These Snack Packing Skills Can Save You $50/Day at Disney

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How much does it cost to go to DisneyWorld
Cinderella Castle at Disney World. Photo credit: Matt Stroshane

Disney vacations can be the trip of a lifetime. However,  if you’d like to afford it more than once in your lifetime, there are tips and tricks to save money at Disney. If you’ve already searched for discount tickets and specials, the next big way to save is on food.

Our family of six saves by planning ahead and bringing our own food for snacks and breakfast. Snacks for everyone add up; we estimate we save roughly $50 a day by bringing our own snacks, more on days we pack in lunch too!

SheBuysTravel Tip: You can now book Disney vacations up to 500 days in advance! That means you can book now for visits in 2023. All it takes is a $200 down payment. The balance isn’t due until 30 days prior to travel. You can get details on this, as well as help booking, from our partners at Get Away Today. Not only does the company have the lowest prices, it offers a best price guarantee. If you ever find park tickets cheaper, Get Away Today won’t just match the price, the company will beat it.

Why Bring Snacks to Disney? The Pros of Packing vs. Buying Snacks

We also are a family of grazers. At any given point during the day, someone is hungry and needs a snack. Add in some food allergies, and finding snacks during the day can become a process. Not to mention the time invested in keeping each child (and adult) from getting hangry.

On the flip side, part of the Disney experience is eating the food! We still eat some meals in Disney restaurants, choosing sit-down ones for lunch some days so we get a break. Then we eat dinners at quick service locations as we split up for evening rides and bedtime. Check out this list of the best snacks at Magic Kingdom so you can plan those splurges.

Once upon a time, the snack-planning process was harder because we had to bring the food with us during the drive to Disney. Enter Amazon Prime. It is now even easier to save money when packing snacks at Disney. Next time we head there, I’ll be sending my snack list straight to my Disney resort via Amazon Prime’s one day delivery.

two boys wearing mickey ear hats and wearing star wars themed t-shirts on main street usa at magic kingdom walt disney world
Pack in snacks and put some of the savings towards adorable t-shirts to add some pixie dust to your trip. Photo Credit: Jill Robbins

Snack Planning for Disney

Advance planning is the best friend to a Disney vacation budget. Once we know we’re going to Disney, we start discussing meal options. Full disclosure: Dining reservations make me twitchy. With six in our family, I feel like it puts more pressure on us to stay on a schedule and make dining reservations ahead of time. We usually reserve one or two meals for our entire vacation and do walk up or packed food the rest of the time. Also, I highly recommend Yak & Yeti in Animal Kingdom. It is one stop we always work in.

If we hit a free Disney dining deal on our visit, we might consider changing our views. If you’re curious about the dining plans we break them down here. (Dining plans are currently suspended.)

I like to sketch out our trip on paper by day and slot in meals and snacks so I know how many Disney snacks to buy and pack. Click HERE for a free Disney snack planning worksheet! 

free disney meal planning printable
Plan what you will eat each day with our Disney snack planning schedule. Photo Credit: Nasreen Stump

Amazon Prime/ Whole Foods Market Now Delivers to Disney!

Oh glorious day! Amazon Prime/Whole Foods Market delivers to Disney area resorts. (That means Universal too!)  Get a 30 day free Amazon Prime trial here before your vacation. There is a $9.95 service fee so keep that in mind but I still saved a ton.

Now you may be saying, why so much strategy if I can just Prime everything to my resort? Well, things don’t always deliver on time and I promised to save you money. I am thrilled to have this option for perishable items but will probably continue to hoard and coupon for nonperishables.

Disney Resort Delivery Rules

It’s super important to know about Disney Resort rules before getting anything delivered there. There is a lot of misinformation out there so it’s important to be clear. One of the reasons I’m happy to pay the $9.95 service fee that Whole Foods charges is because it allows me to order the same day with 2 hour delivery for Prime members. Travel is such a hot mess right now that I was thrilled to be able to order from the plane using wi-fi once I knew we were actually on our way. Many resorts do not store your items in a refrigerator so order only when you are confident someone will be there to receive it during or soon after the delivery window.

