A Disney vacation can be pricey — especially if you eat at the parks. Luckily, we have all the tips that you need to make sure you’re getting the best deal at all the Disney restaurants you will visit.

We’ll show you how to save 50% on your meals and what the best food item is at Disney. Plus, a list of the best secret menu items at Disney parks.

Be sure to check out our hacks for a Disney vacation for the best tips on saving money and time.

 

1. Bring your own food into the parks.

This is the biggest tip most people forget about. The best way to save money on food at Disney parks is to just pack your own food. You could shop at a nearby grocery store, but I love the option of getting groceries delivered to my room via Amazon Fresh (free delivery for orders over $35) or Walmart Grocery Delivery ($9.95 delivery fee).

If you schedule your food delivery for 6 – 8 a.m., you will be able to get the day’s snacks before you enter the park.

Plus, there are several ways to save some serious cash with Amazon Grocery.

 

2. Never buy water on your Disney vacation, because you can always get it for free.

Did you know that you can get a free cup of water at any counter-service restaurant? This way you can save $4 – $6 on a bottle of water.

All you have to do is ask for a cup of water, and the Cast Member will hand you a small cup of water. If you want a larger cup, just ask. Or bring an empty bottle into the park and refill at stations scattered around the park (typically in dining areas).

If you’re on a Disney Cruise, you can get water at any of the soda fountains for free, so be sure to bring a bottle. (And speaking of Disney Cruises, make sure you check out our list of sneaky Disney cruise tips that’ll save you time & money.)

 

3. Order food without the sides to save $2 on every meal.

Food at Disney restaurants is always sold as a combo meal by default, but you can order the main dish a la carte if you don’t want all the extra sides (like fries or fruit and a drink).

This will save you around $2 each time you do it, so fill your water bottle with free water, eat the snacks you brought into the parks, and enjoy the savings.

 

4. Get a kids’ meal to save up to 50% on your meal.

A Disney parks kids’ meal comes with a main entree, side, and a small drink for about $7 – $8, while an average adult meal at a Disney park costs $11 – $16. Consider getting a kids’ meal to get the Disney restaurant experience without the price (and if you think you’ll still be hungry, bring snacks).

 

5. The cheapest snack you can buy at a Disney Park is the Popcorn Bucket.

The Popcorn Bucket is a collectible plastic container that costs $10 – $12, but after that first purchase, you get popcorn refills for $2 throughout your time at the park — the cheapest snack available.

We’ve heard that if you bring your popcorn bucket on your next Disney vacation, Cast Members will still give you the $2 deal.

 

 

6. Order your drinks with no ice to get more beverage for your money.

All beverages at Disney parks are already chilled so that there is no foam when Cast Members get your drink. So when you’re ordering your drink, make sure to ask for “no ice” so there will be room for more liquid (and it won’t be watered down, either).

 

7. Order your food ahead of time with the Disney park app.

You should always download the Disneyland app or Disney World app before you go on your vacation. It comes with plenty of perks including the new Disney Genie function and Lightning Lane reservations.

But one of the best features is the ability to skip the food lines. With the app, you can browse menus, order food, select a pick up time, and keep moving.

This way, you can get your Dole Whip or turkey leg without having to wait in a long line.

 

8. Get a breakfast reservation in the parks as early as 7:20 a.m.

If you want to get into the parks early, make a reservation at a Signature Restaurant, such as Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom, Oga’s Cantina at Disneyland, or Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios, inside the park for 7:20 a.m. When you show the Cast Member at the gates your reservation, they’ll let you into the park before it opens at 8 a.m.

Note: You can’t do this when your park is offering Magic Hours, but thanks to Covid-19, nobody’s doing Magic Hours right now. So you’re good to go — for now.

 

9. Disney Springs or Downtown Disney restaurants are a great alternative for a sit-down restaurant.

If you can’t get a reservation at a Walt Disney World restaurant (they typically fill up 4 months in advance), try going to a Disney Springs restaurant. They are located just outside the park and are a great alternative to a Signature Restaurant inside the park.

At Disneyland, you’ll find similar dining options at the adjacent Downtown Disney shopping district.

 

10. AAA members can get 10% off at certain restaurants.

It isn’t at every restaurant, but if you have your AAA Membership card on you, you can get 10% off at some of the restaurants at Disney. Here’s a list of restaurants where we found AAA member discounts:

 

11. If you’re staying at a Disney hotel, get a refillable mug.

Disney’s Rapid Fill mugs are a blend of technology and convenience, because they have a chip in the bottom that acts as a key fob. You can refill the mug at any Disney World resort with water, soda, coffee, or tea. (These aren’t at Disneyland resort hotels or any of the parks.)

The mugs cost $19.99 (or they’re included with a Disney Dining Plan) and they’re active for seven days from purchase. Individual drinks start at $3.99, which means you’d have to refill your mug at least 5 times over the course of your stay to cover the $19.99 price.

Don’t bother trying to cut corners to buy one of these mugs on eBay — it won’t be usable.

 

 

12. Disney Dining Plans aren’t always worth it.

Disney Dining Plans offer some great discounts if you’re planning on eating at the parks every day, but it will severely limit your options if you want to stray from the plan. Make sure you know what restaurants are available as well as how often you can get a meal to know if you’re getting the best deal out of the plan.

Here are the current plans Disney has created, the prices, and what you’ll get to help you decide if it’s worth it for you and your family. (Note: These prices are subject to change, depending on season and availability.)

Here’s how you could eat at Disneyland, for example, to spend less than a Disney Dining Plan (assuming that you eat breakfast at your hotel and get free water from any counter-service restaurant):

Day One (Total Spent: $39.57)

Day Two (Total Spent: $29.77)

Overall, if you stick to that plan, you’ll save 36.96% over buying the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan. Be sure to check out the Disneyland and Walt Disney World dining menus so you can plan out your eating itinerary before you go to the parks.

 

13. You can get food freebies at certain stores.

Check out our list of Disneyland and Disney World hacks for some store-specific restaurants, but there are a few places where you can get a free snack. Here are a few that we found:

  • Free sourdough bread at Boudin Bakery in Disneyland’s California Adventure
  • Free samples at some kiosks (dependent on Cast Member)
  • Free soda from around the world at Club Cool in Walt Disney World’s EPCOT

Note: Some locations are refraining from giving out free food due to concerns related to Covid-19.

 

14. There are still secret menu items that you can try at the Disney parks.

There aren’t many secret menu items at Disney restaurants, but we’ve compiled a list of some we found online for you. Let us know if you were able to nab them.

And if you’re going to Starbucks while you’re there, you can order all the popular Starbucks secret menu drinks.

14 Disney Dining Tips the Mouse Doesn't Want You to Know