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View Full Version : What are your best suggestions for saving money on food while at Disney?


mickerbaby
08-03-2006, 12:16 AM
Last year I went grocery shopping on the first night of our arrival and purchased breakfast type food, water, snacks for the room and a small amount of "adult beaverages" :p for dh and I. Along with that I also bought a cheap styrofoam cooler to keep things cold in the room. And We did save some money, but this year we need to do more since we are on a stricter vacation budget.
We tend to stay in the parks through lunch and lots of times through dinner. So that does add up, then if you add in snacks then it gets really expensive.

Can you share your suggestions on how you save money on food while at Disney?
-how many people really bring in their own lunches? What keeps the best?
-any good snack suggestions that can compete with all the yummy stuff avaliable in the parks? (I just don't think my kids will settle for goldfish and teddy grams when they see all the other stuff!) I was thinking of making a trail mix with nuts and m&m's......
-we love the character meals and I couldn't imagine not going to a few especially when my kids are still at that age when they still believe that the dressed up characters are real. Any suggestions on this?
thanks!! :wave:

daisyduck123
08-03-2006, 01:24 AM
We do the Dining Plan every trip. It is so easy. Everything is paid for ahead of time & we don't have to worry about bringing any food on the trip, going to a grocery store when we get there, keeping food in our room or anything. With the Dining Plan, you don't even have to bring any snacks into the park with you. (And as you stated, many kids do not want regular snacks from home when they are in Disney...which has sooo many cool snacks).

If you are doing character meals, it's definitely worth it. We do a character meal each night except for our night at WCC.

njziggy
08-03-2006, 06:11 AM
The cheapest character meals are usually breakfast. We maximize time & money by booking our character breakfast at the last seating- so it becomes our lunch and them dinner is just a snack. Ex/ Early entry at MK, then 11:20 breakfast at Chef Mickey's.
We also use the ever popular buy a double burger & an extra bun. DH eats 1 burger & the kids split the other. I sometimes just buy the bun myself & make a vegie sandwich from the fixins bar. Also don't rule out kids meals- they have some relly nice choices at counter service that go beyond the pb&j.

dpratt68
08-03-2006, 06:38 AM
We would eat a big breakfast before going to the park and then bring a backpack in with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips and snacks as well as a few waters. People here may flame me and say I "Broke the rules" but security checked my backpack every day and it was visible and they never had a problem. It would be tough to bring dinner too. Maybe snack and order pizza after the park.

DisneyBrat
08-03-2006, 06:38 AM
I was thinking the other day about the extra bun purchase in the park. I thought why couldn't you buy a bun and side of bacon add lettuce and mayo from the fixin' bar and hey you have a BLT for $1.60 Anyone ever tried this?



Lew

PS My youngest son posted this idea under his name a couple days ago. His first post :yay: My baby is a Dis'er now!!!! He's addicted like me too. its so cute he signs on and checks the board several times a day :rotfl2:

Laurajean1014
08-03-2006, 06:50 AM
I was thinking the other day about the extra bun purchase in the park. I thought why couldn't you buy a bun and side of bacon add lettuce and mayo from the fixin' bar and hey you have a BLT for $1.60 Anyone ever tried this?

You cannot buy bacon at Disney by the piece, nor can you buy an extra bun. :crazy:


Why not wait for extreme sales near you for non-perishable stuff (peanut butter, jam, cereals, snacks, power bars, etc.) and then pack it with you? The added space you have when you leave gives you room for your souvies.

I think bringing food into the park is hard. It smooshes, gets hot, wet and is bulky (before and after). You can get fresh fruit and bring power bars with you! Then later, have a good size dinner. Don't forget that popcorn:: is a very inexpensive way to fill up. Maybe eat in your room and then grab a coffee in the parks to keep you going.

I would recommend bringing your own water. I love Disney, but water is not inexpensive at WDW.

Good luck with your budget.

carolsherman
08-03-2006, 07:46 AM
You can purchase the extra bun in disney we have done it several times its like .80 then I buy a double cheeseburger and I end up with 1 hamburger and 1 cheeseburger kids love it. When we bring sandwichs I use my backpack cooler and rent a locker for the day so we don't have to carry it around last time was like $8 for the day and at lunch time we have a picnic

DisneyBrat
08-03-2006, 07:59 AM
I have also done the extra bun/double cheeseburger tip. I also saw where you can add bacon for .79 cents. Since we know buns are 80 cents. That is why I think you can buy a bun and bacon for $1.59. Anyone out there know if this is possible?


