We've all got to eat, right? And we all know when you are on vacation, food costs a bit more. But how much does it got to eat at Disney for a day?
There are some variables, and it really depends on if you are a quick service diner, like to sit table service, or if you are a snack and go kinda person. Prices are also going to be much higher if you are doing character dining. Depending on where you choose to eat is going to determine your price.
But...how vague is that? You already know that, right? So how about a breakdown for you.
Let's pretend that you are spending three days at Disney World. One day for Magic Kingdom, one day for Hollywood Studios, and one day for Animal Kingdom.
I'm going to present three days worth of meals. Of course, you can mix and match, but this gives you an idea of the general costs. No two days are going to be the same, this is just pure research. Each comes with a pretend scenario.
For our purposes, we will assume that these are adult meal, and that there are no alcoholic drinks bought. If you enjoy those, awesome! But budget, because you know they aren't cheap! We will also assume that there are no character meals. Each meal is bought from a Disney owned place. We will also assume two snacks a day, but no dessert at meals. We are also not buying drinks except for at meals, but plan for those too, if you buy them outside of mealtimes.
Create these sample menus for yourself, mased on what you enjoy eating. The prices will guide, but you might also see how you can cut back a little. Disney generally has generous portions. Perhaps you want to skip a salad or bread. Maybe at lunch you drink water.
This also allows you to see snacks and meals come in all different price ranges. And...quick service isn't just burgers or chicken fingers!
Day One Magic Kingdom
With so much to do at Magic Kingdom, you plan to get an early start. Therefore, you are going to be grabbing a bite to eat from the resort grab and go while waiting for resort transportation. You'll eat a quick service lunch, and splurge on a nice dinner.
Breakfast - Pastry and a coffee from grab and go
Lunch - Cosmic Ray's
$10.99 Greek salad with chicken strips
$3.99 fountain drink
$7.19 Mickey Pretzel
Dinner - Tony's Town Square
$11 Garlic bread for the table
$36 Butcher's Steak
$3.99 fountain drink
$5.99 Dole Whip
Day One Total for Food: $88.13 (Does not include dinner's gratuity)
Day Two: Hollywood Studios
You got up that morning with plenty of time to spare, so you pop into your resort for breakfast. You'll drab a sit down lunch, but plan to do a quick dinner, so you don't miss the nighttime spectacular!
Breakfast- Resort food court
$10.99 Ham and cheese omelet
$4.99 Orange juice
Lunch- Sci-fi Dine-in
$18.00 Over roasted turkey sandwich
$3.99 fountain drink
Dinner- Backlot Express
$11.99 Cuban Sandwich
$3.99 fountain drink
$6.79 Funnel cake
Day Two Total for Food: $66.24 (Does not include lunch's gratuity)
Day Three: Animal Kingdom
It's another grab and go on the way to Animal Kingdom! Lunch is your favorite spot, and sitting next to the river to watch the wildlife. Dinner is a second quick service stop, as there is really only one Disney owned sit down there, but that's okay, you've a long line to stand in for Flight of Passage and don't want to waste time.
$6.99 Breakfast bagel
$3.99 apple juice
Lunch: Flametree BBQ
$15.69 Chicken and ribs combo
$3.99 fountain drink
$4.99 Soft serve
Dinner: Satu'li Canteen
$12.79 Cheeseburger pods
$3.99 fountain drink
$9.29 Buffalo chicken chips
Day Three Total for Food: $61.72
One thing I find really interesting is that you'll leave each of these meals full. You might not even want a snack or if you do, maybe you'll split one. Also, none of these meals are boring. They aren't standard theme park fare. In fact... my stomach is growling just reading these menus!
Using these sample menus, you can easily see that a day of quick service, plus two snacks will run around $60. Depending on the location AND the item ordered, around $70 or so (without gratuity) for sit down, per person. Take those numbers from your own sample menus, and use that to guide how much you'll need to plan for meals!
If you have an upcoming Disney vacation, you might have noticed that instead of loads of choices in the MagicBand selection it's...well...a little lacking the magic.
So, what should you do?
Just like everyone else, Disney is struggling with supply issues. It's noticeable in their food, their merchandise in Park, and also the MagicBands.
Before you sit down in your My Disney Experience and start to panic, let me reassure you. You'll be able to get something. And, changes are really good it's something that you will like! But...there are a few tricks to that, and I'm going to explain them.
First, let's talk about HOW you get a MagicBand, and what it does, for those of you new to Disney's MagicBands.
What it is
A MagicBand is like a key and your credit card. If staying at a Disney resort, it acts as your room key. When you make a purchase, with your pin, you can just automagically (no typo there!) have your room or card billed.
This band used to get you into the Fastpass Lanes, now, it's for the Lightening Lanes.
How much are they? Are they free?
MagicBands used to be free when you had a Disney package. They now are not. You are given a pre arrival discount though, and there are a LOT more designs to choose from. A plain band is $10, and they go up from there, generally in incriments of $5. So, $10, $15, $20, etc.
