Food is among the largest costs families face when traveling on vacation, regardless of the destination you go to. This is particularly true for Walt Disney World in which almost everything is at a cost.
It’s essential to budget for food prior to embarking on your Disney trip to Florida. It can help you figure out how much you’ll save. Furthermore, it will stop you from feeling stressed when you look at what you’re spending on food and what you’re spending.
In general, you’ll have to budget roughly $50 per day per adult and $35 per child to cover food and beverages at Disney World. But, a variety of factors could alter that number up or down.
The first step is to examine the various types of restaurants available at Disney World to ensure you’re aware of the options available. We’ll break down the options into meal portions and give you tips for saving money on food and finally, offer a plan for creating an appropriate menu plan for your Disney holiday with your family.
Where You Can Buy Food at Disney World
Disney offers a variety of eating options for its guests. Let’s take a look at the different types of eateries and restaurants accessible to you.
Table Service Restaurants
There are numerous tables-service restaurants at Walt Disney World. These are the first things that come to mind for the majority of people when they think of dining out: Your party is seated at a table and there is a waiter who comes to you and orders from the menu.
As you’re able to imagine that the costs for tables service restaurants across Disney property are wildly different. Disney divides them into a handful of categories, which describe the average cost per person for dining:
- $ = $1.99 – $14.99 and less
- $$ = $15 – $34.99
- $$$ = $35 – $59.99
- $$$$ = $60 and beyond
Most eateries at Walt Disney World have children’s menus that include kid-friendly options that are available for a discounted price.
There are only a handful of tables service restaurants in the first tier, and very few in the second third tier. If you are budgeting for tables service meals it is recommended to plan for the top portion of the cost. When you add drinks (even non-alcoholic beverages) along with tips typically increases the total.
Tips aren’t included in the cost of your dinner, which means you must pay your server a certain percentage of the total. A good amount of tipping is about 20 percent.
We strongly recommend that you reserve a table service dining that you would like to enjoy. Reservations for dining reservations are available online 60 days in advance, starting at 5:45 AM Eastern time. So set your alarm.
Let’s take a look at some of the special table service options for you!
Dining at Disney World can be an experience of five stars. There are a variety of exquisite dining options at Disney World, such as The California Grill at the Contemporary Resort, Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs, and The Tiffins at Animal Kingdom.
The majority of the fine dining establishments are at the top class, and some require a dress code. Reservations are usually necessary.
All You Want To Do Is Enjoy
Food at these eateries has an hourly, fixed cost per person. The meals can be buffet-style like on EPCOT’s Biergarten at EPCOT or family-style, and with meals served to your table, for instance, at Ohana in the Polynesian Village Resort.
It is easy to budget your meals there, but keep your eyes on the price per person as it doesn’t include tax, drinks, or tips – if you are from Europe you should be wary of this!
Character dining is an exclusive Disney World offering. While you dine you will see characters dressed in costumes in the restaurant and engage with guests. They will appear at your table for photographs, sign autographs, and many more. Be aware that Disney has modified some characters’ dining experiences in the course of the Covid-19 epidemic.
Fast Food & Service Restaurants
Fast-service restaurants are where a lot of patrons get the majority all their food. The cashier will take orders or through your mobile app at these establishments and take your food to an open window. There is usually seating open on a first-come, first-served basis.
There’s a quick-service restaurant at each resort, as well as numerous others within the parks as well as Disney Springs. Particularly in resorts, they are usually themed and serve certain types of food.
Kiosks are also found in the parks as well as Disney Springs. Kiosks provide limited, special menus that sometimes sell one or two items of food. They also often have kitchens off-site.
The majority of items sold offered at food kiosks are tiny plates, and are particularly popular at the festival kiosks within EPCOT. Some kiosks also sell snacks like pretzels, Churros, ice cream and.
Shops and Cafés
Additionally, you can purchase food products in stores within the resort. Each resort has a gift shop, which sells small quantities of grocery products, such as tiny cereal boxes, vegetables, and dips, as well as snacks.
Many of the shops throughout the resorts offer sweets or other snack items. Certain are designed to be consumed right away and others are brought home to be enjoyed as delicious souvenirs.
Fun facts: You can’t buy chewing gum anywhere else on Disney World property. You are allowed to chew gum at all resorts and parks, but Disney disallows it due to the mess it can leave behind.
