A trip to Disney World is expensive. There is just no way around it. But, you can save money on dining at Disney – while still enjoying all the delicious things to eat. It just takes a few simple insider tips …
Save money on dining first thing in the morning
I don’t know about you, but I must start each day with coffee. Right? Well, coffee at Disney is VERY expensive. That simple black coffee with a little cream and sugar will easily cost you more than $3.00. Multiply that by 7 days and you’ve spent $21 on plain black coffee for just ONE person.
Instead, make coffee in your room. I actually love the Joeffrey’s coffee Disney provides, whenever I drink it, it makes me think of Disney, so I simply prepare the coffee maker the night before, and then when I wake up, I hit start. Simple and effective, and I usually get to enjoy the coffee with a wonderful resort view!
Another great way to save money on dining is to eat breakfast in your room most days. I say most days because sometimes you just want a good old Disney breakfast (complete with Mickey waffles) or plan on a character dining buffet. However, if you limit that to once a trip, you’ll easily save $30 per day on breakfast. Multiply that times 5 and you’ve got $150 extra to spend on something else!
When we fly, we pack granola bars and instant oatmeal and then place a online delivery order for a few other breakfast items like bread and peanut butter, fruit, juice and maybe bagels and cream cheese. Even if we spend $30 on those items, we’ll still bank $120 for the week.
Keep lunch simple or not
I’ve noticed that most Disney restaurants don’t have big price discounts for lunch versus dinner, so although that’s a money-saving tip I use in other places, it doesn’t really apply at Disney. However, you can decide to just eat one bigger meal for lunch or dinner and then something light for the other meal.
Instead of a restaurant, some of the snacks at the different stands or carts are PLENTY of food for a light meal – and less expensive too!
Not only will you feel better by not overeating, but you’ll also save a lot of money. If you decide to eat light for lunch, consider splitting something at a counter service restaurant or even ordering a few kids meals to share. The Disney kids meals are considerably less expensive than the entrees, and at counter service it’s perfectly acceptable to order one for your lunch. They typically come with a drink and a few sides that make great snacks for later if it’s still too much food.
Dinner dining tips
We love enjoying the delicious restaurants at Disney World, so even though this post is about saving money on dining at Disney, I’d never tell you to skip dining at the best spots. Just be smart about it.
On each trip, we usually enjoy two really nice meals at a couple of our favorite restaurants and then fill in the other dinners with other options.
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At those favorites (read expensive), we’ve learned that Disney servings are typically much larger than we need. So, to keep things affordable, typically we’ll order an appetizer or two and then two meals. We almost always also order dessert and fun drinks, so by no means is it a cheap night out, but in general, we save $50 – $75 versus purchasing four entrees.
If it’s just two of us, we’ll order one entree and a salad or soup. It’s always more than enough food, and we usually still have leftovers. Speaking of leftovers, there’s nothing wrong with taking them home and enjoying them the next day for one of your meals. I can attest that the biscuits from Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming make an excellent breakfast later in the week!
The other great money-saving option for lunch or dinner is to skip the sit-down restaurant and instead enjoy a meal at the connected bar. Sometimes the bars at Disney have even BETTER choices than the restaurants and typically the portions and prices are a little less. Plus, they often share the same kitchen as the higher-priced restaurant next door.
A perfect example of this is enjoying a light lunch or early dinner at the Nomad Lounge instead of Tiffins. We enjoy Tiffins, but it’s a BIG and expensive meal. At the Nomad Lounge we can get a taste of what Tiffins offers for a fraction of the cost and we end up eating a lot less. Most of the nicer Disney restaurants have a bar right next door, so definitely look for them as a dining option.
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Save on those drinks
My last tip for saving money while dining at Disney is to watch out for the drinks. They will REALLY add up over the course of a week. I already gave you an example of coffee, but water is just as expensive. When you place that online order, be sure to add a case of water. A typical bottle of water at the parks is $3.99. That’s about the cost of an entire case!
Although you can bring a water bottle to use during the day, I prefer to carry as little as possible in the parks. Luckily, you can also ask for free water from any counter-service restaurant that serves fountain drinks. The cast members will happily give it to you with no charge.
I’m not going to lie and say we don’t order the fun drinks when we are dining, because we do. But, we try to limit it to one drink per meal and also drink water. It’s healthier for you and Disney does make strong drinks, so one is often enough anyway!
If you are really savvy, some of the Disney Springs restaurants have happy hours, so time it right and you can save quite a bit of money on both drinks AND dining on days you aren’t at the parks.
Add up all the tips in this post, and I bet you’ll easily save a few hundred dollars (or more) on dining during your next Disney vacation – and you’ll still enjoy great food and a magical time!
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