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Old 11-01-2009, 07:57 PM   #1
Mouse Maineac
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Disney Dining on the Cheap

We are headed for a surprise Christmas Vacation to Disney from Dec. 26 - Dec. 31. We are staying at Coronado Springs for the first time. We have our park tickets with the hopper. We have reservations at 1900 Park Fare for the dinner buffet and at Hollywood and Vine so we can see Fantasmic. My question is...we have no other dinner reservations. We are thinking of bringing breakfast foods and snacks and eating bits here and there the rest of the time. (DH loves the turkey legs and I love the Mexican food at Epcot). We are a family of four. How much cash would you bring for food? Where are some Disney treasures to eat at that you can't ge on the DDP? We have always done the DDP, but booked this trip through Travelocity and want to save some money. Any help would be appeciated!
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Old 11-01-2009, 09:03 PM   #2
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Your food budget is going to largely going to depend on how big of eaters you and your family members are. Will a hotdog satisfy them for an entire afternoon or will they need more? Don't skimp early thinking it will save you money in the long run because it could end up costing you later! Some of my favorite places to eat that have huge servings that you can often split meals and stretch your dollar include- Cosmic Rays Cafe and Pecos Bills at the Magic Kingdom and Sunshine Seasons at Epcot. Alot of Disers like to snack around the world in the World Showcase as well!
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Old 11-01-2009, 09:45 PM   #3
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Something my family of 3 really enjoyed was the Spoodles Pizza Window. For $20 we got a large pizza and it was plenty for us. We did that back in January when we went and didn't do the dining plan. I know Spoodles has been turned into a new restaurant by Kat Kora but I believe the pizza window is still there and it better still be as good as it used to be!!! Also the Plaza in MK is not that expensive and might make a nice little sit down meal. Of course there is T-Rex and Rainforest that are not covered under the dining plan and might be worth a shot (not sure how cheap it would be though). Another vote for Cosmic Rays. I believe they have a meal that is half a roasted chicken with 2 sides that 2 people could easily share.
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Old 11-02-2009, 05:00 AM   #4
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one tip to save on meals is to order ice water as your beverage. It is free and for our family of 5 it save us at least $12 per meal. That really adds up and if you don't like the taste of plain water you can bring those little kool aid or crystal light packets to mix in.
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Old 11-02-2009, 06:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karliebug View Post
one tip to save on meals is to order ice water as your beverage. It is free and for our family of 5 it save us at least $12 per meal. That really adds up and if you don't like the taste of plain water you can bring those little kool aid or crystal light packets to mix in.
I have to agree. The cost of soda or bottled water adds up fast! We were at WDW in October. I brought a waterbottle for each of us to the parks. We ordered ice water with our meals and also filled our water bottles that way as well.
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Old 11-02-2009, 07:37 AM   #6
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If you decide to eat at the Rainforest, check to see if they have coupons online for signing up or in a Happenings book. Don't forget the breakfast in your room, snacks in your pocket and eat a later lunch and then dinner can be a pizza in your room. We always bring some good snacks, peanut butter and bread.
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Old 11-02-2009, 07:50 AM   #7
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We have found the best money savings tips to be: share and drink water. Once we realized we didn't need to stuff ourselves silly everytime we ate we saved a ton. We adhere to our normal eating habits even when at Disney, I know- the horror! Dessert after every meal is insane and when we stopped all that not only did we feel better but we had more energy and didn't experience the blood sugar highs and lows.

We eat at great TS places and have a wonderful time. We don't gain weight and don't waste food.




ETA: And obviously we don't share at buffets.
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Last edited by rentayenta; 11-02-2009 at 07:57 AM.
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Old 11-02-2009, 07:55 AM   #8
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Exclamation

Just a word of warning about the "counter service" restaurant at CSR....

The Pepper Market applies an automatic gratuity to your bill if you "dine in". That fee is 10% of the total bill and is akin to a forced tip. You can avoid paying this fee by choosing to do take-out dining instead.

I like the Pepper Market for its great selections. It's a wonderful value if you're on the dining plan. However, the dine-in gratuity is a real budget buster and takes a lot of guests by surprise because it is not well-advertised.
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Old 11-02-2009, 09:15 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jemgumby View Post
Something my family of 3 really enjoyed was the Spoodles Pizza Window. For $20 we got a large pizza and it was plenty for us. We did that back in January when we went and didn't do the dining plan. I know Spoodles has been turned into a new restaurant by Kat Kora but I believe the pizza window is still there and it better still be as good as it used to be!!! Also the Plaza in MK is not that expensive and might make a nice little sit down meal. Of course there is T-Rex and Rainforest that are not covered under the dining plan and might be worth a shot (not sure how cheap it would be though). Another vote for Cosmic Rays. I believe they have a meal that is half a roasted chicken with 2 sides that 2 people could easily share.

