3 Days at Disneyland for Under $1500 – Part I, The FOOD

When it comes to working out your budget for visiting the Happiest Place on Earth, your two most variable costs will usually be food and lodging.  So, since one of our family’s favorite things about Disneyland is the FOOD, let me start there!  But first, full disclosure – I’m a young married woman, and my husband and I stick to a tight budget, so that’s my perspective here.  And in talking with other young couples and young families about their Disneyland visits, I frequently hear “Oh, we don’t eat in the park, its too expensive.”  But I’ve been visiting Disneyland on a tight budget for many years, and while I agree that the food prices are standard for a theme park, I’m always quick to point out that people too often miss out on the delectable Disney food, when a little planning would allow them to fit some Disney dining into their budget.

You do have to do some digging to find out which morsels are the diamonds in the rough, but take heart my fellow Disney fans – I’ve already done all the work for you!  In the words of the musical demigod Maui, “You’re welcome”.  In order to Do Disney Right, you’ve got to eat, and spending an entire day chasing down fast passes means you have to eat almost as much as you walk – in fact, I recommend eating 5 times per day, as you’ll see below.  To quench that hunger, I’m gonna show you how to partake of some of Disney’s signature classics that have been fan favorites since day one, and still have gas money left to get home.

The most important part of this budget is shopping before you hit the parks! The Disney parks allow you to bring your own food and drinks into the park – this is a crucial element of your food budget – as the bill will stack up very quickly if every meal and snack is bought inside the park.  For example, The Minnie and Friends Character Breakfast at the Plaza Inn is a completely magical experience, but at 34$ a person, it is not the budgeter’s ideal choice for starting off every day.  What should the budgeter do then, you may ask?  Simple, bring your own breakfast, and eat at the hotel before you leave!  Or better yet, bring it with you, arrive early, grab a bench on Main Street, and eat while you enjoy the early morning in the park.

This is how you’re going to do your snacks too – bring a backpack with refillable plastic (glass is not allowed) water bottles, and some of your favorite travel size snacks to keep you from impulse buying and overspending.  According to park rules, a bag or cooler cannot exceed 24x15x18, the size of most medium backpacks. Loose ice and dry ice are not permitted, but cold packs are recommended if you need to cool your snacks. I have priced out some of our favorite snacks from Walmart at the end.

Here’s The Lost Princess’ budget meal plan for a 3-day Disneyland trip for two (one park per day):

Day 1: Disneyland

Day Total = $45.06 (without tax or tip)

Day 2: California Adventure

Day Total = $51.46 (without tax or tip)

Day 3: Disneyland

Day Total = $59.34 (without tax or tip)

Total Park food cost = $155.86 (without tax or tip)

Snack Shopping:  Our favorites at Walmart

  • Snack foods: (Pick 1-2 of your favorite travel snacks.)
    • Cheez-it Crackers 12 pack ($4.54)
    • Welch’s Fruit Snacks 22 pack ($3.98)
    • Philippines Dried Mango 6oz ($4.98)
    • Oreo Cookies 12 pack ($4.74)
    • Trail Mix Great Value 26oz ($5.38)
  • Breakfast foods: (Pick 1-2 of your favorite traveling breakfast foods)
    • Nature Valley Granola Bars 12 pack (4.98)
    • Little Bites Muffins 20ct ($2.98)
    • Mandarin Cups 12cups ($6.18)
    • Bag of Apples ($1.73 per lb)
    • Equate Meal Replacement Shake 12ct ($9.98)

Total Shopping Food Cost = ~$30

Total Food Cost = ~$185.86

Of course, there are a thousand ways to arrange this budget to your liking. But … as you can see, you now have a 3-day Disney foodie experience for under 200$. This budget allows you to eat well – you won’t starve – and you’ll sample some of Disney’s most beloved foods, which adds to the magic of the park experience! Bam, there it is *mic drop*

I hope this blog inspires and motivates you to eat well at the park, but we’re not done yet, check out Part 2 of this post that talks about that other variable – the travel and lodging. Pair that with your awesome food budget and you’ll have a winning combination!

-Lost Princess

(c) DoinDisneyRight.com

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*If you buy the big value packs of snacks like we do, you will have an excess, these are great to use for traveling munchies, school lunches, work snacks, or your next Disney trip, (we go once every few months so the packaged food is still good and lasts us at least two trips, if this is a one-time trip you can always downsize the package sizes, this will also reduce your food cost).

*Pro tip: If you buy a Disney popcorn bucket, sometimes you get dollar refills for a period of time.

2 comments On 3 Days at Disneyland for Under $1500 – Part I, The FOOD

  • Always wanted to know exactly how much a trip to Disneyland costs. This breaks it down in a way that anyone can understand and uses real-life numbers. Now I can plan our next trip and not have to miss the awesome food in the park. Thanks, LostPrincess!

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