Ever just have those burning Disney questions at the top of your mind, like “Can you bring food into Disney World?” Well, we are here to help answer them! The good news is, yes, you can bring food into Disney World. Though totally allowed, as with everything else, there are some rules that surround this policy.
That’s what we cover in today’s blog! In addition to this, we also answer commonly asked questions such as which foods we recommend, what you can bring them in, and the top areas to take a break and snack throughout Disney World property. We have even covered a perfect park picnic you can have with your family! (Any guesses as to what it is??)
Bringing food into Disney World is an excellent way to save money on your overall vacation costs. Here’s what you need to know so you can make the most of your Walt Disney World vacation.
Read more: How to do Disney World on a Budget
Disney World Food Policy
Before we dive into the details, let’s first take a look at Disney World’s food policy. First and foremost, per Disney’s website, you are allowed to “bring outside food and nonalcoholic beverage items into the park for self-consumption” However, the food may not be in glass containers.
You should also keep in mind that the food you bring in “should not require heating, reheating, processing, refrigeration, or temperature control.” Of course, as a courtesy, Disney also specifies the food should not have pungent odors, so leave that salmon at home!
And one more restriction if you are headed to the Animal Kingdom, be aware that balloons and plastic straws are not permitted for the safety of the animals.
Can I Bring Reusable Straws into Disney World?
Yes, you can bring reusable straws into Disney World, granted that they aren’t plastic if you’re visiting Animal Kingdom.
You can find a ton of cute and cheap options on Amazon, such as these Hiware 12-Pac Reusable Stainless Steel Straws that come in a variety of shades, including Rose Gold and Rainbow for $9.99, or the Hireware 12 Pcs Reusable Silicone Drinking Straws with Travel Case for $7.99. These two come in multiple colors, including light blue, baby pink, and lilac. You may even want to invest in a cute Disney-themed straw topper like these from DestinationVacation on Etsy!
Opting for stainless steel and silicone straws is the way to go because they are way more durable than the paper straws everyone is using now. Just be sure to bring a straw cleaner brush with you so you can wash your straws back at the hotel. Check out this guide to Surviving Disney World Without Plastic Straws for more tips!
Why Bring Food to Walt Disney World?
You may be wondering why you would even want to go through the hassle of bringing food to Disney World. I mean what about all those yummy snacks that Disney is famous for, right? (Here’s looking at you, dole whip, churros, pretzels, corn dog nuggets, and Mickey-shaped ice cream bars).
Read more: Must Have Best Disney Snacks in 2023!
Here are a few of the top reasons why you should bring food to the parks on your Disney World vacation:
Disney Food is Expensive
Why should you bring food into Disney World? Well, the cost of a Disney World vacation really adds up fast. If you opt to bring in your own food you could easily be saving $10 per snack (snacks run $4 – $8) and then once you add a drink (usually around $4 – $5) you will find yourself well over that.
On average, you can expect to spend about $100 on food per person per day, and that’s at a minimum. With the price of park tickets, airfare, and even gas increasing, finding any way to economize on your vacation is a good idea.
Someone in Your Party Has Allergies
If you or someone in your party has food allergies or sensitives, bringing your own food or snacks also has a ton of perks. For years I had a dairy intolerance and bringing my own dairy-free granola bars not only saved me money but it was a quick snack that I knew wouldn’t make me sick and ruin my vacation.
Though Disney does cater to those with sensitivities and allergies, bringing in your own food that you know is guaranteed to please and avoid an upset stomach can save you money in the long run, especially if you or someone in your party doesn’t like the options being offered at the parks.
It Saves You Time
Believe it or not, one of the best reasons to bring your own food into the parks has nothing to do with food at all, but rather the time it can save you waiting in line.
Although Disney World does experience downtime throughout the year (mainly at the end of the holiday and summer seasons), the parks are still crowded. Even with Lighting Lane, you’re still bound to spend some time in ride queues that wind around the land. As such, any time you spend in line for that Dole Whip or those corn dog nuggets can be the difference between a 30-minute wait for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and 60 minutes.
By bringing in your own snacks, you can get on your favorite rides sooner. Plus, even if there is a line, you can snack on your gummies or a granola bar while you wait. Trying that with corn dog nuggets and cheese isn’t as doable or convenient.
Types of Food We Recommend Bringing into the Parks
So what types of food should you bring to the parks?
I think it’s important that you remember the Florida heat when packing food. Not only for what will sit well in your stomach running around on a hot summer day but also what will keep well in a cooler.
Small snacks are one of my park bag must-haves. Not only does this save me a ton of money, but it also fuels me whenever I need it. The light snacks I typically go for include:
- Goldfish crackers – they even have Mickey-shaped ones, if you want to indulge in the Mickey Magic
- Granola Bars
- Beef Jerky
- Rice Cakes
- Go Go Squeeze
- Trail Mix
- Whole Fruit
- Veggie Snacks, such as carrot and celery sticks
- Gum (it’s not sold anywhere on Disney property)
- Bottle water and drinks (HUGE $$ saver)
- And more!
