Disney’s Animal Kingdom Meals On Just $20 A Day

by on August 20, 2013 26 Comments

Filed under: Dining, Walt Disney World (FL)

IMG_2647Today is our fourth and final $20 a day meal plan for visiting a Walt Disney World theme park. Disney’s Animal Kingdom has some great counter service food options, and I decided to include my ultimate favorite theme park snack too! But before we get started have you read our first three installments?

breakfastNow let’s get wild – it’s a jungle out there! Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the park I spend the most time visiting. I find that the animals make it a different experience every time, and it features the best stage shows on property, which are a weakness of mine. That is why I was surprised that when I thought about breakfast items there, I couldn’t think of anything that stood out. Determined to redeem my favorite park, I set out to try something new. After reviewing menus I decided on the African spice cake from Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery for $4.25 after tax. I’m disappointed to report this was basically coffee cake with a strange layer of icing in the middle. My husband thought it was great, but I was bummed “African spice cake” wasn’t something more exotic. If I had it to do over again I would go with something cheaper and more predictable. Balance after breakfast with free ice water: $15.75

lunchFor lunch I went for one of my old favorites. This meal is so perfect that I have been known to grab one to-go on my way out of the park. (Did you know that most Disney counter service restaurants keep foil behind the counter to cover dishes in case you’d like to take them to-go?) The smoked chicken salad from Flame Tree Barbecue is one of the best salads on all of Disney property. It features thinly sliced smoked chicken, shredded carrots, pinto and garbanzo beans, crunchy tortilla chips, corn, and a combination of two dressings. The flavors blend together so perfectly that it’s really a table service quality dish and a steal at $9.79 after tax. It is also very filling for a salad with all those beans and soft, delicious chicken.  The only salad I’ve found that is better than this one is the much pricier Famous Cobb at The Hollywood Brown Derby.  Balance after lunch with free ice water: $5.96

dinnerFor dinner I decided to grab my absolute favorite snack in all the parks. It is rather large, so it really does eat like a meal. The jalapeño cheese stuffed pretzel is the perfect cheesy snack and not nearly as spicy as you would think! The cheese inside is rich and doesn’t taste fake. These are served at several locations in the parks, with Magic Kingdom being the only place they aren’t sold. The easiest place to find them at Animal Kingdom is at the Harambe Fruit Market.  For just $4.79 after tax you can try this delightful treat! This same style of pretzel is also offered with cream cheese filling and sprinkled with sugar, but I’ve never thought it could compare to jalapeño variety. Fair warning – these pretzels are highly addictive!! Balance after dinner with free ice water: $1.17

So there you have it – you can survive in any Walt Disney World theme park for just $20 a day! What would you have chosen if you had $20 and a day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Remember, if you’d like to plan your meals to check out our Touring Plans Menus. Thanks for reading. Please let us know your thoughts or ideas for future stories in the comments below.

Posted on August 20, 2013

26 Responses to “Disney’s Animal Kingdom Meals On Just $20 A Day”

  • I appreciate the efforts to bring us this kind of series but I don’t think this is a good day of dining at Animal Kingdom. Pretzels are not dinner. IF you are actively storming a theme park you need more protein to feel good. I would like to see this series of posts with a family twist – best budget meals for kids and parents. Thanks for giving us ideas of good tasting snacks in the world.

    • Hi Alicia – thanks for your feedback. I think I’m just bad at being a grown up because I have these cheese filled pretzels for dinner more than I’d like to admit! 🙂 I think the kids twist is a great idea! Thanks!

    • Alicia, Catherine, et. al.: lighten up. It’s a fun series, proof you can get through a day on $20. It’s not meant to be a USDA-approved diet. You obviously have a computer and enough time to kvetch, why not research the posted menus and demonstrate a $20/day menu with alternatives more to your likings?
      I have really enjoyed these 4 articles and hope to see more in the same theme. Thanks, Daisy!

  • I’ve thought all your $20 days were way too sparse in food or enjoyment of eating, but this one is the worst! Yiu have described barely one meal in your whole day of “dining”. I can’t imagine brkfst w/o milk, juice, or coffee. Coffee cake & water is not brkfst, nor is pretzel dinner. Salad w/o accompaniments is okay if on a weight loss diet, but not for vacation enjoyment.

    Reading these articles makes me want to purchase the dining plan all the more. I would hate to spend all my valuablw WDW time trying to find foods to fit such a budget. $30 a day would be a stretch for anything satisfying or pleasant; would never try to do $20.

    • Hi Catherine – good or bad I always appreciate your comments and feedback. Thanks for leaving your thoughts. 🙂

      • Your post was fun to read. I’ve done the meal plan several times and always leave feeling like I ate way more than necessary, to the point of gluttony. I realize you’re not suggesting someone has to stay on a precise $20 budget, but I think I’d enjoy a small budget like this on one of our trips – and then really enjoy the foods I did eat.

        • Thanks for reading, Douglas. 🙂 I agree that the meal plan is just tons and tons of food. We decided to blow our credits on big dinners out just to use them all!

  • Ahhh, i’m disappointed. Animal Kingdom has one of the CHEAPEST and most filling dishes in all the disney parks: the Chicken Fried Rice at Yak and Yeti counter service. It’s only 3.99 for a pint of it, which is more than enough for either lunch or dinner. Any time my girlfriend and I go to AK we eat it for lunch. Its an awesome value and very filling.

