If you’re reading this article, you are either visiting Walt Disney World soon, or hoping to be planning a trip there!
I’m so glad you are reading this because a trip to Disney World is often associated with $$$. We are from Orlando and I am a former Cast Member and letting you in on all the fun you can have for free, in and around the parks!!
Happy Disney travels!!
1- Disney Springs
For those who haven’t been down to the resort since 2015, you will want to pay a visit to Disney Springs. Formerly known as Downtown Disney, the shopping and dining area has been totally revamped and is worth a visit!
With 3 large and FREE parking garages, you will be venturing by foot and can enjoy all of Disney Springs for as long as you’d like for FREE.
Tip: if you have mobility constraints, you will find wheelchairs and Disney strollers for rent at the bottom of the escalators from the parking garages.
Once at Disney Springs, soak in the Disney atmosphere and gorgeous themed design of the area. With over 150 stores, from intimate boutiques to the largest Disney store in the world, everyone will find something they like.
Feeling hungry? Enjoy lunch or dinner at one of over 60 tenants, from delicious food trucks to celebrity kitchens, such as Morimoto Asia!
2- Boat Tour
Board a water taxi between Disney Springs’ Marketplace and West Side. Just as any other Disney transportation (excl. Minnie cars), the boat rides are FREE.
From Disney Springs, you can also board a boat to the surrounding resorts and enjoy a visit of Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, Disney’s Old Key West Resort, or Disney’s Port Orleans Resort. From Magic Kingdom, you can also board a boat to the Lagoon’s resorts.
3- Ride The Monorail
There is only one Walt Disney World monorail and you can’t miss your chance to ride it! It is actually one of Orlando locals’ favorite things to do. Let me tell you why!
Not only is the ride FREE but it will take you to the 3 Magic Kingdom Resorts – Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
You could spend over half a day enjoying the 3 hotel grounds. Grab a bite at one of the restaurants. Some locals like drinking around the monorail. And during the Holidays, try to catch a glimpse of the amazing Christmas trees in every lobby!
Tip: if you have the time, the High Tea at the Grand Floridian is a must!
4- Iced Water
Orlando can be brutally hot in the summer and all parks and resorts at Walt Disney World are equipped with convenient water fountains.
If you are, however, longing for an iced water, head over to one of the counter service restaurants where you will be graciously provided with FREE iced water, a cup of ice, or hot water (which comes in handy if you are traveling with baby food). Any restaurant with a soda machine will be able to provide you with the service.
5- Coke Products From Around The World
If like me, you enjoy experimenting with foods and drinks, you are in for a treat.
Located right behind the Epcot Starbucks in Future World, stop by Club Cool for FREE samples of international Coke products.
How about a pinneaple Fanta from Greece or an Inca drink from Peru? You will love tasting new flavors and on a hot day, you might be craving cold bubbles!
Unlike many other theme parks, you get 3 FREE FastPasses per day.
Tip: We recommend pre-purchasing your park tickets and linking them to your My Disney app in order to reserve FastPasses to your favorite attractions.
Each person in your party can book 3 FastPasses in a single park each day. A FastPass is valid for 1 hour, during which you get to cut the line at the given attraction. As you plan them, keep in mind that any FastPass can only start after the 1 hour window of the previous FastPass has expired.
7- Epcot Concerts
Ok, so you do need a park ticket to Epcot for this one, but once you’re in, during certain times of year, your park ticket will include a FREE concert!
Check the schedule of festivals ahead of your visit or the daily times guide when you get to the park. The FREE concerts are given at the American Gardens Theater facing the American pavilion.
You might be catching Whoopi Goldberg narrating the Christmas story during Candlelight Processional or Rick Springfield during the Flower & Garden Festival.
You cannot come down to Walt Disney World and not watch the fireworks. Here are some of our favorite spots to catch FREE fireworks (without a park ticket and without paying for park parking!).
MAGIC KINGDOM fireworks: time dinner right at the Contemporary’s California Grill OR watch from Wilderness Lodge’s Geyser Point Bar and Grill (see picture above) OR from the beach at the Polynesian OR from the beach at the Grand Floridian. At all of those locations, the music is streamed live from the park! How cool is that?!
EPCOT fireworks: make your way to the Boardwalk (our happy place at Disney – see next tip) and watch the Epcot fireworks from the bridge next to the ESPN Club or by the lighthouse closer to the Yacht Club. From there, you will also get a glimpse of the Hollywood Studios fireworks.
9- Disney’s Boardwalk
For us, locals, this is our favorite place to enjoy a casual family evening.
