Disney is the best place on earth – I think we can all agree on that, right? But it can be really quite expensive, especially if you’re travelling from abroad to visit and have had to book flights, accommodation and get food for all the family too. Then throw in the park tickets on top of that, along with all the merchandise the kids are wanting – you can see why it’s the holiday of a lifetime for many families!
But if you play your cards right, you can have a lot of extra fun on your Disney holiday without splashing all the extra cash. All the below are available to any Disney guest for free – have fun!
If you want an evening that’s Disney inspired but don’t have a valid ticket for park entry that day or want to spend any money, Disney’s BoardWalk is the answer! I’ve got a post all about what a “hidden gem” Disney’s BoardWalk is, and even if you don’t stop at a restaurant, you can still experience free entertainment with the street performers, wander the boardwalk seeing the sights and visit the stores (but not buy!). If you’re willing to spend a few dollars, you could hire one of the old fashioned fringe topped surreys or grab a hot dog or two from one of the vendors.
Are you visiting Disney during a special event in your life- a birthday, anniversary, engagement, even a first time visit? There’s a badge for that! Just visit the Guest Services desk at any Disney park, let them know what you’re celebrating, and you’ll be awarded with your own free badge to wear – you may even get your name written on it! Cast members around the park will congratulate you and you may even get a special treat here and there!
Surely you can’t get a free drink at Disney, right? Wrong! Not only does Disney have water fountains with fresh drinking water dotted around the parks, they also provide free ice water at any location that sells fountain drinks. And it doesn’t stop there! Ever heard of Club Cool? This is another Disney hidden gem! Located in Future World in Epcot, Club Cool has free samples of Coke products from around the world – my favourite was a melon flavoured sparkling drink, but everyone insists you must try Beverly – it’s a love it or hate it one!
Previously known as Downtown Disney, Disney Springs is a shopping and dining area located on Disney property that’s completely free to get into and explore – just be warned, you may end up spending on Disney merchandise and food though!
Free visits to the hotels and resorts
The parks and shopping centres aren’t the only places that exude the Disney magic – every Disney hotel and resort is themed in a uniquely Disney kind of way. The lobbies of each are a spectacular sight to see (and keep an eye out for Hidden Mickeys in them!) plus they’re free to get in to! Ride the monorail between the Polynesian, Grand Floridian and Contemporary hotels, where the monorail actually goes straight into lobby, or visit the others by bus or car. There are restaurants in the hotels too which are also themed, so make sure to check those out too.
Free fireworks viewing
If you’re staying, or even just visiting, the Polynesian hotel, head down to the beach in the evening where you’ll get a brilliant view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks across the lake – we did this a few years ago after eating at Ohana! You can also see the Magic Kingdom display from the Tickets & Transportation Center and the Grand Floridian for free.
It’s also possible to see the Illuminations firework display in Epcot from Disney’s BoardWalk by heading towards the International Gateway for Epcot.
Celebration – Disney’s own town
Apparently a Hidden Gem for some, but we’ve been visiting Celebration every Disney holiday since I was 6! Celebration is Disney’s own community, designed by Walt himself and is the stereotypical perfect “American dream” town with white picket fences, a lake to explore and a small shopping area. Definitely worth a visit!
Disney World DVD
Get a free DVD before you even reach the parks! Visit Disney Planning and sign up to get a DVD that will help you plan your upcoming holiday from home.
Not just important if you’re travelling with teens! Keep friends and relatives back home up to date with your travels or keep track of other family members within the parks and an eye on queue times without draining your data by logging in to Disney’s own WiFi available in all the parks.
Ride the monorail
Want to experience a Disney ride but don’t have a park ticket that day? Ride the monorail instead! You can use this to visit the different Disney hotels on site, but it makes a fun experience for kids too.
Collect character autographs
And of course, once you’re in the parks, the most popular “free” thing to do is to collect character autographs. Keep an eye out for when characters will be in certain places around the parks, visit their different meeting places or find them in a character dining experience then collect their autographs in your own book.
What’s your favourite free thing to do in Disney?