No matter how many stars you wish on there’s no way around it- a Walt Disney World vacation isn’t cheap. There’s a cost for all of that magic and pixie dust, so finding little ways to save a few bucks is always helpful and one of the best ways you can save money on a Disney World Vacation is on the food side, because let’s be honest, drinks and food at Disney World theme parks is not what I would call budget friendly.
This inevitably leads to many asking, can you bring food into Disney World? Because of course, if you can bring your own lunch and snacks into the Disney World theme parks you can save a lot of money, especially if you have a larger family.
Now there are reasons outside of just saving some money that someone may be looking at bringing their own food into theme parks like Disney World. Outside of saving money, there are other reasons for wanting to bring your own food. There are dietary needs, religious reasons, picker eaters (we understand this one well) and a myriad of other reasons someone may want to bring food into the Disney World theme parks. Let’s be honest as well, not having to worry about booking ADR’s or balancing trays of hot dogs at Casey’s Corner is a bonus.
Can You Bring Food Into Disney World?
The answer is yes- but it does come with some caveats. So before you load up the Yeti and head to Magic Kingdom with snacks and stroll on down Main Street, there’s a little more you need to know. Pull up some Hub Grass and we will lay out everything you need to know about bringing your food into Disney World.
Here are the basics that The Walt Disney Company lays out for bringing outside food into the parks:
- Glass containers of any kind are not allowed into any of the Walt Disney World theme parks, the only exception to this rule is you can bring small baby food jars in for the little ones
- No outside alcoholic beverages are allowed in the Disney Parks
- Loose ice is not allowed in the parks. While we agree that no loose ice is a strange rule, you can put ice in a sealed container like a Ziploc bag or use a reusable ice pack.
Why Should I Bring Food Into Disney World?
The main reason that most people will look at bringing their own snacks and food into Disney World is to save money. Depending on the size of your party, if you are able to eat your own meals while in the parks, you can potentially save hundreds of dollars on your vacation.
The other reason that you may want to look at bringing your own food into the parks is the time that it could save. It’s no secret that Disney World is packed these days and even if you have the budget to eat lunch/dinner in the parks, that can take considerable time out of your day. You can easily spend 1-2 hours eating lunch in a day, which is 1-2 hours that aren’t being spent riding rides, seeing parades and enjoying all the magic the parks have to offer.
A reason that some people bring food into the parks is dietary restrictions and needs. If you have food allergies or are on a strict diet are some of the most common reasons that people bring their own food into Disney World.
Is There A Limit On The Amount Of Food You Can Bring In?
Disney World does not prohibit you from bringing as much food as you want to the park. The only limitations only apply to you in terms of the way you carry the food into the park, rather than how much food you pack.
Stock up on sandwiches and you can create your very own Disney picnic and save a lot of money. Having a soft sided cooler with you will also allow you to keep snacks on hand for kids and others in your group and you can pull them out as needed when in the parks.
This is a common question from people who are looking to bring their own food into the Disney World Parks. Coolers are the best option for this but you can bring food in a backpack and other types of bags but just know they may be subject to inspection when entering the parks.
Disney states that any cooler you bring into the parks may not be more than 24 x 15 x 18 inches and rolling coolers are not allowed in the parks. Not being able to have a rolling coolers makes things a little less desirable but there are a lot of options for bringing a cooler into the parks that can be easier.
The easiest way to transport food into the parks is insulated bags with soft sides. Coolers are undoubtedly welcome but can become cumbersome and you may regret halfway through your day in the parks having to lug around that giant cooler.
Insulated bags are light and easy to navigate around the parks and they come in a variety of sizes, designs, and price ranges. You can get a smaller, insulated bag that will keep a few things cool for around $15. Larger, diaper size bags are ideal for family meals like . Whichever method you go with, keep in mind your gear needs to adhere to specific dimensions, which is any container entering Disney can’t exceed 24″ x 15″ x 18.”
Our favorite backpack cooler to bring into the parks is this one:
There are a lot of different backpack cooler options available nowadays and if you have a stroller or a wheelchair you can put a cooler in those and have them with you in the parks that way.
