Holidaying in Orlando can get expensive so it is good to be able to save some money where you can. We actually found that food was an easy area for us to cut down on. My family like to be on the go most of the time and we found that restaurants took up a lot of our holiday time. There are places that we visit in the world where the dining is a large part of the experience, in Orlando we found that the dining options seemed to be similar no matter where we went it was just the surroundings that were different.
We ate breakfast in our apartment; we filled up on cereal, juices, toast, yogurt and fresh fruit. We were able to buy all this at the local supermarket and this would then keep us going well into the day. Due to the heat we actually found that we were not particularly hungry during the day. This meant that we packed a backpack with lots of water, some apples, sultanas and cereal bars and usually managed not to want any lunch but instead treated ourselves to an ice-cream.
We then opted for an early tea. Several places offered discounts for sitting before 6 so we took advantage of those. If we were at a themepark we often left to eat and then went back in the evening. The only exception being magic Kingdom because it takes so long to leave.
The childrens favourite places to eat, by far, were Sizzler and Ponderosa. These steakhouses do not offer exceptional cuisine or fantastic surroundings. However they did provide nice steak, fish or chicken with fries or jacket potato and an All-You-Can-Eat buffet. With children this was a much appreciated. It meant that they could start eating as soon as we arrived, no waiting. The buffet had a good selection of fruit, vegetables, salad, pasta, soup and desserts. I found that in the more expensive restaurants I could not get much fresh salad or fruit. Here I could have a huge plate of salad before I started. The children could also help themselves to lots of fruit which they like, particularly sliced pineapple. For about $14 a person we could eat plenty, have refillable soft drinks and a nice cup of tea with cakes. After a nice big meal we were able to have a good evening out without feeling at all peckish although we always picked up some extra mints so we had something to suck later on. If you look in all the voucher booklets around you will normally find a voucher for money off these places so it gets even cheaper!
Occasionally we went to one of the more interesting restaurants. Jungle Jims was a favourite for fantastic burgers but unfortunately it has recently closed down. Hard Rock Cafe at City Walk is a fascinating place to visit as well as eat. The huge pink Cadillac suspended from the ceiling and the gold discs give a rather surreal atmosphere. The waiting staff are all a bit over the top but they are good fun. The food here is ok but not very exciting although the setting makes up for it. It can get really busy so be prepared to queue if arriving after about 7pm.
The Theme park restaurants can be quite pricey so we tend to avoid them. My children would really not like to give up any more "ride-time" than they really have to. We usually opt for the fast-food options and they have always been of a satisfactory quality even if they are not very exciting!
I must admit I am always glad to come home and fill up on fresh vegetables which I really miss when I am on holiday in Orlando. Perhaps if we went to more expensive places to eat we may find more interesting fare but the children and my back balance would both moan!