When you get to Disney you’ll find that while it is a magical place, but one that is very economically driven. You’re in the parks, and if you get hungry you aren’t going to leave and Disney knows this, so you’ll find that snacks that would cost a dollar or two at your local corner store will cost you easily twice as much in a Disney Park store. Water costs over $3.00 a bottle, and if you add it up it would cost you nearly $40 dollars to get a whole gallon of Milk. Even the corner store near Downtown Disney (Sorry Disney Springs) charges exorbitant fees for the most basic items. What that means for you, and your wallet, is that the budget you prepared ahead of time will be blown on snacks faster than on souvenirs. Even if you are on the Dining Plan you are still limited to the amount of drinks and snacks you can get for your trip and you may find yourself spending money for food that you didn’t budget for.
Tip #1 Prioritize the Necessary Snacking
Now I understand that when you go to the parks there are snack items you need to have, whether that is a Dole Whip, Mickey Bar, Orange Swirl or one of the many yummy options over at Epcot. What you should do is prioritize what you want and stick to your plan. Do you want to budget in a snacking day at the World Showcase? Fantastic idea, just don’t dip into your budget at the Water Park, or Hollywood Studios. This is one of those times where making a plan and sticking to it would make your time in Disney that much better.
Tip #2 Get groceries from outside the park.
Now there are a few ways to do this and it really depends on how you are getting to the park. If you are driving down, or renting a car at another location and driving in then I would suggest stopping at a Target or Walmart before you enter the gates. And don’t plan on leaving for groceries after unpacking. Once you get to Disney you wont want to leave.
Why Walmart or Target? As national brands these two stores have generally standardized prices on basics. Meaning they wont charge you triple the amount you’d pay at home just because you are in Orlando. Mind you items like Sunscreen still seem to cost more in Florida regardless of your location.
Tip #3 Get Groceries Delivered to You
If you won’t have your car with you, then you have the option of hiring a shopper to get your groceries and deliver them to your hotel. There are a quite a few options out there. One is the Orlando Grocery Express. They charge $14 for delivering your items and orders over $200 are delivered for free. The minimum order is $40 and money can be transferred via Paypal, Intuit or PNC Merchant Services. They deliver everything from basics to baby food, including toiletries and even alcohol. Their prices are higher than Walmart or target, but they are still lower than Resort Prices. You can find the business at https://www.orlandogroceryexpress.com. Another popular option is GardenGrocer.com. They have a similar pricing structure to the Orlando Grocery Express with the only difference being that orders over $200 dollars are delivered for $2.00. You can order your groceries in advance and have them delivered to the bell service at your hotel, the bell service can then get the groceries to you!
Tip #4 Pack Trail Mix, Power Bars and Snacks
Even if you fly to Disney, you can transport dry goods in your suitcases. You can go out and buy Snack Bars, chips and the like at your local grocery store before you go and once they are gone you have extra space for souvenirs on the way home. As for trail mix, you can buy a pack that is premade, or you can make your own. Make sure you start with a protein source like peanuts or other non allergenic nuts and then add in complex carbs and dried fruits. You can add other items, such as pretzels, chocolate, cereal etc. to your family’s taste.
Pack the snacks in your park bag and when the tummy’s start getting rumbly in between meals you have a simple and cost-effective source of food.
Tip #5 Bring your own Bottle
…of water. This ties in with tip #1. The reasoning is simple. A big pack of 24 water bottles costs less than $4.00 at Walmart. That means that each bottle costs less than $0.17 when you buy them yourself. That means for every bottle you bring in your park bag you are saving over $3.00 at the park. $3.00 per water bottle! Consider the fact that the average adult needs more than 2 litres of water a day and needs about 8 bottles of water to reach that goal and you have a savings of over $24.00 per adult per day. Even better, you can bring your own refillable water bottle. You can ask for ice water at counter services for free. You can then use that water to fill up your bottle with nice cold water.
These tips seem strait forward, but if you mix them all together you will find yourself saving hundreds of dollars by the end of your trip.