Disney World Tips for Kids: Free or Inexpensive Activities at Disney Springs

free or cheap activities at Disney Springs

Disney Springs is a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex that is free – the word free probably caught your attention, eh? Now kids probably don’t care much for shopping, and they would probably rather be entertained by rollercoasters than dining in a sit down restaurant, but there are TONS of things to charm the kids into begging for a trip back, most of which you can do for free. 

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Disney Springs Must See: the Coca Cola Store

disney-springs-coca-cola-store

If you have planned a free day on your next Disney vacation,  a time when you don;t have park tickets, then visiting Disney Springs has got to be on your agenda. And a brand new Must See at the Springs is the Coca-Cola Store located in the Town Center area. With so many other shops to see, why stop in? [Read more…]

A Cheapskate Prince$$ Guide: Top 10 Freebies at Disney World

Disney World Freebies

A Disney World vacation can be so expensive! It is nice when you find some freebies at Disney World. We have put together our Cheapskate Princess list for the Top 10 Freebies that you do NOT want to miss. Remember you can always fill out a quote request form here to get started planning your next Disney World vacation.

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To Get FREE Disney Emojis, Play Disney Emoji Blitz!

get-free-disney-emojis-for-your-phone

This summer, while Pokemon players were walking around collecting virtual Pokemons, I got busy winning Disney emojis I can send to my friends in texts. Granted, they are not a prize I can hold in my hand, but I can insert them into text after text, and there are hundreds to collect.

As soon as I saw the Disney emojis, I knew I had to have them. And best of all, unless you just really feel the need to play extra games, the emojis are totally free!

Times Have Changed: Welcome to the New Era of Walt Disney World

Ready to start collecting yours? Here’s how… [Read more…]

Christmas Holidays at the Disney World Resorts…Where to Find the FREE Stuff!

While the Christmas holidays are the busiest time to visit Disney World, this time of year, with music, entertainment and fantastic decorations, is also the most beautiful. You don’t need park tickets to enjoy resort hopping and free fun. So where should you go and what should you do for free?

General Resorts

Holiday Performances – Choirs, from elementary and middle school through retirement ages, are frequent presences in the resort lobbies singing holiday tunes.  Stop and sing along with a few songs.

Christmas entertainment Disney World resorts

Treats on Christmas Day – For the past several years on Christmas day, Deluxe and Moderate Resorts offered Snickerdoodle cookies and lemonade in the lobby. These were the same kind of cookies given out at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties, and let me tell you, they were yummy. Looking for a Christmas day activity in Orlando without standing in line up to your elbows with thousands of people? Resort hop, and be sure to stop in the lobby.

free Christmas snacks at Disney World

Smores – Many of the resorts now have fire pits where they had out free marshmallows and fire sticks. Even in the summer whine’s hot, my sons thought this was pretty fun, so it’s got to be even better in cold weather. Check with your resort to see if there is a fire and ask about start time.

making marshmallows at Disney World Resort

Free Snack Samples – Many resorts are now offering cupcakes and assorted sugary goodies in their gift shops, kept in refrigerated cases for freshness. Check the top of the snack case for occasional free samples like cookies and fudge.

Window Shopping – There may be no better time to “window shop” at the resorts than Christmas. The decorations are amazing and the music is magical. It will be very hard to keep that Visa in your pocket though, so stay strong. Once you see some of the prices on ornaments, you may have reason to fight the urge to spend.

Christmas shopping at Disney resorts

Beach & Yacht Club Resorts

Beach & Yacht Club Villas –  You can see the “Holiday Village” in the resort lobby, which was created by Cast Members, there’s a miniature train that makes its way through a quaint village over to a sugar rock mountain.

The Edible Carousel – It’s pretty amazing to see the life-size, edible spinning Holiday Carousel, and 2014 will mark 15 years the carousel has been created. Be on the lookout for magical surprises and hidden Mickey’s hiding in the carousel’s décor.

Boardwalk Resort

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.

Stitch’s Bakery Store Front  – Explore a Stitch-sized replica of the Boardwalk Bakery’s store front in the lobby. See if you can spy Lilo as Cast Members create gingerbread houses right in front of you.

The Stitch Display contains:

  • 50 pounds of Icing
  • 400 gum paste and sugar flowers
  • 300 pounds of chocolate
  • Over 2000 gingerbread pieces
  • 15 hidden Mickeys

While you are at this resort, you really need to take your group to get one of these desserts. It’s a true experience!

Contemporary Resort

Gingerbread Holiday Tree  – On the Grand Canyon Concourse, there is a a gigantic gingerbread holiday tree decorated with ornaments, candy canes and presents. Up until 2013, this tree was themed with Mary Blair’s Small World figures, but in 2014, Disney has (totally rammed Frozen down our throats) created a Frozen-themed tree for the Contemporary. Disney Characters have been known to pose here for photos, and if they are no where to be seen while you are there, you can snap your own photo in front of a holiday background near the tree.

The 2014 tree was inspired by Mary Blair’s “small world” figures and Disney’s animated movie”Frozen” and created by the Contemporary Resort Bakery Team. Thanks to WDW Shutterbug for the stats and photo.

  • 311 lbs. honey
  • 514 lbs. flour
  • 212 eggs
  • 67 lbs. spices
  • 35 lbs. sugar syrup
  • 222 lbs. icing
  • 433 lbs. chocolate
  • 1500 gingerbread shingles
  • and 14 hidden Olafs

See the Christmas Tree – Outside the resort, don’t miss the 70-foot-tall Christmas tree at the resort’s main lobby entrance, featuring nearly 36,000 white LED lights. Take a stroll outside; kids love to stand beside this tree in amazement of the truly immense size, and you’ll be impressed by the size as well.

Mickey Wreath – One of my very favorite Disney Christmas decorations has to be the Mickey Mouse wreath at the Contemporary. This wreath is four stories tall, measuring 25 feet in diameter and has 18 feet elliptical mouse ears. As you approach the Contemporary in the monorail from the Magic Kingdom, it lights up the night.

Gingerbread Pin Signings – By  the gingerbread tree in years past, visitors have been offered opportunities to meet the Disney chefs behind some of Walt Disney World’s best holiday gingerbread creations. For 2013, the chefs were signing Gingerbread Trading Pins. Pastry chef Jeff Barnes was at the Contemporary Resort in 2013 on November 15th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. I suggest you call the resort to see if any signings will take place this year. With the new Frozen theme, I would highly suspect there will be Frozen gingerbread-themed pins available.

Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Gingerbread House – In what may be the most famous of any Christmas decoration on WDW property, there is a life-size gingerbread house built in the Grand lobby during the holidays. 2014 is the 16th anniversary of the gingerbread house, which is 16 feet high and 17 feet wide, taking six men almost 10 days to create.

Grand-Floridian-Christmas-Gingerbread-House-

What sort of ingredients are used to make this fabulous  once-a-year holiday creation?

  • 1050 of honey

  • 140 pints of egg whites

  • 700 pounds of chocolate

  • 800 pounds of flour

  • 35 pounds of spices

The Tree! – Decorated with a Victorian theme, you have got to see the bird cages, intertwined swans, and lots of amazing golden-colored ornaments adorning this humongous Christmas tree. Assembled in just one night while guests sleep, the tree is four stories tall (40 feet) and sparkles with 45,000 lights.

Meet Holiday Minnie & Mickey – Mickey and Minnie Mouse, dressed in their Christmas finest, arrive to take photos in front of the grand Christmas tree. Lines are not that long, so bring your camera and ask a Cast Member to snap a shot of the whole family.  This would make a fabulous Christmas card photo.

free picture of Minnie and Mickey at Disney World

Hear Some Tunes – Beginning mid-afternoon, you will hear live music as soon as you walk into the lobby. Starting around 3 p.m., a pianist starts playing and alternates with an equally talented orchestra until almost 10 p.m. There is no better place in all of WDW to hear live musicians performing mostly Disney themed tunes, all for free. The orchestra is called the “Grand Floridian Society Orchestra.”

Free music at the Grand Floridian Resort

If you take a walk around toward the Polynesian Village, the beach area here is lovely. Take a seat or a swing and enjoy the surroundings.

Disney World Polynesian Village beach

Wilderness Lodge

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.

Meet Holiday Minnie & Mickey – Dressed in their Christmas finest, our favorite Disney couple arrives to take photos by the “indoor stream.” Lines are not that long, so bring your camera and ask a Cast Member to snap a shot of the whole family.

Wilderness Lodge Christmas tree

Disney World Wilderness Lodge Christmas decorations

Wilderness Lodge indoor lobby stream

As a FREE bonus, we have some bonus information on what to do at Downtown Disney, because entertainment is free there as well.

Bonus- Disney Springs

Enjoy Some Live Music – With restaurants like House of Blues, Paradiso 37, Raglan Road, there is no shortage of Downtown Disney music floating over the crowds. Even the new bowling alley, called Splittsville Luxury Lanes, frequently has outdoor musicians.

street performers at Disney SpringsJPG

Festival of the Seasons  – Enjoy Downtown Disney holiday entertainment (November 15 – December 29 for 2013) plus holiday sights and sounds.  Live Christmas entertainment includes carolers, Latin, jazz and pop performances of cherished holiday songs, costumed stilt walkers, street performers, and a lively holiday dance party with deejay.

Festival of the Seasons  – (November 14 – December 29 for 2014) Speaking of free live shows, Disney has performers walking around showing off everything from acrobatics and magic to theater. Live mini-concerts pop up in various places throughout the Downtown Disney area. Our family has watched Christmas Soldiers on stilts dance above our heads, had our photos taken with mime-type performers, and listened to some of the best singers and guitar players we’ve ever heard perform live. Often there are street performers like jugglers, comedians, fire-eaters, and jazz ensembles in the evenings. Find a spot with a good view and enjoy the show.

Disney Springs Festival of the Season Christmas

Stop the family for a photo.

Disney Springs

Lego Store – Stop by and play with Legos, or take your picture with many of the huge Lego decorations.

Downtown Disney Springs Lego store free activities

There are some lovely sunsets at Disney Springs, which are always free.

Downtown Disney Springs lake sunset

Visit with Santa – During the Downtown Disney Festival of the Seasons, you can visit with Santa and have your picture taken. Santa’s cottage is typically located in-between The World of Disney Store and Arribas Brothers and Basin.

Disney Springs free Santa Photos

After Santa heads back to the North Pole, then Goofy takes over for photos. Times may vary, so stop by what was formerly Santa’s Chalet to see when Goofy will be available.

Goofy's chalet at Disney Springs

See a Show– Look for an outdoor stage across from The World of Disney store. There is a large amount of seating, which is more comfortable in winter because you will be seated in direct sun light. This can be a great place to rest weary feet. This stage is used as a performance area for middle through high school and college bands playing everything from jazz and pop to holiday tunes. You’ll see ballet dancers, dance teams, and hear choirs singing and dancing their way through every genre of music imaginable. Disney has very high standards for acceptance as guest performers, so sit back and enjoy the free show.

 

Christmas is one of the busiest times at Walt Disney World, but it is stunningly beautiful. When we can get to Orlando during the holidays, my family spends a lot of time wandering the resorts and gift shops, away from the huge crowds and long waits at the theme parks. Roller coaster rides are great, but taking in the holiday sights and sounds is equally as memorable.

Cjristmas decorations at Disney World

plan a Christmas Disney vacation

Christmas Mickey Mouse

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you on the monorail, traveling toward gift shops filled with Christmas merchandise…

 

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Erin, our Cheapskate Princess travel agent

Erin, our Cheapskate Princess travel agent

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Erin, our Disney Vacation Planner with Destinations in Florida travel.  She offers promotions like Disney Trading Pin sets, autograph books, and free Mickey Mouse ear hats for kids under age 17.  We know our readers love free…

Give Erin a call at 214-697-7732, or send an e-mail to erin @ destinationsinflorida.com. 

Great Perks for your Walt Disney World Vacation at Destinations in Florida

Disney World Tips for Kids: “Free Day” Fun Activities

Free Day ideas for Orlando and Disney World Resort

We always to suggest a “free” day to those planning a Disney World vacation. Not necessarily “free,” as in it costs nothing, but free as in you do not have regular park tickets for that day. You and the family are not waking up early, walking for miles, and shutting down a park late into the night.

Many parents new to all this Disney planning stuff don’t realize that Disney vacations are tiring, and it’s a good idea to plan a “free day” mid-vacation just to keep from stressing everyone out. (If you can afford it, we actually recommend two days if you are staying for six days or more.) For those parents not into tantrums and meltdowns, be aware that heat, exhaustion, overstimulation, and an altered schedule starts to wear out little bodies. If you are already in Orlando, you might as well make plans for a day to enjoy life beyond the theme parks, because there really is a lot to do besides roller coasters and in-park character meet and greet lines.

Over 190 Disney World Tips for Kids!

These are our favorite tips for a free day at Disney World.

1. Sleep Late, Go for a Resort Swim

Staying on or off property, many resorts have great swimming pools available for your use. Most kids love to swim, so put on the sunscreen and head to the pool. This is a free option in that you paid to stay there, so swimming is thus free.

If the kids want to do some more serious swimming on a free day, there are several ways to purchase tickets to the Disney World Water Parks listed below.

swim on a free day at Disney World

2. Water Park

Water Parks Fun & More Ticket Option

You can add the Water Parks Fun & More Option to any valid Magic Your Way ticket For just $60 plus tax, you and the kids can experience Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, as well as admission to one of the following for each day of your ticket:

  • DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park This is closing, so don’t count on this.
  • Disney’s Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf
  • Winter Summerland Miniature Golf
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
  • Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course (one round) Tee times are required for Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course and are subject to availability.

Individual Tickets

Tickets for Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach start at $53 per day before taxes. With both thrill and chill rides, relaxing lounge areas, wave pools, snorkeling adventures and much more, these water parks makes your local pool look like a $20 plastic back yard kiddie pool. Both parks have areas specifically for younger children. Use this link for more info. on Disney water parks and ticket options. 

when to visit Disney water parks

3. Resort Hop

Resort hopping is simply looking around the Disney resorts where you are not staying, which is 100% allowable and 100% free. What better way to decide where you want to stay on your next trip than by looking around? Each resort has a different theme, so ask the kids which location they like best. Use this opportunity to talk about finances, because there are big price differences in the three resort levels of accommodations.

The All-Star Resorts, Art of Animation Resort, and Pop Century Resort have the most to offer young children in terms of looking around and taking pictures. Here’s our guide to making the most of time spent looking around: Disney World Resort Hopping: A Cheapskate Guide To Free Fun!

Resort hoppng at Disney World

4. Disney Springs

Wow, is there a lot to do at Disney Springs, which has been completely renamed and re-imagined from Downtown Disney, with some free activities and other things to do that are definitely not so free.

  • Shopping – Over 40 stores from toys and games to clothing and jewelry
  • Dining- Over 40 restaurants, including kid favorites T-Rex and Rainforest Cafe
  • Bowling – 30 lanes, billiards tables, live music, and dining opportunities
  • Movies – 24 Theaters
  • La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil. Tickets start at $59 before tax.
  • DJ Kids Dance Party – everybody can dance at the Waterside Stage
  • Characters in Flight – ride a balloon 400 feet up in the air
  • Goofy’s Candy Co. – No trip here is complete without stopping by this delightful candy store.

Traffic and parking is nuts while Downtown Disney transforms into Disney Springs, so our recommendation is to arrive early. Use this link for our best plan of action:

Use this link for our ideas on what to do at Disney Springs for free: Over 30 FREE Activities In Disney Springs: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Use this link for our ideas on how to experience the Disney Springs balloon and save money: Characters in Flight at Disney Springs: A Cheapskate Guide.

best time to go to Disney Springs in Orlando

5. Character Meals

While you can schedule a two-hour meal break on a day when you have park tickets, why not enjoy a character meal at one of the Deluxe Resorts when you have nothing else more pressing to do? Character meals are pricey compared to counter service meals, and you will be responsible for tipping, but you are paying for an event that kids (and adults) are sure to love.

Beach Club Resort – Cape May Cafe – Breakfast and Dinner, ($30 to $60 per adult)

Contemporary Resort – Chef Mickey’s – Breakfast, Brunch, and Dinner ($30 to $60 per adult)

WDW Swan Hotel – Garden Grove –  Breakfast and Dinner- ($30 to $60 per adult)

The Four Seasons – Ravello – “Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy and His Pals” ($22 per child, $42 per adult) Thursdays and Saturdays only.

Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – 1900 Park Fare – Breakfast and Dinner – ($30 to $60 per adult)

Polynesian Village – ‘Ohana – Breakfast and Dinner – ($30 to $60 per adult)

Here are some suggestions from our readers about their favorite restaurants on Disney property, both in parks and resorts: The Top 20 Best Disney Restaurants, So Says the Fans!

when to schedule a character meal at Walt Disney World

6. See a Dinner Show

Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show

Take the kids to celebrate the spirit of Aloha with entertainment including dancers, drummers and a show-stopping fire-knife performer all within the confines of the Polynesian Village Resort’s open-air theater in Luau Cove.

Adults will enjoy Island pulled pork, BBQ ribs, roasted chicken and a vegetable medley, honey-lime slaw, pineapple-coconut bread, and for dessert, warm pineapple bread pudding with caramel sauce. The kids will enjoy mini corn dogs with tater tots, cheese pizza, and either grilled chicken or mahi mahi with rice and green beans.

The price here is over $60 per adult, and advanced reservations are highly recommended. Make those up to 180 days prior to your visit.

