Best Disney Dining Tips when Paying out of Pocket

Cosmic Rays Mobile Order
Cosmic Rays Mobile Order - Photo by Steps to Magic

A vacation to Walt Disney World is expensive when you take into account all the costs above and beyond your room and transportation. Part of the pressure is to understand where your budget can be stretched and knowing ahead of time about various tips and tricks to extend your food dollars.

Here are the Best Disney Dining Tips when Paying out of Pocket


Budget using Mobile Order

Mobile Order at Pinocchio Village Haus
Mobile Order at Pinocchio Village Haus – Photo by Steps to Magic

Did you know that you can run through a sample mobile order through the My Disney Experience app? Well this comes in handy when you’re looking at all the incidentals and add-ons that may be involved in a Quick Service Meal, especially drinks and entrees.
Additionally, you’re able to have your Mobile Order account connected to a payment method that may have a cap, like a Visa gift card.


Order to your Hunger Level

Have you ever gone to dinner and ordered too much food because your “eyes were hungrier than your stomach”? Well this happens a lot at Walt Disney World, so the tip is quite simple…order less more often! This way if an entree doesn’t quite cut it, you’re able to go for a snack later in the day without knowing that you threw away dollars when you left food on the table.


Never Buy Breakfast in the Parks

Controversial tip, but not really when you look at the overall concept and respect the fact that I know that you know how your family works:) If your goal is to get your family up and at the resort food court for breakfast…then all the power to you!
This tip is about going for breakfast in the parks. Buying breakfast food while you could be riding attractions with little or no wait while others are sleeping in…why not bring a granola bar and do an early lunch when you start seeing families show up.
There are a couple reasons why you would go for breakfast in the parks, but character meals aren’t really worth the price…because how many pieces of bacon can one eat to justify a price tag that you could use for a lunch/dinner?


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Water Bottles

Water Fountain at Animal Kingdom Lodge Bus Stop
Water Fountain at Animal Kingdom Lodge Bus Stop – Photo by Steps to Magic

Did you know that buying water is expensive? Did you know that I have an article all about how to get FREE ice water? It’s something that I would highly suggest reading, because no matter when you’re in Florida…you’ll want to stay hydrated without dropping $3+ on a Dasani Water.


Juice Crystals

I’m putting this in for folks like me – we don’t like drinking water.
Fully understanding that humans are made up of  60% water, sometimes it’s just not a drink that we think of initially. From sodas to caffeine options, we think about that high-quality H2O last. My suggestion is to stash a few individual servings of juice crystals (or iced tea) in your Disney bag and add it when you’re filling up your water bottle.


Starbucks Rewards

Starbucks Meal Box
Starbucks Meal Box – Photo by Steps to Magic

If you visit the Starbucks at Disney Springs, you’re able to use your saved up Starbucks Rewards! The reason why this is a huge tip is because Jill and I have gone to Disney Springs to stock up on their boxed meals for the next day in order to save money. Most folks use their rewards on things like Frappuccinos, so why not use your freebie for the most value on the menu?
Full disclosure…I’ve also used my rewards on Frappuccinos. No judging;)


Walmart Order

We’ve started to use Walmart for our dining budget, as the savings are increased through meal planning.

  • Juice Crystals – Instead of buying sodas
  • Granola Bars – Instead of buying breakfasts
  • Dried Fruit – Instead of buying fruit cups in the parks for a snack

Those are just a few ideas that I’ve done in the past, but depending on the season and the length of your stay could impact your orders.


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Kids Meals

Fun Fact – Adults can order kids meals! Sometimes it’s because you’re not in a full meal mood or sometimes you just want something that’s only available for kids…like mac n cheese or chicken nuggets. Either way, ordering a Kids Meal is completely acceptable! Sometimes they even include a drink and fruit, which adds up to the caloric intake.


Table Service Appetizers

Want to hit up a Table Service location without spending a ton? Why not get a few appetizers and try new things while keeping your bill in check. From signature restaurants to fun spots that you just want to dine at…there’s always a way to do things under budget!


Bring Outside Food

Disney allows you to bring in outside food, so why not take advantage of that? Sandwiches, fruit and other small items are completely recommended. Just keep in mind that everything that you bring in, you’ve gotta cart around with you!
Probably wouldn’t recommend a cooler or a huge bag, because I’ve been the person who’s had to babysit the cooler when my family would go on coasters…and even though I didn’t want to go on the Matterhorn when I was 9, it still would have been cool to do Rider Swap to at least see the queue line:)


Soda Fountain

Saved this for last because it’s my favorite tip of all!
If you’re like me and really like sodas (Coke, Root Beer, etc), then pick quick service restaurants that have a soda fountain away from the cash registers. Examples are:

  • Satuli Canteen
  • Electric Umbrella
  • Contempo Cafe

They give you a cup when you place your order and then you fill it up when you’re grabbing utensils and napkins. After you’ve finished your drink, feel free to go back up and get a refill:)


I hope that these tips help you with your dining budget, especially when you’re paying out of pocket! If you liked what you read, please check out any of our other tips here at StepstoMagic.com!

Best Disney Dining Tips when Paying out of Pocket - #StepstoMagic
Best Disney Dining Tips when Paying out of Pocket – #StepstoMagic

Written by Dustin Fuhs

I’m Dustin Fuhs, a theme park fanatic that has created this platform to showcase my passion, tools and opinions to create a fun and interactive experience for everyone who visits. My goal is to help you and your family have the most magical experience at Walt Disney World. In reading my articles and ideas, I hope that you can find some fantastic ways to bring your dreams into reality! If you want more Theme Park fun - listen to the We Like Theme Parks Podcast at https://welikethemeparks.podbean.com/

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