Assuming that you have read my previous post about how to budget for a Disney trip, you have been, as a result, blown away by all the possibilities, you want to know more am I right? Well, worry no more, this second post will cover the second biggest expenditure item, the food. Whether you want it or not, you will have to show a bit of money if you don’t want to fall unconscious on Main street. What are your options if you want to budget wisely?
First, it all starts by laying down your priorities. Is food a priority for your family? If so, you might have to extend the budget allocated for the food, consequently the lodging budget might suffer. Feel free to head back to my previous post for additional information about lodging. If food is just there to fill a need and you don’t care about fine gastronomy, then you might be able to allocate budget elsewhere.
Basic Options to budget for a Disney Trip – Food
Whether you stay onsite or offsite, options remain more or less the same. The main difference comes from having access to the dining plan. Obviously, this plan is worth its calculus and speculations, but let’s start with the options offered.
First, the least expensive option might be to have food delivered to your hotel room, using services such as Amazon, Walmart, Garden Grocer, etc and prepare your breakfast and lunch to carry to parks. However, take note that this option will only be available if you have a refrigerator in your room and it might get a little boring if you don’t have a cooktop. Hence, you might be condemned to sandwiches for a week. What we like on the other hand, is to have food delivered to our hotel room so we can have breakfast. We don’t mind eating cereals with milk every morning, as this is typically what we eat regularly. This way, we feel we can have the cake and eat it.
- Control what you eat (healthy options)
- Might be repetitive
- Extra workload during your vacation
- Have to carry the food in the parks
Then, outside restaurants, moreover chains like McDonald’s, might be a cheaper option than what you can find in the parks. However, the biggest downside would be the time lost in commute between the parks and the restaurants.
- Might be cheaper
- No extra workload
- Commuting time
- No/less healthy options (to make it cheap, fine cuisine is out of the line)
Disney parks options
Finally, Disney offers a plethora of options ranging from reasonable pricing to outrageous. As a result, Disney segregates its options into 3 categories, which are:
Snacks 3$-10$ per unit (approximately)
Quick 12$-20$ per adult (approximately)
Table 30$-70$ per adult (approximately)
Some of the snacks are large enough to be shared or to replace a meal. Hello, churros ice cream sandwich! Admittedly, these options won’t be the healthier options out there, but still a viable option. Additionally, let’s remember that calories taken in Disney don’t count.
Following the snacks, we have the quick meals. Those options are meant to be full meals, unlike the snacks. However, just like the snacks, some of the options are large enough to be shared, moreover if people don’t have much appetite.
Last but not least, my very favorite, the table service. These options are meant to be nice seated meals, likely fine cuisine or experience/character meals. We are not that much into character meals… Ok, that’s a lie, I just love the Garden Grill and Mickey’s presence just adds to the fun. Nevertheless, as two adult foodies, we are more likely to make reservations at fine cuisine restaurants, for that reason, we lower the lodging budget.
- No commute
- Full Disney experience
- Might get expensive
- Not so much healthy options (head to my post on healthy options for additional details)
- Need reservations for table options
If you plan on eating in the parks, you might want to consider purchasing one of the meal plans. I have already done a post on the matter in the past, please forgive the quality as it was one of the first posts I wrote. One of the most appreciable perks of the meal plan is the convenience it offers even so it can be quite expensive. I highly encourage you to read my post along with the meal plan calculators so you can find out what makes the most sense for you.
Finally, take note that Disney recently added another meal plan to its list which is in my opinion, one of the best. The Disney Dining Plan Plus is sort of a hybrid between the regular Disney Dining Plan and the Deluxe Dining Plan, in a way where the 2 credits you get with the Dining Plan Plus can be exchanged in Quick service or Table service locations, just like the 3 credits you get with the Deluxe.
Take home message
Just as for the lodging, savings or expenses for the food must be based on your priorities. In our case, food is not an expenditure item where we agree to save, we like to spoil ourselves with fine wines and gastronomy meals. On the other hand, we give little attention to the room we are in, therefore we prefer staying at a value hotel to be able to eat at Table Service Restaurants most of the time. Budget for a Disney trip is a big deal, make sure you do it properly!
Let me know what you prefer, lodging or food?
In the meantime, have a drink, stay for a while!