Walt Disney World might be the happiest place in the world, but a Disney World vacation is dang expensive! This leads many people planning a Disney trip to ask “are there free things to at Disney World?”
It’s a question that we have no shame in asking ourselves because even after you’ve paid for your tickets and room, once you’re inside the Walt Disney World bubble there’s still food, special events and souvenirs to spend more money on. So anytime you can do something to save a little bit of money – and I don’t care how much money you have or want to spend – saving some money is always important.
Luckily for you, we have compiled a list of 20 free things to at Disney World. There are even some things on our list that don’t require you to be inside the actual parks so they are an even better perk considering you don’t have to use a day ticket to get them.
Without further ado, here is our list of 20 Free Things At Disney World.
1) Disney Springs
First off on the list of free things at Walt Disney World, there’s Disney Springs. It’s free to park in the Disney Springs parking garages, and you can spend all day just walking around and you don’t have to spend a dime unless you want to. There is a lot to actually do at Disney Springs, you can window shop, if you go in the evening you can enjoy the the performers and live music, and just people watch. There is plenty to do here that is free, and you will still have a great time!
2) celebration buttons
One of the most popular free things to do at Disney World and most iconic are the celebration buttons. If you happen to go to Disney World during your birthday, anniversary, or any special occasion, you can go to any Guest Services desk and receive a free celebration button. You can also get these free buttons inside the parks or at any resort as well.
And when you’re wearing one of those celebration buttons, Cast Members will go out of their way to say something to you and if you’re lucky, you might even get a little Disney World pixie dust sprinkled your way.
Like another free thing? Sometimes if you are wearing your celebration button while at a Disney restaurant (usually not a Walt Disney Company restaurant and more likely at Disney Springs), they will surprise you with a free cupcake or dessert, or if you mention it while you are making your reservation.
Granted, you are paying for your meal, but some of those desserts at Walt Disney World are like $5.00 or $6.00, so getting a free thing is always a nice little perk.
3) collect park maps
Another free thing to do at Walt Disney World is collect park maps. You don’t have to get these free maps from inside the parks either – you can get maps from Guest Services in Disney Springs, or from your Disney World resort.
Some people like to collect them so they can see how the park have changed over the years. The only thing is that if the park is having a special event that day (like celebrating Magic Kingdom 50th anniversary), then you will most likely only be able to get that special park map if you are visiting the park on that day.
4) Scavenger Hunts
If you’re looking for a free, easy way to keep the kids entertained at Disney World then you can do some scavenger hunts. You might think kids won’t get bored at Disney but if you’ve brought kids to Disney before you know exactly what I mean.
In Animal Kingdom, you can play the Wilderness Explorer scavenger hunt that will take you all over the park to learn about different animals. In Magic Kingdom and Adventureland you can play a pirates adventurers treasures of the seven seas, a treasure map scavenger hunt that takes you through the land and can be completed in about 20 minutes.
Resorts right now even have a 50th anniversary scavenger hunt where you’ll learn a bit of the history of Walt Disney World. In Epcot, you can complete the Finding Dory scavenger hunt at the seas pavilion to learn about marine life.
The last one you can do is one of the festival scavenger hunts. Now to get the official board and winner prize at the end you’ll need to pay $8.99 to play but there’s nothing stopping you from hunting down all the Remy’s during the Food and Wine Festival, or all the Figments during Festival of the Arts all on your own.
5) explore the walt disney world resort hotels
Number 5 on our free things list is one many people don’t realize this but you don’t have to be staying at a Disney World resort in order to hang out there and enjoy certain resort specific activities. The only exception to this only Disney World resort guests can use the resort pool but other than that, you can take a walk around the grounds and hang out. You can check out the lobbies, window shop, listen to live music if it’s playing and just enjoy the atmosphere.
Our favorite time of year to do this is during Christmas at Disney as many of the Walt Disney World resort lobbies will be decorated and you can make an entire day out of just visiting them and checking out the decorations and festivities they offer.
