Updated July 2016!
The Walt Disney World Resort is the most visited entertainment complex in the world. The property covers 47 square miles, offering visitors 24 unique themed resorts, four theme parks, two water parks, nearly 300 restaurants, a sports complex and the Downtown Disney shopping area. There is more to see and do than your average visitor has time or money to actually accomplish. With prices seeming to increase every year, some families struggle to make their Disney vacation dreams a reality.
If you ever Googled “Free Disney Stuff,” you just might be a Cheapskate Princess. There are many free activities and “stuff” to be found at Walt Disney World, but often it takes lots of research to locate what you can do and get without paying anything. Some of the following activities are free to the general public, while others are free only to registered guests staying on property with a valid room key, called your MagicBand/Key to the World Card. If you need a room key to take advantage of free offers, we’ll let you know.
Resorts in General
1. Go Visit: Disney has an “open resort policy” where you don’t have to be staying at the resort to go visit. This would be a great time to determine what section of the property you might like to make reservations for on your next trip or inquire at the front desk about rates and current discounts. Parking is free while you visit the resorts.
2 Theme “Park” for Free: Guests staying at the Disney Resorts park for free at the theme parks (at least as of summer 2016. This may change at any minute); you may receive a parking pass for your dashboard.
3. Goofy Greeting Call – When you check in, ask the Cast Member assisting you to set up a “Welcome Call” from a character. Like Disney magic, one of the Disney characters will leave a message on your room phone. The kids will love this!
4. Lobby Cartoons: Resort lobbies have TVs set up playing older Disney cartoons. If your kids are tired of walking while you resort hop and need a break, tell them to have a seat. This is also nice child distraction while the adults check in after a long drive or flight.
5. Night Time Water Parade: Visit the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Ft. Wilderness, or the Contemporary Resort to catch a glimpse of the nightly water show, The Electrical Water Pageant. This water-light parade was created in 1971 for the dedication of Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Scheduled to run just that one time only, popularity keeps it playing each night.
Approximate show times are:
Polynesian Resort, 9:00 p.m.
Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, 9:15 p.m
Wilderness Lodge, 9:30 p.m.
Fort Wilderness Campground, 9:45 p.m.
Contemporary Resort 10:00p.m.
6. Wishes Viewing: Watch the Magic Kingdom Wishes fireworks show from one of the many Disney resorts on the monorail circle. My favorite resort for this view is the Polynesian, with the fireworks directly across the Seven Seas Lagoon. Music is piped in, so while you might not be at the Magic Kingdom for Wishes, it’s the next best thing.
7. Luggage Assistance: Luggage transfers to other Disney hotels is free. Luggage storage before you check in and after you check out – so you can go play at the parks – is free. Tipping is optional but simply the right thing to do.
8. Pool Side Games – Lots of WDW resort activities include a fee, but many Disney resorts now offer games lead by Cast Members poolside for the kids. By the way, swimming at resorts where you are not a registered guest is not allowed (unless you are a DVC member, and this only applied to certain resorts.) Use this link to read more in regards to Resort Pool Hopping Rules.
9. Fireside Marshmallows – Camp fires at resorts offer free marshmallows and roasting sticks. Complimentary campfire activities can be found at 14 locations at Walt Disney World Resort. Locations include:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Resort
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
- The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
10. Campfire Stories and Songs – Stories, songs and more keep the kids entertained and provide a memorable way to cap off your day.
Gather ’round the campfire for lively storytelling, spirited sing-alongs and tasty treats. (See #9 above) S’mores kits and other refreshments are available for purchase at most locations, or for the cheaper route, you can bring your own. Blankets or something to sit on are welcome so that you can get comfy and cozy.
11. See a Movie – Come for the campfire, and then stay for a movie. Take in one of the many free “Movies Under the Stars” outdoor movies at WDW resorts following the campfires. Huge screens are blown up for nightly movies outside the resorts. This can depend on weather. At some resorts, you will need to bring a towel or blanket to sit on, and at others, they provide chairs. Call the resort desk for specific information. (Update: call your front desk to see where these movies are being shown now…June 2016)
Movies and entertainment are subject to cancellation or change without notice. For movie schedules, please check with the Front Desk at your Walt Disney World Resort, or call 407- WDW-PLAY or 407- 939-7529.
