A trip to Disney World is expensive no matter what you do, but there are definitely ways to cut down the costs. One of these is eating cheap at Disney World, and planning ahead! Here are some tips and tricks on how to limit the money you spend on food at the Walt Disney World Resort.
One thing I love to take advantage of is the food I have at home, things like granola bars and snack packs. I usually make sure to have sandwiches and other snacks packed for the trip there. After you arrive, I suggest taking a trip to a local grocery store, or even just a Target or Walmart. Pick up some water, cookies, chips, fruit, or maybe stuff to make PB&J sandwiches. Along with some sandwich bags or to-go containers, you could have lunch ready to bring with you to the parks each day. I have a post all about easy ways to get groceries in Orlando, check it out here!
If you go with this option, you can save a lot of money. It makes eating cheap at Disney World quite easy, so you can save some money for souvenirs or other experiences. Yes, it might get boring eating the same thing each day, so here’s where you have to get creative. Research where you are staying, and how much room you’ll have to refrigerate any fruits or vegetables. If you are staying at a Disney World resort, then there is a store where you can buy snacks and drinks, but the prices will probably be higher than in a local store. But it’s a good thing to keep in mind for last-minute options because even that will be cheaper than dining in the parks.
Taking advantage of a kitchen
If you are lucky enough to be staying at accommodations with a kitchen, your options expand when it comes to food. Disney Vacation Club Villas have full kitchens, which includes a full fridge, oven, microwave, toaster, and a coffee maker. Other places that might include these features are Airbnb, or if you are staying with family!
DVC Fan has a great article about cooking in a DVC kitchen, with a few great recipes made from ingredients you can find at the resorts. Having a kitchen where you are staying can be super helpful with breakfast, which can be the most difficult meal to organize during your stay. Booking accommodations with a full kitchen is perfect for eating cheap at Disney World, but not everyone can arrange that, so I will move into lower-priced options around Walt Disney World Resort!
Best Quick Service Options: Magic Kingdom
Now, let’s get into the best options for Disney World food and drink. Going through the parks, it’s best to start with the Magic Kingdom. All of these are Quick Service dining options, meaning it is good, less expensive food, usually served either cafeteria-style or simply counter service, with seating close by. On a map of the Magic Kingdom, you will see this marked with a single dollar sign symbol ($), meaning this is in the $14.99 and under section in Disney’s restaurant categories.
As you walk into Magic Kingdom toward Cinderella’s Castle, the first good food option you will come across is Casey’s Corner, situated right at the end of Main Street. It offers All-American fare, with a menu full of hot dog variations, including plant-based options. Hot dogs are easy, and most children know and like them, so it’s a great place to consider for a quick lunch. Though it can get crowded.
In Frontierland is Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe. It’s a great quick service option that serves a variety of things, including fajitas, nachos, and burgers. Along with that, you can order on your phone with the Walt Disney World app, allowing you to deal with fewer lines.
Other locations offer this service as well, so you should definitely use the app during your stay. It can help with eating cheap at Disney World, along with saving the time you spend in line for food and rides.
Best Quick Service Options: Epcot
Moving to Epcot, there are definitely a lot more options. This is especially true if you are visiting during one of the park’s festivals when they usually have extra food stalls around World Showcase.
Our first stop is at the French Pavilion, where hidden in the back is Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie, my all-time favorite. While it has plenty of sweet treats, it also offers delicious sandwiches, all under $10, though that is subject to change. They have quite a few options, so I recommend this as a good place to get lunch. At first, glance, eating cheap at Disney World seems difficult, but through good research and planning, it can easily be done. The DIS has a great article with some extra tips for saving money on food!
Next, at the Mexico Pavilion, is La Cantina de San Angel. A few menu options I recommend are chips with guacamole or their empanadas. The food is delicious, and there is a nice seating area to take a relaxing break while you snack.
Of course, I could go on and on about all the great food you can find in World Showcase, but I want to highlight one good place to eat over in Future World: Sunshine Seasons. It is located in the Land Pavilion, and has a lot of different options, including breakfast! They have noodles, sandwiches, soups, and salads, as well as a large kids’ menu. Also, as it’s inside, this is a great place to cool off on a hot day. If you want to know about more options in Epcot, check out my article specifically about dining at Epcot.
Best Quick Service Options: Animal Kingdom
This is the place to go to try new flavors and styles of food! Harambe Market is a trusty staple, with gyros and rice bowls, with or without meat. The food is filling, and they also offer shaved ice desserts. For adults, you can even get an alcoholic option.
Close by is Harambe Fruit Market, where you can get fresh fruit and soft pretzels. Over in Dinoland U.S.A. is Restaurantosaurus, which serves great burgers and sandwiches. Just a note, most of these places offer options targeting specific allergies. On the official site’s menu for Restaurantosaurus, if you scroll further down, you can see selections specific for people with a gluten allergy, peanut allergy, egg allergy, and others.
