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One Dozen Money Saving Disney Dining Tips

12. Cook your own food

This tip is really only helpful if you’re local, staying at a Disney Vacation Club resort, or some other kind of resort that has a kitchen. I know this list is all about money saving tips for Disney food, so this first point might sound sort of crazy, but here’s my logic—the more you cook at “home,” the less you’re buying in the parks. I’m not saying you should cook for the entire time you’re on vacation, but if you cook some meals, you’ll save some money by not going to the parks hungry. Of course, this is really also dependent on your vacation style, basically on how much time you want to spend at the resort vs. in the parks.

11. Bring your own snacks

A different version of this same sort of idea would be to eat out in the parks but to bring your own snacks. Bringing your own snacks might be healthier, save you money, and be better for picky eaters. This doesn’t work well for me, because I honestly enjoy Disney snacks to the point where my vacation is really not complete without them. But if you’re less concerned about snacking, bringing your own might be a good idea for you.

10. Choose snacks wisely

In choosing snacks wisely, I’m not talking so much about saving money as I am about the value you’ll be getting out of making better snacking decisions. I see less of a value in buying things like a bag of Mickey shaped pretzels than in a bag of Main Street popcorn. This is simply because I can get pretzels anywhere at home for much cheaper and I can’t possibly find anywhere that will sell Main Street popcorn from Disney World if I’m away from the parks.

9. Know your discounts

You may be eligible for discounts if you’re an annual pass holder or Disney Vacation Club member. Before you pay the bill at any dining location, make sure you double check with the cast members to see if any discounts are available to you.

8. Dine at “all you care to enjoy” options (if you’ll be hungry enough)

Dining at all you care to enjoy restaurants can have an excellent value if you’re going to be eating enough. In general, most guests do not get the full value of an all you care to enjoy dining experience, simply because they get full before having a second helping. If you know you’ll be able to eat enough to make it worth it, or if you can plan to not snack so much during the day, an all you care to enjoy experience will be a great value.

7. Research menus ahead of time

One of the easiest ways to save some extra money is to make informed decisions on where you’ll be dining in the first place. It’s really easy to look up the menus for Disney restaurants on Disney’s official website. By doing this, you can choose locations that are within your budget, and you won’t be shocked if you see the menu for the first time in person.

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6. Go for lunch, not dinner

In general, lunch is cheaper than dinner at most Disney restaurants, and it often times includes a very similar menu. While you sometimes sacrifice portion size by choosing lunch over dinner, the tradeoff is usually worth it to save the extra money.

5. Order off the kids menu (at quick service locations)

Adults can order off the kids menu at quick service dining locations. Often times kids meals can actually be plenty of food for adults, and they’ll save you some money as well.

4. Consider splitting meals

One of the worst parts about eating out on vacation is your inability to take home leftovers. Instead of ordering a large entrée that you’ll most likely not finish, consider splitting it with another member of your party. Not only will you not be wasting food this way, but you’ll also save some money.

3. Don’t pay for water

To me, there is never a reason why you should be paying for water at Walt Disney World. Bottled water costs about $3/bottle, and that is simply not worth it when any restaurant (including quick service locations) will give you cups of water for free. Even if you don’t think you like the taste of Florida tap water, never fear—the water you’d be getting for free is actually filtered water, not tap, as it comes out through the water spout of the soda machines.

2. Skip bottled soda

Just like bottled water, I’d recommend skipping bottled soda. Bottled soda can add up, and it’s better (health-wise) to drink water throughout the day anyway. Besides all table service restaurants offer free refills on soda, and so do some quick service locations as well.

1. Use the dining plan wisely

Depending on your eating habits, the dining plan can easily save you a great deal of money. If you do decide to go with the dining plan make sure you’re using it wisely. The best tips for saving money with the dining plan are to pay out of pocket for 2 credit locations, and to use credits on the more expensive snacks. For an added bonus, visit during Food and Wine Festival, when your snack credits are accepted as payment at the kiosks in World Showcase.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a graduate of St. Anselm College, where she earned her bachelor of arts degree in History. She completed two Disney College Programs, one at Dinoland U.S.A., in Animal Kingdom, and one at Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show at Hollywood Studios. She is the author of “Brittany Earns Her Ears,” a memoir about her experiences on the college program, and she currently resides in Massachusetts.