published Jan 2019, updated Feb 2020
Now that you’ve spent all that money for a trip (or getting ready to hand it over) you need to know a few things- mostly, where the freebies are at Disney World, especially if you are doing Disney on a Budget.
I’m right there with you, I LOVE a good freebie. Who doesn’t?
While Disney doesn’t like to give much away for free ( I mean they started charging guests to park overnight at resorts they are paying for- UGH! I’m a little miffed about that one).
they DO have some freebie options for their guests.
These freebie options can be found inside the parks and outside (so you don’t always need a ticket for them! booyah!) And speaking of outside the park options, did you know you can meet the characters without a ticket? While the free options are always guaranteed, there is a way to see some of your favorites without ever stepping foot inside of the parks!
Some are physical items and some are experiences, so I’ll separate them below!
BEFORE WE BEGIN- this post is 3011 words- save it for later so you can remember all the awesome freebies at Disney World.
This post contains affiliate links at no extra cost to you, check out my affiliate disclosure for more information and all the legal mumbo jumbo.
Free Things to DO
Skip the Lines
Yes, you read that right. It’s totally possible to skip the lines for free (unlike many of the other central florida theme parks where you pay to skip the lines with a regular pass)
Sure, you can do one of the special ticketed events for low wait times- but for the average vacationer, the Fastpass+ will do the trick! This allows you to skip the line and save time at the parks. If you don’t know how to use Fastpass+, discover all the in’s and out’s and secret hacks for your vacation.
Epcot gets fancy
So 4 times a year now, Epcot throws down with some KA festivals.
Best part? The Festivals are included in the cost of your admission (i.e. they free)
While there are certain parts to the festivals that aren’t free, there are many many many fun things that are!
Resort Hopping is SO. MUCH. FUN.
Why? You get to see all the resorts, it’s free, and most resorts have cool things going on- many of which are FREE!
Ok, so here’s how this works. You can do the monorail loop (which is absolutely MAGICAL at Christmas time with all the decorations and amazing photo ops- hello instagram worthy holiday cards!)
So that’s the resorts of the Polynesian, the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary.
OR you can do the Skyliner Loop. That’s the resorts of Pop and Art of Animation, Riveria Resort, Caribbean Beach and the Boardwalk.
The Boardwalk has it’s own set of resorts. The Yacht Club, Boardwalk Resort, Beach Club and the Swan and Dolphin.
With the new additions, there will be a resort between the two campground areas, so you’ll have three resorts there you can walk between.
SO MANY OPTIONS!
You can also take the bus or watercraft to the other resorts- depending on where you are at.
–Animal Kingdom Lodge has some amazing restaurants. They also have a safari area where you can relax and watch the animals. I’m not lying when I say that I take my kids here on every off day we do on our vacation. It’s great for pictures and it doesn’t matter if they make a ton of noise!
-Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside is simply beautiful. And they have Beignets. GLUTEN FREE (and top 8 free) beignets are also available. We are in heaven!!!
-The Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness Campground are amazing too. They have some quality restaurants and a playground. Yep, I’m all about that playground life!
–The Boardwalk is super fun to go during the early afternoon and enjoy the water. They also have yoga on Friday Mornings.
–Art of Animation has free Art Classes. You don’t need to be staying at Art of Animation Resort, but you do need to be staying on Disney Property. These are held at various times throughout the day, so ask for the times at your resort.
-The Polynesian has a beautiful view of Cinderellas castle, and it’s on the monorail loop for quick hop on and off!
The other thing about resort hopping, is many of them have nightly movies you can watch (some are on the front lawn, some are in the pool area. You need to check to see what’s available). The only downside is seeing all the pretty pools and not being able to swim in them!
Resort Hopping is number 1 for me, because it is so diverse and offers so many fun things to do! Especially with the three different areas, and how much they offer!
NOT TO MENTION- many of the moderate and value resorts have playgrounds that are open and free to use. This is awesome when we are resort hopping so the kiddos can let off some steam!
Disney Springs is free, both from admittance AND parking! Finally, free parking.
It’s quite large, so if you want to walk around and enjoy the shops there it will take up the afternoon, possibly the whole day!
They generally have free entertainment at night- from cheer groups, to singing groups to instrument groups. I really love to grab a drink and sit and watch the entertainment.
Girhadelli has free chocolate samples- YUM. There’s also a soap store called Basin, where you can wash and sniff your way into Mickey soap induced heaven.
