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

119 Tips for Free Disney Items and Activities

Updated July 2015!

Wow, a Disney World vacation can be expensive. Between the tickets, a place to stay, transportation to Orlando, snacks, souvenirs, and the list goes on and on, you could buy a compact car for what you will spend on your next trip. With prices seeming to increase every year, some families struggle to make their Disney vacation dreams a reality. While a Disney Princess may have no trouble paying for her next vacation, a Cheapskate Princess searches for the best deals and the best ways to spend her vacation time.

If you ever Googled “Free Disney Stuff,” you just might be a Cheapskate Princess!

There are many free activities and “stuff” to be found at Walt Disney World, but often it takes lots of research to locate what you can do and get without paying anything. Good news…we have done your research. We have it all for you right here, all the FREE STUFF we could find for your next Disney World vacation. Now we did not include all the resort walking trails and free activities you can enjoy if you are staying at certain WDW resorts, because the list would have just been too long. For first time WDW visitors, or those people planning to stay at a Disney resort for the first time, this should be a must-read before you leave. Use this link:

Almost 130 FREE Walt Disney World Resort Activities!

Now let’s get started with those FREEbies at the Happiest Place on Earth!

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FREE Before or During the Vacation

1. Phone App.My Disney Experience is an iPhone app. that helps you plan your next vacation. Make dining and reservations, see maps and wait times, and even book your next vacation. (That could be financially dangerous for some of you!) For more detailed information, use this link.  

2. Order Free Maps – You’ll need a Disney account online to do it, but go to Disney World Customized Maps and order FREE maps of the parks. Pick your family’s favorite park activities and attractions, and then have them delivered to your door. 

This link no longer works since this article was published in 2013, but we kept in in case they should activate it again. The link now goes to #3 listed below.

3. 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 and adults that need a mental vacation.  Use this link: FREE Disney Virtual Vacation…Check Out the Walt Disney World “Parks” Maps.

4. Free Disney Planning DVDs –  To request a free planning DVD, use this link. Here’s what you get:

  •  A complete tour of the 4 Theme Parks, 2 Water Parks and over 20 Resort hotels at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida
  • A tour of the Disneyland Resort in California, including 2 enchanting Theme Parks and 3 Resort hotels
  • Affordable ways to play and stay during your Disney vacation
  • Pocket-sized planning guides, planning tips, and information on special events

5. Enjoy Ice Cream – Take the Disney Vacation Club tour, and you will receive free ice cream at the end for your entire family in a private ice cream parlor. A running joke in my family is if we ever remodel the living room, we should definitely put in an ice cream parlor. Families that take the tour sometimes receive Disney gift cards and various Disney goodies depending on the current promotion.

 Can You Bring Your Own Food into a Disney World Theme Park?

Free Activities at Disney World

FREE in the Parks

6. Drink Refills  – Free refills are available at certain restaurants in the Disney parks:

  • Epcot: Sunshine Seasons, Electric Umbrella
  • Hollywood Studios: Backlot Express
  • Animal Kingdom: Restaurantosaurus

7. Free Fastpass+  – This is well-known among the Disney regulars, but people planning first trips ask about this all the time. You pay extra for Fastpass privileges at Universal Studios and Six Flags theme parks. People may complain about high Disney prices, but at least Fastpass+ is still free.

8. Make a FASTPASS collage – So traditional paper FASTPASSES have gone the way of the dinosaurs when they created FastPass+, but I won’t remove this tip just yet.  We hear rumors of paper Fastpasses being handed out for certain attractions occasionally. If you have any old paper passes hanging around in drawers or photo boxes, get a picture frame for $1 at Dollar Tree. Decorate a hand-made photo mat made of cardboard with those ancient FASTPASSES, 

9. Transportation Trading Cards – Cast Members on the various forms of Disney transportation should have transportation trading cards available if you ask. Sometimes they are out of stock, so if you strike out with one Cast Member, just ask another.

