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The 7 BEST Ways to Get the MOST Bang for Your Buck at Disney

Your vacation budget isn’t limitless. You’re not Jeff Bezos. When you travel to a theme park, you want to get the most out of your money. The reality is that some potential parts of your trip are better for stretching your budget. Here are seven of the best values at Walt Disney World.

The Disney Dining Plan

Image: DisneyOne of the strangest statements for Disney neophytes to understand is that the food at Walt Disney World is spectacular. It’s like Las Vegas without the debauchery. Disney hires many of the finest chefs in the world. At least one former Top Chef winner is an executive chef, and several Top Chef Masters and other celebrity chefs run restaurants onsite. Disney takes food very seriously, which they should since they’re feeding more than 100,000 people daily.

While the cuisine at Walt Disney World is excellent, it comes at a high price. Many Disney buffets, high-end dining experiences, and character meals cost $50 per person or more. Even the counter service restaurants can creep into the $30 per person range, depending on what you order. Your food budget can quickly spiral when you’re not careful.

Image: DisneyThe Disney Dining Plan is the solution to this problem. It comes in several forms, but the main dining plan entitles guests to one Quick Service and one Table Service meal per day. It costs about $75 per day for adults and $28 for kids aged 3-9.

You'll save a bit of money using this program. Also, you'll get to eat at better Table Service restaurants. Since you receive entitlements, all Table Service meals "cost" the same. You can eat at the most expensive places such as Akershus, Chefs de France, and Tutto Italia without paying more money.

The Disney Dining Plan combines value with cost control. Best of all, you can pay in advance. With this tactic, none of your travel budget will go toward meals. For me, it’s a much more relaxing way to travel. I have the peace of mind that I’ve already paid for my food.

Earl of Sandwich

Image: DisneyTo Orlando locals, Earl of Sandwich is one of the easiest ways to make a day at Walt Disney World affordable. This place’s menu isn’t the least bit Disney-priced. To the contrary, a meal here costs about the same as when you dine at your local Subway. Folks, I’m not going out on a limb when I say that such reasonable pricing is rare in Orlando, much less at Disney Springs.

You’re probably thinking that there’s a catch. You guess that the food must be terrible, glorified cafeteria cuisine that middle schools wouldn’t serve. Au contraire! Earl of Sandwich is currently ranked as one of the top 25 Quick Bites in Orlando…out of almost 400!

The sandwiches here are delicious, which makes the pricing borderline suspicious. Generally, when something seems too good to be true, it is…but not Earl of Sandwich! This place sells terrific food at a great price.

Epcot festivals

Image: DisneyYou have an even better way to stretch your food budget at Disney than Earl of Sandwich or the Disney Dining Plan. During 200+ days each year, Epcot’s World Showcase hosts exhibitions. The most famous of them is the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, but the oldest one is actually the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Fairly recent editions are the Epcot International Festival of the Arts and the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays.

While these events aren’t permanent, Disney hosts them beginning in January and ending in December. On most days, you’ll find one of them in operation, and these are the times when Epcot seems closest to Walt Disney’s vision for a permanent World’s Fair.

During each exhibition, Disney opens food kitchens. These pop-up kiosks sell international cuisine at comically low prices. You'll get to sample some of the most exotic flavors in the world, and Disney chefs have elevated the recipes with high-end ingredients and tireless research. It's legitimately some of the best food in Orlando, yet the menu items are rarely higher than $10. There's a reason why Orlando residents hang out at the World Showcase so frequently. It's where the best and cheapest food is most of the year.

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