Some resorts offer free tours of the building architecture – like Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. They also offer free tours of Jiko and Sanaa at Animal Kingdom as well. You can enjoy some of the recreational activities like horseback riding, carriage rides, and surrey bike rides. And events like Chip and Dale’s Campfire Sing-a-long and Movies Under the Stars (as long as they are not in the pool area).
6) finding hidden mickeys
This is a little game people like to play and it can be done pretty much anywhere on Disney World property, and it’s searching for hidden Mickeys. You can search them out on your own but there are actually books out there you can buy that will tell you where you can find them. You can make your own scavenger hunt to find them all over Walt Disney World property.
There are hidden Mickeys inside the theme parks, at the Disney World resorts, at Disney Springs, pretty much everywhere on Disney World property. So if you are into that sort of thing, you can probably spend quite a bit of time doing that and it’s absolutely free.
7) view the fireworks & Electrical Water Pageant
Walt Disney World is known for their fireworks (they are the 2nd largest purchaser of explosives, only behind the Department of Defense) and there are many places on Disney World property where you can view the fireworks and Electrical Water Pageant from both inside and outside the theme parks.
If you are looking to view the fireworks without going into the theme parks, the monorail resorts are a great place to view the Magic Kingdom fireworks. The beach at the Polynesian and Grand Floridian have great views, and they pump in the music from the show which makes for a really great experience.
These are all great places to view the Electrical Water Pageant which has been at Disney World since the 70’s. It’s a light show on the Seven Seas Lagoon and it hasn’t really changed since it opened. But guests really like it and it runs right after the Magic Kingdom fireworks. The best place to view this is over on the waterfront at the Wilderness Lodge Resort.
8) kids under 3 years old
There is good news for you parents out there, if your kid is under three years old at Walt Disney World…they’re free! When we say free, we mean completely free as they don’t need a ticket to get into the theme park and you don’t even have to pay for them to eat at character meals. Even if they turn 3 while you are at the parks – like during your Disney World vacation – they are still free for your entire stay!
So if you are thinking of a way to lessen the cost of a Walt Disney World vacation and you have a child under 3 years old, you could save a lot of money by taking them while you don’t have to pay for them.
There has been a lot of articles about how expensive bottled water is at Disney and it’s true, if you buy bottled water on Disney World property it’s going to set you back $4.50+. But if there are plenty of places in the parks where you can actually get free water.
You can stop at any quick service location and ask for a cup of ice water and they will give you one. Many of the quick service locations actually have water stations setup where you don’t have to go to the counter, instead you just walk up and get the water yourself.
More places are popping up like this but we know Docking Bay 7 in Galaxy’s Edge and the Starbucks locations in the parks do this. The nice part about this is not only is it free but it’s filtered water and not the nasty Florida water you may have heard about.
10) festival passports
Number 10 on our free things list is if you’re at Epcot during a festival like Food and Wine, Flower and Garden, Festival of the Holidays, and Festival of the Arts, there are free festival passports that you can get. It will list all the food booths and details about each country or booth that is part of the festival.
It’s a fun little way you can keep track of what you’ve eaten and a neat little souvenir of whichever festival you’ve attended. They are different every year and make a nice souvenir of your trip and again, is completely free.
11) Kidcot Trading Cards
Epcot is probably the least kid friendly theme park at Disney World but something kids can do for free around World Showcase is KidCot. This will give your kids the opportunity to create some arts and crafts and learn about different cultures.
You’ll find one in each country and you’ll get some trading cards at each stop kiddos may get their name written in Chinese make paper masks or just color these are great stops when you just need to sit and let your kid focus on something. These stands are usually tucked away in a bit more quiet than the rest of the park so they can be a good break spot for you as well.
12) Club Cool
It was gone for a while but it is back and better than ever in the all new revamped Club Cool. In Club Cool you can get free soda samples from countries all around the world. There are some really great sodas here that you are going to wish you could have all the time and of course you can once again trick your friends into trying Beverly and watching their reaction.
