meal ideas and time saving tips for a crowd?

Discussion in 'Purchasing DVC' started by msdis, Feb 9, 2003.

  1. msdis

    msdis DIS Veteran

    Dec 5, 1999
    Would be so greatful to anyone who may have some tips, suggestions, or ideas that we may use for an upcoming trip. There will be 9 of us and will be eating most meals in the room(s). We want to spend as much time in the parks as possible so time is very important also. Any ideas for meals that would be quick and easy yet have a little variety. Also, has anyone had any experience with the bar-b-ques at OKW? Are they convenient or too far out of the way? TIA
  2. alisbarc

    alisbarc Mouseketeer

    Aug 8, 2002
    You asked so I'm gonna try and paste grocery list my $$$ saving tips below. We have 4 kids and no way can afford to eat all the meals out. I apologize in advance for being so long winded. If any ones wants a copy of this I have it on an excel spread sheet along with our family favorites list. Email me at and I will be happy to email you a copy.

    Food / Misc. to buy Food / Misc. to buy
    (This is for our family of 6)
    Meals Dinner: Taco Salads & burritto's
    Deli Sandwiches w/ mac & cheese
    Meals Breakfast: Eggs& bacon
    French toast stix, bagels

    Dairy Bread & Cereal
    Milk bagels
    Chocolate Milk cereal (Tim's choice)
    2 dozen eggs bread
    cream cheese (1) spaghetti
    Orange Juice Macaroni & Cheese
    sm. Parmesan cheese
    shredded cheese Canned Goods
    sour cream tomato sauce
    diced tomatoes
    Fruits & Vegetable 3 cans spinach
    lettuce (salad) 2 cans refried beans
    Snacks Soda 4-6 packs
    Cheezits 2 10 packs juice boxes
    fruit snacks Sm. water bottles
    chips (for Taco Salads)
    Ice-cream & cones Paper
    soft tortillas straws
    cookies zip lock bags (gal. & qrt.)
    microvave popcorn aluminum foil

    Meat Frozen Foods
    salami French toast sticks
    deli cheese
    deli slaw / potato salad Misc.
    turkey syrup - small
    ham mustard / ketchup
    3 lbs. Hamburger pull-ups size 4
    turkey bacon wipes
    Laundry Detergent
    dishwasher detergent
    red wine 1.5l
    beer 1 6 pack

    David's Top Ways to Save Time & Money on your Disney Vacation

    PLANNING, PLANNING, PLANNING. I know this goes against some folks basic nature but I cannot emphasize its importance to a more enjoyable Disney vacation/experience. I have talked to many folks who have just headed down to wing it and wish they would have done more planning. This does not mean you have to be inflexible, just a little Disney-wise. Many of the suggestions below relate to planning. The single best resource to planning your trip is to purchase the "Unofficial Guide to Disney World" by Bob Sehlinger and/or "Beyond Disney" by Bob Sehlinger & Chris Mahney.

    VERY IMPORTANT ! Disney as just instituted a new park ticket policy and pricing scheme. All the details are not clear yet but it appears that Disney has discontinued all discounts of any kind for tickets purchased at Disney World park and resort location (even for Disney club card holders or Disney Vacation Club members). Best places to buy tickets in advance are, AAA, or The Disney Store. Also, if you are going more than once in a year (if you go once every year and can plan so that your second trip is within 12 months) you should look and see if an annual pass (AP) makes $$$ sense.
    MORE ON TICKETS: We are not big fans of the LOS (length of stay tickets). We lean towards the parkhopper plus. The reason is that with 6 of us we do not do a whole lot of park hopping. We always go in the off season when the park hours are shorter. After the day at the park we are ready for the resort and relaxation and sometimes a off premise dinner show. Also we always spend at least one whole day at a water park. Admission to he water parks is approx. $30 adult / $23 child, yet the average price per day for a LOS is approaching $50. We also almost always spend a day at Sea World. The parkhopper plus unused days never expire and therefore make more sense for us.

    GETTING THERE. If you are flying to Disney World and you do not live in a city that is serviced by a discount airlines to Orlando look at flying in to Tampa (will need to rent a car - discussed in next paragraph). We live in Memphis, hub city for Northwest, and advance tickets to Orlando run $60 - $70 more than to Tampa. There are 6 of us so the savings are big. Tampa airport is only 75 miles from Disney World; a little over an hours drive and mostly expressway. Orlando flights fill up faster so sometimes the better times are gone but still available into Tampa. Check out into Tampa and out of Orlando. There is no one-way drop off charge for most car rentals in Florida and it is often the incoming leg that creates the higher round trip price. (Haven't quit figured it out yet, you would think if someone is coming in they must be going out - stopped trying to figure out airline pricing years ago). Also, if you are flying in to Tampa mid-day there are several nice attractions to see. The Tampa aquarium, Busch gardens, etc. An added extra bonus is that the Tampa
    airport is smaller and usually less crowded than the Orlando airport. You can SOMETIMES save as much as 30 - 45 minutes between luggage retrieval and car rental (or transportation wait) because of the smaller size making the overall trip for airport to Disney World almost equal (Disney World is about 30 minutes away from the Orlando airport).

