Dining at Disney World on a Budget

Dining at Disney World on a Budget

With the Removal of the Dining Plan options, an odd Lack of Discounts given limited offerings at Walt Disney World and No Sign of a Free Disney Dining Plan offering sight, we thought we’d do a round up of How Much It Actually costs to Eat at Walt Disney World. Mind you, food and snacks are a huge part of every Disney vacation for us, so we’ll break this down pretty thoroughly. So you can find your best Disney Dining Budget for your next vacation.

So, it’s true we have NEVER been huge advocates of buying the Disney Dining Plan. At least not unless you’re on a long vacation where the price drops considerable after the 9 day mark.  We are however huge advocates of the Free Dining Plan Offer whenever it comes available. In truth, we’ve re-arranged vacations in order to take advantage of the thousands of dollars savings you can sometimes get from this offer. But, alas, even with extremely low crowd levels and a general uncertainty if Disney is actually meeting their modified capacity limits, we are still not seeing discounts. Thus, we have decided to get clear about how much money food costs at Walt Disney World.Toy Story Land Woody's Lunch Box at Walt disney World Hollywood Studios Restaurant Review #woodyslunchbox #disneydining #toystoryland

Cost of Eating at Walt Disney World

Ok, to be clear here often the cheapest option for eating at Walt Disney World is to just bring your own food. If you choose this route, you won’t be the only ones! We’ve seen many families strewn across the parks pulling sandwich baggies out of their backpacks and feeding their crew. No shame there. We’ll break this down by meal and price ranges, and then hopefully you will have an idea of what to consider for your Disney Dining Budget.

Why We Like the Disney Dining Plan Model

Before we dive into the particulars of your Disney dining budget, the main reason why the Disney Dining Plan Concept works, is because it pretty much gives you your plan for the day. And by that we mean that you know what you’re eating based on your plan. The plan we like best is the basic Disney Dining Plan. This gives us a snack credit breakfast, which is a great way to save some money, since you know we’ll be at Starbucks anyway. And we usually do have a stack of Kind Bars or breakfast bars in the room too to help offset breakfast needs. This model also gives us 1 table service meal and 1 quick service meal. BUT, in the absence of the dining plan, this is how we’ll budget something similar. 

  • The Ideal Dining Plan for ONE DAY
    • 1-Quick Service Meal 15-20 each ( Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner)
    • 1-Table Service Meal -35-55 avg ( Character Breakfast or Dinner)
    • 2-Snacks 10 avg ( Breakfast plus Snack)

This is actually a great template for each day. Knowing that this would be your meal layout you could have a table service breakfast one day, and a table service dinner the next, knowing that your other remaining meals would be quick serve. This keeps your budget the same each day, even though you take advantage of different dining options. Cost? $70-95 dollars, per person, per day. 

  • The Cheapest Dining Plan for ONE DAY
    • 2-Quick Service Meals 15-20 each ( Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner)
    • 2-Snacks 10 avg ( Breakfast plus Snack)

Of course there are other ways you can do this a little cheaper or a little pricier. The cheapest way to do dining at Walt Disney World is with the model for the Disney Quick Service Plan. This allows you 2 quick service meals and 2 snacks a day. BUT, since this completely eliminates the option for a table service meal, we never choose this model when budgeting for food at Disney.  Cost? $50-60 dollars, per person, per day.

  • The Most Expensive Dining Plan for ONE DAY
    • 3-Table Service OR Quick Service Meals $15-$75 ( Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner)
    • 2-Snacks 10 avg ( Breakfast plus Snack)

If you know that you and your family will need 3 square meals plus snacks a day then you would move up to the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan model and in this scenario you can pretty much eat a full 3 table service meals a day. So it’s by far the most expensive dining plan at Disney.  Cost? $70-185 dollars, per person, per day.

disney world polynesian resort

General Dining Budget Per Person Per Day at Walt Disney World?

When planning your Disney Dining Budget, plan for about $80 Dollars Per Person Per Day, depending on which dining models you like above. Know that the range here could be between FREE and $250 dollars per person per day if you’re eating at signature restaurants, or ordering alcohol.

A  General Food Budget includes:

  • Breakfast- $15
    • A coffee and sandwich at Starbucks or a quick serve commissary meal at your resort.
  • Lunch- $15-25
    • A quick serve meal in the parks, or at a resort restaurant
  •  Dinner- $35
    • A buffet meal at a table service restaurant like Crystal Palace, or a more expensive quick service meal.
  • Snack $10
    • If you want to cover two snacks for the day bump this up to 15. As in a fancy drink, like the American Dream and the Loaded Mac and Cheese .

