Disney World trips are expensive and that’s even before you think of food. So let’s make sure you’re prepared on what you need to budget for. Today, let’s talk the different types of dining options, how I personally calculate my food budget and some money saving tips.
There’s two different ways to go about budgeting for your food. If you have a lot of time before you depart on your trip, then you have plenty of time to plan ahead and figure out what sort of budget you need to set and have time to save towards that. But if you have a trip that is sooner than that, you probably already have a budget in mind and you’ll have to determine a perfect way to fit your food into that.
The first thing to think of when you are budgeting for your food at the Walt Disney World Resort is that you have to know the different dining options that are available for you. There are two main types of dining options, which is Table Service and Quick Service. For Table Service, you’ll need Advanced Dining Reservations, and that is a dining option where you’ll be seated at a table and you’ll have a server that brings your food to you. The other option is Quick Service, which is a Counter Service option. So you can go up to the counter and order, or you can order through the My Disney Experience app.
There is also snack options or festival kiosks as well (if there are festivals running at the time that you visit at EPCOT).
So the first thing you want to do is choose where you want to eat, but don’t stray too far from which park you had selected to visit for the day. You don’t want to be wasting your park time traveling for food. So for example, if you’re at Magic Kingdom for the day, choose a restaurant location that is in the Magic Kingdom, or perhaps at one of the Resorts that are close by.
The great thing about the new parks reservation system now is that you already know exactly which park you will be in on each day of your trip. As soon as you book your trip, a good place to look at your dining options is on the Walt Disney World website. There you’ll find which restaurants are currently open their location, and you’ll be able to take a look at the menu to see if you like what they have to offer. There are also a ton of great videos on YouTube. I definitely recommend Disney Food Blog for food reviews – they have a ton of food recommendations. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to share my favourites!
So now you know what the different dining options are, you’ve selected some restaurants that you would like to try, now it’s time to set a budget for your food. I personally like to calculate this by the average meal cost, but if you are looking for a more accurate budget, I would recommend going to the Walt Disney World website and selecting menus at restaurants you want to try and perhaps making some mock orders and seeing exactly what your mock order would total. But for those of you that don’t have time for that, here are my averages:
- Snacks: $5 to $6 per snack or a specialty non-alcoholic beverage
- Quick Service: $19 per adult, $11 per child
- For Table Service: $42 per adult, $25 per child
- Character Dining: $42 per adult for breakfast or $55 per adult for lunch, $27 per child for breakfast or $36 per child for lunch.
- Signature Dining: $35 to $100+ per person depending on which dining location you choose.
So to get your estimated budget amount, you’ll be totalling your number of each type of meal you will be having each day and multiplying it by the dollar amount. And you’ll do that for each person in your party each day of your trip.
[number of meal type for each day] x [guests] x [cost of meal]
Because that sounds super confusing, I’m going to show you an example using my family. So in the sample image below, I estimated for my family of five for five days. On day one, we’ll do one Table Service, one Quick Service, one snack, and one drink per person and the same thing for most of the days, except for one of the days I’m going to switch out a Table Service for a Character Breakfast meal. So for the kids, the table service average is $25. I multiply that by four days times three kids, and that gave me a total of $300. And then I did the same across the board for all the different dining options which gave us a total of $696 for the kids. I did the same thing for the adults, for the adult table service it’s $42 multiplied by four days times two adults is $336. Also in the adult section under drinks, I’m allocating one alcoholic beverage for each of us. An average beer will be $5 to $8 and the average cocktail will be like $12 to $16. I kind of picked a number in between seeing that my husband would probably pick a beer and I would pick a cocktail, so hopefully it evens out that way. Then the total for the adults is $790. Also don’t forget to budget for tips. For the tips I added the table service and character amounts and multiplied that by 20% to give me the tip amount.
So the total amount for my food budget for this five day trip for my family of five would be $1,646.20.
If that sounds like a lot to you, a good way to save money is to actually order groceries to your resort. I personally utilize this service on my trips for snacks, small lunch items, drinks, water bottles, and even beer for the room. In the past, we’ve used Garden Grocer which has been a great experience, but others have also recommended Dizzy Dolphin Delivery. Both options do not require you to be present to pick up your groceries, just order in advance and they’ll deliver it to bell services where your order will be kept until you arrive.
Is there a restaurant that you’re looking forward to? I personally really love Kona Cafe at the Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. They have really yummy macadamia nut pancakes and the famous Tonga toast for breakfast and some really delicious glazed chicken wings that you can find there at lunch and dinner.
If you’re ready to book your Disney World vacation, schedule a consultation with us to get started.