    VEHICLE RENTAL. Do I need a vehicle or not? This is probably the most controversial and hotly debated of all Disney transportation subjects. I could write a short book on this topic but won't (had you worried?). WE have 4 kids and ultimately need more than one trip to the grocery store, like hitting an off premise dinner show occasionally, and always hit Sea World (kids like feeding the dolphins, sea lions, stingrays, and seeing the sharks and Shamu). So the money we save flying into Tampa just about covers our minivan rental. But here is the true math. It will cost you around $25 dollars per person for round trip transportation from the Orlando Airport. If there are 4 or more you are looking at around $120 (with tip) for a minivan taxi service. Transportation at the resort to the parks is great. Busses, boats, and walking. But if you are pinching the pennies (with 4 kids in private school we are) you can save a bundle by eating breakfast, a dinner or two, and snacks in the room. You need a vehicle to get to the grocery store (the onsite prices are
    high). You can save a small fortune by eating breakfast, a few dinners, and snacks in the room. There is no charge for parking at the resorts or parks for resort guests. You will need to tip the valets a few bucks each time and that could add up to $25 - $30 for the week if you use the valet service. I have been parking the van in the lot myself (its free) lately and making the short walk back. Then I leave a few minutes before the family and pick them up in front. Check internet for best deals. There is a National car rental facility on Disney grounds for shorter term rentals.

    GROCERY SHOPPING: For those of you with a one or two bedroom who do not mind doing a little cooking while on vacation (I know, not for everyone). Your vacation home has a complete kitchen. I estimate that we save around $600 (for 6 of us for a week) on food by eating breakfast, a few dinners, and have some snacks prepared in the room. We are an ice-cream family. I buy two or three 1/2 gallons at the grocery store and a box of cones ($10 total) and several nights we make a cone and head out for a stroll on the boardwalk or boat ride or poolside. A cone at the boardwalk shop runs about $3. We save $50 on ice cream alone. STAY AWAY from Goody's outside the North gate (Downtown Disney - exit 27). Pricing is high. Best place in Publix on 192 (exit 25), go West about 4 miles. More like real grocery store pricing and a good selection. Keep it simple. Cereals and such for breakfast, simple to prepare dinners. You can save a bundle on Juice, milk, soft drinks alone. It is extremely important to make a list before you head to the Publix.
    (and before you head to Orlando). Look under the grocery tab for a sample of our list. Without a list you will buy way to much and wind up throwing it away or trying to stuff it in your suitcases.

    PARK VISITING: Again planning is the key (I know, starting to sound like work). The book referenced above is invaluable for park touring planning (believe me I am not on commission). Outlines every ride, best time to ride, major traffic flow etc. You can easily save 2 - 3 hours a day in line wait time by taking their suggestions. Some basics: Stay away from Magic Kingdom on Monday. Stay away from the waterparks on Tuesday. Get to the shows 30 - 45 minutes early. Need to be at Fantasmic at least 1 1/2 hours before show (or gate opening, whichever is sooner).

    NON DISNEY ATTRACTIONS: (I know heresy, but we've been every year for the past 6 and like to do & experience everything.) Best place for tickets is Once again the book (Beyond Disney) above is a great resource. Also's media package at $9.95 (including postage) is a bargain. Lots of good stuff to help you PLAN and SAVE. For the ultimate bargain hunter (we do not even do this one). You can sit in on one of the high pressure timeshare presentations (about 2 hours) and they will reward you with a couple of free tickets to the park of your choice. BE STRONG, DO NOT BUY! If really interested you can get for 50 - 75% of Developers price by buying a resale. Call Me, I'll help. I know the ropes. Own 4, purchased 3 through resale. All at huge discounts.

    Before you leave town on your trip buy everyone in the party a fanny pack or belt bag. Each morning before you leave for the parks put a frozen juice box or bottle of water, a snack or two of your choice(purchased at the grocery store), and some wipes or napkins. This will get you through that mid morning hunger urge before lunch and save you some $$ ($2.50 for water or soda). Also allows you to munch on a light snack while waiting in line. Another time saver.
    For the eyeglass wearers. Get an eyeglass holder or sportsband. I have seen several pairs of glasses fly off on some of those rides.
    If, possible, save your souvenir shopping for later in the day or when at the resort (if at BWV or BCV). Or take a trip over to Downtown Disney (has the worlds largest Disney Souvenir shop). Try not to waste valuable park time shopping.
    Pack swimsuits (towels available poolside), goggles and swim stuff in a separate suitcase. That way if you get there before the 4 pm check in or your room is not ready yet (happened to us once) you can check in all your other suitcases with the bell staff except for your swimming one and head on down to the pool. Our kids always want to hit the pool first, anyways. We usually hit the pool around 2 ish and let them swim while I go to the grocery store, them I am first in line at check in time at 4 pm.
    START WALKING NOW. You will walk your feet off while in Orlando. Even the walks from the bus stops to the parks can start to seem long after the 3rd or 4th day. Do not bring new shoes. I suggest buying everyone an inexpensive but comfortable pair of walking shoes a month or two before the trip and break them in on your daily walk. Try to work you way up to two miles a day or every other day. Believe me, you will be glad you did.