There’s a splash pad close by for the kiddos to play in! And the Lego Store has lots of interactive desks filled with lots of fun legos (for the big and little kids!). Learn about all the things you with the kids at Disney Springs!
While these aren’t free, You’ll also find an amazing assortment of food, drink and shopping options.
Oh and they have a Bibbidi Boppity Boutique there too- so you don’t even need tickets for that, but you do have to pay for the princess makeover (pro tip, bring your own dress and just do the makeup package!)
Speaking of Splash Pads…
There’s a number of splash pads around the parks and resorts, many of which are totally free to use (well, there ALL free- but you might need to be staying at the resort to use them!)
There are actually TWO in Disney Springs, and you can read all about the splash pads options at Disney World.
Fireworks and the Electrical Water Pageant
Nighttime entertainment at Disney World is Amazing. I love to be right up in the action so that I can experience the music, the sights and the complexity of the show.
My kids however, are not always so cooperative! That’s ok! There are some free options that don’t require you to be smooshed in the crowds!
For one, you can watch the Fireworks outside of the Parks with Ease. Head over to the Contemporary Resort to watch the Fireworks.
BONUS- they even have a viewing area that broadcasts the songs and audio from the show, so you aren’t missing anything besides the crowds!
For two, you can enjoy the Electrical Water Pageant. We personally, like to time it, so that we are on the ferry from (or to) magic kingdom when the parade is on the water. It gives us an up close look at the magic!
You can also view it from the Contemporary resort, The Grand Floridian, The Polynesian Resort and Fort Wilderness. Check out this article by Disney to know what time you can see the parade!
There are several free scavenger hunt type adventures at Disney.
Outside the park, we have a hidden mickey scavenger hunt at Fort Wilderness (most resorts have hidden mickeys, just FYI!! Always be on the lookout!)
Inside Magic Kingdom there are two! These are more “adventures” than scavenger hunts, and are more appropriate for ages 6 and up.
A Pirate’s Adventure- is in Adventure land- and takes approximately 20 mins to complete. You are running around trying to find clues and then using your card or magic band to activate the experience once you’ve found it!
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is another scavenger type hunt that goes along Main Street USA (and bleeds over just slightly into other areas of the park!). You have a Map and you need to find 20 portals to activate. It can be a lot of fun- and also time consuming!
Then over at Animal Kingdom you have the wilderness explorer progam- which is kind of like scavenger hunt meets educational time.
You have a booklet and you have to find things inside the book while talking to the Wilderness Explorer Guides- you also get free stickers! This is something I recommend for the kids AND the adults because the guides can change what they tell you based on the age group.
Disney World has some pretty fun entertainment options, especially when it comes to live music! Epcot is the place to be for Free Concerts. They have so many options throughout the year, especially during their festivals.
Go online here, or ask at the resort for the lineup for your stay. It’s magical to go to Disney, enjoy the food, and then kick back for a concert with one of your favorite artists!
Campfires? At Disney? Yep!
Every night around 7, at Fort Wilderness they do a campfire with Chip n’ Dale! They have marshmellows for sale- or you can bring your own (we do, because allergies!)
They sing songs and the kids have room to run and play.
BONUS: After the campfire, stick around for a movie!
Not over by Fort Wilderness? No biggie! You can find a low key version (no chip and dale!) at most of the moderate and deluxe resorts.
They tend to hold these from 5-6 in the afternoon!
Lace up those shoes and hit the tracks at Disney World!
This is a great thing to do to stay in shape, and get the kids out of the stroller and moving around.
You’ll find many trails around the resorts (plus it’s a great way to check out the sites while you are there!)
Seriously- there’s entertainment galore. From stage shows, and parades, to little side character acts sprinkled all around the parks AND resorts. It’s amazing.. Keep your eyes open- you’ll never know what might pop up!
I actually get asked this question quite a bit- and it is possible to meet characters for free
But I think it requires some good planning and a little serendipity. For instance, in December I got to meet Stitch in the lobby of the Polynesian. Sure, I have a platinum pass with no blockouts and I could see him anytime I want- but that fact that I wasn’t staying at the Poly and still got to meet Stitch?! Awesome!
Other characters have been known to float around the resorts, especially the deluxe ones, and especially if there is a severe weather warning. Other times, they are just out and about and you can greet them because you can!
Free things to GET
Obviously this is something we take for granted, until your in a theme park and your phone is about to die and you have all your plans on there with no paper back up (might be speaking from experience there!)
