11 Hacks to Help You Save Money on Food at Disney

Aug 22, 2020 | California, Disney, Disneyland, Disneyworld, Florida, Super Suit, United States

To help you save money on food at Disney, I’ve compiled a list of my top 11 money-saving hacks.

It’s no secret. The food at Disneyland and Disney World can be pricey.

If you’re looking for ways to eat cheaper at Disney, check out these tips and SAVE MORE!

MAKE A BUDGET

It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s true for our family.  The best way to save money on food at Disney is to never spend it!

If I don’t make a budget, we just fly by the seat of our pants.  Five dollars becomes ten.  Ten dollars becomes twenty.  Suddenly we find ourselves spending significantly more than we thought we would.

Enter THE BUDGET.  Decide ahead of time how much you’re going to spend.  Figure out the cost per meal.  The easiest way to calculate how much it will cost is to look at current menus.  Download the app for the park you want to visit.  For Disney World, it’s My Disney Experience.  For Disneyland, it’s the Disneyland app.  Or you can visit the park website and view the menus there.

Every restaurant shows its menu with prices, making it easy to get an accurate estimate of what you might spend on any given meal.

I use a free expense tracking app, Spending Tracker, to enter all our expenditures and stay on budget.

BRING YOUR OWN WATER BOTTLES

Save the planet and your pocketbook.  Bring your refillable water bottles into the park.  You can refill them at one of the refilling stations (check the map on the app!).  You can also request free cups of water, with ice, from any quick-service restaurant.

SKIP THE SODA

Or bring your own.  Soft drinks can add up quickly!

If you don’t mind drinking canned drinks, Disney allows guests to bring in their own soft drinks or energy drinks.  The only requirement is that it’s in a can or plastic–no glass.

BRING YOUR OWN MEALS

For me, eating out makes it feel more like a vacation, so I’m not the type to make my own lunch every day, BUT I have brought in our lunch before and saved $60.

You can’t bring in a full-sized ice chest into the park, but we filled a couple of soft-sided lunch boxes with sandwiches, chips, and fruit and stuffed them in the storage compartment under the stroller.  There are plenty of places around the park that you can choose from to sit and munch on your deletable peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

If you don’t have a stroller, you can rent a locker, but it costs money–and I’m averse to unnecessary spending.

Munching on our packed lunch while the rest of our party enjoys Rancho del Zocalo at Disneyland.

PACK SNACKS

Even if you don’t want to pack a lunch, stuffing snacks into your backpack is always a good idea, especially if you have young children.  It’s easy to eat a granola bar or banana while you’re standing in line outside, saving you time.  Most snacks available for purchase at Disneyland and Disney World are significantly more than you would spend at the grocery store.

Along with snacks, there are a few other items you should throw in your backpack to help avoid small item purchases.  What should you bring to Disney?  Check out my post about 15 things you should pack in your backpack for Disney.

ORDER A KID’S MEAL FOR AN AFTERNOON SNACK

If your kids are showing signs of an approaching hanger episode in the afternoon, skip the cotton candy, and do something different: order a kids’ meal from a quick-serve restaurant!  The last time we were at Disneyland we got a kid’s meal from Alien Pizza Planet.  For $6.99 they shared a large slice of cheese pizza, carrots, fruit, and bottled water (they didn’t want milk). 

EAT AT QUICK SERVICE RESTAURANTS

Eating at sit down, fancy restaurants is usually not a top priority for our family at Disney.  Mostly because we want to maximize our time and budget.

Choosing quick service restaurants is a great way to save money on food at Disney.  It will also decrease the amount of time you spend waiting in line (online ordering) and minimize your spending (no tip and cheaper meals). Choose places that give you the biggest bang for your buck.

CHOOSE A HOTEL WITH A FREE BREAKFAST

When I’m selecting a hotel, I look for hotels near Disney with free breakfast, specifically free HOT breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes–the works!).  Having a hearty breakfast makes my body happy and starts my day off right.  It’s usually much more cost-effective to eat at the hotel rather than in the parks.

I’m a huge Booking.com fan and use them to book all of our hotel accommodations.

SHARE MEALS

There are few things in this world that I strongly dislike. Wasting food is one of them.  I’d rather buy more if we need it than see it tossed in the trash.  Sometimes, Allan and I will share a meal, if I know the portions are larger.  Or we may buy two meals and share them with three people.

Reducing food waste is good for your pocketbook and our world.  And it doesn’t hurt that it helps you save money on food at Disney!

PAY FOR FOOD USING DISNEY GIFT CARDS FROM TARGET

You can use your Target REDCard to buy Disney gift cards, saving 5%.  If you’re using the credit REDCard, rather than debit, don’t forget to pay it off immediately so you don’t spend extra in interest.  While the savings aren’t huge, every little bit counts!

save money on food at Disney girls eating hand-dipped ice cream bars from Clarabelle's Hand Scooped Ice Cream on Buena Vista Street at Disney's California Adventure Park in California

You’ll want to budget for Clarabelle’s hand-dipped ice cream and sorbet bars at Disney’s California Adventure!

GET A DISCOUNT WHEN YOU USE YOUR DISNEY CREDIT CARD

Some restaurants offer a 10% discount when you pay for your meal using the Chase Disney credit card.  Check the CHASE Disney credit card website to see which restaurants offer the discount before you go!

SAVE MONEY ON FOOD AT DISNEY

Using all or some of these hacks to spend less money on food at Disney will allow you to enjoy your next trip without breaking the bank!

Recommended

5 California Ski Resorts for Beginning Skiers

5 California Ski Resorts for Beginning Skiers

As a beginner skier or someone looking for a family-friendly ski resort in California, it can be overwhelming to choose the right place to hit the slopes. But fear not, I've got you covered with a list of five ski resorts in California that are perfect for beginners...

1 Day at Arches National Park (What to Do and Where to Go)

1 Day at Arches National Park (What to Do and Where to Go)

If you’re wondering what to do when you have only 1 day at Arches National Park, you’re not alone! Before our 7-day southern Utah road trip, I was trying to figure out a one-day itinerary for Arches National Park in Moab. Arches National Park covers 76,519...

Top Ten Things to Do With Kids in San Simeon

Top Ten Things to Do With Kids in San Simeon

If you’re looking for things to do with kids in San Simeon, California, you’ve come to the right place! Both Allan and I grew up on the Central Coast of California and consider San Simeon and the surrounding areas to be our big “backyard”! San Simeon is a small...