Spirit of Aloha Dinner show prices Disney World

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

Located at rustic Pioneer Hall in Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, the Pioneer Hall Players provide two hours of Wild West dancing, singing and zany vaudeville comedy.  You and the kids can clap your hands, stomp your feet, and sing along. For dinner, you will dine on buckets of all-you-care-to-enjoy fried chicken and smoked BBQ pork ribs, as well as a tossed green salad, baked beans, fresh-baked cornbread and strawberry shortcake.  Unlimited draft beer, wine and sangria are included for Guests 21 years of age and up. Soft drinks are also included. Prices are $59 to $68 per adult. 

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue prices

Mickey’s Backyard BBQ

Over at the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, there is a covered, open-air pavilion for a music-filled hoedown with some favorite Disney Characters like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, and Chip ‘n Dale. You will enjoy an all-you-care-to-enjoy BBQ spread including barbecue ribs, smoked chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs with all the trimmings, corn on the cob, macaroni and cheese, lemonade, fruit punch and soft drinks, plus complimentary wine and beer for Guests 21 years of age and up.

Guests will enjoy cowboy rope tricks, a live country-western band, and line dancing with Disney friends. Several times each night, Disney Characters mingle with guests for photos and autographs. The cost is $30 to $60 per adult.

7. Visit Celebration

Just a short 15 minute drive away from the Disney property is the planned town of Celebration, Florida. Adults will enjoy the shopping, Starbucks, and restaurants. Kids will enjoy a large fountain just right for splashing by the lake, plus candy and toy stores.

Every night during the Christmas season, the snow falls at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. Stop to have your photo made with Santa, plus there is other entertainment like strolling holiday carolers, an ice rink, entertainment and more. This is our guide to locating the free activities in Celebration: Free Fun in Celebration Florida: A Cheapskate Princess Guide.

Celebration Skating

Skating is a reasonable $10.00 for a 1/2 hour minimum skate, with your skate rental included.

8. Visit Ft. Wilderness

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground offers campsites starting at just $69 (2015.) On 750 acres of pine and cypress trees, you can see wildlife like deer, rabbits, ducks and armadillos roaming the woodland trails inside this woodsy backcountry retreat. We mentioned two dinner shows located at Ft. wilderness, but there are a lot of other activities here kids would enjoy as well. 

Explore the Ranch  

(Day) At the Tri-Circle-D Ranch from to  through the stables to see Cinderella’s Ponies and the horses of Main Street, U.S.A.. You might get to see the blacksmith make and apply horseshoes. There are many different horse breeds residing at Tri-Circle-D Ranch, including Appaloosas, Arabians, Belgians, Clydesdales, paint horses, Percherons, quarter horses, and Shetland ponies. Advise the kids that as a free activity, they will be doing far more looking than petting.

Pony Rides

(Day) If your children want to touch ponies, for a very reasonable fee of $8.00 (cash payments only), children can take a pony ride. Offered daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. near Pioneer Hall, no reservations are necessary. Riders must be:

  • at least 2 years of age
  • under 80 pounds
  • no taller than 48 inches
  • be able to hang on by themselves.
  • lead on their pony by a parent or guardian at all times.

Campfires/Singalongs

(Night) Ft. Wilderness is home to a free campfire program sing-along and movie, although there is a charge for refreshments. This event usually begins around 7 p.m. in fall/winter and 8 p.m. after the time change in April through summer.

Christmas Lights

(Night) During the Christmas season, vacationers staying at Ft. Wilderness adorn their campers, golf carts, and tents with a huge display of Christmas lights and decorations. It’s wise to take small flash lights with you, as some of the woodsy roads through the campground are not well-lit.  Smaller children with darkness issues might feel better with some extra lights.

Wagon Ride 

(Night) Take an old-fashioned, 25 minute horse-drawn wagon ride on a tour of the campground property. Available on a first-come, first-served basis, wagon rides depart daily at 6:00 PM and 8:30 PM (weather permitting) from the front of Pioneer Hall. The cost is $8 for guests ages 10 and up and $5 for guests 3 to 9 years of age.

Traveling with a really big group? Group wagon rides (for 30 to 35 Guests) cost $300 per hour and are available with 24-hour notice.

For more information on any activity at Ft. Wilderness, call (407) 824-2832 for information. Here is our guide to wagon rides: Doing Di$ney 4 Le$$: Wagon Rides Under $10

where to find horses at Walt Disney World

9. Water Parade & Wishes

If you are resort hopping after dinner, be sure to catch a glimpse of the free nightly water show, The Electrical Water Pageant at the Polynesian Village, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Ft. Wilderness, or the Contemporary Resort. The water-light parade was originally created in 1971 for the dedication of Disney’s Polynesian Resort. In my opinion, this show is geared more for younger children, but many adults say they enjoy it too. 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.

If you have stayed for the Electrical Water Pageant, now stay to watch the Magic Kingdom Wishes fireworks show from one of the many Disney resorts on the monorail loop. At the Polynesian Village Resort, the fireworks are visible directly across the Seven Seas Lagoon. The show music is piped in, so while you might not be at the Magic Kingdom for Wishes, the kids will still get the show feel. Before or after the fireworks, grab a bite to eat or a snack. Hang out in the remodeled Polynesian lobby, which is beautiful at night.

You will also have a clear view of the fireworks from the Ticket and Transportation Center located next to the Polynesian. 

where to watch Wishes fireworks for free at Walt Disney World

10. Mini Golf

Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf

At Fantasia Gardens, you and the kids will putt your way through five scenes featuring tutu-clad hippos, marching broomsticks and pirouetting ostriches. This course is perfect for families and beginner golfers.

Fairways Miniature Golf is more challenging. Resembling a traditional golf course built on a miniature scale, this course emphasizes skill over chance. Sand traps, bunkers, water hazards and sloping greens make the Fantasia Fairways Miniature Golf Course an exciting challenge, where par-3 and par-5 holes range in length from 63 to 109 feet long.

Both courses are located in the Epcot Resort area by the WDW Swan Hotel. Prices are $12 for children ages 2-9 and $14 for everyone over age 10.

Winter Summerland Miniature Golf

The elves then built 2 distinctly different 18–hole golf experiences: a sand course named “Summer” and a snow course named “Winter.”

On the Summer Course, putt among surfboards, sand castles and ornaments hanging from palm trees, peppermint-striped inner tubes, snapping clam shells and a melting snowman. Disney advises you try not to wake sleeping Santa buried in the sand!

On the Winter Course, watch out for Squirty the Snowman, who sprays water at golfers when golf balls pass beneath him. Holiday themed obstacles include giant peppermints, hockey sticks and the drawbridge of a fantastical, melting castle. The courses combine for the last holes, and after sinking the last putt on Hole 18, you will receive a special message from Santa Claus, courtesy of the WinterNet.

The courses are located next to Blizzard Beach water Park. Prices are $12 for children ages 2-9 and $14 for everyone over age 10.

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf prices

11. Movie Under the Stars

Each night at Disney resorts, a complimentary movie screening is available to Guests of Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Whether on the beach, poolside or surrounded by the woods, enjoy relaxing evening entertainment that’s fun for the whole family, plus this is FREE! Some resorts have chairs while other resorts just have guests sit on the ground, usually on their own towels, so it does;t hurt to ask what the seating arrangements are beforehand.

For movie schedules, please check with the Front Desk at your Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, or call (407) 939-2273. Movies and entertainment are subject to cancellation or change without notice.

Here is a link to our free movie guide: FREE Movies at the Walt Disney World Resorts: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*

12. Parasailing

By taking a parasail ride at Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre, think of the views of Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Magic Kingdom you have from high up in the air. For those not into getting soaked with lake water, you won’t even get wet! 

Set out on a standard flight, where you’ll coast through the air for 8-10 minutes, 450 feet off the back of the boat. Or, float even higher in the sky on a deluxe flight where you’ll flutter gracefully for 10-12 minutes, 600 feet behind—that’s as long as 2 football fields!

  • Come dressed the same way you would if you were heading into one of the parks; no swimsuit is required.
  • Bring sunglasses along for the ride, and don’t forget some sunscreen.
  • All fliers must be six years of age and up, and the combined passenger weight in the parachute must be between 130 and 330 pounds.
  • If a flier is under the minimum weight requirement, he or she may ride tandem with another child or adult to reach the minimum weight.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes early for check-in. Minors under 18 years of age must have an adult present to sign waivers prior to boarding.

Per U.S. Coast Guard regulations, Sammy Duvall’s parasailing excursions allow up to six passengers on board. Flyers have priority, but friends or family members can ride along in the boat free of charge, if room allows. (Rider inclusion is not guaranteed.)

Operating hours are 9 am to 9 pm, and the cost is $95 to $170 per personUse this link for more information. 

Disney World parsailing information and prices

13. Rent Personal Watercraft

Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre offers two adventures on personal watercraft (PWC.)

Adventure One – Explore Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon on a guided tour, where you follow the leader to an array of one-of-a-kind sights, including Discovery Island, Magic Kingdom park and more. On this one-hour adventure, you may see animals like river otters or elusive Bald Eagles.

Adventure Two- For those who want to chart a new course, set off into our buoyed-off private riding area under the supervision of an official Sammy Duvall’s Watersports guide.

Either choice offers you an all-new view of Walt Disney World.

  • All PWC drivers must be 16 years of age and up, and will need a form of photo ID present at time of check-in
  • While up to 3 passengers may ride a single PWC at once, combined weight must not exceed 400 pounds
  • Minors under 18 years of age must have an adult present to sign waivers prior to departure
  • Any age can ride with an adult
  • PWCs are governed to 35 mph
  • Private riding area is approximately the size of 3 football fields, and is strictly for PWC use
  • Up to 4 PWCs can be rented at once

Before taxes, the price is $135 per PWC (not per person), and allows up to 3 riders or 400 lbsUse this link for more information.

14. Other Water Fun at Sammy Duvall’s

Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre, located at Disney’s Contemporary Resort marina, offers other water activities in addition to tubing and PWC rentals.

Tubing
Ride atop an inner tube towed by the pros. From mild to wild, you will control the ride with a set of hand signals.  The price is $165 which includes a ski boat for 60 minutes, driver/instructor, equipment and up to 5 guests. Cost is for the boat rental, not the price per passenger, and does not include tax.  Use this link for more information.

Water Skiing

World-class instructors can accommodate all ages and skill levels, from first-timers to first-rate. Kids and beginners will have a private dry lesson will show you all the key tips you’ll need. More advanced skiers will enjoy top-level instruction to up your skills. The price is $165, which includes a ski boat for 60 minutes, driver/instructor, equipment and up to five guests. The cost is for the boat rental, not the price per passenger, and does not include tax. Use this link for more information.

Wake Boarding

Towed at high speeds, tearing back and forth across Disney’s Contemporary Resort marina like a true champion of the water, there are wake boarding thrills for all ages and skill levels. For kids and beginners, a private dry lesson will explain all the necessary know-how to become an aquatic wonder once you hit the wake. For the advanced, a little top-level instruction can help you improve your technique and show you how to bust that big trick you’ve been after.

The price is $165, which includes a ski boat for 60 minutes, driver/instructor, equipment and up to 5 guests. The cost is for the boat rental, not the price per passenger, and does not include tax. Use this link for more information.

First Trip to Disney World? What You Probably Don’t Know

Sammy Duvall's watersports activities

15. Specialty Cruises

A free day could provide the opportunity to celebrate a special occasion or enjoy a relaxing cruise aboard a deluxe pontoon boats. Drop your anchor for the world-class fireworks of Magic Kingdom park or Epcot during an evening cruise, where you will experience the fireworks within Epcot when your pontoon boat sails up International Gateway near World Showcase Lagoon.

  • 21-foot pontoons hold up to 8 guests.
  • 25-foot pontoons hold up to 10 guests.
  • A Captain accompanies each Specialty Cruise.
  • Assorted snacks and soft drinks are served.

On the 21′ Tracker Pontoon, the Magic Kingdom show price is $292.88, tax included for your group of 8 guests. Water, soda and bagged snacks  are included. The sound from the fireworks show is not provided on the boat.

On the 25′ Tracker Pontoon, the Magic Kingdom show price is price is $346.13, tax included for your group of 10 guests. Water, soda, and bagged snacks are included. The sound from the fireworks show is provided on the boat.

The price for the only IllumiNations cruise is $325 plus tax for up to 10 guests. Price includes pontoon boat, driver, water, soda and bagged snacks.

Celebration and Dining Cruises

You can transform any cruise into a “Celebration Cruise” with balloons and a banner, and order onboard feasts from Private Dining. Private Dining can deliver customized menus, personalized birthday cake, champagne and strawberries, dessert platters, and light appetizers. You could even order a full meal to be enjoyed during your cruise, from intimate brunches to reception-style dinners. Celebration Cruise packages and Private Dining are available at an additional cost. A professional Butler service is available for order as well. Call Private Dining at the Disney Resort where your cruise launches:

  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort: (407) 824-2955
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa: (407) 824-2473
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort: (407) 824-2165
  • Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts: (407) 939-3160

Fireworks are not guaranteed = On the rare occasion, fireworks shows may be rescheduled or canceled. Guests are encouraged to call to reconfirm the fireworks schedule at least 2 weeks prior to arrival.

Also, it is customary to give your “captain” a gratuity. For more information, use this link. 

Disney World specialty cruises

16. Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage

How about a boat trip where everyone dresses up as pirates?!

Leaving from Disney’s Contemporary Resort, this experience used to be called Magical Fireworks Voyage. You will begin with cookies, snacks and beverages before you head out for a boat trip with prime viewing of the Magic Kingdom’s Wishes and the Electrical Water Pageant. Before you board, Captain Hook and Mr. Smee arrive for fun and photos, and your host for the night is “Patch.” As you sail along the Seven Seas Lagoon, Patch leads sing-along, Disney Trivia challenges, and tells the story of Peter Pan, who actually greets you when you arrive back at the dock. Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance, and there is a 48-hour cancellation policy  

The price is $33 for ages 3 – 9 and $57.50 for anyone age 10 and up.

Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage

17. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Your daughter will receive her own “Fairy Godmother-in-training” who will wave her magic wand, then break out the beauty tools, and turn your darling into a princess!

Depending on what services you want to pay for, you will choose a hairstyle, make-up, and nail color. You can add accessories, a Disney princess costume, and keepsake photo in a princess-themed photo holder if your brought $$$.

Packages start at $54.95 plus tax and go up to $189.95.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique can be found inside Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom, but on a free day, you’ll want to visit the other location inside the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney Springs. Use this guide for more information: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

18. Fireworks Dessert Cruise

Ferrytale Wishes: A Fireworks Dessert Cruise lets you see the fireworks show Wishes from a completely new viewing location. You’ll be on board one of Disney’s ferrys, enjoying all sorts of fabulous food and drinks. Guests will board the ferry at the Ticket & Transportation Ferryboat Dock one hour prior to Wishes Nighttime Spectacular.

The cost is $99 for guests over the age of nine and  $69 for children ages 3 to 9. These prices include taxes and your gratuity.

Disney World ferrytle wishes dessert party prices

19. Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea at Garden View Tea Room is held at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.  Afternoon Tea is offered seven days a week and is held from between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.  The cost for tea and assorted finger foods range from $13 to $45, For more information including menu items and specific prices, use this link. 

Disney-Moms-fun-outside-the-parks

How a Walt Disney World Trip Alters Your After-Vacation Reality

And there you have it, tons of activities for a day at Disney World that doesn’t include park tickets. Your “free day” can be as relaxing or exciting, or as free or expensive as you want it to be. The true beauty of a trip to Disney World is never running out of things to do. You will just never be able to see and do it all without running out of time.

Running out of money, well, that’s a different matter altogether.

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you after you woke the family up late, headed for your resort pool and perhaps a movie at Disney Springs. 

 

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Erin, our Cheapskate Princess travel agent

Erin, our Cheapskate Princess travel agent

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Erin, our Disney Vacation Planner with Destinations in Florida travel.  She offers promotions like Disney Trading Pin sets, autograph books, and free Mickey Mouse ear hats for kids under age 17.  We know our readers love free…

Give Erin a call at 214-697-7732, or send an e-mail to erin @ destinationsinflorida.com. 

Great Perks for your Walt Disney World Vacation at Destinations in Florida

Over 190 Disney World Tips for Kids!

best tips for kids on a Disney World vacation

Best Disney Tips

If you are planning a Disney vacation that includes children, you will do a lot of just that – planning. We’re here to help. When we published our most popular article, entitled 120 Walt Disney World DO NOTs: Tips From Real People on How NOT to Screw Up a Disney Vacation!, we had no idea it would be read over one million times in less than two years. So introducing…Over 190 Disney World Tips for Kids. Think of this article as our FREE vacation gift to you, because we love free!

Warning: this article is long. But this list may seriously be the ONLY planning guide for Disney World vacations with kids that you may ever need. At least we hope it is!

So don’t feel like you have to read it all at one time, because we’ve organized, categorized, and numbered it for you.  Pinterest pin it, bookmark it, e-mail it to yourself, come back later, or just settle in with a cup of coffee for a nice long read. You’ll thank us later.

And if we forgot YOUR favorite tip, leave us a comment so we can add it in. We have some of the most traveled readers and best informed Facebook fans ever!

tips for a Disney World trip with kids

1. Use FREE T.A.

Planning a Disney vacation has become a complicated ordeal, especially when traveling with kids, and it’s nice to have expert help. We recommend using Erin, our official Authorized Disney Vacation Planner with Destinations in Florida. Her services are 100% free, and she is fantastic!

2. Phone App.

Get the My Disney Experience iPhone app., where you can view and update plans, make dining reservations, search park maps, and get attraction wait times. Older children could easily learn to navigate this app. on their on, plus practice reading a wealth of information. For more detailed information, use this link.

