Want groceries for your Walt Disney World vacation? Using a delivery service is a money-saving way to get snacks and foods brought to your hotel. This post offers tips, info, and a comparison of Garden Grocer, Amazon Prime Now, Ubering to Trader Joe’s or Publix, etc. (Updated May 30, 2021.)
Note that even though Walt Disney World resorts have reopened with new health safety measures and protocol, grocery delivery is still allowed. 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 during Summer 2021 is going to be dining. We’ll explain why below. For this reason, we strongly recommend using Garden Grocer (our favorite option), Amazon, nearby convenience stores or grocery delivery for inexpensive breakfast, beer, fruit, vegetables, and other things typically sold for a large mark-up by Disney…
As for why this is such a strong recommendation right now, many restaurants are still closed at Walt Disney World. Those that are open are physically distancing tables, which means fewer guests inside, making Advance Dining Reservations more difficult to score. There’s also a staffing shortage at Walt Disney World, so everything takes more time–whether you’re doing a sit-down meal or trying to Mobile Order at a counter service restaurant.
It’s also easier to do breakfast in your room, as some parks are opening later. Likewise, with parks closing earlier, it’s easier to do dinner in your room. 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. Okay, let’s take a look at some of the best options for getting groceries at Walt Disney World…
The easiest and most robust alternative to this is a grocery delivery service that takes the items directly to your hotel at Walt Disney World, leaving them with bell services (which refrigerates perishable items). Of these, our recommended option and the most popular with Walt Disney World guests is by far Garden Grocer.
We have never been disappointed by Garden Grocer, and have always found their service to be top-notch. Our first time using them, we ordered a variety of different options, so we could prepare breakfast in our room and also have some healthy snacks for our trips (in Sarah’s case…in my case, unhealthy energy drinks). Garden Grocer had been recommended to us by friends who are Disney Vacation Club members and swear by it.
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.
Our experience with Garden Grocer has been so positive that we’ve used them even when we’ve had a rental car. I know it doesn’t take that long to go to a grocery store, but on vacation I’d rather be spending time in the parks than shopping. Garden Grocer is efficient and cheap enough that it makes more sense for me to have them do the shopping than me do it myself. (Your mileage may vary on that one.)
This is why ordering from Garden Grocer and having them deliver is my #1 option when it comes to getting groceries at Walt Disney World. If you’re confused about how to use them, I’ll explain that more below.
After our first time using Garden Grocer, we realized preparing meals, even something small like breakfast, was not at all for us. We’ve instead used Garden Grocer since primarily for healthy snacks and caffeine. From my perspective, this is one of the best uses of grocery delivery, as healthy options are really overpriced in the parks, and something I admittedly don’t get enough of on vacation. (I was heartbroken to learn that cupcakes don’t have as many “vitamins and stuff” as I thought.)
We eat some carrots and grapefruit as we get ready, throw 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 Garden Grocer is for beer; for less than the cost of a single beer in the parks, you can get a 6-pack!
My biggest recommendation when using Garden Grocer is to order 60 days (or more) in advance. This saves you 10%, and ensures you a good selection of delivery times. Given that prices at Garden Grocer seem about 10-15% higher than in-store prices at Publix or Trader Joe’s, this discount makes the service pretty close to “at cost” of doing it yourself.
The shopping experience on the site is solid. The user interface and ordering process is easy and efficient on Garden Grocer, so I don’t think I need to walk you through that. Selecting enough stuff to meet the minimum, and then place your order. Note that delivery is FREE on orders $200 and above!
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.
You can browse the other items that Garden Grocer sells by clicking here.
Other Ways to Get Groceries at WDW
Now, onto alternatives. In addition to Garden Grocer, there are some other, similar services in Orlando. Four of those options are: Grocery Express, Goodings, WeGoShop, and Shipt. The newest of these is Shipt, which is a start-up with a membership fee, so it’s not exactly ideal for tourists.
I’ve never tested any beyond Garden Grocer, so I can’t vouch for the others. If your groceries arrive from one of those other places with an armadillo munching on the tomatoes you order, don’t come crying to me. (If you get a free armadillo with your groceries, I would hope you don’t go crying to anyone.) Frankly, given our positive experiences with Garden Grocer, I have no reason to try the rest.
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) or Trader Joe’s. TJ’s is Orlando’s newest grocer, with the local populace rejoicing that they can now purchase Two Buck Chuck and Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s. It’s located at 8323 West Sand Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32819, which is about 10 miles off property.
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.
Shipping things to ourselves from Amazon or Amazon Pantry has been another option that has worked for us, too. Amazon is great if you’re only looking for pre-packaged items. We’ve found beef jerky, energy bars, Starbucks VIA, and Gatorade mix packets to be some of the best things to get from Amazon. You might also want to check out what other snack items currently have coupons via Amazon. We have other suggestions in our What to Pack for Walt Disney World post.
Another, newer and growing option is Amazon Prime Now. When ordering via the Amazon Prime Now app, you can have items delivered within 2 hours for free if you have a Prime membership (or within an hour for an extra $7.99). Selection is more limited on the Amazon Prime Now app, but they have tens of thousands of daily essentials including numerous dry foods and perishable items like deli meat, pizza, cheese, bread, juice, etc.
When Amazon Prime Now has what we want or we don’t need much or need something last minute, it’s a great option. You can place your order the moment your plane lands in Orlando, take Disney’s Magical Express to your Walt Disney World resort hotel, and have your groceries arrive pretty much simultaneously to when you do.
We’ve used Amazon Prime Now many times and the experience has typically been flawless. (Lately, it’s become our most-used way to get groceries and other supplies.) We’ve used it at Pop Century, the Polynesian, Fort Wilderness, and most recently, Disney Springs Resorts. In most cases, we’ve had the package left with Bell Services–in one cases, we’ve met them in the lobby. You can tip in the app and specify in the notes how you want the delivery made.
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, both Garden Grocer and ordering in advance from Amazon.com are both great 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.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? If you’re interested in learning more about hotels, our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page is a good place to start. For where to eat, try out our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews page. If you want to save money on tickets or determine which type you should get, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at unconventional things you should take on your trip. Once you arrive at the parks, our Walt Disney World “Ride Guides” are great for determining what to do and when to do it. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
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!