Welcome back, friends! The WDW Radio Exchange has a great question today, and our panel had a great time considering the ways to answer this question! Please check out everyone’s thoughts, and then let us know what YOU think!
“Hello Lou and Beci!! For Spring Break my high school’s marching band is going down to Disneyworld to March in the night parade at the Magic Kingdom. I’ve been to Disney 3 times already, but I still have a few questions because this time I will be traveling with friends, and without my parents. We get $10 for food each day we are in the parks. This includes lunch and supper. I will obviously bring extra money for food (and souvenirs too… I guess), but I was wondering of a few places in each park that are pretty cheap (but good) food, and can be quick if we are in a hurry. ~Shane”
Jim, the Chairman: “In any of the parks snacks abound. Mickey ice cream bars, popcorn, churros, turkey legs, even fruit. At your price point you’re pretty much going to be dealing with snacks or some quick service meals. At the Magic Kingdom, I always enjoy the hot dogs at Casey’s Corner. The Main Street Bakery would be a good place to stop in as well. Disney Hollywood Studios offer a few decent spots. Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner would be good, so would Rosie’s All American Cafe or Catalina Eddies. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for kiosks and carts. They would be a bit cheaper and can be quite good. Animal Kingdom may be the slimmest on the pickings. I would definitely suggest kiosks here. Popcorn, chicken nuggets, turkey legs, etc. All sound good and cheaper than the counter service locations. Finally at Epcot you pretty much have your pick of quick service and snacks in each country. Just check the menus first…some might be budget busters. You might do a bit better at some of the kiosks, although you will probably wind up with more of a dessert item at those. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. :)”
Leslie, the Super Mom: “Shane, you’re bringing back some seriously fun memories for me with this question! I was in the afternoon parade with my high school band many years ago, and it was an awesome experience – you’re going to have so much fun! The hard truth, though, is that $10 a day for food isn’t going to get you much - one quick service meal at most, so you will definitely want to bring some extra cash for food (and souvenirs, of course!). But there are some options that can help your food dollars go farther that I’m happy to share. In the Magic Kingdom, your best bet is Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland Terrace. The portions there are generous, especially if you go with the barbecue chicken – it’s enough for two adults so you could split it with a friend and spring for an extra drink and be money ahead for later in the day. In the Animal Kingdom, I like Flame Tree BBQ because the food is good, and there are some great spots to sit, eat and view the park. In Hollywood Studios the ABC Commissary offers the most options in a variety of foods. Finally, in Epcot you’ve got so many options it’s really hard to choose, but my personal favorite is Sunshine Seasons, which is in the same pavilion as the very popular Soarin’ ride. There are multiple options here, and the portions are quite generous, so you could easily share a sandwich with a friend and still be satisfied. My final advice is to pack snacks (like granola bars, crackers – whatever you think will withstand the trip) in your carry-on bag. Disney is great about allowing guests to bring food into their parks (within some guidelines) and that can be an easy way to cut food costs, and to have something in the room either for breakfast or for a late night snack.”
Emma, The International Traveler: “The good thing about all the parks in Walt Disney World is that there are so many places to find great food; for cheap and quick food you’ll be searching out those counter service locations and maybe even the occasional food cart….did somebody mention turkey legs??!
I’ve narrowed my answer down to my favourite quick service food spot in WDW. And this is Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Cafe located in Frontierland, Magic Kingdom. This is a large counter service area for Magic Kingdom and despite being very popular and busy, the size allows guests to move through quickly and there’s always an empty table tucked away in a corner if you look hard enough. I like the mix of American foods available here, covering a choice of burgers, sandwiches, wraps and salads. So if perhaps you start to feel like you have one too many burgers you can choose a slightly healthier option. The main draw for me has to be Pecos Bill’s ‘fixins bar’, no matter what item I choose from the menu I always load up on those toppings!”
MB, The Money Minder: “What a great experience for you Shane! If you’re eating exclusively on site at WDW, you will find that your $10.00 will only cover dinner in the parks. You say your budget includes lunch and supper, but I suggest that you eat a hearty, inexpensive breakfast each day at the All Star Resort (I’m assuming that’s where you are staying). You can purchase a filling hot or cold breakfast for about $5.00 to $6.00 there. Once you enter the parks and you are into the lunch/dinner pricing, you’re looking at a minimum of about $8.00-$10.00 for a counter service meal, but you can make the most of that. At the MK, look into Pecos Bills or Cosmic Ray’s. They have a great fixins’ bar that you can add to your meal. At EPCOT, I like the cafeteria style meals in China. The Electric Umbrella in Future World is also a good option for American counter food and also has that money-stretching fixins’ bar. At Hollywood Studios, stick to the food kiosks on Hollywood Boulevard (by the Tower). Catalina Eddies serves their food with the option of a Caesar Salad or Fries. At Animal Kingdom, you will find that it will be a challenge to eat a hot meal for $10.00. At the Flame Tree BBQ, you can get 1/2 chicken with cornbread and beans for just under your allowance and you will have a great dinner.
