There’s no question that food plays a major role in a Walt Disney World vacation. There are food options ranging from quick service dining, table service, dining with characters to snacks and treats. Guests can even schedule some of these 120 days in advance of their vacation. Food has also become a big part of special events and festivals including the Food & Wine Festival, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties, The Flower & Garden Festival and The Holidays celebration, to name a few.
But like anything with a Disney vacation, food comes with a price tag and most of the time it isn’t cheap. The average family of 2 adults and 2 kids will spend $40 at lunch or dinner eating quick service meals and $70 at a table service meal. Throw in snacks at $5 each and a family can easily spend over $100 per day on food alone. Multiply this by the average 4 days of visiting and you’re looking at $400.
There are several reasons why guests choose to eat at Disney’s dining locations. First, convenience. They’re right there, they can smell the food cooking and they don’t have to bring a bag full of food into the parks to carry around all day. Second is experience. Many guests just want the opportunity to try new dishes and new places. Disney can definitely offer this to them with over 100 quick service locations and over 50 table service restaurants throughout the resort. Last, guests just want to worry about a few things and not a lot of things while on vacation. It’s easy to scratch food off this list when you commit to eating in the parks.
So what about the guests that are willing to take on the task of food themselves? What are their options? Is it something that will make or break their vacation? These are all valid questions and in this guide we’ll touch on all of them and more. We’ve spent the last 10+ years perfecting the art of food at Disney World and have a lot to say about it. Of course we won’t bore you with everything but we’ll get right to the chase with our topics. Our goal is to help you decide if bringing your own food to Disney World is worth it or not and how you can do this as cheaply as possible through Grocery Delivery.
ORDERING GROCERIES AT DISNEY WORLD
We’re going to be talking a lot about food in this guide and when we refer to bringing your own, we talking about you having ordered your food via grocery delivery. This has become a very popular thing to do over the past 5 years and continues to grow as experienced guests choose to save money over convenience. One of the reasons for this is the cost of a Disney vacation having grown and, anyway to save a dime has become a big deal. And we’re right there with you.
What used to be a huge pain to do has turned into something very simple when looking at how you can receive your groceries. Before the convenience of delivery apps and subscriptions, guests would have to drive to the local grocery store, shop and then haul them back to their hotel room. This took time and money, especially if you didn’t have a car during your stay. Guests would literally rent a car just for this reason and then return it when they were done. Over time this advanced into guests taking Uber’s and LYFT’S from their resort hotels to the grocery store and then back just to shop.
Now a days it’s all about delivery without having to leave your hotel or even really be there for that matter when the groceries are delivered. Everything is taken care of for you once you click the “purchase” button on your phone. Someone will shop for you, deliver your groceries and even store them for you until you’re ready to pick them up.
With the grocery service growing, several new options of how to get them have popped up over the years and we think that all of them should be considered if this is something you want to do. We discuss these more in detail below but before we get into those we’re going to cover a couple of things that we think you should consider before deciding to participate in grocery delivery or not.
If you’ve never visited the Disney World Resort, never eaten at a restaurant in the parks or even tasted a snack, we highly recommend you budget to eat in the parks. There is magic in Disney food and we can suggest a lot of great places to try including Best Table Service Locations, Top Ice Cream Shops and the Best Quick Service locations. These should give you a good start on dining at the resort. If you’re looking for greater detail about general dining at Disney World and how it works be sure to see our Disney World Dining Guide.
The reason we suggest you eat in the parks for your first visit is convenience which we touched on above. First time visitors already have a lot on their plate and adding grocery shopping and making your own meals just makes things crazy. You should be focusing on where you’re staying, saving on park tickets and making Fastpass+ reservations. While at the parks you should be focusing on attractions, shows, shopping and photos.
For the experienced park goer who has these things down and is ready to take on a new challenge, bringing in your own food by grocery is going to be fun. Prepare yourself for some additional planning including where to get your food, putting it all together and packing it around the parks with you. We don’t discourage this, in fact, we always bring in our own snacks, which, brings up a good point. You can make this as challenging or not as you want. For us personally, we put together our own breakfast and snacks for the day. The rest of our meals we eat in the parks and budget for that.
CONSIDER YOUR HOTEL ROOM
Before you jump right in to ordering groceries for your vacation you should consider the type of room you’re staying in and if it can accommodate everything you want to get. Mosts guests stay in a general hotel room that includes 1 to 2 beds, some counter space, a closest and a bathroom. Most have mini fridges for drinks and some food items. While these rooms aren’t especially great for full grocery service, it can be done with a little planning.
Most guests who participate in grocery delivery at Walt Disney World are tend to stay in villas that have full kitchens with stove, oven, full fridge, sink, dining room and glassware including bowls, cups and plates. They also usually have a dishwasher for easy cleaning. This is the ideal room for guests looking to get full grocery service to their hotel. It offers a home like experience and plenty of room to hold everything.