12. Playgrounds – Enjoy the playgrounds found at the resorts. There seems to be no need to list all the resorts individually that have playgrounds, because it’s almost all of them. These are great for a free day or when the parks close early for holiday parties. Coronado Springs has an amazing kid’s playground next to the Aztec-themed pool.
13. Resort Monorails – Ride the free monorail around to resort hop. The monorails are a huge part of Disney “history.” Kids and kids at heart all love riding the monorails. The middle of the day might possibly be a less busy time, as they can be quite congested first thing in the morning and at closing.
14. Longer Monorail Rides – How often can you ride a monorail at home? For a longer monorail journey, ride over to EPCOT. This trips takes about 20 minutes round trip, not including time to wait for a monorail to arrive. You catch the Epcot monorail at the TTC (Ticket & Transportation Center.)
15. Take Senic Pictures – There are numerous photo opportunities at the resorts. You can return home with photos looking like you vacationed at a Victorian Resort, a Polynesian village, and a rustic lodge deep in the northwestern woods.
16. Plastic Character Photos – Don’t forget the photo opportunities with extra large character sculptures at the Disney value resorts. There are huge Big Wheels, Buzz Lightyear characters, and tons more Toy Store characters, etc. Remember parking is free at the resorts.
17. Free Wifi – Enjoy the free WIFI offered at all of the resorts and parks. Wifi is free for DVC members (Disney Vacation Club) at all DVC resorts.
18. Resort Tours – Several of the resorts, including Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, Grand Floridian, and Yacht Club, offer FREE tours that are open to any Disney resort guests. Some of the tours require a reservation, so call the resort for specific information in advance. We have many of these tours listed below.
19. Boat Ride – There are boats that visit the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge and Ft. Wilderness, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian. You can get off the boat at the Magic Kingdom and wander along the lake outside the gates or hop on the monorail.
20. Take a Stroll – There are lovely walkways and/or nature trails around almost all of the resorts. We will list many of those for you under the specific resorts below.
21. Christmas Decorations – The Christmas decorations – wow- are just simply incredible. There are specific holiday must-sees listed under the specific resorts below, but all the resorts are all decked out. Do some holiday resort hopping.
22. Wake Up Call – Guests of Walt Disney World resort hotels can request a free wake up call from Mickey or Stitch on their hotel phone.
23. Free Bus Transportation – Most areas throughout Walt Disney World Resort, including theme parks, water parks, Resort hotels and the Downtown Disney area, are accessible by complimentary bus transportation. This is old news unless you are planning a first visit.
24. Online Check-In – As a free service to make your vacation less stressful, Disney allows you to start your check-in online beginning 60 days before your stay at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Then when you arrive, head to the Online Check-In Desk. Pick up your Welcome Folder and MagicBand/Key to the World card. Provide a valid photo I.D., complete your check-in, and you are on your way to fun.
25. Disney’s Magical Express – Enjoy complimentary transportation and luggage delivery to and from Orlando International Airport. Advance reservations are required. The Disney’s Magical Express bus stop is located just in front of all the resort lobbies.
26. Free Snack Samples– Many resorts are now offering cupcakes and assorted sugary goodies in their gift shops, kept in refrigerated cases for freshness. One excellent gift shop that comes to mind is Bay View Gifts, BVG, at the Contemporary Resort. Check the top of the snack case for occasional free snack samples like cookies and fudge. Theme park souvenirs can be delivered right to this Resort hotel at no extra charge, letting you keep your hands free while enjoying the parks.
27. Shampoos and Soaps – Shampoos and soaps at the resorts are lovely, created by a company called H2O just for Disney. We stopped bringing our own toiletries with us on vacation, and instead use the H2O soaps, conditioners, and shampoos. If you run out, run down the hall to Mouse Keeping and ask for extras. If you don’t mind paying a tip, call the front desk and ask for extras to be delivered to your room.
28. Hidden Mickey’s – Disney’s Imagineers have a fun tradition of incorporating “hidden” Mickey Mouse head silhouettes into their designs and construction, and lots of people enjoy hunting for them. Entire books are dedicated to finding them.
29. Hear a Holiday Performance – During the Christmas holidays, choirs, from elementary and middle school through retirement ages, are frequent presences in the resort lobbies signing holiday tunes. Don’t rush off to the theme parks; stop and sing along to a few songs.
