You can't expect us not to take advantage of having a local mom as a member of the Disney Moms Panel. Soon after Suzannah DiMarzio, who lives in Wesley Chapel, was tapped by the Mouse, we started picking her brain and asking her to share some tips at the Whoa, Momma! parenting blog on tampabay.com.
Here's the first of what we hope is a series of getting Suzannah to spill the goods on the Mouse:
My husband and I still think of that episode on The Simpsons when Homer asks a vendor at Disney World for a churro and is told, "That'll be $14" (D'oh!). Disney churros are really under $4, but the overall reputation stands.
With the economy still struggling, if your family is spending its precious time and money hanging out with the Mouse, you want the most bang for your buck. You'll be happy to know there are more options than trying to split a gigantic turkey leg among a family of four.
Cosmic Rays Starlight Cafe: Located in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom, this popular spot is really three Quick Service restaurants in one. There's an area where you can order chicken items, one to order burgers, and one for sandwiches. In the chicken section, you can get half of a rotisserie chicken, served with mashed potatoes and vegetables for $9.49. For a few dollars more, you can get barbecued ribs added to that combo. More than enough to share.
Toy Story Pizza Planet: This little gem is over in the back of Disney's Hollywood Studios, near the Muppet*Vision 3-D movie. Here you can find individual pizzas starting at around $6, with combo meals available that include salads, and kids meals for ages 3-9 that include a cheese pizza, side item and drink for $4.99.
Sunshine Seasons: This food court area is found downstairs inside The Land pavilion in Epcot and offers a variety of unique options for families. The Asian and grilled choices all come with two sides, and are in the $10 range and good to share.
Buffets: These are especially good values if you have kids that like to eat. One of the best I've found is the Whispering Canyon Cafe in Disney's Wilderness Lodge, which has an all-you-can-eat skillet breakfast for $7.49 per child aged 3-9 and $14.99 per adult.
Meal planning: One of the best ways to save money is by simple planning. Eat breakfast at home or at a cheaper off-site location. Make lunch your main meal at the park; entrees are similar to those on the dinner menu, but prices are much lower. And if you have small kids, notice what people have on their plates and see if it's enough for two kids to share. Many meals consist of generous portions. And remember, unlike some parks, Disney does allow you to bring in your own food. So, if you want to pack a picnic for the day, you can do that.
Follow Suzannah on Twitter @zannaland or her blog, zannaland.com. The Whoa, Momma! blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/moms. Follow us on Twitter @WhoaMomma.