Disneyland, Meals on a Budget

Updated on June 14, 2012
M.L. asks from Irvine, CA
15 answers

Headed to Disneyland in Anaheim on a budget. Got a great hotel price and discounted passes but the food budget is concerning me! Need to plan so help me out if you have been lately. Would love any advice on feeding a family of four at Disney for two days. Hotel does not a kitchenette. Kids are 4 and 5. Thanks so much!!

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answers from Minneapolis on

We packed our lunch each day.. made PB&J so that they wouldn't go bad, some fruit, veggies and snacks. We froze our water.. but I wouldn't recommend that b/c it didn't always thaw in time.

Even w/ out a fridge you can buy a loaf of bread, PB and apples/oranges... things that don't need to be refrigerated. OR get a big cooler, get ice from the hotel and just store the stuff in your room in the cooler (lunch meats, etc.). If you change the ice at night, before you leave in the AM, when you get home, etc. it will stay OK.

TOTAL waste of $$ to buy meals at the park... we had to one night b/c we stayed for the fireworks..... it was horrible and it cost us an arm and a leg. We did however buy a 'treat' each day like and ice cream, etc.

TONS of people do it so you won't look/feel out of place.

*** want to add.... bring your own stroller - they charge (in Fl) $20 per day per stroller! Your 5 YO may not ride in one normally, but they get SO tired he/she will want one there - as will you! Also - we brought our lunch in a back pack each day - just throw it over the handles of the stroller**

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I just want to throw in my 2 cents that Blue Bayou is way overpriced. I recommend the Carnation place at the end of mainstream for nice indoor atmosphere.
Bring PB&J, a cooler with all your kid foods, tons of snacks. My kids usually snack and munch while in line, then pick off me and my husbands grown up meals. I think most of the actual meals in Disneyland (for adults) are decently priced and good portion sizes. Kids meals are iffy. I avoid kids meals, buy two grown up meals for my family of 4, and supplement with snacks from home.

It's the popcorn, churros, sodas, waters, ice creams that get ya.
Definitely pack in your own drinks.

ETA: YOUR RIGHT, MommyC, the Carnation place is closed! I meant the Plaza Inn, the one across from there. Thats my fave- someone else mentioned the giant chicken plate. Yes, the Plaza Inn. not the Carnation place :) I always got those two names confused. They look too similar.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I did this for a family of 8 kids and two adults.

We went to the fast food restaurants and bought hamburgers/chicken burgers/burritos, etc. off the 99 cent menus. We kept them in the motel frig overnight and ate them the next day. Bring chips and cans of soda or water with you. Since you are in Irvine, you already know you can buy bottle water for less than 20 cents each. Or simply bring empty bottles with you and fill them at park water fountains.

You can go to any grocery store and get fried chicken cheaply or go to Sam's and bring a rotisserie chicken cut up and placed in baggies.

I hope you have a wonderful time. I went to Disneyland for the first time when I was 7. Good luck to you and yours.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Most hotels have a mini fridge in the room. Bring bread and sandwich makings. Bring granola bars or other snacks. We are a family of five and used to have passes for Disneyland. For dinner we'd go across the street (out of the park) to Denny's since they have a kids menu and the 2,4,6,8 menu (unlimited pancakes for $4!). Bring water bottles to fill up during the day in the park. The coldest water is under Hungry Bear restaurant in Critter Country (before you get to Winnie the Pooh/ across from Splash Mountain). We also ordered pizza from our hotel room. It gives the kids a break from the park and it tastes really good! Plus you stay on budget. Have fun!



answers from Los Angeles on

Despite anything official from the park, we have never had a problem bringing food into the park at all. So hopefully you can pick up some things outside the park and bring in your meals. If you won't have a fridge, some good ideas are peanut butter sandwiches, bananas or apples, pretzels and another snack foods/crackers, etc.

I know a previous poster recommended the Carnation place. As of a month ago, they were closed, so don't bank on that without finding out in advance if they are open or not.

Bringing food in is key.



answers from Los Angeles on

99% of the time we travel we do breakfast in the room that we brought ourselves. Cereal is easiest. My kids are often hungry the moment they wake up so they can eat while getting ready and we don't have to listen to them beg for food. Often we book a hotel that serves breakfast for FREE. Check to make sure yours doesn't. It is surprising how many even just offer pastries, coffee, and juice. It is really easy to pack lunches and snacks and bring them into the park. You can leave the park for dinner if you want. There are lots of more inexpensive places outside of the resort area. Many of the places immediately outside of the park are more expensive than the same in other areas because they are next to Disneyland.

There is a major risk however if you plan on leaving the park if you are going this summer. With the expansion and opening of carsland the parks are expected to be exceptionally busy. Projections are that each park will reach capacity nearly every day this summer. When that happens if you exit the park you are not guaranteed to get back in. It would be a huge risk to leave to find cheaper food and come back to find a huge line and a huge wait time (hours) to get back into the park. Since there are so many activities that are at night it is very fesable that it would happen in the evening/at night. My suggestion here would be to have that plan b to eat in the park. Ask cast members at the main gate if it has happened lately when you go and enter. Make sure it isn't happening when you leave. Even check to see if it is expected that night.


answers from Dothan on

Call the Hotel, they will put you through to someone who will help you out, they now have 'meal plans' that are reasonably priced you can go with your choice of three types (last time I went) varying in price & restaurant. I would also plan to have at least one, 'character' meal with the kidz, you will have memories forever from that, the rep who helps you with your meal plan can also tell you the different 'character' meals that are available & make the reservation for you! Have FUN!