One of the newer options, opening as a part of Pandora – The World of Avatar, is Satu’li Canteen. It is a build-your-own-bowl eating experience, with plenty of great options, including fried tofu! It’s so tasty, and I recommend stopping here if it’s your first trip to Disney or just your first trip into Pandora. You’ll definitely want to come back. The bowls are big enough to share, depending on your appetite, which is a great tip for eating cheap at Disney World. It’s also a great place to try out some interesting Pandoran drinks.
Best Quick Service Options: Hollywood Studios
When I head into Hollywood Studios, I usually meander in the direction of the Tower of Terror. This means I usually end up close to Sunset Ranch Market. This area is a dependable place to grab food. It’s got a large seating area, with a few different options for food, whether it’s pizza, tex-mex, or fresh fruit. A lot of the time, the food you get depends on where you are located in the park when it hits lunch or dinner time. If you end up more at the center of the park, a great place to stop to eat at is ABC Commissary. It has all your normal options, like burgers and salads, but an advantage to eating here is the cafeteria-style seating indoors. That means it’s a place to cool down and take a break.
Hollywood Studios has two new additions, with Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge, so I have to talk about at least one new place to eat. Galaxy’s Edge is Ronto Roasters, which has become very popular for guests. They have tasty wraps that everyone seems to love, as well as interesting new snack options. If you are looking for something new and tasty to add to your Disney experience, this is where to go!
A Few of Walt Disney World’s Most Affordable Sit Down Restaurants
What if you know you want to experience some of the restaurants throughout the Walt Disney World Resort? A big tip I have for this is to look into all the great restaurants outside of the parks, especially at the resorts. Here are a few affordable options for eating cheap at Disney World that still provide a wonderful Disney dining experience.
At Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campsite is Trail’s End Restaurant. They have breakfast, dinner, and brunch on the weekends, all at a super affordable price. The food is served buffet-style, with comfort food favorites in a casual sit-down setting. Another option is Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, a newer restaurant over at Disney Springs. There is a bunch of great dining options throughout Disney Springs, which I suggest you check out for extra options. This restaurant features delicious farm-to-table meals that I guarantee you’ll love.
My last suggestion here is Garden Grove at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel. This is definitely one most people don’t know about. The food is also buffet-style here, and the restaurant is a Character Dining Experience. That means you can eat dinner (or breakfast on the weekends), with all your favorite characters walking around and stopping by your table! Though just a note, Garden Grove does not participate in the Disney Dining Plan and does not accept MagicBands as a form of payment.
Disney Dining Plan
One of the first things we consider when planning a trip to the parks in Orlando is whether you want to use the Disney Dining Plan. There are a few different options, all prepaid, and it’s a great system that helps you organize you plan ahead where you are going to eat with clarity. Be sure to think about which option works best with your vacation plans. The cost is broken down per person per day, and prices are different for adults and children. I have a great guide on my site here you should check out, but I’ll also do a quick breakdown below.
There is the Disney Dining Plan (Regular Dining), which includes 1 Table Service Meal, 1 Quick Service Meal, and 2 Snacks. Next is the Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan, which includes 2 Quick-Service Meals and 2 Snacks. The last option is the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan, which includes 3 Meals (Table Service or Quick Service) and 2 Snacks.
All dining plans come with 1 Refillable Mug for each person, which can be used throughout your stay at all Disney resorts. The official Disney site breaks this down into even more detail, which I recommend looking at if you are considering buying a dining plan for your vacation. Here is their breakdown of the Quick Service Dining Plan.
The dining plans are away a lot of people manage eating cheap at Disney World, but you should read a lot of reviews of other people’s experiences, and take advantage of Disney’s customer service if you need help deciding what to do.
Some Extra Tips to Keep in Mind
- Try to eat at off times.
- Get a reservation if you can, the earlier the better.
- If you use a Disney Dining Plan, don’t be afraid to ask cast members for help. They can be confusing.
- Share food. If you are at a nicer sit-down restaurant. A good option to save money is sharing a few appetizers tapas style.
- Bring a reusable water bottle to the parks. Don’t spend money on the expensive soda and other drinks there.
- It might be worth it to look into getting a credit card that gives cash back at restaurants.
- If you are ordering quick service and don’t want one or any of the sides in the meal, don’t order it. They should charge a bit less if you ask for just the entree.
- If you are a Disney World Annual Passholder, check out where you get a discount, and take advantage of it! This is also possible for Disney Vacation Club members.
- Use the kids’ menu! There are plenty of options anywhere you go, and the food is cheaper with slightly smaller portions. If you have kids ordering off the menu at quick-service locations, order one for yourself too, and save a little money.
Though I’m sure there are things I miss, this is a good place to start when planning your Walt Disney World vacation. Eating cheap at Disney World isn’t as hard as you thought, right? Do enough research and planning, and you will have a wonderful and manageable trip!