Whenever you go to a theme park you must resign yourself to paying a premium for even the simplest of meals. At most parks you will pay at least eight dollars or more for a light lunch, and a full dinner style meal including desert will often cost over twenty dollars per person. One of the ways to soften this blow to your participants pocketbooks is to consider purchasing a block of meal tickets for them to use while in the park. Essentially these meal tickets allow your group to get a decent meal without having to bring along extra cash on the trip. The diner goes to one of the participating restaurants in the park, orders his or her food, and then presents the coupon to the cashier and the meal is paid in full. This can be a disadvantage, however, depending on who your group is.
In general, a group of younger students, especially girls, may or may not buy enough food to use up the entire value of the food ticket. For example, if a person order seven dollars worth of food and the ticket cost eight dollars, that extra dollar is usually not refunded. In the same way, however, if you are bringing along the high school football team the tickets may be a great deal, allowing the person to fill up their plate for less than the menu cost. It all depends on your group as to whether using coupons will be worth it for you.
In some parks there is another option, you might be able to purchase gift certificates instead of meal coupons. At Disney parks, for example, you can purchase Disney Dollars when you order your group's tickets. These Disney Dollars spend in the parks just like real money, and are even valid at Disney Stores across the country. This offers a little more flexibility for your group. If the person spends seven out of ten Disney Dollars for lunch she will get back three dollars in real money that can later be used to buy a bottle of water or a souvenir. Again, it all depends on your group. I personally have had a lot of luck with the gift certificates, but always check with the park before buying as the rules at each park may change.
The big question is why you might even bother with this aspect of the trip. The answer, quite simply, is to make yourself look good. Anything that you can roll into the overall per person cost of the trip will help sell the trip to your participants and their parents. If you put together a six hundred dollar, four night, five day trip in which every meal is paid for in advance you will often appear more competent than if you tell the group that they must pay five hundred each plus carry “enough money for fourteen meals.”