3. Schedule FastPass+

Use Disney’s website or the My Disney Experience app. (see #2), to make three (per day) pre-reservations for rides, shows, or meeting characters before you even arrive in Orlando. On-property guests can make FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days before their trip; everyone else can book FastPass+ reservations up to 30 days in advance. Use your first three FastPass+es, then get more one at a time. Fine out what rides are most important to the kids, and let the pre-planning begin.  Use this Disney link for more info.  

4. Arrange for Magical Express

Are you and the kids flying? Disney’s Magical Express transportation is a complimentary service for guests of select Disney Resort hotels from Orlando International Airport to your Disney resort. To use this service, provide your arrival and return flight information when you make your reservations.  We recommend using Erin with Destinations in Florida, whose services are free.

5. Delayed Check Out

All Disney hotels have a posted check out time of 11 a.m. To work with later flight schedules, when you check in at the front desk, ask if it would be possible to extend your check out time. Sometimes, depending on occupancy levels, this can be extended by several hours but no guarantees.

6. Tickets

Unless you purchased Annual Passes, your tickets will expire 14 days after the first day of use. So if the kids get tired after several days of early mornings and late nights, you have the flexibility to schedule in a free day without stressing over looming expiration dates.

Almost 130 FREE Walt Disney World Resort Activities!

7. Start Walking 

Kids have a tough time walking miles for days at Disney World. Start them walking way before the actual vacation, as exhausted children make for brutally long days. The Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Disney Vacation? It’s a Four Letter Word!

8. Wear Comfy Shoes

Kid’s need shoes to be comfortable. Glittery heels, flip-flops, and sandals can be rough on little feet hour after hour, and wearing brand new shoes is just asking for trouble. What are the Best Shoes to Wear on a Disney World Vacation? We Asked the Fans…*

9. Prepare for Rain

It rains a lot in Orlando, especially in the summer. You can buy good quality ponchos at the parks, but they are expensive, so many people bring their own.

10. Count Down Calendar

If your children are driving you crazy in anticipation of your departure date, make an old-fashioned paper chain or a chalk board count down calendar so they can physically see how many days they have left (to suffer) before you leave.

11. Google Maps

Google maps have some really cool, almost-cartoon-like maps of the Disney parks and resorts. These are great for kid’s entertainment. This is a perfect way to show children what your resort and the parks look like with a childlike appearance. FREE Disney Virtual Vacation…Check Out the Walt Disney World “Parks” Maps.

12. Free Disney Planning DVDs

Disney Planning DVDs offer video tours of the theme and water parks, resorts, a tour of Disneyland, tips to save money, and pocket-sized planning guides  To request a free planning DVD, use this link. 

13. Utilize YouTube 

YouTube can be a huge aid in planning and preparing for a vacation. Show the kids several ride videos each day so they know what to expect. Search YouTube for ride videos, park tips and secrets, ride music (one of my favorites), and all sorts of fun fact videos.

14. Camera Equipment

It’s extremely important to remember extra batteries and memory cards for your camera to ensure you catch your children’s precious memories. Charge your phone, and make sure you remember your camera. Some of these experiences will not ever be repeated. 

15. Photopass 

Disney’s PhotoPass is a free service where Cast Members are stationed with digital cameras at park entrances, iconic locations, most character meet and greets, and character dining to snap photos of your group. Purchase all of your Walt Disney World PhotoPass photos on one CD for $169.95, or pre-order the CD at a discounted price of $119.95. The PhotoPass Archive Disc, which is your photo CD, gives you a copyright release to print the photos yourself. Use this link for more information. 

10 Vacation Questions Answered by a Disney Travel Agent

16. Memory Maker

Memory Maker connects your photos to your MyDisneyExperience account, including your PhotoPass, attraction, and dining photo print packages all for $199. Purchase it in advance for $169. Download your photos at no additional charge from MyDisneyPhotopass.com for 45 days after being taken. These photos also come with a copyright release, allowing you to do anything you want with them except commercial use.

17. PhotoPass Photographers & Your Camera

PhotoPass photographers will be glad to take pictures with your camera, even if you don’t want PhotoPass. Simply wait in line, hand the photographer your camera to snap a picture, and say thanks!

18. Bring Ziplocs

Ziplocs can store light medical supplies, unfinished snacks and meals, unopened snacks, batteries, memory cards, cameras, and phones, with everything remaining safe and dry. Want to Save Money on Food at Disney World? Ziplocs Can Save You Cash!

19. Bring Your Meds

You can purchase simple medical supplies in the park and resorts gift shops, but that’s expensive. Make sure you pack what medical necessities you and the kids need beforehand.

20. Bring Your Sunscreen  

You will need sunscreen, and it costs more to purchase it on Disney property. Be sure you put it on the kids 30 minutes prior to being out in the sun. Make sure the sunscreen has not expired; all sunscreen has an expiration date.

21. Bring Change

One of the cheapest souvenirs ever is the pressed penny, and pressing machines are found all over property. For $.51, you can get a Disney image pressed onto a penny. For $.75, you can get an image pressed onto a quarter. The Cheapest Disney Souvenir EVER? Many crafty moms turn these souvenirs into jewelry.  Cool Disney World Pressed Penny Jewelry! Children will enjoy throwing change into fountains on property as well.

22. Tinker Bell Gifts

Many parents buy gifts before the vacation, which can save big bucks on souvenirs. Tinker Bell brings gifts at night for children, especially those with good behavior. Our readers offered suggestions: The Ultimate Tinker Bell Gift Guide for a Disney Vacation

23. Glow Jewelry

When the sun goes down, glow in the dark jewelry appears. Many parents purchase these in advance from Dollar Tree or Michael’s. This is also a great way to spot your child in a crowd while you are in dark lighting situations. 

What Items Can You NOT Bring to Walt Disney World Theme Parks?

24. Autograph Books

If the kids plan to collect character autographs, you’ll need an autograph book. Make or buy your own book pre-trip, or purchase a Disney autograph books for around $10. Tips on out of the ordinary items to have autographed:  12 Totally Cool Ideas to Replace Your Usual Disney Character Autograph Books.

25. Bring a Sharpie

For character autographs, make sure you bring a large wide-tip Sharpie marker. Many of the characters wear big chunky gloves, so it’s hard for them to hang onto small pens.

planning guide for a kids vacation

26. Costumes

Children really dress up at the Disney parks these days. And If you don’t bring pirate and princess costumes for your kids, it’s going to cost a fortune to buy them there. We suggest you bring outfits with you including comfy shoes.  Can You Afford Those Adorable Disney Princess Costumes at Walt Disney World?

27. Match those Clothes

Dressing the family in matching t-shirts creates a sense of belonging and makes your group (especially children) members easier to spot. You can order your shirts or make them yourself.  Save Money on Disney World T-Shirts by Making Your Own!

28. Packing for Winter

We generally recommend taking pants and a jacket with you to Orlando in the winter. In the daytime, shorts and t-shirts may be just fine, but night-time could require some warmer clothing. Be sure to check the weather forecasts frequently.

29. Best Rides for Your Child’s Age

The Disneyworld.com website has sections under each theme park with a series of filters that can help you determine the best rides for your child using their age, height, and interests. If you would like to do some detailed research for your family, use these links to each park’s Attraction Page: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.

30. Celebrate Something

Did you know you can celebrate “something” at Disney six months prior to and six months after the date? This opens up all sorts of reasons to plan a trip, including birthdays and anniversaries. *Nine Tips for Celebrating Birthdays at Walt Disney World for FREE!

31. Plan a Child Free Night?

If you are celebrating something adult-ish, like your birthday or a wedding anniversary, perhaps you would like some adult time without the kids? Disney uses “Kid’s Nite Out” for in-room babysitting children 6 months to 12 years of age, with prices starting at $16 per hour for one child. Use this link for prices and more information. 

5 Steps for Planning a Disney Vacation: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*

32. Children’s Activity Centers

Kids ages 3 to 12 years of age can visit “Children’s Activity Centers” located at select resorts hotels. These are themed, supervised play areas where children watch movies, play games, draw, eat and play. Call 407-939-3463 for more information on operating hours, because hours vary based on location.

33. Potty Training

Ah, potty training. Do you really want to be hauling around a child’s potty seat or even one of those big plastic potty chairs? (No, you don’t.) This could be a great incentive for kids to speed things up and do some pottying on a regular adult seat.

34. Beware the Automatic Toilettes

The toilettes in Disney parks and resorts are automatic flushing. You can put your hand over the sensor, but this makes helping out difficult with one hand tied up. Take some Post-It notes with you into the bathrooms (keep them stored in your Ziplocs.) Place a sticky note over the sensor before your little one sits down, taking it with you when you exit.

35. MagicBands + Room Key

MagicBands have mostly replaced traditional room keys/keycards. Linked with My Disney Experience (see tip #2)MagicBands are colorful, waterproof wristbands that resemble a watch or bracelet which are touched to a sensor. Use the bands to unlock your room, enter theme and water parks, check in using FastPass+, connect PhotoPass to your account, and charge food and merchandise purchases to your room.

If you do not want your children to have charging privileges with MagicBands (or key cards), tell a Cast Member when you arrive for check inWalt Disney World MagicBands: A Cheapskate Guide 

36. Customize your MagicBands 

The My Disney Experience website allows you to customize colors (pink, blue, red, green, orange, gray and yellow) and names for your MagicBands. Ask the kids what color they want, because you have until 10 days before your arrival to customize your MagicBand, if you wish to have the bands shipped to your home.

10 Things They Forgot to Mention About Walt Disney World Vacations

37. Earn $ 

If you know someone who wants to take a trip, Disney or other locations, you can earn $20 for referring your friends, family, work associates to use the FREE travel services of Erin, our Disney Vacation Planner with Destinations in Florida. There are some specifics to qualify, so use this link for more information.  Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals! 

Scheduling

When kids are out if school, families go to Disney. If you can take the kids out of school, lines will be shorter and crowds will be lighter. But this can be hard for those with older children who would struggle with make up work or truancy policies. What Are the Best Times to Visit Walt Disney World?

tips for toddlers on a Disney World vacation

38. Locker Rentals

You can rent key-operated lockers to store your personal items in the theme and water parks. Not including a $5 refundable key deposit, large are $10 and small are $8 per day. Return your locker key before one hour after park closing to receive the deposit refund. Use this link for more information. 

39. Keep a Map/Schedule

At the resort front desks and park front gates, grab time schedules and park maps. Put these in scrap books, picture frames, or turn them into drink coasters by gluing them onto small ceramic tiles, coating them with Mod Podge.

40. Free Stickers 

Be on the lookout for Cast Members with free stickers, which are great for t-shirt decorations, scrap-book mementos, and spilled-food stain cover ups.

41. Change of Clothes

Accidents happen, kids get dirty/wet, and chances are pretty high they will need a change of clothes. Put an extra outfit in a Ziploc bag (tip #18) inside your park bag, swapping the dirty clothes back into the Ziplocs.

70% Off Disney Parks Authentic Merchandise? Cheapskate Bargains Galore!*

42. Hydration is a Must

Mid-summer in Orlando is Africa hot. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures, direct sun, and high humidity, without sufficient rest and fluids puts children at risk for dehydration. So keep those fluids going, both water and Gatorade type drinks.

43. When Children Get Sick

What do you do what a child gets sick on vacation? In the parks, visit one of the First Aid centers. Nurses are available during normal park operating hours to offer over-the-counter medications, bandages and other quick remedies. Resorts have a map with directions to local drug stores and Wal-marts if you need to pick up medications. In-room medical services are available at all WDW Resort hotels 24 hours a day. Use this link for more information. Offsite Urgent Care centers like Florida Hospital Centra Care Walk-In Urgent Care Centers are open 8 to midnight, M-F, and 8 to 8 Sat. to Sun. Complimentary transportation is available and many insurance plans are accepted. Call (407) 934-2273 for more info. or use this website for more information. 

44. Hand Sanitizer

You won’t always be able to get little hands to a sink with real soap, and kids touch everything in sight at Disney. (So do I!) Keep some small bottles of hand sanitizer with you and apply often; wash with soap in sinks when possible.

45. Pin Trading

With Disney Pin Trading, guests trade metal Disney pins with Cast Members and possibly other guests. The pins are not free, but trading them is. Trading Pin boards are located at resorts and gift shops. Cast Members wear pins on lanyards for trading: if their lanyards are green, they will only trade with children.

46. Ready for Characters?

Cast Members in some character costumes are tall, and even if they are very familiar, children still may get scared when it comes time to take a picture, like what often happens with Santa. If the kids start freaking out, don’t push them or force them to interact. Tips from our readers: Over 20 Disney Character Autograph Tips from Fans and Parents*

47. Where are the Characters?

If your child is looking for a certain character, just ask Cast Members where to find them. If you want to make advance plans, use this list on Intercot.com for typical character locations, although remember these can change at any time without any notifications.

“Best of the Best” Walt Disney World Freebies*

48. Get a Button

When you celebrate a special event at WDW,  stop by your resort front desk or Guest Services for a FREE “button” ( a big pin, but don’t confuse this with Trading Pins) announcing your special event. Get them for first trips to Disney, birthdays, anniversaries, and occasionally special events. Why Celebrate with a Birthday Button at Disney World? Let a Cheapskate Princess Tell You!

49. Get on the Correct Bus

A great majority of the Disney busses look exactly the same, or they look pretty similar. Before you lose valuable time riding on the wrong route, ask the driver where they are headed. It never hurts to double-check anything.

plan a fun Disney vacation

50. Transportation Trading Cards 

Cast Members on the various forms of Disney transportation often have transportation trading cards available upon request. Sometimes they are out of stock, so if you strike out with one Cast Member, just ask another.

51. Travel Takes Time

Traveling ANYWHERE at Disney takes time. Be sure to give yourself just that, a lot of time to transition from place to place. When traveling from a resort to a dinner reservation, give yourself an hour’s  head start before your reservation time.

Some thoughts on Safety…

52. Child Gets Lost?

If you look up and can’t find your child, or they aren’t at a designated meeting spot, immediately tell a Cast Member. Lost children can also be reported at Guest Relations and Baby Care Centers. When a lost child is found, they will be taken to the Baby Care Centers.

53. Take a Daily Picture

Snap a quick cell phone picture as you walk out of the hotel so you know exactly what each child is wearing that day. This could come in handy (if your memory is like mine…) if you need to show someone what your child’s outfit looks like. 

54. Utilize those Buttons

Remember the buttons we mentioned in Tip #48? Take a Sharpie and write your contact info on the back. If your child gets separated, make sure they know to find a Cast Member and show or tell them your how to reach you.

55. Cell phones

*Cell phones can be really helpful with children that are old enough to A) answer them B) not lose them C) tell you exactly where they are if you get separated on accident. They don’t need a brand new iPhone, because an older phone or a Go Phone works fine. 

3 Days with No Orlando Theme Park Tickets; How We Survived and Thrived Almost for FREE!

56. MagicBands 

Cast Members say MagicBands will NOT provide any information about a lost child. Have your children memorize your full name and phone number, or write your information on a Disney button (#48) or on a piece of tape you secure inside their shirt collar.  Until the MagicBand technology advances, the bands won’t help when a child is lost.

57. White Name Tags

When separated from your group, make sure children know to look for Disney Cast Members wearing white oval name tags. Make sure your child is carrying or wearing your contact information if they can’t remember it on their own. 

58. Hand Holder/Harness

Toddler harnesses and “hand holders” (Playskool made one called the “Baby Hand Holder for Toddlers”) can help you hang onto impulsive children, on those occasion when you need a little extra help besides just holding a little hand. They may look a little over-protective, but they work. 

59. Deliver Foods to Room

Having groceries, water and snacks delivered  to your hotel can save money and provide picky child eaters with exactly what they will consume. Goodingsdelivers.com, Amazon.com, gardengrocer.com, staples.com (no perishables), and wegoshop.com are companies that deliver water, snacks, and groceries.

 dining tips for Disney World vacations

Dining Tips

60. Kids Under Three Eat Free 

Children under the age of three eat for free at Disney’s buffets and family style table service restaurants as long as they eat off your plate. So their food is free as long as they are willing to eat what you eat. Why Take a Baby to Walt Disney World? Because It’s FREE!

61. Kids’ Meals

Kids’ meals are served with carrots or grapes and milk. If your child wants fries or a soda, simply tell the Cast Member when you place your order.

62. Drink Refills

Kids get thirsty, as do adults, and at almost all WDW theme parks, you will pay more for additional drink refills at counter service dining locations. But FREE refills (leaving more money for other items) are available at certain restaurants:

  • Magic Kingdom: Tortuga Tavern, quick service lunch at Be Our Guest
  • Epcot: Sunshine Seasons, Electric Umbrella
  • Hollywood Studios: Backlot Express
  • Animal Kingdom: Restaurantosaurus

63. ADRs 

Because of increased crowd levels, it’s difficult to get a table at a full-service restaurant without an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR.) You can make ADRs 180 days before your trip by calling 407- 939-3463, make reservations online, or let Erin, our T.A. with Destinations in Florida, do it for you. For last-minute trip planners that cannot secure a reservation, it never hurts to walk up and ask if you can get a table.  If you are close by anyway, the best they could do is locate a table! 

64. Recipe Request

*If your children really enjoy a specific dish served at a table service restaurant or character meal, speak to your server, and they can sometimes provide you with the recipe. You can also phone Disney Guest Services at 407- 939-6244 to request a recipe, or visit disneyfoodblog.com for recipes.

