Want groceries for your Walt Disney World vacation? Using a delivery grocery service is a money-saving way to get snacks and foods brought to your hotel. This post offers tips, info, and a comparison of Instacart, Amazon Prime Now, Walmart+ or Ubering to Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or Publix. (Updated September 25, 2022.)
There have been a lot of big changes on the grocery delivery front in the last few years as new services have popped up and others have faded. As a threshold matter, grocery delivery is still allowed at Walt Disney World. We mention this because rules have changed regarding ECVs and luggage handling with the end of Disney’s Magical Express. However, nothing has changed with grocery delivery.
Hotels still allow bell services and the front desk to accept groceries (depending upon how they’re ordered/shipped), with the same procedures and rules as before. See below for more info on all of that. In fact, we are recommending grocery delivery at Walt Disney World more than ever.
There are several reasons for this, but suffice to say, one of the most frustrating aspects of visiting right now is dining. Some Walt Disney World restaurants are still closed, but not many. The bigger issue that there very few are seating all tables or operating at 100% capacity. Both of these factors make Advance Dining Reservations more difficult to score than normal.
When it comes to counter service restaurants, many menus are still scaled back. Not an issue if you like stereotypical theme park cuisine or comfort food, but many of the more ambitious options are still absent from menus. (This is not really an issue at table service restaurants.)
Part of the reason for simpler, streamlined menus at counter service restaurants is the ongoing staffing shortages in kitchens and for other backstage culinary roles. This also means that everything can take more time–whether you’re doing a sit-down meal or trying to Mobile Order at a counter service restaurant.
On top of that, the imbalance of dining capacity and demand has resulted in the Disney Dining Plan being temporarily unavailable for much longer than originally anticipated. (If you’re here wondering when it’ll be brought back, we attempt to answer that in When Will the Disney Dining Plan Return?)
Then there’s the issue of inflation, which has disproportionately impacted food costs. Menu prices at Walt Disney World were high before, but they’ve gone up even more in the last year. This is on top of everything else at Walt Disney World– prices have increased significantly across the board in the last couple of years. Just look at How Much Does a Disney World Vacation Cost in 2022?
As covered there, total vacation package prices are up by thousands of dollars since early last year. Naturally, many visitors want to trim their trip budget down a bit, and food costs are one of the easiest ways without compromising the quality of the experience.
In fact, there are some ways that getting groceries can actually improve your Walt Disney World vacation. It can be easier to do breakfast in your room, as some parks are opening later and having nutrient dense groceries in your room can give you a healthy, energizing start to your day without making the trek to the food court. Another result of these limited park hours is larger crowds and longer waits at hotel food courts & restaurants, plus Disney Springs.
All of this means that grocery delivery will not just save you money, but also time and headaches. Even if you don’t want to prepare full meals, we’d strongly recommend some basic snacks and simple items to tide you over so you can avoid the dinner-time rush crowds. Beyond doing grocery delivery, our single biggest dining recommendation right now is eating at off-hours. If you can eat breakfast in-room, take a snack with to the park, and eat “lunch” at 2 or 3 pm and “dinner” after 7 pm, you’ll save a ton of time and frustration.
The absolute easiest way to buy groceries (aside from bringing them yourself in checked luggage) is to go to the gift shop in your Walt Disney World resort hotel. Every hotel has a limited selection of groceries, including refrigerated stuff. While a banana isn’t actually $10, there is a substantial markup on everything in these shops.
These items are still cheaper than buying prepared items in the parks, and it’s a nice option to have in a pinch, but you really shouldn’t expect to go “grocery shopping” at your hotel. It’s impractical from both a cost and selection perspective.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the best options for getting groceries at Walt Disney World, including Amazon, Walmart Plus, Instacart, nearby convenience stores or grocery delivery for inexpensive breakfast, beer, fruit, vegetables, and other things typically sold for a large mark-up by Disney…
For those unfamiliar with grocery delivery services, the gist of the service is that you go on their website, order from a preset selection of groceries (you can also make special requests that they typically fulfill) at prices that are slightly marked up meeting a minimum dollar requirement for the order, they go to Publix or Whole Foods and pick up the items, and drop them off at your hotel. It’s basically what it sounds like: a personal grocery shopper.
