There is no doubt that visiting Walt Disney World Resort is expensive, and food plays a major role in the expense of your trip. Because the food is expensive you definitely want to make sure you find all the information you need before your visit so that you are well informed.
Best Value Meals at Walt Disney World
Top Best Value Breakfast at Walt Disney World
Breakfast at Walt Disney World comes easiest at your home resort. You might make a daily journey to the nearest quick service counter. Alternatively, you may prefer to get use out of the kitchen in your vacation home villa. Either is generally the best way to guarantee you have access to the most important meal of the day. Otherwise, you could get stuck paying upfront for all-you-can-eat breakfast buffets. Even worse, waiting until lunchtime for a restaurant to open.
The Walt Disney World theme parks are not known for their many breakfast options. However, there are some good places to snag a good value on breakfast at Disney World parks. No, I’m not talking about Starbucks, aka Main Street Bakery, Red Trolly, Creature Comforts, or Connections.
How to Breakfast at Walt Disney World Cheap
The trick to getting the most out of your day at any Disney Park is to arrive early. This is the primary way you can make the best use of your time. You can enjoy a couple of hours in the park before it starts to get crowded. During peak hours, you are more inhibited. You often won’t get another good opportunity to optimize your time until after nightfall.
Now, getting into the parks early isn’t as easy as it used to be. The parks sometimes open later than you’d expect. Park hours change frequently and without warning. Right now you can count on an 8:30 or 9:00 am opening. However, recent postings have had parks open as late as 11:00. Even so, that isn’t traditionally the case and you are more likely than not to spend time wandering the parks looking for breakfast at Walt Disney World only to find that most of the restaurants will not even open until lunchtime.
Since time is a factor, we want to get there early and finish quickly so that we can do more with our mornings in the parks. Quick-service restaurants have the added benefit of being less expensive options for breakfast at Walt Disney World. You just have to know where to look to uncover these hidden gems.
Breakfast at Magic Kingdom
At Magic Kingdom you want to go West early in your day. That’s because the west side of Magic Kingdom is the most developed section of the park. Although Space Mountain has one of the park’s longest waits, you can save time by accessing multiple E-Tickets around Frontierland, Adventureland and even Liberty Square/Fantasyland while the day is still young. To start you on your journey, you should make a brief Stop at Sleepy Hollow to the left of Cinderella Castle. You can grab some waffles with fresh fruit before rushing off to Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain and the Haunted Mansion.
Breakfast at EPCOT
In EPCOT, if you don’t want to pick up breakfast at a fruit or coffee cart, you have two options in the World Showcase. France has the moderately priced Creperie with some low-cost dessert options on the breakfast menu. These are fruity and sweet crepes as opposed to the more savory buckwheat crepes which are almost double the price.
This is a casual dining experience, which means it’s easy to share orders and spread out portions to make the option more budget-friendly. Alternatively, you can go to the other side of the lagoon to enjoy a breakfast pastry in Norway. While it’s officially labeled a snack menu, Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe is an excellent breakfast stop. It’s a good idea not to fill up too much on breakfast at EPCOT since the tapas are such a staple at this park.
Breakfast at Disney Hollywood Studios
At Disney Hollywood Studios, no one could blame you for resorting to Joffrey’s or Starbucks for a quick breakfast bite. Even if you gave yourself permission to call a funnel cake breakfast during vacation time, Epic Eats doesn’t open until 11:00. Oga’s Cantina says it’s open for breakfast, but they still offer mostly cocktails and the saddest charcuterie board $17 can buy.
For the best breakfast in the park, you have to go all the way back to Toy Story Land. This isn’t so bad though. It’s inexpensive and well-themed. It’s also a really good place to start your day if you follow up with Galaxy’s Edge and plan on ending your night around Sunset Boulevard. That’s kind of what you’re supposed to do anyway, as the name implies.
Breakfast at Disney Animal Kingdom
Finally, Animal Kingdom is another place where it’s really tempting to just grab your usual at Creature Comforts (Starbucks). The popular first resort for breakfast at Walt Disney World is on Discovery Island, which is in the center of the park. If you can resist that temptation, and the colossal Mickey-shaped cinnamon roll, there is a budget-friendly selection of breakfast entrees served at the Yak and Yeti quick service location north of Discovery Island on the western edge of Asia. Just make a left at Drinkwalla after you cross the bridge. For even cheaper breakfast snacks, you may enjoy the more limited selection at Isle of Java, which is much closer to the main gate.