Lew


PS me too on carrying food in the park. I HATE warm pb&j sandwiches.

frannn
08-03-2006, 09:44 AM
We then have a big dinner offsite, eat CS, or at the food court in our hotel. I take at least one Brita refillable filtered sports bottle (start with ice in the morning, then keep refilling). There are other brands of these kinds of bottles. Definetly takes the blech taste out of the water. If you have access to a fridge, you could freeze bottles of water or Powerade, and take them in a small softsided cooler, with some store bought bagels, tuna packets (you can find this in resealable packs, or small snack cans, already prepared), pb&j, snack bars, cheese & crackers, fruit snacks, etc. If we want a treat in the park, we share a drink, filled pretzel, dole whip, etc (yes, between the 4 of us). If you eat a breakfast buffet (like Ponderosa, Golden Coral), you probably won't get very hungry till much later anyway. For most of our past visits, we've lived off CS and the resort food court, mixed with off site character meals. This year, we will be spoiled by the free DDP. We probably won't do it again until they extend it to AP holders.

mickerbaby
08-03-2006, 11:16 AM
thanks everyone for the idea's...the brita water bottle idea sounds really good, we drink a lot of water!!!
The locker idea might be good too, that way you don't have to lug your lunch cooler around. I would love to have free dining, that would be so great! but I've never heard of Disney offering it in early Feb when we are going, oh well!
I can always dream! :goodvibes

My2Cinderellas
08-03-2006, 12:01 PM
the dining plan is not free, but I feel that it is well worth the cost if at all possible for you. We saved $$, and also since it was prepaid, it was so relaxing to not worry about the price of what you were ordering. It really added to the vacation spirit.

We like sit down restaurants once a day on vacation, and usually share appetizers and dessert if we order them at all. I did comparisons using what we would order if paying out of pocket at at TS and CS, not the "what's the maximum you can order" and after adding in the tax and TS gratuity, we still came out ahead. I figured the snacks at $2 each (low I know, but we used a lot of credits on bottled water). A character dinner for our family of 2 adults and 2 children, including tax and gratuity, was more expensive than the dining plan for the day, and that was before we used the counter service and snack credits. We always shared counter service credits, usually 2 or 3 for the 4 of us was plenty. We got mostly adult meals, only 3-4 kids CS meals. This was because DD8 is very picky and ate A LOT of chicken strip meals. Which of course are not on the kids menu most of the time. We did the double burger with an extra bun thing too. By sharing CS meals, we ended up being able to eat breakfast in the food court a couple of times, and had extra credits to use to buy sandwiches to take with us to the airport.

There are ways to get food that's is healthy, and some things to save for later. at the food court, we were able to get grapes or cut up melon for dessert, and if we ordered 2 CS meals, we'd get 1 with fries and 1 with carrots. we had refillable mugs, so if I was getting a CS at the food court, I'd get bottled juice or milk for the drink to save for breakfast.

we did bring in cereal and poptarts and bread/peanut butter to make breakfast in the room most mornings. bought milk in the gift shop. It started as a $$ saving idea, but really helped us get ready and out the door quickly in the mornings, so we were able to make park openings.

faindrops27
08-03-2006, 12:12 PM
If not using the DDP, or FreeDDP. Eat breakfast in room. Pack of bagels, pop tarts, etc. Eat a snack for lunch. Eat a counter service for dinner. Have a magical trip!! :banana:

goodeats
08-03-2006, 12:15 PM
Share meals (portions are very large!)

Give up soda and drink the free tap water

If not bringing snacks - eat a big breakfast (i.e. Trails Ends buffet), snack for lunch, and a sit down dinner

Kay1
08-03-2006, 12:24 PM
Why not the latest possible character lunch buffet then ice cream for dinner.

mommiepoppins
08-03-2006, 12:35 PM
I was thinking the other day about the extra bun purchase in the park. I thought why couldn't you buy a bun and side of bacon add lettuce and mayo from the fixin' bar and hey you have a BLT for $1.60 Anyone ever tried this?



