Disney dining is awesome and dining frugally is possible. I have some Disney Dining Tips that will save you money and time during your Walt Disney World vacation.
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Frugal Disney Dining Tips
Set a budget. I mention this in almost all of my Disney planning posts. Please don’t go broke for a turkey leg if you can’t afford it. I usually set a budget per person/per meal. Sometimes it is just $15/person sometimes it is $50-$60 a person. Heck, sometimes it is $0 because I eat in my room or pack lunches and snacks. Please also budget in tipping for table service restaurants. If you can’t afford a tip, then you can’t afford a table service restaurant. Service is almost always excellent, so I usually budget about 20%.
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Decide if the Disney Dining Plan is for you. The Disney Dining Plan is a very stress-free way of dining at Disney. You get so many Quick Service or Table Service credits per day for you to use. What I like best about this is that you don’t have to worry about prices as much on the menu. I have another post covering everything you need to know about the Disney Dining Plan. If you are not getting the Disney Dining Plan and paying out of pocket, the Tables in Wonderland Discount Card may be an option for you if you are a Florida resident, DVC member, or annual passholder.
Take advantage of Free Disney Dining (usually offered in the fall). If the Disney Dining Plan is something that works for your family, then take advantage of the times where Disney offers free dining. You have to stay in certain resorts without discounted rooms, but sometimes the savings on the dining plan outweigh the full price resort. To know when the Free Dining Offer is being released join the Disney World on a Budget – Tips & Tricks Facebook Group, it will be announced in there.
Know prices before you go. You can’t make a budget without knowing the prices of the food you will be purchasing. For quick service restaurants, allears.net has all the menus and prices. For table service, the Disney website has menus available. For buffets, I usually call the Disney Dining line directly since the website gives a range. Buffets are priced higher during peak seasons and are more for dinner than lunch or breakfast.
Eat some meals in your room. This is easiest and more convenient if you are driving but, if you are flying in it is still possible. You can order food from Amazon and have it delivered to your resort. You can also use a grocery delivery service like Garden Grocer. Another option is to grab an Uber and go to the closest Publix or Walmart and pick up items yourself. All rooms come with a mini-fridge. I usually do most breakfast meals in the room.
Drink free ice water. If you don’t have the Disney Dining Plan, drinks can be insanely expensive! Drink water. You can get free cups of ice water at all quick service locations. If you don’t like the taste of Florida water, bring little packets of flavoring. You can also drink free soda from around the world at Club Cool at Epcot.
Share meals. You cannot share buffet meals, but other meals you can share. Several quick-service restaurant meal portions are big enough to share.
Use Disney Gift Cards. Once you have set your budget, buy Disney gift cards to keep you on track. You can buy discounted Disney Gift cards at Target, Costco, and Sam’s Club.
Use leftover dining credits for the trip home. If you have leftover table service credits, you can exchange them for snack credits. Disney has many to-go snacks that make perfect snacks on the way home or even gifts for friends and family. Some ideas are cookies, Rice Krispie treats, and the huge lollipops.
Try new foods. This is the area I need to work on the most. I am not a very adventurous eater. Disney has so many unique and fun food offerings that are not found elsewhere. You can spend $10 for chicken and nuggets and fries anywhere in the USA, look for an offering that is uniquely Disney and you will get more value for your dollar.
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What Disney Dining Tips and Tricks do you use to save money at Disney?
Post Originally Published May 11, 2016.