Thankful, Disney World has several charging areas where you can stop and plug your charger in. No charger? no prob, they sell them in most of their stores for Disney World markup prices!
You read that right! And not the proverbial kind. This is REAL pixie dust.
Head to the princess store on the backside of Cinderella’s castle and find your own personal wish maker. She will sprinkle you will pixie dust as she says a wish over you.
Its SO cute!
Side note: It’s certainly a souvenir that comes home with you! 😉
Disney Springs Necklace and a Bonus on your Birthday!
Run over to Disney Springs and enjoy all the free activities listed above, but also- get a FREE necklace!
Yep, International Diamonds Store in Disney Springs will give you a free Disney Heart Necklace (no coupon required like it was a few years ago!)
You can also sign up for Sprinkles Birthday Club and get a free cupcake on your birthday month. They are located in Disney Springs and have some good options (gluten free too- supposedly made in a gf facility. You can see all the gluten free options I’ve eaten at so far)
Not all resorts have them, but many have coloring books for the little ones (or the big kids- doesnt hurt to ask) the latest offerings are these wild about safety coloring books.
Brainwash em while their young is what I always say!
Autographs, Photographs and Buttons
Most people don’t realize that these are all FREE!
Autographs are given out by Characters at the Character meet and greets. You do need a ticket for those (but not for all Character meals!)
The Buttons you can get at Guest Services for celebrating things like Honeymoons, Birthdays and your first visit.
You WANT these- why? It leads to some extra pixie dust. Sometimes it’s just a cast member saying “congrats” but other times it could lead to other free things or upgrades!
Free digital memories
Photographs can be taken on your personal phone or camera by any of the photographers around Disney, even WITHOUT the photopass/memory maker options.
All you need to do is ask! Yes, they normally take pictures for the photopass, but they will also take one for you too. Plus, there are several “wandering” photographers that can walk with you to get the shot of your dreams!
Ice ice baby! It is HOT in Florida. Use your insulated water bottle and fill up on free water all around the parks and at starbucks.
The only downside to this is waiting in line, and during the busy seasons the lines can get really long!
In Epcot they normally have paid scavenger hunts and food crawls during the festivals, but all around the world showcase, at all times of year, they have the kidcot stations.
These little areas give you a traveling suitcase, a card and some stickers. It is TOTALLY adorable for the kiddos, and anyone (i highly recommend this for the adults) can buy a passport to have it stamped.
This is one of my kids favorite things to do- plus it’s free! So why not ?!
These fun areas are for kids in the World Showcase. Each of them has their own unique activity depending on which country you stop in.
Most of the time it’s coloring related. Plus, the cast members there will interact with the kids and teach them some of their native languages- it’s a really fun way to entertain kids around the World Showcase.
There’s 11 spots around the world showcase. most of the kidcot spots are pretty obvious, but if you’re like me, you want to stop after the first 5!
They do take you into each land and it is a fun way to learn more about the culture.
When you book through Disney, these bad boys are free! Well, if you get the plain colored ones, which we normally do.
You can order the ones that have characters too- those run around 30 dollars. Personally, I like to head over to the secret clearance store and scoop up some on serious discount. Highly recommend you check it out!
Since we’re passholders, we also got free little magic band holder on things, and we get free magnets! We get one each year upon renewal, then one at each of the festivals (or whenever Disney decides to be frisky and offer a passholder magnet!)
Stickers and Transportation Cards
Do you have kids that are obsessed with stickers? Or maybe they love everything that moves?
Cast members have been known to give out stickers, we’ve gotten several Mickey Mouse stickers on our last few visits in 2019.
They’ve also started doing transportation cards for the Monorail, bus, boats and trams. My son is very excited to ask for them now! It’s a fun way to make travel (which is long and boring) more fun and exciting for the little ones!
I mean… when I said a complete list I meant a complete list.
So if you head over to First Aid, you’ll get free bandaids. And possibly other things like an ace wrap or an ice pack.
One Last Free thing- Pixie Dust!
This is what they call a cast member who has gone above and beyond- they have given you some Pixie Dust for your vacation!
We’ve had this before when my son spilled his ice cream, and they replaced it free of charge. Wonderful right? We’ve had so many other pixie dust moments that I can’t even begin to list them all- but Disney is wonderful about making things right.
Annual Passholders- You also get a free magnet, but I hope you knew that 😉
Similar Disney Budgeting posts to check out
Have any questions or comments? Leave me a comment, email or check out my Beginners Guide to Disney World!