answers from Los Angeles on

You have received some great advice here. Yes to healthy snacks being pre packed. Fruit, trail mix, fruit snacks, pretzels, pirates booty, crackers etc. are great things to bring to the park. Bring water ($3.00 in the park) or better yet stainless or plastic drink containers. The baby care centers in Disneyland and CA Adventure have filtered cold water fountains with a long arc dispenser. It is so easy to fill your bottle to the very top vs. fighting with the angle of a water fountain. Have breakfast before you enter the park. Plan for a treat, a pre-bought bag of candy or lollipops that you bring along can satisfy your kids when confronted with the candy palace. To properly budget meals do your research, Disneyfoodblog.com is a great resource. Look at the Disneyland menus online so you have an idea of what menus fit your tastes. http://allears.net/dlr/din/menu/menus.htm



answers from Eugene on

Are you driving from Irvine? If so, you can bring a cooler, load with milk for breakfast cereal, sandwiches for lunch and then you only need to go out for one meal each day.

There are restaurants just outside the park entrance. and more within walking distance at the Anaheim Garden Walk. It's a long walk for 4-5 yo kids but we ate at California Pizza Kitchen and enjoyed getting away from the crowds and heat of Disneyland for a couple hours.

The kids meals at Blue Bayou used to be reasonable compared to the cost of a hamburger at one of the windows. If it is a hot day, spending a little extra to sit down in an airconditioned space and watch the boats go by is worth the extra $$ for the adult meals.



answers from Los Angeles on

You can bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and juice boxes into the park. They say on their website it is not allowed - but they always search our bags, see the sandwiches and let them in. We also take fruit snacks, goldfish, etc into the park with us. The we supplement our lunches with a treat inside the park. You don't need a kitchenette for this stuff! Have fun!



answers from Chicago on

If the hotel has a small fridge you can get 1/2 gallon of milk in, then cereal for breakfast. Otherwise, breakfast bars, fruit you don't have to cut up so it doesn't need to refrigerated. Croissants.

For a snack at the park - nut based snack mixes - filling and easy to carry in a backpack and graze on all day, granola bars. Anything that won't get smashed and crushed up in the backpack.

We decided to eat lunch at the park because we didn't want to carry a cooler but (in retrospect) I would have been happy getting more snacky stuff and carrying it in a backpack. The food is overpriced and not very good - unless you want to go to a restaurant and we didn't want to spend the time or money on that. I was surprised - I expected good food from Disney.

Keep snacking in the afternoon and plan to eat a late dinner when you leave the park - fast food probably.

UTA - we thought about the caracter meals, but for my family of 4 it would have cost over $100. Not a budget meal, in fact probably the most expensive meal in the place. We figured we'd do that when the kids were older, or never....



answers from Champaign on

When we did Disney, we had breakfast in our hotel room (You could bring a cooler or minifridge and still have cereal. You could do bagles and cream cheese or granola bars.) For lunch we packed a backpack with pb&j, apples, oranges, chips, cookies, water, juice boxes. We actually ate as we got hungry, but I was with my husband's family. There are lots of places to sit down and eat (without buying Disney food). We ate out dinner every night. We ate at the park a couple of times and then somewhere in town the other nights. I'm so glad we ate dinner out. By the time dinner rolled around, I was exhausted.

Just be flexible and creative and try not to get too locked in to what breakfast or lunch "should" be. Just make sure you eat some healthy food and you'll be fine!



answers from Los Angeles on

The ihop across from the maingate does their 'kidsat free' from 4pm - 10pm. You can get gift cards at the grocery store so your not spending a bunch of money all at one time. You can also bring snacks in. Hope this helps! It's going to be busy with the opening of Carsland.



answers from New York on

We've taken a few vacations on a strict budget and the easiest way to cut costs is on food. We only eat out once a day.

It's very easy to eat breakfast in a hotel room. You can bring along a cooler and keep items like fruit, yogurt, cream cheese and milk. Pack some cereal and granola bars. I bought a electric pot that heats water in 2 minutes, so I pack instant oatmeal and some packages of hot chocolate for a special treat.

We've found that if we eat a big lunch late in the afternoon, we can eat a small diner or just have some snacks. Of course you can always keep the makings for sandwiches, or just healthy snacks like cut up veggies, cheese and crackers, yogurt, and fruit.



answers from Reno on

We usually end up buying 2 restaurant meals a day in Disneyland. (We always do danish, fruit etc. at the hotel for breakfast.)

Many meals are large enough to split, even between adults. The Plaza Inn on Main Street in Disneyland has a chicken meal that is 3 pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and a huge roll; members of my family frequently split that.

In California Adventure, there's a small, quiet, out of the way cafe tucked back by the pool at the Grand Californian hotel. The name is White Water Snacks, but they have sandwiches, pizza, chicken - several kinds of full meals. They also offer things like fruit cups or salads separately, so that can be cheaper than a full meal. They're also never crowded.

Award Weiners is overpriced, badly, and is one of the few places we ever got food that we didn't enjoy; I'd avoid it.

My daughter can't go without buying a smoked turkey leg. They're about $8 each and they're huge! We'll split one of those and add carrots etc. to make a full lunch.

We carry and refill our own water bottles, and bring stuff like Disney themed fruit snacks, jerky and goldfish crackers from home for snacks.

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