View Full Version : Is $65 a day enough for a family of 4 to eat in WDW?

09-30-2004, 12:11 AM
Okay, I'm thinking this will be enough. $65 a day for eating while we're at WDW. That's more than I pay for groceries in a week
($40-$50)! I'm feeding DH, DS (9), DS (11) and myself.
Here's a sample plan:

Breakfast in room (oatmeal bars, pop-tarts or cereal)

Lunch@ Ronald's Fun House (in DTD):
1-Dbl Quarter Pounder w/cheese meal $6.49
1-6 pc. Happy Meal $3.99
2-Dbl Cheeseburger Happy Meals $3.69 x 2
* Super-size DH $0.59
Total w/tax-------------------------------------------------------$19.65

Dessert@ Ghirardelli's (in DTD):
1-Banana Split $6.50
1-Choc. Shake $4.50
1-Kid's S'more Sundae $4.50
Total w/tax-------------------------------------------------------$16.51

Dinner@ "World Premiere" (All-Star Movies)
1-Nachos Supreme $6.59
1-Kid's Meal $3.99
1-Cheese Pizza $4.79
1-Chic. Strip (minus fries) $4.59
Total w/tax--------------------------------------------------------$21.26

TOTAL FOR DAY = $57.42

We're not very big on breakfast, so we're just gonna eat in our room. And we plan on buying a refillable mug from the hotel for in-room eating and drinking water in the parks. We might occasionally buy a frozen lemonade or something like that in the parks.

pirate: :earsgirl: :earsboy: :earsboy:

Lollipop Mom
09-30-2004, 04:36 AM
it depends on where you plan on dining. You wouldn't be able to do a bunch of sit down dinging on that budget, it would have to be counter service. I put everything we spent into a spreadsheet for our last trip and for 9 days in "the world" we averaged $107/day for our family of 4 (myself, DH, DS 3 and DS 2). That included 3 character breakfasts (2 of them with late morning PSs so we had breakfast in our room and considered the late PS "brunch"), 2 sit down lunches (1 of them DH and I shared what we got using a VKL voucher and DSs had kids meals), 3 sit down dinners (one being Rainforest Cafe at AK with 2 child and 1 adult VKL vouchers), all of our snacks and 2 refillable mugs at WL. DS 2 ate free at the character breakfasts and 2 of the sit down dinners. We had a couple of breakfasts in the room and 1 lunch that we ate leftovers in the room from a dinner the night before. Other than the meals listed, we ate counter service for lunch and dinner and had breakfasts in the room.

09-30-2004, 05:46 AM
I don't think it is enough. For a family of 4 I would budget a minimum of $100.00 a day. I just came back from WDW with my mother and two cousins (11 and 12 years) and fast food meals were averaging about $50.00 for the 4 of us (without dessert). At least if you don't spend that much money a day you will have extra to bring home. You also want to have some leeway with impulse snacks or drinks.

09-30-2004, 07:26 AM
Our trip in July I was able to feed my family of 6 2 adults (12, 11, 10, 7) for around $75 a day...so it is very doable if you don't eat at sit down restaurants....but there isn't much variety in your dinning optons...:):)

09-30-2004, 07:57 AM
Is the McD in DTD the same price as McDonald's on the "outside?" Are you sure you'll want to travel outside the park every day for lunch. Fast food in the parks is a lot more convenient, and a lot more expensive.

09-30-2004, 08:28 AM
What I would do is order vouchers. For about $67 a day you could have 1 sitdown and 1 counter service a day. Of course, this would be sharing vouchers. 2 Quick & Casuals for your counter service and 1 adult VK and 1 child VK which will allow you to dine in a sitdown which in my opinion is one of the things that will really make your Disney trip more relaxing and enjoyable.
The adult VK will let you get an appieizer, entree, dessert, drink, tax and tip. The child's will allow for an adult appetizer, child's meal, adult dessert, drink, tax, and tip. We usually eat breakfast in our room, eat a nice sit down meal at lunch (this allows us to take a nice AC break for about an hour, hour and a half to just rest and relax and talk about what we liked so far and what we want to do the rest of the day), then we usually do the Q & C's for our evening meal. I can't go to WDW without vouchers anymore! I love having my food paid for in advance.

