8) Budget for food before your trip
When I plan a Walt Disney World vacation, I like to set aside money on gift cards, usually on a weekly or monthly basis to help offset the costs associated with the trip. If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you can use your Magic Band to charge purchases (including dining at Disney restaurants) to your resort bill, and you can use Disney gift cards to pay off the remaining balance when you check out. Even though most people typically save extra money before a vacation, I find it really helpful to have the money already set aside on Disney gift cards before I even get to the parks.
7) Order off the kids menu
At quick service dining locations, adults are free to order from the kids menu. Many times, the child size portions are actually pretty big, and would be fine for one adult. Kids menu items also usually come with some kind of extra side and a drink. While table service restaurants might not be so accommodating to adults ordering off the kids menu, I’ve never heard of anyone having problems doing this at quick service locations.
6) Split meals
At both table service and quick service locations, it is perfectly acceptable to split meals with another adult. In many cases, the portion size of one adult meal is actually fairly large and could easily be split between two adults. Even sharing one appetizer and one meal per two adults should still save you money at a number of Disney table service restaurants. At a quick service restaurant, if you want a little bit of extra food but not a whole other meal, simply order an extra side dish or split a dessert.
5) Skip the table service meals
A lot of guests visiting the parks skip quick service meals altogether. I typically do this for the last day or two of the trip, mostly because I don’t want to spend what’s left of my time in Disney sitting in a restaurant. If you’re thinking about doing this for the entire trip, but you’re worried about eating the same things over and over, never fear– Disney’s quick service restaurants actually have tons of variety, and you’ll still be eating a lot more than the usual hamburgers and hot dogs.
4) Bring snacks
This tip is especially helpful if you have kids, who when hungry will likely want a little bit of everything they see. The same advice here can go for things like eat your own breakfast in your hotel room and then hit the parks. Pack some gold fish crackers or granola bars in your park bag too and you’ll keep yourself from becoming super hungry and splurging on the more expensive snack items in the parks.
3) Order drinks wisely
For a true budget dining experience, you should be skipping the alcoholic beverages altogether, but there’s also soda to consider. Even without spending money on alcohol, the cost of soda for a family of four over the course of six or seven days can really add up. At the very least, I recommend sticking to water throughout the day in the parks. You can get it for free from any quick service restaurant, and it’s better for you, especially when you’re walking around in Florida’s heat and humidity. I would skip soda from the quick service restaurants, with the exception of the select few that offer free refills, like Restaurantosaurus in Dinoland USA for instance. Otherwise, order soda with your able service meal, as you would get free refills, or don’t order it at all.
2) Choose the dining plan
If you feel as though you and your family will eat the amount of food offered on the dining plan, then I would suggest getting it. It’s a lot of food for some families, but if you want dessert with every meal, and the snack per person per day, then go for it. If you’re not a dessert person, or you don’t think you need a full quick service meal and a table service meal, then I’d skip the plan. The dining plan is really only a good value if you at least would eat all of the things it offers anyway. If you’re not sure if you need the dining plan, just research the menus for some of the restaurants you might be eating at. If it looks like you’d be spending more by paying out of pocket than you would if you purchased the plan, then it should work out to be a good deal for you.
1) Use the dining plan wisely
One of the major reasons why people don’t save money with the dining plan on occasion is because they aren’t ordering things, or using their snacks in a way that will give them the most value for the cost of the plan. If a snack is typically anything that costs $4.99 or less, do not use snack credits on water bottles that cost $3, pay out of pocket if you really want a water bottle and use the plan for something more expensive. While it doesn’t sound like a lot in that one example, it can really add up over the course of an entire vacation, especially if you’re paying for multiple family members.