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13 Disney Dining Hacks to Save Time and Money

dtran5 profile picture
March 27, 2017 · 6.7k Views

disney dining

Source: Reserve Orlando

If you're heading to any of the Disney parks this spring or summer with your family, make sure you know everything there is to know about saving time and money to make this a special, stress-free trip. Bringing a few extra supplies and committing to a schedule will make your lives easier and more affordable when it comes to dining options during your trip. Check out these time- and money-saving Disney dining hacks that will definitely make your vacation more enjoyable!

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13 Disney Dining Hacks to Save Time and Money mickey

1. Bring your own breakfast and eat it early in your room.

Ian Ford of Undercover Tourist shared with Thrillist that his famiy "[wakes] up at like 5 or 6 AM and [has] protein bars and shakes in [their] room." Doing so eliminates all the downtime required to find a restaurant, get in line, buy food, sit down and eat, and get moving again. Probably more importantly, you also cut the cost of breakfast dramatically, and by the time you get to the park, your family is energized and ready to go. In the early hours, you'll be able to ride all the short rides probably multiple times before other Disney-goers start piling into the park.


2. Buy Disney gift cards at Target, and pay with your Target RedCard for 5% off.

disney gift card

Source: Tips from the Disney Divas and Devos

If you have a Target RedCard, you might be surprised that it can help you even when you're hundreds of miles away from your local Target at Disneyland. Pick up Disney gift cards at Target and get 5% off with your Target RedCard and use it towards your meals in the park. It might not be a lot, but it's 5% in savings on amusement park prices.

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3. Share food.

Even though theme park food is pricey, they serve them in pretty big portions. A child doesn't need to eat one of their massive, double-decker burgers, so kindly ask to split the burger onto two buns. Your 7-year-old won't consume more than his weight's worth, and you'll save some cash.


4. Ask for a free cup of water.

disney water cups

Source: Disney's Cheapskate Princess

Water is and should be free no matter where you go. Instead of buying bottles of water for $5-$6, make sure your family quenches their thirst when you're sitting down at a restaurant. To make this portable, bring your own reusable water bottle and keep those free cups of water coming until it's full. To make things a little tastier...


5. Mix in drink powders.

Add tasty drink powders such as Gatorade and Crystal Light to your free cup of water for a sweeter treat. It's way better than paying probably over 20 bucks for soft drinks for the family. 


6. Eat at quick restaurants rather than nicer sit-down restaurants.

disney food

Source: Disney Tourist Blog

If your family is there to enjoy the rides, characters, and shows, it might be worthwhile to forgo the Disney restaurants and head to quick-service joints to get a good amount of food for a smaller cost at a faster speed. The only downside is that you can't make reservations at quick-service restaurants, so be aware of the time you go. 


7. Go during off-season.

The warmer months are undoubtedly a more popular time to visit Disney, but if you can swing it, go off-season. Prices are reduced as Disney tries to attract more adventurers, and this includes meal prices. 


8. Check out the Character Breakfast.

disney character breakfast

Source: Disney Parks

Ford also suggests going to the daily character breakfasts, where Mickey, Minnie, and more characters will be parading around the crowd during the meal. It can be costly, but this is a time-saver because your kids can have a meal and take pictures, get autographs, and whatnot with the characters all in one spot.


9. Consider the Disney Dining Plan.

At Disney World, you can choose from the convenience and flexibility of prepaid meals with the Disney Dining Plan. Many think that this is another way for a big company to rob dollars from your pocket, but it actually saves time and money at the end of the day. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from to suit your family's nutritional and dietary needs, and there are a variety of options so you can stay within your budget.


10. Get free Coca Cola at Epcot.

epcot coca cola samples

Source: Best of Orlando

If you're at Disney World's Epcot and you've got a craving for soda, visit the Coca-Cola shop. You can get free samples of different Coke flavors from around the world, and there's no limit on how many samples you can receive.


11. Don't slack on doing research.

Make sure you do all the research you can before your trip, especially if you're looking to get the best value. There are some buffet joints at the Disney parks, and if you want to take advantage of them, make sure you know the best time to go. Lunch prices are often cheaper than dinner costs, just a heads up.


12. If you're visiting with a baby, know where the resources are located.

disneyland baby care center

Source: Yellow Bliss Road

Visiting this magical place with a toddler can make it less magical, if you don't know where to change and feed your baby comfortably. Know that Main Street is the home to the Baby Care Center, and it includes changing tables, nursing stations, and even microwaves should you need to warm up the baby formula.


13. Go all out at breakfast.

Now if you don't want to bring granola bars and other snacks for a quick breakfast, make use of the first meal of the day and fill up your family well. It's the least expensive meal of the day, and if you are able to find a breakfast buffet, your family can stuff themselves until lunch is no longer required. 


Disney parks can be a great time for you and your family if you plan accordingly. We hope these time- and money-saving hacks were helpful, and we'd love to hear of your own tricks. Share them in the comments below!

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Daisy loves to write with humor and can be quite the sarcastic commentator when it is appropriate. Loves carbs, fashion, staying active, and pinning the latest DIY projects for her room (which she will actually never do).

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