Select Page

imageThe Neal Vacation emailed in an interesting question…

“ Hello Disney Diva! Here’s my situation.. I am staying for 7 weeks in a house off property. I’ll have extended family with me and would like to save money by cooking meals at home. I’d only like to spend money on our meals at the disney character dinings. I was wondering if you have any great snack or meal ideas that travel well / are easy to prepare. I was thinking I would keep a cooler in the trunk / or van but with the florida sun I’m wondering if it the inside of the car would get too hot and melt the ice in the cooler. Can you offer any suggestions for us looking to save money / eat healthy by preparing our own snacks and meals at WDW? (I was thinking frozen grapes, chocolate dipped frozen bananas (for at home by the pool & let the kids decorate with nuts/sprinkles), apple slices w/ those packets of peanut butter)

First off, 7 weeks! AWESOME! This means you should never feel rushed and crazy while at the parks because the (Walt Disney) World is your oyster and you can come and go as you please. For your particular situation I would encourage you to choose to either do the morning or the evening at each park based on what Touring Plans Crowd Calendar suggest. (Its totally worth the subscription to know which parks are busiest at which part of the day). This way you’re only really making a plan for ONE meal, either a “snack” for mid-morning and then home for lunch, or “supper” plans. The parks cool off, and thin out, significantly as the day wears on, so I would suggest taking advantage of the evening hours more often. Also, be sure to read all my series of tips for people staying off property

Ok, so down to the heart of your question about food. I wrote an article in 2008 called Brown Bagging it for Lunch at MK that addresses some of these, but I wanted to re-check the “rules for bringing food into the park” to see if they’re the same in 2011. So I checked with and they state on their site:

“Disney used to have a policy “requesting” that guests did not bring outside food and drink into the theme parks, but this was completely unenforced. Now it has changed its policy, and guests are allowed to bring food items, such as snacks or foods that do not require heating, into any Walt Disney World theme park. It is also completely fine to bring in bottled water or soft drinks.

One note of caution: avoid bringing in anything highly perishable, such as cold cuts. It would be easy to end up with food poisoning!

Also, you absolutely will NOT be allowed to bring in the following: hard-sided coolers, large coolers, glass containers, or alcoholic beverages. Also, you cannot bring any type of straws (even the little ones attached to juice boxes) into Animal Kingdom.”

So , you know you can bring food, but you don’t want to haul it around with you. Well, I would suggest renting a locker instead ($5-7.00 per day!) You can see a list here of where the locker rental locations are at each park. Coolers smaller than 24″L x 15″W x 18″H (the size of the large lockers) are allowed as long as they’re not “hard sided”.

imageSomething like the Coleman 72 can Soft Sided COLLAPSIBLE cooler would be perfect.

Its dimensions are 24” x 11.5” x 15”. So it would fit into the lockers with ease and hold whatever you’re looking for a meal and a snack.

The easiest way to save money at WDW is to bring your own water bottle and re-fill it. But I’ll warn you, the water is not very tasty to a Diva like me. I normally bring some crystal-lite packets or some Mio to flavor our water.

Obviously fruit, pre-packaged veggie snacks, Maybe small caramel dippers for your fruit are good ideas. Also consider Smuckers “uncrustables” packaged sandwiches which travel REALLY WELL!

I will warn you that there are some locations, like Pecos Bill, which are PSYCHO about you using their tables without buying their food. You can read about that in my article “Beware the seat police” . So don’t expect to be welcomed to a table, ever. I’ve found that the trains at MK are a GREAT place to eat lunch. nice and cool and you can sit as long as you’d like. Find a ledge and cop a squat.

I hope you have an excellent time!

Do any of you have more suggestions for the Neal Family about good snacks to bring with you into the parks?