Disney is known around the world for three things; amazing customer service, cleanliness, and their food! No matter where you are, Disney food around the world is incredible. The company hires the top chefs and trains them to keep this standard as high as possible for each of their parks, resorts, and cruises. There is a quality for Disney food up to which they know they have to live and they usually exceed expectations. But if you’re catering for yourself, or looking to save money on food at Disney, what are the best snacks to bring to Disney?
Eating and Drinking at Disney
Within each Disney location, there are themed restaurants which serve foods from all types of cultures. For example, just within EPCOT, each of their main eleven countries has a restaurant or food stand featuring foods from their region.
Germany has mouthwatering bratwurst and beers. Morocco has zesty falafel and shawarma. France has crispy baguettes and buttery croissants. England has their infamous tea selection with flaky scones.
You could literally “eat and drink your way around the world”. In fact, people have been known to create shirts with checklists to ensure they do not miss a drink cart or a food stand.
The best part about Disney food is that there are very few options that kids do not like. On the rare occasion where a child rejects what they have been served, I have seen an employee offer a new item from the restaurant or food stand (typically at no extra cost) and the second option usually goes over well.
Plus, since we all know that most children don’t sit for long periods of time in restaurants while waiting for their food, Disney has a newer option where one can place their reservation AND their food order for pretty much any restaurant and some of the food stands on property in advance by using the Disney App.
It cuts the wait time for Disney goers and gives them more time in the park to actually enjoy the things for which they paid admission— rides, shows, and the full Disney experience.
With all that said, the price of Disney food can add up. Dining is not inexpensive; after all, you pay for what you get and you are getting top service and quality here. Many people save up for months just to get to Disney and it’s most definitely not an all inclusive resort.
Once at Disney World, many choose to have one or two meals at one of the Disney restaurants during their vacation and then bring snacks and actually pack meals to cut down on their spending. Thankfully, Disney understands (plus, with all the allergies and food restrictions out there, they really try to accommodate everyone).
Bringing Snack Food into Disney
Disney allows their park goers to bring in food and drinks with very few rules. Food and drink wise, coolers or backpacks, with or without wheels, larger than 24″ long x 15″wide x 18″ high (61 cm x 38 cm x 46 cm) are not allowed in any theme park or water park. Loose or dry ice is not permitted in these containers. Re-usable ice packs are. Glass containers are not permitted unless baby food, and straws are not permitted at Animal Kingdom.
Safety always comes first, so expect your bags to be checked thoroughly at security. While I appreciate the effort to keep everyone safe, it always makes me cringe a little watching my perfectly packed food get moved around in this process; knowing that it’s coming and expecting it sometimes makes it a little easier to watch.
You can partake in your food and drink while walking around the general areas of every park and hotel, however, cast members will ask that food and drinks be put away while on rides and sometimes while in line.
There are a few solid reasons for this; I have seen popcorn (and have been one of the people to which it happens) get spilled from buckets to make a mess all over the ground along with ice cream that melts too quickly in the Florida heat dribbling down the front of a small child and into the crevices of strollers.
In order for the custodial crew to not have to go searching in every nook and cranny of the lines and rides to keep their areas clean, this rule makes complete sense.
Going back to “safety first”, Disney doesn’t want people eating on the rides to keep them from choking on their food drink (this includes any food or drink item purchased at the park). Some rides have unexpected drops or jerks on the track; and it would be a tragedy to all of sudden breathe in your food or drink instead of eating or swallowing it.
Now, because we live around the corner from the “Happiest Place on Earth” and we go quite often, we usually bring our own food and water bottles.
Don’t get me wrong, my kids go crazy over the popcorn and we like to indulge in that treat, but we can keep our costs down by packing a snack bag to bring all the other foods with us that we can fit in there.
My kids are fine with walking while eating most snacks, but Disney also allows outside food and drink in their less busy areas. Benches in the shade are hard to find, usually because others have found them first, but you are allowed in general seating areas that aren’t connected to a restaurant.
For example, in Animal Kingdom, there is an ice cream stand with an outdoor and indoor seating area next to and behind it. We have been known to purchase ice cream and enjoy the sweet treat in the shade or indoors in the air conditioning, but we have also just brought our snack bag inside, found a quiet area with a free table, and unpacked our own food.
Best Snacks to Bring to Disney World
On any given day for snacks, we’ll pack baby carrots, grapes, cheese sticks, sliced apples, cut peppers, mandarin oranges, pretty much anything that can be split between multiple people and eaten while in line or while walking.
Many of these items you can find for sale at select locations within each park but I’d rather get them from a nearby grocery store (Publix, Winn Dixie, Walmart— all of these supermarkets are less than a 10 minute drive from Disney World and they also deliver) at a lower price than what can be found at a snack stand inside the park. I have a small cooler bag that I got from one of the local stores and it fits inside my back pack with plenty of room left over for fans, water bottles, wallet, keys, etc.
For days where we know we are going to spend more time in the park, we will pack a slightly bigger cooler and rent a locker at a central location.
We then know that we have to plan our day a little bit more, so that we aren’t going back and forth from the locker to a distant location in the park, but it’s worth the extra effort.
How to Keep Snack Food Cold at Disney
Most of the locker locations have an option for a small size which can fit a decent sized purse and a jacket or sweatshirt, or a larger size which usually fits a medium sized cooler. My kids, like most others, can be picky about their foods.
I tend to pack choices because who knows what each one will want as the day goes on. Cooked pasta in a ziplock bag, accoutrements for sandwiches (including cheese slices, deli meats, cut up tomatoes, onions, pickles, and lettuce), and tuna and egg salad are among the favorites. Throw in a few ice packs and it’ll stay cool in the locker.
A few things I never bother packing are utensils, schmears/ condiments/sauces (like mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise), napkins, and sodas. Each of the restaurants and food stands have most of the items I just listed for free, with the exception of the sodas, but every location has free tap water from which we can fill our water bottles. Plus, soda can be a treat for the days where we need a little extra boost in sugar and energy.
All in all, even though Disney food is truly amazing and they can accommodate almost all allergies and food issues, they make it very easy to bring your own. We all have to eat and it’s nice to be able to keep the cost down by packing your own snacks and meals, however, it’s also nice knowing that Disney’s incredible dining service is there.
Local Mom Insider Info by Kelila
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