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.
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!
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.
- String Cheese
- Pretzels/Chips (Tube chips like Pringles pack easily, or grab a variety pack to please everyone)
- Fruit snacks
- Pop-Tarts/Oatmeal Single Serving Packs/Individual Cereals
- Baby Carrots
- Peanut butter and jelly (if you don’t want to make them, buy Uncrustables)
- Crackers & Cheese
- Apple Slices (the pre-treated ones)
- Yogurt tubes by Go-Gurts or Stonyfield Farms (you can freeze these also)
- Go-Go Squeez or similar fruit sauce packets
- Granola bars
- Raisin packs
- Trail Mix/Nuts/Dried Fruit
- Clementines, Bananas, Apples, Pears, Grapes
- Flour tortillas (These stay fresh longer, pack easier, and squish less than bread.)
- Goldfish or Cheez-It type crackers
- Nilla Wafers/Graham Crackers/Cookie Packs
- Beef jerky
- Baby food pouches for little ones (also buy this twist-on spoon– game changer!)
- Fruit leather
- Hummus packs & Veggie Sticks
- Snack containers– I’m partial to caps that twist on because they won’t pop off in your bag!
- Reusable snack bags
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.
Pack Things Your Kids Will Actually Eat
Attend to Those with Allergies.
Don’t Forget about Drinks
Breakfast Will Give You the Most Bang for Your Buck at Disney
Pick Some Treats for a Fun Surprise
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
Get Your Snacks to Disney Cheap
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.
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
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.