Join our Private Disney FB Group for more tips! JOIN HERE

Identify your name clearly with the order and check with bell services when you’re ready to pick it up.

Snack Ideas for Disney

When you’re thinking about snacks to pack for Disney, consider snacks that are easy to eat, that aren’t messy, that are non-perishable and that your kids will actually eat.

Think about how you are going to pack the snacks and consider whether you’ll have access to a fridge in your hotel room. Be aware that Disney changed a lot of their hotel room refrigerators from fridges to “beverage coolers”. These don’t run as cold and are much smaller. I talk a bit more about them in my review of All Star Movies. If you have access to a regular fridge, plan to bring some ice packs to freeze and a soft-sided small cooler to put your food in to bring into the parks. These super thin ice packs are great if you have freezer access.

SheBuysTravel Tip: If you won’t have a freezer in your room, you can use the first aid break-to-activate ice packs. I love keeping these on hand because they’re useful for injuries and food.

Click HERE for a free Disney Snack Shopping List! 

free Disney snack planning printable
Get a FREE download of our Disney snack planning printable with Disney snack ideas here! Photo Credit: Nasreen Stump

Pack Things Your Kids Will Actually Eat

Now is not the time to convince them they like tiny boxes of raisins (although 3 out of 4 of ours do). You won’t save any money if your kids won’t eat what you brought. Our kids love fruit snacks and Go Go Squeez so we made sure we had plenty of those.
Set yourself up for success so you don’t end up with a Magic Kingdom meltdown.

Attend to Those with Allergies.

Allergy friendly dining at Disney is fantastic, with a few minor hiccups. If you are eating somewhere with table service, you’re going to have a great experience. They’ll ask you about all of your allergies and your meal will come with everyone else’s.
However, this isn’t always the case at quick service locations. At our resort hotel’s dining area, it routinely takes me 30 minutes to fill out an allergy form, find someone, hand it in, and receive my meal. On two separate occasions, the meal was incorrect and had to be remade. Every single time my family was done eating before I got my food. I started digging into my snacks at some meals instead of waiting for any special menu items.
If your kiddos (or you) have gluten or dairy allergies, be sure to check out our list of 30+ favorites that you can eat!

Don’t Forget about Drinks

Pack reusable water bottles. Not only are they good for water, but you can bring powdered straws of Propel, Gatorade or other flavored drinks to make. Juice boxes and Capri Suns are also great choices. You’ll do a lot of walking at Disney, so it’s important to bring drinks that interest the kids to keep everyone hydrated.
Don’t forget you can get a free cup of ice water at any quick service restaurant at Walt Disney World or Disneyland. It’s one of our popular free tips for Disney!
breakfast cereal with berries
Breakfast is the biggest way to save money at Disney. By packing cereal, oatmeal and coffee you can eliminate an entire meal from your daily budget!

Breakfast Will Give You the Most Bang for Your Buck at Disney

If you can eliminate an entire meal from your daily budget, then you get a savings gold star! Great Disney breakfast choices for hotel rooms are oatmeal packets, Pop-Tarts, cereal and fresh fruit. If your room has a coffee maker, you can use it to heat water for oatmeal. Just make sure you pack a few plastic bowls and spoons. Another option is to have the cups of oatmeal delivered.
You can also bring packets of coffee if you want to make your own. Some resorts that have been refurbished (Coronado, Port Orleans, Pop Century) have Keurig machines now. Starbucks Via is always a good idea to have on hand.
I worked in the coffee industry for years and one of the only things I really dislike about Disney is Joffrey’s Coffee which can only be described as awful. There are Starbucks locations in each park at Disney now, which is great, but Via can be dumped into a bottle of cold water for instant iced coffee whenever you need it. Call it a backup plan for emergency caffeination situations. A main reason why I love ordering Whole Foods to the room is the ability to order fancy bottled coffee options. La Colombe or Stumptown is a way better way to start the day.
mickey pretzel against red and green background
Save money by packing in snacks and then buy those special can’t miss items in the parks! Photo Credit: Nasreen Stump

