I think about Disney vacations every day, and one of the biggest thoughts constantly running through my mind is, “How can I save money?” For what you will spend on your vacation, you could have purchased a big screen TV or a used car. Lots of people are looking for ways to cut those vacation expenses down.
I personally can’t do a lot about accommodations or park tickets. We either stay in a DVC resort or in a cheap hotel. I have annual passes, and I can’t get my per-day price any lower, unless I visited more days (Are you reading this honey?! More days = less money per day on tickets. Hint, hint!) So I work on saving money with my meals. Now if you do the Disney Dining Plan, or eat a lot of table service meals even without the DDP, these tips may not help you a lot. But if you are looking to shave a little $$ off the cost of your vacation, here’s a couple of things that have worked well for my family.
1) Eat Breakfast in your room.
Years ago, while staying at the All Star Music resort, my husband popped over to the food court and picked up breakfast for two adults and three kids. $60. Three meals like that each day with some snacks, and I’ll easily go over $200 a day in food. Ouch!
So we started bringing a cooler and boxes of cereal, picking up some milk, and eating cereal in the room. Lots of resort rooms have mini-fridges, which can make things even easier. 3 boxes of mini-wheats, 2 gallons of milk, and my daily breakfast total each day can be under $7 for a family of five. That leaves more money for snacks.
The snack I want to buy with all that savings?
2) Share a snack.
Speaking of snacks…I am a huge Disney snacker. I talk about the snacks I eat like people discuss meals at the California Grill. Snacks are actually some of the more affordable items at Disney. Cupcakes are usually $3.99, some pastries are as low as $2.49, and ice cream is usually less than $5.00. For a family of five, 5 snacks and 3-5 drinks will cost upwards of $35 each time you make a pit stop at the bakery on Main Street.
And that is about what one meal at the California Grill will cost…check out these prices.
I’ve done it, multiple times, and what starts out as a glorious snacking experience usually turns sour as I am still greedily licking the last of the icing off my fingers.
My kids and I formulated a plan to split our snacks in thirds, or even fourths, so we could have just a taste. This is not a meal, this is a snack. You’re not eating this to get full - well, some of you are – but to experience the joy of snacking at Disney.
So share. Even if you cut that muffin in half, you can still reduce the cost of your food bill, and with that savings, maybe you can pick up a midnight snack!
Speaking of muffins and snacks, this is the place to get some great snacks, usually without the crazy theme park crowds.
3) When you can, drink water.
Soft drinks come with certain meals, but when you can, choose water. This one is hard for me, because I love an ice-cold Coke with my fast food. But in the summer, when it feels like it’s 107 degrees in the shade, I really need water, and so do my kids. Now, I’ll be the first one to say that Disney water fountain water tastes terrible. Or at least I think so, and so does every other member of my family.
- Last summer, we froze water in water bottles, hauled these in the parks with us, and this made the water fountain re-fills taste a bit better.
- Mio, which you can purchase at most any grocery store, also helps a little bit as well, although at times this just tasted like sweet, yucky water fountain water.
- You can get cups of ice or ice water from many Disney snack stands and restaurants upon request. I wind up turning to the water fountain when these lines are too long to wait in.
Buying fresh bottles of Disney water adds up over time, so maybe that water fountain water will get the job done, if you are out to save money. I can always drink Voss water when I get home, and there it’s half the cost.
I know a lot of people go on vacation and want to take a vacation from what they do every day, what they eat every day. But if you’re cutting corners and saving pennies to get to Orlando in the first place, hopefully these tips will help you out. If you have any money-saving tips that work well for your family, be sure to leave us some comments.
Thanks for coming along for a photographical Disney ride, and we’ll see some of you at the water fountains!