Monday, March 28, 2011

We Went to Disney World, and Didn't Spend a Fortune on Food

I was a little nervous about how much money we would need for food on our trip. We packed snacks, I pored over menus of the various restaurants throughout Disney World. I even bought a* gift certificate for Garden Grove, a restaurant at one of the hotels (but not where we were staying).

I'm happy to say that we found the food to be fairly reasonable! Yes, we could have easily spent a LOT more. But we didn't have to. Here's what we did:
Brought granola bars, fruit snacks and jerky from home. This was our snack foundation. Oh yeah, and vodka.  Brian walked to a grocery store from Downtown Disney (about a mile walk) to buy orange juice, bananas, cheese sticks and our very important cocktail fixings. The taxi back to our resort was $20, which we figured was totally worth it.

Most mornings, we started the day with our snacks, plus coffee in our refillable mugs at the resort food court. The refillable mugs were great. They cost about $15 after tax, and saved us a ton over the week. One note about cleaning plastic mugs: if you have a lingering odor from a previous beverage~even after washing~simply fill it up with hot water, let it set for a couple minutes, then dump it and fill it with ice water for a few minutes. Dump, and you're ready to go. It works every time. I shared this tip at the beverage station almost every day. I felt like making signs to post to save everyone the eww factor of drinking lemonade that tastes like coffee.

There were a few days that we ate breakfast at the food-court/quick service restaurant at whichever resort we were staying. Check out this breakfast I got at All Star Movies, for only $9:
Eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage, biscuit AND a Mickey waffle.
Most days, we found we were too busy to want to sit down for lunch, so we often ate the snacks out of the backpack as we went about our day, then ate a real dinner.

The kids meals ~ breakfast, lunch and dinner ~ were all only $4.99 each and offered two sides plus a beverage. This seemed consistent at parks and resorts, and the sides were awesome. Grapes, carrots, apple sauce... it was nice to have healthy options. Since we have two kids, we usually chose four different sides and split them all between the two kids. 

We had heard about the T-Rex restaurant in Downtown Disney, and wanted to check it out because the kids are soooo in to dinosaurs. Arriving at 7ish, we found a 45-minute wait. But look! Just to the left was a new little place that sounded right up our alley. Pollo Campero offered a family dinner of citrus grilled chicken, rice & black beans, tortillas, and chips & salsa – all for only $19.99. Plus they had free wi-fi which is rather hard to come by at Disney World. We did make it back to T-Rex another day. We realized we hadn't spent any money ALL DAY. Not a cent. So we splurged on a big dinner. We got there at 5ish, and walked right in – no waiting. Kids were thrilled:

I've got to say that the biggest dining surprise and delight came from Gasparilla's at the Grand Floridian. We ate so well there! I've been craving this ever since I had it:
Grown up Mac & Cheese with LOBSTER. Yes, LOBSTER, and a lot of it! $9.99 at Gasparilla's
I almost couldn't eat it all it was so much, but I somehow managed. Delicious.
Since The Grand Floridian is so accessible from Magic Kingdom, I've recommended to several people heading to Magic Kingdom that they take the boat or monorail over to the GF and have a nice dinner before heading back to Magic Kingdom for the evening.

It's good that we were so prepared with snacks, but we almost had too much. Now that we know we can get reasonable meals, we won't pack nearly as much next time.

*I declined to buy a $25 gift certificate for $10, but then saw a special on MouseSavers to buy the same $25 certificate for only $2! How could I pass that up? We didn't even end up using it, but I'm not too worried about giving up $2.


  1. Wow! You worked that like a pro! I too loved the kids' meals. It was great that they came with water. In fact I ordered one for myself for lunch at the water park.

  2. I was surprised as well! We also had the refillable mug - a real saving!

    It was nice having breakfast with you at Disney SM Moms. :)