Disney World has some of the best and most unique food options you’ll find anywhere, but enjoying and indulging can get a little pricey unless you’re smart about it.
Here are five ways to save money on dining in Disney World.
1. Order the apps
It’s no secret that appetizers are always less expensive than entrees. It’s no different in Disney World. Many Disney World lounges and bars are especially known for them.
There are many benefits to ordering food this way. First, they won’t cost as much. You may be able to try a few different dishes for the same cost as an entrée. You also don’t need a reservation to snag a seat at the bar. Sanaa in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Trader Sam’s at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Brown Derby and 50’s Prime Time Café at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, among others, are all great lounges that serve food similar to their adjoining restaurants but in smaller portions.
2. Try sharing
Portions in Disney World are often quite large even at the quick-service restaurants, so sharing a meal is a good option for saving money. My favorite thing to share is the rotisserie chicken at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café. We’ve also shared a chicken filet meal at the Electric Umbrella and added an extra side of French fries.
If you don’t want to share or your traveling companions all want something different, order a kid’s meal. The portions are smaller, and they’re also less expensive.
3. Choose snacks wisely
There are dozens of snack options available in Disney World, but some are more expensive than others. The Mickey Ice Cream bars are probably the most expensive option, and unfortunately they’re not really large enough to share unless it’s a parent with a child.
Another good snack option is the refillable popcorn bucket, and this option really pays for itself if you like popcorn! You purchase the bucket one time, and can get as many refills as you want for around $1.50 each. The bucket also makes a great souvenir!
What’s more, the Epcot Food and Wine Festival and Flower and Garden Festival food booths usually have some reasonably priced options, even though some more expensive ones sneak in there too sometimes. You just have to be smart about what you choose.
If snacks in Disney World still seem too pricey, consider ordering groceries to be delivered to your room. While you will pay a delivery charge and pay more for the groceries than you would if you picked them up yourself, they’ll still cost less than what they would on property either in the parks or at the Disney resort hotels. Garden Grocer is a great option as is Amazon PrimePantry if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber. Call your hotel to find out an exact delivery address and to let them know your package is coming. Don’t worry- they do this all the time and are familiar with the procedures.
4. Take advantage of discounts
Believe it or not, there are some options for dining discounts.
The Tables in Wonderland card is a discount card that allows you to save 20% at many restaurants on property. It also comes with additional benefits like valet parking and free parking in the theme parks. However, the card does cost between $150 and $175 depending on your residency and Disney Vacation Club status, so you’d have to visit Disney often to justify this expense. Paying for parking for a few days can really make it worth the cost though!
Annual Passholders also get discounts on food like a percentage off lunch and dinner. The discounts and availability differ, so be sure to check out each restaurant’s specifications to make the most of your discounts.
If you aren’t a member of these clubs but you do have a Target RedCard, you can purchase Disney Gift Cards at a 5% discount resulting in 5% off of everything including meals.
5. Eat late or eat early
If you want to enjoy a table-service meal or even a character breakfast, you’ll always save money by scheduling this at breakfast or brunch time. Kona Café at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s Boardwalk, and Boma at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge are all great options. You can experience these fancy restaurants without having to pay the high prices of the dinner menu.
If you eat a late breakfast (brunch), you’ll probably get away with just a snack in the afternoon, which will be less expensive than a lunch meal. You can also decide to eat a late lunch and avoid paying dinner prices.