Now, do you NEED a MagicBand? Nope! You are perfectly fine without one. A lot of stuff can be done on your phone. But I'm going to be honest with you. I was super grateful I had my phone on my when I stepped outside my resort room and the door slammed behind me and I was alone. I opened my app, clicked to open my door and....I turned my phone this way. I jiggled it that way. I adjusted the brightness. I wiggled it, and started to get frustrated. Just as I was about to manifest into a Disney villain, CLICK. It opened. Boy that was frustrating. And it took a long time too! What if I had someone I had to get to quickly?
How do you get one of these magical devices?
You can get MagicBands one of four places, and each has it's benefits or pitfalls.
1. Reuse one of your old MagicBands. You can reuse a MagicBand that was assigned to you on a previous trip.
2. You can buy one on ShopDisney. Their collection is very, very small though. As in, last time I checked, two band styles.
3. You can buy a band at a Disney Park or Resort. There is going to be a larger selection in person, but there's no discount on the price.
4. You can purchase before your trip, through My Disney Experience. This can be tricky. Let me explain.
Purchasing MagicBands Through My Disney Experience
Since there are thousands of people trying to buy MagicBands for their trip the same time as you are, it can be hard to get the style band you want.
At any given time, I found between twenty and forty different MagicBand styles. Huge difference, huh?
See that sparkly rose gold one up there? I really had wanted the silver. Or the solid raspberry. But I waited too long...and couldn't get it.
As a matter of fact, I had to check every day for two weeks before we were able to get bands that each of us liked. Yikes! Even still, when we got our young's MagicBand in, it was supposed to be an orange-y coral color with Chewbacca on it. That thing is pinkish! Luckily, he didn't care, maybe because I talked up the cool picture, but remember, the color may vary slightly!
There are a few things to know, and these tips will help you do the trick: Getting the MagicBands you want.
1. Check the site when the bands restock in the morning!
The MagicBands restock in the morning! That's your go time! Channel that inner "Gotta get my fastpass or dining reservation" attitude, set your clock, and get ready!
If you can't do that, then...
2. Check several times throughout the day.
That's right! It's quite possible that someone had been dithering about their band, a trip got canceled, or some other thing and the band you want reappears. That's actually how I got my sparkly rose gold one! That one was my choice #3, which leads into...
3. Know ahead of time what you might like.
Have a few favorites in mind. It's best if everyone in your party can have two of three band ideas that they like. Then, once you know what's a yes, and you see at least one for each person, you can grab the perfect MagicBand set!
4. Pounce on it when you see it
Seriously. Don't think ohhh I'll wait...nope. If there's a band everyone in your party will like, snag it while they have it.
5. Don't give up
If you can't get just what you want the first try, or ten, just keep swimming. You'll find a fun band you like eventually, I promise! That might mean you wait and get one in person but there are still many MagicBands out there for sale!
Hopefully these tips helped a little to assist you in getting JUST the perfect MagicBands to make your Disney vacation extra magical!
If you'd rather be rope dropping than taking time to linger over breakfast, you aren't alone! But, the fact of the matter is people have to eat. Even if you aren't a huge breakfast eater, chances are someone else in your party is, and you really do need a little fuel to keep you going!
You could grab something at the park once there, and many do, but just as many would rather watch their dollars, and breakfast in the room or while waiting in the transportation line.
These ideas are all perfect for those staying in a value resort. There's a fridge, but no microwave except for in the food court. If you are are in a room with a microwave or a small kitchen, then you have a LOT more options!
Chances are you already know how easy a few of these are, but there could be some surprises! I've got a list of 25 for you! Chose one or combine a few for a fast, easy breakfast and spend your money on more important things! Like souvenirs!
1. Cold cereal (You can buy milk from a resort food court or have delivered!)
2. Thawed breakfast sandwiches (heat in the food court microwave)
3. No-cook overnight oatmeal
4. Pastries (donuts, honeybuns, etc)
5. Yogurt and granola
6. Fresh fruit and cheese
7. Granola bars
8. English muffins and jam
9. Fruit cups / Applesauce
10. Precooked bacon or sausage
11. Bagels and cream cheese or avacado
13. String cheese
14. Cottage cheese
15. Graham crackers
16. Crusty loaf, cheese, and olives or pesto
17. Biscuits and apple butter
18. Instant breakfast shakes
19. Dried fruit
20. Beef jerky or meat sticks
21. Instant oatmeal (using water from the well washed coffee maker)
22. Crackers and sunbutter
23. Smoothies (there are several refrigerated brands)
24. Bread with cheese, tomatoes, and avadaco
25. Last night's leftovers!
While there are so many more things you can do, maybe some of these will give you ideas for your next trip. We always pack breakfasts, (budget, time, and food allergies!) but I actually really love doing that, because my kids and I are not huge eaters first thing in the morning. By tossing some of these into our park bags, we end up having a snack when we are hungry, but save a ton of time and money!
Sometimes there's a kind of gut punch feeling when you get your Disney vacation quote. Maybe it's because financially, it was a hard year. (Or two.) It could be the fact that Disney never seems to get cheaper. Whatever the reason, it's possible you wonder, "Well, can we do it? Should we do it?"
I've talked before about not going into debt for a Disney vacation. I've also talked about ways to get FREE Disney money! You know I'm all about enjoying the same magic, but for less!