This Does Not Include

  • Specialty Drinks: Alcoholic or Non-Alcoholic. We did not include drink prices in these costs, because water is an easy budget-friendly FREE substitute. If you plan to order a specialty drink with each quick serve plan and $5 dollars to each amount.
  • Gratuity: Your tip amount is not only based on personal preferences but also on automatic charges that may take place at some restaurants.

Topolino's Terrace Breakfast

Disney Food Budget Breakdown of Costs BY MEAL

Breakfast Cost at Walt Disney World

As mentioned above, there are several ways to do breakfast at Walt Disney World. On vacations where we know we’re going to be in the parks for the bulk of the day, we sometimes will just have kind bars, or nutrigrain bars in the room with our in-room coffee/ tea before we head into the parks for the day. Of course, we know we’ll grab a coffee at some point before lunch, so this “free breakfast” in the resort can keep us going until lunchtime.

Our favorite breakfast is often at Les Halles Boulangerie de Pattiserie in Epcot France. This is a quick serve breakfast and you can get a sandwich and coffee for about 12 dollars.

Other mornings you may want to make special with a character breakfast at Trattoria al Forno. So think about this before your vacation. Plan out your restaurants and dining plans ahead of time so you can nail down your dining budget for Disney. 

Breakfast:

  • Cheapest: Free. If you bring granola bars, fruit, eat in resort, etc.
  • Budget: $15- 25 Quick Service Dining at Resort or in Parks.
  • Character: $35- $55
  • Signature: $75+ dollars per person if eating at Cinderella’s Royal Table

Be our guest at Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Restaurants

Lunch Cost at Walt Disney World

Lunch at Disney World is usually just a basic quick serve meal. Check out the BEST Quick Service Restaurants at Walt Disney World to see which ones you want to try on your vacation. We often try to leave the parks for lunch. Mainly because the crowds at Disney World become unbearable right around noon. So we usually take a break and head to the Monorail Resorts, or the Disney Boardwalk. If you’re eating in the parks, then these are our favorite places in each park to consider for lunch. 

Lunch:

  • Cheapest: Free. If you bring sandwiches, drinks, etc
  • Budget: $15- 25 Quick Service Dining at Resort or in Parks.
  • Character: $35- $55
  • Signature: $75+ dollars per person

Best snacks at Epcot, what to eat at Epcot, Epcot snacks, world showcase snacks, where to eat at Epcot

Snacks at Walt Disney World

Snacks at Walt Disney World deserve a place in your Disney Dining Budget. From grabbing a Dole Whip in Magic Kingdom to the Spring Rolls at EPCOT, there will be times you want to try out all the New Snacks at Walt Disney World. So how can you possible choose? And how can you possibly budget for this?

There are so many of the Best Snacks in Magic Kingdom you will have to plan to at least try a few! And some of our favorite non-dessert snacks show up on our Best Snacks at Animal Kingdom list. And if you’re looking for a wide range of treats to try from all the countries you will find those in our Best Snacks at EPCOT post. Plus, a Disney Vacation just wouldn’t be complete without a signature popcorn bucket you can refill for your entire vacation which you can grab as one of the Best Snacks in Hollywood Studios.

Disney Snacks cost $5- $15. Depending on the snack. But this could go as high as 55 dollars a person on a single “snack” if you are having Tea at the Garden View Tearoom. And even higher if you are buying several specialty snacks at the Parties, Festivals or After Hours Events. 

california grill disney

Dinner Cost at Walt Disney World

Dinner at Walt Disney World can be whatever you make it. There are some days we just want the 25 dollar pizza from the pizza window at Trattoria al Forno and other days where we want something extra fancy like Toledo at Coronado Springs.  We’ve pulled the together the best restaurants in each Disney Park and which ones to skip. Check out all our Disney Restaurant Reviews. 

Dinner:

  • Cheapest: Free. If you bring sandwiches, drinks, etc
  • Budget: $15 Quick Service Dining at Resort or in Parks.
  • Character: $35- $55
  • Signature: $75+ dollars per person.

How Much Does it Cost to Eat at Walt Disney World?

As you can see from everything we’ve shared in this post you should plan about 80 dollars on average per person per day for your Disney dining budget. This is a conservative, but budget-friendly estimate that we’re often able to stick to without breaking the bank. We highly recommend figuring out your food plan BEFORE you go on vacation. Without the dining plan, eating becomes less structured and could mean you’re waiting in lines, or realizing you need a dining reservation too late. 

What are favorite Disney dining tips? Let us know! We’ll be adding to this post as we get more intel on how to save money on food at Disney. 

Dining at Walt Disney World can get pretty expensive, so you best have a budget! From character meals, to signature dining to just going on the cheap, here is what it costs to eat at Disney World. When you're planning in 2020 and 2021 without a dining plan. #disneyvacation #disneydining #disneybudget #polkadotpixies

 


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