Hack Your Dining Budget at Disney World

Disney dining is delicious and an important part of a Disney vacation. Everyone should experience unique snacks, yummy cocktails and fun restaurant experiences during their Walt Disney World vacation.

From food trucks and churro carts to quick service eateries, old-fashioned ice cream shops and fine dining table service restaurants, Walt Disney World has options that truly cater to an array of preferences and budgets.

4 Rivers Cantina Food Truck

Taco Cone (Photo: Disney Springs Twitter)

I am excited to share these tips for getting the biggest bang for your buck with Disney dining. If you are worried about the cost of Disney Resort dining, this article is for you. Even without staple programs like The Disney Dining Plan or Tables in Wonderland, we will find ways to save cash on dining on your Disney vacation. Let’s hack your dining budget at Disney World!

Budget and Plan Before Your Vacay

Your Disney experience will be more carefree if you set your dining budget before leaving home. Take a look at restaurant menus online to get an understanding of costs, portion sizes and Disney World Resort restaurants you want to visit. Researching will help you make an informed decision about how much you can expect to spend daily on vacation dining. Then you can plan and save accordingly.

Paddlefish Disney Springs

Credit: Paddlefish

This means that when you make it to the Disney Property you won’t waste time worrying about the cost of meals and stressing about your American Express credit card balance. Regardless of your budget, Disney dining has options that can work for your family.


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♬ Peace – Official Sound Studio

Research Menus & Pricing

The best way to avoid Walt Disney World sticker shock is to plan ahead. Doing in-depth research about more expensive table service meals your family may want to experience, can help you compare cuisine and dining details to make an informed decision. If you see a table service spot you would like to try, go ahead and secure a dining reservation. They tend to go fast and you don’t want to miss an opportunity to try a new restaurant. If you change your mind you can always cancel within the specified window.


Credit: Disney

Sure, a buffet meal may seem pricey at first glance but when you factor in the fun your family will have celebrating Oktoberfest in Bavarian Style in World Showcase it may be a worthwhile splurge. True, character dining does not come cheap, but maybe you still want to budget for a character breakfast to snap those fun photos before your Park day.

Belle at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in EPCOT

Credit: Disney

See which Disney dining spots welcome entree sharing to taste more and save cash, and which restaurants forbid sharing. Remember that gratuity is at least an additional 18% at Disney table service restaurants so be sure to budget appropriately.

Bring Your Own Breakfast

Packing breakfast to eat in your Disney Resort Room is a great way to save money. Not to mention you will save time enjoying more sleep because you don’t have to budget time for a time-consuming breakfast. My family is full of lite breakfast eaters so we can knock out this meal with a granola bar and banana, saving cash for other Disney dining opportunities.

Resort Room Coffee

Credit: V Mills

Eating breakfast in my room does not make me feel like I have missed out on food, or Park time. Snag a free coffee from the Resort Room coffee maker and a quick breakfast snack so you can head to the Park as early as possible.

Never Buy Drinks for Quick Service Meals

Reusable Water Bottle for the Parks

Credit: Walmart

Quick service dining options in the Parks are incredible. Eating around World Showcase in EPCOT is so much fun. But if you are purchasing beverages to go with your snacks and meals throughout the day, costs add up! Bringing drinks into the Parks is a great way to stretch dining dollars. A couple using refillable water bottles saves around $10 per meal by not purchasing soft drinks. After a week of dining sans-soft drinks and skipping the sodas for water you’ll have saved enough to pay for a table service meal!

Pack Park Snacks

Crackers, chips, and fruit snacks are tasty, small snacks to pack for Park days. Packing a handful of small snacks that take up virtually no space saves money and prevents meltdowns.

Fruit Snacks for the Parks

Credit: Walmart

Saving money on snacks for a family through the day means you can allocate your snack or drink dollars to an item you really want to try like a milkshake, Dole Whip or specialty coffee.

Share Entrees

The menus at Walt Disney World restaurants are so enticing you may be tempted to order more than you can eat. Disney portions are large, allowing plenty of shareable food options. As a hard and fast rule, sharing at quick service eateries is no problem. If you have questions about sharing food at a table service spot, consult the Disney website or ask a Cast Member.

Chefs De France

Credit: Chefs de France

My husband and I frequently share entrees on Disney vacations. As a general rule we share to save money but also to taste a wider menu variety. Sharing an appetizer and entree at The California Grill or Chefs de France means we will have room for a dessert and the budget for cocktails with dinner.

Use Disney Gift Cards to Offset Dining Costs

Using Disney gift cards for purchases will not save you money on food, but it may make it easier to keep track of spending. Using Disney gift cards for snacks and quick service meals is one of my favorite ways to organize Disney spending.


Credit: Disney

Stocking up on gift cards in the months leading up to your departure may help you save for your Disney vacation in a more concrete way. Just throw a $25 Disney gift card in your cart when you grocery shop each month and you’ll quickly build a stash that can offset your Disney dining costs.

Enjoy Buffets or Bottomless Meals

Saving money by dining at a Disney buffet, bottomless meal or family style meal may sound counterproductive but it will provide a bigger bang for your buck. Especially for families traveling with teenagers and kids that seem to always be hungry, bottomless dining is a great option.

Family Dining at Garden Grill with Chip and Dale Visiting the Table

Credit: Disney

Disney buffets offer a variety of family food options that range from roast beef and shrimp cocktail to spaghetti and chicken strips, all on the same buffet. Eat a free breakfast in your resort room and snack on your stash of treats throughout the day then chow down at a delicious dinner.


Saving money does not mean sacrificing the theme Park eats you’ve been craving.

About Katie Chapman

Hey There! I am a Georgia native with a passion for writing, traveling, cooking, decorating, pugs and of course all things Disney. Growing up in South Georgia just a few hours from Walt Disney World made for a magical childhood. Some of my best memories were made on Main Street U.S.A. with my sister watching SpectroMagic nighttime parade or beside my grandparents, parents and extended family at Chef Mickey’s celebrating on a family vacation. Epcot was my favorite park from a young age and I credit it with my interest in and love for international travel. As a kid I loved meeting characters and watching films around World Showcase and could spend hours exploring each of the countries in Epcot. These days, my husband and I get away to explore a new country whenever we can and even incorporate trips to The Disney Store and Disney Parks around the world in our travels. One of our travel goals is to visit every Disney Park in the world. I love writing about Disney restaurants, park tips, Disney outfit inspiration and Disney history. Pocahontas is my favorite Disney Princess (90s kid here!) but Mr. Toad is my spirit animal. When I’m not at Disney I’m reading about park history, watching Disney documentaries and shopping vintage Disney merch for park outfits. I never pass up a reservation to Ohana, an empty seat on Living with the Land or a Violet Sake.