Aside from the essential expenses like travel, lodging, and park access, the next expense that you have to spend money on and is almost as essential is dining. You have a lot of options when it comes to dining, however, and you don’t even have to buy it in the parks. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of buying groceries or packing in meals to the parks – so in this post I will share my top low-cost places to eat in each Disney World theme park.
You really don’t have to worry too much about sacrificing quality when you eat at a lower-cost dining location. Disney food is great where ever you get it from (if you like the food on the menu). You can also get your dietary needs met anywhere – Disney dining is well-known for providing gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, and keto friendly options anywhere – among any other dietary restrictions you need to meet.
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
Located at the edge of Tomorrowland, Cosmic Ray’s is very accessible if you’re coming from Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, or Main Street/Cinderella Castle. It has standard quick service meal options of burgers, chicken, and other specialty sandwiches. Kids (and adults) will enjoy Ray’s singing entertainment (animatronic) while you eat.
Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe
If you’re on the other side of Magic Kingdom, or don’t feel like getting standard burger/chicken quick service, Pecos Bill offers a great alternative. It’s located in Frontierland, but is easy to access from Liberty Square and has a connecting path that goes straight to Adventureland. This is actually my go-to for a meal in Magic Kingdom when I’m not doing a more expensive table service experience. They offer tacos and other Mexican food options (think Tex-Mex). The seating area is large, but also divided up and decorated to look like more of a table service experience.
This is the restaurant at the center of Future World, with an entrance directly across from the Mouse Gears gift shop under the covered area. The options here are very similar to the ones at Cosmic Ray’s in Magic Kingdom and has a similar price point. It gets pretty crowded during peak lunch times, and seating can be limited during rush times, so I recommend going before or after a lunch rush. Dinner/late evening times are typically slower as most Epcot guests dining in the park will do so in the World Showcase.
This is another very similar quick-service location, found back in the American Adventure pavilion of the World Showcase. It has a bit more seating than Electric Umbrella, and is good if you’re already in the back side of the World Showcase when you’re looking for food.
This is limited to during festival seasons, but eating at the various booths throughout the World Showcase is a great way to get a meal in. You can obviously spend a lot doing this but I’ve been able to get full after 2-3 stops if I plan it out right. Filet Mignon from Canada is a must-have because it is so filling and they have some version of it for each of the festivals. During Food & Wine, Brazil’s food is rather filling and affordable as well along with whatever is featured at the American Pavilion food booth.
AS a TV / pop culture nerd, I love going here to eat because of all the posters and theming in the area and inside the restaurant. It’s quick service and menu wise is similar to Electric Umbrella, Cosmic Ray’s, etc. during the day/lunch hours. For dinner, they swap out sides and offer more vegetable choices and better entrees than the standard quick-service locations while still having an affordable rate.
Rosie’s All-American Cafe / Catalina Eddie’s / Anaheim Produce
Located along Sunset Boulevard (the street leading up to Tower of Terror) are three quick-service outdoor dining options next to each other. If you’re in a group that can’t decide, you can go here and have variety options including specialty food, standard quick-service, and park snacks like Mickey pretzels and popcorn. There’s also a storefront that sells margaritas and other alcohol along this path. Good for quick snacks or groups trying to please a variety of desires.
Pongu Pongu / Satu’li Canteen
Located inside Pandora, at the exit of Flight of Passage, there’s a large quick-service restaurant with a variety of options. It’s not standard quick service, and is themed to the land, so picky eaters (like myself) should stay away. Otherwise, this is a good option for themed and niche dining for a quick-service price.
You’ll find this easily as you walk from Tree of Life toward Africa. Cheap, good pizza and other Italian options that will work for large groups. It’s a good choice if the Pandora location doesn’t offer anything you want to eat.
Disney Springs honestly has a lot of options and many of them qualify as low-cost (so I’ll probably do a whole post dedicated to their options at some point). For now, I want to highlight one that is very affordable and also very good. Chicken Guy is a new addition (as of early 2019) and is located just past the AMC theater as you head towards the shopping district. They specialize in chicken tenders, and offer a wide variety of flavors and different takes on the chicken. You can honestly get a meal for around 10 bucks, which is unheard of anywhere else on Disney property.
If dining isn’t your priority at Disney and you’d rather spend money on souvenirs or special experiences (or a nice hotel), these options will fill you up, give you a Disney experience, and not hurt your bank too much.
Where is your favorite place to eat at Disney that is low-cost? What’s missing from the list?
Image Credit: disneydorks.com