Monday, August 2, 2010

Eating @Disney World® Without "GO"ing Broke

OK, with all these activities one has to eat. As our room had a kitchen we wanted to use it to keep costs down. Had we driven we could have loaded coolers and cars full. But we were flying.

We initially pondered checking a couple boxes and coolers of food. We were on Southwest Airlines and with free bags and 7 people we could have checked up to 14 items. But we went with Goodings. A local Orlando grocer with delivery service. If you ordered $50 dollars in food you paid $25 for delivery. And between the cost of our time and a cab ride we went for it. Because our group of 5 adults and 2 kids would easily surpass the $50 minimum.

The large resorts are ready for this service with fridges and even freezers in the bell rooms to keep your groceries until you arrive. We found most of our needs easily available on their website and then just made customer notes for the items we could not find. Everything we ordered showed up without issue. There’s only a couple of things they won’t deliver – ice cream & alcohol. One other note about the service. We had to contact bell service to see if the groceries had been delivered to the hotel and ask they be brought to our room. They did not call us and let us know when they arrived.

So most of our meals were eaten in our room. We did opt to eat “out” 4 times:

  1. Breakfast at our hotel: The day we took off from the parks to enjoy our hotel we opted for the loud and rowdy, contrary to it's name, Whispering Canyon Cafe where our waitress easily managed our father-in-law's disappointment in not being able to order his eggs over-easy, potatoes thin and fried to just the slightest crunchiness, etc with her quick wit and comebacks. The kids also enjoyed running ketchup bottles to others tables when the wait staff hollered “Can we get some ketchup over here.” We were happy with the food and the value for the dollar spent.
  2. Lunch at Animal Kingdom: This was a day we would not be returning to our hotel for afternoon naps. So by following the Unofficial Guide to Disney World with Kids book we were set-up to have lunch in Animal Kingdom's Dinoland at Restaurantosaurus. Salads, kids meals, etc worked out well. We did pack two sandwiches and cheese sticks to offset the purchase a bit. And thank to reusable stainless steel bottles we were able to purchase one beverage and split it between the kids.
  3. Large Group Outting to the Hoop De Doo Musical Revue: With Midwest grandparents in tow we forwent the character meals and went with the Hoop De Doo Revue. A hilarious, audience participatory meal in a huge hall at Fort Wilderness, a 5min boat ride from our resort. All you can eat, family style chicken, ribs, salad, cornbread, beans, strawberry shortcakes, and beverages, including alcohol. We easily got our bang for our buck. The only shortcoming was I was concerned about my picky eaters and had read on-line I could ask the waitstaff upon arrival for something else. However, other than mac-n-cheese we were told we should have let them know 3 days in advance so they could have had it shipped over from our hotel. All they had on site were fryers and ovens.
  4. Our family of four last night dinner at Tony’s Town Square in Magic Kingdom: Again not a character meal, but a restaurant we were able to secure a reservation for 7 days in advance. Tony’s was located right at the entrance to main street, so when we returned in the evening after naps we did a bit of shopping and headed for dinner. Greeted with a lobby of carpet and TV playing of course Lady and the Tramp as well as a coloring area the kids settled in. But it was brief…having a reservation we sat less than 5minutes before our name was called. We felt guilty as we passed others on the way to our table who obviously were walk-ins who had been there much longer. Kids meals and adult pasta abounded. The only downside was our table was in the wait staffs' main drag so I was constantly ducking and scooting my chair in. The food was good not great, and good for the value.

Each day we took drinks and snacks into the parks. It was very hot, so we would freeze our kids stainless steel bottles filled with Gatorade and Yogurt Sticks the night prior and these worked as ice packs for anything else we took in our backpack. The kids' stainless steel bottles also worked well after they emptied their initial contents we could go into any fast dining establishments and get ice water for free or a large lemonade and split it between their bottles. And backpacks on the rides were no problem. Even the Kalahari Rapids at Animal Kingdom had a dry storage in the center to place it.

No, in the end we did not do a character meal. Very popular and expensive these require reservations made months in advance. So just a heads up if that is on your Must Do list.

In the end everyone was well fed staying within a budget of about what we spend at home on a weekly basis. Which the kids' quickly took advantage of our savings for souvenirs or ice cream treats.


Christina Brekke said...

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Great blog post Avis. You be da woman!!

Kari Shewell Hines said...

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great post!