Many people don’t realize that its “legal” to bring your own lunch into Disney World. It is! There ARE some regulations though:
~For the Theme Parks
1. No full sized coolers, with our without wheels.
2. Coolers smaller than 24″L x 15″W x 18″H (the size of the large lockers) are allowed.
3. No GLASS or alcohol are permitted in the park.
4. If you’re going to Animal Kingdom you can’t bring in straws. Including the tiny ones on capri sun/apple juice boxes. They have JUST RECENTLY started making paper straws that you can get in the park. You can read about that here.
The cooler can be THIS big folks! However, it would be a pain in the booty to tote around with you. But if you have THIS many people to feed and you have THIS much food then you could rent yourself a locker and put it in there when you come into the park.
ALL of the parks have lockers and locker rentals are only $7.00 for the day (plus a $5.00 key-deposit that gets returned to you if you remember to bring back the key). You only have to pay $7.00 for the day REGARDLESS of whether you park hop. You just return the key and they give you a ticket to take with you for locker rental at the next park.
Locker rental is also good if you have a tendency to buy heavy souvenirs and are not staying on property (IF you are staying on property you can have ALL your souvenirs sent to your room at no cost to you.) * You can also have all your souvenirs sent to the front of the park and pick them up as you leave the park. You do not have to be “on property” in order to have that done.*
However the even the LARGE lockers are not as BIG as the cooler dimensions they allow you to have. So make sure your cooler is going to fit in the locker if its a big one. Lockers are 17″H x 12″W x 22″ Deep. A small locker is only $5.00 for the day and its size is 11″H x 9″W x 16″ Deep, but most soft side coolers wont even fit in there.
Still, having a locker could be a huge advantage for you space wise. You could put a soft-side cooler in there (like those I talk about below) AND a change of clothes for after you get WET on Splash Mt. or Kali River Rapids.
For the Water Parks:
Coolers are permitted, including those with wheels
Neither glass or alcoholic beverages are allowed
No cooler storage is available
Wagons are not permitted
There are also lockers at the Water Parks up for rental.
Now, let’s talk about some of the potential coolers you could bring. I HIGHLY suggest that you take a soft-side cooler instead of a hard b/c a) its easier to stuff in the bottom of a stroller/locker and b) I’ve seen time and time again that bringing a soft-side cooler gets less hassle at the bags check at the gate.
Disney, OF COURSE, has its own cooler backpack. This is a great idea for portability reasons. It’s $24.50 at the http://www.disneystore.com/ as we speak. It’s 13.5 x 5.5 x 8.75 so it could hold a lunch pretty easy. It’s a little more expensive than the others I mention, but it DOES have the Disney Logo on it and its got TWO great shoulder straps.
Linens and Things cooler $17.00. It could hold up to 24 cans so you can imagine it has lots of room. Plenty to pack a lunch for your family. Its dimensions are 12 x 9.5 x 11. And Disney says you can bring a cooler much larger. So you could get away with two of them easy peasy.
We have a Munchkin bottle cooler that I bought at Target for $9.99.
If you have a kitchen or kitchenette that has a fridge, specifically has a freezer, a great tip is to freeze your water bottles overnight and then let them “melt” in your cooler as the day goes on. That way you have really cold water all day.
Your resort will usually have some dry goods in the gift shop that you can pick up there and use. Jelly is a condiment so its FREE and almost everywhere. So if you just buy some bread your kids can have PB&J at will.