Grocery delivery services takes the items you order directly to your hotel at Walt Disney World, leaving them with bell services (which refrigerates perishable items). For years, our recommended option and the one we used most regularly was by far Garden Grocer. That service is hugely popular with longtime Walt Disney World fans, DVC members, and more. However, the times they are a-changin…
September 25, 2022 Update: For both of our two most resort stays at Walt Disney World, we’ve used Walmart+ for grocery delivery. For those who are unfamiliar with it, Walmart+ is basically the superstore’s answer to Amazon Prime. A membership to Walmart+ costs $98 per year or $12.95 a month. However, you can currently do a free 30-day trial to Walmart+ and get $20 off an order via Sarah’s referral link.
Our experiences with Walmart+ at Walt Disney World (and beyond) have all been top-notch. We really like the ability to track order progress in the app and receive real-time updates, which has enabled us to meet the driver to receive the order rather than having them leave it with bell services. (That’s just a matter of personal preference–we’ve also had orders dropped off when we were in the parks.)
One big recommendation we have with Walmart+ is to order a few days in advance. Order time slots can fill up, and you might have to pay surge pricing or choose an inconvenient delivery time if you order last minute. We’ve also had to do same-day orders for items we needed in a pinch, and it worked out fine–but it wasn’t ideal. (It’s also not always possible–we’ve seen slots totally full during holidays or hurricane season.)
There are several Walmarts that are convenient to Walt Disney World, so the service is pretty efficient. If you don’t have a Walmart+ membership, you can also just order from the store’s website or app and pay a delivery fee.
As of Fall 2022, Walmart+ is our #1 choice for grocery delivery at Walt Disney World.
We’ve also used Instacart and have had positive experiences with that. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, Instacart is essentially a personal shopper service. You essentially browse the aisles of local grocery stores right from your phone. After placing an order, an Instacart shopper goes to the store and purchases your items and delivers them to you.
You can place an order from Publix, CVS, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, or Whole Foods. We’ve only ordered from Publix (which is the grocery store in Florida, so that’s probably what you’ll want to use unless you just want booze), but the experience was good. All of the same upsides as Walmart Plus, just slightly more expensive. For $20 off your first Instacart order, here’s Sarah’s referral link.
At this point, Instacart would be our #2 grocery delivery pick after Walmart Plus.
Another similar option is Amazon Prime Now. When ordering via the app or Amazon.com, you can have items delivered within 2 hours if you have a Prime membership–there’s now a $9.95 delivery fee for items sourced from Whole Foods, but Amazon Fresh orders still ship for so long as they meet the eligible threshold.
We’ve found that selection is more limited via Amazon Prime Now than Walmart Plus, and prices are generally higher–especially if you’re shopping at Whole Foods (but it’s probably obvious that Walmart is cheaper than Whole Foods). With that said, Amazon offers tens of thousands of daily essentials including numerous dry foods and perishable items like deli meat, pizza, cheese, bread, juice, etc.
Still, it’s Amazon, which is efficient and has a huge selection. That makes it #3 behind Walmart+ and Instacart.
Then there’s Garden Grocer. We have never been disappointed by Garden Grocer, and have always found their service to be top-notch. We really want to keep recommending them since they’re locally owned and operated. They also have over a decade of experience dealing with Walt Disney World–so their team knows what it’s doing.
However, the prices are simply cheaper via Walmart+ or Amazon. Garden Grocer also has more limited selection, and requires ordering further in advance. We’ve also heard a growing number of mixed reviews for Garden Grocer in the last two years–something that never used to happen.
As such, we no longer recommend Garden Grocer at all. We don’t not recommend them, we’re just indifferent to them. There’s no compelling reason not to use Walmart Plus, Instacart, or Amazon at this point.
In terms of what we order, carrots and grapefruit are go-tos for while we get ready, throwing a couple pieces of fruit in our bags to take to the park, and find this works really well. With a single banana, apple, or orange costing $2+ in the parks, this savings adds up quickly. It’s also probably better “natural” energy than the copious amounts of caffeine I consume on any given day at Walt Disney World, too. If you drink, another great money-saving use of grocery delivery is for beer; for less than the cost of a single beer in the parks, you can get a 6-pack!