65. Eat Now, Not Then

If you eat at your children’s regular meal times, you will probably be standing in long ordering lines. Try to eat before the rush, like a late lunch or even a late dinner. Lines will be shorter, more tables will be available, and you won’t have to leave the kids seated and reserving your table while you order.

What You Can NOT Wear to Walt Disney World Theme Parks

66. Free Water/Ice Cups

You can order water with meals, and water is FREE!  Kids will save calories, and you’ll save that and money. You don’t have to be eating a meal to order water. Counter service restaurants and snack stands will give you water or cups of ice for free, so just ask. Want to Save Money on Drinks at Disney World? Order This Drink for Free!

67. Eat Breakfast in Room

You don’t have to eat breakfast outside of your room, unless you have a meal plan or free dining. We recommend you and the kids eat breakfast in your room to save time and money. The best food to eat? To Save Money on Disney World Food, Eat Breakfast Here!

68. Bring Your Own Water

Bring your own water bottles, and to save money, refill them with fountain water, water left from lunch, or water you got in one of those free cups we mentioned in Tip #66. Take your own refillable water bottle/container with you into the parks to keep you from throwing away so many plastic bottles, teaching the kids about recycling. To Save Money on Food At Disney, Bring This Bottle With You

69. Bring Water Flavoring 

Some people do not like the taste of Disney water when it comes out of the water fountains, especially children, so bring flavor packets to mix into your water bottle. Let the kids pick these out at the store.

70. Freeze that Water

Freezing water bottles the night before you need them is a great way to fight the heat, and many believe it makes the yucky Disney tap water taste a little more palatable. Drink the cold water as it melts.

71. Bring Your Own Snacks

If your children are picky eaters, bring snacks with you on vacation so they will have their favorites Not only will this save money, but it can keep the picky eaters satisfied and full in-between meals. Can You Bring Your Own Food into a Disney World Theme Park?

72. Check the Menus

Are your kids picky eaters?! It’s a good idea to take a peak at the restaurant menus before you show up for an expensive meal. How to find menus online: Before You Make Your Disney World Dining Reservations, You Should Read These…

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73. Character Meal/Table Service Money Saving Tip

Lunch is a less expensive time to eat than dinner for table service and character meals, and a lunch-time break could be just what fussy children need before a nap. Save Money on Food at Disney World? Make Dining Reservations for This Meal Rather Than That One…

Disney park tips for kids and toddlers

74. Parking Space

Cast Members say you wouldn’t believe how many people forget where they parked. Notice what section and row you parked in. Take a picture and text it to yourself, or write it down, because you’ll need this information 12 hours later when the kids are ready for bed.

75. Holidays

Holiday at Disney are magical and completely decorated to the hilt, especially Christmas. If you go to Disney World during a holiday when children across the country are out of school, then prepare the kids for long lines, people everywhere, and more waiting in lines. Are You Crazy Enough to Go to World Disney World at Christmas?

76. Daily Schedule

Grab a daily park schedule when you first arrive at the parks so you know what’s going on with scheduled events, entertainment, and character locations. You can also get a time schedule at the resort front desks.

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77. You Can Rent Strollers

Disney also has molded plastic strollers for rent, which are not suitable for infants or older babies but are fine for toddlers to preschoolers. To get the length of stay stroller discount, you pre-pay the number of days that you need.

  • Single strollers (children 50 lbs. or less) cost $15 daily and $13 for multi-day rate.
  • Double strollers (children 100 lbs. or less.) cost $31 and $27 for multi-day rate.

78. Strollers are Moved

Cast Members will often move strollers around as they straighten the area, so there’s no need to panic if you don’t find your stroller where you originally parked it. Attach balloons, ribbons, or decorate your stroller for easier recognition.

79. Stroller Fold Up 

If you get on Disney busses and trams with your stroller, it needs to be folded up. Strollers can be rolled onto monorails and some boats, depending on space, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared to fold it up.

80. Emergency Plan

If you get separated, do the kids know where to meet? Do small children know what to do if they suddenly can’t find you? Should they stand still or walk around looking for you? Determine a meet up place if you should get separated.

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81. Baby Care Centers at all Four Parks

Open during regular park hours, each full-service Baby Care facility is FREE to use and includes the following:

  • Private nursing room with rocking chairs
  • Changing room with tables and a unisex bathroom
  • Feeding area with high chairs
  • Kitchen with microwave, oven and sink
  • Main room with television, table, chairs and sofa
  • There is an on-site shop offering formula, baby food, juice, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, over-the-counter medications and clothing for purchase. There items are not free.

82. Souvenir Pick-Up  for Big Toys

Theme park merchandise purchases can be delivered to a designated location near the front entrance for convenient pick-up as you exit the park. When you make your purchase, tell the Cast Member to have your items delivered to the park entrance.

83. It Gets Loud

Small children sensitive to loud noises can find shows like Lights, Motors, Action!, Fantasmic!, IllumiNations, and Wishes to be really loud. You can bring earplugs, and they are also available at First Aid. If possible, sit far away from the source of the noise.

84. It Gets Dark

If kids have never been on “dark rides” before, you may be shocked by their reactions. Don’t push them into something they can’t handle. If the tears start in the first dark space, then don’t continue going into dark ride after ride.

85. Go Early

Head over to the parks early. Except on Extra Magic Hours days, theme parks are the least crowded first thing in the mornings, so you may have a shorter wait time than later on in the afternoon. In the summer, early mornings are not yet hot and humid.

86. Need more Tickets?

If the kids beg you to stay another day in Orlando, to add another day(s) to your current tickets, go to Guest Services before you use the final day of your tickets. Unless it’s the last day, you have the option to add more days, park hopper, and water parks options.

87. Take a Nap

On a typical Disney day, kids start to lose it just after lunch, so head back to the hotel for a quick rejuvenating snooze. There are kids napping in strollers everywhere, which is a great other-option as opposed to going back to the resort.

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88. Take a Break

Disney overstimulation is a very real possibility. If your child isn’t into naps, take a break from rides, take a walk around a resort, or you catch a nap while they watch a little TV. Less stimulation is ideal over cranky and completely stimulated.

89. Lines/Queues Entertainment

Stand-by lines can frequently get really long.  Entertain the kids with iPhone apps., look for Hidden Mickeys, play “I Spy,” or use this time to have a conversation with your child.

90. Ride Before Parades & Shows

During parades and shows, or when people start lining up for entertainment, take advantage of what can be shorter wait times for popular rides. These lines will fill back up right after the parades and shows end.

91. For Big Theaters…

For shows like PhilHarmagic, Little Mermaid, and Muppets 3D Movie in large theaters, your impulse will be to hurry inside one they open the doors, but the better plan is to hang back. First guests inside are instructed to walk all the way to the end of the rows. To be seated in the middle, let other people go in before you.

92. FastPass+ Ride Limits

FastPass has changed in recent years. You can schedule FastPass+ rides in advance but not for the same ride. Some parks put rides into categories called “tiers,” and you can only choose one attraction per tier. Without a FastPass+, stand-by lines for your child’s favorite ride can be long. Use this link on touring plans.com for more information.

93. FastPass+ is Inflexible

FastPass+ ending times are now strictly enforced. You will not be allowed on a ride if you arrive past your return window. Screenshot your My Disney Experience so you remember your times, or write them down, and double-check them frequently to ensure you arrive on time.

94. Extra PastPass+

When the switch was made from FASTPASS paper passes to FastPass+ and MagicBands, you were only allowed three passes per park per day. You can get more PastPass+ passes once you have used your original three, one at a time, but warn the kids, there may not be many popular passes left by the end of the day.

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95. Special Parties = Extra Tickets

Especially popular with kids, “hard ticket events” are special parties held at the parks that require additional admission. MNSSHP (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party) and MVMCP (Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.) have a starting price of around $55- $65 for children’s tickets and $65-$75 for adult tickets before tax. You get sweet treats, special photo opportunities with characters, music and light shows, and time in the parks when regular ticket holders have left.

96. Sleep In

There will be days when you just can not wake up super early without the kids declaring “mutiny.” It’s not the end of the world if you sleep in. You can make up a few missed rides later with a good attitude and a rested body.

97. Stay Late

Extra Magic Hours (EMH) are hours the parks open early or stay open later for those guests staying at Disney resorts.  EMH at Magic Kingdom are a great option for vacationing with small children, because when the really popular roller coasters have long lines, there are still lots of MK attractions for kids without crazy waits.

98. Show the Bands

If you attend Extra Magic Hours, you will need a MagicBand/park ticket for every person you are traveling with to show a Cast Member for E.M.H. admittance. You will not be allowed on rides or in shows without a ticket or band, and that rule goes for every person.

99. Night Time Shows

If the kids can stay up late, some of the best shows start after 9 p.m, like Main Street Electrical Parade, Wishes, and Celebrate the Magic at Magic Kingdom, IllumiNations at Epcot, and Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios. If there is a second show time, the second showing is generally less crowded than the first.

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Magic Kingdom tips for kids and tollders

100. Height Requirements in Alphabetical Order

  • Big Thunder Mountain – 44″
  • Goofy’s Barnstormer – 35″
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – 38″
  • Space Mountain – 44″
  • Splash Mountain – “40
  • Stitch’s Great Escape – 40″
  • Tomorrowland Speedway – “32

101. Wishes Fireworks Viewing

If your children can handle the loud booms of fireworks (or bring ear plugs,) try standing behind Cinderella’s Royal Carousel to watch Wishes at 10 p.m. Fireworks are shot from the roof tops and the swampland behind Fantasyland, so you get a tremendously “in your face” experience from behind the castle. Beware falling ash on windy nights, but this spot becomes more popular each year for a reason.

102. After Wishes 

Watch Wishes (Tip #101) from behind Cinderella Castle, and then walk around to the front of the castle for Celebrate the Magic. You should be able to get an unobstructed seat right up front. Then catch the second Main Street Electrical Parade performance. This helps avoid the crazy crowds exiting the park before and after Wishes at 10 p.m.

103. Trading Cards 

The Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game gives you five FREE collectible trading cards per day for each ticket that has been activated on that day. If dad stays back at the resort, sorry, you can’t pick up his cards. You don’t have to actually play the game to start collecting. Pick up cards at the Fire Station on Main Street and over in Liberty Square by the Christmas Shop. 

Disney Mom tips for vacation

104. Hair Cuts

While hair cuts are not generally regarded as all that much fun, they can be at the Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street. Prices for child and adult hair cuts are extremely reasonable.  Should You Get a Haircut at Walt Disney World? For $20, with Pixie Dust and Stickers, Yes!

105. Hair Confetti 

The Harmony Barber Shop (tip #104) on Main Street will “confetti” and “pixie dust” your child’s hair for free. Castle Couture in Fantasyland also has “pixie dust.” As far as we know, this is still a free service. 

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106. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Cinderella’s Castle is a styling salon for children over the age of three. This is popular, so reservations (407-WDW-STYLE) are highly suggested. Cancellations must be made 24 hours in advance, or a $10 fee can be applied. All packages range in price from $15.95 (Knight Package) to $189.95 (Castle Package) Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique: Can A Cheapskate Afford To Become A Disney Princess?

107. The Pirates League

Next to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, kids ages three and up can become transformed into pirates or empresses, complete with a new pirate name and a bag of loot. This is becoming popular, so reservations (407-WDW-CREW) are highly suggested. Package prices are $29.95 (Jake and the Never Land Pirates) to $74.95 (Mermaid Deluxe Package)

108. Early Character Meals

Make an early reservation for Crystal Palace or Cinderella’s Royal Table on a day with no Extra Magic Hours, and you are admitted into the park ahead of other guests. Your child may not eat $30 worth of food, nor might you eat $50 worth of food, but it’s truly the experience you are paying for. Tips to Keep a Good Disney Character Meal From Going All Wrong*

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109. Goodnight, Sweetheart, It’s Time to Go…

Getting out of the parks at night can be a mad dash to get in yet another line to wait for transportation. Many parents leave before Wishes fireworks. If you stay until after 11 p.m. or later, transportation lines and crowds will be much more manageable.

110. Shop Late

After park closing, Main Street at Magic Kingdom frequently stays open a full two hours. While the whole world is standing in line to get home, kids can take their time and look through the gift shops or grab a snack and eat it above the train station. Let them take your time looking for souvenirs.

111. Free Snack Samples 

Visit the Main Street Confectionery for occasional free candy samples, with cotton candy being a pretty common sample handed out daily. Good luck getting out of there without purchasing something sweet.

Epcot Tips for toddlers and teens

112. Height Requirements in Alphabetical Order

  • Mission: SPACE Green and Orange – 44″
  • Soarin’ – 40″
  • Sum of All Thrills in Innoventions East – 48″
  • Test Track – 40″

113. Two Entrances

Epcot is the only Disney park to have two entrances. The front entrance at Future World (East and West) connects to the parking lot. The secondary entrance, connected to the back edge of World Showcase, leads to Disney’s Boardwalk and multiple resorts. If the kids want to see the countries, you may do less walking by using the back entrance. 

114. Two Opening Times

Just as there are two different entrances, World Showcase also has a different time schedule, typically opening two hours later than Future World. Plan accordingly, because a lot of wasted walking is at risk.

115. Seriously, Strollers

Epcot is massive. Even if your children can handle every day walking, you should think about bringing or renting a stroller, because little feet tire fast.

116. There are Characters

While most people do not associate Epcot with Disney characters, there are meet and greets for characters including Alladin and Jasmine, Alice in Wonderland, Aurora, Belle, Mary Poppins, Snow White and others. Consult the times guide or ask Cast Members where you can find them.

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117. Character Photo

Have a Disney Chase Visa Card? Enjoy a character Meet ‘N’ Greet at Chase’s Private Cardmember location that includes a FREE 5×7 photo.  This exclusive event is offered daily 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Innoventions West.

118. Character Meals

Epcot has 2 character meals. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Princess Storybook Dining) features Ariel, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Mary Poppins, Mulan, and Snow White. These characters rotate, so you won’t see them all during every visit. At the Garden Grill (Chip ‘n Dale’s Harvest Feast) kids meet Chip, Dale and many other favorite Disney Characters, which can include Mickey and Pluto.

119. INNOVENTIONS

Make sure the kids stop by INNOVENTIONS East and West, two separate pavilions where children discover engaging exhibits, stimulating simulations, educational games, and tons of interactive, hands-on fun.

120. Fountains = Wet

Several areas in Epcot allow kids to splash and play in fountains, which can be great for cooling off in the sweltering summer heat. Have a change of clothes though, just in case the little ones don’t like walking around soaking wet. 

121. Get a Drink

Club Cool in Epcot’s Future World offers eight drinks from around the world, all of which are international Coca-Cola brands. Taste as much of the beverage samples as you want, but make sure the kids don’t leave with a tummy ache.

122. Kids Crafts

See Cast Member at any Kidcot Fun Stop to get a complimentary cardboard Duffy the Disney Bear for your child to decorate and personalize with the free supplies at each station. Cast Members will share insights about their native lands, such as how to say “hello,” and they will give your child a stamp of Duffy in each country. Use this link to find Kidcot Fun Stops.

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123. Go on a Secret Mission

At Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure, kids can solve clues with Agent P. to thwart some of Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s most daringly evil plots. Visit a recruitment center at Odyssey Bridge, Norway Pavilion, Italy Pavilion or near the International Gateway to receive your assignment. Here you will pick up an interactive handheld device that will guide you on your 30 to 45 minute mission. 

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124. Model Trains

A large model train display is located at the Germany Pavilion. Kids will love the three electric traveling trains, mostly locomotives that pull a car or two. 

125. Buy Me Somethin’

Where can you shop with kids in mind at Epcot? Mouse Gears is a massive souvenir shop in Epcot’s Future World by INNOVENTIONS, where kids will find every imaginable bit of Micky-themed merchandise available. There are gift shops in World Showcase that are more adult-oriented, but they offer candy, toys, jewelry, and holiday ornaments.  

126. E-mail a Video to Friends

Leaving Spaceship Earth, you are deposited in Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future. Kids can e-mail a video message to their friends and family.

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127. Thoughts on IllumiNations

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth is a 12 minute fireworks show beginning just before the park closes at World Showcase Lagoon. Small children can definitely be frightened with the loud sounds of fireworks. Also, the show is probably best viewed right around the lagoon, which can be difficult on crowded days.

128. Hats & Glasses

Of all the parks that get direct sun without benefit of very much shade, Epcot guests suffer the most.  Kids would definitely appreciate hats and sun glasses.

Disney Hollywood Studios tips for kids

129. Height Restrictions in Alphabetical Order

  • Rock’n’Roller Coaster – 48″
  • Star Tours – 40″
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – 40″

There are only six rides in Hollywood Studios, three of which have height restrictions, so if you visit with smaller children, understand they will be seeing shows and street entertainment more than riding anything.

130. Shows for Smaller Kids

*If there is a benefit to a lack of rides for kids at Hollywood Studios, it would be that the stage shows available are Broadway-caliber. Beauty and the Beast – Live on StageVoyage of The Little Mermaid, and Disney Junior-Live on Stage! are all tremendously popular shows. Remember parts Little Mermaid take place in a darkened theater, and Ursula can be scary to little children.

131. Specialty Meals

Looking for a special dining experience for kids? The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant lets you enjoy your meal sitting in convertible car tables, watching clips from b-movie sci-fi flicks on a big screen. The 50’s Prime Time Cafe invites you to enjoy crazy family antics eating in “Mom’s kitchen.” Advanced reservations are highly recommended.

132. Character Meal

Jedi Mickey’s STAR WARS Dine at Hollywood & Vine is a character meal available May 4 through June 14 (2015 dates). You’ll meet Disney pals dressed like Star Wars characters, including Jedi Mickey, Princess Leia Minnie, Darth Vader Goofy, Storm Trooper Donald, and Ewoks Chip ‘n’ Dale.