Villas like these can be found at most property hotels including the following:
- Disney’s Boardwalk Villas
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House and Kidani Village
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Boulder Ridge and Copper Creek Villas
- Disney’s Bay Lake Tower
- Disney’s Polynesian Village & Bungalows
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Villas
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs
- Disney’s Old Key West
For guests wanting to stay on property there are clearly a lot of options for rooms with full kitchens. If you’re looking to stay in one of these and are interested in saving a bit of money on one of them be sure to checkout our guide to booking a Disney villas for less.
Overall though you’re going to want to think through what can or cannot fit in my room, particularly with the fridge and keeping things cold. If all you have is a mini fridge you probably don’t want to buy gallons of milk but maybe just half gallons. You also probably don’t want to buy an entire rotisserie chicken but consider getting deli meats instead.
GROCERY DELIVERY SERVICES AT DISNEY WORLD
There are 4 main options for grocery delivery services at Disney World and all of them can provide most everything you may need. Some are better than others because they go beyond perishable food items like sunscreen, jackets, hats, glasses, forks, plates, spoons and bowls.
1. GARDEN GROCER
The first grocery delivery option in Orlando was Garden Grocer and they are still doing what they do best: deliver your groceries. While we feel there are better options out there, most people who use them do so because they have for a long time. We have to admit that their service is great and they have some pretty good options when it comes to variety. However, this is also their downfall as new services have become available who offer even more than they do. We don’t want to call them old-fashioned but their service really is the most basic. That being said, we’ve used them in the past and had no issues.
They offer delivery windows but fill-up like everyone else so ordering your groceries 15 days or so in advance is best. The biggest downside to them is that they don’t offer free delivery unless you order over $200 worth of groceries. Honestly, that’s a lot of groceries just to get free delivery. So most guests should plan on paying the $14 delivery fee. Another thing to consider about Garden Grocer are their delivery time widows. They are 4 hour gaps unlike many of the other services that are 1-2 hours. It’s hard to plan when to receive them when they could come anytime within 4 hours.
2. AMAZON PRIME NOW
When we moved on from Garden Grocer’s, this is where we came. Amazon Prime Now offers a lot of options from themselves (Amazon) and their Wholefood Store. You can order from both, set up a delivery window and even get express delivery same-day for a fee. Amazon offers everything from groceries to household products and park essentials at relatively good prices. Their biggest upside is that most people already use them so getting started is so much simpler.
There are some limitations when it comes to food variety but not much. You can get free delivery by ordering over $40 worth of stuff which isn’t bad. Most guests will hit this threshold within 5-6 items in their cart. We were using Prime Now up until 2020 and loved it. One of the things we liked the most is if something was missing or smashed, Amazon would immediately credit you for it or offer to replace it with free delivery. Plus their customer service is always available and delivery windows can go as late at 10pm.
This is the new generation for delivery service for groceries at Disney World. You can shop the largest supermarket store at their regular store pricing and get free delivery to your resort hotel. This is the service we use nowadays and love it. The pricing is always cheap, they have tons of options to choose from for any given product and they offer free delivery over $35 with tons of windows to choose from.
The great thing about Walmart+ is that they have several stores to choose from in Orlando which is a win if you’re looking for a particular item. For example, let’s say you’re looking for lactose free milk, specifically the Lactaid brand. If one store doesn’t have the 2%, they can look at another Walmart nearby until they find one that does. This essentially makes getting what you want all but guaranteed. Of course, if they can’t fulfill an item they will either find a better replacement or just not charge you for it.
4. DISNEY RESORT STORES
For guests who just need a few simple items like breakfast and sandwich stuff, the Disney Resort Hotel’s stores typically have these items, more often at DVC resorts like the ones mentioned above. You can grab bread, jam, butter, cereal, chips, drinks and some frozen and cold items like meat and cheese. The biggest downside is the lack of selection so you’ll have to go with what they have.
The other things to consider is pricing. They are going to charge you Disney pricing on all their items which is typically double that of a grocery store, if not more. If you’re a DVC member you can get a 10% discount on the items which helps. Again, this option is really only for grabbing some simple items or missed items.
FREE GROCERY DELIVERY AT DISNEY WORLD
There are two delivery services that offer free grocery delivery to Disney World: First is Amazon Prime Now who offers free delivery to subscribed members (if you’re not a Prime member, it’s not free) as long as you order $40 worth of groceries. If you’re not a Prime member already, you should talk to someone who is as memberships can be shared with others. If you can’t find anyone, we don’t recommend singing up just for grocery delivery as there’s a better option to this.
Walmart+ launched in 2020 and has been growing in popularity for all the benefits it offers, one of them being free grocery delivery. What we discovered when looking into this is that the Walmart+ membership has a free 2 week trial where you can try it out, no cost to you. So what we did was sign-up for the service the day we were going to order our groceries. This starts your two weeks free.
