Let’s face it! A Disney vacation is not cheap. If it’s important to you to take your family, there are tons of ways to make it work for you. One way that we helped to save money on our trip was to save money on food. You may remember that last week, I shared about character dining. That is definitely not a cheap option at Disney. But, we chose to budget for a few of them and save on food in other ways. I wanted to share a few of our tips today. These may or may not work for you and your family, but hopefully they will be helpful as you plan.
- No dining plan. We chose not to go with the dining plan because our three older girls all count as adults, but just don’t eat very much. It wasn’t going to be worth it for us to pay for a dining plan and end up with a bunch of food that they wouldn’t eat. It’s important to know that if you buy the dining plan, you have to buy it for every person in your party and for every night you stay on property. Since we were arriving late at night on a Tuesday and leaving before dawn the following Monday, we would have had to purchase six days of the dining plan for all 6 of us.
- Order groceries to be delivered to your room. We used a service called Garden Grocer. As far as I know, all of the resort rooms at least have a small refrigerator. You should also know that guests are allowed to take food into all of the parks. To save us money eating in the parks, we had things like bread, cheese, lunchmeat, fruit, cheese sticks, Go-gurt, and Uncrustables delivered to our room the day we arrived. Yes, you are going to pay a bit more for these items that your local grocery store. But, it’s still going to save you a lot of money.
- Bring snacks! We also packed a food suitcase that we checked at the airport and sent on the Magical Express to our room. In that suitcase, we included non-perishables. The girls picked out some of their favorite snacks, granola bars and cereal. We also threw in plastic silverware, bowls, plates and napkins. We planned all of our meals ahead of time, so we knew what meals we were bringing food into the parks and what meals we were budgeting to eat at a Disney restaurant or quick service option. I’ll talk more about our budgeting process in a couple of weeks.
Now, you may be arguing in your head with me about food being part of the experience at Disney and I would 100% agree with you. We absolutely enjoyed our fair share of food in the parks. But, we budgeted for those really important things and saved money in these ways on eating the rest of the time. For us, that meant choosing our meals in the parks around things that we really wanted to try, like character dining experiences and the Food & Wine Festival. And in case you are worried that we didn’t let our kids indulge in a Mickey ice cream bar . . . don’t. Each of our kids, and the adults, got a $50 gift card at the beginning of the trip that they could use as they chose on snacks or souvenirs. I mostly used mine at the Food & Wine Festival in France. 🙂