30. Games Poolside – In the last several years, Cast Members have taken up places poolside at all the Disney Resorts to lead children in trivia games, dance parties, ball games, hula hooping, and other activities throughout the afternoon. If you are taking a break from the parks or just cooling off in the pool, grab those kids and have them join the fun.
31. Package Deliveries – You can have any purchases you buy at the parks delivered to your resort for free. Now you don’t have to worry about buying those really large toys or heavy glass figures, but you still might have to figure out a way to get them home. However, don’t do this if you are leaving the very next day.
32. MagicBands and cards – MagicBands and cards are all-in-one devices that serve as your “ticket,” “room key” and more.For more info., use this link: Walt Disney World MagicBands: A Cheapskate Guide.
33. Freshen Up – For registered resort guests, there are towels available that can be used in the pool side showers located in the bathrooms. Take a swim on check-out day. Want to speed up the showering process at night after a long day at the parks? Send family to the showers near the pool. They are clean and smell lovely.
We tried to find activities that were specific to the individual resorts. Hopefully this will give you incentives to visit one day or make a reservation for a future vacation. Some activities are only available for resort guests, while others are available to anyone resort hopping. If you will need your MagicBand/Key to the World card, you will see that designated in red.
There are nightly camp fires and movies at all the resorts, so we did not list those individually. We did list the jogging trails individually, because each one is a different length. This may help you make a plan to keep up with your fitness goals, especially if like me, you eat too many Disney cupcakes and Mickey Premium Ice Cream bars.
Art of Animation Resort
1. Take a Run/Walk – Jog on the 1.38-mile trail that curves along Hourglass Lake, passing colorful courtyards inspired by Walt Disney and Disney•Pixar classics Cars, Finding Nemo, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. You are not that far of a walk over to the Pop Century Resort.
2. Take Photos – I realize you can take pictures at any of the Disney resorts, but some are more worthy than others of driving over with your camera. Finding Nemo, The Lion King, the Little Mermaid, and Cars themed decorations make for excellent free backdrops for family pictures.
3. Take a Run/Walk – A 1-mile-long, paved jogging trail connects Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, Disney’s All-Star Music Resort and Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort.
4. Take Some Photos – Again this is a resort worth walking around with a camera just to get some unusual photos of your family with Disney “characters” that do not involve standing in line at a theme park. Snap photos with Herbie, The Love Bug, puppies from Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and residents of Andy’s Room from Disney’s Toy Story.
5. Hear a Story – Just outside the main lobby, Animal Kingdom Lodge has a campfire with a storyteller each night. If you miss the story, pull up a seat and enjoy the fire. You might want to stand further back in the summer.
6. See Unusual Animals – Outside the lobby, you can see exotic African animals walking around on the “Arusha savanna.” The best time to see the animals is generally regarded as dusk. Cast Members/Cultural Guides will answer questions about the kudu giraffe, zebra, ankole cattle, and other animals.
7. Experience Night Vision– Disney Cast Members will be on hand at the viewing locations for several hours with night vision glasses for watching the animals in their natural habitats, just this time in the dark.
8. Resort tours – The restaurants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offer free 30-minute tours focusing on the culinary selections and architecture. The three restaurants (Sanaa, Boma, and Jiko) offer dishes from African and India. These restaurants offer pre-dinner tours with samples of their unusual cuisine. For the Sanaa tour, meet at the Sanaa podium at 4pm. To tour Boma and Jiko, meet at the Jiko podium at 4pm.
9. Play Games – At the Community Hall at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village, you can play games like foosball, air hockey, pool, ping pong, darts and more. Guests may also make crafts, relax in the TV viewing areas, rent DVDs, join the “rainy day” activities and check out books. Amenities and activities are available to current Animal Kingdom Resort guests. Most are complimentary, while some are available for a fee. Also found in the Community Hall is complimentary pool table. You will need your MagicBand/Key to the World Card.
10. Play Sports – Play basketball on a half court near the shuffleboard and tennis courts. Like to play tennis? Enjoy two lit hard courts and water fountains, located in the sports courts area.Complimentary equipment can be checked out from the Community Hall on a first-come, first-served basis by Guests staying at the resort using your
Beach & Yacht Club Villas
11. Take a Run/Walk – Remember you have your pick of several jogging paths, including a loop around Crescent Lake. Play on the lit tennis court near Admiral Pool.