    MOST IMPORTANT. Don't stress out or worry. You are going to have a great time.
    You are going to meet one or two grumpy people or park workers but do not sweat it.
    99% of the folks and workers are remarkable and happy to help.
    ENJOY, and when you get home take a nice nap.
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  4. Joan S.

    Joan S. DIS Veteran<br><font color=blue>Needs to 'fess up

    Mar 13, 2001
    HI Alisbarc, I am not the original poster but just had to say ThANK YOU!! This is a GREAT list of tips for saving time and $$$. I am printing it out to SAVE!! Thanks for taking the time to post . Joan:smooth:
  5. Disney  Doll

    Disney Doll DIS Security Matron

    Nov 5, 2000
    alisbarc, that is quite possibly one of the most complete, and helpful posts I have ever seen!!!!!!!!!

    The only thing I can add is that the barbeques are generally in the vicintiy of the pools, and it can make for a quick easy dinner...maybe even eat poolside.

    I would do some frozen things like lasagna, easy stuff like spaghetti and meatballs or mac and cheese, and sandwiches.
  6. msdis

    msdis DIS Veteran

    Dec 5, 1999
    Thank you so much for your post. Glad to see someone else has been there, done that. After adding up even what counter service for 9 looked like, we decided eating out was going to be a big no can do. The rest of the trip we have cut down the budget to the lowest we can go but the food issue was still the big one. I kind of wanted to set the stage where everyone would be so excited to go back to the resort and eat as opposed to wishing we could all eat out. So fun and creative ideas, yet time saving at the same time. Your ideas are great. Thanks again.

    Anyone else?
  7. Doug Wolfe

    Doug Wolfe Beach Club Villas/DVC Owner Since 2002

    Apr 18, 2002
    MsDis: For fast lunches or dinner, the grocery has inexpensive pizza's. Pop 'em in the oven and they're done in a matter of minutes. Throw them on the table and they are gone is seconds. Then, it's on to the theme parks. Just a suggestion! :Pinkbounc
  8. ClarabelleCow

    ClarabelleCow Where did my tag go? Oh fairy, can you help me?

    Aug 7, 2002
    If you do want to eat out, we had a blast at Ohana at the Poly, its a fixed price/menu, so you will know up front what you are spending, and the kids and ourselves enjoyed it. They had games for the kids during dinner. What was nice, was when the Magic Kingdom closed, we just jumped the Monorail and off to dinner!!!
  9. tiberius

    tiberius DIS Veteran

    Jan 18, 2002

    If you really want to go low budget, take a crockpot and find some recipes designed for crockpot cooking. Toss in the ingredients in the morning and dinner is ready when you get back.

    I have not done this at WDW, but we do this at home from time to time.
  10. gazeborob

    gazeborob I’m accused of being a Disney addict!

    Jan 4, 2003
    You mentioned grills by the pool. Does anyone know if they have those at the BCV? We will be staying there at the end of March, and thought it would be really nice to make burgers for lunch.

  11. adamak

    adamak DIS Veteran

    Aug 7, 2000
    I'm sure everything is already covered. Here are my few suggestions -

    1. Use cell phone or walkie talkie while in the park. It saved me plenty of time to gather everyone up. Actually we split up most of the time, since it's tougher to get our group of 8 to move at the same pace.

    2. Those who do not want to ride roller coaster should take the group's tickets and run to get FASTPASS for the other popular rides. I have saved so much time doing this. Also, in our group, those who do not ride will still get FastPass, so the others can ride the same thing immediately, twice.

    3. Plan for a day-off the park. Or at least half a day, in the middle of the trip. Have a theme too, like doing a buffet for everyone, of poolside BBQ.

    4. If money is allowed, rent a firework cruise. You have enough people to make the trip worth the money.

    Either way, enjoy. Don't stress out, don't try to do everything. You'll have a better time!
  12. jdkdorn

    jdkdorn Disneyholic and SSR/BCV DVC Member

    Aug 6, 2002
    For those of you who do not want to do any cooking while at WDW you should order some connections vouchers. My DH and I were just there for 5 days and brought 6 vouchers with us. We figured out that we saved about $100 each in food costs. We ate twice at Beaches & cream and a couple of times in the parks and were really happy with them.
    If you go to they have a section on them. We took the trial membership and then cancelled when we received the vouchers. No problem cancelling if you are able to stick to your guns and say no when they try to pressure you.

    We live in WI and are driving down, for our first trip home, to save money. It will cost about $200 to drive and $1200 if we flew. We figured 1 1/2 days on the road were worth it.

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