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Cooking in a Hotel Room on a Disney World Vacation?

A few weeks ago, a mom in my local moms Facebook page posted a photo of her cooking dinner on the floor of her hotel room at Disney World. The reaction from other moms was mixed.

I used to see many posts in Disney online forums with people looking for ideas on how to cook easy meals in a hotel room. Responses were often heated and judgmental.

To clarify, I’m not talking about condos with full kitchens. I’m talking about regular Disney hotels rooms that only have a small refrigerator and coffee maker.

Cooking in a Hotel Room on a Disney World Vacation?

Why They Do It

The biggest reason I’ve seen for cooking in a hotel room is to save money. Disney food aint cheap!

Some kids also struggle with meltdowns in restaurants due to being over-tired and exhausted, and eating in the room is just easier in those circumstances.

I’ve also heard of families who have food allergies say that providing their own meals is just easier and safer.

How They Do It

In the examples I’ve seen, families bring some sort of portable electric cooking device like a crock pot, hot plate or grill. Some Disney hotel rooms have microwaves, and that alone may suffice. If your room does not have a microwave, you can request one on a first-come first-serve basis.

After a quick search on Google, I discovered many articles on how to make dinner using just a hotel room iron or coffee pot!

The mom in the recent Facebook post brought an electric grill and packed frozen meat in a thermal bag. Upon arrival at Disney, the meat was starting to thaw and could be placed in the hotel room’s refrigerator.

While some folks bring food in their suitcases, many rent a car and go grocery shopping between the airport and the hotel. Or, they just use a food delivery service like Garden Grocer to deliver all of the ingredients to their room.

Some families prepare dinner in the crockpot in the morning before heading to the parks to let it simmer all day. Others come back to the room to prepare quick meals, like tacos or hamburgers, before heading back to the parks.

Opposing Views

For some reason, the mention of families cooking in a hotel room really causes a heated debate. A few people oppose this vehemently for the following reasons:

“It’s not safe.” People argue that electric cooking devices are a fire hazard. Also, they wonder if meat that has made the journey across multiple states is still safe to eat based on its temperature.

“I don’t want to cook on vacation.” I totally get it. I cook so many meals in a year at home that I really don’t want to cook on vacation, either. However, when you’re not used to paying for restaurant food, it’s hard to fork over $50 for a family breakfast or $100+ for a family dinner when the kids just want to eat a hot dog.

“That’s just being too cheap!” This is the main reason the conversation gets so heated. The act of grilling dinner on the floor of your hotel room while on vacation is just beyond ridiculous to many people. Some say “If you can’t afford to eat out on vacation, you should wait until you can afford it.”

I disagree with this, and I will not judge someone for cooking in a hotel room. Disney is not affordable anymore for most middle-class families. I would rather go to Disney and cook in the room vs. skip the vacation altogether.

My Experience with Hotel Room Food

Although some may be surprised to hear this, I have never brought my own cooking device to cook in a regular hotel room. While I am “cheap” and I do like to save money, I have never gone that far.

Why? I haven’t done it mainly because my husband would roll his eyes at me and tell me I’m being too cheap. He really likes eating out, and I’m pretty sure he’d be mortified if I brought a crockpot and bragged about eating dinner in the room that way. I believe in picking my battles, and I am not choosing this battle.

However, my family does regularly bring breakfast food with us to hotels. I hate spending big money on breakfast when my kids just want a muffin. I usually bring a box of mini-muffins with us and then buy a few yogurts and string cheese at the hotel gift shop to stick in our refrigerator to go along with the muffins. Sometimes my husband leaves the room to buy his own breakfast. But, that’ still better than spending $50+ on pancakes for all five of us.

When my kids were younger, I also regularly brought Lunchables and sandwiches with chips to our hotel room for lunch. This was really easy when we were road tripping and I could easily store this stuff in a cooler in our car.

Cooking in a Hotel Room on a Disney World Vacation?

Lunch in our hotel room? You betcha!

Now that my kids are getting a little older, their appetites have increased and I have one who is a bona fide “foodie”. So, Lunchables don’t always cut it for lunch. But, I still bring breakfast with us whenever possible.

Alternatives to Cooking in a Hotel Room at Disney World

Cooking in a full kitchen with a full-size stove and appliances is much easier and convenient. If cooking is important to you, consider staying in a condo instead of a regular hotel room.

The Orlando area has SO MANY vacation condos. Most of them cost less than a standard Disney hotel room but have much more space. Many of these condo resorts offer pools and amenities that rival the onsite Disney resorts as well! My family stayed at Wyndham Bonnet Creek in a four-bedroom condo, and we ate breakfast and dinner in the room thanks to grocery delivery from Garden Grocer.

Cooking in a Hotel Room on a Disney World Vacation?

Amenities at Wyndham Bonnet Creek

If you really want to stay onsite at Disney World, you can rent Disney Vacation Club points to stay in a villa with a full kitchen for much less than reserving the villa directly through Disney. I’ve rented DVC points twice with no issues.