Pick Some Treats for a Fun Surprise

Part of my strategy to keep the kids from buying snacks at Disney is to bring a few snacks that I don’t normally buy. Fun-size packs of cereal and Pop Tarts distract the kids from the ice cream and cotton candy swirling around them. There are so many Disney-themed foods available outside Disney now that it was easy to find princess granola bars and Disney gummy fruit snacks to surprise them with.

Download These Apps to Save on Your Snack Shopping

Grocery shopping apps like Ibotta, Checkout 51, and Saving Star offer rebates on specific items and usually include a good number of non-perishable snack products. Also, download the shopping apps for your local grocery stores to watch for deals.

If you shop online, create a Rakuten account (formerly eBates) so you can earn cash back. Dosh is another one to download that includes cash back for favorites like Sam’s Club. (That’s one of our 15+ ideas for saving for a family vacation.)

Know What to Buy Now

After you’ve made a list of snacks take a look at it. What can you buy now? What is perishable and needs to be bought or ordered when you’re on site?

Split the list and start looking for deals on the nonperishable items. Set a calendar reminder or Google Task to order the other items so you don’t forget.

Don’t forget to also look at this post for items you can buy before Disney (not food) to save a bundle!

Start a Snack Gathering Bin

Before our Disney trip, I grab a laundry basket roughly the size of the box I plan to pack our snacks in. We shop at Aldi regularly so I just add an extra box of Nilla Wafers or an extra bag of pretzels every week for a quick and painless snack stockpile. I also poke through our pantry for anything extra I can throw in there.
Also, I know that the Dollar Store commonly comes up in Disney snack packing lists. Do the math before you buy. Dollar Store products may seem cheaper than grocery store prices, but that may be because the product size is smaller. Divide the package price by the number of ounces in the package and compare that with the grocery’s per-ounce price to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Get Your Snacks to Disney Cheap 

We tend to either drive or fly Southwest to Disney, which makes our Disney snack packing strategy easy.
If we fly Southwest, we take advantage of the carrier’s free baggage policy that allows two pieces of checked luggage per person. One of our pieces is always a box of snacks and Pull-Ups or diapers for my youngest. Spoiler Alert: Diapers at the Disney Parks cost about twice what they do in the store! With the end of Disney’s Magical Express many Disney transportation providers are including a FREE 20 minute grocery store stop with their service.
If your plans include flying on an airline that charges baggage fees, you may want to scale back a bit and try to fit your items into a carryon or a suitcase you already planned to check. Again, the math. Sometimes paying $25 for a checked bag full of snacks still will save you money in the long run.
If your Disney plans include a road trip to Disney, then you’re in luck. Pack a tote of snacks or make a quick stop at the grocery store once you get to Orlando. There are Walmart Super Centers, Super Targets and an Aldi within a 25 minute drive of the Disney theme parks and Disney resorts. Do yourself a favor and schedule curbside pickup ahead of time to save time.
snacks at disney save money at Disney; snacks packed into large plastic containers with empty boxes in front
Consolidate snacks into larger plastic containers to save room. Photo Credit: Nasreen Stump

Buy Big, then Split into Snack Sizes for Disney

Sometimes you can catch a great deal on individually portioned snacks. (Sam’s Club and Pepsi partner for a deal about twice a year). Usually though? The smaller the pack, the more expensive per ounce. We buy regular size boxes of favorite snacks and break them down into individual servings using plasticware containers or snack size bags.

Then we pack them smart so they don’t crush into crumbs.

snacks at disney save money at disney
Once at Disney we set up “the snack drawer” with some handy IKEA organizers. This allows us to save money at Disney and stay organized! Photo Credit: Nasreen Stump

Use Plastic Containers to Pack Disney Snacks. 