10. Free Wifi –  Enjoy free WIFI offered at all of the resorts and parks. Wifi is also free for DVC members (Disney Vacation Club) at all DVC resorts.

11. Package Deliveries – You can have any purchases you buy at the parks delivered to your resort for free. Now you don’t have to worry about buying those really large toys or heavy glass figures, but you still have to find a safe way to get them home. However, remember not to have purchases sent to your room if you are leaving the very next day.

12 . Souvenir Pick-Up – Theme park merchandise purchased during the day can be delivered to a designated location near the front entrance for convenient pick-up as you exit the park. To utilize this service, simply let the retail clerk know during your time of purchase.

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get food and drinks for free at Disney World

13. Baby Care Centers at all Four Parks – Open during regular park hours, each full-service Baby Care facility is complimentary to use and includes the following:

  • Private nursing room with rocking chairs
  • Changing room with tables and a unisex bathroom
  • Feeding area with highchairs
  • Kitchen with microwave, oven and sink
  • Main room with television, table, chairs and sofa
  • This will cost money, but there is an on-site shop offering formula, baby food, juice, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, over-the-counter medications and clothing for purchase

14. 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 and creates fun “pin pals.”  Start a new collection or exchange pins for the ones you’ve always wantedWhile Disney trading pins are not free, actually trading them is. There are Trading Pin boards you can find around the resorts and gift shops, and Cast Members wear lanyards for trading. Guests can make up to two pin trades per Cast Member per day.

15. Trading Vinylmations – The name Vinylmation is a combination of the word Animation and Vinyl. The figures are all shaped like Mickey Mouse but have different themed markings, colors, and patterns.  Since this was published in 2013, Disney has ceased trading of Vinylmations, but things change, so we’ll leave this info here incase they begin trading again. They are still for sale in the parks, although you see less and less of them in 2016.  

16. Search for Hidden Mickeys  – Disney’s Imagineers have a fun tradition of incorporating “hidden” Mickey Mouse head silhouettes into their designs and construction, and lots of people enjoy hunting for them. Entire books are dedicated to finding them. To search for the Hidden Mickeys all around the parks and even the resorts, look for the three circles that make up the Mickey logo. They are everywhere.

17. Keep a Map – There are time schedules and park maps found at the resort front desks and park front gates. These are great to put in scrap books later. The maps are colorful and kids love to look at them when they get home. These are also great to put in picture frames.

18. Free Stickers  – There are Cast Members running all over who will hand you free stickers. No only are these great for t-shirt decorations, but stickers are also great mementos for scrap books. I spilled ice cream on my shirt once, and guess what I covered it up with? You guessed it…a free sticker.

19. Free Water – And I’m not talking about the water fountain water here, although obviously that is free. Visit any counter service restaurant or refreshment stand that serves drinks and ask for a cup of ice water. If they don’t give you water, they will give you a free cup of ice. We let the ice melt, which doesn’t take long on a hot Orlando summer day.

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Free Fun at Walt Disney World

20. Kids Under 3 Eat Free – Children under the age of three eat for free at Disney’s buffets and family style table service restaurants. Do you even need another reason to schedule a vacation with toddlers?

21. Get a Button– Special occasion buttons are given to celebrate a Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, 1stVisit, and Just Married occasions. Special events like this can be celebrated six months before the actual date and six months after the date, so go ahead and celebrate with a button. Many people turn these into refrigerator magnets when they get home. Forget the ice cream on my shirt story from #18. Once I spilled Ketchup on my shirt, and I covered it up with a button. I also wore my birthday button to work one year.

22. PhotoPass – Cast Members take your Photopass photos for free, and you can also then view your PhotoPass photos online for free.  For more detailed information, use this link.  

23. Free Photographer – Any PhotoPass Cast Member will take photos of you with your own camera. All you have to do is ask.

