Disney can be the magical trip of a lifetime but if you’d like to afford it more than once in your lifetime there are tips and tricks to saving money while visiting the Mouse. One of the biggest ways our family of five saves is by planning ahead of time and packing food for snacks and breakfast. Snacks for everyone add up and we estimate we save roughly $50 a day by bringing our own snacks. We share ten Disney snack ideas guaranteed to save you money!
Saving money on breakfast and snacks allowed us to enjoy some fantastic meals. A favorite was the Yak & Yeti’s curry in the Animal Kingdom. Photo Credit: Nasreen Stump
When we head to Disney there is a battle plan in place. We eat breakfast before we leave the room. This saves us time, money and let’s be realistic- my kids aren’t fit for public spaces until they’ve been fed. Grumpiness runs in the family. We also are a family of grazers which means that at any given point during the day someone is hungry and needs a snack. Add in my own gluten free status and finding snacks during the day can become a process. On the flip side part of the Disney experience is eating the food so made a variety of reservations at different restaurants for lunch. We all benefited from sitting down midday, lunch reservations proved easier to get, and the prices were a little lower.
The Disney Snack Strategy
1. Pick things your kids will actually eat. Now is not the time to convince them they like tiny boxes of raisins. You won’t save any money if your kids won’t eat what you brought. Our kids love fruit snacks and Go Go Squeez’s so we made sure we had plenty of those.
2. Attend to those with allergies. Allergy friendly dining at Disney is fantastic. They specifically shine at table service locations but for quick snacks planning ahead is your best bet unless you want days of fast food. I packed enough gluten free snacks to cover my time at Disney and also to substitute in for a meal if I couldn’t find something.
3. Don’t forget about drinks. It’s brilliant planning to bring reusable water bottles (and you should) but your kids are going to see other folks with a variety of drinks and they will probably get tired of water. We packed a box of Capri Suns and also powdered Propel and Gatorade. With all the walking that we did we were still easily able to keep the kids interested in drinking fluids and were constantly replenishing their electrolytes.
Save money with our tips to pack your own snacks for Disney. Photo Credit: Nasreen Stump
4. Breakfast items will give you the most bang for your buck. If you can eliminate an entire meal from your daily budget then you get a savings gold star! For us oatmeal packets are always a popular choice and the hotel room coffee maker provided hot water. I packed two plastic bowls and spoons. For myself I packed a roll of rice cakes and some peanut butter. If your kids are fresh fruit fans or you’ll need milk for cereal you can arrange for grocery delivery directly to your hotel. (Hint: They have wine & beer for parents. Stock up for your nightcaps and save a bundle!)
5. Bring a couple fun snacks that you normally don’t have in the house. Part of my strategy to keep the kids away from snacks at Disney was to offer a few items that I don’t normally buy. Fun size packs of cereals and Pop Tarts provided a distraction from the ice cream and cotton candy swirling around us.
6. Start a snack gathering bin ahead of time. I set up a laundry basket roughly the size of the box I wanted to use and started buying items on sale and with coupons to toss in it. I also “shopped” our own pantry for items that fit the bill of small, portable and non-sticky.
7. Speaking of the box we were going to pack it in… Our snack planning strategy was a cinch because we flew Southwest to Disney and they allow two pieces of checked luggage per person. We used one box just for snacks and Pull-Ups for my youngest (Spoiler Alert- diapers at the parks cost about twice what they do in the store!). If your plans include a different airline that charges luggage fees you may want to scale back a bit and try to fit your items into suitcases you are already checking. Weigh out the savings though. Sometimes paying $25 for a checked bag will still save you money in the long run.
8. Buy larger and bring Ziploc baggies. Cost- wise the tiny packs of Goldfish didn’t make sense for us so I bought in larger quantities and packed them in the large bag to save space (and to decrease the likelihood of them turning into Goldfish crumbs). I also packed small snack size Ziploc baggies (a Sam’s Club super sale coupon find from last year I have enough of these to last till the girls go to college!). Once in the hotel room I was able to divvy them up.
9. On the subject of minimizing breakage- use plastic containers! Part of my snack packing strategy involved large plastic containers that I later used to pack dirty laundry into. This way they fit into the suitcases for the trip home. Plus I was able to pack so much more by consolidating items into plastic and discarding boxes (particularly in the granola bar category).
Consolidate snacks into larger plastic containers to save room. Photo Credit: Nasreen Stump
10. Once at the hotel set up a Snack Command Central. To the sound of my husband’s teasing I packed my Ikea fabric drawer organizers. They unzip to lay flat and made the perfect snack holders. I designated a snack drawer and a breakfast drawer and put my gluten free snacks in a separate holder.
Once at Disney we set up “the snack drawer” with some handy IKEA organizers. Photo Credit: Nasreen Stump
Bonus Tip: Save even more by watching for snacks on sale leading up to your trip, using coupons, or joining Ibotta where your rebate savings account can help fund part of your Disney trip!
We found that planning our snacking ahead for Disney allowed us to save at least $50 a day in snacks and breakfast (those $5 snacks/drinks add up). I put our savings towards the purchase of Memory Maker which pleased the grandparents in a big way! What are your kids favorite snacks? Did I miss any major points?
Wanna save even more?
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is the married mother to a 12 year old boy, a 5 year old girl, and a 3 year old girl. Nasreen specializes in business travel, pregnant travel, and travel with children of varying ages. Nasreen travels weekly as a sales person for a coffee company when she isn't writing travel. Addicted to social media she shares her adventure on the road with those back home. She is back in Texas after 10 years in the Northeast.