No surprise here: budgeting a Disney World trip can be TRICKY.
Trust us, we know just how expensive the parks can be. Between tickets, your hotel room, transportation, and dining, you may be wondering how you can save. And sure, we’re constantly keepin’ an eye out for the latest Disney deals and discounts here at DFB! But sometimes, the way to save is by planning. And after years and years of visiting the parks, we’ve got some great tips for ya. In fact, we’ve got the secrets to feeding a family of 4 in Disney World comfortably for under $95 a day. YES, it’s possible. Here’s how.
We’re going to start by giving you a basic overview of your meal plan. This won’t be the plan for the 3-course meal loving “gotta have a sit down meal in my day” kinda crew. We’re saving money in Disney World so that means we need cheaper options! To save the most, we recommend sticking exclusively to Quick Service and Counter Service meals. While there are some budget-friendly Table Service options, that’s not the most cost-effective way to dine. By sticking to Counter Service meals, you can save the added expense of the 18%-20% gratuity cost for tipping your server that you’d have to budget for with Table Service meals. You’ll also save money by just requesting free ice water at your meals. That will keep you properly hydrated and save you almost $4 per person by not ordering soda or bottled beverages.
But don’t worry! While the words “Quick Service” and “Counter Service” may summon up images of fast food, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, you’ll find burgers and chicken nuggets just about everywhere, but there are lots of nutritious, tasty, and even creative eats. Not to mention, they’re often SUPER filling.
You can place these orders using the Mobile Order feature on the My Disney Experience app. We’ve got a full guide on how to do that here! You’ll also be able to use the app to look at the menus — and prices — for every restaurant in Disney World well in advance, which will really help you plan.
Time to dig into some sample meal plans! We’re sharing some cheap eats at all 4 parks that will comfortably fill up a family of 4 (that’s 2 adults and 2 kiddos!). After that, we’ll take a look at even more ways to save, in case you have a bit of a smaller budget.
We’re kicking off the day at Main Street Bakery — AKA the Magic Kingdom Starbucks. You can snag a Ham and Swiss Croissant here for $4.99! If you want another cheap eat, you can also head over to Gaston’s Tavern for the Warm Cinnamon Roll. That’s $6.79! The cinnamon roll costs a few dollars more, but they’re substantial and a family of four could easily share two (even just one, if you’re light breakfast eaters!) and not need one each.
One of our favorite inexpensive lunches in the park is the Sweet and Spicy Chicken Waffle Sandwich at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments. It’ll cost you $11.29. There’s no kids’ version of this meal, but the adult portion is super easy to cut in half for little ones (don’t let the “spicy” in the name fool you — it’s typically really not!). It comes with a side of those yummy thick-cut Disney potato chips too.
For dinner, we’d head over to Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe. You can choose between a Taco Trio for $10.99, a Veggie Rice Bowl for $9.99, and more. Kids can snag a small size of that Rice Bowl for $6.99. Or, try Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe! They have a ton of different entree options for $11 and under.
Let’s add up our grand total for our Magic Kingdom meal plan! Everything adds up to $83.41 — but don’t forget that 6.5% tax. Your grand total here will be $88.83.
At EPCOT, we’re beginning our day at one of our favorite underrated spots in the park: Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie. You’ll find it in the France Pavilion! There are a TON of eats for under $5 here, like a giant baguette for $3.50. But for this meal plan, we’re opting for the Pain au Chocolat for $3.80!
For lunch, we’re hopping over to Lotus Blossom Cafe in the China Pavilion. Kids can chow down on Pork Egg Rolls for $5.25, while adults can order Pot Stickers for $6.50! This spot makes for a super quick ‘n’ easy meal and the portions are surprisingly substantial. Definitely enough to tide you over. If you’re ravenous, you might need something a bit extra, but (you’ll see later) you’ll have budget left to pop for some extra snacks if need be! Or, if you’re visiting EPCOT during a Festival, you can get a lot of inexpensive eats at the food booths for under $10.