12. Play Some Sports – Enjoy a rousing game of volleyball? There’s a sand court near Tidal Pool, and complimentary volleyballs may be checked out from Ship Shape Health Club. You’ll need your your MagicBand/Key to the World card. Complimentary tennis balls and racquets for the tennis courts are available with your MagicBand/Key to the World card.
13. Holiday Decorations – During the Christmas holidays, you can see the “Holiday Village” in the resort lobby. Created by Cast Members, there’s a miniature train that makes its way through a quaint village over to a sugar rock mountain.
14. The Edible Carousel – Again during the Christmas holiday season, you can view a life-size, edible spinning Holiday Carousel. 2013 will mark 13 years the carousel has been created. Look for magical surprises and hidden Mickey’s hiding in the carousel’s décor.
*The Resort Itself
15. Take a Run/Walk – It’s a nice mile walk around Crescent Lake, and during your walk, you can see five different Disney resorts, The Boardwalk, The Yacht Club, The Beach Club, The Swan and The Dolphin, which all have beautiful lobbies just right for a FREE water break. The longest course follows Epcot Resorts Boulevard and Buena Vista Drive toward Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
16. Play a Sport – Enjoy a game of tennis? Complimentary tennis racquets and balls are available from Community Hall, a short walk from two lit courts available with your MagicBand/Key to the World card.
17. Play a Game – In the Ferris W. Eahlers Community Hall, you can play games like foosball, air hockey, pool, ping pong, darts and more. Guests may also make crafts, relax in the TV viewing areas, rent DVDs, check out books, and join “rainy day” activities. Amenities and activities are available to current Guests of the Boardwalk Resort available with your MagicBand/Key to the World card. Most games are free.
18. The Holiday Gazebo – Gaze up at this merry gazebo in the lobby at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort and examine a scene made entirely out of gingerbread and chocolate. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for Hidden Mickeys just waiting to be discovered.
19. Stitch’s Bakery Store Front – During Christmas, explore a Stitch-sized replica of the BoardWalk Bakery’s store front in the lobby. Keep a lookout for Lilo as Cast Members create gingerbread houses right in front of you.
*The Boardwalk Just outside the Resort
20. Hear a Radio Show – ESPN has a live radio show on Disney’s Boardwalk at the ESPN Club. Sometimes you can catch a live interview with a celebrity athlete at one of these high-spirited sports-radio talk shows. This Disney link may provide more information.
21. Watch a Performance – Often there are street performers like jugglers, comedians, fire-eaters, jazz ensembles, etc. in the evenings.
22. Do Some Dancing – Check out Atlantic Dance Hall, which has dancing to DJ spinning Top 40 hits, usually with no cover charge (21 and over).
23. Dance the Night Away – When the sun sets, the sounds and lights come to life in the elegant surroundings of a stunning Art Deco ballroom. Stars twinkle from the celestial ceiling over the expansive dance floor. Between tunes, take a break on one of the balconies with a romantic view Crescent Lake, which stretches from the edge of the Dance Hall to the BoardWalk and beyond. Atlantic Dance Hall is for Guests who are 21 years of age and older.
24. Dance Some More – On Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday nights, request your favorite music videos and dance along with Video VJs. Whether your favorites are Duran Duran or the Black Eyed Peas, shake it to the music and images of popular bands on the big screen above. On Thursday and Friday nights, get caught in the musical crosshairs as dueling DJs trade fire across the dance floor.
25. Take a Boat Trip – Cruise the loop on a boat around Crescent Lake, which visits Epcot, Boardwalk, Yacht/Beach Club, Swan/Dolphin, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios without going into the parks.
26. Music & A Show – From the Boardwalk, walk over to the back gate of Epcot or over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios around closing time. Enjoy the music and perhaps catch a glimpse of IllumiNations or Fantasmic! The bridge that goes over to the Swan and Dolphin sometimes has good views.
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels
27. Take a Run/Walk – Enjoy a scenic, 0.8-mile loop around Crescent Lake. For a more challenging trek, 2-, 3- and 4-mile routes are also available.
28. Take a Run/Walk – This 0.75-mile-long promenade loops around Lago Dorado. Extend your outing with a jogging trail that leads to the Ranchos and Cabanas and reveals an idyllic wetlands area. Take a brisk 0.9-mile run or walk along the scenic trail that loops around 22-acre Lago Dorado.
