In all the Disney research we did for our first trip, we decided it would be smart to somehow bring some food and drink items with us so we wouldn’t be tempted to spend so much at the parks. The plan was simple: eat healthier and save time and money by having cereal in the room for breakfast, and carrying our own snacks and drinks with us in the parks. For a seven night, eight day trip it seemed we would need a lot of cereal, snacks, and drinks. I went to BJ’s and bought economy size boxes of granola bars, fruit gummies, single serving cereal boxes and a case of Powerade. We were able to pack some in our luggage, but the majority we had shipped to our resort. Unfortunately, this plan didn’t work out as well as we had hoped…
Our first mistake was incorrectly timing the shipment to our resort. It didn’t arrive until our 3rd day so we immediately lost the possible savings for those three days, not to mention leaving us with a LOT of food to consume over the next four days. This could easily have been avoided by verifying shipping times on the UPS website.
We thought having the cereal in our rooms would be helpful not only to save money, but also to save time in the mornings. Since it is impossible to ship milk and fruit from NY to Florida and have it arrive in an edible form, we still had to purchase these items at our resort. So at least one of us still had to take the time to walk to the food area, which thankfully we requested to be close to anyway. At the Caribbean Beach Resort, we found out there is a “grocery store” inside the gift shop that sold milk by the quart for only slightly more than the food court sold it by the pint. Thanks goes out to the Cast Member at the checkout in the food court for that tip. I must admit it is hard to just look for fruit when it is right next to a display of pastries. If one of the kids came along for the morning “fruit” run, they always ended up seeing a bagel or muffin they wanted and those cheese Danish were always so tempting. So the saving time and money thing in the mornings didn’t work so well this time.
We thought packing gummies and granola bars in our backpacks for our long days would stave off the hunger and keep us from spending our money on junk food in the parks. They tended to sift themselves to the bottom after digging in the packs for other items. Having a pack with lots of small outside pockets would help solve the problem of migrating snacks but then they can get hot from direct sun or crushed when stowing the pack for rides. Even if snacks were readily accessible and intact, they weren’t what you wanted when you saw the pretzel cart or smelled the fresh popcorn. And the temptation for a Mickey shaped ice cream on a hot day turned out to be too much to resist. It was our first trip, the turkey legs at Disney must taste better than the ones back in New York!
The drinks were the smartest thing to pack, but I felt guilty using all those plastic bottles. (I did recycle, but still…) Also, shipping them down there was not cheap and you just couldn’t carry enough for a full day in the parks in the Florida heat. We had a much better solution for our second trip…
For our second trip in July we knew it was going to be HOT. This time we went to a sporting goods store and bought good water bottles for Braedan and me and hydration backpacks for Dave and Tabitha.
My hip pack with new water bottles for Braedan and myself.
Tabitha’s new hydration pack.
Dave’s new hydration backpack.
We also bought those powdered single drink mixes that come in not only all sorts of flavors, but also hydration and immune boosters. We brought a handful of the drink mixers with us to the parks each day to refill our bottles with free water. These mixer packs take up virtually zero pack space, are impervious to the Florida heat, and crush proof in the pack. We avoided using all those plastic bottles and the kids were satisfied with tasty drinks that only cost us pennies a day. We didn’t need to buy a single drink and this added up to significant savings.
We were fortunate on this trip to have Dave’s parents join us for a few days. And they were kind enough to do some grocery shopping for us. So not only did they buy some smaller boxes of granola bars, but also some bagels, muffins, fresh fruits and milk to keep in the room. (And even some beer and wine for our limited adult moments!) We rarely went up to the food court to get breakfast, we actually ate all the granola bars we packed and we even grabbed extra fruit from buffet meals to snack on later. We still bought snacks at the park (how could you resist those frozen pineapple bars in 98% humidity?) but those few snacks and an unlimited supply of drinks kept everyone satisfied and hydrated between meals.
So in conclusion, if you don’t mind hauling the water bottles or the hydration backpack all day, it’s a real money saver. (I had a hip-pack that held a water bottle on each side of the pouch, it was a bit heavy, but well balanced). A few snacks are helpful, especially if you go in the busier season where you might be standing in long wait lines. If you can get to a supermarket for fresh breakfast items to eat in your room, that can also save significant amounts of time and money. (If you get airport transfers via limousine, most services include a stop at a store in the price of the Orlando airport to Disney World transfer.) Don’t expect to save a lot of money by bringing along the same old snacks your kids get at home. Realize that part of the Disney magic is eating Disney food, whether it is at any one of their fantastic restaurants, the resort food court or a rolling popcorn cart. And it must be the Disney magic that makes their turkey legs taste better than the ones back home!