Lew

PS My youngest son posted this idea under his name a couple days ago. His first post :yay: My baby is a Dis'er now!!!! He's addicted like me too. its so cute he signs on and checks the board several times a day :rotfl2:
so dose my dd she is crybabywalker she is addicted to dis just like me :love:

mousiemom
08-03-2006, 12:49 PM
Are you staying in disney? If so, we've never done the ddp. We drive down so we buy our groceries ahead of time. We are there 9 nights. We do a character breakfast and a character lunch. We go back to the hotel about 2 and it sandwiches. When we are in the parks we take the cheese crackers, cookies, fruit snacks, granola bars to snack on until lunch. We do the McDonald fries($5) and share those and buy a drink. A lot of us our fans of the turkey legs and we share those. We take our microwave and we rent a fridg here are some items we eat:
-hot dogs -chicken salad (I make a poundcake & cookies)
-chimachangas -(we go to Sam's and we try to find things that are easy & quick)
-mini tacos My FIL goes to Wal-Mart down the street and buys a roasted chicken
-pizzas & Sushi.

*we eat very well while we are there. This yr. we are getting our AP passes so we can't get the DDP anyways.
Good Luck!

mdinecola
08-03-2006, 01:03 PM
Last year, we did a late breakfast at Crystal Palace (character) and just as we were finishing a rather relaxed meal and the characters were making their second round to our table, the lunch buffet was being put out. I, ofcourse, carry ziplocs in our backpack and I grabbed a few PB&J sandwiches and some grapes from the lunch bar, went back to the table and put them a couple ziplocs and put them in our backpack for later. Around 3 when the LARGE breakfast was wearing off, we found a nice shaded spot to eat our "snack" and late that night we ordered a pizza for all of us on our way back to our room. The lunch buffet at CP has lots of quick and easy stuff that is easy to carry.

NO FLAMES............................................ .....

EdDome
08-03-2006, 01:45 PM
Last year, we did a late breakfast at Crystal Palace (character) and just as we were finishing a rather relaxed meal and the characters were making their second round to our table, the lunch buffet was being put out. I, ofcourse, carry ziplocs in our backpack and I grabbed a few PB&J sandwiches and some grapes from the lunch bar, went back to the table and put them a couple ziplocs and put them in our backpack for later. Around 3 when the LARGE breakfast was wearing off, we found a nice shaded spot to eat our "snack" and late that night we ordered a pizza for all of us on our way back to our room. The lunch buffet at CP has lots of quick and easy stuff that is easy to carry.

NO FLAMES............................................ .....

I'll be nice and not say anything negative. :sad2:

disneysteve
08-03-2006, 02:07 PM
1. Drink tap water - it's FREE! The amount spent on bottled water and soda is insane.
2. Share meals. Servings at most places, even counter service, are way too big for one person. We NEVER order 3 meals for the 3 of us.
3. Carry snacks into the park with you. Nuts, raisins, granola bars, candy, pop-tarts, etc.
4. Eat breakfast in your room. Cereal, fruit, yogurt, pop-tarts, etc. We find breakfast to be the worst value in restaurants.
5. Eat some meals offsite where restaurants are considerably cheaper.
6. Do Disney buffets at lunch instead of dinner, like Crystal Palace. Similar food but better prices.

Jordan'sMom
08-03-2006, 02:10 PM
We brought lunch in our small soft-sided cooler every day along with water, cheese sticks, and fruit. We stopped at a grocery prior to check in and purchased sandwich fixing, breakfast items, and snacks. You will obviously need a refrigerator if you'd like to do this.

We ate our breakfast in our room each morning. We would make the sandwiches in the evening, and have everything ready for a quick departure in the morning. I also put the ice in double ziplock bags to avoid water saturating anything or dripping out all over. Your cooler will be searched everyday by security. I never received one question, comment, or disapproving look from any of the security members. One person did say "I see you have water and snacks. Have a great day at the park!" We would find a quiet bench in the shade and eat a quick lunch. I personally do not like to be on any time schedule when it comes to eating. We had 3 ADR's for our 7 day trip and those were for Hoop Dee Do, Fantasmic dining combo at Hollywood and Vine (food not recommended) and Chef Mickey's (loved it!)

