Walt Disney World on a Budget – Dining – Part 4
We have taken care of the major expenses involved in planning a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. We have paid for transportation, theme park tickets and Lodging. If we plan carefully, those will be our major expenses, but regardless we will still need to put food in our bellies.
In many ways the food portion of the budget does not need to even be accounted for in the same way. Whether you are sitting at home or visiting the most magical place on Earth you will need to eat. In fact, I would argue that a family could eat just as inexpensively in Orlando as they could in their hometown. Every budget is different and everyone shares different values. Some people think that since they are on vacation they should be spending hundreds of dollars per meal. Other families think that since they outlayed all of the money for the trip that they do not have another dime to spare. I feel like there is probably a happy medium to be found. As a family you just need to set up how you value your time.
If you are staying on site anyway, be on the lookout for free dining plan option. This rolls the prices together and really allows a family to make every meal an event. Unfortunately the dining plan is only included in the price a couple times per year. Purchased separately I do not find the Dining Plan to be an exceptional value. Probably because I would not normally eat every meal at a Disney Dining establishment. Therefore the real savings to me would be much less. I would rather eat inexpensive meals the majority of the trip and splurge on a couple occasions.
Food in the Parks
The most important thing that everyone should be aware of is that you are allowed to bring in your own food and drinks into the parks! You could even pack some cans of soda and get a free cup of ice at any concession stand throughout the park. It’s pretty easy to make a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, toss in some granola bars and be on your way. We bought a big thermal bag at Sam’s Club prior to our trip. In the morning we would wake up, put some frozen water bottles in the cooler with our snacks and be on our way. It’s hard to beat the low cost of packing your own lunch.
Having said that, there are times when a splurge is quite nice. We were able to go to Cinderella’s Royal Table when we visited and thought it was amazing! Next time we go back we will probably do that again or visit Belle and eat there.
When we went to Hollywood Studios we stopped at Pizza Planet for an afternoon snack. One great tip is to order a kid’s meal with pepperoni pizza instead of cheese. This is not even on the menu, but when they substitute the pepperoni for cheese they also give an adult size pizza. The kid’s meal includes a drink and a cookie yet costs less than the adult pepperoni pizza. It’s definitely a win.
Bring Your Own Food
Walt Disney World allows you to bring in outside food and beverages. We bought a fashionable cooler bag and froze bottles of water. We then packed in extra snacks and Cokes. You can get a cup of ice at any concession stand and then have an ice cold beverage.
I believe that absent a great deal for the dining plan the best method is to pick and choose meal options. Eat breakfast in the hotel for free, pack a lunch, pick up some fast food and a few nights do something special.