Updated for 2016!
Food is a hot topic among Disney vacation planners. People online are raving about their favorite restaurants and special meals. But food is also pricey, and if you are on a limited food budget, character meals and Disney Signature Dining meals may not be on your trip itinerary. Budget WDW trips often call for counter service meals. Counter service is simply where you walk up to the restaurant counter and order your meal, take it back to your table yourself, and clean up your own mess. There is no wait staff at counter service restaurants, like there are at table service locations, and this meal will be less expensive than table service. So you can save money by choosing counter service over table service, and then save even more by sharing, because who says you have to eat the whole meal by yourself?
Disney Food Tip #1: Share This Meal!
Ordering an adult meal and sharing is a smart way to save money, and there are numerous reasons two adults may choose to share a meal. In the heat of the summer, many people can get a queasy feeling after all the walking around the parks following a big, huge meal. After eating a large breakfast or lunch, you might not have the appetite for another meal so soon. Meal sharing can also save calories.
My daughter and I regularly share counter service meals, especially sandwiches. She eats frequent mini meals throughout the day, and I am saving calories for dessert before bedtime, or perhaps dessert before lunch!
There will be times you just don’t feel like eating an entire counter meal on your own, so sharing will make sense.
How much are counter service meals?
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight cafe in the Magic Kingdom has a wide assortment of entrees that are just perfect for sharing. I will not include salads, because many people want a salad all to themselves.
1/3 lb Angus bacon cheeseburger with choice of green beans or french fries – $10.69
Herb-marinated grilled chicken sandwich, American cheese, and bacon with choice of green beans or french fries – $10.79
Hot dog with choice of green beans or french fries – $8.29
Barbecued pork sandwich with choice of green beans or french fries – $10.29
Vegetable Burger with choice of Green Beans or French Fries – $9.99
1/2 Rotisserie Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and a Seasonal Vegetable – $10.99
Chicken breast nuggets (8 pieces) with choice of green beans or french fries – $9.29
So one meal at around $10 now turns into two meals for $10, which is less money and less calories.
We asked our readers if they shared Disney meals or had any suggestions.
Brad, “The omelette at POP Century is huge, and we share the chicken meal at Cosmic Rays.
Heather, “At Columbia Harbor House, pretty much anything there you can share, especially the chicken and fish plate!”
Melanie, “We usually get the dining plan during free dining, so. However, I wouldn’t be opposed to it as I feel like every counter service gives so much food. A half sandwich is filling for me.”
Brandy, “I think this year, the boys and I will be sharing meals (my 17-year-old isn’t a big eater) or ordering kids meals. We HAVE learned to bring snacks and breakfast items with us and eat at the hotel. It’s easier to talk teens into stuff like that, especially when they’ve learned the value of a dollar!”
Alicia, “At Hollywood Studios, head to Min and Bill’s Dockside diner. I ordered a Turkey leg (you can get this at other parks too) and it came with chips and a HUGE milkshake. My 18 year old son, two daughters (5 and 7) and I all shared it as a meal and it was plenty.“
And with the money you save sharing a lunch or dinner, you can now share a snack, or splurge and get your own cupcake!
It may not have been the healthiest meal at the time, but several years ago on a night when I wasn’t very hungry, I ate the fries off my child’s kids’ meal for dinner. And later that night I split a Cosmic Rays’s chicken nugget meal with three children that wanted a late night snack. Let’s not talk about all the calories I consumed the next day…
Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you looking over the menu, doing the mental math!
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Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you grabbing free candy or cookies at the parties!
Disney’s Cheapskate Princess