For dinner, the whole family can enjoy Fish and Chips from Yorkshire County Fish Shop in the United Kingdom Pavilion. This is a BIG dish, with no kids’ size, so little ones can split one of these plates. Grown-ups: you’ve got one ALL to yourself! Each portion is $11.49. There’s only one piece of fish and a hefty scoop of fries per order, but the fish is massive enough to share!
Let’s tally up that total again! At $21.79 per adult and just $14.49 per kid, our grand total is $72.56 before tax and $77.27 after tax. See? You still have some $$ for an extra snack, small meal, or even a drink or two!
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
We’ve got a kinda secret eat for ya for lunch: the Buffalo Chicken Chips at Trilo-Bites for $9.29! You’ll find this underrated kiosk right where DinoLand U.S.A. meets Discovery Island. This plate is SUPER shareable, but in this meal plan, we’ll plan for one for each adult (so you can stuff yourself with crunchy goodness) and one for the kids to split. Pro-tip for Animal Kingdom, in particular — there’s loads of “snacks” here that definitely can sub for a smaller meal! Be sure to look around and find your favorites.
For dinner, we’re heading back to Discovery Island to Flame Tree Barbecue, one of our favorite Quick Service spots! There are a few cheaper eats here, but we recommend the Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich for the grown-ups ($11.49) and a hot dog for the kiddos ($7.29).
Our meals in Animal Kingdom add up to $24.57 per adult and $15.73 per kid. That’s $80.60 before tax, and $85.84 after!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Our last park is Disney’s Hollywood Studios! And for breakfast, you’ll find us at The Trolley Car Cafe (the park’s Starbucks) for a Sausage, Cheddar, and Egg Breakfast Sandwich. It’s just $5.29!
Lastly, dinner will be at ABC Commissary, where adults can grab a Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwich for $11.29, and little ones can munch on a turkey sandwich for $7.49. If these eats don’t sound appealing, you’ll find similar pricing at Rosie’s All-American Cafe or Backlot Express. So you’ve got three options for a cheaper dinner here!
Time to add it all up! Each adult will spend $26.57, while the kiddos will spend $19.57 apiece. That adds up to $92.28 before tax, and $98.28 after!
How to Save MORE
If you stick with the meal plan above, you’re eating comfortably. Even if they’re considered Quick Service or Counter Service, these dishes can be majorly filling. Not to mention, they’re pretty high quality! If you want to save even more, try implementing one or two of these bonus tips. They’re tried-and-true tricks that can make a BIG difference!
Pack Your Own Food
Disney lets you bring your own food into the parks — and that’s a great way to save some money! You can shop for groceries at the beginning of the trip and prep some small meals and snacks.
You can buy your goodies at your hotel gift shop or at the local grocery store — or, take advantage of delivery services like Instacart! They’ll leave your groceries at your resort front desk, or deliver them straight to your room for an additional fee.
Like we mentioned, Disney food can be super filling. Plus, the portions are often REALLY big. We’re talkin’ the Nutella Waffles at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments (a DFB favorite), the Chicken Fried Rice at Yak and Yeti Local Food Cafes, and more.
If you looking to slim down that cost even more, pick some of these shareable meals and split ’em among your travel party. It can make a big difference!
Use Gift Cards
Okay guys, we’ve got a sure-fire trick for ya! If you buy Disney gift cards using a Target RedCard or another promotion, you’re able to save 5% on that gift card purchase. Sam’s Club offers a similar discount on gift card purchases from time to time. So put your entire meal budget on Disney gift cards and save 5% on ALL your food! And bonus: loading up your Disney funds on gift cards is also a really good way to keep track of how much you’re spending.
While 5% may not seem like a lot, it almost covers your tax for your meals. And over multiple days of munching in the parks, that really adds up!
As you can see, this meal “plan” is super customizable. Decide what tips you want to implement in order to save, and go from there! We hoped we helped make your Disney budgeting at least a little less stressful. Stay tuned to DFB for more Disney tips and tricks!
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Have you tried any of these eats? Let us know in the comments!