When I lived in St. Louis, the few times I did go to Six Flags we often ate a huge breakfast and packed a lunch so we could have a parking lot picnic midday in order to save money. Sure it took a little more time out of our day than it would have to eat in the park but I was all for saving money and I didn’t feel like we were missing out on anything by not eating in one of their restaurants.
Many people use this same strategy when they visit Walt Disney World. I do understand when you have a family a WDW vacation can get expensive so I will not knock this practice. If eating peanut-butter and jelly every day for every meal for a week allowed room in my budget for another pilgrimage to the World then all I have to say is…”It’s peanut-butter jelly time!”
There is good news for the theme park picnickers! You do not have to make the journey all the way back to your car or resort to have your picnic at Walt Disney World! Unlike Six Flags, Walt Disney World allows guests to bring outside food into the parks. The downside of course is you have to lug your lunch around or store it in a locker but it may be well worth it to those trying to save money and time! Of course I am all for experiencing the restaurants WDW has to offer but picnicking in the parks can create a very unique experience and memory for a family as there are many locations that are perfect for the in-park-picnic.
There is a vast array of locations that would make for a great picnic area whether you are interested in people watching or want to get away to little more secluded, quiet location. Probably one of the best locations for a picnic can be found on Tom Sawyers Island. Read more about this ideal picnic location in my previous post: Tom Sawyer’s Island. From what I hear about the new Fantasyland expansion, there may be some potential for great new picnic opportunities in the Fantasyland Forest. There are many other great locations in the Magic Kingdom as well as the other parks. I could go on and on and perhaps after a little more scouting on my upcoming trips I may dedicate an entire article to picnic spots but for now let us continue. I would love to hear from you if you have other suggestions for picnic locations.
Of course there are a few restrictions as to what can be brought into the park. You cannot bring food requiring heating, large or hard-sided coolers, glass bottles, alcohol, and no straws of any kind in the Animal Kingdom. Everything else is pretty much fair game so pack away!
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to save money. I like to think of myself as pretty thrifty. I don’t always need the newest, best, or name brand items. I do hours upon hours of research before making any sort of large purchase. I do relate to those who penny-pinch. However (you knew it was coming), you know that I also LOVE my Walt Disney World so I will very briefly make a suggestion. Even if you think you cannot afford to eat in the parks and are going bring your own food, plan to eat in the parks at least once during your trip. If you can manage, plan to do just one table-service restaurant and if you can’t swing that go for one of the counter-service restaurants or even grab a few snacks. Food at Walt Disney World is part of the experience. You can find some of the best quality food you could ever experience on Disney property. The food quality along with the theme and ambiance of the restaurants will no doubt provide you with the most unique dining experiences whether it is a table-service or counter-service so make it a point to experience this side of Walt Disney World.
I think many would be surprised at how cheap you can eat in the parks. There are numerous resources out there where you can check out menus, prices and portions sizes for each restaurant. I plan to eventually provide you with reviews for many restaurants within WDW to help you decide where you might want to dine as well as more tips on how to save money and still experience the magic. A little research can go a long way to help you experience more of what Walt Disney World has to offer!
Here are a few links to check out menus: