1. Use Toppings Bars
Several Disney World restaurants have toppings bars for guests to dress up their burgers or tacos. These often include a wide variety of veggies, salsas, and sometimes even cheese. Try ordering a slightly smaller entree and loading it up with toppings. This way you can fill up while spending a smaller amount of money.
2. Make the Most of Buffets
Buffets are a fantastic way to get really full. You can use this fact to your advantage by scheduling buffet-style meals between regular meal times and allowing the meal to serve as both breakfast + lunch, or lunch + dinner. This is especially effective as a late breakfast/early lunch option because you should be able to snag breakfast prices (which are a bit lower than lunch prices).
3. Order Kids Meals
If you’re a light eater, you may be able to save some money by ordering kids meals. The kids meals in Disney are actually pretty substantial, and the prices are definitely much better than the adult meal prices. The biggest downfall here is that kids menus are generally pretty limited, meaning you may be stuck eating a lot of burgers and chicken nuggets.
4. Skip the Sides
Many eateries in Disney will allow you to order an entree without the included side(s). Always ask if this possible, and if it is, order without. You can supplement with sides brought from home, or you can skip the sides entirely, as the entrees are often plenty of food for one person.
5. Watch Your Drinks
Our advice is to skip the sodas in Disney. They’re overpriced, and it’s way too easy to get dehydrated. Instead, order free cups of water at any counter-service location. If you really want a sweet drink, consider bringing your own can(s) of soda, or you can order one drink from an eatery that has self-serve soda fountains, share it with the family, and grab a free refill.
6. Share Meals
As mentioned before, the meals at Disney often include too much food for one person. Therefore, in certain locations, sharing is completely doable and definitely recommended.
Order two plates to split between three people, or head to Fort Wilderness and order a family fried chicken meal to share with everyone. Alternatively, you can always order a pizza from the hotel food court. These can easily feed 5 or 6 people, making them a great way to feed the masses on a budget.
7. Pick Up Gift Cards
Occasionally, discounted Disney gift cards can be obtained at stores such as Sam’s Club and Costco. You may also be able to earn free gift cards through sites like Swagbucks and Disney Movie Rewards. Over time, these can really add up and put a nice dent in your dining expenses.
8. Make Snacks into Meals
There are several snacks throughout the parks that are priced as snacks, but could really serve as a small meal. Seek these out and use them to your advantage. Sometimes a quick, light meal is all you really want anyway, and if you can get one for a bit less than the regular counter-service meals, you’ll be doing pretty good.
9. Have Breakfast in the Room
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be a budget buster. Instead of heading to the food court first thing in the morning, have an assortment of cereals, pastries, and fruits in your room.
These can be eaten quickly on the way to the shuttle, meaning you won’t be wasting any time or money on the first meal of the day.
10. Get Free Dining
Once a year, Disney tends to offer free dining with the purchase of a non-discounted vacation package. While this is not always a good deal due to all the restrictions involved, it can be a decent discount for some people. Do the math to see if it’s a good fit for you.
11. Bring Food In
Of course, there’s always the option of bringing your own food into the parks. If you eat breakfast in your room and bring some sandwiches for lunch, you’ll only need to worry about paying for dinner. This can save quite a bit of money, but might take some of the fun out of your vacation. Your mileage may vary.