Top Best Value Lunch at Disney World
No matter who you are or why you go to Walt Disney World, a good value for lunch is always of interest. We all have our splurges and our must-dos while we’re away, but with the typical length of a Disney stay at about one week there is plenty of need to dial back occasionally on price while still enjoying good food.
Getting a decent budget friendly meal in the Disney parks without bringing your own food to supplement your appetite isn’t as easy as it used to be. However, there are places you can find for lunch in each of the parks that do provide genuinely good deals. For each theme park, I have found the best value lunch at Walt Disney World. These options will help you spread your dining budget, especially if you plan on booking character breakfasts and signature dinners.
Lunch at Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom is not as well known for its food as it is for other things like entertainment and family-friendly attractions. If you do notice anything about the dining at Magic Kingdom, it’s likely to be the multitude of snack kiosks that riddle the park. Friar’s Nook, Auntie Gravity’s, and Golden Oak Outpost are just a few of the best-known. Not to mention Aloha Isle and Sunshine Tree Terrace. Snack carts, huts and shacks are everywhere, yet there are still several table service experiences too. Cinderella’s Royal Table is among the pricier options.
For all the dining opportunities at Magic Kingdom, it’s a little bit daunting to try saving money on a decent lunch. There are a few prominent quick service locations scattered around the park: Casey’s Corner; Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe; Columbia Harbor House; and Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.
Each of these places has merit, but for the best pricing and variety of options, Pecos Bill is the number one pick. The place features popular Tex-Max cuisine and has a lot of seating areas to boot.
Lunch at EPCOT
EPCOT is widely believed to be the best park at Walt Disney World for eating. However, it isn’t known to be the cheapest. The most popular dining feature at EPCOT is the regular festivals. The tapas offered at food stations scattered throughout the park are not as cheap as the portions imply. You can easily spend around $100 per person just on these snack venues throughout the day. If you prefer a more traditional meal, the global environment of the World Showcase lets you travel the world in record time, enjoying food from your pick of country. Of the 11 countries represented in permanent pavilions eight have at least one quick service option.
Picking the best one can be tricky because ethnic foods appeal to different tastes and some such as Chinese and Italian are so common everywhere else that personal bias often tilts the scale. All that said, Regal Eagle, the new American restaurant has been a real crowd pleaser. However, if you don’t mind a limited menu Sommerfest Bratwurst, or Yorkshire County Fish Shop Fish and Chips are among the best values for lunch at Disney World.
Lunch at Disney Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios is not an easy place to find good cheap food. It’s one of those places where it makes sense to splurge on a more expensive meal. To begin with, it’s a smaller park. There are some of the most exciting attractions, but they don’t add up to a lot compared with other larger parks.
The smaller space and less to do make it ideal for spending a little bit of extra time during meals. Add that to the elaborately themed dining experiences and the fancy eating at the Hollywood Brown Derby and you have a recipe for spending more than you would on an average lunch at Walt Disney World. There are some quick service locations, but in contrast, they just aren’t nearly as exciting or well-themed as their table service rivals.
If you want the cheapest food, you can do pretty well at Dockside Diner. However, the selection is small. The best bang for your buck is the ABC Commissary which has a more interesting variety and better theming than the other quick service establishments at the same price, or even less. The Commissary has the added benefit of a location in the middle of the park. That makes it a perfect mid-way stopping point for a delicious bite.
Lunch at Disney Animal Kingdom
Lunch at Disney World parks is not always cheap, but Animal Kingdom may have the most easily accessible quick service options throughout the park. Part of this has to do with the enormous hub in the form of Discovery Island. Also, the amount of walking the massive park requires and the number of walk-through exhibits, sort of demands fast and easy meal solutions. For this reason, you will find many carts and kiosks planted around the theme park’s many trails.
There is a good mix of exotic global cuisine and more familiar flavors. But you can go too far toward the mundane and mediocre if you aren’t careful. The best value for lunch at Animal Kingdom has long been Flame Tree Barbecue and this continues to be the case. However, you can get a cheaper meal at the more elaborately themed Restaurantosaurus. Restaurantosaurus also has one of the better menus right now for appealing to a wider audience.
Top Best Value Dinner at Disney World
Of all the meals, it’s dinner at Walt Disney World that the resort hotels seem to corner the market on. They have the best signature restaurants and they are conveniently close to your room. If not at your own resort, other hotel restaurants are a big part of the resort hopping experience. Often these excursions are part of Walt Disney World’s impressive nightlife.