Breakfast Budget at Disney World
Breakfast is the primary food of the day and you’ll need a healthy breakfast to get you started for your day in theme parks. There are a variety of choices for breakfast.
If you’re looking to make it to the parks before breakfast, there are numerous kiosks and restaurants that are quick-service offering breakfast options. Fast service breakfasts are priced around $12 for adults and $8 for children.
There is also the option of table service during breakfast. All the luxury resorts as well as some moderate ones have table-service restaurants that serve breakfast.
Some parks also do. Breakfast is usually the least expensive meal offered at restaurants. The budget should be at minimum $20 for adults and $12 for kids and children, excluding beverages.
Character dining is a huge hit during breakfast. The most popular places to enjoy character breakfasts include the Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort, Tusker House at Animal Kingdom, and Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom. The prices for breakfasts at the Magic Kingdom for characters typically fall in the third price tier range from $35-$59.99 per person.
If you are making an appointment for breakfast in a restaurant ensure that you give yourself plenty of time to reach the location. Disney transportation choices (buses or monorail, boats, etc.) tend to be packed in the morning, as guests travel towards the theme parks.
Additionally, Disney doesn’t provide transportation directly between resorts, so you’ll be able to organize the transportation yourself or arrange for a transfer. We suggest that you give yourself a minimum of an hour to make it to breakfast.
You can also purchase food from kiosks or in stores for breakfast. There’s a bakery as well as there is a Starbucks in each park. If you choose to purchase snacks or baked goods be prepared to shell out between $4 to $8.
Some families prefer to cut costs on breakfast, by eating inside their bedrooms. If you’re staying in the Disney Vacation Club villa, you’ll get a fully-equipped kitchen in which you can cook a variety of breakfast meals.
A lot of families also take breakfast treats, and granola bars along with other breakfast items along, so that you can consume them regardless of what kind of room you’re staying in. Most hotel rooms are equipped with small refrigerators. You can purchase juice or milk and store it securely.
The gift shops at resorts sell the same kinds of food items but they’re usually priced too high. It is also possible to order them through a delivery service.
Lunch Budget at Walt Disney World
When lunchtime arrives the whole family members will be starving after exploring the parks. This is why it’s important to plan your lunch area; you do not want anyone to get “hangry” as you try to decide where and what to take for lunch.
A majority of families go to the parks at lunchtime. Sometimes, it’s good to take a break and relax, and you may want to think about eating at a table service restaurant. Each park has several options, so make sure to book your reservation in advance.
There is also the possibility of leaving the park and going to the nearby resort to have an a la carte lunch. It’s possible to have more luck if you take a walk but keep in mind that a lot of restaurants in resorts close at lunchtime due to a large number of guests at the parks. It’s something to keep in mind when you’re spending the day at the hotel.
The prices for lunch at tables-service restaurants aren’t the same for table service restaurants. If you’re planning to dine in for lunch you should use the top portion of Disney’s pricing tiers to calculate your total expense. Kids’ meals typically range from $10 to $15.
The most loved option for families around lunchtime is eating at a fast-service eatery. Restaurants that are quick-service in resorts are open during lunchtime and there are plenty in the parks.
In the lunch hour, many of the counters at resorts that offer quick service offer traditional lunchtime food items such as sandwiches and salads. Within the resorts, however, the majority of them have themed menus. For instance, at Yak or Yeti in the Animal Kingdom, you’ll find Asian-inspired meals like Honey Chicken and Vegetable Tikka Masala.
Fast-service meals typically cost between $15 and $20 for adults and $9-$12 for kids.
Some people prefer in order to “graze” throughout the day instead of eating a formal meal. Disney offers numerous food and snack kiosks throughout the parks, which is why this is an excellent alternative. There are even meals at certain of them, such as Ronto Roasters at Hollywood Studios, where you can enjoy grilled sausages as well as pork sandwiches.
Small plates typically cost about $6-12 and the majority of adults require at minimum two or three plates for a decent meal.
The most cost-effective alternative at lunchtime is to cook and consume your own. Disney lets guests carry food to the parks, so you can create simple meals like sandwiches and take them along with you.
Dinner Budget at Disney World
The menus for dinner at the majority of Disney restaurants (quick-service as well as tables service) are similar to lunch menus, therefore your budget for dinner will be identical to that of lunch.
Many people put off dinner until later to enjoy an alcohol-based drink or two. It can result in it becoming more expensive. Many families want to have at least one good table service meal during their trip and Disney has a wide selection of choices for this. By planning it out in advance it will be easy to relax without stressing about the costs.
Snacks and Drinks Budget at Disney World
Even even if you’re not a huge snacker in your everyday life, eating snacks at the parks is a part in part of the Disney experience. Disney offers many of its signature foods such as churros and Mickey-themed frozen yogurt turkey legs and much more.
We recommend setting a fixed meal or treat budget for each person each day during your trip. The most important aspect of relaxing while traveling is indulgence in your senses, and especially your taste senses!
A decent snack budget of $10 per person for a day when it’s not a substitute in lieu of meals. This will allow each person to have a couple of special snacks to enjoy at the parks.
Also, if the adult in your group prefers to drink alcohol Expect to pay premium costs for alcohol. A pint of booze costs approximately $9. Special drinks can run upwards of $15. If you’re planning to drink, it’s an essential part of the vacation experience for some adults, plan your budget according to your needs so that you don’t blow the bank.
How To Save Money On Food at Disney World
There is a variety of ways to reduce the cost of food and beverages at Disney World. Here are a few professional-tested tips and tricks:
- In your room, eat whenever you are able to. Try to cook your own every day for one meal as much as you can.
- Take snacks to the park to take along. The most convenient options are the trail mix and granola bars.
- Don’t spend money on water. Bring a water bottle refillable for each person. You can also make an arrangement to get ice water from any bar or restaurant that offers quick service.
- Avoid alcohol-based drinks and beverages.
- Get the most value from the buffet: Make sure you take a late breakfast, or lunch, and then be counted as two meals.
- Take meals and snacks in the same group whenever you can.
- Get your groceries delivered at the beginning of your journey.
Keep an eye on what you’re spending. One method to do this is to use pre-paid cards or buy the Disney gift card you’ll be using to purchase food. You can load it up with the budgeted amount and be sure to keep track of the balance to can determine whether or not you’re within your budget.
Dining Plans at Disney World
Disney Dining Plans allow families to pay in advance to eat at a set cost. They have a variety of levels and choices, Disney discontinued sales of its dining plans due to the Covid-19 epidemic, and it’s not clear whether or when they will be back.
There are a variety of reasons to consider the dining plan, with one of the most important is that it gives families the possibility of prepaying for meals, which eliminates any stress while traveling. However, they don’t have a lot of flexibility and generally aren’t the most affordable option either.
If Disney restores their plans for dining, it’s definitely worth looking into. Follow our steps below to create a budget for food and check how it compares to the costs of dining plans.
The first step is to have your schedule in order prior to organize your food budget. Disney requires reservations to visit the park therefore, you must do this first, and then you can begin your meal planning based on your plans.
Then, you must be real. If you have kids who have a habit of eating breakfast right after they get up and aren’t expecting to be waiting until 10 am. Don’t expect them to sacrifice the park food and boring peanut butter snacks if you love to experiment with new foods. It’s not a good idea to create plans that you don’t have to adhere to.
Last but not least, get the entire family members on board and make sure everyone is aware of what, how, and when the family will be dining.
Rough sketch of your food budget at Disney World:
- Breakfasts that are quick-service ($12 to adults and $8 kids)
- Fast-service meals and dinners ($20 to adults and $12 kids)
- Dining at tables (use the top price tier of Disney’s pricing to determine)
- Snacks: budget for $10 per person, per day.
- Adults who drink alcohol can enjoy it.
- A budget for grocery shopping, if are planning to purchase food items
It is possible to add a small amount to your total, just to be secure.
Roundup of Budgeting For Food at Disney World
The price of food items at Walt Disney World can vary significantly. Families with children may focus more on rides and limit their food purchases, and make savings by doing this. Others, eating and drinking a variety of diverse meals is an integral part that traveling offers.
Whatever way your family members like to travel making a realistic and feasible food budget can enable you to relax and get rid of the financial burdens. This way, you’ll be able to focus on the things that matter: having fun with your family and friends.
Heya, I’m Norah! The foodie editor here at YummyTasteFood! I love absolutely everything to do with food, baking, and eating! I earned my stripes in the hospitality industry as a pastry chef, sous chef, and barista. I’m now a freelance writing nomad. I do not miss the hospitality industry! Be sure to join our Facebook group – it’s free to access!