Finding free things and activities at Walt Disney World is not a fairy tale. In fact, Walt Disney World offers its guests many opportunities to enjoy something for nothing. And, while many of these things may seem like small potatoes compared to the price of a family vacation, all of them are priceless in their own way.
Free ice water: Many people don’t know that you can go to any counter service restaurant in the Walt Disney World Parks and ask for a cup of ice water. They may not be huge, but you can get them as often as you like and it’s often just enough to satisfy your thirsty crowd!Water bottles cost at least $2.50 each at Walt Disney World. Even in the cooler months, your family needs to stay hydrated and for a family of four, 2 bottles of water a day for each person will run you $20. Multiply that by how many days you’ll be on vacation and that takes a big bite out of your budget.
Celebration Pins: Is it your birthday? Anniversary? Honeymoon? 1st time visiting? Family Reunion? Graduation? If you are celebrating anything at Walt Disney World, the parks have free, special buttons for you to wear and show off proudly during your vacation. If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, you can ask for one when you check in. You can also pick up your buttons at City Hall in the Magic Kingdom or Guest Relations at Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Disney’s Animal Kingdom. You get to keep the buttons as a souvenir and sometimes, a WDW Cast Member may provide a little extra magic if he or she sees it’s a special day for you.
Sweet treats: If the family is in the mood for a little snack, you have a couple of options to satisfy your sweet tooth at no cost. In the Magic Kingdom, stop by the MK Confectionary where not only can you watch Cast Members make yummy treats like fudge and caramel apples, you can also get some free samples to try and enjoy. If you’re over at Epcot’s World Showcase, stop by Karamell Kuche in the Germany Pavilion where you can watch Cast Members make fresh caramel popcorn and offer small bags for guests to sample. The only downside, you will likely be compelled to buy something after the sampling because it’s all so good!
Monorail/Resort Tour: Do you need a break from the crowded parks in the middle of a hot day? Hop on board the Resort Monorail to take a tour of the Magic Kingdom hotels. I love riding on the monorail because you get some great views of the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake and it is so cool to actually ride through the Contemporary Hotel lobby!
You can get off and on the monorail at your leisure to explore Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Feel like a longer ride? Switch monorail trains at the Transportation Ticket Center stop and climb aboard the monorail to Epcot.
During the ride, you’ll get a quick, but cool tour around Epcot’s Future World. If you’re too busy at the parks during the day, but want something a little more low key to do in the evening, a monorail ride and resort tour is a wonderful way for the family (or a couple) to get some down time while still enjoying the sights.
Kidcot Fun Spots: Epcot’s World Showcase may not wow the younger travelers as much as the rides, but Disney created some kid-friendly activity stops around World Showcase for the younger travelers to enjoy and learn from during their stop at each country. The free activities usually include some sort of craft that the kids create and then can carry with them as a souvenir of the day.
Interactive Games: Walt Disney World moves past the classic ride and attraction offerings with a number of interactive games at select theme parks. In Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests can become Wilderness Explorers and tour animal exhibits and get their activity book stamped as they move trough the game.
Over at Epcot, kids can play Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure where they pick up a handheld device and follow clues all around the World Showcase to help find and defeat the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz.
Magic Kingdom guests have two game options. First, Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom involves picking up a packet of game cards at Main Street U.S.A.’s Firehouse and use them with magic mirror portals to defeat notorious Disney villains. For those looking for a pirate experience, head over to Adventureland for Pirate’s Adventure, where players join Captain Jack Sparrow and navigate the waters of the Seven Seas.
Stickers: Seriously, who doesn’t love stickers? Even grownups get a little giddy if given one, right? Around the WDW Theme Parks, Cast Members love going around to kids and families to give them some stickers featuring popular Disney characters.
Park Maps: Sometimes I think the park maps are almost too pretty to use to guide us around the parks. The colorful pictures and maps capture the magic of each park and they can be used as souvenirs in a scrapbook or even framed as a piece of art and hung up on the wall. So, grab a couple of extra copies to and see how you can bring a little piece of Walt Disney World into your home.
Photos: Pictures really are worth a thousand words. If you bring your own camera, you can capture countless magical memories at the parks that you can use to look back on your vacation. In addition to taking your own pictures, any of the Walt Disney World Photopass photographers will happily use your camera to snap some pictures of you and the entire family together. Note: If you’re interested in the photos taken on the PhotoPass photographer’s camera, you can purchase those copies on your way out of the park.
Enjoying the Magic Takeaway
You really can get something for nothing at the parks. Yes, for most of these, you still need to pay park admission to get access to the activities, but it’s nice to know that there is so much to do that is not an extra hit on your wallet once your inside the gates for the day.