29. Play a Sport – Join a friendly volleyball match on the white-sand court by the Dig Site pool complex. Volleyballs can be checked out from Siesta’s pool bar by Guests with your MagicBand/Key to the World card.
29.5 Let the Kids Play – The Dig Site pool complex has swings and a fantastic kid’s playground for a quick break.
Caribbean Beach Resort
30. Take a Run/Walk – This 1.4-mile promenade circles Barefoot Bay.
31. Play a Sport – Join a friendly volleyball match on the beachside court at Barbados Village. Volleyballs may be checked out at the Marina by Guests with your MagicBand/Key to the World card.
Contemporary/ Bay Lake Tower Resorts
32. See Some Butterflies – Visit the Contemporary Resort Butterfly Garden, located on the left side of the resort as you walk out the back of the lobby towards the pool and Bay Lake.
33. Take a Run/Walk – Circle Bay Lake Tower and the South Garden Wing on the 0.9-mile, paved jogging path.
34. Play a Sport – Enjoy a friendly beach volleyball match on the lakeside court. Complimentary volleyballs can be checked out at the Boat Nook Marina with your MagicBand/Key to the World card.
35. Play a Game – In the Bay Lake Tower Community Hall, enjoy complimentary pool, ping-pong, foosball, board games, puzzles, DVDs and rent video games. Equipment for basketball, bocce ball, tennis and shuffleboard can also be checked out here. Guests will need your your MagicBand/Key to the World card.
36. Kids Games – The chalkboard in the children’s area in the main lobby will announce games and crafts offered by the recreation team.You will frequently see Cast Members playing games and doing crafts by the huge floor to ceiling windows on the other end of the building from Chef Mickeys on the Grand Canyon Concourse level.
37. Gingerbread Holiday Tree – During the Christmas holidays on the Grand Canyon Concourse, there is a a gigantic gingerbread holiday tree decorated with ornaments, candy canes and presents. You will often find Disney Characters here for photos, and if not, you can snap your own in front of a holiday background.
38. Grill Out – Resort guests can utilize the outside BBQ grill for dinner.
Ft. Wilderness Campground
39. Butterflies – Just outside the Outpost, visit the butterfly garden.
40. Grill Out – Campground guests can utilize the outside BBQ grill to prepare your dinner.
41. Sing Some Songs – Ft. Wilderness Campground offers a step up from the usual resort camp fires. There is a free sing along with Chip and Dale near the Meadow Trading Post. This occurs every evening at approximately 7:00 p.m. in the fall/winter and 8:00 p.m. during spring/summer. The program starts with a sing-a-long and marshmallow roast. Chip and Dale meet the guests and sign autographs. Then a Disney movie is shown on a large outdoor screen. There is some seating on bleachers and benches, or you can lay out a blanket. No reservations are necessary, so you just show up and enjoy the fun.
42. Bring Your Pet – Of all the resorts at WDW, only Fort Wilderness allows you, on certain camping loops, to have your pet stay with you.
43. Take a Run/Walk – Enjoy a 2.5-mile-long pathway through Resort grounds. For a quick jaunt or to extend your workout, explore the 0.75-mile shaded fitness trail and bike path that connects Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Jog through lush meadows and pine and cypress groves. Maps are available from the Concierge.
44. Explore the Ranch – At the Tri-Circle-D Ranch to through the stables to see Cinderella’s Ponies and the majestic horses of Main Street, U.S.A.. Watch the blacksmith make horseshoes and put them to horses’ hooves. Discover the Dragon Calliope—the horse-drawn musical instrument that Walt Disney purchased for the Mickey Mouse Club Circus Parade at Disneyland Park in the 1950s. There are many differnt variety of breeds that live at Tri-Circle-D Ranch, including Appaloosas, Arabians, Belgians, Clydesdales, paint horses, Percherons, quarter horses, and Shetland ponies
45. Shoot Some Hoops – There are several basketball courts located throughout Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Basketballs are available in a designated box at each court. If the box is empty, simply call Housekeeping from a Comfort Station phone and a basketball will be delivered to the court.
46. Play a Sport – Enjoy a game of volleyball? There is a the sand court in the Meadow Recreation Area. Complimentary volleyballs can be checked out from the Bike Barn with your MagicBand/Key to the World card.
47. Dockside Fishing – All fishing at Walt Disney World Resort is catch-and-release only. Bing your own pole and fish the old-fashioned way in well-stocked waters. Casting-rod fishing gear can also be rented on-sit from the Bike Barn, but there will be a charge.
