So you’re going to Disney World! Exciting!
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 still bitter 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!).
Some are physical items and some are experiences, so I’ll separate them below! If your not interested in free, you can always look at how I made 2000 for my Disney Vacation in under a year.
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Free Things to DO
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!)
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 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 Beaches N Cream- for all your ice cream needs (and ALLERGY friendly- I love when Disney goes all gluten free on me!)
–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 other thing about resort hopping, is many of them have nightly movies you can watch. 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!
2. Disney Springs
Disney Springs is free, from admittance to 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.
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!).
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!
3. 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!
4. Scavenger Hunts
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!
5. Free Concerts
Disney Wolrd 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, 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!
Free things to GET
Autographs, Photographs and Buttons
Most people don’t realize that these are all FREE!
Autograph 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!
Photographs can be taken on your personal phone or camera by any of the photographers around Disney. 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, their 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!
Kidcot Stations at Epcot
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 language- it’s a really fun way to entertain kids around the World Showcase.
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!
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?
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Have any questions or comments? Leave me a comment, email or check out my Beginners Guide to Disney World!