Hydrate And Refuel While Following A Few Guidelines
Costs on a trip to Disney World can add up quickly. While you might want to buy your kids a special Disney treat every once in a while, bringing your own food into the parks can save you a lot of money, as well as ensure you know exactly what you and your family are eating.
Only a Few Restrictions
You can bring almost any food and beverage into the four Disney World parks. You can even bring in as much as you’d like as long as you pay attention to a few restrictions:
- No alcohol
- No glass containers
- No food that requires heating
- No straws at the Animal Kingdom, to ensure they (or their wrappers) aren’t accidentally ingested by the animals roaming around many parts of the park
A few exceptions exist to accommodate the needs of babies. Glass baby food jars are allowed. If you need to heat up food for your baby, you can use the microwave at the fully staffed baby care center. For food safety reasons, it’s against the law for Disney staff to store, reheat or cook any food that guests bring into the parks, restaurants or hotels.
Free Ice Water
It’s important to stay hydrated at the parks, and Disney makes it easy. You can bring your own water bottles, and you'll find water fountains throughout the parks so it’s easy to refill them. Or just ask for complimentary cups of ice water at any counter-service restaurant.
How to Transport Your Food
You can bring your food in a bag or cooler, so long as the cooler is smaller than 24 inches long by 15 inches wide by 18 inches high. A soft-sided insulated backpack is an ideal way to carry your snacks and keep them cool under the hot Florida sun. Counter-service restaurants in the parks will give you cups of ice for free, so you can top up your cooler. You’ll want to bring some resealable bags so your melting ice doesn’t leak.
While you can bring as much food as you’d like into the parks, keep in mind you’ll do a lot of walking so you don't want to pack too much. You can store your cooler in an all-day locker at a cost of $7 to $9 per day, plus a $5 key deposit. All four Disney World parks have small 11-by-9-by-16-inch lockers, and Epcot, Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom also have large lockers that are 17.5 inches by 12 inches by 16 inches.
Keep in mind that Disney will inspect bags as you enter the park and reserves the right not to allow any bag or object to enter.
If you’re dealing with allergies or religious dietary restrictions, planning is a lot easier when you know you’re allowed to bring your own food into a theme park.
In case you don’t want to pack meals for the whole day, know that Disney is very good at accommodating special dietary needs, whether it's to avoid allergens, accommodate food intolerance or medically restricted diets, or if you need kosher or halal meals. Most common allergies can be accommodated just by discussing them with your Disney restaurant server. Call 24 hours in advance to request halal or kosher meals. You can also sign up online for special requests.
If you do choose to buy food at Disney World, most counter-service items are priced under $15 as of summer 2017. Fruit and healthy snacks are available in each park. You can find kids’ meals for children under age 10 at around $7. Meals cost more at restaurants with buffets and table service.
Johanna Read is a Canadian freelance writer and photographer specializing in travel, food, and responsible tourism. Writing for a variety of Canadian and international publications, she likes to encourage travel that is culturally, economically, and environmentally sustainable. Links to all her travel stories are at www.TravelEater.net. Follow her on Twitter @TravelEater and on Instagram @TravelEaterJohanna.