24. “Ears to the World” Disney Show Translators – Attraction Translation Devices are wireless headphone units that Guests can wear during select attractions. Featuring performances by professional character actors, the devices provide non-English-speaking Guests translation for over 30 attractions and shows throughout the four Disney World theme parks. State-of-the-art technology synchronizes the translation with the attraction, providing a truly magical experience from start to finish.

Attraction Translation Devices are complimentary and available at Guest Relations in each of the four theme parks. A refundable $100 deposit is required. Please note that the device must be returned on the same day at the same location before park closing for the refund to be returned. View all attractions that utilize Attraction Translation Devices throughout the theme parks.

Languages include:

  • French
  • German
  • Japanese
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish

25. MagicBands and Cards – MagicBands and cards are all-in-one devices that can serve as your ticket, room key, payment method, identification, and lots more. For more information, use this link:  Walt Disney World MagicBands: A Cheapskate Guide.

26. Parking – To save yourself a parking, you just need to be a Disney Resort hotel guest with a valid Key to the World Card or Resort Parking Permit. Annual and Premium Passholders, in addition to Disney Premier Passport holders, can also park at no additional charge. There are 2016 parking fees:

  • Standard parking: car or motorcycle – $20 per day
  • Shuttle, Limo, Camper, Trailer or RV – $22 per day
  • Preferred parking: car or motorcycle – $35 per day

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Magic Kingdom

27. Trading Cards – The Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game gives you five collectible trading cards per day for each ticket that has been activated that day. If dad stays back at the resort, sorry, you can’t pick up his cards. You can get your cards each day at the Fire Station on Main Street and over in Liberty Square by the Christmas Shop.

28. Free Snack Samples – Visit the Main Street, U.S.A., Confectionery for an assortment of free candy samples. Cotton Candy is a pretty common sample handed out daily.

29. Boat Ride –  There are boats that cross back and forth from the Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge and Ft. Wilderness, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian Resorts. From the Magic Kingdom, you can take a boat ride to any of these locations or even hop on the monorail.

30. Hair Confetti – The Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street, U.S.A., will sprinkle confetti and “pixie dust” on your child’s hair for free.  Castle Couture in Fantasyland also has “pixie dust.”

31. Resort Monorails – Ride the free monorail around to resort hop. A huge part of Disney “history,”  kids and kids at heart all love riding the monorails. The middle of the day might possibly be a less busy time, as they can be quite congested first thing in the morning and at closing.

32. Get a Picture Made with Santa – During the Christmas holidays, Santa sets up shop on Main Street, U.S.A., so bring your camera or have your PhotoPass card ready.

33. Grab Some Cracker Jacks – At Casey’s Corner at the end of  Main Street, U.S.A., arrive just before opening time. Cast Members do an opening pitch and sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” While they sing, they pass out free big bags of Cracker Jacks to the guests listening to the song.

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Free Magic Kingdom fun

Epcot

34. Get a Drink – Club Cool in Epcot’s Future World, sponsored by Coca-Cola, offers weary Epcot (You know what EPCOT stands for, right? Every Person Comes Out Tired) walkers eight drinks from around the world (all of which are types of Coca-Cola brands). Taste as much of the beverage samples as you want for as long as you want.

35. Try the Beverly – We just mentioned Club Cool. The “Beverly” is so famous among Disney fans that it earned its own number on our list. The Beverly is a rite of Epcot passage. 

36. Kids Crafts – See the 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.

Where to Find Kidcot Fun Stops

  • Mexico Pavilion (near Animales Fantasticos)
  • Norway Pavilion (at The Puffin’s Roost)
  • China Pavilion (near the exit of Reflections of China)
  • Germany Pavilion (at Volkunst)
  • Italy Pavilion (outside, near La Bottega Italiana)
  • American Adventure Pavilion (outside, near Heritage Manor Gifts)
  • Japan Pavilion (in the Bijutsu-kan Gallery)
  • Morocco Pavilion (at the Marketplace in the Medina)
  • France Pavilion (at Souvenirs de France)
  • United Kingdom Pavilion (at The Toy Soldier)
  • Canada Pavilion (at the exit of O Canada!)