The cost is $57.99 per adult and $34.99 per child age 3 to 9. Tax is included but not gratuity. Advanced reservations are highly recommended. For booking, you can check availability online or call 407- 939-3463.

133. Shrunken Playground

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure is an 11,000-square-foot play area based on the movie Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Children climb enormous anthills, scale sprawling spider webs, avoid dripping garden hose, explore a maze tunnel, slide down a roll of film, and sit atop an ant. Be advised that this is a large area, and it can be hard to spot your own children here.

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134. One Man’s Dream

Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream is part walk-through exhibit and part 15-minute film. Guests view over 400 of Walt Disney’s personal artifacts featuring one-of-a-kind animation art, paintings, storyboards, photos, park and ride models, props, costumes, and movie set pieces. Here, children can get a better understanding of Walt Disney as a real person.

135. 3D Movie

Join Kermit, Miss Piggy and the entire Muppets gang for a spectacular 3D movie presentation in a theater designed to look like the original Muppet Theater from the classic television series. This show rarely has a long wait.

136. Get a Jedi Training Certificate

At the Jedi Training Academy, children learn to use the Force in a 20-minute training academy. Twelve guests between the ages of 4 and 12 years of age will be selected for each show, all receiving a certificate at the end of training. At park opening, get in line outside the ABC Sound Studio, across from the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, to sign the kids up.

137. Get a Disney Junior Dance Party Balloon

During night-time Extra Magic Hours, dance to music videos with Handy Manny, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto and more. New characters fill the floor throughout the night, so you never know when someone special like Jake and the Never Land Pirates or Bones & Sharkey might appear. 

138. Take Home a Free Drawing

At the Animation Academy, with help from a trained Disney artist, kids get instruction for drawing a Disney character sketch. Unlike the Animation Academy at DisneyQuest, take your drawing from this Academy home for free.

139. Fantasmic

Fantasmic! is a 30-minute fireworks and water extravaganza showcasing pyrotechnics, laser lights and one million gallons of dancing water. 50 costumed performers sing Disney tunes while classic animation clips are projected onto massive walls of water. This is an extremely popular show, so if there are two shows, the second is almost always not quite as busy.

Disney Animal Kingdom tips for moms and kids

140. Height Restrictions in Alphabetical Order

  • DINOSAUR – 40″
  • Expedition Everest – 44″
  • Kali River Rapids – 38″
  • Primeval Whirl – 48″

141. Hot and Sunny

Welcome to the Florida jungle, where there is a real lack of shade and air conditioning. This park tests your ability to cool off sufficiently, so keep the kids hydrated and sun protected (hats, sunglasses sunscreen.)

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142. Go Mornings

If there is a Disney park you can finish in less than a full day, this is it, so going back to your resort for a break or a nap is not advisable. Arrive first thing in the morning, because it’s cooler and animals get less active as the temperatures rise.

143. Stuff Just for Kids

TriceraTop Spin is very similar to the iconic Dumbo ride at Magic Kingdom. Primeval Whirl is a spinning roller coaster with sudden dips and hairpin turns. Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama! is a dinosaur-decorated amusement park with vintage-style attractions and games. At The Boneyard, kids ages 10 and under can climb rocks, cross  bridges, roam caves, hurl down twisting slides, navigate a maze, and unearth dinosaur bones.

144. Talk To Cast Members

Cast Members are a wealth of Disney-related information, but this is especially so in Animal Kingdom. Many of them have years of experience handling and caring for animals, so have the kids ask them some questions.

145. Park Hours

Animal Kingdom usually closes well before the other parks; animals need to be fed and cared for, plus have time to sleep. Off season, Animal Kingdom could close as early as five p.m., although six or seven is more common during regular season. In peak attendance times, this park will sometimes open 30 or 60 minutes early. There are no fireworks at Animal Kingdom. 

146. About Dinosaur

DINOSAUR includes loud sounds in the dark with seemingly menacing audio-animatronic dinosaurs that may be scary for children. It is not recommended for younger, easily scared children.

147. Explore The Wilderness 

Kids can follow in the footsteps of Russell and his faithful dog, Dug, from the Disney•Pixar film Up! as they complete a series of self-guided, completely different challenges, ranging from animal observation to learning nature skills. As you complete missions, collect over 30 badges to place in your official Wilderness Explorer field guide. Use this link for info. 

Disney World Resort tips for kids, toddlers, and babies

148. Staying on Property

It can definitely be cheaper to stay off Disney property. But if you are traveling with children, paying more money to be closer to the action and surrounded by all the “Disney Magic” of the resorts may be more desirable than saving money. Cheapskate tip: the Value Resorts are very popular because of the child-centered decorations, and so they are frequently packed.  *10 Cheapskate Reasons to Vacation on Disney Property

149. Pools

If you kids are comfortable in the water, the pools at Disney resorts are great fun. Plus Walt Disney World Resort hotels heat pools to a comfortable 82 degrees Fahrenheit (about  28°C). Remember that Value resorts do not have slides while Moderate and Deluxe resorts do.

150. 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. Groups of children participate in these games. By the way, swimming at resorts where you are not a registered guest is tempting but not allowed (unless you are a DVC member at certain resorts.) A Guide To Disney World Resort Pool Hopping

151. Use Their Pool Towels 

For registered resort guests, there are towels available that can be used in the pool-side showers located in the bathrooms. Let the kids take a swim on check-out day. Have a large group and want to speed up the showering process at night after a long day at the parks? Send family to the showers near the pool.

Disney moms and kids on vacation

152. Bathroom Freebies

H2O toiletries at the resorts smell lovely and come in child size bottles. If you run out, stop by Mouse Keeping and ask for extra soaps, conditioners, and shampoos. Extras can also be delivered to your room. 

153. Stationary Freebies

There are usually free postcards, stationery, and WDW resort pens in your room. These are for your use, so make sure the kids bring them home.

154. Character Greeting Call

When you check into your resort, ask a Cast Member to set up a “Welcome Call” from a Disney character. Like Disney magic, Mickey or a Goofy friend will leave a message on your room phone. Have the kids answer this. 

155. Character Wake Up Call

Just like the greeting we mentioned above, schedule a wake up call to your resort room and a Disney character, usually Mickey, will call to wake you up. What better way to get the kids out of bed to start another magical day. 

156. Fireside Marshmallows

Camp fires at resorts offer free marshmallows and roasting sticks. These complimentary campfire activities can be found at 14 locations at Walt Disney World Resort, so use this link for the list. Call the resort to confirm that night’s fire and get an approximate time, although they usually take place before sunset.

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157. Outdoor Movies

Take in one of the many free “Movies Under the Stars” outdoor movies at WDW resorts following the campfires, although this is dependent on weather and thus subject to cancellation or change without notice. Huge screens are blown up for nightly movies. Call the resort desk for specific seating information, and for movie schedules, call 407- 939-7529.  How to See FREE Movies at the Walt Disney World Resorts!

158. Mugs

Purchase a Resort Mug and receive free refills at all the Disney resorts for soda, coffee, etc. Dining Plans include a mug for everyone over age three, but the cost for everyone else is $8.99 (1 day), $11.99 (2 days), $14.99 (3 days), and $17.99 for your length of stay. These make excellent dinner cups once the kids get back from vacation.

159. Dirty Clothes? Clean ’em Up!

There are laundry machines at the resorts, so don’t forget to bring plenty of quarters. Disney sells one dollar laundry detergent for a single load box, while it costs $2 per load to wash and $2 per load to dry the clothes.

160. Schedule Mouse Keeping

When you check in your resort, make sure you ask for early housekeeping. If you are early morning risers, this will ensure that if you return for an afternoon rest, your room will be clean. And if you are napping, you won’t be disturbed by Mouse Keeping if you forgot the sign.

161. Professional Portrait Service

Like to have professional portraits taken of your family on vacation? Portrait sessions are available at the Grand FloridianPolynesian Village, Beach ClubWilderness Lodge, and Animal Kingdom Lodge. Up to 30 days in advance, call 407-934-4004 to make a session reservation.

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162. Playgrounds

All Disney Resorts have playgrounds, which are great for a free day or when the parks close early for holiday parties. Coronado Springs has an amazing playground next to the Aztec-themed pool.

163. Hotel Baggage Handling

If your room isn’t ready when you arrive, drop off your bags with Hotel Baggage Handling, and take off for the parks. On the day you leave, check out, drop off your bags, and pick them up later when you are ready to head home.

free day tips for a Disney World vacation

We always recommend taking a “free day” in Orlando, because it’s nice for children to take a stimulation break from riding rides and standing in line, and there are tons of fun activities outside the park main gates. 

Downtown Disney, soon to be re-named Disney Springs, is a shopping, dining and entertainment complex located lake side and within an easy WDW bus ride or car ride from the Disney resorts. You can entertain yourself for half a day here easily. 

164. Play with Legos

*Head into the Lego Imagination Center  for some free interactive Lego fun. Outside is a 3,000-square-foot play area filled with Legos,  just tempting little hands to build something. Inside and out are larger-than-life Lego statues just waiting to be photographed.

165. Bowl & Movies

AMC Movies at Downtown Disney 24 is a modern movie theater located near Splitsville Luxury Bowling Lanes. Both are new facilities with state of the art technology and top-notch casual dining. If you can entertain yourself for half a day at Disney Springs, throw in a movie or some bowling with a meal, and you could stretch your half day to a full.  

166. Visit with Santa  

November through December, visit with Santa and have pictures taken. When kids are out of school, lines can get long. Goofy takes over for pictures after Santa heads home.

167. Play Some Games 

Once Upon a Toy has the largest assortment of toys and games in all of the Walt Disney World Resort. You will find theme park play sets, Mr. Potato Head and Star Wars building stations, and an amazing amount of t-shirts, toys, dolls, video games, and collectibles.

168. Splash Around 

In the section with Goofy’s Candy Co., in full sight of the Rainforest Cafe, is a splashpad type fountain. This is fabulous for children on a hot day and funny entertainment for adults any day. Remember, kids may need dry clothes.

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169. Goofy’s Glaciers Free Samples

Goofy’s Candy Co. is a great little candy store by Rainforest Cafe.  Grab a small-cup sample of a Goofy’s Glacier, with flavors like Pucker Purple, Glacier Apple, Rootin’ Tootin’ Red, Orange You Happy Orange, Gawrshly Berry Blue, and Coca-Cola Cooler. This store smells amazingly sweet, and you will want every snack you see! Chocolate-covered caramel apples you design yourself are a big hit with the younger crowd. 

170. Watch an Artist 

In the Art of Disney store, kids can watch an artist drawing Disney characters projected onto a big screen. Statues and paintings for sale are bright and colorful.  Free Disney World Entertainment? Don’t Miss the Art of Disney Store

171. Disney’s Days of Christmas

Children love Christmas, and in this store, it’s Christmas 365 days a year. There are all sorts of tree decorations and plush toys, just right for little hands to touch and squeeze.

172. Free Chocolate!

Cast Members at Ghiradelli’s Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop hand out free chocolate samples throughout the day. This is a small retail space, but they offer some of the best ice creams and desserts anywhere in Disney Springs. They are very rich, so grab a table outside and make plans to share something cold. 

173. Hydrate Your Skin 

Basin is located nest to the Mickey pots topiary fountain, right next door to the World of Disney. Want to get kids excited about bath time? Bring them in to smell the bright, multi-colored soaps. Basin has an assortment of hand scrub and lotions samples you can sample for free. Be sure the kids wash their hands…they’ll love it!

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174. Aaribas Brothers

Looking for a nice souvenir for your princess? Bring her into Aaribas Brothers for a vast assortment of tiaras, necklaces, bracelets, and rings, most of which have Disney themes, sparkling with Swarovski crystals. Boys will probably be more into tip #175. 

175. Watch a Glass Demonstration

Arribas Brothers has glass blowers and glass cutters on staff giving demonstrations throughout the day. You can even purchase some of their creations. Children will be mesmerized by the blow torch, guaranteed.

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176. Hear a Concert

There are musical performers at Disney Springs throughout the year, both on a large stage on front of The World Of Disney and in random locations. Take a seat on benches or even the ground for a performance, giving little feet a rest. 

177. Go Up in a Balloon

The Characters in Flight balloon floats 400 feet straight up in the sky for 8 to 10 minutes, providing 360 degree views of Disney Springs. Prices before tax are $12 for children and $18 for adults, but arrive before 10 a.m., and you can fly for $10 each with their Early Bird Special.  Characters in Flight at Disney Springs: A Cheapskate Guide

178. Kid Restaurants

*Two restaurants in Disney Springs are popular with the younger crowd, Rainforest Cafe and T-Rex. Singing birds, trumpeting elephants, chest-pounding gorillas and schools of brightly colored fish welcome you to the Rainforest Cafe, while you are surrounded by lush tropical vegetation, banyan trees, waterfalls and a starry nighttime sky.

At T-Rex, you dine among life-sized animatronics dinosaurs, including a 15-foot-tall T. Rex. There are themed rooms and a meteor shower every 20 minutes or so, complete with rumbling and fiery “explosions.” The lights dim and things get loud! Kids can assemble a plush pet dinosaur at the Build-A-Dino By Build-A-Bear Workshop.

Reservations are recommended and can be made up to 180 days prior to your visit. Call 407-939-1947.

179. DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park

DisneyQuest is an indoor five floors of fun including virtual worlds, 3D encounters and classic video games. Hours are typically 11:30 a.m. to 11 pm. Guests under 14 years of age must be accompanied by a guest age 14 years of age or older. Admission to DisneyQuest is included with certain ticket types (see tip #182 below), but pre-tax, tickets for children ages 3-9 are $39 and adults (10+) are $45.

180. Play Miniature Golf

Found in the Epcot Resort area, these two mini-golf courses are based on Disney’s classic animated film Fantasia. Disney’s Fantasia Gardens is designed for families and beginner mini-golfers, as you aim through twirling obstacles, cross fanciful fountains and discover musical surprises. Fantasia Fairways is more challenging, emphasizing skill over chance,with par-3 and par-5 holes ranging in length from 63 to 109 feet, plus sand traps, bunkers, water hazards and sloping greens. Pre-tax, tickets for children ages 3-9 are $12 and adults (10+) are $14.

Located by Blizzard Beach Water Park, Winter Summerland Miniature Golf depicts where elves built Santa two distinctly different 18–hole mini golf experiences: a sand course named “Summer” and a snow course named “Winter.” The courses combine for the last holes, and after sinking the last putt on Hole 18, mini-golfers earn a special message from Santa Claus. Pre-tax, tickets for children ages 3-9 are $12 and adults (10+) are $14.

best tips for kids Disney World vacation

181. Smart to Hang Out

Disney vacations are tiring; it’s a good idea to plan a free day mid-vacation just to keep from stressing everyone out. If the group can’t handle the parks again without a melt down, have a back up plan. Day after day of waking up early and going to bed late starts to wear out little bodies. If you are already in Orlando, you might as well schedule a “free” day to enjoy life beyond the theme parks.

182. Water Parks Fun & More Option

Add the Water Parks Fun & More Option to any valid Magic Your Way ticket for just $60 plus tax. You can enjoy two water parks, as well as admission to one of the following for each day of your ticket:

  • DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park
  • Disney’s Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf
  • Winter Summerland Miniature Golf
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
  • Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course (one round) Tee times are required for Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course and are subject to availability.

183. Water Parks

Tickets for Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach start at $53 per day before taxes. With both thrill and chill rides, relaxing lounge areas, wave pools, snorkeling adventures and much more. Both parks have areas specifically designated for younger children. Use this link for more info. on Disney water parks and ticket options. 

184. Resort Hop

Resort hopping is simply looking around the Disney resorts where you are not staying. Each resort has a completely different theme. This is a great opportunity to talk about finances with your children, because there are big price differences in the three resort levelsDisney World Resort Hopping: A Cheapskate Guide To Free Fun!

185. Wishes Viewing  

Watch the Magic Kingdom Wishes fireworks show from one of the many Disney resorts on the monorail loop. At the Polynesian Village Resort, fireworks are visible directly across the Seven Seas Lagoon, and show music is piped in through speakers. Before or after the fireworks, grab a bite to eat or a snack. Hang out in the remodeled lobby, which is beautiful at night.

186. Night Time Water Parade  

Visit the Polynesian Village, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Ft. Wilderness, or the Contemporary Resort to catch a glimpse of the nightly water show, The Electrical Water Pageant. The water-light parade was originally created in 1971 for the dedication of Disney’s Polynesian Resort. In my opinion, this show is geared more for younger kids. 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.

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187. Character Meals

Rather than schedule a two-hour meal break on a day when you have park tickets, enjoy a character meal at one of the resorts. Character meals are pricey compared to table service, but you are paying for an event that kids (and adults) are sure to love. Character dining locations at the resorts are Ohana’s, Garden Grove, Cape May Cafe, Chef Mickey’s, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, and 1900 Park Fare. What Are the Top Three Character Meals at Walt Disney World?

188. Visit Celebration

A 15 minute drive away from the parks is the planned town of Celebration, Florida. Kids will enjoy the fountain by the lake, plus candy and toy stores. Adults will enjoy the shopping, Starbucks, and restaurants. Every night during the Christmas season, the snow falls at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. Everybody will enjoy photos with Santa, strolling holiday carolers, an ice rink, entertainment and more. Skating is a reasonable $10.00 for a 1/2 hour minimum skate, with your skate rental included. Free Fun in Celebration Florida: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Ft. Wilderness Tips

189. Campfires/Singalongs

Ft. Wilderness is home to a free campfire program sing-along and movie, although there is a charge for refreshments. This event begins around 7 p.m. in fall/winter and 8 p.m. after the time change in April through summer.

