A water bottle is how much? After spending thousands of dollars on your vacation you can blow your souvenir budget pretty quickly on things that you need instead of the charm bracelet that would have been a magical memory of your trip.
For some reason, the markup on water bottles really bothers my Dad. The extra few dollars on water always elicits a diatribe on how Disney knows you need water in the Florida heat and it’s not right they charge you that much. Same spiel every year…yawn!!
But I get it, a Disney vacation is expensive and you want to make sure you are getting the best value out of your vacation dollars.
One of my favorite ways to save a little money (and time) is to get a few essential items delivered to my hotel to avoid paying inflated Disney prices. Grocery delivery has become extremely popular at the Disney resorts and the number of options have exploded. In this post, I walk you through your options and some of my favorite items to order.
There are a ton of options out there to make getting your groceries incredibly easy. You go online, create your order and it is dropped off at bell services, where they will keep items cold. Because of the popularity of this option Disney has begun charging a $5 fee for any order that Bell Services handles. You can avoid the fee by selecting the delivery window to a time you know you will be at the resort and meeting the delivery in the lobby.
The most popular option is Garden Grocer. It is pretty expensive with a markup on items and a $14 delivery fee. These services also usually have the least variety in terms of options. The benefit is that there is no minimum order and offer discounts for early booking, you can reserve your order up to 60 days in advance and have less things to worry about as you approach your trip.
This is my favorite option and my choice for my own trips. It is very similar to the local grocery delivery in terms of processing and handling with Bell Services. Where it gets the head up for me is the options. This is a delivery service where you choose which store you would like the shopper to go to and you have your pick of all the items in the store.
I use Instacart. I use it at home, so it is really easy for me to just change the delivery address to the hotel. Instacart offers services for Publixx, Whole Foods, Cosco, and the local Liquor Store. You can order a week or two in advance which is a huge benefit over the courier option. The delivery fee varies depending on the time of delivery but is usually $4-9 plus tip BUT I have a referral code for $10 off your order. Go to This Link and enter code CPANAGIOTAKOS191 for free delivery.
You can ship a box to yourself at your Walt Disney World resort. If you need to order from different places it may make the most sense to put what you need into a box and ship it to yourself before you go. The benefit here is you have the option to only ship the quantities you need. Everything is delivered to one central processing area so be sure to leave plenty of time for it to get to your hotel before your trip. I would add 2-3 days to the expected delivery date to be safe.
Another option is delivering an order to your resort instead of your house. Amazon is a great option for this. You can use it to avoid packing things like diapers and wipes. It is also common to ship a cheap stroller or pack n play that you will need for your trip but don’t want to pack. You can leave it at the front desk of your resort for another guest. It is important to note that Disney does charge a $5 handling fee for every box processed so if you need items from different places you are better off shipping your own box.
Amazon Prime Now is another popular option for Disney grocery delivery. It is an exclusive delivery service for Prime Members, free for orders over $35. It is a separate app that you download and it gives you a limited selection of items that can be delivered within a few hours. It can not be ordered more than 24 hours advance so it is one more thing you have to remember on travel day. I don’t love it for grocery delivery but I use it for items I forgot or didn’t realize I needed. My camera broke one trip and it was super helpful in that case!!
Your last option is stopping at a grocery store. If you rented a car or have private transportation from the airport this is easy and gives you the opportunity to select your own items. You save on any delivery or processing fees in exchange for taking some of your time. There is also a Speedway Gas Station on property you can get some items for a minimal Uber/lyft fee if you do not have your own car.
DO NOT PAY DISNEY PRICES FOR WATER BOTTLES!!! If you get nothing else the amount of money you will save on water will cover a delivery fee and then some. I fill the fridge with water bottles as soon as they arrive. The rule in our family is you carry a bottle into the park and we put one more per person in the backpack. I keep them cool in neoprene sleeves like these. When we go back for our midday break we refresh the bottles and take another two each. I usually still end up buying a couple in the parks but with bottles of water running around $4, bringing 4 per person per day really helps. If you want to save even more or are not planning a midday break you can bring a cooler and rent a locker to avoid carrying them. It is important to note that hardsided coolers and loose ice are not allowed, so bring Ziploc bags and fill them with free ice from your ice machine at your resort.
The first few hours in the morning are the least crowded and I don’t like to waste that valuable time eating breakfast. This is also a great way to stretch your credits if you are on the Disney Dining Plan. Some of my family’s favorites are oatmeal packets we can prepare with the water from the coffee machine, cereal and milk, granola bars and fruit. We eat just enough to hold us over until we grab an early lunch.
Emergency snacks in our park bag are a great way to avoid any meltdowns or issues due to hanger. Make sure you pick something that won’t melt in the heat, like goldfish or peanut butter crackers.
If you are really on a budget and want to save even more, you can order some items to make sandwiches. Bread, peanut butter and jelly, or lunch meat will be much less expensive than Disney meals. Remember hardsided coolers and loose ice are not allowed but you can pack a softsided cooler with ice packs or bags of ice and put it in a locker until you are ready to enjoy it.
Budgeting is such an important part of trip planning, but it can be difficult to find the time to sit down and actually work out the real cost vs a package deal. My ‘Should You Add the Disney Dining Plan’ guide covers everything you need to know to make the right dining choice for you. From what is covered in each dining plan, and who it will best suit, to the average cost of each restaurant and even calculate your savings!
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