When you think of Disney parks, you probably picture huge rollercoasters, your favorite characters, and all sorts of amazing shows. You will find all of that and more at the theme parks, but people are often surprised by how incredible the food is. There are so many amazing restaurants at all of the parks serving cuisine from around the globe. You can get some iconic Disney themed foods, especially at places like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. If you go at the right time, some of the parks even have their own food festivals.
The problem is, the food can be quite expensive and the restaurants get incredibly busy, so you need to do a bit of forward planning. You don’t want to miss out on anything good and you also need to think about your spending, so think about food when you are planning your Disney park adventure. These simple Disney park food tips will help you get the most out of your trip without breaking the bank.
Book In Advance
When you go to a restaurant, you usually book in advance in case they don’t have space. So, why wouldn’t you do the same when going to a restaurant in a Disney park? A lot of people assume that they can just walk in and get a table, but you rarely get that lucky. The most popular restaurants like Chef Mickey’s or the Royal Table get booked up months and months in advance, so you’ll never get in without a reservation. The good news is, you can make advanced bookings 180 days before your trip. So, as soon as you book the park tickets and flights, start looking at the restaurants you want to go to.
You can find the menus online here, so have a look through and see what gets you excited. You should also check out some Youtube channels about Disney parks because they always have great videos about the delicious food they have tried. You can also check out online reviews on blog sites to get an idea of which restaurants are best.
If you are traveling with kids, make sure that you book a spot for the character dining experience. You get to enjoy a meal with your favorite characters and the whole family will absolutely love it. But it’s a very popular experience and it will fill up fast, so look at the different dining options and which characters will be there, then book your place right away.
You don’t have to book every single meal because there are places you can get in, but if there are restaurants that you definitely want to try while you are there, it’s best to book in advance just to be sure.
Try The Less Popular Places
If a restaurant isn’t that popular, there is usually a reason for it and you probably avoid going there. But you don’t have that problem in Disney because wherever you go, the quality of the food will be amazing. However, there are some places that are less popular because they are not as easily accessible or they are a bit smaller. Places like Trail’s End or Big River Grille still serve incredible food, but they are not as centrally located, so they rarely get booked up.
You can find out which restaurants are the quietest if you take a look at the booking tool on the Disney site. Put in a date a few weeks away and see how much availability they have. If a place isn’t booked up a week or two in advance, you should be able to get a table quite easily.
You don’t want to limit yourself to a strict schedule because exploring the parks and finding different places is a lot of fun. So, book up a few popular restaurants in advance to make sure you can get in, and then when you get there, try your luck at some of the less popular ones too.
Bring Snacks To Save Money
The food is amazing at Disney and you can get all sorts of weird and wonderful creations. But if you buy breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day, with lots of snacks on top, you’ll end up spending a lot of money. So, bring some of your own snacks along to eat while you’re walking around the park to save a bit of money.
You’ll be surprised how much walking you do when you spend a day at the parks, so you’ll get hungry. Bring lots of high protein snacks that are easy to pack, and remember that it’s going to be hot so don’t pick anything that will go bad in the sun. Things like beef jerky, dried fruit, and nuts are perfect. Bring some water bottles too because there are water fountains everywhere. Alternatively, you can get complimentary ice water at all of the food spots.
Taking your own snacks can save you a lot of money, but you should budget a bit of money for a few snacks here and there. There are so many delicious things to try and you don’t want to miss out.
Don’t Over Order
When you do go to sit down restaurants, make sure that you don’t over order. It’s tempting to try everything and go for a starter, main, and a dessert. But you’re never going to eat it all and you’re wasting money on the things that you don’t finish. Most of the menu prices are combos that include fries or salad, but you can ask for it without the sides if you like. If you just want a starter and then a dessert, why not just do that?
Have A Sit Down Lunch Instead Of Dinner
If you are staying at a Disney resort and you have a dining plan incorporated into the price, you don’t need to worry too much about this one. But if you are paying for all of your meals separately, lunch is often a better choice than dinner. The table service breakfasts tend to be quite poor value for money so avoid this, in most cases. The menu for lunch and dinner is usually the same in most of the restaurants, but the prices are higher for dinner. So, if you’re getting the same food, why not go at lunch and pay less? Lunch is usually quieter than dinner too, so if you haven’t booked a table, you’ll have more luck going during the day.
Sometimes, you order a meal at a Disney restaurant and the portion is absolutely huge. If everybody orders one meal for themselves, a lot of the food goes unfinished and you waste money. Why not just share meals instead? Things like ribs and pizzas are usually big enough for two people easily, especially if you have a couple of sides with them as well. Sharing is a great way to halve your food bill at a restaurant, but it can come back to bite you if you order wrong. If you are unsure, just ask the server how big the portions are and whether they are enough for two people. You can find a list of the best restaurants for sharing meals here.
Consider A Disney Dining Plan
Disney Dining Plans are a great way to budget for meals in advance and make the whole process a bit easier. A trip to the Disney theme parks is already expensive so a lot of people prefer to budget ahead of time to keep their spending under control. The Dining Plans are very flexible because you have a certain number of credits and each meal or snack costs a certain amount. It’s essentially like a prepaid card that means you don’t have to carry cash and you don’t end up spending more than you can afford. If you spend less on certain days, that just means you get to splash out for the rest of your trip. It also gives you the chance to eat at some of the more expensive restaurants without worrying too much about the cost.
You still need to make reservations even if you have a Dining Plan, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you can just turn up anywhere.
Unfortunately, the dining plans are not available right now because things are being done differently because of the COVID pandemic. However, they will be coming back in the future, so just make sure to double check when you book your trip.
The food is one of the best things about the Disney parks and there are some incredible dishes to try. The theming in the restaurants is amazing too, so it’s all part of the park experience. But it’s already an expensive trip so you need to make sure that you plan properly. By following the tips on this list, you can make sure that you get into all of the restaurants on your must-visit list. You can also keep your spending under control and make sure that you have enough money left over for souvenirs at the end of the trip!