you’ll be spending at the resort. While the mugs are included with the Disney Dining Plan, guests who aren’t using the plan can purchase a mug for $16.99 + tax, which may seem like a lot, but will essentially pay for itself after 6 uses or so. If your stay is longer than a few days, purchasing a mug could save you money, and larger families might consider buying only a couple of mugs to share between them, since you can refill them as often as you’d like at any Disney resort.
If you’d rather avoid the cost of restaurants in Walt Disney World all together, you are permitted to bring your own food into the parks with you. You can bring any cooler smaller than 24” long, 15” wide and 18” high filled with food and snacks, as long as there are no glass
containers. Wheeled coolers are not allowed. While you may need to rent a locker to store it in, bringing your own food can save you a lot in the long run. You can either pick up groceries for making meals and snacks on your way to Disney or have them delivered right to your resort using a delivery service like Gardengrocer.com.
If you would like to experience the cuisine that Disney offers in the parks and resorts, there are a few tips to consider to save money. You could spread meals out during the day, eating an early lunch and then a later dinner with snacks (consider bringing granola bars, goldfish crackers, etc. from home!) in between to keep you energized. If you’re planning on dining at a table service restaurant, consider going for lunch or breakfast when the prices are a little cheaper, especially for buffets.
Overall, if you are dining at a Walt Disney World restaurant, you can access the menus ahead of time through the Disney website to see what kind of dishes they offer and how much they cost. This is one of the easiest ways to budget for your dining experiences and can give you the sense of which restaurants will offer you the best value. If you’re looking for some of the best value restaurants to stretch your dollar, here’s a list of places you could visit:
ABC Commissary at Hollywood Studios Tangierine Cafe at Epcot Columbia Harbor House at Magic Kingdom Earl Of Sandwich at Disney Springs Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafes at Animal Kingdom Sunshine Seasons at Epcot
The Plaza Restaurant at Magic Kingdom 50’s Prime Time Cafe at Hollywood Studios Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria at Epcot Yak & Yeti at Animal Kingdom
While there are many tips to keep in mind when it comes to saving money on food at Walt Disney World, it’s important to remember that you are on vacation. So with that in mind, whatever you decide should be fun, easy and worry-free so you can relax and enjoy your time at the most magical place on earth.