One Dozen Disney Dining Tips:
#8 Cooking Meals & Ordering Groceries
Quick Dining Tips
- Disney's Dining Plan
- Annual Passholder Dining Discounts
- Tables in Wonderland Dining Discounts
- Bring Snacks
- Make Your Sit-Down Meal Lunch (or Breakfast)
- Have Dessert and Soak up the Atmosphere
In Depth Dining Tips
- Cooking Meals and Ordering Groceries for Delivery
- Shopping For Groceries Locally
- Dining "Disney Style" on a Budget
- Restaurant Coupons & Deals
- Refillable Mugs & Beverages
For Current Deals Look for the Mickey Ears
8. Cooking Meals and Ordering Groceries for Delivery
Resorts with Cooking Facilities
Disney's Deluxe Villa accommodations can add to your vacation dollar if you're willing to spend at least part of your vacation in the kitchen. Commonly known as Disney Vacation Club properties, these are the only units with full kitchens, other than the Fort Wilderness Cabins (which are considered a Moderate resort). Disney does allow the general public to reserve Villa units when available, but they are very limited and should be booked as far as possible in advance. You can call Disney directly to reserve a unit or use the assistance of a Disney specialized travel agency. The Walt Disney World resorts that offer full kitchens include:
- Beach Club Villas
- Boardwalk Villas
- Old Key West
- Saratoga Springs (including Treehouse Villas)
- Villas at Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Villas at Wilderness Lodge
- Bay Lake Tower (Contemporary Resort)
- Cabins at Fort Wilderness
All one-bedroom and larger Villas at these resorts and the cabins at Fort Wilderness include a complete equipped kitchen with eating area, full-size fridge, microwave, stove, oven, toaster, dishwasher, coffee maker and a complete set of cookware, dishes, silverware, and assorted other kitchen utensils. Studios in the Villas include a kitchenette that contains an under-the-counter fridge, microwave, toaster, coffee maker, a few cabinets and a small sink. There should be glasses and mugs but Studios are only supplied with paper bowls and plates and plastic cutlery, and no cookware of any kind. There is a small table in the studio, but no real eating area such as those found in the one-bedroom and larger villas. The kitchenette in the Studios is probably best utilized for preparing breakfasts, snacks and possibly reheating leftovers and is not really suited to full meal preparation.
For other less elaborate cooking facilities, Disney has Family Suites at All Star Music Resort and Art of Animation Resort. Family Suites can accommodate up to six people and come equipped with a kitchenette with microwave, small refrigerator (4.3 cu. ft), and coffee pot for simple in-room food preparation. Follow this link to view photos of the All Star Music Family Suites. The thing to keep in mind when purchasing groceries for these resorts is that refrigerators here are dormitory style, and one must severely limit the size (no larger than a half-gallon for milk) and amount of frozen and refrigerated items.
The biggest drawback to cooking at these resorts is that convenient shopping options for purchasing reasonably priced groceries is limited. Disney veterans have used a number of strategies to overcome the shopping problem while sticking to their meal budgets. The obvious solution for those with a car is to drive to a local Publix or Super Walmart to shop (see our Shopping Locally section). Since Disney has made it convenient for vacationers to visit without the need for a car, many don't have this luxury. In this situation there are at least a few approaches to consider.
On-Property Grocery Options
Anyone can shop in the DVC grab 'n' go stores or at marketplaces located within resort food courts, quick service locations and gift shops. While not as cheap as some local shopping options, it is a convenient way to buy a few staples such as milk, cereal, bread, snacks, etc. Which food items are carried will depend on the location, with DVC resorts having the largest grocery selection and resorts carrying just a few staples and mainly munchies and snacks. According to The Disney Food Blog, at DVC stores you can find most grocery supplies other than "vegetables, fresh meat, spices, baking ingredients, and ethnic foods." For those camping at Fort Wilderness or staying in a cabin, the Settlement Trading Post sells gifts, sundries, groceries, snacks and beverages.
A few Vehicle-for-Hire companies, such as Sunray Transportation, will include a 30-minute free grocery stop with any roundtrip airport transportation. The shopping trip is included in the price but must be scheduled in advance. Click here to see a complete list of exclusive TheMouseForLess discounts on private transportation.
Grocery Delivery Services
There are also several independent grocery services that will deliver to the Disney resorts. These services will leave deliveries with bell services if customers are not present. Some delivery services will leave items that can spoil in a cooler. It's also been reported that bell services at some (if not all) resorts have a refrigerator/freezer unit for storing perishable items. It's best to inquire with resorts and grocery services prior to purchase as to how perishables will be stored. Even if you don't have cooking facilities at your resort, ordering bulky items like baby supplies (diapers, formula and wipes) or cases of bottled water can be a packing lifesaver. Recommended grocery services are listed and described below:
Note: The Swan and Dolphin resort, which is not owned by Disney, does not allow the delivery of groceries on the premises by any outside service.
GardenGrocer.com: This service is often mentioned by Disney veterans as being reliable and reasonable. Shopping is done online and payment can be made in advance by credit card or PayPal. There is also an option to call in your credit card info and a cash-on-delivery option that require your attendance. To order COD, contact Garden Grocer by phone (toll free) within 36 hours to schedule a delivery and discuss payment details. Deliveries are made from 8:00 a.m. till 9:00 p.m., 7 days a week and can be scheduled days in advance. Garden Grocer has a large selection of products including baby items and alcoholic beverages and even an aisle called "Park Essentials".
