Disney World Has the Fun, but Can You Bring the Food?
Nowadays, food is one thing you won’t have to break the bank on at Disney World – but that wasn’t always the case. Once upon a time, signs greeted visitors at park entrances declaring, “No outside food or drink,” basically requiring visitors to purchase snacks inside of the parks.
This wasn’t a deal breaker for guests, by any means. Disney’s selection of snacks and beverages is massive, and there are more than enough delicious options to satisfy even the pickiest palates. The only real drawback of buying your snacks inside of the parks? The draining effect it can have on your wallet.
People caught on pretty quickly to the fact that those friendly security guards at bag check weren’t particularly concerned if you decided to try and sneak in a granola bar or two. The guards had their focus on more important things, like visitor safety – so outside food found its way through the gates anyway.
Disney World Changed Its Mind About Food
Disney changed its policy on food in the parks, and the signs saying, “No, ” were taken down. New signs were put up encouraging guests to bring in their own food and drink. It was Disney World’s way of saying, “Hey, we care about our guests, and we want you to be 100% satisfied with your visit!” (The subtext here was probably something like, “we know we’re already charging an arm and a leg, and we’ll make money in other ways.”)
Plus, I’m sure the powers-that-be in the Disney universe recognized that they were fighting a losing battle trying to keep outside food on the outside. There was just no way to successfully monitor and enforce the old policy, due mainly to the insane volume of people that passed through the park gates daily.
There’s also the environment we’re in – especially nowadays, there are so many people with unique diet restrictions. Between vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, food allergies, diabetes and more, there are a lot of people that take special precautions when it comes to what they put into their bodies.
Disney has always stood by their image of excellent customer service, so the fact that you can bring outside food into Disney is, in my opinion, a testament to it.
Bringing Food Into Disney World’s Parks
If you want to bring your own food into Disney World, there are still a few rules in place that need to be mentioned:
- You cannot bring alcohol into the Disney parks. (*sniffle*) If you try, it will be confiscated at the bag check. Alcohol is allowed at the Disney Resort hotels, and you may bring wine to Disney Springs to enjoy at select table service restaurants (corkage fees apply).
- Coolers are allowed (though not in indoor venues at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex). BUT, they cannot be larger than 24″ long x 15″ wide x 18″ high. Coolers may also can’t have loose or dry ice, so you’ll need to throw some ice packs in there.
- Glass containers are not allowed inside of the parks. (An exception is made for baby food jars, in case you see anyone with ’em). If you are bringing food that needs to be in a container, use plastic or snack bags. (I am not a fan of single-use plastics, so if you’re eco-conscious, check out these awesome reusable ones!)
- There are no plastic straws allowed in Animal Kingdom or any of the Disney water parks. Some folks don’t like how the paper straws hold up, but these silicone ones are a great stash to bring!
So, what’s the best food to bring to Disney World?
You need to think in terms of what’s going to hold up best inside a backpack or fanny pack for hours on end. (Keep the weather and temperature in mind – it’s HOT, there’s lots of direct sun and humidity). Choose things easy and quick to eat, that don’t require heating, and also will give you the energy you need to last through a full day at Disney. (If you’ve been to Disney, then you know it’s intense. It’s almost like you need to train for it like you would a marathon-but it’s so worth it!)
- Bottled water, bring a refillable bottle (I swear by this one – no joke, it stays cold FOREVER) and fill-up often at the water stations conveniently located throughout the parks. You can also ask at any of the quick service counters. (Otherwise, it’s a couple bucks per Dasani bottle – believe me when I say this will add up after you’re there a few days in that heat!)
- Apples, oranges…anything with a tough skin that will hold up ok in your bag.
- Protein shake packs that you can mix directly into a bottle of water
- Granola bars
- Frozen fruit – it’s genius. It’ll slowly thaw throughout the day and stay cold. Try something like frozen pineapple or grapes.
- Dried fruit
- Almonds, mixed nuts
- Baby carrots
- Sandwiches (with nothing that might spoil if you don’t have ice packs)
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list – but this is a good starting point regarding the food you can bring to Disney! (And, you probably have some personal snack favorites that you will want to include.) If you’re flying, make sure to adhere to any airline regulations regarding food and drink. You can always have stuff delivered once you’re there from Garden Grocer or Instacart.