Free and Disney World are two terms that don’t always feel like they go together. Before moving to Orlando, I might have believed that. In reality, the majority of times I go to Disney I spend absolutely no money at all. I’m not just talking about packing my own food to bring to the parks (though sometimes I do that too!) or buying an annual pass. I mean legitimately free things you can do or get at Disney World.
So where are these magically free things hiding? Well, right in front of your face.
There are so many free things to do at Disney World to make your trip more affordable that it’s no wonder more people don’t take advantage of these freebies. Don’t think it’s possible? Let me prove you wrong!
1. Disney Springs
I know, I know, this is blatantly obvious. I’m taking the easy way out, okay? But actually, Disney Springs is so much more than you think! As a local, I’m all about Disney Springs as an entertainment destination. It has it all…food, drink, shopping, did I mention drink?
Plus, Disney Springs has the most shocking Orlando freebie of all: FREE PARKING.
I could wax poetic about how much I love free parking, but instead, I’ll give you a brief list of my favorite free things to do at Disney Springs in Disney World:
- Play with all the fun hand soaps and creams at Basin (I know I said free, but their 3 for $12 deal on bath bombs is amazing!)
- Check out the lego displays at the Lego Store
- Window shop at the Disney Store
- Experience the magic of Christmas in the Christmas Shop
- Walk the Christmas Tree Trail and other free seasonal events
- Play with the Coke products and merch at the 4-story Coke store
- Watch the performances (especially at night!)
- Try the yummy (and free!) chocolate samples they hand out at Ghiradelli
- Cool off in the splash pad
- Take a boat ride to Saratoga Springs and other nearby resorts
That was an abridged list. Clearly, there’s a world of free things to do at Disney Springs!
2. Resort Hop
If I had to list my favorite hobbies, resort hopping would be in the top five easily. It’s free, it’s fun, and there’s a ton of food. Because it’s Disney World, the resorts are an attraction in themselves.
You don’t have to be staying on property to visit the resorts. However, you can’t use the pools as a non-guest, so don’t be that person. Wondering how to get to the resorts? If you’re eating at a resort restaurant, you can park there. Otherwise, take a bus or tram from a park or Disney Springs.
Where should you resort hop? Here are my favorites:
- Do the monorail loop at the Magic Kingdom and Transportation and Ticket Center to hit the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and the Contemporary
- The Animal Kingdom Lodge has GREAT restaurants and also a few areas to check out the roaming wildlife
- Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness Campground for nature and recreational activities
- Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside (Beignets, amiright?)
3. Visit the Boardwalk
Yes, I just said to go resort hopping, but I consider this an entirely separate free Disney World attraction. The Boardwalk Resort is not only stunning, but it’s a great place to explore.
Walk along the boardwalk which is themed as if belongs in the early 1900s in some seaside paradise. Get some free ice cream samples from Ample Hills Creamery and check out the live entertainment. I also highly recommend visiting at night!
4. Try Your Hand at a Scavenger Hunt
If you spend enough time in Disney World, you’ll quickly discover there’s a lot hidden beneath the surface. From walking tours to scavenger hunts, there’s a lot to do if you’re okay with sitting back and observing for a bit.
The Wilderness Lodge has it’s own Hidden Mickey Hunt which you can get for free at the front desk. Check out TheTimTracker’s resort walking tours on YouTube for some more ideas of the best places to explore on property.
5. Watch a Movie at Night
Fort Wilderness hosts Movie’s Under the Stars every night. Even if you’re not staying at Fort Wilderness, as long as you’re staying somewhere on property you’re welcome to join.
You’ll need to check with your hotel concierge to see what movie is playing. They have movies every night after sundown (weather permitting) so be on the lookout for your favorite flicks.
6. See the Fireworks
Who said you needed a park ticket to see the fireworks? Sometimes the best view isn’t from the parks at all. The Contemporary Resort has tons of great viewing spots, including its own viewing area that plays all the audio from the show.
In addition to the fireworks, sneak a peak of the Electrical Water Pageant also at the Contemporary and the Grand Floridian. It’s got its own musical soundtrack!
7. Enjoy Kidcot Crafts
I’m don’t have any kids, but when I was one I was ALL ABOUT Kidcot. These are stations throughout Epcot in each other the different country pavilions that allow kids to take part in a fun craft.
I don’t know what these are at the moment because they’re always changing, but when I was young we decorated a different part of a mask in every country. Now, it’s a bit different but still great fun! This is also a great way for kids to interact with a cultural representative from each country. Who would say no to free crafts?
8. Take Free Art Classes at Disney
Speaking of free crafts, you can actually take free art classes at Disney World’s Art of Animation resort. Sometimes these are offered at Hollywood Studios, but you can always count on them at Art of Animation.
While you don’t need to be an Art of Animation resort guest, you do need to be staying on property to take part. They’re offered a few times a day, so check with your concierge before you head out.
9. Gather Around the Campfire
When I was young, in addition to crafts, I was all about campfires. While most Disney World hotels offer some version of their own campfires (smores at the Grand Floridian, anyone), my favorite is the Chip ‘n’ Dale Campfire Sing-Along at the Fort Wilderness Campground.
This takes place every night around 7 p.m. and it’s a fun way to get in some character time without being in the parks. As you might guess from the name, there are also a lot of fun songs.
Another great campfire is the Campfire on de’ Bayou at Port Orleans Riverside which has a lot of storytellers and fun.
10. Listen to Free Concerts
If you time your trip right, you can find a lot of free concerts at Disney World. In fact, once I walked right past a Sugar Ray concert at Epcot. During the Food and Wine Festival, there are different concerts every week, and they sometimes are big-name guests.
The best part is these concerts aren’t any extra cost. If you have a park ticket or annual pass, you’re welcome to join. However, if you want a good seat you should get there early!
Top Free Things to Do At Disney World
Who doesn’t love free things? When your vacation is already doing a number to your bank account, you need to find ways to save money at Disney World. Luckily, it’s not all dollar signs. This list above includes some of the best free things in the park, and it’s only just a sample.
Whether this is your first trip or your thousandth, these things are sure to put a smile on your face. So put your wallet away and start having fun!