But what do you do, when year after year, the price goes up, and you aren't sure you are getting the same value? Let's talk about the four elements of a Disney trip. Hotels, food, souvenirs, and tickets. How can we cut costs but still enjoy ourselves?
Without a doubt, hotels can be the most expensive part of your trip! Part of that is because if you are a family of five or more, to stay on property, you'll need a suite or else two rooms. That REALLY adds up. But, let's be honest. Staying on property is pretty expensive. With less perks now for those who do stay on property, you might just be able to save a LOT of money by looking for a resort elsewhere.
The amazing thing about Disney, is there are tons of resorts by Hilton and Holiday Inn and others, that cost half (or less!) than a Disney Value Resort, and you get a resort that usually comes with a fantastic pool area (think mini water park!) and other great resort activities, that might include games, breakfast, and transportation, to name a few.
If you don't spend much time in your resort room, or if you don't care if your walls are decorated in Mickey Mouse, this might be perfect for your family.
Comparing prices between an off property resort, and an All Stars room saved over $1,000 for a week in June. That's a LOT!
Food...now, some people are foodies, others just want to snack. With Disney having such a generous policy letting you bring food into the park, that might be something you want to consider to save big. After all, the average price of a soda is $5! A great compromise might be a resort room breakfast, a snack from your backpack, and then a huge late lunch in the park. Depending on your appetite, you might be able to split a meal, with just buying an extra side. Dinner can be off property or back in your resort room.
We find at the end of the day, we are tired and like to eat light. There's a LOT of stuff you can make or have delivered that would fit that bill!
If you make the majority of your beverages water, you'll save a ton, and prevent possible seriously problems, like dehydration or sunstroke!
Without a budget, it's so easy to spend your money on the amazing Disney goodies. T Shirts can set you back $30 or more! Disney pins start around $8, and there's just so much that looks fun and wonderful and well, you just want!
Define your budget and set limits. Are you wondering how much to bring? Tell yourself, Okay! I can buy something at each park. Or, give yourself a dollar amount. "I can spend $50 at each park." See if you can stick to that! It might be hard but you can still find some great souvenirs. You might not even want to spend that much! Maybe you just want one special thing!
It's easy to overspend!
While Disney has moved into ticket pricing that varies by season and day, there is still a bargain to be found. The longer you stay, the less it costs. It's usually around $10 more for days 6 to 7, which might allow you to extend your stay, especially if you are staying off property, and possibly even skip paying for Genie+, since you'd have an extra day or two and not be so pressed to do it all.
If you have your heart set on going to Disney, then go for it! There are many ways to save, and the sooner you start, the easier it is. In fact, you might find that frozen pizza really saves your budget!
Start braining storming, involve the whole family, and remember...doing Disney simply, and cutting a few corners isn't going to reduce the magic. It's going to help you get back there quicker!
I admit it...total sucker for a pretty gift card. It could even be empty and a little voice in my head goes Ohhhhhh and it sounds a LOT like the Little Green Men from Toy Story for some reason...
A few years back, I was incredibly disappointed when Disney did away with the pretty gift cards! They completely stopped, and only had the red Mickey. I bet you know which one I mean. The one that everyone sells.
I'm thrilled that a few months back, they brought BACK these amazing gift cards. Best of all? There are SO many incredible designs to choose from. I bought myself the three above. When you order your gift card, it comes in a nice envelope.
And then once you open the envelope...is your gift card, in a beautiful card!
The card tells where you can use it, how you can use it, and the value of the card.
I'll be honest...I'm not sure what I love most! The pretty card, the pretty gift card, or the fact possibilities are endless...you could frame the cards...make ornaments...bookmarks...gift tags...there's a lot of creative possibilities here.
We typically pay off our Disney vacations with gift cards. Here's why! (Hint! I don't pay retail!) And when strolling through the parks, a gift card is how we cover our meals, souvenirs, and etc. The kids also have a souvenir, and one of the ways I like to tell which is the food card, which is Kid #1's card, etc, is by each thing of person having their own separate card. It helps me see if we used all we had budgeted for or not.
As a matter of fact, there are a LOT more ways to use a Disney gift card than you may realize! I've got a list of 11 different ways you can use your Disney gift card while on your vacation.
Our kids loving making their own purchases too, and it's such a time saver to pull out the Iron Man card and know who it belongs to, or the Darth Vader one. I'm never even worried about my kids losing their gift cards. Why? Well, because of the 10 second, less than a dollar way to make sure you kid won't lose it!
When you buy these gift cards from the site, there is a minimum of $25 to get the card. If you are a card collector, Disney Stores and Disney Parks will still let you put as little as $15 on a card. When we vacation, I snag a few of these cards for $15, and gift them along with the kids' birthday cards, or Easter baskets. It's an easy way to help them save. As a matter of fact...one year Santa even dropped some in the stockings! How awesome of him!
We are planning our summer trip to Disney World, and there are droids to be build, saber accessories to buy, and more plushies than our van can likely hold, so the boys know they need to save up!
Stop by Disney's site to browse their gift cards. What's your favorite? I've so many I love!