If you’ve never heard of Beverly Well, it’s basically the most delicious soda you’ve ever had in your entire life and you should definitely film yourself trying it and use the hashtag Beverly challenge and tag us at @capthemagic.
13) Animation Experience
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to draw a Disney character from a real Disney animator then you will love the Animation Experience and it’s completely free. This is located In Animal Kingdom at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
To experience this you’ll have to take a little train over there, then head towards that little petting zoo area. Once you get over here you’ll find a real Disney artist that will walk you through how to draw characters from Disney animated movies.
The times for these classes can be found in the My Disney Experience app. They do typically end by mid afternoon, so get there earlier in the day if you want to do this one. The characters they teach you to draw will rotate so you won’t know who you’ll draw until you get there.
14) Disney Genie
Most people know about Genie+ which is the paid part of this but the free part of this new system isn’t getting a lot of attention and it can really add some value to your trip. Aside from Disney Genie plus costing a $15 fee to skip the standby lines around the parks there’s a free itinerary building component called Disney Genie. Not confusing at all right?
Disney Genie is a free planning service built into the My Disney Experience app, and you will tell Genie what you want to ride, what types of things you like etc. Then Disney Genie will create a personalized, flexible itinerary just for you. Plans will continuously update to help you get the most out of your day. e
Essentially, Genie is designed to help you plan your day and optimize your plans and it’s available to everyone for free. In addition to those personalized itineraries you’ll find in the my Genie plans in the app, you’ll also have access to the tip board with My Disney Experience.
This will give you the latest info on wait times mobile order pickup times and walk up waitlist availability at restaurants all on one screen and then you’ll be able to pin your top picks.
The things you’re most interested in show at the top of your tip board making it easy to prioritize them. If you use Disney Genie suggestions you should spend a lot less time waiting in line and more time just enjoying stuff in the parks. So just to keep things crystal clear, Genie is free and Genie Plus is not free.
15) Resort Entertainment
So, the kids have scavenger hunts but what if the adults are looking for free things that are fun to do that won’t cost anything? You can find free musical performances throughout some of the Disney Resorts and Disney Springs. Grand Floridian has their pianist, Port Orleans Riverside has Yehaw Bob who just recently returned.
You can even catch live music performances around Disney Springs particularly on summer evenings. You can also find all kinds of free entertainment when you’re walking around The Boardwalk. You’ll find anything from jugglers, hola hoop performers, magicians Atlantic Dance Hall and more.
There is also some unique things you can do over at Animal Kingdom Lodge like safari tours and other activities. Though you may find it’s not convenient to get over to Animal Kingdom Lodge unless you are staying here as the only way to really get over here is via bus.
16) Disney Transportation
While it’s no longer free to get to and from MCO airport to Walt Disney World, it’s still free to use Disney transportation on Disney property. This is actually a pretty big perk that can save you quite a bit of money throughout your trip. If you stay at a Walt Disney World hotel you won’t have to worry about getting yourself to and from the parks.
You’ll have access to the Skyliner if you’re staying at Art of Animation Resort, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach Resort or Riviera resorts. The Skyliner can take you to these resorts and to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. You can also hop on the famous Disney Monorail that connects Magic Kingdom to The Contemporary, The Polynesian and Grand Floridian resorts.
There are also boats that go between Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Contemporary Resort, The Polynesian, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness. You’ll also find boats around Epcot and Hollywood studios that connect The Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Clubs, and The Swan and Dolphin Resorts.
The last of the boats connect to Disney Springs and nearby hotels, Old Key West, Saratoga Springs and Port Orleans. For everywhere else on property you got the trusty old Disney bus you can utilize. It’s the least exciting option but it is the most omni present option.
17) Transportation Trading Cards
Want to commemorate your free ride on Disney transportation? If so, you can get a free transportation card. These are basically trading cards from cast members on buses, the monorail boats, The Skyliner, or even trams. Cast members on Disney transportation will usually have some Disney transportation cards and it’s fun to see if you can collect a full set.
