Budgeting for Meals at Walt Disney World

You can't ignore the fact that a Disney World vacation is expensive. Even 'cheap' things can feel like a burden on your wallet. One of the biggest mistakes when planning is not giving yourself enough wiggle room in your wallet for meals. A lowballed budget will feel you sticker shocked. Too strict of a budget will make your trip more stressful.

Food options and prices wildly vary at WDW. There are four categories dining options at WDW fall under:

  • Quick Service
  • Table Service
  • Signature Dining Experiences
  • Character Dining

Quick Service

The most basic food options available, you'll walk up to a counter and receive your food. While most places will serve your standard theme park hamburgers and hot dogs, you can find some really good out-of-the-box quick service places, especially at Epcot and Animal Kingdom. For your quick service meals, plan to budget $15 a person for breakfast and $20 a person for lunch and dinner.

Table Service

A more traditional style restaurant with hosts & waiters, you'll find anything and everything at the table service restaurants. Some are very ho-hum and may leave you scratching your head why you paid that much, while others will tempt you to order another dish. You'll need to pick up a Advanced Dining Reservation (abbreviated as ADR), as walk-up availability is scare these days. If you can't find one, let me search automatically for you! Some table service locations will serve the same menu for lunch and dinner, while others will have differing menus (in both portion sizes and prices). You'll also find several buffets that still have waiters to take your drink orders and make sure everything is ok. Plan to spend $25 a person for breakfast, $40 a person for lunch, and $50 a person for dinner (and don't forget about tip).

Signature Dining Experiences

These are the cream-of-the-crop restaurants at WDW. Everything from the service to the food is top notch. Some places are expensive and others are really expensive: like $295/person expensive (Victoria's & Albert's at the Grand Floridian). It comes without saying, a reservation is a must, but you can find bars/lounges at many that will accept walk-ins and serve the full menu. There is also a dress code (basically not looking like you just hopped out of the pool) and some may have very stringent dress requirements. Plan to spend at least $80 a person for dinner (tip not included).

Character Dining

It wouldn't be Disney without the characters and this can be one of the best ways to see the characters. Your wallet may skip a heartbeat, but compared to meet and greets in the parks where you're rushed along, getting some more one-on-one time right at your table is worth it to many. Plan to spend $42 a person for breakfast and $55 a person for lunch and dinner (tip not included).

Daily Walt Disney World Dining Budget Examples

For all these budgets I assume the following:

  • Quick Service:
    • 1 adult entree
    • 1 non-alcoholic beverage
  • Table Service
    • 1 appetizer
    • 1 entree
    • 1 non-alcoholic beverage

Keep in mind prices at Walt Disney World vary. You may come in well under budget at some places, and over at others. These budgets also don't include snacks, which will usually run you around $5-8/item. Alcohol usually runs $8-12 per glass of beer or wine, and $15 a cocktail.

Example 1: All Quick Service Meals

  • Quick Service Breakfast: $15
  • Quick Service Lunch: $20
  • Quick Service Dinner: $20
  • Total/day/person: $55

Example 2: Quick Service Breakfast & Lunch, Table Service Dinner

  • Quick Service Breakfast: $15
  • Quick Service Lunch: $20
  • Table Service Dinner: $50
  • Total/day/person: $85

Example 3: All Table Service Meals

  • Table Service Breakfast: $25
  • Table Service Lunch: $40
  • Table Service Dinner: $50
  • Total/day/person: $120