"Eating On The Cheap" Inside The Parks

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by luckofthedraw, Aug 21, 2005.

  1. luckofthedraw

    luckofthedraw Mouseketeer

    Jun 29, 2005
    Hi fellow budgeters!
    We're getting ready for our first family visit to WDW and Orlando, and would like to do it as practically (budget-friendly) as possible. We will be staying at a DVC resort, so know that we can eat in our rooms, but why??? We're on vacation! :teeth:

    Our plans are to do Epcot (2 days), SeaWorld, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom (2 days), and probably MGM Studios.

    Are there any good, cheap (um, make that inexpensive :rotfl: ) restaurants near the parks? I went through the Entertainment book list, and nothing sounds intriguing there. Sounds like meal vouchers are not such a great deal,either.

    I've heard that eating a big breakfast and a late lunch on-site is a good plan. How about reasonably-priced off-site dinners? Will any of the parks let you bring in your descretely-packed lunch? Kids are 5 & 8, but we all have healthy appetites. Snacks throughout the day will be only that: snacks. We have Brita sport bottles, and will do powdered Gatorade or water.

    What are your very best tips for eating on the cheap at any of Orlando's parks? How about off-site?

    Thanks for all of your help. You know, until a month ago, I never knew what I was missing on Disboards. You guys are incredible!!
  2. swilshire

    swilshire DIS Veteran

    Jan 26, 2004
    We've never been a bit discreet in carrying in lunches at WDW. We have a softside cooler with lunchmeat, waters, juice, sodas, fruit cups, beef jerky, etc. A tote bag carries bread, chips and cookies. Sometimes we overflow into a backpack. There have been a couple of jokes when going through security about sharing or really being hungry, but nothing more.

    There are many fast food restaurants near the parks if you want to go that route. 192 has the most, but there are also many on 535 and I-drive if you want to go out a bit further.

    With annual passes, we usually ate a bite of breakfast in our room, our carried in lunch, then an early dinner somewhere off-site. Weather and energy allowing, we would return to the parks for a couple of hours after dinner.

    We rescheduled our October trip to arrive four days earlier and get in on the free dining. We'll enjoy trying the various Disney restaurants for a change.

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  4. lovewdwdvc

    lovewdwdvc DIS Veteran

    Aug 18, 2004
    We are DVC members who cringe at the thought of leaving WDW confines to find some place to eat. Generally, if you go right outside of the park you will see a good cost savings. At MK head for one of the monorail resort. At EPCOT or MGM Studios try Beaches and Cream or ESPN. We usually do not spend one whole day at AK so that is not a problem.

    We have groceries delivered to our villa via the wegoshop place on the internet so that we can have breakfast, snacks, water and whatever.

    It is much easier for us to grab cereal,toast juice and milk in our unit for breakfast than to find a place for breakfast-----unless we want to make breakfast an experience (character breakfast or special bakery)

    Many people take PBJ, water, frozen juice boxes etc. in to the park. No hassles anymore. I know that at one time you could not do that.

    Regardless---have a great time.
  5. SeaWitch

    SeaWitch Poor unfortunate souls are my speciality...

    Dec 8, 1999
    We always carry snacks with us... carrots, celery, nuts - things that are easy to carry. And, of course, our own bottled water.

    If there is a particular restaurant we want to check out... we will just go in for an appetizer or dessert. That way we won't break our budget and still get the "we're on vacation" treat! If you have any little ones that want to go to Tom Sawyer's Island (MK) - check out Aunt Polly's Landing. Reasonable prices for WDW... we go and get soft serve ice cream.

