Cooking at Disney – Using the Kitchen in a DVC Villa
Staying in a DVC rental can be a fantastic way to save money, but did you know there are more ways to save than just staying in a DVC villa?
I have been lucky enough to stay at four different DVC resorts: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village, Aulani Resort, Disney’s Old Key West, and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa; and in 2 different room types, Studio and Two Bedrooms. Every time I have stayed in a DVC villa, I have saved money by preparing some of my meals in my room.
Whether it was a third-party delivery service, buying from the sundries locations at the resorts, or having a rental car to stop by a grocery store, I have always found a way to save money by making my meals.
Making some or all of your meals is perfect if you have picky eaters or someone with dietary restrictions or food allergies in your traveling party.
Yes, it does require more time and effort to prepare your meals, and this may not be something that some people are fond of doing on their vacations, but if looking for a way to save money is your thing, this may be another reason to stay in a DVC Villa.
On our first trip, we stayed in a Two Bedroom Savanna View Villa at Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village. We celebrated Christmas in early December as a family with my mom, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin, and myself. We lived in different cities and thought celebrating at Walt Disney World would be a great way to reunite. And, of course, what is Christmas without a turkey dinner? On one of our rest days between resort hopping to see the wonderful decorations and visiting the Festival of the Holidays at Epcot and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom, we decided to cook a traditional Christmas dinner.
As we flew down, we used a third-party delivery service to purchase and deliver our groceries. We planned a night a few months before our trip where we all got together and discussed what we wanted for our Christmas dinner. This was such a special experience and a way to make another planning step more fun, helped build up the excitement for the trip, and was inclusive for everyone traveling.
In the One Bedroom, Two Bedroom, and Three Bedroom Grand Villas, there is a full kitchen, so cooking a turkey and all the fixings was no problem since we had so many hands to help. We started the turkey early in the day, and some of us headed to the pool while others just relaxed in the Villa, watching TV or catching up on some much-needed rest.
We set alarms to check on the turkey throughout the day and started the sides in the afternoon when everyone returned from the pool or woke up from their naps. As we peeled and cut vegetables, we chatted about our favorite memories from this trip and previous Christmases together. It certainly is a special memory I will always cherish.
After we had enjoyed our amazing meal together, we loaded up the dishwasher and ran it with the dishwasher soap tablets provided.
My second trip was also in a Two Bedroom, but a little bit further of a trip. We stayed in a Two Bedroom Poolside Garden View at Aulani, and our typical travel group grew from six to eight people. We had a few more mouths to feed this time around.
As we wanted to see many of the island’s beautiful beaches, amazing restaurants, and iconic sights, we rented two rental cars for our group.
This was great because when we arrived on the island, one group went to a few grocery stores to pick up the items we needed for our meals, and the other returned to the resort with all the luggage.
On days we planned to tour the island, we chose to eat at different restaurants to experience the different cuisines and did not meal plan for those days.
On the days when we relaxed on the beach at Aulani or enjoyed the majestic lazy river in the Waikolohe Stream, we enjoyed pancakes, breakfast casserole, oatmeal, frittata, and egg sandwiches for breakfast in the Villa. We prepped any other meals for the day before we made our way down to find a spot to enjoy the sun. After a few hours, we would head back to the room to enjoy leftovers from one of the delicious meals we had on the island the day before or make burgers, pulled pork, or fish tacos. Sometimes, a few of us would head back to the room to grab lunch and some snacks while the others would lounge by the pool to save our spots so we could all enjoy the food together. For dinner, everything was usually prepared in the morning, so we didn’t have to spend too much time in the afternoon away from the water. Our meals consisted of fajitas, steak, pizza, or chicken parmesan. We would cut up chicken and vegetables and shred cheese after breakfast or marinate the meat so it would be perfect and ready to cook after a wonderful day by the water.
On my third trip, we decided to take things up a notch and planned to only eat dinner at a restaurant either in the parks or at Disney Springs, as a way to save some money.
We took an early flight in, so we arrived at Old Key West at around 2 pm. We checked our bags with bell services and hung by the pool until our room was ready. Once it was ready, we had bell services assist with delivering our luggage and groceries that we had pre-ordered from a third-party company. We settled into our room and spent the rest of the evening preparing as many meals as possible. We had a veggie cutting station for snacks, a sandwich and wrap-making station for lunches, and a yogurt and overnight oat-making station for breakfast.
We had a breakfast casserole for breakfast and chicken caesar salad for lunch on our first rest day, and on our second rest day, we had pancakes for breakfast and burgers for lunch.
We brought our own insulated lunch bags to pack for our lunches and snacks for the days we were heading into the parks to keep everything chilled in the Florida heat. There was always somewhere to sit and enjoy our meals. My favorite spot was right outside the exit for “Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!” as it was completely shaded and had a ledge where you could sit while eating. If you time it correctly, you eat your lunch while everyone is watching the show and leave before the crowd exits the theater, so you don’t have to deal with the noise and influx of people.
On my most recent trip, I was traveling with David’s Vacation Club Rentals for my first research trip! This was the first time I was staying in a Studio AND staying in a room all by myself. When we arrived at Saratoga Springs, we were asked to pick out some items for breakfast as we would start touring resorts early in the mornings. While I had previous experience preparing meals at a Disney Vacation Club resort, I had always had a full kitchen and a whole grocery store to order from. I was going to have to make some adjustments.
The Studio Villas come with a kitchenette, so I had a toaster, microwave, and kettle to prepare my breakfasts. All DVC Villas will also have an assortment of tea and coffee already in the room when you arrive. I am a pretty simple person when it comes to breakfast, so I got bagels, some peanut butter, fruit, and a few containers of yogurt. I would pop a bagel in the toaster each morning, and while it toasted, I snacked on some fruit. I would enjoy my bagel on the balcony of the Studio, enjoying the rising sun and calmness of Saratoga Springs. The disposable cutlery and plates were great to have as there was no dishwasher and only a small sink in the kitchenette. This made cleaning up a breeze. I would take my yogurt to enjoy on the ride over to whatever resorts we were touring that day.
Whether traveling solo or with a group of eight, there are many ways to eat what you want and save some money too!