Can I Bring My Own Food into a Disney World Theme Park?

The big news around Walt Disney World this week was the price increase of many snack, beverage and other menu items at Disney restaurants and snack carts. This is just one of several reasons to consider bringing your own food into the theme parks.  But is it even allowed?
Snacks at Walt Disney World

The simple answer is yes. No one will frown at you during your bag check as you enter the park, as long as you meet certain guidelines. Of course, security might jokingly ask if you brought enough to share!

Some situations in which packing snacks, a lunch or dinner for Disney make sense:

  • Saving money: If you’re on a tight budget, packing a lunch will save you some cash to buy that Mickey pretzel later.
  • Saving time: When lines to get your food are long, you won’t have to wait to order and wait to receive your grub.
  • Health concerns: While Disney World is amazing at making sure everyone is accommodated, you may have unique factors that make packing a simpler choice.
  • Picky eaters: Maybe your little one (or you!) prefers to chow down on nothing but cheese.

What to Pack

So, you’ve decided to bring a meal with you. Now, what do you bring and how do you carry it all?

You can bring almost anything you want, excluding adult beverages. Keep in mind that you should avoid bringing anything in a glass container for safety purposes. Baby food is the only exception to this rule. When packing, keep the Florida weather in mind. You won’t want to bring a meal that will go sour under the hot sun. Some suggestions from our tried-and-true experiences:

  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Prepackaged snacks, like chips and crackers
  • Pre-frozen yogurt tubes
  • Granola bars
  • Water, water, and more water

Unless you’re bringing a small cooler (which you totally can do), insulation will only take you so far in the hotter months of Florida. One of the best suggestions we can give is to freeze a few water bottles ahead of time to use as ice packs. Once they’ve melted, you can drink them, and after you toss them your bag will be lighter. You can also freeze certain food products  and they’ll typically thaw within a few hours to be ready by lunchtime. If you’re opting for a cooler, make sure it’s no bigger than 24″ long x 15″ wide x 18″ high.

Where to Eat

While it is completely within Disney’s rules to bring your own food into the parks, there is certain behavior that is frowned upon and could get you some stares from other park-goers.

Where you sit to enjoy your meal is the key factor to making a successful picnic in Disney World. You should never sit inside a counter-service restaurant during peak hours. If there are only a few tables left and a line out the door, this common courtesy is self-explanatory. If there are tons of tables open, head in and enjoy the air conditioning. You should never attempt to sit inside a table-service restaurant with a home-packed dinner.

The best places to eat where you can quickly grab your bite will be outside dining areas.

Magic Kingdom: Outside dining for Casey’s Corner, Pinocchio Village Haus, Tortuga Tavern, and Friar’s Nook. There are also tables near the Rapunzel-themed bathrooms (but these are usually taken up by people recharging their phones). Great places to sit down without a table include the grassy courtyards at the Hub, anywhere you can find a vacant bench or wall, and anywhere at Tom Sawyer Island.

Casey’s Corner

Epcot: Outside dining for Electric Umbrella, inside dining area for Sunshine Seasons, and vacant benches or walls.

Sunshine Seasons

Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Outside dining for Rosie’s All-American Café, Backlot Express, and Dockside Diner, as well as vacant benches and walls.

Backlot Express

Animal Kingdom: Outside dining for Flame Tree Barbecue, Pizzafari, and Dino Bite Snacks, inside dining areas for Restaurantosaurus, tables located outside of Rafiki’s Planet Watch (while it’s still open), and as always, benches and walls.

Flame Tree BBQ

Have you had a picnic in the Disney Parks? Tell us your experiences about bringing food into the Disney Parks in the comments below!

5 Replies to “Can I Bring My Own Food into a Disney World Theme Park?”

  1. We’ve brought our own food for years. Pack an insulated bag, rent a locker at the “front gate” of whatever park you are visiting & store your food until lunch/dinner. Dad then retrieves the insulated bag while mom & kids find some outdoor seating. It saves a crazy amount of money and time. We also stash packaged crackers, nuts, raisins, juice boxes in each of our backpacks for consumption during the day. We never do the dining plan. With the money saved, we agree on one or two sit down dinners during our trip as a treat. Refrigerated products can be stored in the refrigerator of your resort room until needed. Other items can either be shipped by you to your resort or ordered on-line from one of the local grocers, who will then deliver them to your resort.

  2. I just wanted to tell people to be careful about what their food is in. On our last trip as we went thru the safari line at AK we passed the courtyard where all the strollers were left. There was a squirrel raiding the strollers for food. It had found a can of something (cardboard can like Pringles but it was something else) and was trying really hard to pop the lid off. It finally dragged the whole can out of the stroller and took off with it!

  3. We like to make sandwiches on bagel so the bread doesn’t get soggy. Freeze juice packs to keep food colder longer. Bring a refillable water container to be filled with water at any restaurant. Trail mix and cheese sticks are always a must! Enjoy!

  4. I haven’t brought my own food in, but at Hollywood Studios we’ve taken food from Dockside Diner into the Indiana Jones show a couple of times. Food is allowed and it’s a great way to use time.

  5. We brought food in for two of our park days this summer. We had wraps that we had pre-made along with individually packed veggies and fruits, packs of chips, and drinks (water for our daughters, soda for wife and me. We ate both times inside at Pinocchio Village Haus. First day was upstairs out of the way. Second time it was a little more crowded and we ate downstairs but it still wasn’t full. We weren’t the only ones either. Highly recommend bringing in food. We budgeted for snacks everyday because those are much better to me then the quick service meals and cheaper as well. Good luck to everyone out there!

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