37. Go on a Secret Mission – 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 mission. Now scour for clues throughout the World Showcase and visit such destinations as:

  • Mexico Pavilion
  • Norway Pavilion
  • China Pavilion
  • Germany Pavilion
  • Japan Pavilion
  • France Pavilion
  • United Kingdom Pavilion.

Each mission lasts anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, and because each pavilion hosts a different mission, you can go back again and again.

38. Christmas Holiday Gingerbread Creations – Celebrate the amazing work of the Disney Pastry Chefs at The Land Pavilion at Epcot. You’ll enjoy their tantalizing takes on popular icons from Disney Parks and Resorts around the world.

39. See Independence Hall, 1776 – Let freedom ring in the Christmas holiday season with this miniature replica of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, showing off the artistic talents of Disney Pastry Chefs.

40. Character Photo – You have to have a Disney Chase Visa Card, but if you do, enjoy a private character meet and greet at Epcot that also includes a FREE 5×7 photo.

41. E-mail a Video to Your friends – Once you ride Spaceship Earth, you are deposited at Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future. Here you can send an e-mail of yourself to your friends not lucky enough to be on vacation or to family members.

42. Take a Boat Ride – We’re almost at our list for Hollywood Studios, so this is a good place to discuss how both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are accessible by boat. Most routes run on 15- to 30-minute intervals. This means you can take a free boat ride to the following resorts for some resort hopping if you need a break mid-day or early evening:

  • Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s Beach Club Villas
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
  • Walt Disney World Swan Hotel
  • Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel

43. Get Passports – During the Food & Wine Festival, passports are available.  Each kiosk has a stamp, which makes for a fun activity, starting a collection or gathering for a scrap-book.

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Disney World Freebie Guide

Hollywood Studios

44. Get a Jedi Training Certificate – At the Jedi Training Academy, Junior Jedi Knights learn to use the Force in a 20-minute training academy as they prepare to meet the Dark Side. To sign up, potential Padawans should report to the queue outside the ABC Sound Studio at park opening. Twelve guests between the ages of 4 and 12 years of age will be selected for each show. Participating kids will get a certificate at the end of Jedi training

45. Ride to the Boardwalk  – Take a free boat ride to Boardwalk Resort, which is especially beautiful in the evenings. Entertainment here is listed below.

46. Early Dining Certificate – Be the first person to arrive for breakfast at Hollywood and Vine, and you get a certificate for being the first family of the day.

47. Get a Disney Junior Dance Party Balloon – Put your hands in the air and follow the DJ as you groove to hot hits at this ultra-fun, high-energy dance party. Kids can cut loose with Characters from Disney Junior like Handy Manny, as well as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto and more. New characters fill the floor throughout the night. You never know when someone special like Jake and the Never Land Pirates or Bones & Sharkey might appear. This event is only offered during Evening Extra Magic Hours. Music videos play on the big screen above the stage.

A balloon artist adds to the fun by creating animals with a twist. Take one away as a party favor!

48. Take Home a Free Drawing – At the Animation Academy, with help from a Disney artist, you will enjoy a unique hands-on opportunity to draw your very own Disney character sketch. Unlike the Animation Academy at DisneyQuest, you can take your drawing home for free.

Animal Kingdom

This was our toughest park to find any free activities or goodies, but the Wilderness Explorers Program has vacationers raving about how much fun they had, all for free.

49. Explore The Wilderness 

Follow in the footsteps of Russell and his faithful dog, Dug, from the Disney•Pixar film Up!  as you jaunt across jungles, furrow into forests and make way through the woods in a a series of fact-finding challenges. Think you know the wilderness? Well, now you can prove it. Dozens of self-guided activities await your arrival, with missions ranging from animal observation to learning all-too-important nature skills.