This is just a basic list of the best foods to bring to Disney World to get you started!
Food You Can’t Bring Into Disney World
As noted earlier, Disney doesn’t allow you to bring any food into the parks that require heating, refrigeration, or any type of temperature control. In other words, even though those leftovers from California Grill the night before were great, you can’t eat them for lunch the following day at Magic Kingdom.
This rule applies to beverages, as well, so if you bring coffee from your resort, keep in mind that you won’t have any way method of reheating it if it gets cold. Though Disney World is getting more lax about serving alcohol in the parks (I wonder what Walt would say about this), you cannot bring any alcoholic beverages into any of the parks.
You can, however, bring closed alcohol into Disney Springs, as some restaurants such as STK Orlando, Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante, and on Supper Sundays at Enzo’s Hideaway. Some restaurant resorts, including California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, allow you to bring a bottle of wine or beverage of your choice not served at the restaurant for a $50 corkage fee.
But back to the theme parks and what foods you should avoid bringing in. First off, don’t bring things that will easily melt. Trust me, I have made this mistake, and cleaning out my bag after was no fun. So this means leaving the chocolate candy bars at home.
I’d also avoid anything perishable, such as string cheese, egg salad sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, and lunch meat. If you do want to bring pre-packed cold sandwiches, try to avoid adding any condiments such as mayonnaise as this won’t keep well.
The best rule of thumb, when it comes to food you can’t bring into Disney World, is to ask yourself if it’s something you would eat if it was sitting out in the sun all day. If the answer is no, it’s not worth adding to your Disney Park snack bag.
Tips for Packing a Snack Bag to Disney
Whether you’re packing a genuine snack bag, bringing a cooler, or just shoving a few treats in your adorable Loungefly backpack, here are some tips you should consider any time you want to bring food into the Disney theme parks:
That giant box of snack-sized chips and granola bars may be cheap, but are you really going to want to eat them every day of your vacation? Probably not.
When packing, be sure to bring a mix of foods with you so you have variety. This will not only keep you full, but it’ll prevent you from spending extra money on snacks because you’re sick and tired of what you brought with you.
Also, consider that you just may not be in the mood for the same peanut butter-flavored granola bar every day.
Bring What You Genuinely Like
Because of how indulgent everything is at Disney, I would try to order things that were a bit on the healthier side for breakfast or lunch. While I enjoyed some things, I ended up wasting a lot of money on food that I didn’t genuinely enjoy, just because I wanted to be healthy or give the impression of it.
For example, I hate lettuce, yet I ordered a Cobb salad at Planet Hollywood on my last visit. It was fine, but I didn’t eat all of it and ended up spending money on unhealthier snacks after we were done. I could have just opted for some grilled chicken, which I know I genuinely like!
I bring this example up to show that your Disney Parks snack bag isn’t the time to experiment. So, don’t bring food you want to try and like. Instead, bring food you know you genuinely do. Your trip will be more enjoyable that way!
Don’t Forget the Hand Sanitizer and Food Wipes!
Disney World is a pretty germy place. How could it not be? Before you eat, you’ll want to make sure you clean off your hands to avoid getting sick.
Likewise, bring some food wipes to wipe your hands after you eat, especially if food gets a little messy. It seems like a simple thing to remember, but it’s easy to forget to pack!
Read more: Disney World Packing List
What to Bring Your Food In
Now that you have some idea of what sort of food to bring to Disney World with you, here are some suggestions for what to put it in. First off let’s cover what is NOT allowed.
Again, no glass containers are allowed in the park. So any beverage or food should be in a plastic container. If possible, I stick with Ziploc baggies since they take up so little space and can be tossed when you are done using them.
Limitations of Coolers at Disney World
In my opinion, coolers are better utilized at your Disney World resort and the water parks than at the theme parks themselves. However, if you plan on only eating the food you bring into the parks, it’s understandable why you’d want to bring one in.
Now for coolers, you don’t want to go too extravagant with your selection. In fact, you can’t per Disney’s cooler and bag policies. Stick with a small soft-sided cooler and you will be good. You are limited to a cooler smaller than 24″ (61 cm) long x 15″ (38 cm) wide x 18″ (46 cm) high.
Large coolers like the kind that have wheels and roll behind you are prohibited. This means any cooler, bag, or stroller that you pull behind you like a wagon is NOT allowed into any of the Disney theme parks. It was a change back in 2019 that made big waves.
Another important packing tip is that loose ice is also not allowed into the parks. Why? It makes things difficult for security checks. So if you forgot some ice packs just make sure you put your loose ice into a ziplock baggie to contain and that will be allowed. Reusable ice packs, though, are allowed into the Disney theme parks!
Are Coolers Subject to Security Checks at Disney?
Yes, coolers, like any object being brought into Disney World, are subject to security checks.
You can minimize the time spent at security checks by keeping things in your cooler tidy, that way it’s easier for security guards to sort through and examine. Also, keep in mind that metal water bottles inside your cooler may set off the alarm, so let the guard know in advance or just leave them back at your hotel.