09-30-2004, 09:01 AM
Well I think that you can do it. On our last trip in Jan. we had a meal budget of $70 a day. It was me, DH, DD11, DS4. We ate breakfast in our room every day. And then I put $70 in an envelope for each day and when we didn't spend it all we would stick the extra in the next day envelope. There were 2 evenings we spent $10.00 more than we should have because we all had mickey bars. But usually snacks were $5.00 because we would pick something that could be shared or we would each get a candy treat for the candy store.

On our next trip we will be budgeting for 8 days and have a food budget for $550. Which is about $69.00 a day which is will be of course rounding to $70 a day.
And we are eating :
1st day: B...room
L...fast food offsite while at outlets $15
D chef mickeys $75

2nd day B... room

09-30-2004, 09:14 AM
OOPS i hit wrong button ... sorry.. :rolleyes:

2nd day breakfast was in room
lunch and dinner fast food in parks at both mgm and epcot $50

3rd day is b....room
L.... crystal palace $70
D pop century pizza $20

4th day b..... room
L.....trails end $40
D..... pop century $30

5th day b....room
L....sandwiches from cooler at water park
D....pepper market using vouchers $40

6th day b....room
L....sandwiches from cooler at water park
D....Rainforest cafe vouchers $65

7th day b... room
L...AK lunch vouchers for some and alacarte for others$25
D... Beaches and Cream vouchers $35

8th day b....room
L fast food $25
D fast food $40 no set plans for today since it is the last day and we will fly out.

Grand total for that is $530 and I have $550 for food. As you will see somedays are over the $70 a day but some are under and it all works out. Some days we eat better than others. And we enjoyed Pop Century's food court so I have 2 meals there. We also have 2 days at the water parks since we haven't been to them in years and have many free water park days left on old passes.
Sorry this was so long and that i ended up making 2 posts by accident!!;)

09-30-2004, 09:28 AM
We are just two adults and we budget about $75 a day just for the two of us. Some days we go over that/ some days we go under. For instance, we had one meal last trip where the bill came to around $85 after we included tip. That was in Marrakesh in Epcot's World Showcase. It's our favorite and we splurge there and get whatever we want (including a mixed drink each). But we also ate earlier that day in the counter service place in the American pavillion for under $20.

That is for lunch and dinner in moderately priced sit down resteraunts and quick snacks throughout the day. We eat light breakfast in our room, as we are not really big morning eaters.

I suppose that could be done , very tightly at counter service resteraunts, but don't forget to budget in money for extra drinks and snacks throughout the day.

09-30-2004, 10:22 AM
Because I can't predict what my children will eat, and I refuse to be that regimented on vacation, I doubt that I could keep it at $60 per day for my family of 4. From experience though, I have been able to do counter service lunches at the parks for $30 or less for the four of us--2 combo meals with sodas, 2 extra glasses fo ice water and one extra order of fries--it works well and no food goes to waste. With a teeneage son, this does not work everytime, but can help me to stretch the budget. I can usually do a whole vacation on $100 per day average, but when DS turned 12 that put a wrench in my average. I add 24 per day to that and am usually ok--those full price character meals kill the budget, but not fair to dd to remove them just because DS costs more.

Good luck! :wave2:

09-30-2004, 11:12 AM
I would try the Q&C vouchers...they are enough food for 2 adults!

09-30-2004, 01:41 PM
We went for the first time last August, family of 5. I did a lot of research beforehand about meals and budgeting...and spent a lot of time studying these boards :D I want to share my experience with you, but I know it's just my experience and wouldn't necessarily be the same for you.