Collect over 30 badges and earn the right to echo the Wilderness Explorer call—“Caw! Caw! Roar!” Each challenge is totally different from the next, and with each one you complete, you can collect a new sticker badge to place in your official Wilderness Explorer field guide, including:

  • Veterinary Badge – Help diagnose a sea turtle’s health issue
  • Dinosaur Badge – Join in the exploration for dinosaur fossils
  • Animal Find Badge – Check off each of the animals you see
  • Music Badge – Learn how to play an African drum pattern
  • Yeti Badge – Find Yeti artifacts and hear about the folklore

With so many activities at hand, completing them all may take you more than just a single visit.

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free food and entertainment at Disney World

Disney Springs/Downtown Disney

50Splash Around – In the section with Goofy’s Candy Co., in full sight of the Rainforest Cafe, is a splashpad type fountain. If you don’t stop to let your kids get wet, you can always hang around and watch other people let their kids get soaked. This is fabulous for children on a hot day, and funny entertainment for adults on any day.

51. Play with Legos –  Head into the Lego Imagination Center over by the World of Disney Store for some free interactive Lego fun. Outside is a 3,000-square-foot play area filled with Legos. Inside and out are larger-than-life Lego models just waiting to be photographed.

52. Get Free Legos – Visit your local LEGO Store on the first Tuesday of every month and you can learn how to build a cool mini model, and take it home – for free! Quantities are limited and offer is good while supplies last only. A new model will be available every month and will be specially themed to that month – ask a Store Associate for details. These models are not for sale and cannot be purchased. One free per child. This event is open to children ages 6 to 14 only.

53. Free Chocolate! –  Cast Members at Ghiradelli’s Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop hand out free chocolate samples throughout the day. While these samples are free, the hard part is not buying anything while you’re there. Be forewarned: the smell of the waffle cones combined with the aroma of chocolate is enough to entice you wallet out of your bag. Stay strong, Cheapskate Princess!

54. Check out the Movie Props – Pop into Planet Hollywood and take a look at all of the movie props. (This may be changing as Planet Hollywood is re-imagined in 2016)

55. Goofy’s Glaciers Free Samples – This isn’t an all you care to drink buffet of samples like at Epcot’s Club Cool, but rather it is a small slushy sample to wet your whistle.

56. Wash your Hands  – I know, I know, how much fun can hand washing be? Sugar and Salt Scrubs make your hands feel soft and smooth. Right next door to Arribas Brothers, next to the free chocolate samples at Ghiradelli’s, is a store called Basin. My entire family will spend 20-30 minutes in Basin, just touching and smelling the soaps. You can wash your hands with their scrubs for free, leaving your hands silky smooth. This is one of my favorite haunts at Downtown Disney. Cheapskate Princess Tip; the Lemongrass and Cranberry Seed soap smells amazing.

57. Hydrate Your Skin – Basin also has an assortment of lotions samples you can try for free. Even for men that are not big shoppers, Basin smells wonderful and is a great store to look around in.

58. Ship It from Aaribas Brothers – If you purchase $50 worth of merchandise and prefer to have it shipped home, shipping from Aaribas Brothers is free.  This would be a great idea since most of their store is cut glass, blown glass, glass figurines, and all sorts of breakable glass items.

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Disney fun for free

More Disney Springs

59. Take a Boat Trip – Cruise from Port Orleans to Disney Springs and back along the Sassagoula River. Take a Disney water shuttle over to Port Orleans, Saratoga Springs, and Old Key West Resorts. Not only is the boat ride fun, but you can go look around the property. You might decide one of these locations is where you want to stay on your next vacation. Stop by the check-in desk for some pricing info. This may be all the incentive you need to keep your wallet tucked away to save money for future trips. Most routes run on 15- to 30-minute intervals.

