Since I don’t recommend bringing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into the parks for meals, you’ll probably have to splurge a bit by eating at the restaurants. I do enjoy eating in the parks even though the food is overpriced. I think it just helps you feel like you’re enjoying yourself more on your vacation.
What are some of the more frugal options when dining in the parks? I look at the overall value of the meals, not just the individual prices on each one.
For example, one of my favorite meals is the half rotisserie chicken at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in the Magic Kingdom. While the price is on the higher side at $10.99, you get a large amount of food for that price, which makes it a great value – half a chicken, mashed potatoes and a vegetable. If you’re a big eater, you’ll be very full after eating this. If you’re not, it’s large enough to be split between two people or an adult and child. It’s also on the healthy side, so you won’t feel too guilty after finishing it!
Here are my favorite frugal dining options in each park
I always stop at the Main Street Bakery for breakfast, which is now a Starbucks. You can get a variety of breakfast pastries for $2 – $4 or breakfast sandwiches for $5. Of course, you’ll also have to get a Starbucks coffee or other drink to wash it all down, which will set you back another $2 or so.
Like I mentioned above, my best recommendation for a good value lunch is Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland. Not only do you get a large variety of options to choose from, but I’ve also found that the portion sizes are some of the largest in the park. Many of the entrees can easily be split or will fill you up for a while if you’re a big eater.
Another great place to eat is the Columbia Harbor House in Liberty Square. The Columbia Harbor House is a quick-service dining option that has a heavy focus on seafood meals. You can find meals such as salads, fried fish, lobster rolls and other various seafood sandwiches. If you are dining here, be sure to check out the second floor because it’s always much less crowded.
World Showcase at Epcot presents a large variety of dining options with many meals at very good values. One of my favorite budget dining options is the Boulangerie Patisserie in France for both breakfast and lunch. If you’re arriving at the main gates, it’s a bit of a hike to go just for breakfast. So I would only recommend it if you’re coming in through the International Gateway entrance, which is in the back of the park.
Not only are all of the food options amazingly delicious, but they also are on the cheaper side.You can get things like quiche, croissant sandwiches and, of course, the famous pastries – all for under $5! A long line usually forms around mealtimes, but I have found that it moves quickly. So don’t be deterred if you see the line. It’s there for a reason.
Both Japan and China’s quick-service restaurants offer an interesting variety of options, as well as good values. China’s Lotus Blossom Cafe quick-service restaurant has many items such as potstickers and egg rolls for $5.25 and under. Most of the entrees are a great value for the size and come in under $10.
In Japan, the Katsura Grill features many Japanese dishes such as sushi, noodle bowls and teriyaki. My favorites are the noodle bowls, such as Udon, or the sushi, which all can be had for under $10.
Best Option for Sit-Down Restaurants at Epcot
With so many tempting culinary options available in World Showcase at Epcot, you almost have to have a dinner or lunch at one of them. The restaurants in World Showcase are by no means cheap. Unfortunately, they are actually some of the most expensive.
Frugal Tip: The Rose & Crown charges over $20 for the fish and chips. Go right around the corner to the Yorkshire County Fish Shop and get it for only $10.50.
If you do choose to splurge on a restaurant, I have a few recommendations for the best value restaurants in World Showcase.
Rose and Crown Dining Room – This is the only restaurant in World Showcase where most entrees are under $20 and most appetizers are in the $10 range. It’s also worth pointing out that they have a great beer selection. If you are going to head here for dinner, I would recommend having a late dinner and sticking around to watch Illuminations from the restaurant. You’ll have one of the best front row views of the show right after you’re done with your dinner.
Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria – This new Italian pizza restaurant in the Italy pavilion can be a great value if you order the right way. The best value meals here are the larger pizzas, which are made to be split by a few people. The smaller, individual pizzas are more than $20 a piece and simply aren’t worth the price. When you order a pizza and split it between three people, it comes to $31. This is just over $10/person – much more reasonable. The largest pizzas go for $41 and can be split between four or five people, which is an even better value.
Hollywood Studios has a few restaurant options when it comes to good and fairly inexpensive menu choices. My go-to spot is the ABC Commissary restaurant, which is a quick-service restaurant featuring a large variety of food options from salads to burgers to steak. Most entrees are in the $10-$12 range with a few salads coming in under $8.
The second place to check out for good dining options is the Sunshine Ranch Market on Sunset Blvd. The market is a collection of a few different quick-service restaurants that offer food such as turkey legs, salads, pizzas and sandwiches.
If you’re looking for some breakfast options, your best bet will be the Starring Rolls Cafe on Sunset Blvd. The cafe features a variety of breakfast pastries and coffee, with all of the pastries costing between $2 and $4.
My favorite value option at Animal Kingdom is the Flame Tree BBQ. At first glance, the prices do seem high for a quick-service restaurant, but the portions are huge so you’ll be getting a lot for your money. I generally don’t recommend sharing meals, but this is one place that you could order one entree, and maybe an extra side or dessert, and easily feed two hungry adults.
As I mentioned earlier in this chapter, the Yak & Yeti restaurant is in Animal Kingdom and is a great option if you are taking advantage of the Landrys gift card strategy. The quick-service Yak & Yeti also is a fairly good value because of the large portion sizes – most entrees are right around $10.
Many great food options are in each park for those looking to get the most for their money. I always want to get the most food for my money, while trying out many of the various food options that the parks have. Food is a huge part of all of my vacations, I always look forward to enjoying meals which is why I won’t be bringing my own food into the parks. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to food so make sure you take the time to enjoy what you like!