You will need to park at one of the three resorts located on the Boardwalk: Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, or Disney’s Boardwalk Resort. Alternatively, if you have a park ticket, the back entrance/exit of Epcot (between the UK and France) leads you to the Boardwalk and the boats from Hollywood Studios will take you there as well.
Try to get to the Boardwalk in the early evening and enjoy one of the restaurants (from casual to signature dining), do not miss the ice-cream at The Creamery, and walk around the lake.
As the night falls down, street performers start filling the Boardwalk for everyone’s entertainment!
Tip: I am not kidding, do not walk past The Creamery without going in! At least, try a sample or two!
10- Fun Interactive Activities In The Parks
Visiting the Disney Parks is always a memorable experience – whether it is your 1st or 20th time!
There always seems to be something you have never seen or experienced. I am ready to bet that you have not tried all of the below:
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom – get a FREE set of 5 cards and cast Merlin’s magic spells to defeat Villains.
A Pirate’s Adventure ~ Treasures of the Seven Seas – pick your FREE magic talisman at Crow’s Nest and complete 5 missions with Captain Jack’s help.
Jedi Training Academy – give your littlest Star Wars fans (ages 4 to 12) a chance to train and become a Jedi. Make sure to sign them up as soon as you get to the park as this activity typically fills up very quickly! Sign up location is at the Indiana Jones Outpost, just left of the theater.
Wilderness Explorers – become a Wilderness Explorer and collect badges (stickers) from over 30 stations throughout the park in your FREE Wilderness booklet.
11- Disney Play App
We all know that a Disney day will involve a fair amount of lines and waiting. Download the FREE Disney Play app and your kids will start looking forward to the lines as they turn into special adventures!
Collect cute and unique achievements as you complete tasks, ride attractions, answer trivia, and so much more!
Tip: download the app on wifi prior to entering the park. It is fairly large and you might not be able to download it on the parks’ wifi.
12- Transportation Cards
I am always impressed at how Disney thinks of everything and turns some of the less “sexy” times of your vacation into fun ones.
As you ride the different FREE Disney transports (monorail, bus, boats, etc.), ask your driver for a transportation card and start collecting them!
13- Kidcot Fun Stops
While at Epcot, you might find that the kids do not enjoy strolling around World Showcase as much as you do.
Participating in Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure will definitely help with that. For the kids a bit younger however, have them get involved with each pavilion’s Kidcot Fun Stop!
They will be given a cardboard Duffy the Bear and can collect 11 stamps from the craft tables in each country. Use the chance, on a hot day, to have them spend a few minutes in the shade and customize their bear!
14- First Aid In Parks
Are you blistering or in need of light medical attention? Head over to the theme park’s First Aid location for FREE bandages, quick remedies, and attention.
Click HERE for a map of each park’s First Aid locations. Please take a minute to familiarize yourself with it. You never know when you might need a Tylenol or contact solution!
15- Ambulance Rides from Reedy Creek
Now here’s to hoping no one reading this will require the services of an ambulance during their stay at Walt Disney World.
Should you, however, have a medical emergency at Disney and require an emergency transport to the hospital, you will most likely be driven in a Reedy Creek ambulance
If you do, your ambulance ride to the hospital will be FREE, which is something to truly be thankful for!
16- Disney Photos
Unless you have an annual pass with the PhotoPass option or you purchase a daily PhotoPass, the cost of Disney photos can be quite high.
Do not shy away from Disney photographers, however! They will first take a picture with their camera and scan your card or MagicBand. They will then happily snap the same picture on your phone or personal camera.
17- Disney Buttons
If you are visiting Walt Disney World for the first time or celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or any other event, stop by the stroller rental pavilions and ask for a FREE Disney button.
Display it proudly on your shirt and be greeted and congratulated throughout the day!
They also make for great keepsakes!
18- Electrical Water Pageant
Every night, head over to one of the Seven Seas Lagoon’s resorts (Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge) and watch the one-of-a-kind Electrical Water Pageant.
Our favorite spot to watch it is after dinner from Geyser Point Bar and Grill at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
19- Pixie Dust
This one will make your little one’s day (and my dad’s…).
While at Magic Kingdom, the Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street will sprinkle pixie dust on your child’s head for FREE – a memory they will hang on to for many years!
20- The Disney Wilderness Preserve
While not at Disney World, the Disney Wilderness Preserve is worth the 45-minute drive from the resort.
To counter balance some of its footprint, Disney has purchased this land in Poinciana, FL, where it continues to restore wetland restoration.
Home to over 1,000 varieties of plants and animals, come hike, bird-watch, and quietly enjoy Florida’s preserved nature. Your entrance is of course FREE – donations are highly appreciated. Check the schedule as the park is closed on weekends from April to October.
Address: 2700 Scrub Jay Trail, Poinciana, FL 34759