I discovered two things: First, I was more willing to pay for convenience than I thought. For instance, your sample plan...leaving from wherever you are to go to Downtown Disney for lunch "wastes" a lot of time. I say waste, because that's what it felt like to us. We spent from opening to closing at the parks (and this was during peak season when the parks were open later) and still didn't feel like we had enough time to spend! It was better for us to just eat near where we were at the time, or to plan to be in the area of where we wanted to eat. Also, it's quite a bit of extra walking (which you'll have plenty of already) to come and go in and out of the parks to and from transportation, etc... SO, it was another benefit to just get your food and sit down for a bit. Second, even though I had preplanned so much and thought I knew what we'd be spending, it sometimes cost more than I expected. Probably partly because I had a hard time enforcing the budget I had planned :eek: Like, DS-14, "c'mon Mom, I'm REAAAALLLLY starving...yes, I'll eat the whole double bacon cheeseburger AND the fries" or like, DH "I've GOT to have funnel cake", ME "but we just ate lunch an hour ago", DH "but it's funnel cake!". Anyway, you get the idea.

Bottom line, I think $65 is a little too tight...$75 would give you some "wiggle room", and less stress. Meal sharing and using vouchers for some meals, as suggested by others, will help. Oh, one more thing: Earl of Sandwich in DTD is yummy, something different to eat than regular counter service/fast food fare, and cheaper than a lot of the other WDW meal options. :D

09-30-2004, 02:29 PM
I think there might have been a misunderstanding in my original thread. We don't plan to leave the parks and go to DTD for lunch. This is just a sample of our first day, because we will not be in the park on that day, we will be shopping in DTD. When we are in the parks we will eat mostly fast food with the exception of Sci-Fi @ MGM and Trail's End another day. My sons are not interested in any character breakfasts and one of my sons doesn't eat meat, will only eat chicken or pizza. And nobody is courageous enough to try foods from other countries. So we will stick to the fast food for most of the week.

I'm thinking $70 a day sounds a lot better than $65.

pirate: :earsgirl: :earsboy: :earsboy:

09-30-2004, 03:36 PM
There are also extra ways to save money, go to the ghiradelli web site sign up as a us resident and they e mail you buy one get one free vouchers to use on a certain date, it is near one of my familys birthday when we visit and we also got sent a second birthday buy one get one free voucher, if you and hubby sign up you'll be able to get 4 sundaes for the price of 2 at least once on your visit :-)

09-30-2004, 05:29 PM
Originally posted by my3kids
Is the McD in DTD the same price as McDonald's on the "outside?" Are you sure you'll want to travel outside the park every day for lunch. Fast food in the parks is a lot more convenient, and a lot more expensive.

I thought that the prices in DTD McDonalds were a lot more expensive than a "regular" Mcdonalds.

09-30-2004, 06:54 PM
I have seen soooo many people pig out in WDW. Really most people order way more than they need. Skip the soda and have free water. You and your DH can share a meal or the kids could share a meal with either one of you.

It is very doable! Depending how much you need to meet your budget you can pack snacks and order maybe a sandwich each for lunch and eat a full dinner in the park. I would steer clear of sit down restraunts. There are plenty of "fast food" type restraunts with many kinds of food.

I can easliy have breakfast in the room, a small lunch (like fries, a sandwich ect..), and then have a $10 dinner to split with my husband. Food servings at WDW are outrageous! There is almost always enough for two when you order a full meal.

I think people get out of control when they feel hugry and order to their hearts content only to throw away a lot of food. I can't stress enough what a waist drinks are. I also don't think dessert is needed. I'm not saying never order these things but you don't need them everyday.

You could also bring some of your own dessert (chocolate coins, large amusement park suckers, candy necklaces ect...). If you don't want your kids to know you are watching money so closley buy WDW bags off of ebay and put the desserts and snacks in them.

I would rather spend my money elsewhere than on overpriced food, drinks and snacks. It's the principal of it. $250 for a diet coke when I could buy two two liters at home.

I hope this helps!! Have fun on your trip!!

NC Jennifer
09-30-2004, 07:14 PM
Don't forget... you will be doing SOOO much walking that you may get hungrier than usual. I usually don't eat much at all, but find myself eating more when we are at WDW because we are on our feet and walking all day.