Orders are delivered to bell services at your hotel within the delivery window selected. When we’ve used the service, I sign up to receive both an email notification and a text message (optional) when the goods arrived. Our delivery experiences have been flawless. Groceries are picked up from Publix, and cold items were separated out and refrigerated by bell services at the hotel (so be sure to tip them).
Walt Disney World is now charging a $6 per package handling fee for each package that is received through the front desk or delivered to your hotel room. Previously, this package fee only applied to resorts with convention centers, but it is being extended to all hotels.
The good news is two-fold. First, if you pick up your order from bell services, there’s still no fee (as that’s not the front desk); it only applies if the order is delivered to your room. Second, the fee is still far less than you can expect to pay on mark-up on groceries at Walt Disney World gift shops.
Other Ways to Get Groceries at WDW
Now, onto alternatives. There are some other grocery delivery services in Orlando, including Grocery Express, Kroger Grocery Delivery, and Shipt. If you have a membership to any of these, you probably already know how they work and have your favorite. If you don’t, there’s no point getting one for Walt Disney World.
If you have a rental car, you might just go to the grocery store yourself–unless you want to save time. Even if you don’t have a rental car, you might consider going yourself. Thanks to Uber, you can make a round-trip grocery run yourself for about $25-35 depending upon your Walt Disney World hotel, the store to which you go (see addresses below for closest location, and how long it takes you to shop.
For starters, use our Tips for Using Uber at Walt Disney World post as a primer if you’re unfamiliar with Uber. Next, when you request an Uber, make sure to contact the driver immediately and inform them that you’re doing a grocery run, to see if it’s okay with them. Drivers will more likely be okay with this if you tell them they can drive around the parking lot while they wait for you (drivers are paid in miles and minutes, so if they sit parked waiting, they won’t make much while you shop).
If you’re a Whole Foods enthusiast or move at the speed of Big Al in a grocery store, and plan to spend 60 minutes getting to intimately know the place, you might just have one driver drop you off and then request another to pick you up. Most drivers don’t mind passengers with groceries but, again, you might want to contact them to confirm (it doesn’t take a detective to deduce that a pick-up at a grocery store is going to have…groceries, though).
If you’re going to get groceries yourself, hit up Whole Foods (8003 Turkey Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32819), Publix (Regency Village Shopping Center, Vineland Avenue, Orlando, FL), SuperTarget (4795 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee, FL 34746) Target at Flamingo Crossings (204 Ruby Red Place, Winter Garden, FL 34787) or Trader Joe’s (8323 West Sand Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32819).
The Target at Flamingo Crossings just opened for Christmas 2021, and it’s one of many stores in that new development that has recently debuted or will open in 2022. This is a smaller store, but has a robust selection of groceries and booze (it primarily services College Program housing and area hotels). This is about 10 minutes from Coronado Springs, Animal Kingdom, or the All Stars. Although beyond the scope of this post, Flamingo Crossings is also an up-and-coming hotel district that we’d highly recommend.
Another option if you don’t have a rental car and don’t want to pay for Uber or a taxi is to hit up the Speedway gas station that’s located within walking distance of the Swan & Dolphin, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn (just outside the parking lot), and Yacht & Beach Club. If you’re staying at the Swan & Dolphin without a car, this might be your best option as those two hotels no longer allow grocery delivery.
Selection is limited (…it’s a gas station), but if you need to stock up on air fresheners and Rockstar energy drink, this is the place for you. The selection isn’t quite that limited, and it’s actually a good, low-budget option. I would strongly not recommend doing this unless you’re staying at one of these hotels. You might look a little crazy carrying a bag of groceries on two separate buses en route back to your hotel, and frankly, you wouldn’t just look a little crazy doing that, you’d be a little crazy going through all that hassle.
In terms of the logical options, I think that about covers it. I say logical because there are likely some “out there” solutions like buying different snack items at each gift shop in World Showcase and spending $593 in the process, but that would defy logic. If you don’t want to spend your limited time going on grocery runs, Amazon, Walmart Plus, and Instacart are all good options. Alternatively, those with a rental car or willingness to use Uber and an extra hour or so to spare might consider going to one of the many grocery stores located about 10 miles off-site.
How do you get groceries at Walt Disney World? What are your favorite items to order when you have groceries delivered to you? Have you had any positive or negative experiences with the grocery delivery services? We love to hear from readers, so if you have any thoughts or questions, post them in the comments!