While I highly recommend that you try all of the delicious food that Disney World dining has to offer, it does come at a high cost.

For most, it might not be feasible to indulge in a ridiculous priced Mickey shaped pretzel or Dole Whip Ice Cream.

If the price is keeping you from munching on the Mickey shaped goodies, then I encourage you to give these tips a try!

As a result, you will be able to treat yourself to a Dole Whip without feeling like you are busting your budget all over the place!

disney world dining

Be Smart About Your Drink Choices

{If you are on the Disney World Dining Plan, you can ignore this tip because your drinks are included with your meals.}

For those of you who are not on the Disney World Dining Plan, this could save you $10 or more PER PERSON each day you’re at the park.

Side Note: This tip came from my friend, Jeffrey Merola, who is an authorized Disney Vacation Planner. He has planned several of my trips and travels there often with his own family, so he KNOWS his “Disney Magic”. Check out his website here.


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

Soda, milk, and other beverages are going to start to add up with each meal or drink stop you make.

If you eat three meals a day and order three drinks for each meal, you will likely pay around $10 for just your drinks! So if you multiply that number by the number of people you are traveling with, those drinks are going to start to add up quick.

Instead of buying the expensive beverages, stick to water. Either bring a water bottle to fill or get a free cup of water at the food places that serve fountain sodas. Or ask for a to-go cup for your water when you eat a meal.

In our backpack, we bring individual packages of dry drink mixes and packets of sweeteners. That way we can order water, yet flavor it ourselves and not feel bad for using the restaurant’s lemons or limes. Score!

disney world dining

Stick To Breakfast For “Character Dining”

There is nothing quite like dining with the Disney characters.

But Disney World Dining can be confusing. There are multiple options to choose from: Character Dining, Specialty Dining, Dining Experiences, Table Service, Counter Service, Quick Service… YIKES!

If you want to make a character experience a part of your trip, the best time to eat with the characters is at breakfast.

You can still enjoy a great experience and a meal out, but you’ll save at least thirty-five percent or more per person!

The food will be outstanding, and you may not even need to eat lunch after a breakfast buffet!

In fact, if you time it properly, you could eat a 10 am breakfast that will feel more like a brunch. And then have a light, earlier meal for dinner. Disney World Dining! Double score!

disney world dining

Eat “Table Service” For Lunch

“Table Service” is when you choose to eat at a sit-down restaurant that has a server who brings your meal and drinks to your table.

So if you and your family are interested in dining at one of Disney’s many table service restaurants, be prepared to pay!

They are not cheap, but if you reserve a meal for lunch, you could be saving around twenty percent even if you order the same meal at dinner.

Also, lunch reservations will be more abundant, and it will typically be less crowded than at dinner.

Menus do change at some of the restaurants, so check to make sure it’s a good deal before you go. Just check to make sure you aren’t paying the same price for lunch as you would for dinner, you might decide differently.

disney world dining

Rethink Your Quick-Service Order

Disney portion sizes are enormous!

Therefore if you are concerned about portion sizes and want to save some money, order off the kids’ menu.

Even adults can order off the kids’ menu at quick-service restaurants. And most of the time, they have the same thing but in smaller portions!

If you are uncomfortable ordering a kids’ meal, you can easily split one entree with your kids or your spouse. You don’t want to carry a “to-go” box around with you for the rest of the day… might as well eat it all instead!

A quick-service restaurant is like a little “booth” where you go up to the window to order your food, and then eat at a table, similar to a cafeteria. These restaurants remind me of the “Food Court” at the mall.

disney world dining

Visit Disney During Free Dining Offer Times

Each year, Disney provides a free dining offer when you purchase a qualifying travel package.

While this offer may be phased out eventually, when free dining is announced, you should go for it!

These go fast, so you should be ready to book as soon as possible.

I watch for an email from my friend Jeffrey Merola (the authorized Disney Vacation Planner) because he knows the very second that the promotion is announced and he can book your vacation right away so you don’t miss out on the deal.

This offer will save hundreds on your trip by maximizing your Disney World dining plan!

disney world dining

Know Where To Eat Cheap Meals

Eating at Disney doesn’t have to be an exorbitant cost! As a matter of fact, I’ve figured out.

When we visit Hollywood Studios, there is a counter-service restaurant on the main drag. We often order 3 rotisserie chicken meals. Then our family of six splits them. That allows our entire family of six to eat for around $30 total!

A counter-service restaurant is one where you order the food at a counter and pick it up yourself. Hence you don’t have the added expense of a tip!


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

Each of the four parks has plenty of counter service restaurants where we can easily split meals. Therefore lowering the total overall bill. Here are the ones where my family gets meals and splits them:

Magic Kingdom: Pecos Bill’s Mexican Restaurant (don’t miss the “toppings bar” with fajita veggies, fresh guacamole, cheese & sour cream)
Animal Kingdom: Harambe Market
Epcot: Sunshine Seasons (in the bottom floor of the “Land” area)
Hollywood Studios: Fairfax Fare (this is where we get the Rotisserie Chicken meal)

Be smart about your eating choices so you can spend your money on other things to make your trip magical!

disney world dining

Don’t Order An Entire Meal

If you are ordering from a counter service restaurant, consider skipping the sides and just get the entree. Rather, bring snacks with you that you can eat as your sides.

Many times we will go to a counter service restaurant and order only the entree. We bring chips, cut veggies and even a dill pickle to eat with the main entree to round out the meal.

You can order water so that you won’t go thirsty. And still enjoy Disney World dining without the higher price tag.

While bringing your food can help you save money at Disney, there can be some perks to not having the hassle of packing a cooler and buying your food in the park instead.

You can’t beat the magic or taste of many of the delicious dishes throughout the park!

Having a plan and making smart choices will allow you to spend less, while still enjoying the meal magic!


YOUR TURN: What questions do you have for me about dining at Disney? Ask me in the comments below!

disney world dining
How To Save On Food When You Use Disney World Dining