    PS You have to see MGM studios... the Tower of Terror and RockNRoller coaster & Muppets 3D alone are worth the trip! And don't forget Fantasmic! :maleficen
  6. travelbug

    travelbug DIS Veteran

    Mar 4, 2001
    You may enjoy visiting allears.net and looking at the menus for all the WDW eating establishments. Very helpful in figuring out dining budget. Here is the link:


    2 favorite places where you can eat plenty for a reasonable price: Trail's End Buffeteria in Fort Wilderness and Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney. At Earl of Sandwich, it works well to split a sandwich ($4.95) and then have each person have a side salad or cup of soup ($0.99 for these). You will not walk away hungry!

    We also drink water only everywhere we eat out, then buy refillable mugs to satisfy our craving for soda, coffee, lemonade, etc. Depending on your length of stay, a refillable mug could be a good money saver. (Or hit the grocery for your own sodas; depends on your family's needs).

    Good luck, and have a great time! :sunny:
  7. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

    Sep 29, 2002
    Here are some of our tips for keeping the food budget down at Disney.

    1. Drink water. Its free.
    2. Eat breakfast in your room. We stop at the supermarket and buy milk, OJ and cereal and eat in the room every day. (Actually, we do that everywhere we travel unless the hotel serves breakfast.)
    3. Share meals, especially at sit-down places. Servings are obscenely large at most restaurants and can easily serve two kids and even two adults with maybe an extra side dish or appetizer.
    4. Make a meal from a couple of appetizers. Sometimes, DW and I will get 3 appetizers and that will be the meal for the two of us. Or we'll get one appetizer and one entree and share those.
    5. Pack your own snacks. We'll bring in granola/cereal bars, cookies, cereal, pop-tarts, etc. We don't bring in stuff that needs to stay cold though lots of people do.
    6. At counter service places, you can order things that aren't on the menu board. For example, if the menu only says cheeseburger, you can get a plain burger and save a little money. If the board only says chicken strips and fries basket, you can order just the chicken and save money. We'll often order one combo with fries and two without and all share the one order of fries (which is plenty large enough for 3).
    7. Choose lunch over dinner for character meals. Its cheaper.
  8. madge

    madge ... is soaking in it

    Aug 18, 1999
    Honestly, I wish I had learned about this tip sooner....we used to throw away tons of fries, or we'd sit and pick at them when no one was really hungry any more. I guess it was last fall when we started cutting back on the fries, LOL
  9. chip_mc

    chip_mc Earning My Ears

    May 8, 2005
    Don't forget the double cheeseburger trick... order a double cheeseburger anywhere, and ask for an extra bun. Pull the extra patty off of the buger onto bun #2 and you are all set. Some places/times they just give it to you(does not show up on your reciept), other places charge about .85. That combined with the fixin's bar you can make 2 great mushroom burgers.

    Also as cheap as it sounds cutting the fountain lemonde from there in half with water goes a long way also..way too sweet anyways.
  10. ElizaB39

    ElizaB39 <font color=blue>Males with udders? What WERE they

    Jun 12, 2005
    There are so many tips,

    We packed our largest suitcase with food (nonperishables) for our weeklong trip (we flew).

    We would buy plain slices of bread each morning in the ASMusic cafeteria and make PBJ for breakfast and/or lunch.

    We brought our water (and a bag of apples) in our rolling backpack on the plane (see separate water thread).

    Have Fun!
  11. 2angelsinheaven

    2angelsinheaven Loves making dreams come true!

    Jun 10, 2003
    Yes the burger idea is great! You can make a "salad" at the toppings bar to eat with the burger. I load up on toppings, love the pickles! I've done the one burger two buns many times. Ask for water, most places give you a full size cup w/ water/ice for free. Hit the Coke exibit in EPCOT for free soda in a sports bottle (byob).
  12. Trixiezzz

    Trixiezzz Budgeting my way to Disney!

