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One of the most expensive things about Walt Disney World is the food. Let’s just be honest, if we ate breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, AND adult beverages on property every weekend we would be BROKE. For this reason we have our own version of the Disney Dining Plan.
We typically eat breakfast at home/in the car on the way to the park, pack lunch, and buy dinner. Sometimes we add in a little snack, and frequently an adult beverage or two 🙂
The largest to-go cup of coffee I can muster
I know that breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day, but by the weekend I have typically exhausted my quick breakfasts because of school mornings. So our breakfasts usually consist of grab and go type items on park days when we are trying to get out the door. If we have already admitted to ourselves that Rope Drop isn’t in the cards I have been known to make eggs, pancakes or Olaf waffles in our Olaf Waffle Maker! This is once in a blue moon though.
With all of the walking around the parks we are usually ready for a snack around mid-morning. If it was just me, I would stop for a GIANT cinnamon roll from Gaston’s Tavern every time, but since we are trying to limit our family’s sugar intake for various reasons we grab a little something from our bag of tricks. My personal favorite bag of tricks is this Thirty-One Thermal. It’s cute and holds a lot more than it looks like it should.
Since our snacks are usually eaten while we are waiting in line for a ride and these are some of our favorites.
Rice Cakes – yes, my kids love these…weird, I know
Mini boxes of raisins
This is usually enough to push us through until around 1 when we stop for lunch and doesn’t cost a lot. Each of these items cost less than $3 for all 5 of us compared to a $5 Mickey pretzel that my kids would fight over.
For lunch time we grab some FREE water from a quick service stand and park it on a nice bench. Most of the time I pack peanut butter (and NO JELLY…can you imagine jelly hands at the park?) sandwiches, cheese sticks, veggies (usually baby carrots), Craisins, hummus, and lunch box sized bags of chips. Basically, it is almost the same lunch they get Monday through Friday at school, but everything tastes better surrounded by Disney magic. Also, there are lots of small components and they only get one thing at a time to keep down the mess.
The kids don’t usually start looking for another snack until around 4-4:30 so we give them a leftover from lunch (if there are any) and we start thinking about where we are going for dinner.
Since most of our trips are NOT hardcore planned (one of the major perks of being Annual Passholders and not trying to squeeze everything into a few days) we also do not usually make a dinner reservation (ADR) because we never know what park we will be in. Occasionally we try (like for a child’s birthday trip) but usually we just pick what sounds good. A lot of the time we head to Epcot to eat because they have the largest amount of restaurants and variety in food, but we usually spend 15 minutes talking Kid #1 out of Electric Umbrella. He is obsessed, but this is mostly classic “amusement park food” and if we are going to eat at Epcot we are hitting the World Showcase and trying something new!
We don’t always do a sit down restaurant, but more often than not we do. By dinner time we are all in need of a rest and a bigger meal. With a family of 5 this can get expensive, but there are ways to save money.
- The kids can drink water! Unless their meal includes (an explicitly states that it includes a drink) they get water. Actually, this isn’t just a dining at Disney rule, this is an any restaurant rule because it saves us like $6.
- Consider getting 2 appetizers as your meal. Sometimes you just can’t pick what you want and this is a great way to try different things. It usually ends up cheaper than an entree at dinner time.
- Okay, don’t throw things at me, but skip the character meals. These meals you are almost 100% paying for the characters and you don’t always get a lot of facetime. I believe that you can meet almost every character that has a dining experience at a different location and it will not cost an arm and a leg. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
- Skip dessert unless your heart is set on something you can only get at this restaurant.
How do you eat when you are in the parks? Are you a Disney Dining Plan person, or do you pack as much as you can into your backpack? Do you have a favorite restaurant that you always go to? Tell me how your family eats while at Walt Disney World.