Now you can order your groceries for Disney World without having to pay anything assuming you order over $35 worth of stuff. The nice thing about the two week free trial is that if you end up liking the service, it automatically continues as their $99 yearly fee. If you don’t end up liking it, just cancel it after the two weeks. We recommend setting a reminder on your phone to do this before 2 weeks is up.
During your free trial you’ll be able to order as many groceries as you want to the hotel, again, as long as you hit that $35 minimum. There have been times where we ordered our initial groceries and then need more. It wasn’t a big deal to do this because there was no additional cost.
One thing to keep in mind is that Walmart+ uses services like Doordash and Postmates to deliver your groceries to your hotel so don’t be surprised if someone reaches out to you the day of you delivery from one of those services. Typically they are just giving you updates on your order.
HOW TO UTILIZE GROCERY DELIVERY
It’s one thing to be able to order groceries from your phone. It’s a whole other thing to plan how you’re going to work this service into your vacation. There are a couple of steps that we take that we feel can apply to most everyone to help make this process easy.
1. Decide whether you are or you aren’t going to do it. Earlier we mentioned that first time visitors will probably want to budget to eat in the parks as this takes a lot off their plate (pun intended). This doesn’t save you money but it does save a headache and allows you to focus on other things. So if you decide that you are going to order groceries to your hotel now figure out what meals you want to cover. Just breakfast? Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks? Decide now so you don’t under order or over order.
2. Figure out how much room you have to store groceries and decide how you can save room if needed. This would mean condensing milk into smaller containers like half gallons, smaller mayo jars or bottles, full size waters or mini ones, two liters of soda or cans, or smaller individual boxes of cereal or regular. You get the idea. There’s a lot that can be done to make sure there’s room for everything. If you happen to have a villa with full kitchen, you don’t really need to worry about this step.
3. Figure out what you’re going to order by putting a list together of the things you like. For us we typically get a few different boxes of cereal, milk, cheese sticks, ritz cheese crackers, jerky, mandarin oranges, bagels and cream cheese, water and bananas. Our girls love cotton candy but we hate paying for it at the parks so we buy it in smalls tubs and pack them. This pretty much covers our breakfast and snacks in the parks each day which is all we want. Look inside your pantry and write down the things you like so you don’t space them. It’s good to picture yourself at the parks and what you’d like to eat and drink during the day.
4. Figure out how you’re going to pack all your food around each day. Does it require a cooler? If so you’ll need ice packs. Does it require just a backpack and a small portable cooler? Do you have these items already? If not you may need to go shopping for some of them. This a bit easier when you have a stroller to put them in or hang them on but not everyone has or needs this. That means you’ll be carrying them on your back.
5. Order your groceries the day before you arrive at the hotel. Select a time in the morning, especially if you think you’re going to be arriving early. If you know you won’t get to your hotel until after 4 pm, select a 2-4 pm time window. Ordering the day before and selecting a window for the next day allows you to make changes or additions incase you forgot something. We do this all the time!
6. Confirm with your driver your hotel name and location and that you’re a guest there. They can usually figure this out on their own but it’s better to be safe. There’s usually a spot when you’re ordering to enter driver instructions. Do this here. Let them know they can leave the groceries with bell services.
7. Pick up your groceries or have them delivered to your room. You can either stop by bell services and grab them on your own or call down from your room and have them bring them up.
That’s pretty much how the whole thing goes down. It’s super simple, very convenient and can save you a lot of money vs. paying Disney prices for meals. We tend to save about $275 by doing this for our breakfast and snacks, averaging $15 per person per day and minusing our grocery costs. So if you end up replacing several of your meals each day you can easily save over $400 by spending maybe $75 or so on groceries.
Buying groceries at Disney World is easier now than it has been in the past. Guests who utilize this service are typically ones who want to save money on food, have been to the parks before or have special dietary needs that cannot be accommodated by the parks. It’s a good idea to figure out your room situation before deciding what to order and how much. Same goes for what meals you’re going to be covering. Remember that anything you want to bring into the parks has to be packed around by you.
There are 4 main services to utilize when doing grocery delivery. We highly recommend one of them over the others as they offer free delivery and supermarket prices with the largest selection. Guests can easily save over $400 per trip by using a grocery delivery service.
If you need additional help planning your vacation be sure to check-out our Planning Guide which goes over the in’s and out’s of planning the proper Disney World vacation. We also have the Best & Worst Months to Visit the parks which can help you choose the right time to visit. Need a hand packing? We’ve got the best tips and tricks for what to park for Disney. Lastly, are you considering going to Universal Orlando? We’ve got a fantastic Planning Guide for this resort all well!
Dean has been writing and blogging for over 10 years. He specializes in Disney theme park news including updates, openings, special events and general advice for travelers. He doesn’t shy away from the good, the bad and the ugly. His previous work includes being a Cast Member at Disneyland and working as a travel agent.