It’s alright to admit it. The thing most dads fear when planning a Disney trip are the outrageous expenses involved. Especially when it comes to food.
Eating inside or outside any of the major parks and surrounding areas can be an intimidating ask for even the most respectable bank account. Sure, you’re on vacation so you expect to indulge a little, but is a $100-per-day meal budget too much to hope for?
Believe it or not, it’s possible.
The question of whether you have to choose between sustenance for a family of four and future college tuition finally has an answer.
Here’s how you can dine affordably at Disney Springs.
Dining on a Budget at Disney Springs is Boring
Disney Springs isn’t short on restaurant options. You can choose to take in live music, bowling, or even watch cars float by your table as your family chows down. Of course, the budget-conscious understand there are costs involved for these sort of extracurriculars.
That’s why the first trick to dining on a budget in Disney Springs is to find a venue that is – for lack of a better word – boring.
However, “boring” usually means quicker service as well. This was especially important to my family during our most recent trip. We needed a fast and cheap breakfast before an ambitious day filled with as many rides and parks as we could hit.
When it comes to breakfast, Disney Springs doesn’t offer a myriad of choices. We were worried we’d be stuck with a few muffins from Starbucks. However, we rounded a corner and found our budget-friendly savior:
Earl of Sandwich
Breakfast on a Budget in Disney Springs
Anyone that has taken a long trip on Florida’s turnpike is familiar with the Earl of Sandwich name. This fast-casual restaurant offers hot and cold sandwiches for breakfast and lunch, along with fresh fruit, oatmeal, and of course – coffee.
We ordered some oatmeal for our 4-year-old, a bacon, egg, and cheese hot breakfast sandwich for our 7-year-old, a ham and cheese for dad, and blueberry muffin for mom. Oh, and two sizable coffees.
Our grand total for an early morning party of four was $22.21.
Budget status: securely intact.
Eating on a Budget Requires Some Creative Timing
Fully intending to hop amkng all four of the major parks, we knew we’d need to be a little flexible with our meal times. As we ran and drove around from the mountains Space, Splash, and Thunder to the Tower of Terror, Expedition Everest, and Dinosaur, we only had time to fit in a couple of hot dogs and bags of popcorn.
The idea was to keep us all going just long enough to run through everything we could.
At the conclusion of our mission however, we were all ready for an actual meal before we hit the road for the long drive home. We knew we didn’t want to fight the crowds or bills associated with in-park sit-down restaurants. It was time to head back to Disney Springs.
Dinner on a Budget in Disney Springs
Finding a dinner option was a bit of a tougher ask than breakfast. Disney Springs is loaded with exciting places featuring live bands, outdoor bars, and ornate exteriors that pull children to them like magnets (I’m looking at you, Rainforest Café and T-REX).
We were worried our budget would be blown if we couldn’t resist the allure of eating next to some giant animatronic animal. Fortunately, we happened across the eclectic patterns and colors of Wolfgang Puck’s Grand Café. After a quick look at the Express menu, we knew we’d found our spot.
Despite being on a budget, we wanted the full experience. Sitting near the rear of the restaurant, we were granted spectacular views of the small lake that Disney Springs surrounds. From here, we had a front seat view of the amphibious cars as they splashed down into the water, and puttered around the waves.
We ordered one child’s pepperoni pizza, the crab cake appetizer (a decent serving size), and a Dancing sushi roll. The food was delicious, and just the right amount to recharge our batteries before the 3+ hour drive home.
The total? $45.80.
The Real Secret to Dining on a Budget at Disney Springs
We’d done it. We successfully fed ourselves two legitimate meals for under $70.00. We didn’t even need to resort to food of questionable ingredients or nutritional value!
Now, you might be thinking that sounds a little light for a family of four. At this point, I’ll come clean. My final, and most important tip for eating on a budget in Disney Springs is this:
Make sure you run your preschooler around the parks until he is utterly exhausted. He’ll fall into a deep sleep before you reach your dinner destination.
One less mouth to feed makes every budget happy.