Thanks to Sami Cone for this useful list of ways to maximize your money when it comes to dining in Disney World.
You’ve saved your spare change and sold everything you could scrape up enough money to get to Disney World….but then you get there and forget you’ve got to eat! What’s a frugal family to do? In all our years of going to Disney, we’ve perfected a few tips and tricks when it comes to maximizing your money on dining. Here are just a few of our favorite tips:
1. Eat your main meal at breakfast
If you can’t go when the Disney Dining Plan is free, then be sure to schedule your main/biggest meal for a late breakfast…especially when it comes to character dining. Dining prices get increasingly expensive as the day goes on, so the earlier the better.
Typically, we bring some breakfast/snack foods with us, so our typical day of dining will look like this:
Wake Up: juice, breakfast bar & fruit in our hotel room
10:30am: Sit down breakfast
1:00pm: Snack from backpack and cold drink (we love the frozen raspberry lemonade!)
4:00: Early dinner – counter service or back at the hotel food court
Before bed: Another cold drink with our refillable mugs and another snack/fruit in our room
2. Go during a time when they’re offering the Disney Dining Plan for free
This may seem obvious, but at SamiCone.com, we’re all about helping people save where they can so they can spend where they want. So if you can make it work with your schedule, why not go to the same great place at a time when you get more for your money?
In the past, Disney has offered the Dining Plan for free during the fall (Sept/Oct), so not only are you getting free food, but you’ll be there when the weather is a little cooler and the lines are much shorter too! (Editor’s Note: This year, Disney’s has released the free dining option for August and September.)
3. Buy & Bring Disney Themed Snacks before arriving at Disney World
Half the fun of eating at Disney World is eating things with Mickey’s picture on it! So before you leave home, make sure to stock up on and pack things you can get very inexpensively (or close to free with coupons!) like Disney themed fruit snacks or Disney Crunch Pak fresh fruit. We even splurge and get some Disney Candy items (which you can often find in the dollar bins at Target) to bring with us for fun times like watching the fireworks!
4. Free Treats
While it won’t fill you up, believe it or not, there are a few places to get some free treats at Disney World! If you’re headed to Downtown Disney, make sure to swing in the retail side of the Ghirardelli Shop – you’ll get a free chocolate square!
Also, if you take the time to check out the Disney Vacation Club, not only will you get a free gift for attending the presentation (like a Disney gift card or a Magic Fast Pass), there are free drinks and refreshments while you’re waiting and the an old-fashioned ice cream shop you get to eat at before you leave…all free!
5. Save at non-Disney restaurants at Disney World
There are a select few non-Disney operated restaurants on Disney property that offer their own savings. For instance, T-Rex Café (Downtown Disney) & Rainforest Café (outside the Animal Kingdom entrance and at Downtown Disney) frequently offer free or reduced kids meals. You can also find Restaurant.com gift certificates for select restaurants inside the Dolphin & Swan hotels.
With a passion for teaching and mentoring others as her inspiration, Sami Cone began blogging in 2009 to encourage others to live their dream life and pursue their passions. A published author and seminar speaker, she draws on her experiences as a writer, editor, university professor, performer, professional athlete, and pageant winner to help women realize their full potential in life. Sami and her husband of seven years, Rick, thrive in Nashville with their two children.