Okay, anyone that knows me knows that, to me, FOOD IS LIFE! I try to eat healthy throughout the year but when I’m on vacation I don’t diet. I really enjoy just about anything I want to, that’s part of the vacation for me! Like I talked about in my Disneyland: Where To Stay post, I have been going to Disneyland several times a year since I was 11. So I really feel like I have a good handle on what delicious food there is to eat in the park. HOWEVER, as many of you Disney-goers know, food in Disneyland can be expensive but my family has figured out a way to still eat the amazingly delicious park food while sticking to our budget. Yes you guys, it IS possible and this post will show you how!
My 10 Best Tips on Eating In Disneyland On a Budget:
- Eat a good breakfast before you go– this one is HUGELY important and one that my mom always made sure we did. In my Disneyland: Where To Stay post I talked quite a bit about this. Find a hotel that has continental breakfast or stay in The Anaheim Marriott Hotel where they have delicious room service for a great price.
- Bring food– Disneyland will let you bring as much food as you want into their park (well maybe not AS much as you want but… you get my gist :). We ALWAYS bring things to snack on. Some family favorites are granola bars (I love Clif bars, they have a little more substance), Cheese-its, snack packs, pop tarts, you name it! This will keep you full and satisfied if you are feeling snacky throughout the day. Just going and grabbing a churro anytime you need a snack will KILL your wallet in the end.
- Bring frozen water bottles– yes, FROZEN water bottles. I also bring some none frozen water but I drink that first. Disneyland is in California so it gets hot. If you have frozen water bottles then when 1 pm hits and the non frozen water is warm, you can drink your deliciously cold water from the previously frozen bottles! Buying water in the park is just simply a waste of money. I have every single person in my family carry a backpack (you can find some fantastic, cheap, and cute Disney backpacks here). In their backpack they carry their own water and snacks for the day. I pack 3 frozen and 2 non frozen water bottles for each person each day. I would rather have too much water than too little. ALSO the more hydrated and less thirsty you are, the less likely you are to think you need food when you really don’t and the less likely you are to be cranky and lash out on your family members. I’m definitely NOT speaking from experience here… :).
- Eat one meal at a restaurant in the park each day- like I said above, the food in Disneyland is absolutely DELICIOUS. I would feel like I didn’t get the true Disney experience if I didn’t eat the food in the park! So we let ourselves eat one meal at a restaurant in the park each day. There are tons of amazing restaurants in the park!
- Eat at a buffet in the park– okay this is my #1 best tip that I can give you! Because we allow ourselves to eat at one restaurant in the park we want to make sure that the meal we do eat really fills us up so we get the best bang for our buck! Believe it or not there are a few buffet options in the park. Our very favorite buffet option is the Character Breakfast at the Plaza Inn on Main Street. There is absolutely no limit on how much food they will let you eat. You can keep going back for more and more and more! Also, because it’s a character breakfast the kids absolutely it! They get to meet all of the characters and, if they want, get their autograph. The buffet is $35 per adult. I know that that might sound expensive but for the loads and loads and loads of food you get, it’s 100% the cheaper route to go (we’ve tested out this theory). We usually have a later breakfast (around 10 a.m) and it will fill us up until 5 sometimes 6 pm. When my hubs and I were there this last time we did a little experiment and went to the Jolly Holiday (it’s located opposite of the Plaza Inn on Main Street) one day to get breakfast instead of the Plaza Inn buffet and we got this much food (picture below) for $33. It filled us up until around 1. Then we had to buy two more meals in the park to fill us up before the end of the day. We ended up spending $50 more that day on food than we did on the day we ate at the buffet. This is how much food we got for $33. It was absolutely delicious! What in Disneyland isn’t delicious? If you aren’t a fan of breakfast food then there is the Goofy’s Kitchen buffet or the Storytellers Cafe buffet, these are both delicious options!
- Plan out when and what you are going to eat– making a plan is crucial to not wasting your money in the park! If you know when and where you are eating then you can properly plan your snacks to not let yourself get too famished and grab the next turkey leg you see!
- Get a reservation– at every single sit down restaurant in Disneyland there is an option to get a reservation. DO IT! There is no guarantee that you will get a table if you just show up to eat without one. You can even make it online here or call (714) 781-3463.
- Allow yourself to buy one treat per day- the bakeries in Disneyland are OUT OF THIS WORLD! Everything is made fresh in the park and 100% delicious. I crave their raspberry white chocolate cookies and a churros on a daily basis (no joking here, you guys). So we let ourselves get (at least) one treat per day. We typically get it from the bakery on main street or the Pooh’s corner bakery, that is located right by Splash Mountain. These bakeries have the best, freshest, most delicious selection. We love to get this treat later at night after our fullness has worn off from the Plaza Inn buffet in the morning.
- Bring baby food if you have a baby (or your kids favorite comfort snacks)– sometimes your kids can get tired and cranky while at the Happiest Place on Earth (go figure, huh 🙂 and it could be that having a little piece of their regular routine might help. I brought along some baby food for Evie and it made all the difference if she was having a rough time! We found a bench in the park and took a second to feed her. She loved it!
- Get a locker (optional)– lockers are only $7 or $10 per day, depending on the size and they are located right inside the park! If you aren’t wanting to carry around your water and snacks (or if you want to bring in copious amounts of chilled Diet Coke into the park…. I may or may not be guilty of doing this) this is a great option for you!
What’s In My Bag?
- Gum– it’s so nice to have something to freshen your breath as the day goes on. It can be a long day and things can get smelling…. less than good :).
- Frozen water bottles– like I said above, I have each person carry 3 frozen water bottles and 2 non frozen water bottles per day.
- Snacks- to keep us full and satisfied! Cheez-It’s, Clif bars, Fudge Stripes, any snack you and your family love! I love the small packages to make it easier to split up in the different backpacks. But you can easily buy the big packages and split them up in ziplock baggies!
- Hygiene and beauty items– like I said above, it can be a long day in Disneyland and sometimes it’s so nice to be able to freshen up! I love brining some powder foundation and lipstick. There are always pictures to be taken in Disneyland and it’s nice to not feel like all of your makeup has worn off by 4 pm. I also bring a small perfume to help things smell a little better as the day goes on :).
- Small wallet- I love having a small wallet in Disneyland to carry only my essentials. I can easily pull it out when/if I have to leave my purse un attended.
- Minnie ears- whether it’s for you or your kids, these are a must! If you want to find where to buy these cute ears for $6 read my Where To Buy Disney Apparel and Accessories For Cheap post.
- Diaper and wipes- I only bring 3 diapers and a small package of wipes because Disneyland actually sells diapers for cheap at the Baby Care centers and if I need more (which will be rare) I can get them there.
- Baby food– to keep with my babies routine and provide comfort.
- A Jacket- even though Disneyland is in California, the nights can get chilly. I have always brought a jacket no matter the time of year we went and I have always been glad I did!
- A sturdy bag/backpack– it’s crucial to have a good bag in Disneyland and I absolutely LOVE this one from Kiki Lu that is a backpack as well as a bag! It was a lifesaver in the park.
Fewf! that was a lot of info! What questions do you have? I would love to answer any of them.