Part of my snack packing strategy involves large plastic cereal containers. These hard plastic containers ensure our crunchy snacks don’t turn into dust.

After the snacks are eaten, I pack our dirty laundry into them so they fit into the suitcases for our flight home.

Additional bonus? You can fit so much more by consolidating items into plastic and discarding boxes (particularly in the granola bar category).

Set up a Snack Command Central in Your Disney Hotel Room

To the sound of my husband’s teasing, I packed my Ikea fabric drawer organizers. They unzip to lay flat and make the perfect snack holders.
At the hotel, I designate a snack drawer and a breakfast drawer and put my gluten free snacks in a separate holder. Setting up a snack command central and dividing up snack types will make it easier to pack a day’s worth of snacks every morning.

How Can You Make It To-Go?

If you are packing food for a large family, you may want to consider renting a locker at the park. However, there is something to be said for the convenience of always having everything with you. Remember coolers and dry ice along with large strollers are banned at Disney. We’ve always found a backpack and small soft-sided lunch bags with ice packs do the trick.

You don’t need a fancy cooler. We’ve always had great luck with a trusty and affordable Coleman soft pack. Keep in mind that Florida is HOT. Meltingly hot. Even items that may not need to stay chilled do better in coolers or lunch bags to keep from getting too sticky. We use the kids school lunch bags for smaller items.

Planning our snacks for Disney allowed us to save at least $50 a day. Those $7 snacks and drinks add up! I put our savings towards the purchase of Memory Maker, which pleases the grandparents in a big way!

What are your kids’ favorite snacks? How do you save money while in the parks?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is it really allowed to bring your own food into Disney parks?

A: Yes, Disney allows guests to bring their own food and drinks into the parks, as long as they don’t bring any glass containers or alcohol.

Q: What kind of snacks should I pack for my day at Disney?

A: It’s a good idea to pack snacks that are easy to carry and won’t spoil quickly, such as granola bars, trail mix, fruit, crackers, and sandwiches. You can also bring your own refillable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Q: Can I bring a cooler or backpack with my snacks into the parks?

A: Yes, you can bring a cooler or backpack with your snacks into the parks, but it must be small enough to fit in a locker or under your seat on attractions. Disney also has specific guidelines for the size and type of coolers allowed in the parks, so be sure to check their website before packing.

Q: Can I still enjoy Disney snacks if I bring my own food?

A: Absolutely! Bringing your own snacks doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in some of the famous Disney treats. You can still buy snacks and drinks in the parks, or use mobile ordering to pick up food from quick-service restaurants.

Q: How much money can I save by bringing my own snacks to Disney?

A: The amount you can save depends on how many people are in your group and how much you would normally spend on snacks and drinks in the parks. However, some estimates suggest that bringing your own snacks can save you up to $50 per day per person.

Nasreen’s adventures started out as business travel. Working as a territory sales manager she covered 21 states during her tenure, traveling 3-5 nights a week. As she visited new cities and states, she always worked in a quick stop at a unique or iconic site. A travel writing career was born. When her father-in-law’s cancer came back she started writing and consulting full-time around his chemotherapy schedule. Traveling with her firefighter/paramedic husband, kids, friends and solo allows her to cover a variety of situations and topics. Her four kids (19 year old boy, 13 year old girl, 11 year old girl and 7 year old boy) are professionals at the cross country road trip. After 10 years in Texas, their family is back in the Northeast exploring both familiar and new destinations. There she runs her own business providing go-to-market, sales strategy, podcast, and content marketing consulting for websites and B2B businesses. Whenever possible she writes for a variety of publications in the podcast, travel, and business space. Connect with her on LinkedIn to chat about travel, content, sales, and podcasts!
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One response

  1. ok curbside pick up at a walmart in orlando on your way to your hotel is genius! We will be doing that!

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