Depending on the number of days you will be there, look into purchasing the $14.00 refillable mug. Each drink that you buy at the resort and at the parks will cost about $2.50-$3.00. You will need to add this cost into your meals at the parks, but when you’re at the resort, if you plan on drinking anything with your breakfast, and have a soda when you return, you’re going to spend at least $5-$6 per day. You do the math!
All in all, I would say a reasonable amount to spend daily would be $20.00. Given that, you will also probably want to pack some power bars, granola bars and a few snack-size bags of pretzels to feed your hungry, band-marching, teenage appetite! Good Luck!!!”
JJ, The Teen: “Throughout the 4 Parks, there’s always the option of grabbing some quick snacks, eating at a quick service restaurant, or fine dining at a table service location. There are a few places that come to mind when eating cheaper at the Parks. In Magic Kingdom, we’ll usually stop at Pinocchio’s Village Haus in Fantasyland, grabbing a burger or a hot dog. There’s also Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Cafe in Frontierland (Lou claims this is where the best burgers in the Park are found!) and Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland. These three offer much of the same food, spread around the Park.
In EPCOT, World Showcase has many restaurants, mostly fine dining, so the quick service option isn’t as prominent here. But there is at least one walk-up in almost all the World Showcase countries. One of my favorite walk-ups is definitely Yorkshire County Fish Shop, where there are some delicious fish and chips!
In Hollywood Studios, I’ve eaten at both ABC Commissary and Backlot Express a couple times. And I enjoy them! They serve the usual — burgers, hot dogs, chicken, etc.
In Animal Kingdom, after riding Everest a couple times, I’ll go eat at Amandapur Local Food Cafes. It’s next to the Yak & Yeti restaurant, and the Asian food (sweet-and-sour pork, Kung Pao beef, etc.) is so so good! Go check out Flame Tree Barbecue or Restaurantosaurus for some more great food!”
Darby, The Disneyland Expert: “Disneyland is very good for quick food. Most eateries are counter service. My favorite, hands down, option is Bengal BBQ. You get Chicken Skewers for about $3.50 and a medium sized coke for $5 and you still are under your $10 a day allowance! If not, I would venture to Downtown Disney. You have an ice cream place, a pretzel place, a Jamba Juice…quick places to grab food.”
Brian, the Timekeeper: “Congrats on the opportunity to march in the parade! I would suggest a few places to get the most from your money and time. My family’s favorite is Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe! The food is reasonable… you get plenty of it… and it has (in my opinion), the best fixin’s bar in all of the park. Another couple of quick stops that are both economical and fast are Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe and the Frontierland Turkey Leg cart. I would estimate a seven to ten dollar meal at all of those locations. If you are looking for an even quicker (and less healthy) bite to eat… I suggest the Main Street Confectionery… (I won’t tell your mom). In any case enjoy your trip!”
Nicole, the Savvy Single: “Hi Shane, Marching in the night parade at the Magic Kingdom? That sounds like so much fun! I brought friends to Disney this summer and if you are the designated ‘Disney expert’ among them, you have a tough (but fun) job ahead of you. My FAVORITE inexpensive place to eat in all of the parks is Pecos Bill’s in the Magic Kingdom. They have great burgers! Another bonus, you can eat out on the porch and watch the parade go by… if you’re not marching in it, that is. Also good in the Kingdom is Columbia Harbor House in Liberty Square. Great sandwiches on amazingly delish bread and the soup is tasty, too.
When you’re in EPCOT there are a lot of wonderful dining experiences but eating on a budget can be tough. If you’re at the front of the park, give the Sunshine Season Food Fair a go. Since it consists of many different food stations, there should be plenty of different options to keep people with different tastes happy. If you’re back in the countries (my personal favorite place to spend my time) and you want to try some exotic fair, look for the counter service restaurants in (almost) each country. This way if you have someone who wants to slam down sushi and someone else who wants to munch on Moroccan, you’ve got it all!
My favorite dining on a budget location in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the ABC Commissary. It has some traditional fare and some fun twists on old classics. Now, I know this isn’t what you asked, but if you’re friends want to spend a bit more one day to have a fun dining experience, this is the park in which it should happen. They have the 50’s Prime Time Café where you will be transported back in time and eat in your own persona; 1950’s era kitchen complete with someone to tell you to keep your elbows off the table. Also available is the Sci-Fi dine in theater where you will eat in a replica of a convertible car and watch a sci-fi flick.
Admittedly, I do not spend enough time in Animal Kingdom to have tried everything they have to offer but I find the barbeque at Flaming Tree Barbeque to be pretty tasty. Wherever you end up eating, enjoy having fun with your friends and making all kinds of magical memories! Good luck with your performance!”
So, what do YOU think? If YOU had $10 a day to dine in Disney, how would you spend it? Tell us in the comments section below!!