48. See the Fireworks – Watch the Wishes fireworks from the Grand Floridian boat dock. Narcoossees restaurant is nearby, and you can enjoy the fireworks synchronized to the music from their speakers.
49. Hear a Live Performance – There may be no better place in all of WDW to hear a live pianist and a Big Band performing Disney themed tunes, all for free. Little kids and adults alike will often dance along.
50. Take a Run/Walk – This pathway runs along Seven Seas Lagoon. Approximately 1 mile long each way, it connects the 2 Resorts, passes Disney’s Wedding Pavilion and offers a view of Magic Kingdom park.
51. Gingerbread House – There is a life-size gingerbread house built in the lobby during the holidays. 2013 is the 15th Anniversary of the gingerbread house, which is the most spectacular of all the Disney Christmas decorations.
52. Meet Mickey & Minnie – During the Christmas holidays, a HUGE Christmas tree is erected in the middle of the lobby. Mickey and Minnie, all decked out in Christmas attire, appear by the tree for photos. Lines are not that long, so bring your camera and ask a Cast Member to snap a shot of the whole family.
53. Wash Your Hands – At Basin White, a retail store found in the main lobby, you can wash your hands with free salt and sugar scrubs. They also have free samples of hand lotions. This store smells simply wonderful, and your hands will feel silky smooth after you finish your wash.
Old Key West Resort
54. Play a Game – In the Conch Flats Community Hall, you can play games like foosball, air hockey, pool, ping pong, darts, shuffleboard, and more Guests can make crafts, relax in the TV viewing areas, rent DVDs, join “rainy day” activities, and check out books. Amenities and activities are available to current Guests of the Resort your MagicBand/Key to the World card. Most are complimentary.
55. Play a Sport – Enjoy two lighted tennis courts near the main pool, plus a 3rd court on Old Turtle Pond Road. You can shoot some hoops at the court near Hospitality House and play a game of beach volleyball on the court near Hospitality House. Complimentary racquets and tennis balls are available from Hank’s Rent ‘N. You can check out equipment for tennis, basketball and volleyball with your MagicBand/Key to the World card.
56. Get a Locker – Unlike at the water parks where you pay for your locker rentals, complimentary locker rentals are available near the main Old Key West pool. Take your MagicBand/Key to the World card to Hanks Rent ‘N Return with your for a locker key.
57. Take a Run/Walk – Beginning at Conch Flats, there is a 1.37-mile-long path that winds along the shimmering canal and the fairways of Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course.
58. Play a Sport – Enjoy a friendly beach volleyball match on the lagoon-side court. Complimentary volleyballs may be checked out from Mikala Canoe Club Marina with your Key to the World card. The volleyball court is located on the beach between the Hawaii and Tahiti buildings.
59. Take a Run/Walk – Enjoy views of Magic Kingdom park, Disney’s Wedding Pavilion and more as you jog along the lagoon. This approximately 1-mile-long path connects Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Polynesian Resort.
60. Do Some Dancing – Learn to Hula Dance at the Polynesian Hotel. You’ll learn a variety of native chants and dances from tropical locales.
Pop Century Resort
61. Take a Run/Walk – Enjoy a breezy run or walk: Take a brisk one-mile jog around Disney’s Pop Century Resort complex.
Port Orleans Resort
62. Sing-along – Port Orleans-Riverside offers a seasonal “Campfire on de’ Bayou” with stories and sing-alongs around a fire at the Ol’ Man Island Fishin’ Hole. There are no characters at this Sing A Long, unlike at Ft. Wilderness Campground, and this event usually runs in the winter (Halloween t0 March) for just a few nights a week (most recently, Sunday and Thursday), weather permitting. The front desk will have a schedule. No reservations necessary — just show up.
63. Take a Run/Walk – Jog along the tranquil Sassagoula River on a 1.7-mile promenade connecting the Riverside and French Quarter Resort areas.
64. Go Fishin’ – Catch and release fish with your own fishing pole. If you need a pole, visit with an old-fashioned cane pole at the rustic wooded alcove on Ol’ Man Island.
Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
65. Play a Game – At the Community Hall, you can play games like foosball, air hockey, pool, ping pong, darts and more! Guests may also make crafts, relax in the TV viewing areas, rent DVDs, join the “rainy day” activities and check out books. Amenities and activities are available to current Guests of the Resort with your MagicBand/Key to the World card. Most are complimentary
66. Play a Sport – Check out complimentary racquets and tennis balls and play on two clay courts located in the sport courts area. Equipment is available from Horsing Around Rentals with your MagicBand/Key to the World card. Courts are available on a first-come, first-served basis from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM. You can shoot some hoops on a resort courts located in the sport courts area. Basketballs can be checked out from Horsing Around Rentals with your MagicBand/Key to the World card.
67. Take a Run/Walk – Run on paved pathways through this spacious Resort hotel and along the manicured greens of Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course. Designated jogging trails include 1.44-mile and 0.8-mile loops.
68. See a Geyser – Disney created a mini version of the geyser Old Faithful, which erupts on the hour from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The geyser is located at the back of the property, past the pool, right on Bay Lake.
69. Resort Tours – The “Wonders of Wilderness Lodge” tour is open to any Disney resort-hotel guest. The times are Wednesday through Saturday at 9 a.m. On the tour, a Wilderness Lodge guide walks the lodge with you, providing information that few visitors know.
70. Rail Road Memorabilia – Walk from the main Lobby over to the Vacation Club Villas section to see the Walt Disney railroad memorabilia. If you enjoy Disney history, you probably know that Walt Disney was fascinated with steam trains. Wilderness Lodge is the host of a mini-museum of art, photographs, replicas, and actual artifacts from Walt’s hobby and Disney World’s earliest years.
71. Play Games by the Fire – In a corner of the Villas building at Wilderness Lodge in the Carolwood Pacific Room, you can spend the afternoon playing chess, sitting by the fireplace, or learn more about Walt Disney’s favorite hobby. This is a lovely, relaxing area of the Lodge. Pull up a chair by the fireplace and be sure you notice the fireplace screen featuring ironwork trains.
72. Warm Yourself by the Fireplace – There is a really large floor to ceiling fireplace in the lobby, with rocking chairs aplenty, that mimics the rock strata of the Grand Canyon.
73. Enjoy the Christmas Tree – When the holiday season rolls around, a massive Christmas tree is erected in the center of the lobby. PhotoPass photographers are available to snap your picture, or you can just take your own photo.
74. Check Out the Indian Artifacts – Artifacts from a variety of Native American tribes, including the Cheyenne, Crow, Sioux and Blackfoot, have been collected, re-created, and displayed throughout Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Authentic reproductions of headdresses, painted robes and drums, as well as work from artists noted for their reverence for nature, can be seen in the lobby’s secluded alcoves and throughout the Resort’s restaurants and sitting rooms.
75. Carved Totem Poles – There are two hand-carved totem poles, both 55-feet tall, with one topped with a raven and the other with an eagle. All the animals carved into these totems depict Native American myths and legends. By Wilderness Lodge Mercantile,there is a 10-foot totem pole with carvings of Donald Duck, Goofy, and Mickey Mouse.
76. Go On a Bear Hunt – Wildernesslodgesite.com says the Lodge is the first Disney Resort Hotel to have an official mascot, the brown bear, who is found all over the resort in cartoon and silhouettes. They report, “It’s a little known, but confirmed, fact that the shadows cast by the resort’s multi-peaked roof structure were designed to resemble a bear! You can see this well if you look at the resort from the vantage point of Bay Lake.” If you are on a boat approaching the resort, a Cast Member told me the windows also seem to resemble a bear face…don’t forget to look as you approach the lodge from the water.
77. Mickey Hunt – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has a special self-guided Hidden Mickey hunt available to everyone. Just stop at the front desk and ask for the paper describing the clues for the hunt, then spend an afternoon exploring the resort.
And we already mentioned the walking trail above to the Wilderness Campground.
Not Specific to the Just the Resorts, but Still Free!
1. Transportation Trading Cards – Cast Members on the various forms of Disney transportation may have transportation trading cards.As you are getting on or off teh resort bus, ask if your driver has any available. Sometimes they are out of stock, so if you strike out with one Cast Member, just ask the next one.
2. Trading Pins –Disney Pin Trading is an exciting, interactive experience where our Guests can trade Disney pins with our Disney Cast Members and other Guests. It’s fun for the whole family and CREATES cherished “pin pals.” Start a new collection or exchange pins for the ones you’ve always wanted. While Disney trading pins are not free, actually trading them is. There are Trading Pin boards you can find around the resorts and gift shops, and Cast Members wear lanyards for trading. Guests can make up to two pin trades per cast member per day
3. Trading Vinylmations – Vinylmations are no longer being traded since this article was published in 2013, but we left this information here because they are still for sale in resort and park gift shops.