    • Good to know!!! I was typing my comment up when you posted yours!! (See below.) I will have to try it next time!

    • Seems like most people agree with you, Joey! Thank you for pointing this out out. I’ve tried the fried rice but I went back to the pretzel as my “go to” in the park. Maybe I should change the article, haha! 🙂

  • I think it’s good to remember these were choices suited towards Daisy’s preferences.

    Here’s what I would get with a $20 Budget:

    Breakfast:Oatmeal from Pizzafari $2.79
    Snack: Banana from Harambe Fruit Market $1.49
    Lunch: Turkey Sandwich (comes with side off fruit) from Flame Tree $8.99
    *I get this every time we go. It’s a BIG sandwich – I can barely finish it!
    Dinner: Chicken Fried Rice from Yak & Yeti Counter Service $3.99
    *I’ve never tried it, but sometimes we make chicken fried rice at home for dinner.

    Total: $17.26+tax (I don’t know FL tax rate)

    Of course, this is going by the guidelines set up for this series. I think the point of the series is to show people you don’t HAVE to spend a ton of money in the parks, even if you purchase ALL of your food in the parks. Most of us bring snacks with us and possibly eat a meal in the hotel. That being said, you would have more money to spend on a nicer dinner or lunch and STILL keep it under $20.

    Thanks for the series, Daisy!

    • Thanks, Melinda! You’re exactly right. It is all about stretching to get the things that you enjoy. Seems like I’m in the minority with my choices this time around but I’m glad you’ve enjoyed. Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

  • I appreciated the series very much! Sometimes when looking over the menu’s and planning everything out, it seems impossible to eat anywhere on property on a budget! With the exception of today’s meal in AK, i easily could have eaten any of the $20/day meals and been happy. $20/day isn’t something i would do for every day of my vacation, but it’s nice to know you can make it through the parks without spending $50 per person on theme park food. This was a great series and I enjoyed reading it. I’d love to see more like this, perhaps the Family on a budget plan, or the healthy meal plans.

    • Thanks Jennifer! We hear you on the family series – that has been our most requested topic from this series. I don’t have kids so I’m not sure I’m the best person but we’ll work with the team. Thanks for your feedback! 🙂

  • While a good attempt, I think you should have raised your spending limit to be more realistic. I think your series in general has proved you CAN’T eat on $20/day in a Disney park. When the cheapest entree is $9 pretty much everywhere, you don’t really have a chance @ $20. As a full grown man who is 6’1″ and 200 lbs., the idea of eating a salad for lunch followed by a pretzel for dinner is not realistic. I’m pretty sure I’d be eyeing a herd of wildebeest on the Safari wondering if they tasted like chicken.

    • Hey Mick! I should have consulted my hubby on “man food”! I don’t want us losing any wildebeest on my watch!! 🙂 I agree it wasn’t easy. Just a couple nights ago we had a $14 hamburger and soda at MK. It adds up fast!

  • I for one have really appreciated the $20/ day series, including this one. I have actually been surprised by what I could afford for that budget. The whole point of the low ball $ amount is to prove that it’s possible to eat for that little. $25 or $30 would be too easy to do. And to those who don’t think that’s enough food, I gurantee those meals were over my recommended calorie intake/ day.

  • Great series Daisy! I LOVE Flame Tree and will usually split the 1/2 chicken plate with my husband (would be $5.25 each when split) and it is plenty of food. While I usually eat more than this when I’m home, your plan is a totally doable amount of food at WDW. I think I mentioned this in a comment on a prior post, but the Florida heat zaps my appetite, and AK is the hottest of the parks to me. Thanks for all your work and research!

  • I think people are missing the point of this series. It’s to show that a small budget can be used when traveling to WDW. You don’t have to follow the exact plan, but it shows some possible options. Everyone’s idea of breakfast. lunch, and dinner are different. Personally, I could see myself eating the pretzel for dinner. Save your money for a place where you can get more bang for your buck at a different location AFTER you leave the park.

  • Thanks for the series! When planning for my trip (next month) I automatically budgeted a larger amount of money for meals. Your series showed me that I can make some less expensive choices. It doesn’t “have to be” overly expensive each and every time. [That is great because it means more $$$$ for shopping and non-theme park activities:)]

  • I don’t think people are “missing the point” of this series at all. The idea behind this is fantastic, but I think the author has instead proven that $20 is NOT enough to dine at Disney (which was, after all, the whole “point” of the series). While I could see myself getting by on these meal choices, my husband and son would stage a mutiny.

  • Another idea if you don’t have a huge appetite (or budget) is to get a kids meal from Flame Tree Barbecue. I did this lasts time and it was plenty of food. I got the BBQ drumstick, it came with grapes and a cookie and a (very small) drink. It’s not a lot of food, but it worked for me (and it’s $5.99) I just got a Mickey Ice cream bar later for a snack. Animal Kingdom closes so early, i think it’s fine to have a Pretzel on the menu! You can always eat dinner later. When we were at Six Flags, I made the kids wait til off property for a late dinner, so we ended up having pretzels around 5pm! I felt like a bad mom but it worked. Their food is not great like Disney’s!