We did rent a car. If you have access to Downtown Disney, I'd recommend Earl of Sandwich. The price is reasonable, there's a good selection of tasty sandwichs, and we were able to share with our 4 y/o DS and even had left-overs to take back to the room for the next day's lunch one time. :)

mommiepoppins
08-03-2006, 02:49 PM
Last year, we did a late breakfast at Crystal Palace (character) and just as we were finishing a rather relaxed meal and the characters were making their second round to our table, the lunch buffet was being put out. I, ofcourse, carry ziplocs in our backpack and I grabbed a few PB&J sandwiches and some grapes from the lunch bar, went back to the table and put them a couple ziplocs and put them in our backpack for later. Around 3 when the LARGE breakfast was wearing off, we found a nice shaded spot to eat our "snack" and late that night we ordered a pizza for all of us on our way back to our room. The lunch buffet at CP has lots of quick and easy stuff that is easy to carry.

NO FLAMES............................................ .....
good thinking :bride:

mickerbaby
08-03-2006, 06:46 PM
Last year, we did a late breakfast at Crystal Palace (character) and just as we were finishing a rather relaxed meal and the characters were making their second round to our table, the lunch buffet was being put out. I, ofcourse, carry ziplocs in our backpack and I grabbed a few PB&J sandwiches and some grapes from the lunch bar, went back to the table and put them a couple ziplocs and put them in our backpack for later. Around 3 when the LARGE breakfast was wearing off, we found a nice shaded spot to eat our "snack" and late that night we ordered a pizza for all of us on our way back to our room. The lunch buffet at CP has lots of quick and easy stuff that is easy to carry.

NO FLAMES............................................ .....

I don't think what you did is worthy of flames, you were just being a resourceful mom!! :goodvibes

goodeats
08-03-2006, 07:19 PM
You aren't supposed to take food to-go from a buffet. It's pretty tacky!

deekaypee
08-03-2006, 07:51 PM
I don't know how strict your budget is, or the age of your children, but here are my suggestions:

Breakfast
-Keep up with breakfast in the room. My DH and I find it much more relaxing, and it saves us time. Kids can be sold on in-room breakfasts as a time-saver and many of them enjoy the extra time in bed, anyway (big kids like it, too).

Beverages
-Cut down on the bought beverages. No adult beverages for you, no need to buy sodas or water. If you really dislike the tap water--I do--ask for a cup with water & ice at CS. It's free and you can fill your water bottles throughout the day. If you have to have the beverages, then share them. Most of us are drinking way too much soda anyway. (I'm guilty, guilty, guilty!)

Snacks
-If you can, cut out on the snacks. They're sooo expensive and unhealthy. [DH and I bought ice-cream sandwiches on our most recent trip to DLR out of nostalgia. 2 were $7.00...and huge...more than we needed.]
----Instead, bring in snacks: raisins, granola bars, peanut butter and crackers. I don't know your kids, but I think if you establish the snacks as special things you've chosen just for them--or have them help you pick snacks before you go to the park (or even in packing)--then you help establish their expectations. If you behave like snacks are a must, then that will translate to snacks being a must. (I know, I know, kids get that message without their parents' help too...)
---You might be able to find food containers with their favorite characters, Disney or otherwise, that become their special snack box. Then pack your homemade trail mix or whatnot in them.
---If you must have snacks, share them. I don't know how many are in your family, but you could easily split many snacks in half and have a tasty treat.
---And limit the number of snacks allotted. The first time I went to Disney I convinced myself I needed a midmorning, afternoon, and evening snack, plus a dessert with supper. What was I thinking? I convinced myself that I was walking so much that I needed the snacks. :rotfl2: This most recent, 5-day visit? We had three snacks, two of which we shared (after the ice-cream mistake). I know it's a hard sell, but maybe to get everybody on board you could print up snack coupons for Disney snacks (again, depending on your children's age). Once someone has used their snack coupon, that's it. It might encourage them to share snacks, too.

Portables
--Protein always works to stave off my hunger. Peanut butter sandwiches transport well, or peanut butter & crackers or peanut butter and celery, and Jif is now selling single-serving sizes. They're more expensive than jars of peanut butter but are very portable and cheaper than park food.