18) Pictures With Characters
Yeah, you can pay 169 to $199 for Disney’s Memory Maker package and that can be great if you really want all those on ride photos, and the magic shots around the parks that edit characters into your photos.
But if you just want one or two pictures of the family in front of the castle, you can ask a PhotoPass cast member to snap some shots with your own camera or phone.
Same thing goes for character interactions when there’s a cast member taking photos. Just ask if they can take one with your device. They absolutely will. They’ll do a great job and you’ll have that memory commemorated forever… or for as long as you remember to backup your iCloud photo album.
19) Pixie Dust
This isn’t the Pixie Dust that people talk about when special things happen on their Disney Vacation, I’m talking literal pixie dust sprinkled on your head. You can get this at Sir Mickey’s in Magic Kingdom, where you can ask a cast member for some pixie dust and they’ll gladly oblige with a magic wand filled with glitter.
Kids will love this one and adults may also love it as well. Just be prepared to have glitter on everything for the rest of your trip and like sand, that stuff gets everywhere.
20) Disney Parks App
So if you do find yourself stuck in a lot of lines, you can pass the time with the free Disney World app. The play parks app has games, trivia and other interactive elements that are tied to different locations in parks.
For instance, if you’re inclined to ride Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run in Hollywood Studios, you can complete many tasks by scanning QR codes on crates that you pass and answering questions.
All of Galaxy’s edge is full of many of these types of tasks. There are different activities you can access all over the land to gain points and establish yourself as a smuggler different rides will have themed trivia that you can access while you wait in line and it’s all free.
21) First Aid Centers
If you find yourself in an emergency situation in the parks don’t forget about the first aid centers and the great thing is they are absolutely free.
These are good for the little things as well. If you get a blister, a little scrape, you’ve got a headache or some other small ailment, then you can head over there, get a bandaid and/or get some headache meds. They carry over the counter meds and little single doses to help you out if you forgot to pack some in your bag or don’t have time to head back to your hotel.
You’ll find these centers in each park. For Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom they’re located right by guest relations near the front of the park. In Epcot, the first aid center is located just next to The Odyssey building that is between Test Track and the Mexico pavilion.
22) Movies Under The Stars
This is great free things to do perk for those of you staying at Disney Resorts. Each evening, Disney World hotels will show movies outside on an inflatable screen, typically near the main pool or out on the lawn near the lobby. They do this whether you’re staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge or Art of Animation Resort, all the Walt Disney World resorts do it.
Obviously, they play Disney movies and you can see the list of what they’ll be showing on which day by picking up a copy of the resorts Activity Guide. They also often have those posted around the hotel as well. Sometimes if your hotel has a firepit they’ll also do campfires at night, and sometimes they’ll even have marshmallows for you to roast.
23) Festival Concerts
If you’re a fan of 80’s, 90’s and some early 2000’s music then you might ben able to see some of those artists for free in Epcot. Epcot hosts four festivals throughout the year, two of which Flower and Garden and Food and Wine have a concert series that includes some well known artists.
There are typically three shows each evening where you can catch these artists perform completely for free. At Food & Wine you can see artists such as Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees, Kenny G, Hoobastank, The Baha Men and more.
Festival of the Arts features performances from Broadway with actors who’ve been in previous Disney on Broadway productions. Festival of the Holidays has the Candlelight Processional where celebrity narrators join a full orchestra and choir to tell the Christmas story.
All of those shows and concerts are free with your Park Admission so do not miss out and be sure to line up early. And by early we mean very early like an hour and a half early to get a seat.
24) strolling around the parks
Last but not least, one of the best free things to do at Walt Disney World is just walking around the parks, enjoying the atmosphere and just being on vacation at Disney World with the people you love the most is always free.
You’re not at work, you’re not cleaning or cooking, you’re just there and in the moment. Stop and eat a Mickey bar or a dole whip. Sit down and people watch – its free. Enjoying life at that moment is free. Happiness is one thing that is always free.
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