Dining At Disney – Weighing the Pros and Cons

dining at disney


As anyone who has planned a Disney vacation knows, dining on Disney grounds can be expensive.

The Disney resort offers a variety of options from fine dining to all-time favorite park food as well as various types of meal plans that you can purchase along with your vacation package. If you want the ease of convenience, all you have to do is book a package that comes with a meal plan. Then, based on the allotted amount for the meal plan you picked, all you have to do is hand over the meal plan card at any Disney restaurant.

An alternative option that many families take advantage of to help stay within budget is to take eating into their one hands, be it traveling outside the resort area to go to other restaurants or packing food and bringing it into the park. If you are not yet sure which option you would like to do (or maybe you want to consider both!), read on for some things to think about to ensure your Disney vacation is a magical adventure.

Let’s Talk Budget

Be sure you are very clear with yourself, and anyone else involved in the planning, what your budget is for a Disney vacation. Research the prices of everything from park admittance to hotels, and make sure to figure in projected food costs. This is particularly important if you are traveling with a family, as the cost can really add up. Being aware of exactly how much you are planning to spend will help you make informed decisions for handling mealtimes.

If you would like to go the simple route with most of your meals, and maybe splurge on a few to really create some fabulous memories, just be aware of what this will run you. For example, a sit down dinner for a family of four can be on average around $125-$150. As you can see, for many families that is a high amount to pay for every meal, even if you are just staying a day or two. The alternative is to go off site, or buy food from the local grocery store, pack up your wheeled roller and bring it to the park with you. This can be considerably easier on your budget, and the cost depends entirely on what type of food you buy.

What About The Experience?

Although Disney restaurants are pricey, there is certainly something to be said for experience, particularly with the really fun events like character dining. Character dining is great for all kids and certainly adults who adore certain Disney characters. As the term suggests, with these dining experiences you get to meet various Disney characters ‘in person,’ such as the Disney princesses and Mickey Mouse and his pals. Another really fun dining option is to attend dinner shows. Enjoy your delicious meal and fabulous entertainment all in one place. And remember, it’s never too soon to start thinking about where you want to eat because many of these special events require reservations a week to even months in advance.

Even if you don’t want to take in the character dining or diner shows, a Disney-sponsored meal plan may be more convenient for you and your family instead of rolling your luggage bag all around the resort.

The Clock is Ticking

Time is another factor to consider when planning your meal budget. Naturally, you’ll be spending the majority of the day inside the park having a great time. Keep in mind that it may not be a quick jaunt out of the park to grab a bite to eat if you are planning to eat at restaurants in the surrounding area. In addition to walking back to your car, it takes about twenty to thirty minutes to leave the Disney resort area. Many visitors will bring food and drink with them into the park, which is an efficient way to reduce cost and allow more time to experience the park – which is why you came to Disney in the first place! If you can afford it, it is still very nice to have at least one fabulous dining experience inside the park because it’s undoubtedly a part of the Disney magic.

These are the main things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not you want to dine at the Disney resort. By being aware of pricing, availability of food in the surrounding area, and the various food options available, you will be able to make a sound decision that will remove any chance of stress over money concerns and will leave you with the peace of mind to truly enjoy the way your child’s face lights up when Mickey waves hello.

Hannah Hamilton has seen much of the world thanks to her father’s job in the Air Force and her own frequent traveling as an adult. Her job takes her to Delaware, Pennsylvania, California, and back home to New Jersey where she lives with her husband and two children. Thanks to all this travel, Hannah knows there’s no better traveling friend than a good bag. She is happy to help fellow travel lovers find the right bag to make each traveling experience the best adventure it can be.

An avid traveler since she was two years old, Hannah Hamilton shares savvy travel tips and her garment bag expertise at her site: JetSetGarmentBags.com.

FatWallet Tip: Check out the Disney Store, offering 5% cash back on FatWallet as well as our travel deals to book your dream Disney vacation!

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