After scrimping and saving you’re finally able take your family on a much needed vacation to Walt Disney World! You've already spent a small fortune on airfare, hotel, and park admission. So when you see the price of food, you almost have a heart attack!
I will admit that food at Walt Disney World is slightly more reasonably priced than other amusement parks I've been to, but it's still pricey. So how can you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to dining at Disney?
Stay somewhere with a kitchen and make your own meals
This, hands down, is what will save you the most money on food on vacation. Disney has resorts on site, called "deluxe villas" that have kitchenettes or full kitchens, but these rooms aren't cheap. As an alternative, look into renting a vacation home off site. For less per night than what you'd pay for one of Disney's "moderate" resorts, you can stay in a vacation home with multiple bedrooms, baths, and of course, a kitchen!
Decide if the Disney Dining Plan is really for you
For some families, the DDP is a money saver, while for others, it's a huge waste. The average meal credit with the DDP gets you an entrée, drink, and dessert. Personally, I end up eating far more than I usually do when I'm on the DDP (aka: one too many funnel cakes), and when I calculate the cost of what I would have ordered otherwise, it's a lot less. Do the research and the math before you add this onto your vacation package. Sometimes Disney runs a "free dining" promotion during certain times of the year; in this case, it's definitely worth it to get the DDP!
Buy a refillable mug at your Disney resort
Most of the food courts at Disney's resorts have a refillable mug program. For around $14 per mug, you are entitled to unlimited refills on soda, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate at your resort. If your family has an avid soda or coffee drinker, this could really save you a lot of cash. If you purchase the Disney Dining Plan, a mug is included for each person in your room.
Use the Tables in Wonderland card
If you're a Florida resident, or lucky enough to visit WDW enough that you have an annual pass, you can purchase a Tables in Wonderland card ($75 for passholders, $100 for FL residents). At most, but not all, WDW table service restaurants, this card gets you up to 20% off your meal. For passholders, you'll break even on the cost of the card after about $375 in table service meals. Obviously, this isn't the ultimate money saver, but if your family prefers sit-down meals to fast food, it's a good investment.
If you're renting a car or brought your own, you can drive off site and eat. The Orlando area chain restaurants are much like you'd find in your hometown and will be a lot less expensive than eating on property. However, it is much more satisfying to gorge yourself on turkey legs, fudge, and churros than on stuff you can eat at home (in my opinion!)
Good luck, have a great vacation, and don't eat too many Mickey Bars!
This has been a guest post by Jessica from Mt. Pleasant, MI
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