You can also get a kitchen by renting a cabin at Disney’s Fort Wilderness, or you can even rent an RV to stay at Disney’s campground.

Would You Do It?

Would you ever consider cooking in a hotel room on your Disney World vacation or on any other trip? Why or why not? Are you ok with cooking meals at all during vacation, or do you prefer the break you get from eating out?

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Author: Nancy

Nancy is a contributing writer for Miles For Family. She enjoys traveling to the beach and is a big fan of Disney. Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids.

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22 thoughts on “Cooking in a Hotel Room on a Disney World Vacation?

  1. We have stayed at the Florida Mall Hotel for a work conferences and yes, we have brought a toaster and bagels for breakfast!! In addition to that, we brought several Chipotle knock off bowls we had premade and packed. Something easy to throw in the microwave at the lunch breaks.
    I don’t think I would be the type to bring a hot plate or something, but premaking lunches for days at the parks is something we really try to do. It can add up so fast!!

  2. We have done Lunchables, bagels, muffins, fruit in regular hotel rooms before for quick economical breakfasts and lunches. And this was when we traveled somewhere by car and could take a cooler. I would never think to pack meat and a hotplate or crockpot if my room didn’t have a kitchen. I’m kind of a rule follower, so there’s that. But just the logistics of it would really turn me off. Are people washing and prepping the food in the bathroom sink? What about utensils and plates? Are they packing that stuff too? I can be pretty economical, but I’m thinking ordering a pizza or sending Dad out to grab some Chick-fil-A or Subway is a much better option to save money.

  3. Haha….we’ve stayed at $300+ per night places (e.g. Intercontinental Carlton Cannes, on points/certificate) and cooked in our hotel room on a hot plate. My wife’s dietary sensitivities plus the utterly ridiculous prices of 5* hotel food makes it the best option. We’ve gotten used to lugging around a hot plate and pan everywhere we go.

    We do have a funny story of arriving at the Hyatt Regency in Nice, France where I belatedly realized our U.S. hot plate wouldn’t work in Europe, due to the voltage difference. So now we own a European model as well. Thank you Amazon France for the free trial and free 2-day shipping!

  4. we’ve been to disney many times, and yes the food is so expensive. we may bring snacks and breakfast foods to the hotel, i would never try to cook a regular meal in the hotel room

  5. @Ian LOL Now that you have three kids, hot plate will probably get a ton of mileage! I’ve seen some quirky suggestions on making food in your hotel room. Few that stood out: using iron to make grilled cheese sandwiches and coffee maker for ramen noodles.

    • Leana, I just Googled it, and apparently people are doing all kinds of crazy things like cooking quesadillas, omelets and event steaks with the iron!

    • @Annie Cole Yes, the cost of food and entertainment on vacations do add up. I hate spending a lot of money on mediocre food. Sometimes it’s unavoidable.

  6. Oh my husband and I are huge Disney people and we are big believers in hotel room meals. We haven’t done dinner, but breakfast and lunch for sure. We pack a big cooler when we drive in and load up the refrigerator. It’s so much cheaper, and we can use that money saved to either sock away or splurge on a more expensive dinner. Great post!

  7. Nancy,
    This is hilarious because I used to work at the Disney hotels and although this devices are not permitted (due to Florida fire code) I’ve seen people getting super creative. Especially during varsity football season the coaches use one room just to cook meals with rice cookers, flat top griddles and panini makers. Imagine how expensive is to feed teenagers football players with Disney prices!!!
    Off course if the guest gets busted by a housekeeping manager they are asked to stop due safety reasons.
    But I always bring snacks with me. And breakfast in the room is a must if I don’t have lounge access.

  8. We definitely bring our own breakfast, snacks & drinks or hit up a grocery store on the way to the hotel. How exactly does Garden Grocer (I’m assuming there are other companies as well?) work for delivery at a Disney Resort? Can I pre-schedule a drop off at the lobby based on our arrival time? or should I wait until we’re all settled in on our room?

    I have only brought my crockpot on a roadtrip for a resort that had a full kitchen; otherwise, we’ll just fend for ourselves at restaurants/amusement parks or I’ll use a delivery service to the hotel which is easy since I don’t have picky eaters. Honestly, the last thing I want to do is cook dinner on a vacation.

    • @Stephanie I haven’t ordered from Garden Grocer in a few years, but when I did we could pick our delivery time. I think we even had it delivered to the hotel before our arrival and it was stored in a refrigerator for us (but that was at Wyndham Bonnet Creek–not sure if the Disney resorts will do that).

  9. Oh my gosh, yes! I am all about cooking food on vacation. It is such a great money saver, and then we can splurge on experiences instead. We go out a few times to “must see” or famous local spots, but otherwise we tend to eat in the room. In my mind, I’m just going to be hungry again in 3-4 hours…is it worth spending so much money? Ha.

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