I would recommend eating a heartier breakfast in your room, something more substantial than a pop-tart. Most counter service in the parks is at least $7/person, and that is without a drink.

09-30-2004, 07:35 PM
Counter service is not necessarily cheap. As an example last Friday I ate in The Land at the BBQ section for dinner. Just under $10 for a BBQ sandwich, fries, drink.
Of course that is much less than a sit down dinner.
With drinking WDW water there is always that "it's in the water" debate. Some people it affects. Some it does not. When drinking WDW water it would gradulally start affecting me throughout the week. Near the end of the week I would have digestive problems.
I just wanted to throw this out as something to consider when cutting back on drinking expenses and opting for free fountain water.
Sometimes if we want a light lunch DH and I buy a counter service meal and split it.

09-30-2004, 08:11 PM
On our last trip in November, we were 3 adults and 1 child. Our food spending for 9 days (including travel days) averaged just under $17/person/day, or $68/day total for all meals, snacks and beverages. So you can definitely do it.

Here are my top hints to stay on budget:

1. Drink water - tap, not bottled.
2. SHARE - most meals at Disney, including counter service, are big enough to share. For example, one order of fries is enough for at least 2 people so at a place like Cosmic Rays, have one person get the burger and fries and another get just the burger. You save a dollar or two and still have plenty of food. At sit-down restaurants, 3 entrees should be plenty for 4 people. In fact, if you can agree on what you want, 2 appetizers and 2 entrees is enough for 4 people.
3. Eat offsite when you can, but don't screw up your day just to save a couple of bucks.
4. Bring some snacks into the parks with you. Visit an offsite supermarket to buy snacks. DON'T buy them in the parks or at the Disney hotel shops.

Don't be discouraged by all the folks who say you need $100 or $150 or more per day. We've done it more than once on $75 or less.

09-30-2004, 08:44 PM
If you think the water will be a problem bring in your own bottled water.

Also, I do think the WDW tap water tastes funny as do many other people. One thing I read recently was to bring sugar free kool aid packets and add that to the water. I will be trying this trick in Dec.

I can always stand to lose a couple of pounds. Great opp when walking and distracted. No need to pig out!! Most people have fat to burn!:) LOL

09-30-2004, 08:47 PM
Originally posted by Luv2Roam
Counter service is not necessarily cheap. As an example last Friday I ate in The Land at the BBQ section for dinner. Just under $10 for a BBQ sandwich, fries, drink.

Just to use this as an example of what we do - in this case, the fries would be shared between DW, DD and me. So would the drink (if we even got one - usually drink water). The other 2 people would just get main courses - sandwich, for example, without the fries and drink. That brings the average price per person down to a very reasonable amount.

09-30-2004, 09:16 PM
I think it is reasonable.
We are usually so busy enjoying all there is to do that we don't stop for three meals a day. We eat breakfast in the room. I always take bottled water and drinks from home. I buy ahead when they are on sale. We also eat our biggest meal (sit down) in the afternoon instead of during the dinner hours. This saves more than you would think.
If my children wanted snacks in the parks, they pay. Many times they are not so hungry when it is their money.
We enjoy the burger place in MK, the commissary( i don't know if this is what it is called) in MGM near Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Tusker House in Animal Kingdom, and the chinese and mexican stands in Epcot. The pizza at Fort Wilderness and buffet are very good values. This past summer we were at POFQ for the first time and we enjoyed their food court. I thought it was well worth the cost.
We went over the amount when we ate at the Garden Grill or something similar, but we were under on other days. Also, many evenings we ate a sundae or pastries from Epcot instead of an evening meal. Best nutrition? Probably not, but it is a vacation.
I do think it is key to take water with you to the parks. It saves a fortune on drinks.
I think you can do it, and I am a mother of four.

