20 Cheapskate Tips to Save Money on Food at Disney World

tips-to-save-money-on-food-at-disney-world

Despite my best efforts for as long as I can remember trying, it’s been really hard to save money on food at Walt Disney World. We travel with a family of five, there of which were small children that have now grown into teens taller than me. Two of them regularly eat more than me, so the childs’ meal suggestion is laughable to them at their age. Food on WDW trips costs us a lot of money. 

While you should be prepared for meals and snacks to take up a big chunk of your vacation budget as well, there are some ways to save money.

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Disney World Must Eat: the Giant Turkey Leg

turkey leg Walt Disney World

Oh, Disney World giant turkey leg, thou art so…huge! Have you watched someone eat a turkey leg at WDW? There’s not really a cool way to do it; you just dig in and hope for minimal mess on your Splash Mountain t-shirt. Ever wondered where these snacks, or meals depending on who you talk to, came from, and how much they will cost you to buy one? Should you buy one or just skip it for something less carnivore-ish?

We have all your juicy, meaty answers, plus advice from our Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans on what to do with your ca$h – spend it on this iconic treat or save it for a Dole Whip.

Today.com’s travel section relates that the giant turkey legs were first introduced at Disney World during the 1990s, which according to a The New York Times article in 2013, started as single stand in the late 1980s next to Big Al’s Coonskin Caps in Frontierland. The legs became such a popular item, they were quickly introduced to the other parks. More than 1.6 million turkey legs are consumed at the resort every year, and you can even buy all sorts of parks merchandise with pictures of turkey legs on them.

5 Easy Tips to Save Money on Food at Walt Disney World

Disney World giant Turkey Leg

Where can you buy them?

They are sold at both Disney World and Disneyland.

How much does it weigh?

Cured with a salt solution, the legs weigh 1.5 pounds each.

JeffCheapskate Princess Facebook fan, said, “I’m not a calorie counter, but I heard the calorie count on those along with the break down of fats and sodium per leg. And it is amazing how much of each can be packed in. I don’t remember all the numbers, but the calories were over 2000, and all the others were more than double a normal daily allowance. I’ve never had one, but after hearing all that… I never will!”

Good point, Jeff.

Exactly how many calories will you be devouring?

Each leg is roughly 720 calories with 36 grams of fat, according to a supplier, Yoakum Packing, as quoted by the The New York Times.

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The turkey leg is so popular, there is a shirt in its honor.

Disney World Giant Turkey leg shirt

Do the legs really come from turkeys or some other animal?

The New York Times reports that while people are accustomed to Thanksgiving turkeys (female birds or hens) the Disney legs are from the males, called toms, which are bigger. They can weigh up to 50 pounds each.

Steffi, Cheapskate Princess Facebook fan said,”No thanks. I’m a vegetarian. Don’t you wonder how the legs get SO big ???

Excellent question, Steffi.

Are they chock full of Steroids?

The New York Times quoted Keith M. Williams, a vice president at the National Turkey Federation (industry trade group) as saying farmers give toms “plenty of room to exercise their legs.” Federal law prohibits the use of steroids to make turkeys any meatier.

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And if eating animals isn’t your thing, they have a rice crispy treat version with exactly zero meat.

Disney turkey leg rice krispy treat

kids love turkey leg snacks at Walt Disney World

How many are sold each year?

The New York Times reported that at Disney’s six Florida and California theme parks, the company served up an astounding two million of its jumbo turkey legs in 2013. That’s 25 percent more than three years ago, and if you have noticed the turkey leg showing up in different park locations, like Tomorrowland at Florida’s Magic Kingdom, that number is sure to be on the rise.

The cost?

The legs each costs $9.49 before tax at Disney World, and apparently almost $12 at Disneyland. That’s not going to bust up your vacation budget, especially if you share it between a friend.

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Turkey leg, t-shirt version…

turkey leg t-shirt at Disney World

So we asked our Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans what they thought about the well-known turkey leg, is it a must-do or should you skip it?

Yes, snack or meal

Yuuki Snack or meal. It depends on how hungry you are….”

Angela, “We like them! With a side of fries. But two will feed a family of five (3 kids) and just add fries. Just make sure the birds don’t take them!”

Brittany, “Mmmmm! I let my inner fat kid out when we’re at Disney, so I might say snack!!!”

Laurie, “Snack. Hubby, son, and I share one. It’s tradition.”

Angela, “Meal, and usually the only one of the day. After that maybe some snacks later.”

Shelley, “Meal…my grandson and I usually split one.”

No way, Jose the Tur-kay

Christie, “Skip. There are Dole Whips around the corner!”

Christine, “SKIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EW!!! Definitely skip!!!!! Caveman meal for sure! LOL!”

The following may be the most men we have ever had respond to a Facebook question, and ironically (you know that saying about how men love meat) they all said to skip it.

James, “At 1,136 calories per serving, not to mention 54 g fat, I will SKIP.”

Bill,  “Skip. It’s gross, loaded with salt, and tastes more like ham.”

Sean, “Skip. I always think of cavemen when I see people walking around munching on those things.”

The results among our Facebook crew that answered the question were about 40% said, “Yes, we gotta have it!” and 60% said “Ewww, skip it!”

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“Bizarre Foods” host Andrew Zimmern, in a photo by Gene Duncan from wdw.news.com, chowed down on some turkey legs with Chef Goofy in 2009. This guy eats all kinds of strange foods, so if he gives it a thumbs up, you know you’re probably OK!

Andrew-Zimmern eats a Disney World giant turkey leg

And a pin from the Disney World Pinterest site offers this this last bit of tasty advice…

keep calm and eat a Disney turkey leg

So what do you think?  At around $10, you gotta have it or gotta skip it?

Leave us a comment below and tell us what you plan to do on your next Disney vacation.

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

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Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

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You can also e-mail them at cp@destinationsinflorida.com.

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Amanda Major is the creator of 
cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Princess Travel Experts with Destinations in Florida travel, Elizabeth and Erin. You can also e-mail them at cp@destinationsinflorida.com.