Guest Post: Dining at Disney World on a Budget with Ashley Dickey

Today we have a special guest, Ashley Dickey with Reserve Orlando, sharing with us her top choices on where to find delicious meals at Walt Disney World while sticking to a budget. You can read more about her here. So without further ado, here’s Ashley!

Dining at Disney World on a Budget

Disney World may be the most magical place on Earth, but that doesn’t mean meals here can’t add up fast. Save your hard-earned money by following my tips for dining at Disney World on a budget. I give favorite places to eat, menu picks and price points for each park to help you plan your day. Getting hungry? Let’s get started!

1-cheapeats_disney© Disney

Magic Kingdom

plaza-restaurant-plaza-clubThe Plaza Restaurant’s Plaza Club

The Plaza Restaurant
Cost: $ (16.99 and under)
Main Street U.S.A.

My favorites: Beef Brisket Onion Burger, Vegetarian Sandwich, Plaza Club

For my money, it’s hard to beat lunch at the Plaza Restaurant. The casual, soda-fountain-style throwback atmosphere lets me relax away from the quick-service lunch crowd. The menu is typical American fare, but elevated enough that the few extra dollars I spend are worth it.

Tip: Save room for signature desserts like Mickey’s Kitchen Sink Sundae. It’s worth the splurge!

columbia-harbour-house-lighthouse-sandwichColumbia Harbour House’s Lighthouse Sandwich

Columbia Harbour House
Cost: $ (14.99 and under)
Liberty Square

My favorites: Lobster Roll, Lighthouse Sandwich

It’s hard to eat healthy at Disney. Columbia Harbour House, while offering fried seafood, also serves up some of the most good-for-you yet low cost options at the Magic Kingdom. It’s quick-service and usually not as busy as options like Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café.

Tip: Sit upstairs to avoid the crowds.

Epcot

tangierine-cafe-lamb-shawarma-platterTangierine Cafe’s Lamb Shawarma Platter

Tangerine Café
Cost: $ (14.99 and under)
Morocco – World Showcase

My favorites: Mediterranean Lamb Wrap, Shawarma Chicken Platter

Moroccan flavors at a reasonable price? Count me in. I’m a sucker for the spice and smells of the Mediterranean. Even though this is a quick-service option, the food is authentically good. The Moroccan pavilion is stunning, so sit outside with your meal. You may even catch a live performance.

Tip: Platters are shareable, and enough for two. A good pick is the Shawarma Chicken and Lamb Platter.

boulangerie-patisserie-quiche-florentineLes Halles Boulangerie Patisserie’s Quiche Florentine

Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie
Cost: $ (11.99 and under)
France – World Showcase

My favorites: Quiche Florentine, Lobster Bisque, Poulet au Pistou

This one is famous for pastries and desserts, but many miss out on the unique lunch selections available at Boulangerie Patisserie. The food doesn’t skimp on bold flavors either, a general complaint of mine regarding theme park eats. The pesto on the poulet pops and the quiche is rich. A recent renovation also makes the inside seating more appealing, but still lacks the charm of other Epcot options.

Tip: Add a glass of Bourgogne Blanc to your meal. You are in France after all.

Animal Kingdom

flame-tree-barbecue-half-slab-st-louis-ribs-close (2)Flame Tree Barbeque’s 1/2 Slab of St. Louis Ribs

Flame Tree Barbeque
Cost: $ (15.99 and under)
Discovery Island

My favorites: 1/2 Slab of St. Louis Ribs, Pork Sandwich

Flame Tree is tops for two reasons: you get a lot for your money and the barbeque is the best of Disney Theme Parks. The Pork Sandwich, served with tangy coleslaw, is the best all-around cheap meal. Platters are totally shareable, though. Spend a bit more for the Ribs and Chicken Combo. Served with beans and coleslaw, you can add an order of fries for only $2.99.

Tip: Follow the path towards the water for lakeside seats with a view of Expedition Everest.

Please note: Flame Tree is currently undergoing renovations and will re-open in Spring 2015. [Ed. note: While the Flame Tree is under refurbishment, several kiosks in restaurant’s vicinity are serving up Flame Tree favorites!]

yak-and-yeti-dim-sum-basket-for-two-1Yak & Yeti’s Dim Sum Basket for Two features Pork Pot Stickers, Shrimp Siu Mai, Cha Su Bao, and Pork Siu Mai

Yak and Yeti
Cost: $$ (29.99 and under)
Asia

My favorites: Pot Stickers, Shrimp Lo Mein, Kalbi Steak and Coconut Shrimp, Tempura Shrimp

Yak and Yeti is my one slightly-over-budget pick. With food this good, I thought I could get away with it. The Asian-inspired food is the best at Animal Kingdom. Many platters are closer to $19 than $29. Sometimes, I save with an appetizer-only shareable meal of Pot Stickers, Firecracker Shrimp and Ahi Tuna Nachos (roughly $30). The menu is much larger than traditional Disney menus, too; a definite bonus.

Tip: Make a reservation for this restaurant by calling (407) 824-9384. You’re going to need it.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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sci-fi-dine-in-theater-salmon-bltSci-Fi’s Salmon BLT

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant
Cost: $$ (31.99)
Commissary Lane

You probably see the price point above and think how is this “budget?” But hear me out. If you dine at lunch you can skip the expensive entrees like New York Strip Steak for seriously delicious sandwiches like the Classic BLT and Reuben (both are $14.99 or less). Plus, the drive-in car booth set-up spotlights snippets of old movies and commercials during your meal. Thematically, it beats any other Disney’s Hollywood Studios restaurant hands down. [Ed. note: Sci-Fi now offers the same menu at lunch and dinner, with entrees starting at $13.99.]

Tip: Call (407) 939-3463 for reservations. Walk-ins are rarely granted a table.

studio-catering-company-grilled-vegetable-sandwichStudio Catering Company also offers a Grilled Vegetable Sandwich

Studio Catering Co.
Cost: $ (10.99 and under)
Streets of America
My favorites: Pressed Turkey Club, Chicken Caesar Wrap

The outdoor seating here, while covered, leaves a lot to be desired as it’s a mess of tables with no real theming. That said, the sandwiches and wraps make up for it, with one exception. I wouldn’t order the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich. It misses the mark as it doesn’t have nearly enough buffalo sauce.

Tip: With the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Playground right next door you can divide and conquer. Let one parent order the food while the other takes the tykes to play.

Use these tips for dining at Disney World on a budget and watch the savings add up.

Ashley Dickey is Reserve Orlando‘s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Thank you so much for your insight, Ashley! As you can see, I’m a fan of a lot of those places (too bad the food doesn’t photograph well inside Sci-Fi 😉 ). What are some of your favorite places to eat at Disney while sticking to a budget? Do any of Ashley’s make your list?

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2 responses to “Guest Post: Dining at Disney World on a Budget with Ashley Dickey

  1. Out of the ones I’ve tried, the shawarma plate from Tangerine is my favorite. I do need to try the Dim Sum at Yak & Yeti… it looks great! But dining on a budget at WDW is tough! Especially for families with kids!

  2. Matt and I love to order the Dim Sum. Since he doesn’t eat shrimp, I get all of the Shrimp Siu Mai (but I relinquish the Pork Siu Mai to him!).