09-30-2004, 10:08 PM
We (DH, DD10, DS7 and I) did a budget of $50/day this June. Some days we went a little over (usually to buy more drinks!) and some days under. Our budget included breakfast in the room and lunch/dinner in the parks or ASMo food court, and one "special" event of the Ice Cream Social at Epcot...what a deal!!!!!!! I highly recommed this as an inexpensive, yummy wait to meet some of the characters. We took a few bottles of water/gatorade with us in the morning but ended up buying more as the day went on...well worth it to us because it was HOT and we wanted good water. Mickey Bars help too. ;)

I say go for it. If you're going during cooler weather I bet you drink less, eat more. We were too hot to eat most of the time, and just wanted W A T E R!!! You'll be just fine!::yes::

09-30-2004, 11:16 PM
It sounds like your meals are going to be pretty dull. I'm a fairly frugal person, but $16/day/person is a very tough goal. I always head for a supermarket and load up on water and snacks. For breakfast I'll hit a breakfast buffet like Ponderosa has for $3.99. That will keep me going into the afternoon. As an earlier poster noted, you burn a lot more energy at WDW than normal. Pop Tarts probably aren't going to cut it. You need a real breakfast.
For a late lunch a burger/fries will do and I'll usually wait til I'm out of the park to have a light dinner. I keep fruit/pudding cups and usually a bag of peanuts in my pack for snacks. to tide me over. I also keep cookies/crackers in my hotel.

10-01-2004, 04:23 PM
Originally posted by disneysteve
Don't be discouraged by all the folks who say you need $100 or $150 or more per day. We've done it more than once on $75 or less.

Can you do it for under $100/day for 4 people, probably. But...........will you enjoy all the meals you are eating?

JMO, but I always budget a little more just in case I'm sick of the Mickey burgers & chicken strips & want to just sit down & have a nice meal.

As Disneysteve said, you can save by bringing snacks & drinks into the parks (get each person their own fanny pack & water bottle holder) & by eating off-site. I would budget a little more, but also try to save by doing this. You can always bring home any money you don't spend.

Our favorite sit down meals are at a place called The Orlando Ale House right outside of Disney. They have a very extensive menu & very reasonable prices. If you have a car & would like a change of pace then try this (I know that's a little off topic here :rolleyes: )

Again, these are just my opinions. I find my vacation more enjoyable not having to worry about whether I can order fries, a drink, a dessert or have a Mickey bar if I want to.

10-01-2004, 04:38 PM
Originally posted by MELSMICE
I find my vacation more enjoyable not having to worry about whether I can order fries, a drink, a dessert or have a Mickey bar if I want to.

This is an important point.

We spent very little on food, but that wasn't because we were on a budget or couldn't afford more. We could if we wanted to. We were all perfectly happy with the meals we had during our trip and didn't feel the least bit deprived. We got our Dole Whip, Mickey bars, Rice Krispies treats and all our other favorites.

If you want more sit down meals or alcohol or other more expensive items, just realize that you will spend more and plan accordingly.

10-01-2004, 04:41 PM
I say not only can it be done easily but it can also be done in a healthier way. We eat a good breakfast breakfast at home or in the room before heading out to the parks. Oatmeal, non-sugary cereal with fresh fruit, etc. We eat things that will sustain us. We bring our own bottled water. We also bring granola bars, apples, and cookies to munch on. Last week we ate at the Electric Umbrella twice (lunch and dinner). This was not our choice. We were there with friends and it is what they picked. I would mix it up a little but that is what they wanted.

My family (dh, ds 7, dd 9 and me) all had their own veggie burger with a fruit cup subbed for the fries. We put lots of toppings on and drank the bottled water we brought into the park. We were stuffed. That was lunch and it cost $25. For dinner, the kids weren't super hungry so they split a veggie burger that time. We ordered it with the fruit cup and then ordered an extra fruit cup because they each wanted one. DH and I both had our own. It came to $22.

At Cosmic Rays, a family of four can split their family roasted chicken special which comes with mashed potatoes. Everyone can order their own soup. That comes to $25. They also offer the veggie burgers or chicken sandwiches and we sub the soup for the fries for the $25.

So, we average $50 for counter service meals for lunch and dinner and I think we all eat pretty healthy. Granted, it isn't as healthy as our home cooking but it beats french fries and pop. That isn't knocking those that like that stuff. We just all start to feel sick after a few days of fried food type things. It isn't what we are used to. Of course, we also have sit down meals during our trip as well.


