Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom The groceries in the resort stores are overpriced, but they're still less expensive (and sometimes healthier) than buying food in the Disney parks.

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom
The groceries in the resort stores are overpriced, but they’re still less expensive (and sometimes healthier) than buying food in the Disney parks.

A family vacation to Walt Disney World is expensive. Air fare, lodging and food are the three biggest costs.

Saving money on airfare involves luck. I’ve yet to find the secret to buying an airfare that doesn’t decrease in price a day later.

Many of my fellow TravelingMoms can recommend how to save money on lodging (some swear by staying off-property and I have to admit, Military TravelingMom’s blog review of Discovery Cove sounded pretty awesome).

My family saved money at Disney World by cutting corners on food.

Let me preface this by saying that we’re not fancy eaters. We don’t need to a sit-down restaurant for every meal. But we are fairly healthy eaters, and don’t want to have a steady diet of chicken nuggets and french fries.

Here’s How We Saved Money at Disney World:

1. Bringing empty water bottles to the park.

It’s hot in Orlando, and you walk a lot. You need to drink a lot of water. So rather than plunk down $2.50-3.50 per bottle for cold water (which you sometimes have to wait in line to buy), use the parks’ many water fountains and refill your bottle. I bet we saved $20/day on water alone.

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom Bringing water bottles, and refilling them at the fountain, is one way to save a few bucks at Disney.

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom
Bringing water bottles, and refilling them at the fountain, is one way to save a few bucks at Disney.

2. Buying cereal, milk and snacks in the general store.
Breakfast can easily cost $50 a day for a family of four, even if you’re just getting to-go coffee, donuts and breakfast sandwiches. Most rooms on the Disney property are equipped with a mini-fridge. Use it! We bought a box of Rice Krispies and a half-gallon of milk in the resort’s general store, along with a few snacks like string cheese and peanuts. We spent $15 on the overpriced groceries, but it probably saved us $50 in breakfast and snack expenses.
3. Splitting portions.
This is something we do at restaurants at home, as a way to cut back on calories. Try it at Disney, too. If you have two kids, let them split one adult portion. It’s often less expensive, and more food  than two kids’ meals. My husband and I split a $12 burger and fries at a brew pub, and there was more than enough for each of us.
These small savings do add up. I hope they’ll help your family save a few bucks.