190. Christmas Lights

During the Christmas season, vacationers staying at Ft. Wilderness adorn their campers, golf carts, and tents with a huge display of Christmas lights and decorations. It’s wise to take small flash lights with you, as some of the woodsy roads through the campground are not well-lit. 

191. Explore the Ranch  

At the Tri-Circle-D Ranch from to  through the stables to see Cinderella’s Ponies and the horses of Main Street, U.S.A.. You might get to see the blacksmith make and apply horseshoes. Advise the kids that as a free activity, they will be doing more looking than petting.

192. Pony Rides

How can the kids can touch ponies? For a very reasonable fee of $8.00 (cash payments only), children can take a pony ride at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch. Offered daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. near Pioneer Hall, no reservations are necessary. Riders must be:

  • at least 2 years of age
  • under 80 pounds
  • no taller than 48 inches
  • be able to hang on by themselves.
  • lead on their pony by a parent or guardian at all times.

193. Other Horse Activities

Tri-Circle-D Ranch offer activities for the kids and adults that love horses, including horseback trail rides, wagon rides and private carriage rides. Call (407) 824-2832 for information.

plan the best Disney World vacation

If you made it to the end, congratulations! You deserve a free Disney sticker…

We hope you gained some valuable information on what to do with children at Walt Disney World. Many of our suggestions are just that – suggestions. If you think they will work for you, great, and if not, do what you know works best.

Did we miss anything you feel other parents need to know? Leave us a comment, and we’ll add it in. If any times or prices have become outdated, let us know that as well. Disney changes things all he time without calling me first – can you believe it?!

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Thanks for stopping by, and we hope you have a magical trip to Walt Disney World!

 

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Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote, call at 214-697-7732, or send an e-mail to erin @ destinationsinflorida.com.

best Disney travel Agent Cheapskate PrincessErin is a Disney College of Knowledge Graduate and a Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure Specialist.  She has also recently become a Florida Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Specialist.  She can book and plan your vacation to anywhere.

As an avid scrapbooker and parent, Erin makes sure all her clients know memories are her priority.  Erin’s passion is helping everyone have a once-in-a-lifetime magical vacation, which include excellent customer service, attention to detail, celebrating milestones and bringing families together. Erin specializes in making sure everyone gets the most magic out of their vacation!

Great Perks for your Walt Disney World Vacation at Destinations in Florida

Free Fun in Celebration Florida: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

where is Celebration. Florida

Everything seems to be expensive on vacation, so it’s a nice change of pace to find an activity that is basically free. Celebration is a master-planned community located in Osceola County, Florida, which is about a 10 minute drive from the Walt Disney World Resort property. Just like Disney resort hopping, visiting Celebration is totally free, so now is the perfect time to make plans for a drive over.

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Celebration Florida

Originally developed by The Walt Disney Company, Celebration is directly connected to the Disney Resorts using one of its primary streets, World Drive, which begins near the Magic Kingdom. In the early 1990s, the Disney Development Company (DDC) established the Celebration Company to develop land in the southern portion of the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

The total investment for this project was estimated to be around $2.5 billion dollars. Celebration was designed in an early 20th century architectural style. It is not zoned for high-density residences, so you will not see a mass of apartments or similar styles houses all in a row. Celebration was named the “New Community of the Year” in 2001 by the Urban Land Institute. In 2004, the Disney Company sold Celebration to Lexin Capital, a private real estate investment company.

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architecture in the Disney town of Celebration

While he was the Disney Company’s CEO,  Michael Eisner took a special interest in the development of the new town, and he encouraged the executives at the Disney Development Company to “make history.” He wanted them to develop a town worthy of the Disney brand and legacy that extended to Walt Disney’s vision of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). The Disney Development Company executives worked with leaders in education, health and technology, plus planners and architects to create the vision and operating policies for Celebration.

Although you may have a hard time finding a good parking spot close to downtown, Celebration is extremely pedestrian-friendly, with a small town feel that will remind you of old-timey main streets, with homes and real businesses intermingled.

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map location of Celebration Florida

Celebration’s downtown has retail shops, restaurants, a town hall, a post office, and offices among other businesses. Many of these buildings are situated along a wide promenade area which circles a beautiful lake.

The downtown area is called “Market Street, and this is where you will want to spend your time unless you decide to take a walk through the neighborhoods.  That is a great idea, by the way, as the architecture of the homes, some in the million dollar range, is simply stunning.

Celebration does not actually have any road named “Main Street.” Osceola County, which does not allow street names to be duplicated, already had a Main Street. So the two main roads going through the center of the downtown area are named Market Street and Front Street. Stores are decked out during the holidays, like this realty company.

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Celebration Florida Realty

What is there to do?

Let’s start with what won’t cost you any money.

The Free Stuff – Window Shopping

Market Street has lots of businesses perfect for shopping, or if you are a Cheapskate Princess, just do some window shopping. It usually takes us a good hour or two to walk in all the shops and take a look around.

Enchanted Boutique offers fine apparel and fashion accessories catering to women, juniors, and girls of all ages.With some clothing custom-made just for Enchanted Boutique, you will also find jewelry, scarves, and other accessories. Enchanted Boutique offers a true boutique shopping experience. 321-939-1111.

Woof Gang Bakery offers full service pet grooming, pet foods, and supplies. Specializing in healthy, natural pet foods and treats, including hypoallergenic, wheat-free and grain-free selections, they also sell a variety of fun, fuzzy, floatable and tough toys, fashionable pet accessories, collars and leads, and a wide range of pet grooming products. WoofGangBakery.com.

This photo shows the doggy outfits at the Woof Gang Bakery.

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Woofgang Bakery in Disney's Celebration Orlando

Soft As A Grape’s specialty is comfortable family resort wear.  One of the original shops on Market Street, many of their unique designs are made of 100% cotton at their facility in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  They pride themselves in clothing that is soft, carefree, and most important – super comfortable. softasagrape.com.

Downeast offers ladies’, men’s, and children’s clothing plus gifts including brand names like Ralph Lauren Polo, LaCoste, Corbin, Southern Tide, Bill’s Khakis, Sperry, Jack Rogers, Alden Shoes, Susanna Monaco, Milly, Ella Moss, Spanx, Vera Bradley, Caswell Massey, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses, Cavalli Sunglasses and more.

Market Street Gallery offers exquisite jewelry selections, Vera Bradley, Suzy Toronto, greeting cards, home decor, a year round Christmas room and more! 407-566-1500

There were Vera Bradley patterns aplenty for the purse lovers.

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Vera Bradley store at Disney Celebration

Once Upon A Time features quality clothing and accessories for children from newborn to teens. They carry brands like Twirly Girl, Cheeky Banana, Rugged Butts, Kate Mack, Biscotti, Lipstik and Petit Lem, plus a number of items manufactured only for this boutique. Once Upon A Time sells dresses, tops, jeans, and shorts to swim, shoes, jewelry, accessories and hats for boys and girls alike, plus gift items, games, toys and books. They will gladly ship items home for you. 321-939-1144.

Confetti of Celebration has specialty gifts, centerpieces, candy bouquets, candy, and embroidery. They specialize in parties, dinners, and meetings. If you need to send a birthday gift, they can customize any candy bouquet to your special needs. They sell many types of candies and a huge selection of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans.confettiofcelebration.com.

Sanrio Surprises is the home of “Hello Kitty” and all your favorite Sanrio characters.They offer Sanrio gifts and stocking stuffers, plus you can book a birthday party in their large party room.  To liven up your experience, add a special “Hello Kitty”  appearance or a ride on the Celebration Express Train. 321-939-1777.

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Christmas at Celebration is especially beautiful, and if enjoy looking at decorations, the holiday season is a great time to visit the stores. Step outside from the Christmas music in the shops to snow outside in the street.

Christmas shopping at Disney's Celebration

The Free Stuff – Events

Market Street often has different events scheduled each month like  antique car shows and craft festivals. For a complete list of Celebration events, use this link. This list will give you an idea of events in months past and coming up. 

January

Town of Celebration Marathon and Half Marathon

Winter Sidewalk Sale

February

Posh Pooch – For a howling good time, head to Downtown for a whole day of barking good fun. There are vendors, activities, demonstrations, food, performances and fun to enjoy with the entire family.

Art & Wine Stroll

March

Art & Wine Stroll

porch and yard sale

April

Great American Pie Festival – Celebration becomes the Pie Capital of the World in April, when thousands of pie lovers, tasters and bakers gather together. The highlight is always the Never-Ending Pie Buffet, featuring award-winning pie and ice cream.

Celebration Exotic Car Festival – a four-day children’s charity event that showcases North America’s largest collection of exotic cars, race cars and iconic Hollywood movie cars, coming together to help children with life threatening medical conditions.

May

Jaguar Car Show – showcases Jaguar cars from the early 1950s to present.

Art & Wine Stroll

July/ August

Hearts of Reality/Summer Sidewalk Sale – a weekend full of TV’s hottest deals and hottest Reality Stars.

A Sci-Fi 4th of July – Celebration Town Center’s World Famous 4th of July event.

October

Oktoberfest, where leaves fall nightly at 7, 8, and 9 p.m.

Art & Wine Stroll

porch and yard sale

November

Founder’s Day Concert

Alfa Romeo Car Show –  the Mid Florida Alfa Romeo Owners Club, Inc. hosts their annual Alfa Romeo car show.

Now Snowing Tree Lighting Ceremony – November 29th – This special tree lighting event features live music, a special entrance by Santa Clause, and family fun for everyone.

December

A Celebration of Voices

Now Snowing Nightly

During the winter holidays, Market Street hosts an event called “Now Snowing Nightly,” where it “snows” on Market Street multiple times a night. You and the kids, even the family dogs, can walk around in the “snow.” I wouldn’t do it in your finest leather shoes though.

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Disney Celebration snow

When they announce the snow, it can get pretty busy. Kids seem to love this!

Snowfall and events happen every night through December 31st, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Every night, the snow falls at 6, 7, 8 and 9 PM. There are photos with Santa, strolling holiday carolers, an ice rink, entertainment and more.

Now Snowing Nightly parking and admission are FREE. For a complete list of Community Performances click here.

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snow in the Disney town of Celebration

Watching is free, but you’ll need to rent skates. This is “Disney” ice, by the way, so it’s not actual cold ice, and thus the ice skates will not be dangerous to smaller children.

The Endless Ice rink is open daily from 4:00-10:00 p.m. through January 3rd. There are Celebration Resident Skate Passes or multiple-day skate passes for guests (after November 29th .)

$10.00 for a 1/2 hour minimum skate (skate rental included)

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ice skating at Disney's Celebration

ice skating and snow in Florida.

During the Christmas holidays, Train Rides are $5.00 at the gate or $4.00 in advance if purchased at Confetti, Market Street Gallery, Sweet Escape, or Sanrio Surprises. (Before 4 p.m. Nightly)

Photos with Santa
Prices depends on the package purchased, and Santa will only be available until December 24th. For information on Santa photos visit: www.towncenterphotos.com.

Disney Celebration Pictures with Santa

The Free Stuff- Other Activities

Take a walk along the Lakeside Promenade or on the miles of walking paths and nature trails. These are especially nice as the sun is setting.

Head over to the large interactive fountain by the lake, where if it’s warm, the kids can splash around. Some still splash around even when it’s not so warm.

There are numerous rocking chairs by the lake. These are hard to come by in the busier seasons, like when the holiday snow is falling, but they are comfy and the lake view is peaceful, especially at sunset.

One of the most visually stunning buildings on the lakefront is the Bohemian Hotel Celebration. You can take a seat in one of the lobby chairs, and for a splurge, order a coffee or a drink at the bar.

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Bohemian Hotel Celebration Florida

At Christmas, the decorations at night on Market Street are just lovely.

decorations at Disney's Celebration town

The Not-Free Activities – $$ Meals

There are a lot of restaurants in Celebration. The downtown atmosphere is fantastic at night, with many outdoor tables enveloped in soft lighting. Enjoy a meal in one of the award-winning restaurants.

Cafe D’Antonio has an open kitchen and a wood burning oven, grill and rotisserie that are common to Antonio’s restaurants. The menu features items representative of the varied regions of Italy. antoniosonline.com

Ari Sushi offers authentic Japanese food and sushi. arisushi.net

Celebration Town Tavern describes their business as “Family, Food & Friends.” This New England style restaurant and tavern opened in early 2000. Favorites include clam chowder, fried clams, fresh Boston scrod, haddock & scallops, main plate salads, burgers, chicken, ribs and steaks.  thecelebrationtowntavern.com

The Columbia Restaurant overlooks the lake and offers classic elegance in a Mediterranean style setting. Diners can enjoy fine Spanish/Cuban cuisine in their old-world-style dining rooms, an outdoor cafe, courtyard, and a Tapas Bar. columbiarestaurant.com

Euro Bistro  offers a wide variety of affordable menu items to select from.  Tapas, very popular in Spain, are smaller servings that allow you to select several different items to snack on or combine a few items to make a full meal.

Imperium Wine Room is a 100 seat bar offering the highest quality food and wines with a 50 seat patio. Disney employees receive a 10% discount with ID. mperiumfoodandwine.com.

Market Street Cafe is an upscale diner concept that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Favorites range from blueberry pancakes and maple butter french toast at breakfast to homemade meatloaf and hot open face turkey sandwiches for lunch and dinner. Breakfast is available all day, and signature desserts are made fresh daily. Market-Street-Cafe.com.

Thai Thani Restaurant was established by a retired Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Thai Ministry of Commerce. This restaurant was opened to enhance the Thai Government policy to promote Thai food as a leading cuisine of the world. thaithaniorlando.net.

Upper Crust Pizza features two types of pizza, thick Sicilian style and traditional New York style, both with a variety of toppings. Panninis are filled with items such as Tuscan chicken, steak, cheese, and vegetables. An open-faced calzone called a “Crusti” is a hand-made delight stuffed with meatloaf, steak, Greek Salad and other items. There is a rotating menu of dessert pizzas including chocolate and apple cinnamon.

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ice cream at Disney's Celebration

snacks at Disney's Celebration

The Not-Free Activities – $ Meals and Snacks

For less expensive snack and meal options, there are several “sweet shops” that will be quicker than a table service meal and less expensive as well.

Sweet Escape is an authentic European Style Bakery & Deli in a Victorian environment. In the bakery, there are fresh-baked breads, pastries, desserts, and cupcakes all made fresh daily. In the deli you’ll find breakfast, lunch, and dinner sandwiches featuring Boar’s Head meats and cheeses. In the café you’ll find locally roasted coffee including Italian Espresso, specialty coffee, frozen coffee, and iced coffee. You can also purchase 100% fruit frozen smoothies.

Sweet Escape also sells convenience items like newspapers,milk, eggs, yogurt, Monster Energy drinks, snacks, candy, and more. sweetescapecelebration.com

Kilwins offers confectionery chocolates and ice cream. kilwins.com. This was one of my favorites!

The Starbucks just across from Market Street is mid-size with plenty of seating. There is a nice outdoor area. We bought some inexpensive cake pops and a pastry, and then we watched families line up to see Santa. starbucks.comThis store has T-Mobile HotSpot wireless broadband Internet service.

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Disney Celebration Starbucks Coffee

The Not-Free Activities – $$ Splurges

Looking for a special occasion treat?

Misty Blue Acres Carriage, the official carriage company of Celebration Florida, offers carriage rides every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening from 6pm – 10pm. Providing a carriage hitched to either team of percheron horses, they are available for weddings,  two-horse carriage and single horse carriage rides, hay rides, birthdays, Halloween, sleigh rides, Christmas rides and holiday parties. mistyblueacres.com.

Wagon Rides- $5.00 per person
Horse and Carriage Rides- $25 for the first 2 passengers, $10 each additional

Special Holiday Home Tour Rides (30/40 minutes in length to see the lights throughout Celebration)- $25 per person
Call for Appointment for Horse & Carriage Holiday Home Tour: 321-624-6380

 U Can Cook is an all-inclusive Culinary School where the young and the young-at-heart can learn to cook. Their classes are designed to teach the basics on food preparation, food safety skills, proper etiquette, the skilled art of layering flavors and planning parties.They will also host an array of engagements. 407-233-0948.

Where to Find FREE Disney World Snack and Drink Samples!

And there you have several hours worth of entertainment just down the street from the Walt Disney World property. If you have a free day with an empty time slot to fill after a swim or a nap, then head down World Drive to the town of Celebration. Take a walk, do some (window) shopping, and grab a coffee or a snack for an inexpensive several hours. If you have to pick a certain time of year to go, I would highly recommend Christmas, when music is in the air along with “snow.”

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you headed over for a celebration at Celebration!

 

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Erin Johnson, our Cheapskate Princess Travel Agent

Erin Johnson, our Cheapskate Princess Travel Agent

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Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Erin, our Disney Vacation Planner with Destinations in Florida travel.  She offers promotions like Disney Trading Pin sets, autograph books, and free Mickey Mouse ear hats for kids under age 17.  We know our readers love free…

Give Erin a call at 214-697-7732, or send an e-mail to erin @ destinationsinflorida.com. 