10-02-2004, 12:04 PM
We would never be able to stick to that budget. But, that's us. We are foodies & one of the things we really enjoy in WDW is sampling all the wonderful restaurants.
Also, as Luv2Roam pointed out - Tap water in WDW can be rough on the digestive system if you aren't used to it. We always have to use bottled water or else at least one of us ends up sick.
I guess it depends on what your priorities are. Good food is a priority for us at home & even more so on vacation. We are willing to pay a bit extra on it & make our budget cuts in other areas.
DH & I do plan to start splitting more meals tho, as we do tend to wind up wasting food.

10-02-2004, 12:58 PM
We found it pretty hard to budget because you never know how you are going to feel on that day. Some days we would get by on a big breakfast and supper (maybe a snack in the middle of the day) and other days, we were tired and just wanted to sit down, eat and get our energy back. At that point, we didn't care where we ate or the prices, lol. The restaurants are pretty busy so it would be wherever we could get in and sit.

I always bring what we think we will spend and leave a few hundred in the bank so its there if we need it. That way, its not in our pocket. To easy to spend that way :)

10-02-2004, 04:32 PM
I know you can probably do it on your budget and adding an additional $10 a day would keep it loose, as was suggested. Honestly, we were too keyed up, excited and then dead dog tired to eat much!

I discovered our family (DH, me, 2 DS's) is good for one big meal. So we either ate whatever we wanted at lunch (sit down, counter, etc.) or did a big breakfast (buffet) and then coasted on light fare through the day. By dinner we just weren't very hungry.

But do budget in for snacks - you can always have your dessert as a snack. You know, skip it at the meal and have it a couple hours later. And sharing is a great way to save.

10-02-2004, 04:39 PM
Oh, another thing. Watch the soft drink consumption. I've heard it will dehydrate you more to drink soft drinks rather than water. Don't know if it's true but last time I drank water all day and I didn't feel nearly as limp as I have before.

And don't forget that different fast food places around DW have different menus. There is a variety if you seek it out. Check out Deb Will's site and the menus. Some counter service area have actual dinners you can buy (Cosmic Ray's, Tusker House, World Showcase)...

10-05-2004, 04:12 PM
We usually spend about $40 day for two adults and a child. We visit during shoulder season, and find that what we tend to do is cut down to two meals per day, as stopping to eat just takes too much time away from ride time. I always carry protein-type snacks, especially nuts, they stick to your ribs pretty well. We don't really do this as a budgeting tactic; more that we prefer not to overpay for food.

We eat breakfast in our room, and that we purchase offsite. We always make sure that breakfast has protein, so we buy smoked meats that will keep well in a cooler in our room. (You want to double-bag those cold cuts and wrap the inner bag in napkins to blunt the cold somewhat; otherwise they will freeze.) For short trips I will carry the breakfast munchies down with me in my carryon soft cooler and just buy a few drinks at a convenience store; for long trips we check our hardside rolling cooler as one of our bags, and we do a full grocery store stop. (A full grocery stop for a week's trip will normally run ~$25 not incl. liquor. That's a separate budget item the way I calculate it.) We don't snack too often, so we are not talking a huge volume of food, mostly fruit, nuts and pretzel sticks.

We tend to eat sit-down meals more often than counter-service, as the quality is much better, but more commonly at resorts instead of in the parks. We always take a midday rest, so we will normally stop at a resort and eat either coming or going. We share our restaurant meals in some way or another, either by buying one adult entree and one kid meal, or just splitting 2 adult entrees three ways. We don't normally buy any drinks in the parks; we carry a couple of Brita bottles and just drink tap water. (I'm a cold-caffeine junkie, so I carry in a 16 oz. Coke that I've purchased offsite. I ask for ice and add the Coke to feed my addiction. I don't do this at meals, though, just during breaks.) All our snacks are carried in, with the exception of one Mickey bar per trip for DS.