As this service gains in popularity, it is suggested that placing orders several weeks in advance can ensure that delivery for your arrival date is available--especially for busy times like Christmas, President's Week, MLK, Thanksgiving, etc. Garden Grocer leaves groceries with Bell Services, carefully packaged, with the perishable items packaged separately and ensures that Bell Services holds perishables in cold storage. Delivery is $2 for orders over $200 and is $14 for those under $200. The minimum order amount for Garden Grocer is $40. Tipping is optional. There is also a restocking fee on orders canceled within 48 hours of scheduled delivery. Orders canceled prior to 48 hours incur no fee.
GardenGrocer weekly specials are available online.
WeGoShop.com: More and more this site is being mentioned in Disney circles. What makes this shopping service different is that the store from which groceries are purchased can be specified, making extremely reasonable and all-purpose stores like Walmart accessible. The drawback is customers will not have sizes, brands, or prices conveniently online when ordering and won't know the bill until it's delivered. WeGoShop will even make purchases at warehouse stores like Sam's Club and Costco as long as it is a local store and listed on the individual WeGoShop.com branch location's online order form. Since these are membership stores, it will be at the discretion of each individual branch location as to whether there will be an additional fee for non-member shopping. If the service is granted the ability to make substitutions, they will pick a comparable item if the designated brand or specified size is unavailable. WeGoShop charges a $17 service/delivery fee on the first $50 worth of groceries, and increases the charge by approximately $5 for each additional $100. Customers must call 877-934-6746 ext. 15 (WDW service) for a shopping appointment or place an order online. Delivery is either same day or next day depending on the time of call and the schedules of shoppers. WeGoShop prefers that customers are present to receive orders, but will leave orders with bell services by special arrangement. A gratuity of 10% of the grocery total will be added to all orders that are left at bell services. Payment is by COD with cash, check or credit card.
Another option is to shop before leaving home and ship supplies to your resort. Disney resorts will accept packages if a reservation can be confirmed. Food goods to consider shipping are cold and hot cereals, Pop-Tarts, pasta, dry sauces and gravies that can be reconstituted, instant mashed potatoes, bread, powdered drink mix, and snacks. Use this list of resort phone numbers to call for specific resort shipping information. There have also been reports of vacationers purchasing cases of bottled water online at Staples at some great prices (shipping is $9.95 on orders $45 and under and free for orders over $45) and having it delivered. Be sure to include the lead name on your reservation, the reservation number and arrival date with your resort address.
Another shipping option is to use Amazon.com's Grocery Department. Items are often discounted and shipping is free if you are an Amazon Prime member. Cases of bottled water are available. Aseptically sealed milk is available that does not require refrigeration until after it's opened.
NetGrocer.com: This is a national online grocery service that delivers by FedEx Netgrocer gives a two hour window to cancel or change orders placed online. Since items are shipped, customers will be charged the shipping fee after the grace period. Shipping rates are by the dollar amount purchased and run $9.99 for the first $49.99 spent and increase by approximately $5 for every additional $25 spent. Except for orders placed on weekends, groceries can be delivered to Walt Disney World resorts in approximately 7 days. Net Grocer does not accept COD payments.
Note: Disney may charge guests for shipped parcels when staying at Disney resorts with business centers. These include Disney's BoardWalk Resort, Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney's Yacht Club Resort. Handling fees range from $3-$10 depending on weight and as much as $70 for a 100-pound pallet. Typically, these charges are for corporate guests shipping large quantities for conventions. Regular resort guests should not have to pay handling fees, however. It's best to call the resort before shipping anything and ask if there will be a handling charge and how to avoid it.
Miscellaneous Grocery & Related Services
DVC members can use DVC's grocery service to purchase heavier, delicate, or fresh items that don't ship well, such as milk, eggs, fresh fruit, bottled water and soda. Each DVC resort has its own shopping list on the DVC website. Print it, check the items to be purchased and fax it several days before arrival at Walt Disney World. There is a $5 service fee, which is less than independent shopping services, but the selection is limited and often over-priced. DVC delivers after 5 p.m. and owners need not be present for groceries to be delivered. All items will be placed directly into your room. The service will also put away items that need refrigerated. DVC's shopping service does not carry bulk items. If purchasing a case of bottled water rather than paying the $2.50 price in the park seems attractive, other options will need to be considered.
Many Disney fans and DVC members report using Owner's Locker to store non perishable items between trips to WDW. On the surface this may not seem like a money saver - but between not having to pack so much and throwing supplies out that aren't used up during your trip, it's a wonderful option for those traveling to Walt Disney World often. It can be used to store non-food items such paper cups and plates, toiletries and personal items, diapers, rain ponchos, misting fans and other items one might routinely bring along. Owner's Locker allows you to keep an online inventory, and schedule delivery and pickups of your locker to and from your resort. Just be sure to keep a list of stored items and check it before you go.
Turners Drug will deliver prescriptions and standard pharmacy items to Walt Disney World resorts. They can be reached at (407) 828-8125. Turners does not accept insurance but you may be able to get reimbursed through your insurance company with your receipt.
Lastly, Minimus.biz is worth a mention. This is another helpful website where you can order lots of things in smaller sizes — individual packets of laundry detergent and pharmacy items, travel size toiletries or kits and also snack items and travel toys. Prices are very reasonable with free shipping for orders over $20.
For options for those with an available car, visit our Shopping Locally page.