Dining on a Budget (with a picky eater)

tubaluba

Earning My Ears
Joined
Feb 10, 2013
I have to admit, dining in Disney World used to be a favorite part of my trip. However, since I’ve been to Disney last... about 6 years ago... much has changed including prices! I am now going back with my 6 year old and the grandparents. I have never stayed off site before but I am this time due to crazy crowds booking up every value room. Therefore I did not purchase a dining plan for the first time. But, considering I have an extremely picky little one and only 4 days to see all the parks, I had to make a tough tough decision to not make dining a priority experience.

However, we gotta eat! There are two restaurants I feel I must do and will splurge in:
Chef Mickey for breakfast
O’Hana for dinner (although last time I felt some of their items had changed a bit)

What other restaurants and lunch spots would you all recommend that would be easy, convenient/practical and affordable, for 3 adults and an extremely picky 6 year old who could care less about eating? 🤦🏻‍♀️😂😋
 

goofygal531

Always planning...
Joined
Apr 1, 2002
This is our first family vacation without the dining plan as we’re now AP holders. I also have a very picky 12 year old. With a AAA card, Swan/Dolphin restaurants offer 20% off. We’re dining for breakfast at Fresh Mediterranean and dinner at the seafood buffet in Garden Grove. Both are reasonable and the 20% off is even better!

We’re also doing lunch at The Plaza and Sci-Fi. Dinner at Trails End (due to location since we’re going on a holiday sleigh ride). Via Napoli for dinner for the candlelight processional - that was a splurge as the picky one will only eat spaghetti.

There’s also many reasonable options in Disney Springs. Wolfgang Puck Express is our standard arrival night dinner.

You can make it work. We actually enjoy the freedom with less dining plans. It’s much more enjoyable winging it.
 

Carol_

Mouseketeer
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Crystal Palace is right in Magic Kingdom, easy and classic characters. Reliable buffet. For breakfast, start with a giant plate of bacon and move on from there, as life is short... mickey waffles, eggs, bagels, etc
Epcot - France, get crepes at the crepe cart or ice cream that melts FAST in Florida heat... get lots of extra napkins and go to town. Also, people like the Garden Grill. (I haven't been but it's on my list.)
Hollywood Studios - Woody's Lunch Box Turkey sandwich is delish
Animal Kingdom - just stay far away from that giant crowded horrible Starbucks. There are carts with fresh fruit and drinks that'll get you to the next place.. I love Boma at the AK resort.
 
  • DisLiss

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 2, 2018
    We take a different approach and do counter service with our picky eater. That way they are never forced to pick a full meal at any one place. If we all sit down one place and they just want to order a side, that's fine. Then later on they may spot someplace with an entree they like and the rest of sit and share a snack, or just relax with a cool drink. :)
     

    EsseG

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Nov 21, 2017
    Three ideas:

    1. Since you're staying off site, think about eating breakfast and dinner off site. Lots of affordable family restaurants very close to the Disney entrances, especially at the Crossroads on 535.

    2. If you search "Disney menus", you'll see several websites that list all WDW restaurants with menus and prices. The DIS site's search feature was really helpful when we had a child with us who would only eat chicken nuggets.

    3. Sharing meals, adults ordering kid meals, and ordering counter service entrees without the sides are time-tested ways to feed everyone with less waste for less money.
     

    Lisa F

    is a very wise woman
    Joined
    Feb 22, 2000
    my kiddo is pretty picky and I used to do only sit downs with him because counter service was a nightmare alone, but with mobile ordering and him getting older we have branched out.

    Some of his favorites that have picky kid food but also don't force ME into eating picky kid food:

    Satuli Canteen
    Flame Tree BBQ

    Sunshine Seasons
    Tangierine Cafe

    Columbia Harbor House


    liberty tree tavern for lunch is always a favorite, we shared an entree and ooey gooey toffee cake and were out of there for less than $40 with tip.
     

    goofyintoronto

    We the North! Lets go Raptors!
    Joined
    Mar 29, 2011
    If youre paying out of pocket, I dont think Ohana dinner is worth it. For the low quality food they serve, they charge you a fortune! $55 for Adults and $30 for children. YIKES! :oops:

    I agree with @Lisa F about Satuli Canteen. Soooo incredibly good fresh and healthy. Absolutely my fave QS in disney. The other choices she listed are pretty good too.
     
