We are home from our Disney trip and I am so happy to be in our house! This was my 4th trip to Disney (Orlando) and it was Chris’s 1st trip. We both had our fun and our struggles with this vacation. We are pretty cute together sometimes too:
Disney is a magical place, there is no doubt about it. Characters everywhere, amazing architecture and all of the childhood feels. However, all of that does come at a hefty price.
I want to give you a way that we could have saved money on our trip last week, had I known some of this ahead of time. I hope this helps you to plan your Disney trip and save some money!
The number one expense that I noticed was our food. We used a dining plan offered by Disney. These dining plans are fantastic! We paid for the plan upfront, and then every time we got a meal or snack, we just scanned our MagicBands and went on our way. Essentially, you get credits when you use the dining plan – it allows you a certain amount of “Regular” meals, “Quick Service” meals and snacks.
When you pay you still get a receipt that shows how much the meal cost (as if you were paying out of pocket). The numbers on our receipts shocked me. We were paying about $50.00 for every quick service meal, which is essentially fast food. The meal that floored me consisted of burgers and fries and a cupcake…that cost $47.00! What?!
The next meal that made me want to write this post was a sit-down character dinner. The characters come around and take pictures and sign things at your table. I am just not a fan of character meals. They interrupt and I do not care to take pictures at a meal. Just not my thing. Anyway, this meal was a buffet that we stayed at for 15 minutes. Our meal cost over $100.00. For 15 minutes of buffet food, we could have paid our electric bill again. Not to mention, tips are not included on dining plans.
Now that you have an idea of how crazy expensive our meals were, let’s talk about how to get around this.
We stayed 6 nights. It is essentially paying around $100.00 to $200.00 a day for meals on the dining plan (based off of our receipts). We even skipped lunch some days because it was just too hot to eat in the parks. We could have easily eaten for maybe 200.00 for the whole week! We had the luxury of having kitchen in our resort room, but I will not include food that has to be cooked on this list. It’s not super healthy, and it’s very repetitive, but it’s about $800.00 more in the bank! Here is my sample of a frugal DIY Disney meal plan for two people (prices are based off of our local Wal-Mart and are approximate):
Granola Bar (can buy a box of 8 bars for around $6 a box ) – $12
Yogurt (usually can get around 20 if on sale) – $10
Sandwich Bread – $2
Deli Meat (should get about 2 boxes) – $6
Cheese – $3
Mayo – $3
Lettuce – $3
(Can do sandwiches again for about $20)
Pizza (could order delivery to avoid having to heat)- $5
Salad (price includes cheese, croutons, dressing, salad mix, etc) – $20
Fast Food (for two people for $5 for 6 nights) – $60
Chips – $4
Fruit Snacks – $4
Apples – $5
Lastly, bring your own BPA-Free water bottle. Bottled water at the parks can go as high as $6.00 per bottle, or one snack credit. Why waste money when you can fill up your bottle at your hotel? I say to fill it at the hotel because all of the parks had very metallic water in their water fountains…even when we were super thirsty, we did not want to drink it.
I hope this gives you some ideas around how to save money on your food bill for your Disney trip. Don’t focus on the food, focus on the memories! If I had done this, I would have enjoyed our trip much more, and I would have had more money to spend on some great souvenirs.
Any tips that you have for cutting costs on vacation? Let me know in the comments below!