The name Vinylmation is a combination of the word Animation and Vinyl. The figures are all shaped like Mickey Mouse but have different themed markings, colors, and patterns. There are designated places where guests may trade figures with Cast Members. Trading now takes place at select Disney Stores as well.
Disney Parks allow people to trade in their Vinylmations for either one out of a mystery box numbered one through 24, or for one in a small clear case. If you do not like the Vinylmation from the mystery box then you may trade with one of three in a clear case that you can see which ones there are. Each store has a slight variation on these rules but generally you can trade up to two times per person.
4. Search for Hidden Mickeys – Search for the Hidden Mickeys hidden all around the resorts. These are the three circles that make up the Mickey logo. They are all over!
5. Keep a Map – There are time schedules and park maps at the resort front desks. These are great to to put in scrap books later. The maps are colorful and kids to look at them when they get home. They are also great to put in picture frames.
6. Free Stickers -There are Cast Members running all over will hand you a free stickers. No only great for t-shirt decorations, but stickers are also great mementos for scrap books.
7. Free Water – And I’m not talking about the water fountain or lake water here. Visit any food counter service restaurant and ask for a cup of ice water.
8. Kids Under 3 Eat Free – Children under the age of three eat for free at Disney’s buffet and family-style table service restaurants. Do you even need another reason to schedule a vacation with toddlers?
9. Package Deliveries – You can have any purchases you buy at the parks delivered to your resort for free. Now you don’t have to worry about buying those really large toys or heavy glass figures, but you still might have to figure out a way home.
10. Get a Button– Special occasion buttons are given to celebrate a Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, 1stVisit, and Just Married. Special events like this can be celebrated six months before the actual date and six months after the date, so go ahead and celebrate with a button.
Other General Freebies
11. PhotoPass – While you do have to purchase PhotoPass itself, Cast Members who take photos do it for free. You can also then view your PhotoPass photos online for free. For more detailed information, use this link.
12. Phone App.– My Disney Experience is an iPhone app. that helps you plan your next vacation. Make dining and reservations, see maps and wait times, and even book your next vacation. (That could be financially dangerous for some of you!) For more detailed information, use this link.
Order Free Maps. You’ll need a Disney account online to do it, but go to Disney World Customized Maps and order FREE maps of the parks. Pick your family’s favorite park activities and attractions and then have them delivered to your door!
This link no longer works since this article was published in 2013, but we kept in in case they should activate it again. The link now goes to #14 listed below.
14. Google Maps – Google maps have some really cool, almost-cartoon-like maps of the Disney parks and resorts. These are great for kids entertainment and adults that need a mental vacation. Use this link: FREE Disney Virtual Vacation…Check Out the Walt Disney World “Parks” Maps.
15. Free Planning DVDs – To request a free planning DVD, use this link. Here’s what you get.
- A complete tour of the 4 Theme Parks, 2 Water Parks and over 20 Resort hotels at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida
- A tour of the Disneyland Resort in California, including 2 enchanting Theme Parks and 3 Resort hotels
- Affordable ways to play and stay during your Disney vacation
- Pocket-sized planning guides, planning tips, and information on special events
16. Enjoy Ice Cream – Take the free Disney Vacation Club tour, and you will receive free ice cream at the end for your entire family in a private ice cream parlor. A running joke in my family is why remodel the living room when I can put in an ice cream parlor.
17. Free Tickets – Kids under the age of three do not pay admission to Disney World Theme parks.
18. Free Photographer – Many guests assume PhotoPass is not useful for them if they’re not going to purchase the it. The truth is any PhotoPass Cast Member will take photos of you with your own camera. All you have to do is ask.
So add all that up and you get almost 130 FREE activities at or for the Disney World Resorts, whether you are a registered guest or just a guest for the afternoon.
Leave us a comment and let us know if you remembered anything we forgot…
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Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you grabbing a front row seat by the resort fireplace. If you ever spent time at a Deluxe Resort, only to drive back to your way less expensive hotel, then you just might be a Cheapskate Princess!
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Amanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.
Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-costal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast.
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