Great Perks for your Walt Disney World Vacation at Destinations in Florida

 

Looking for Vintage Disney Items? Try Theme Park Connection

Theme Park Connection directions

I don’t remember where I first ran across the store called Theme Park Connection, but I strongly suspect it was on Facebook. After scanning through store photos, I was giddy at the idea of looking back in time at old vintage merchandise that was for sale to the general public.  If you are not familiar with the name of this business, Theme Park Connection is an Orlando area store that sells specialty vintage Disney items. The company goal is “to inspire an emotional, memory or passion for store guests by providing unique Disney items and the best in customer service.” Since 1995, Theme Park Connections has sold over 500,000 Disney related items. They have eBay Top Seller and Powerseller ratings.

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Although merchandise will change frequently, they carry a wide assortment of items including:

  • authentic signs and glassware
  • props
  • cast member memorabilia
  • cast member costumes
  • decor
  • artwork
  • collections
  • trading pins
  • figurines
  • rare and unique items

These are some photos from their Facebook page.

buying used Disney merchandise in Orando

Snow globes and picture frames

buying antique Disney picture frames in Orlando

A seemingly endless collection of lanyards and hats

where to shop in Orla for Disney merchandise

Original ride vehicles

buy original Disney theme park ride vehicles in Orlando

A car from Snow White’s Scary Adventure, which was listed at $8,000 if memory serves me correctly.

where to find old Disney parks merchandise for sale

A huge mural made of Legos

Disney Moms, where Disney fans shop in Orlando

Vacationing at Disney World? Wow, You REALLY Need This!

A huge wall of Disney Trading Pins

This business will buy your Disney memorabilia. If you want to sell anything to Theme Park Connection, you will need to schedule an appointment so they can review your items.

Typical buying days are Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can call to request an alternate day and time if these don’t work for you. It’s always a good idea to schedule an appointment to make certain there is a buyer on site. These days and times could change without any notification to us, so calling ahead is a must do in my opinion.

Cast Member costumes and authentic resort linens

authentic Disney trading pins cheap

Disney merchandise bargains

These Internet links can help you locate Theme park Connection online.

Use this link to view their Ebay store.  

Use this link to visit their online store. 

Use this link to visit Theme Park Connection.com.

Location and Operating Hours

2160 Premier Row 
Orlando, FL 32809 

Phone 407-284-1934
Operating hours

Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Closed Sunday

Should You Purchase the Disney Dining Plan?

How do you get there?

Well, not being a local Orlando resident, that’s a hard one for me to answer.  We put the address in our GPS and had no trouble finding our way there, but I have no idea how to describe where there is, really. Nearby roads,  the Florida Turnpike and Sand Lake Road, sounded familiar to me, as did the Mall of Florida. Theme Park Connection is located closer to Universal Studios than the Disney Parks, which is also close to Orlando Premium Outlets on International Drive.

Here’s a map that can give you an idea of what you are looking for. Again, type 2160 Premier Row into a GPS and you’ll be set to go.

Theme Park Connection map

What did we think of the store?

I have scored some really good purchases at Theme Park Connection before. Key chains, lanyards, and picture frames for under $5.00 is a bargain in my cheapskating book. If we are in the area of Universal Studios, we will definitely stop by just to look through the bins and glance at the displays. Many of their larger items are really cool to touch.

PANDORA Jewelry is coming to Disney Parks!

DSCN5756

If I was just staying on Disney property, I wouldn’t make a trip out to Theme Park Connection just to visit this store. But if we are close to Universal Studios, I feel like it’s worth my time.

vintage Disney World picture frames

Vintage Disney World lanyard

I am not a Disney memorabilia collector. I have absolutely no idea what I am looking at in terms of the authenticity of items or how much a real vintage Disney find is worth. While my family really enjoys looking at the more expensive items Theme Park Connection has to offer, there is no way I am paying $1,000 and way upwards for vintage Disney items.

Now if you are one of those people looking for a one of a kind Disney find, and money is no issue, then you’ll have a ball here.

Tips to Keep a Good Disney Character Meal From Going All Wrong

vintage Disney World items

My budget is limited, and that’s why I would not drive long distance to visit this store. I’m all about some $2 and $3 key chains, and a $5 picture frame in pretty good shape? That seemed so low I was looking to make sure it hadn’t been mis-priced. But $800 for framed resort room pictures and thousands of dollars for ride vehicles? Well, I just got priced out.

Theme Park Connection is worth a look if you are in the area.

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you googling how close you will be to Premier Row in Orlando.

 

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Erin Johnson, our Cheapskate Princess Travel Agent

Erin Johnson, our Cheapskate Princess Travel Agent

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Erin, our Disney Vacation Planner with Destinations in Florida travel.  She offers promotions like Disney Trading Pin sets, autograph books, and free Mickey Mouse ear hats for kids under age 17.  We know our readers love free…

Give Erin a call at 214-697-7732, or send an e-mail to erin @ destinationsinflorida.com. 

Great Perks for your Walt Disney World Vacation at Destinations in Florida

 

 

For Your Princesses…Free Disney Inspired Paper Dolls!

Paper Dolls by Cory Jensen

Anybody remember cutting out paper dolls in a long ago childhood that pre-dated iPhones and Play Station 4s? I grew up in the era where children were rarely seen and heard from even less often, so I spent some quality time with paper dolls and Fashion Plates. (Leave me a comment if you remember those!)

At Cheapskate Princess, we love anything FREE, and it’s pretty darn hard to come by free these days without there being some sort of string attached. After spotting Paper Dolls by Cory Jensen, a Facebook group featuring paper doll designs you could print off for free, I was so excited we got permission to supply these images to our readers. These would be perfect for a rainy day craft you could do with your girls or a project they could do at the kitchen table one day while you cook dinner. You can find Paper Dolls By Cory using this link. I’ll let Cory tell you about the dolls. 

12 Totally Cool Ideas to Replace Your Usual Disney Character Autograph Books

“Cute Ariel paper doll, anyone? I had alot of fun with this one! The two dresses on the right were both designed by yours truly, and the top dress on the left was a dress Ariel wore in the Disney Parks. Like the Elsa and Anna dolls in this style, I wanted to keep all the outfits in a similar color scheme, which is the color most associated with the character.”

Ariel doll

Free Ariel paper doll

“The Fairest of Them All, Snow White! I’ve always loved Snow White and I have made several paper dolls of her in the past. When I started making dolls in this style I knew that at some point I would have to make one of Snow White! I had fun designing a new dress for Snow.  This one took me a while to complete but I am happy with how it turned out!”

Disney Snow White Paper Doll

“I started using this style with my Mary Poppins doll a while ago, and I think its fun and cute! The idea of this doll is that all of these dresses incorporate Elsa’s magic in some way. Her ‘classic’ Snow Queen gown, two of my original designs, and the bottom right dress is a dress designed by the legendary Marc Davis for a never built Disneyland Snow Palace attraction.”

Elsa Disney Frozen paper doll

“My latest Elsa doll looked a little lonely, and several of you asked if I would make Anna as well, so here she is!  I feel like green is Anna’s color, so like the Elsa doll, I stuck with one basic color scheme. Two dresses are from the movie and two are my own creations using different motifs used in the movie.”

Disney Elsa paper doll set

“Here’s the latest addition to my Disney Villains Collection, Cruella De Vil! She has always been a favorite of mine even when I was very young, when most children are terrified of her! She is evil but she is pretty fabulous!  I had a lot ot fun designing outfits for her. The red dress is inspired by concept art by Marc Davic, while the last one is my own design.”

cruella de vil

“I’ve never done a coloring page doll, but I felt this time it was appropriate. Every girl is a princess! If you have daughters, granddaughters, nieces, sisters I would encourage you to remind them how special they are! Have them write their name on the doll and use their creativity to color her and the dresses to creat their own Princesses!”

Disney paper dolls for free

These dolls sure would make a great car-ride distraction for anyone traveling long distances to Orlando. And you can use this link to paper dolls inspired by Frozen.

Get These Disney Inspired Frozen Paper Dolls – Free!

Cory said to use the paper dolls, simply click on the photo, and press print on your computer. That’s way easier than dealing with an iPhone.

A couple of tips to make things easier for you.

  • Paste the doll on card stock so it will last longer.
  • Save this page somewhere on your computer. If you need to reprint any outfits, you’ll be able to locate them quickly.

Head over to Paper Dolls By Cory to see what new designs he is currently working on. Disney princesses are not the only dolls he draws, although we plan to share all the Disney creations. We would like to extend a HUGE thanks to Cory for allowing us to share his designs. It’s impossible to look at these amazing paper dolls and not think about what an amazing talent he has! 

12 Disney Craft Ideas from Pinterest for the Disney Princess on a Budget!

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you searching for scissors, keeping your printer humming!

 

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Erin Johnson, our Cheapskate Princess Travel Agent

Erin Johnson, our Cheapskate Princess Travel Agent

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Erin, our Disney Vacation Planner with Destinations in Florida travel.  She offers promotions like Disney Trading Pin sets, autograph books, and free Mickey Mouse ear hats for kids under age 17.  We know our readers love free…

Give Erin a call at 214-697-7732, or send an e-mail to erin @ destinationsinflorida.com. 

Great Perks for your Walt Disney World Vacation at Destinations in Florida

 


Amanda

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

Come see us at Disney’s Cheapskate Princess on Facebook and Cheapskate Princess on Pinterest.

 

 

Enjoy reading Cheapskate Princess articles? Here is the best way to make sure you keep up with all the cheapskating Disney news. Over on the right side of this page, the right side of any Cheapskate Princess article, and you will find this box.

email

Simply type your e-mail address in the blue box, and you will then receive a confirmation e-mail. Once you confirm your e-mail subscription, several times a week, Cheapskate Princess articles will appear in your e-mail in-box, just like Disney magic, and it’s totally free to sign up.

You don’t have to be a cheapskate to know that…is a real bargain.

 

“Best of the Best” Walt Disney World Freebies

Best of the Best Disney World free stuff

Updated for 2016!

A trip to Disney World is magical and expensive, two words that seemingly don’t go together. Or perhaps they do, because sometimes magic is costly. But when you think about those memories you made or plan to make, then you just deal with the cost and try to find a… a deal. At Cheapskate Princess we love deals, even more if they’re free.

Many people don’t realize that while Disney World is pricey, you can find many activities and items that are actually free. Free is sort of a relative term, because you had to pay to get yourself to Orlando and into the parks, and yet to get something else for free past that point? It’s like icing on your Mickey Mouse cake. We have done huge articles describing all the freebies you can pick up at Disney, but how about a quick-reference “Best of the Best” list!

These freebies are in no particular order, and remember what may be great to one person because it’s free may be no big deal to you, and that’s Ok. You get to tell us your favorite freebies at the end, so hold that thought…

120 Walt Disney World DO NOTs: Tips From Real People on How NOT to Screw Up a Disney Vacation!

best free things at Walt Disney World

1. Park for Free

You can park at Disney Springs for free. If you’ve ever paid to park at Universal’s City Walk, you can appreciate this. Now parking at Disney Springs has been pretty crazy during the remodeling construction, but in a couple of years, this won’t feel as painful as you pull into the multilevel parking lots. Just be patient. The parking lot open now fills up pretty fast, but if you arrive early in the day, parking is seriously a breeze.

You can also park at the Disney Resorts for free when you go resort hopping, at least for now. Rumor has it this may be changing, but nothing has been confirmed.  

If you are staying on property or have an annual pass, you will not pay for parking at the theme parks.

2. Wishes Viewing 

Watch the Magic Kingdom Wishes fireworks show from one of the many Disney resorts on the monorail circle for free. 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.

You can also see Wishes at a great angle from the Ticket and Transportation Center. It’s rarely crowded at this location, and you are one step closer to your car, beating the huge crowds of thousands that will soon be right behind you on the way to their cars. 

Avoid These 10 Mistakes That Can Wreck a Disney World Vacation

3. Marshmallow & Movie

Come for the campfire, and then stay for a movie. 

WDW resorts have campfires at their resorts with free marshmallows. After this, take in one of the many free “Movies Under the Stars” outdoor movies. Huge screens are blown up for nightly movies outside, which of course will depend on weather.  At some resorts, you will need to bring a towel or blanket to sit on, while at other resorts, they provide chairs. 

Movies and entertainment are subject to cancellation or change without notice. For movie schedules and info. on seating, drop by or call the resort desk for specific details. The phone number is 407- WDW-PLAY ( 407- 939-7529.)

FREE Movies at the Walt Disney World Resorts: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

4. Ride a Monorail

How often can you ride a monorail at home? Monorails are a huge part of Disney “history,” loved by both kids and kids at heart. Circling the resorts and winding up at the Magic Kingdom, this mode of transportation can be quite congested first thing in the morning and at closing.

For a longer monorail journey, ride over to EPCOT from the Ticket and Transportation Center. This ride takes about 20 minutes round trip, not including time to wait for a monorail to arrive.

Nine Tips for Celebrating Birthdays at Walt Disney World for FREE!

ride a Disney monorail for free

5. Hear Holiday Performances

During the Christmas holidays various choirs, from elementary and middle school through retirement ages, are frequent presences in the resort lobbies singing holiday tunes. The choirs are especially delightful to hear at the Contemporary Resort, where the sounds echoe all over the large open area. 

Disney Springs has free performers during the holiday season as well, from individuals performing along with tracks and full bands and orchestras to dancers and stilt walkers.

6.  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. While this is not as amazing as Wishes, it’s a cute show with catchy music that the little ones will enjoy.

Approximate show times are the 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.; and the Contemporary Resort at 10:00p.m.

Almost 130 FREE Walt Disney World Resort Activities!

what to do at Disnet World for free

7. Play with Toys 

At the Lego Store in Downtown Disney, giant Lego sculptures abound for photos, with multiple play areas for Lego fun. In the outdoor area, kids can build cars and then race them against each other, and the indoor area allows a child’s imagination to run wild as they build anything they can create.

Speaking of free, they offer a Lego VIP card which is free with a purchase. You can activate that for future discounts in Lego stores and online shipping. Use this link, shop.Lego.com, to sign up for a FREE Lego VIP card today. 

Lego VIP Loyalty program

As a VIP Member, you will enjoy these benefits:

  • $1 Spent = 1 VIP Point Earned
  • 100 VIP Points = $5 VIP Reward
  • Get access to exclusive member-only gifts
  • Be the first to purchase exclusive and hard to find sets before anyone else
  • Be invited to member-only LEGO® Store events
  • Take advantage of special bonus and double points offers

Further down in Downtown Disney you will find Once Upon a Toy, which sports interactive play stations plus (according to Disneyworld.com) the largest assortment of toys and games in all of the Walt Disney World Resort. Look for a table full of Mr. Potato Head toys and create your own spud. You can make your own Lightsaber or roam the plush toy room and princess rooms.  Another room is dedicated to video games and DVD’s, which lets you test out the newest and latest games. They sell and trade Vinylmations here too.

Quick cheapskate tip: While walking in-between these two stores, stop and get a free piece of chocolate at the Ghirardelli Store.

8. Trading Pins 

Disney Pin Trading is an interactive experience where guests can trade Disney pins with Cast Members and other guests. It’s fun for the whole family; you can start a new collection or exchange pins for others you likeWhile purchasing the actual Disney trading pin is not free, trading them is.

There are Trading Pin boards or books you can find around the resorts and gift shops, and Cast Members all wear lanyards for trading. Guests can make up to two pin trades per Cast member per day.

What Are the 5 Worst Times to Vacation at Walt Disney World?

Best of the Best Free Stuff at Disney World

9. Maps 

The Disney park maps you pick up as you enter the parks are visually appealing reminders of vacation, and they’re free. There are also time schedules and park maps located at the resort front desks. These are great to put in scrap books later when you return from vacation. The maps are colorful and kids enjoy looking at them when they get home. These maps also make nice backgrounds to put in picture frames.

Google maps also 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.

Over 30 FREE Activities at Downtown Disney!

get Disney maps for free

10. Free Water

And I’m not talking about the water fountain water here, although obviously that is free too.

Visit any food counter service restaurant and ask for a cup of ice water. If they don’t hand you a cup of water, you may get a cup of ice. This can save you a TON of money, especially if you would be buying water for a large group. For more information and ton of our reader’s personal tips, use this link: Want to Save Money on Drinks at Disney World? Order This Drink for Free!

Quick cheapskate tip; fill up your water bottles or drink containers with this Disney water for consumption later on.

11. Kids Under 3 Eat & Play Free

Children under the age of three eat for free off their parents plates at Disney’s buffet and family style table service restaurants. Children under the age of three also get into the parks for free.

Do you really need another reason to schedule a vacation with toddlers? You know they grow up fast, so they won’t be free for long. 

70% Off Disney Parks Authentic Merchandise? Cheapskate Bargains Galore!

why take kids under three to Disney

12. Get a Button

Special occasion buttons are given to celebrate a variety of personal milestones. 

  • Happy Birthday
  • Happy Anniversary
  • 1stVisit
  • Just Married

Special events like this can be celebrated six months before the actual date and six months after the date, (really, we looked up the “rules!”) so go ahead and celebrate a special event with a button. Cast Members give you special greets and sometimes, you’ll get all sort of free special occasion perks. For more information and a ton of our reader’s personal tips, use this link: Why Celebrate with a Birthday Button at Disney World? Let a Cheapskate Princess Tell You!

13. Free Planning DVDs

 You’ll be hard pressed to find Disney movies for free, but they can’t wait to give you a vacation planning DVD. To request a free planning DVD, use this link. Here’s what you get:

  •  A complete visual 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

Over 20 Disney Character Autograph Tips from Fans and Parents

where to get a free Disney vacation planning DVD

14. Free Photographer 

Many guests assume PhotoPass is not useful for them if they are not going to purchase the CD or prints. The truth is any PhotoPass Cast Member will take photos of you with your own camera. All you have to do is ask (politely) and then hand them your camera. This is an excellent way to get the entire family in the shot. 