  • Sara_H

    999 ghosts with room for 1 more...
    Joined
    Mar 11, 2015
    If your child is a picky eater I would stay away from TS where you will pay more for them to eat not much if anything at all. Unless they order a side or appetizer or something. My kids are sort of picky, but getting better, but we have eaten at Columbia Harbor House, Cosmic Ray's, Casey's Corner, Satu'li, PizzeRizzo and Katsura grill for QS. Personally, I would hate to pay for a buffet that they aren't eating.
     

    Tigger's ally

    Segway test dummy
    Joined
    Jun 25, 2010
    If your child is a picky eater I would stay away from TS where you will pay more for them to eat not much if anything at all. Unless they order a side or appetizer or something. My kids are sort of picky, but getting better, but we have eaten at Columbia Harbor House, Cosmic Ray's, Casey's Corner, Satu'li, PizzeRizzo and Katsura grill for QS. Personally, I would hate to pay for a buffet that they aren't eating.
    I had a picky kid and the buffets were a lifesaver. He always found things on them where on a menu there often wasn't an entree he liked.
     

    Shellyred8

    I'd rather be at Disney
    Joined
    Mar 17, 2016
    Here's another strategy you can try: look at the allergy menus. They sometimes have "plain" versions of their normal menu items on the allergy menus. Also, don't be afraid to ask for a modification of a menu item. Just want a plain hamburger instead of the bacon cheeseburger that is on the menu, ask for it. They are usually able to do those types of modifications. Just want one of the sides that they offer with the meals? Ask if you can get just the side. Again, they can usually do this.

    All of the restaurants that Lisa F recommended are ones that I would recommend for picky eaters too. In addition to her list: does your little one like waffles? Sleep Hollow at MK has waffles all day. :) Their fruit and nutella waffle is AMAZING!!!

    Happy eating!! :)
     

    Sara_H

    999 ghosts with room for 1 more...
    Joined
    Mar 11, 2015
    I had a picky kid and the buffets were a lifesaver. He always found things on them where on a menu there often wasn't an entree he liked.
    True, but my thought was more that they are on a budget and if the child won't eat much it is a waste of money because they pay the same price regardless of what they eat.
     
  • TwoMisfits

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 21, 2002
    I have to admit, dining in Disney World used to be a favorite part of my trip. However, since I’ve been to Disney last... about 6 years ago... much has changed including prices! I am now going back with my 6 year old and the grandparents. I have never stayed off site before but I am this time due to crazy crowds booking up every value room. Therefore I did not purchase a dining plan for the first time. But, considering I have an extremely picky little one and only 4 days to see all the parks, I had to make a tough tough decision to not make dining a priority experience.

    However, we gotta eat! There are two restaurants I feel I must do and will splurge in:
    Chef Mickey for breakfast
    O’Hana for dinner (although last time I felt some of their items had changed a bit)

    What other restaurants and lunch spots would you all recommend that would be easy, convenient/practical and affordable, for 3 adults and an extremely picky 6 year old who could care less about eating? 🤦🏻‍♀️😂😋
    I'd stick to late dinners offsite, probably from GrubHub or picked up with your rental. If you have the picky child, you can easily make her a favorite sandwich and fruit every night while you and your parents enjoy some nice adult dining (as your child watches a movie, heads to bed, swims if you eat poolside, etc). And you can plan 1-2 nights where you actually head somewhere you know she likes and you make do:).

    I'd also stick to easy breakfasts in your room.

    And then you're only hassling with lunches every day.
     

    ChimCher-ee

    There's been a change of plans.
    Joined
    Jun 3, 2015
    We take a different approach and do counter service with our picky eater.
    I didn't eat table service until DD went to sleep away camp for the first time, and I got to come to "Mom camp" with another adult!

    Now 16, DD isn't such a picky eater, but back in the day, we just avoided the whole issue and ate at quick service places. Pecos Bill and Flame Tree were our favorites.
     

    maxiesmom

    The Mean Squinty Eye Works
    Joined
    Jul 6, 2004
    How about swapping Chef Mickeys for the Garden Grill in Epcot? You still get to see Mickey Mouse, plus Chip and Dale. Breakfast is all you care to eat, and it is brought to your table. So much easier with a little one than getting up for a buffet. They serve scrambled eggs, fruit, and the best cinnamon bun with icing! There are Mickey waffles, bacon and sausage too.
     

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