Usually, when you think of theme park food pizza, corndogs, chicken tenders, and fries come to mind. While Disney does have a selection of those basic fast food options, there is a world of options to fit every budget and taste. From food trucks to signature dining Disney World has so many options. Here are my top Disney World dining tips.
Disney World Dining Tips
1. Set a Budget
I mention this in almost all of my Disney planning posts. Please don’t go broke for a turkey leg if you can’t afford it. I usually set a budget per person/per meal. Sometimes it is just $15/person sometimes it is $50-$60 a person. Heck, sometimes it is $0 because I eat in my room or pack lunches and snacks. Please also budget in tipping for table service restaurants. If you can’t afford a tip, then you can’t afford a table service restaurant. Service is almost always excellent, so I usually budget about 20%. If you are curious about how to set up a food budget check out my post on how to create a Disney dining budget, it even comes with a free printable!
2. Decide if the Disney Dining Plan is for You.
*Currently the Disney Dining Plan is not being offered.
The Disney Dining Plan is a very stress-free way of dining at Disney. You get so many Quick Service or Table Service credits per day for you to use. What I like best about this is that you don’t have to worry about prices as much on the menu. I have another post covering everything you need to know about the Disney Dining Plan. If you are not getting the Disney Dining Plan and paying out of pocket, the Tables in Wonderland Discount Card may be an option for you if you are a Florida resident, DVC member, or annual passholder.
If you have leftover table service credits, you can exchange them for snack credits. Disney has many to-go snacks that make perfect snacks on the way home or even gifts for friends and family. Some ideas are cookies, Rice Krispie treats, and the huge lollipops.
3. Take advantage of Free Disney Dining (usually offered in the fall)
*Currently the Disney Dining Plan is not being offered.
If the Disney Dining Plan is something that works for your family, then take advantage of the times where Disney offers free dining. You have to stay in certain resorts without discounted rooms, but sometimes the savings on the dining plan outweigh the full-price resort. To know when the Free Dining Offer is being released join the Disney Vacations- Tips & Tricks Facebook Group, it will be announced there.
4. Know Prices Before You Go
You can’t make a budget without knowing the prices of the food you will be purchasing. The Disney World website and the MyDisneyExperience App have all the prices for the quick service and table service dining locations.
5. Eat Some Meals in Your Room
This is easiest and more convenient if you are driving but, if you are flying in it is still possible. You can order food from Amazon and have it delivered to your resort. You can also use a grocery delivery service like Garden Grocer, Instacart, Walmart+, Amazon, etc. Another option is to grab an Uber and go to the closest Publix or Walmart and pick up items yourself. All rooms come with a mini-fridge. I usually do most breakfast meals in the room.
6. Book Dining 60 Days Early
Your Disney World dining window opens up 60 days before your arrival. If you are staying on Disney property, you can reserve your dining for your first day all the way until day 10. Start backwards with the last day of your vacation to secure your most coveted choice. If you are staying off property you have to call each day 60 days from the date. Character dining and specialty dining goes quickly so have your choices all ready before the 60 day mark so you don’t have to look at menus on your reservation day. You can reserve online and through the app starting at 6:45 am.
7. Use MouseDining Alerts
If you missed out on your coveted dining reservation at your 60-day mark, don’t worry you have not missed out there is still a chance to dine where you wish. I use MouseDining Alerts to send me an email when a spot opens up for my dining party.
8. Free Ice Water
If you don’t have the Disney Dining Plan, drinks can be insanely expensive! Drink water. You can get free cups of ice water at all quick-service locations. If you don’t like the taste of Florida water, bring little packets of flavoring.
9. Share Quick Service Meals
You cannot share buffet meals, but other meals you can share. Several quick-service restaurant meal portions are big enough to share. I also share a lot of the snacks. They are usually huge and since I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, half is more than enough for me.
10. Pay for Disney Dining with Disney Gift Cards
Once you have set your budget, buy Disney gift cards to keep you on track. You can buy discounted Disney Gift cards at Target, Costco, and Sam’s Club.
11. Try New Foods
This is the area I need to work on the most. I am not a very adventurous eater. Disney has so many unique and fun food offerings that are not found elsewhere. You can spend $10 for chicken and nuggets and fries anywhere in the USA, look for an offering that is uniquely Disney and you will get more value for your dollar.
12. Epcot International Festivals
If you are a foodie then you do not want to miss out on any of the Epcot International Festivals. Epcot festivals have small plates of foods that are snack sized and priced. It is a great way to eat your way around the World at Epcot. The 4 festivals are Holidays. Arts, Flower & Garden, and the original Food & Wine.
What Disney Dining Tips and Tricks do you use to save money at Disney?
Post Originally Published May 11, 2016.