 15. Free Samples and Snacks

Disney Cast member love to give out samples and free bite size treats so you get a chance to sample the products. This is genius marketing, because that $.10 sample often leads to years worth of future repeat purchases. (Main Street cotton Candy, anyone?)

You have to look hard to find some of the samples, considering the Disney Parks and Resorts cover HUGE areas, so we rounded up a list of suggestions from our fans. For more information and our reader’s personal tips, use this linkWhere to Find FREE Disney World Snack and Drink Samples!

 where to find free things for a Disney World vacation

Want to do some in-depth research on all the Freebies you can find at Disney?  Pull up YouTube, type in “Wishes” for some musical accompaniment, and do some reading with two of our most popular articles. We told you this list as short and sweet; these articles are very detailed and chock full of FREE information. Ya just gotta love FREE!

The Ultimate Walt Disney World FREEbie Guide: 130 Free Vacation Items and Activities

 

The Ultimate Walt Disney World FREEbie Guide: Over 119 Free Vacation Items and Activities

how to have fun at Disney World on vacation

Now back to you…did your favorite freebie make our list?!! Leave us a comment below to let us know if you like some other freebie better.

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Thanks for stopping by.  As our reader Angela told us, “If you ever visit the Ghiradelli store in Disney Springs multiple times a day to get their free samples, you just might be a Cheapskate Princess!”

 

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Erin Johnson, our Cheapskate Princess Travel Agent

Erin Johnson, our Cheapskate Princess Travel Agent

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Erin, our Disney Vacation Planner with Destinations in Florida travel.  She offers promotions like Disney Trading Pin sets, autograph books, and free Mickey Mouse ear hats for kids under age 17.  We know our readers love free…

Give Erin a call at 214-697-7732, or send an e-mail to erin @ destinationsinflorida.com. 

 

Great Perks for your Walt Disney World Vacation at Destinations in Florida

 

30 Free Activities at Disney’s Contemporary Resort: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Free activities at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Updated for 2016!

Along with Polynesian Village Resort, the Contemporary Resort is one of Walt Disney World’s two original hotels. The building was constructed with modular components, meaning the rooms were built off-site and hoisted by crane into place once the hotel structure was built, although later refurbishments locked everything permanently in position.  The main 15-story tall Contemporary Tower was constructed as an A-frame; the outer walls slope inwards around an inside atrium. This design was a collaboration by the United States Steel Corporation, California architect Welton Becket, and Walt Disney himself. 

What stands out with the Contemporary Resort? It’s located right next door to the world-famous Magic Kingdom. Oh, and there is a monorail that zips through the building, like literally goes through the building. That’s two things your average hotel can’t boast about. Here’s another bit of trivia: the original name of the Contemporary was the Tempo Bay Resort Hotel.

Almost 130 FREE Walt Disney World Resort Activities!

what can I d for free at Disney World Contemporary Resort

If you stay at this resort or you “Disney Resort Hop,” which means you visit Disney Resorts as a guest for a few hours, what is there to do for FREE at the Contemporary? A lot, both inside and out.  If a free activity requires a room key, called a Key to the World card/Magic Band, we will indicate that in blue. So get ready for our guide to over 30 free activities at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Outside

1. Mickey Topiary 

Topiary gardening, where living plants are fashioned into decorative forms, has been practiced for centuries. Behind the Contemporary, just before you reach the pool and the marina areas, is a fantastic Mickey Mouse topiary, just right for a photo. If you snap one every year, you can see how fast your children are growing. 

take a photo by teh Mickey Mouse topiary at the Contemporary Resort

2. Mickey Statue

Just to the left of the Mickey topiary is a metal Mickey Mouse ears statue, and seated up top is a metal Mickey. Adventurous kids climb on it, as do older teens, while taller people usually just stand in front. If Cast Members see you on the statue, (ask me how I know,) you will be kindly asked to just to stand in front.

With a parent close by, smaller children could sit in the ears. This statue is taller than it appears in this photo.

What Are the 5 Worst Times to Vacation at Walt Disney World?

metal Mickey Mouse at Disney's Contemporary Resort

3. Volleyball

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.

volleyball at the contemporary resort in Orlando

4. Jogging Trails 

A jogging path loops around Bay Lake Tower and the Contemporary South Garden Wing for a just-under-1-mile run, or in my case, a brisk walk. Your feet may already be tired from walking through theme parks, but this is a fantastic way to see the entirety of both resorts from a much more up-close view than simply looking out the window from the lobby.

Contemporary Resort vacation jogging trails

5. Go Visit other Resorts

Disney has an “open resort policy” where you don’t have to be staying at the resort to go visit, which we referred to earlier as “Resort Hopping.” This would be a great time to determine what section of the property you might like to make reservations for on your next trip. You can inquire at the front desk about rates and current discounts. It’s more pricey to stay in the main A-frame building than to stay in the Garden Wing rooms. 

Hop a boat to the Magic Kingdom, and with one more boat transfer, you can be at the Polynesian Village or the Grand Floridian resorts, and a different boat takes you to Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Check the time schedule with the front desk, but the usual posted hours for these boats are 6:55 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. We have a whole series of guides for free activities at resorts close to the Contemporary, 

ride to Wilderness from Contemporary Resort

6. Wishes Viewing 

You can watch the Magic Kingdom Wishes fireworks from a balcony outside the Grand Canyon Concourse level, just in front of the Fantasia Gift Shop. Get here early for a good spot, because at night, this area is pretty busy with watchers. Once the fireworks are finished, it’s nice to sit here and watch the monorail sail quietly over your head inside the building. You’ll see two different monorails going two different directions, all leading ventrally back to the Magic Kingdom.

You can also see Wishes from the sidewalk between the Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower.  There is a nice breeze here on most nights, as well as out in front of the Contemporary Resort. The lower you are, obviously, the more trees may obstruct your view.  A better plan is to Resort Hop over to the Polynesian Resort and watch Wishes from the beach.

23 FREE Activities at Downtown Disney!

wishes viewing at Contemporary Resort

7. Park for Free

Parking is free while you visit the Disney resorts, with the understanding that this is for a maximum of about three hours. But this one is a little tricky, because you are not allowed to park at the Contemporary throughout the really busy times of year, which “busy” now can describe most of the year. Imagine how many people would park here if they were allowed, simply to walk over to the Magic Kingdom. 

Your best bet, if you are not visiting before or after you enjoy a meal here, is to ride the monorail over or walk over from the Magic Kingdom. You are allowed to park for free with dining reservations, but remember you are required to give your credit card number to hold your reservation. Ditching your reservation just to park for free would be counterproductive with this suggestion. 

10 Things They Forgot to Mention About Walt Disney World Vacations

8. Fireside Marshmallows

Camp fires are held at resorts that offer free marshmallows and roasting sticks for resort guests. Complimentary campfire activities can be found at 14 locations at the Walt Disney World Resort; the Contemporary shares a fire pit with Bay Lake Tower, very close to the shores of Bay Lake.

marshmallow fires at Disney World

9. See a Movie Under the Stars

Come for the campfire and then stay for a movie. Take in one of the many free “Movies Under the Stars” outdoor movies at the WDW resorts following the campfires. A huge screen is blown up for nightly movies outside, although 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. The Contemporary offers chairs and towels.

Movies and entertainment are subject to cancellation or change without notice. For movie schedules, call 407- WDW-PLAY or 407- 939-7529.

how to see outdoor movies at Disney World

What Items Can You NOT Bring to Walt Disney World Theme Parks?

10. 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 has kept it playing each night for all these years. 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.

11. Take an Outdoor Seat

This may not be the best idea from May until September when the weather is pretty hot, but there is wonderful seating outside by the marina, which feels especially nice on a cool spring or fall day with a light breeze blowing off the water. You will hear the sounds of the boat whistles echoing off Bay Lake. There are benches in the shade of trees or tables with umbrella canopies just perfect for a picnic you bring yourself.

Bathrooms and a water fountain are close by outside for your convenience.

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take a seat out by Disney's Contemporary Resort marina

12. Have a Picnic

Saving some money by providing your own meals? As we just mentioned above, there is seating by the marina with umbrellas to block the sun. It’s lovely being between two Disney Resorts, the Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower, and lots of people will pass by as they make their way to the boats headed to Wilderness Lodge/ Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and the Magic Kingdom.

You could hop a boat when you finish your meal.

where to picnic at the Contemporary Resort

13. Outdoor Viewing Deck

The outdoor viewing deck we mentioned earlier on the Grand Canyon Concourse level, with the great benches to see Wishes, also would make a nice place for a picnic. It’s hard to get much closer to a monorail unless you are climbing in one.

This is a designated smoking area, just so you are informed.

Can a Disney Princess Afford to Stay at the Contemporary Resort at Christmas?

Monorail viewing at Disney's Contemporary Resort

14. See the Christmas Tree

Will you be visiting the Contemporary Resort during the Christmas season? Don’t miss the 70-foot-tall Christmas tree at the resort’s main lobby entrance, featuring nearly 36,000 white LED lights. Kids love to stand beside this tree in amazement of how big it is, and you’ll be impressed by the size as well.

Christmas tree in front of Disney's Contemporary Resort hotel

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Inside

Window shopping is a great “activity” at the Disney Resorts, and given your propensity to touch fabrics and metals, you could easily spend an hour in the Contemporary’s three gift shops just admiring the goods. You can always do some actual shopping, but looking is free!

15. Bayview Gifts 

Located right in front of the Contemporary escalator and across from the Fantasia Gift Shop is Bay View Gifts (BVG.) You can pick up chocolate treats like fudge and cookies, plus items for the home, picture frames, art work, and Christmas decorations. BVG also sells clothing for men, women, and children, plus watches and other assorted jewelry. Merchandise prices here vary from $8 for key chains to thousands of dollars for 14k gold jewelry.

window shop at Bay Lake Gifts at the Contemporary Resort

16. Fantasia 

You know you reached the Fantasia Gift Shop when you see either of two metal Mickey shapes situated at either end of the shop. Fantasia is definitely a shop more designed for children, carrying Disney character merchandise, Star Wars toys, and an entire wall of trading pins. You can frequently trade pins here on a board they place near the cash registers.

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Fantasia Gift Shop at Contemporary Resort

17. Fantasia Market 

Located next door to the game room on the Grand Canyon Concourse, across from Fantasia, Fantasia Market offers a variety of reading material like newspapers and magazines. For those seeking adult beverages, there is wine and beer available, plus a multitude of refrigerated items like milk, frozen dinners, and ice cream. If you want to make some meals without the luxury of a kitchen, pick up items here for sandwiches or grab canned foods. This is the gift shop to find health and beauty items.

Are you seeking DVC merchandise? This is where you will find authentic DVC shirts, jackets, key chains, plus other items that change occasionally.

Fantasia Market at Disney World's Contemporary market

18. Check Out Chef Mickey’s

Chef Mickey’s is one of Disney World’s most popular all-you-care-to-eat buffets. As monorails zips through the building, Disney Characters like Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald and Goofy mingle for photos and autographs, leading diners in songs and dancing. This would be a good time to scout out the eatery, to decide if this is where you would like to schedule dining reservations. Chef Mickey’s is more pricey than the Contempo Cafe, by almost triple or more for adults, so it’s a good idea to know what you are walking into.

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Chef Mickey's restaurant at the Contemporary Resort

19. Sit in the Outer Rim

Located just next to Chef Mickey’s, the Outer Rim offers stunning views of Bay Lake from almost floor to ceiling windows. You can enjoy specialty cocktails before—or after—dinner. A full bar menu is available, with suggested drinks including a Piña CoLAVA, Red Stag Lemonade, and a Blue “Glow-tini.”  The seating is relatively comfortable, offering excellent views of the monorail and the massive Mary Blair mural, plus you are steps away from a Disney Vacation Club kiosk, should you be curious to pick up some DVC information. Bay View Gifts is just to your right.

sit by Chef Mickey's in the lobby

20. Ride the Monorail

How often do you get to ride a monorail where you live? The answer for me is a big huge never. Riding the monorail is free, but it can be crowded at certain times, like when everyone is trying to escape the summer heat of mid-day or during holidays. The monorail is a lovely way to see the sights of the Seven Seas Lagoon from up in the air while you ride surrounded in air-conditioning.*

*Unfortunate note: sometimes the monorail can get a bit hot, depending on the season and crowd levels, which can be rough if you have claustrophobic tendencies.

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monorails go through Contemporary Resort

21. Simply Take a Seat

We just mentioned the nice seating outside by the marina. Disney’s Contemporary Resort Convention Center features state-of-the-art audio and video equipment, full catering services and 115,000 square feet of event and meeting space, which won’t affect most of you in any way. But there is seating aplenty for convention breaks on the 2nd floor, just below the Grand Canyon Concourse and above the lobby area where guest check in. 

Let me tell you from personal experience, having waited on our room to be ready here for over an hour, these couches are perfect for a short nap. There is Wifi available here as well, also for FREE!

sitting areas at Disney's Contemporary Resort

 22. Bathroom Break

I don’t normally mention resort bathrooms in particular, but on the second floor with the couches, you will find some really nice bathrooms.  Unlike the busy upstairs bathrooms underneath the monorail loading area, this 2nd floor restroom is roomy, quiet, and especially clean. Sometimes it’s nice to have a little peace and quiet! 

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nice bathrooms at Disney World Contemporary Resort23. The Mural

Disney legend Mary Blair graduated from the Chouinard Art Institute of Los Angeles.  In 1940, she went to work for Walt Disney, helping craft movies like Cinderella, Song of the South, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. Blair finished a 90-foot-high mural for the Contemporary Resort in 1971, which was completed in time for the resort’s opening.

You can view the mural from all four directions on the Contemporary’s Grand Canyon Concourse level. Featuring animals, birds, flowers, and American Indian children, the mural consists of 18,000 hand-painted tiles. You will find Blair’s name on the tiles just as you enter the Contempo Cafe.

Mary Blair tile mural at the Contemporary Resort

24. Hear a Concert

During the Christmas Holidays, you can hear the sounds of the season when choirs sing holiday favorites just outside of Fantasia Gift Shop. Hang out for the full concert, or just catch a tune or two as you wait for the monorail, because the songs reverberate all over the massive lobby.

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27. Attend a Church Service 

The Contemporary Resort has hosted religious services for Christmas Day in the Fantasia Ballroom. Catholic Mass was held at 8 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. and a Protestant Service at was held at 9 a.m. Our suggestion is to call Guest Services to see if they are hosting a holiday church service before you waste a trip just for this activity.

26. Lobby Cartoons

While you look at the fine detailing of the hotel lobby on the first floor, there is a television playing older Disney cartoons just for the children. If your kids are tired of walking while you resort hop and need a break, tell them to have a seat. This is also a nice child distraction area while the adults check in after a long drive or flight.

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children's lobby television at the Contemporary Resort

 27. Locate Hidden Mickeys

So this Mickey is not exactly subtle or hidden, but you get the point. Where is this? This Mickey is found on the Contempo Cafe chairs on the Grand Canyon Concourse, just outside Chef Mickey’s buffet.

If you would like to see a list of Hidden Mickeys before you arrive, use this link to visit Hidden Mickey’s.org. 

Hidden Mickeys at the Contemporary Resort

28. Gingerbread Tree

During the holidays, a 17 foot gingerbread tree is erected on the 4th floor Grand Canyon Concourse. Inspired by the art of Disney’s Mary Blair, who we just mentioned designed the large four-sided mural, the tree is created with an amazing amount of ingredients.

  • 136 lbs honey
  • 211 lbs flour
  • 101 eggs
  • 27 lbs spices
  • 15 lbs sugar syrup
  • 98 lbs icing
  • 151 lbs of chocolate

The tree features over 2,000 gingerbread shingles, with enough space to hide a reported 15 hidden Mickeys. There are gingerbread holiday treats available for purchase, and while the merchandise can vary from year to year, you may find a five-legged Rice Krispy goat, a holiday cupcake with a hidden Mickey inside, monorail sugar cookies, gingerbread shingles, a gingerbread boy, lollypops, and holiday citrus bread.

The tree took on a “Frozen” movie theme in 2014, but when the newness of the Frozen movies wears off, they may go back to the other traditional tree.

29. Gingerbread Pin Signings

By the gingerbread tree in years past, visitors have been offered opportunities to meet the Disney chefs behind some of Walt Disney World’s best holiday gingerbread creations.

Call Guest Services to see if they are hosting this event before you waste a trip just for this activity.

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Mary Blair Christmas tree Small World at the Contemporary Resort

We lost two free activities off our list since this article was published back in 2014, the butterfly garden and the giant Mickey shaped Christmas wreath. If these activities show up again, we’ll update out list.

You might need this information for your resort visit.

4600 North World Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-1000
Telephone: (407) 824-1000
Fax: (407) 824-3539

If you are interested in other free activities, this link contains all the freebie details.

The Ultimate Walt Disney World FREEbie Guide: Over 119 Free Vacation Items and Activities

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 Thanks for stopping by. If you ever walked around a Disney Deluxe resort and wished you were checking in, only to drive back to your Value Resort and be a bit financially relieved you saved your money, you just might be a Cheapskate Princess!

 

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Erin Johnson, our Cheapskate Princess Travel Agent

Erin Johnson, our Cheapskate Princess Travel Agent

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from  Erin, our Disney Vacation Planner with Destinations in Florida travel.  She offers promotions like Disney Trading Pin sets, autograph books, and free Mickey Mouse ear hats for kids under age 17.  We know our readers love free…

Give Erin a call at 214-697-7732, or send an e-mail to erin @ destinationsinflorida.com.

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