    Jul 20, 2004
    Did you check that bag ~or carry it on? Some people are saying that food makes the bomb detectors go off. But I'd love to check it instead of having to lug it around on the plane. Thanks! :sunny:
  13. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

    Sep 29, 2002
    We haven't gone this route. Somehow that feels like crossing the line to me. It would be like walking off with the whole tray of free samples at the supermarket.
  14. lovemygoofy

    lovemygoofy DIS Veteran

    Jun 9, 2004
    Animal Kingdom has the special meal voucher for I think $11.99 per adult (I don't know how much per child) and you can an entree and dessert and snack/drink later in the day. I thought that this was a great deal if used somewhere like Flame Tree BBQ and then a mickey ice cream later.

    If you want to dine off site, you should look into www.restaraunt.com. You can buy certificates for several places in Orlando. The certificates are cheaper and you get a deal using them. I just got an email that says 60% off price. You could buy a $25 cert for $6.50 or something like that. Pretty good deal though I don't know all the good places to eat offsite.

    Another decent deal is using that link from the Ghiradelli thread and signing up for the newsletter. Remember to say that you live within 50 miles of a Ghiradelli and you should put in a date of your birthday but actually make it sometime within you next trip to WDW. You could get an email coupon for a buy one get one free sundae or get a dollar of a sundae.

    I do take snacks and my own water into the park. I also am one of the people that checks a suitcase with the water and snacks. I do put the water bottles in large ziploc bags, normally 3 to a bag. I also put our beach towels in the bag at each end to be a sort of bumper for the water. I don't normally pack more than half a case so I don't go over the weight limit.

    Have a great trip.
  15. EdDome

    EdDome Mouseketeer

    Aug 31, 1999
    I think using the condiments as a salad bar stretches frugal way beyond reasonable or appropriate. Lots of great tips on this thread other than this one.
  16. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

    Sep 29, 2002
    I think this depends on the extent. If you purchase a meal and load up on toppings, I think that's okay. Cosmic Ray's has a great toppings bar with lettuce, tomato, onion, mushrooms, relish, etc. If, on the other hand, you just walk in and buy a drink (or buy nothing) and grab a bunch of toppings for free, I think that crosses the line.
  17. chipscinderelly

    chipscinderelly <font color=3399cc>Victim of a drive-by tag attack

    Aug 11, 2000
    These were recently discountinued.
  18. buzz2400

    buzz2400 <font color=teal>The TF waves to buzz2400's DS

    Feb 14, 2001
    the coke exhibit in epcot is closed for refurbishment. Sad to hear the AK plan is discontinued. It was a great deal. It was there when I went in July. FYI the water at the Disney parks tastes terrible however I still drink it because it is free. Hard to get a kid to drink it. We always bring a few snacks ie crackers, granola bars, apples with us but then we get a hamburger or such for lunch. You will find that most prices at the fast food places at disney are the same. No real bargain. This past trip we bought bread, peanut butter and jelly and made sandwiches every night. We saved a lot of money that way.
  19. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

    Sep 29, 2002
    I just want to clarify this. SOME people dislike the water in Florida. They say it has a sulfur taste to it. We drink the local water constantly when we're there and never noticed a problem. We almost always order cups of water at Disney restaurants because we don't want all the soda and it is cheaper. We also carry a sport water bottle and refill it throughout the day with ice and water from the restaurants, fountains or sinks. We're always amazed by how many people are willing to shell out perfectly good cash for bottled water when there is an unlimited supply available for free. This is very much a personal preference issue.
  20. cdrn1

    cdrn1 <font color=royalblue>what I wouldn't give to have

    Oct 15, 1999
    I clicked on this link and it was a porn site!!!! :earseek: :earseek: :earseek:

    Maybe the right link is www.restaurant.com?
    :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl2: :rotfl2: :rotfl2:
  21. lovethattink

    lovethattink TPAS Moderator Moderator

    Sep 17, 2004
    To save money, but not time, we'll occasionally leave a park and head out of WDW and go to a restaurant. Cici's pizza is one of our favorites. It's all you can eat pizza, pasta ,and salad for only $3.99. It's just down the street from Cross Roads, near Olive Garden.

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