Tips for Bringing Your Own Food to Disney World

Packing even one meal for your day in Disney World can save you a lot of money. Quick-service meals in Disney average $9-$10 for one adult entree. This means that a family of four could shell out as much as $40 for a counter-service lunch. You can easily save at least half of that money by packing a meal for your family. Read on for some tips and tricks for bringing your own food to Disney theme parks.

Are there any exceptions to what I can bring?

Regarding consumables, there are few exceptions to what guests are allowed to bring into the parks. The only exceptions are glass bottles and alcoholic beverages. Leave the Heineken at home.

No poison apples allowed, but regular apples are fine.
No poison apples allowed, but regular apples are fine.

What’s more, there is virtually no limit to how much food you can bring. That being said, you do need to be able to carry it. Disney does not allow any container larger than 24”x15”x18” into the park. If each person brings a bag that size, you could easily feed the family both meals and snacks for the day. Disney does not allow any rolling devices besides strollers, so Coleman coolers on wheels and wagons are off limits.

Our best suggestion is to use a soft-side, insulated bag. These keep food cold but are portable. If you’re flying, they will easily fold into luggage. Plus, once empty, they will store in a backpack, diaper bag, or tote.

Do I have to carry my cooler with me?

When considering water bottles, juice boxes, and fruit chews, a cooler could get quite heavy. If you have a lot of snacks and a stroller, you can store the bag in the bag storage underneath. If neither of these applies to you, consider renting a locker. All Disney Parks have lockers at the front of the park. You’ll pay a $10 deposit and get $5 back once you return the key.

What’s the best way to protect my food from the Florida heat?

Florida can get downright hot. If you pack perishable items, be sure to have a solid plan to keep them cold. Starting with cold ingredients like already refrigerated lunchmeat will help. If you’re staying at a hotel with a refrigerator or freezer, store items in there. Freeze gel packs or water / juice bottles, and use them as a cooling resource. As a last resort, all Disney hotels have ice machines and Disney parks give free cups of ice. If using ice, be sure to double and triple package sandwiches. There’s nothing worse than soggy bread!

What do I do if I need to heat something?

By law, Disney is not allowed to heat or puree any food given to them by outside parties even for medical reasons. If you must heat something, go to a Baby Care Center in any of the parks, which always have microwaves. Alternatively, venture to any resort food court. They all have microwaves and toasters.

If you don’t need to heat up your meal, you can eat anywhere you like. Cast Members will not ask you to leave a table just because you’re not eating Disney food.

Do you have any suggestions about what food to bring?

Obviously, it would be most convenient to bring food that doesn’t have to be heated, kept cold, or would be heavy to carry. PBJs are always a good staple. Goldfish crackers, Cheerios or any other cereal, granola bars, and fruit snacks are all good options.

Also, if any of your travelers have food allergies, be sure to bring appropriate foods even if you plan to buy food in the parks. Although most restaurants in Disney are very accommodating to food allergies, bringing your own food can really ease your mind.

Will I actually save money?

As mentioned above, Disney meals can cost upwards of $9 each. You could make PBJs for the whole family for that. Assuming that you’ll buy more than one meal, even with $5 locker fee, you’ll probably save at least a few dollars, which could go toward a Mickey ice cream because, let’s face it, you can’t get away from those! They’re on every corner!

Plan to splurge on some special food items. After all, Disney does have some of the best food in the world.
Plan to splurge on some special food items. After all, Disney does have some of the best food in the world.

If you don’t talk up Character Breakfasts or dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table, your kids likely won’t know that’s even a possibility! The savings may seem nominal to some, but any money saved on food, which is only sustenance, is more money that can be spent on fancy Disney snacks or souvenirs, which can make lasting memories.

Do you bring your own food into Disney World?  Good idea, or not worth it?
Leave your comments below.