Rainforest & T-Rex aren't cheap however, if you join Rainforest Safari Club you get a discount. Also, I joined mypoints.com several years ago, get points for clicking on websites & if I shop online I go thru the website and get extra points. These points can be traded in for gift cards and Rainforest is one of those. I usually have $50-$100 in gift cards for Rainforest when we go to WDW.
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Old 11-02-2009, 11:13 AM   #10
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I have a few things I always do when I go to WDW, which save me money on food. And I'm not adverse to paying for full meals if I want them - heck, I went to Party for the Senses this year! But I don't see wasting money, either.

First, I'm not a big eater usually, so I order the kids meals. You can take a look at the DISboards list of menus to see if there are selections you like - I find that if you look, there are creative and interesting meals to be had. No one, and I mean no one, has EVER asked me to produce a child. I usually get grapes and carrots as my sides, and snack on them later, and a bottle of water. Sometimes I go nuts and get chocolate milk .

I never order a soda or bottled water - I ask for a cup of water at the counter if I'm thirsty, and the CM's are happy to oblige. But I like iced coffee with milk. So when I'm in the mood, I order a hot coffee, ask for a glass with ice, and for about half the cost, I have about two full iced coffees. Sometimes I have to get a refill on the ice.

When I eat TS, I usually skip the main courses, which never seem interesting to me, and I get an appetizer, maybe some soup. Delicious, and usually plenty of food. I tip well.

I never skimp on Mickey bars <g>.....

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Old 11-02-2009, 11:44 AM   #11
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Where/What we like to eat:

Turkey leg-dh & I will split one & then grab a salad & split that too.

We love burgers, OK I love burgers of any kind, mainly the kind that I don't have to cook so a trip to Cosmic Rays and/or Pecos Bill (usually we eat at both).

A salad from El Pirata y el Perico as well as one from Mexico.

We split a sandwich & a salad from The Land as well as Pizzafari.

We always bring water with us & drink that until we sick of it & then we do grab a soda or the kids like the frozen lemonades or something like that.

We ate at Caseys last year for the first time (maybe I did growing up but I don't remember) & my kids loved it as did we & I am not a huge hot dog fan. We ate there twice (we went for 8 days so it was feasable).

Before I go, I check out All Ears & the menus & drool with excitement.
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Old 11-02-2009, 12:23 PM   #12
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For a 5 day trip, we eat breakfast out once and the rest of the mornings eat in the room. The day we eat breakfast out, we try to make it a late breakfast so then we just have a snack for a late lunch that day.

I bring snacks for the room.

We try to eat our main meal at lunch. I also order a kids meal instead of an adult meal. The kids meal fills me up just fine. (DH won't do this though.)

Since DH and DS14 won't drink water with their meals, we always have to get them diet coke. But DD10 and I love water with our meals so we just get water which saves us money.

The refillable mug for DH is great. He drinks tons of Diet Coke. I also bring 2 12 packs with us for him to have in the room since he likes to stay up until all hours since the refill stations aren't available really late at night and water for the rest of us.

That's about all we do.
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Old 11-02-2009, 12:27 PM   #13
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i did the character dining at 1900 Park Fare and that really was the biggest rip off. our DD took 3 bites and that was it. The characters were rushed and the food wasn't that great...

However, we HAD to do it once.. now that we did it, no more.
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Old 11-02-2009, 01:24 PM   #14
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i did the character dining at 1900 Park Fare and that really was the biggest rip off. our DD took 3 bites and that was it. The characters were rushed and the food wasn't that great...

However, we HAD to do it once.. now that we did it, no more.
I had the complete opposite experience. We did several character meals last year and this one was the best. Really good food, and the characters took a lot of time with DD and with us. They were soooo funny!!! DD even got to dance with Cinderella!! it was a great experience for us. Totally worth the price!
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Old 11-02-2009, 01:36 PM   #15
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If you have room in your luggage, and assuming no one is allergic and everyone likes it, pack a jar of peanut butter (also sandwich spreads, etc). You can also pack bread if you want (there are nice plastic keepers that will keep it in luggage) or even buy some from a resort shop (not all have it but some do). Make sandwiches for lunch and save a good deal of money.

If you are at a value resort, etc. go to the food court and get a pizza to go and take back to the room (still much cheaper than buying seperate meals for everyone).

Find meals that can be split easily by at least two people at save even more. (Cosmic Rays has a rib and chicken combo that is enough food to share.)

Remember that you can get water for free at many vendor and counter service locations.
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