Disney World Locker Rental
One option is that you can do where you perhaps wouldn’t have to lug around a cooler all day but still have food when you want it is to rent a locker at Walt Disney World . Now, these are first come, first serve each day so if you are looking to do this you need to do it as early in the day as possible. Locker sizes you can rent are as follows:
- Small Lockers ($10 Per Day) : 12x10x17
- Large Lockers ($12 Per Day): 15.5x13x17
- Jumbo Lockers ($15 Per Day): 17x22x26
animal kingdom limitations
Animal Kingdom is a unique park where the animal’s welfare is a top priority. Maintaining their safety requires a couple of additional policies. so traditional coolers aren’t allowed in Animal Kingdom.
If you’re wanting to take a cooler into Animal Kingdom we would recommend you opt for a backpack, collapsible insulted bag, or diaper bag instead. Coolers for medical needs are allowed but must live in a locker or placed with guest relations.
Notice those nifty biodegradable straws at Animal Kingdom? Traditional straws present a hazard to the animals and aren’t allowed. That same restriction goes for guest with outside beverages. Skip the juice boxes that day.
What Kind Of Food Can You Bring In?
In all actually you can bring in just about anything you want! There are a few exceptions, you can’t being in glass containers, the only exception being baby food jars are permissible. When it comes to drinks, Cokes bottles are fine but beer bottles are not.
We personally bring food into the parks all the time, especially for our kids as they are rather picky eaters. So we pack a plethora of snacks like Goldfish, Cheez Its, Graham Crackers, Cereal and other snacks that our kids will eat.
If you have kids them you understand the need to have some snacks on hand to prevent the “Hanger” from setting in and having a meltdown on your hands when they could just use a little snack in that situation.
Just remember that whatever food you bring into the park, you can’t reheat it once you are in the park so the most popular items that people bring into the parks are:
- Beef Jerky
- Various Snacks
Do keep in mind that even with the best packed cooler that the Florida heat can be brutal, so if you had thoughts of bringing in some tuna salad or potato salad to have at lunch, it could be an iffy proposition. This is why bringing non perishable, low prep foods is your best bet.
Is It An Issue Getting Past Walt Disney World Security?
Bringing in your own food to Disney World theme parks might make you a little nervous, as there are signs that may indicate there is no outside food allowed but rest assured, you can bring food into Disney World. Not to mention policies and guidelines for this process have only gotten simpler.
You will more than likely be asked at the security checkpoint what you have in your cooler and security will want to take a peek inside to make sure you aren’t bringing in alcohol or glass. Just be upfront with security about what is in your cooler and as long as you don’t have any restricted items you’ll be through security and on your way into the parks in no time.
Are There Places Where I Can Eat Food I Bring Into Disney World?
There are plenty of places where you can sit and eat your food you brought into the parks. You will find benches and ledges in which you can sit and eat your food, you can also find some outdoor seating areas of quick services restaurants you can use easily as well. Depending on the restaurant you might be able to eat your food at an indoor table at a quick service restaurant but with many of the quick service places shifting to mobile order primarily they tend to limit people coming in who haven’t ordered food.
Some of our favorite spots to eat food your bring into the parks is:
- Sunshine Season – This is located in The Land paviliion in Epcot and has plenty of seating, plus it’s indoors so you have that lovely A/C to enjoy on a hot day.
- Harambe Market in Animal Kingdom
- Casey’s Corner in Magic Kingdom
Will You Miss Out On Experiencing Disney World By Brining Own Food?
You might worry that your kids may be missing out on experiencing everything that Disney World has to offer if you are eating your own food in the parks. This is going to be dependent upon each person/families viewpoint and situations but we’ve found having a good balance in this area is a good place to strive for on your trip.
Perhaps you bring food into the parks to eat lunch but maybe you get some popular snacks in the parks or you go out to dinner a few times while on your trip. You can save a good amount of money by bringing your own food into the parks but also balance it out by splurging on a meal or two on your trip.
While I do think food is a big part of the Disney experience, it’s not everything and food is the easiest way to save some money on your vacation.
Bringing your own food into Disney World is a great option and one that shouldn’t be looked down upon. If you are looking at doing this just be sure you find a cooler that won’t become a hassle for you to transport around the parks and keep in mind the regulations that Disney has on cooler size, items you can bring into the parks and you’ll have a great time.
Let us know in the comments what you think and if you enjoyed this article then you should check out some other articles we’ve got, like our “Disney Fastpass Secrets” article to help you get ready for your next trip.