Read more: Disney Bag Policy: Mistakes to Avoid
Where to Eat Food You Brought to Disney
Now that you have your tasty treats packed along with you, where do you eat? The Disney theme parks are your oyster as there aren’t too many restrictions here. You are even free to take your food and go to one of the quick service locations in any of the parks and enjoy your meal in some air conditioning!
Generally, when it comes to all four parks, your best bet will be to look for the benches scattered throughout.
There are some fun spots that even have small tables. Think right outside the plaza and ice cream parlor in Magic Kingdom. They have tons of tables set up and you can take in beautiful views of Cinderella Castle.
Over in the Animal Kingdom, the Harambe Market is another great location and even has a few great spots for photos. When it comes to Epcot, I don’t even know where to start since all the countries in the World Showcase have great spots to stop and enjoy a snack, especially during festival season. More on this below!
Lastly, I would head down Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood Studios. They have tons of covered outdoor seating and there are always open tables available.
Those are just some of the first spots that come to mind! Here’s a breakdown of the very best spots in each theme park to eat the food you brought to Disney:
Here’s a list of all the best spots to enjoy a snack at Magic Kingdom:
- The benches along Main Street, U.S.A
- The tables and chairs outside of the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor
- The tables and chairs outside Casey’s Corner
- The Hub Grass, with a perfect view of Cinderella Castle
- The pathway connecting Main Street, U.S.A. to Tomorrowland, Liberty Square, and Adventureland
- Tomorrowland Terrace
- Inside Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe in Frontierland
- Outside of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
Keep in mind that, since Magic Kingdom is the most crowded of all four Disney theme parks, finding seating may be challenging. I’ve always lucked out the most at the pathways connecting to different lands, the area outside Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, and Pecos Bills Tall Tale Inn & Cafe.
Heading to Animal Kingdom? Here are the best spots to take a rest and kick back some snacks:
- The benches at Discovery Island Trails
- Harambe Market
- Satu’li Canteen
- Adventurer’s Outpost
- The benches at the Oasis
To be honest, I don’t spend a lot of time at Animal Kingdom, so I’m a little rusty when it comes to the best spots to take a break, but from past experiences, these have been some of my favorites.
The one good thing about Animal Kingdom is that it actually does provide a lot of seating options because of how exposed it is. People tend to flock toward the shaded areas and Disney was smart about offering ample seating to accommodate this.
If you walk around, you’re sure to come upon hidden benches, so keep an eye out!
Like Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios offers a lot of seating options, but because the park is so crowded, it can be a little more challenging to snag them if you want to stop off and eat some snacks.
That being said, here are some of my favorite spots to take a rest at Hollywood Studios:
- Outside Hollywood Scoops
- The pathway connecting Sunset Boulevard and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Commissary Lane
- The benches outside of Tower Gifts
- The lowered wall outside of the Tower of Terror
- Outside Echo Lake
- In the courtyard near Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Outside of Muppet Vision 3D
In my experience, finding ample seating in both Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land is a bit tough simply because of how crowded those areas are. I usually luck out the most near the Tower of Terror, the main courtyard, and Commissary Lane. I feel like hardly anybody spends time on Commissary Lane anymore, so there’s always ample seating!
In my opinion, Epcot is probably the best at offering ample seating because a lot of guests are constantly moving through the World Showcase without really stopping and relaxing.
The best spots to stop, relax, and snack in Epcot include but aren’t limited to:
- Near the fountain in the France pavilion
- Inside the Morroco pavilion
- Outside of the Seas with Nemo & Friends
- Inside the Land pavilion
- The garden at the UK pavilion
- The Canada pavilion
- Near the Imagination pavilion
Your best bet in finding the least crowded spots in the World Showcase is going to be Morroco and Canada. People tend to overlook these areas, but that’s your gain! They’re quiet and quite relaxing, too. In fact, while at the Canada pavilion, you’ll be seated next to a waterfall!
Epcot has tons of options not limited to these, so you’ll really have your pick!
Best Spot to Have a Family Picnic at Disney World
Earlier, we mentioned that there is an ideal spot to hold a picnic at Disney. If you guessed the Hub Grass in Magic Kingdom, you guessed correctly!
The Hub Grass gives you a beautiful view of the castle and even the parade route if you time it right. Though you’ll be seated on the ground, this is one of the most comfortable spots in all of Disney World! Be sure to take some pictures while you’re here!
Read more: How to Picnic at Disney World with Toddlers
Do you bring in your own food or snacks to the Disney parks? Let us know your favorite things to munch on at Disney World in the comment section below. Also, let us know if you have a great spot to stop and eat. We want to hear that too!
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As a self-proclaimed Mouseketeer, Courtney Dercqu is a fan of all things Disney. Between decorating her desk with souvenirs from the park, to making unique mouse ears and having a dedicated Disney Instagram, Courtney is a true believer in the magic of a Walt Disney World vacation. Having had more than 200 articles published on various content, Courtney’s excited to share her knowledge and experience with everyone! Be sure to follow her on Instagram for all the Disney magic.
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