Go to the character breakfast
Though it's absolutely not a money saver, going to the daily "character breakfast" -- where Mickey, Minnie, and others working 20-hour shifts for minimum wage mingle with the crowd at a private morning meal -- can save you some serious time. It runs anywhere from $35 to $60, but avoids countless stops inside the park for your kids to get pictures with the characters. "It's air-conditioned, for one thing," says Ford. "If you don't take your kids, every time you see a character inside the park they'll want to stop. And you'll have to wait for all the other kids to get their pictures first."
Eat at these quick-service restaurants
When you finally do have to stop and eat, Ford insists you get the most bang for your buck at quick-service restaurants. They also save you time, allowing for more rides and fewer kids getting anxious about missing out. His suggestions for the places where you'll get the most value in each park:
Epcot: Tangierine Café. "It's a fun experience for the kids, with a ton of baklava and really hearty meals that fill you up."
Hollywood Studios: Backlot Express. "Just a really good mix of food with hearty stuff."
Animal Kingdom: Flame Tree Barbecue. "It's the typical ribs, sandwiches, and turkey legs. But you can add on a lot of stuff and condiments, and practically make your own salad on the side."
Magic Kingdom: Columbia Harbor House. "It has great salad and lobster rolls, and the upstairs section is just nice and quiet. That's probably my favorite lunch spot."