Disney Springs is another example of a large draw for dinner guests. The Disney Boardwalk is a similar magnate, especially for guests with access to the Disney Skyliner, while also being a part of a distinct Disney hotel. Even some park guests leave the park for dinner reservations elsewhere and then either return to close the park or retire to their respective rooms, suites, villas, cabins, or bungalows.
The Most Important Meal? Probably.
Dinner at Walt Disney World is arguably the most important meal of the day. You may grab a muffin to get you through breakfast, or have a quick hot dog to pass for a lunch. Dinner is an affair. Signature restaurants thrive at dinner time and some restaurants up their game after lunch time to bring more flair and finery to the experience. While this isn’t necessarily what park guests desire in a meal, the option for such refinery still exists in the form of signature restaurants Tiffins, Hollywood Brown Derby, and Be Our Guest where the immersive character experience and former casual dining restaurant has now become a sophisticated French Bistro.
With this image of dinner at Walt Disney World in mind, it’s hard to imagine a good value anywhere in the parks. After all, dinner menus are notorious for being more expensive than their lunchtime counterparts. However, If you are staying late into the night and looking for a good in-park meal at dinner time, there are still excellent values relative to the cost of the more expensive fare. Here are the best values in the four theme parks for dinner at Disney World.
Dinner at Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom is an enchanting park and you can approach it however you like. However, there are strategies I prefer such as leaving Tomorrowland until night. First of all, there is more to do on the west side of the park, so it makes sense to exhaust that option through most of your day. Secondly, Tomorrowland shines at night. Literally, it radiates light. It has so much more character in the evening which makes it more fun to explore.
If you’re going to set up camp in Tomorrowland after dark, the best value for dinner is Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. It’s a quick service restaurant with a lot of seating available. It provides a good location for spacing out your evening and lingering in this one land which has a lot to do but is significantly smaller than the other lands in the park.
Dinner at EPCOT
EPCOT has a counter service option or two for virtually every World Showcase pavilion. There are plenty of restaurants in EPCOT that are good choices for either lunch or dinner at Walt Disney World. However, some better serve one mealtime or the other. For example, the nighttime atmosphere at San Angel Inn is lost when you go at dinnertime when it’s actually dark out. Likewise, I love the outdoor scenery at Katsura Grill, a quiet garden at the top of the Japan Pavilion. The extensive menu of Japanese food and the quick service prices make this one of my favorite values at EPCOT when you factor in the unique nighttime ambiance.
Dinner at Disney Hollywood Studios
This is one place where I maintain that a signature restaurant offers superior value. The Hollywood Brown Derby is in-park fine dining at its best. The kicker is that the pricing is on par with the other table service restaurants in the park. Although it offers more bang for your buck in my opinion, there are cheaper options and some of them are very worthwhile for dinner.
My favorite choice is the otherwise unpopular Catalina Eddie’s. The choice here is primarily due to location and cost. By dinner time, you should be in the Sunset area if you have your park strategy right. That leaves a few options in the Farmers’ Market area. Alternatively, you can enjoy the locations steeped in theming back at Galaxy’s Edge or Toy Story Land. Both Ronto Roasters and Woody’s Lunch Box have lovely night time scenery.
Dinner at Disney Animal Kingdom
At Animal Kingdom, if you want to enjoy a signature restaurant for less, you should drop in on the Nomad Lounge, which is part of Tiffins. This is an excellent choice for dinner if you don’t mind making your selection off the lounge menu. Satu’li Canteen is an obvious choice for a quick service dinner because of its Pandora location which provides quite a spectacle at night. However, the best value, in my opinion, remains Restaurantosaurus on the other end of the park in the heavily underrated Dinoland USA.
Don’t Buy Into the Hype
Food at Walt Disney World is expensive. I personally don’t mind paying for food that is good and that my family enjoys. I don’t think it’s a good idea to listen to tons of other people in Facebook groups or on Disney forums about what you and your family will like. After all, everyone has different tastes. What I like to eat – you may not. What I think is good – you may hate.
The best advice I give when it comes to where you should eat at Walt Disney World is go on-line and look at the menus and pricing for each location before deciding where you will eat.
Many quick service locations offer full meals that are much more food and better food than some of the table service locations. These locations will also take half the time.
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