Dining In & Out of the World
-In terms of TS & CS meals, go offsite and look for more "bang-for-your buck." Other posters have talked about this. But commit to one or two dinners outside the park; it's a hassle, but can be a big savings.
---Character dining: You mentioned going to a "few" character meals. Wow. That seems to me to be a good place to cut your expenses. DH and I went to a character breakfast during this most recent trip--for the two of us it was over $50. I can't imagine what it is for a family. They fill you up, but I find I can't eat enough at one sitting to keep me sated for the rest of the day. If you normally do three, try to cut down to two or even one.
---I also agree that if you're going to do a character meal, make it a late breakfast/brunch/early lunch. Not only are they cheaper, but you might be able to eliminate the snacks more easily.

Overeating
-Finally, I agree with disneysteve. Portion sizes at many of the Disney places, and at restaurants in general, are big enough to share.

Laurajean1014
08-03-2006, 08:59 PM
You can purchase the extra bun in disney we have done it several times its like .80 then I buy a double cheeseburger and I end up with 1 hamburger and 1 cheeseburger kids love it. When we bring sandwichs I use my backpack cooler and rent a locker for the day so we don't have to carry it around last time was like $8 for the day and at lunch time we have a picnic


If you are spending $8.80 on a bun and a locker, why not just get a hot dog or burger for the same price? Or eat just before entering the park if spending any money is not do-able.

Laurajean1014
08-03-2006, 09:02 PM
Last year, we did a late breakfast at Crystal Palace (character) and just as we were finishing a rather relaxed meal and the characters were making their second round to our table, the lunch buffet was being put out. I, ofcourse, carry ziplocs in our backpack and I grabbed a few PB&J sandwiches and some grapes from the lunch bar, went back to the table and put them a couple ziplocs and put them in our backpack for later. Around 3 when the LARGE breakfast was wearing off, we found a nice shaded spot to eat our "snack" and late that night we ordered a pizza for all of us on our way back to our room. The lunch buffet at CP has lots of quick and easy stuff that is easy to carry.

NO FLAMES............................................ .....


:bitelip: I'm biting my lip........ :crazy: sorry, couldn't help myself :sad2:

Meezers
08-03-2006, 09:15 PM
Do people really do that with the extra bun thing? I have always wondered....

disneysteve
08-03-2006, 09:19 PM
If you are spending $8.80 on a bun and a locker, why not just get a hot dog or burger for the same price? Or eat just before entering the park if spending any money is not do-able.
I think that was two separate thoughts. The locker was for when they bring in sandwiches, so $8 instead of buying lunch for everyone.

TENIA66
08-03-2006, 09:26 PM
There really cheap fresh fruit at the liberty square area fruit stand around the haunted mansion, i got grapes for less than a buck, apples, bananas, pineapple slices, oranges for 1.50 or less....refillable popcorn too...the bucket was 5 or 6 bucks then 1 or 2 to refill........we carry dried fruit, pineapple and bananas from dollar tree for in between stuff....we refill water bottles......but i must have my diet coke with ice or someone must die!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TENIA66
08-03-2006, 09:28 PM
You cannot buy bacon at Disney by the piece, nor can you buy an extra bun. :crazy:


Why not wait for extreme sales near you for non-perishable stuff (peanut butter, jam, cereals, snacks, power bars, etc.) and then pack it with you? The added space you have when you leave gives you room for your souvies.

I think bringing food into the park is hard. It smooshes, gets hot, wet and is bulky (before and after). You can get fresh fruit and bring power bars with you! Then later, have a good size dinner. Don't forget that popcorn:: is a very inexpensive way to fill up. Maybe eat in your room and then grab a coffee in the parks to keep you going.

I would recommend bringing your own water. I love Disney, but water is not inexpensive at WDW.

Good luck with your budget.
you can buy side orders of bacon, and you can buy dinner rolls and slices of bread on the sides at some the service resturants.....

OceanAnnie
08-03-2006, 09:52 PM
I didn't see this mentioned, but I really like the lemonade & kool-Aid sticks. I got some off name brand at Wal-Mart. Just tear open the little sleeve of mix, add to bottled water (or cup of water) and you're good to go! I like water fine. But sometimes you just gotta have something with some flavor!

I too think portion sizes are extreme. And the Fla. heat zaps our appetites. We usually share a meal and a dessert. :) That's the only way we'd eat a dessert. In the past, we'd be too full to even think about a dessert if we each ate a full adult serving. Sometimes we get a kids meal. And sometimes we'll get some appetizers and share them for a light fun meal.