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

61. Car Masters Weekend – Enjoy an event dedicated to all things automotive, including a dynamic car show, culminating in an exciting parade ceremony. Hit the road to the Disney Springs area each summer for an unforgettable automobile extravaganza! There’s a ton of fun to rev your engine to and a host of unforgettable activities. Dates for 2014 were June 14 – June 15. All entertainment and appearances are subject to change without notice, but possible activities may include:

  • Disney Character Meet ‘n’ Greet – Snap some pictures and get to know a few of your favorite Disney Characters.
  • Disney Springs Car Show – Lock your eyes on classic and exotic cars—pick your favorites and see which ones win awards.
  • Auto Personality Appearances – Fill up your schedule with special appearances and autographs from automotive celebrities.
  • Car Masters Merchandise – Take the event home with a purchase from a large selection of event merchandise.
  • Exotic Driving Experience – Get up close to real-life supercars and learn how you can get behind the wheel at Walt Disney World Speedway.

62. Festival of the Masters (presented by Michaels) The downtown festival is held each fall, which in 2013 ran from Nov. 8 to Nov. 10. This is an art lovers paradise, a vibrant, open-air art festival featuring beautiful displays of work by award-winning artists.

This world-renowned show is a highly anticipated annual event for Disney guests, artists, collectors and art lovers alike, and there is fun for the entire family, including:

  • One-of-a-kind and limited-edition painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry and more
  • Hands-on activities for Guests of all ages and interests
  • Live musical performances
  • Unique shopping opportunities—from fine art to Disney collectibles

In 2014, this event was cancelled because of all the construction turning Downtown Disney into Disney Springs. There are no dates scheduled for 2015, but 2016 is just around the bend, so stay tuned for updates.

63. Festival of the Seasons  – Enjoy Disney Springs 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.

64. Visit with Santa – During the Disney Springs Festival of the Seasons, you can visit with Santa and have your picture taken.

65. The St. Patrick’s Day Celebration – During two weekends of music and merriment in March, slip on your finest green duds and head to Disney Springs, ready to lock arms for some Irish dancing and live music.

66. See a Show– There is an outdoor stage across from The World of Disney store. You will find a large amount of seating, more comfortable in winter because you are seated in direct sun light, which 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 to pop. 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.

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Free snacks at the Magic Kingdom

67. Live Entertainment –  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 Disney Springs area. Our family has watched Christmas Soldiers dance on stilts 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.

68. Take Some Photos – WDW is certainly not lacking for places to take photos, but certain areas offer more opportunities than others to pose with Disney characters without standing in long lines. At Disney Springs, take photos with all the different Disney-themed signs and statues. Children and adults alike love these, and remember those Lego statues are really cool to be photographed with.

69. March in a Parade – Coming from the World of Disney, which houses the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, there is an occasional Princess Parade that walks past the stage over toward the store Once Upon a Toy. Join the crowd and let your inner Disney Princess free! (This may have changed as Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique moved to a new location in a stand alone building by Once Upon  a Toy.)

70. Sit on a Hog – Stop by the Orlando Harley-Davidson shop and have your photo taken on a hog, I mean, a Harley. There are riding videos to watch, and check out the custom gas tank wall and unique tail pipe sculpture. For some interesting non-cheapskate fun, check out the prices!

71. Watch a Glass Demonstration – Once you enter Arribas Brothers, it will take you some time to look over the  vast selection of fine collectibles, glass, and crystal products from around the world, many of which can be personalized. There is a glass blower and a glass cutter on staff doing demonstrations throughout the day, and my family has literally stood around for half an hour just watching the guys show off their craft. There are not a lot of places I know where you can still see glass blowing in action these days, except maybe at Crystal Arts on Main Street, U.S.A., in the Magic Kingdom, because they are also run by Arribas Brothers. These artisans are fantastic.

72. Watch an Artist –  As far as window shopping, one of my favorite spots is the Art of Disney. I could stand around forever looking at the Disney paintings and statues. Quite often there is an artist drawing in the store, and you can watch his or her work in action, being displayed up on a big screen.

73. Play Some Games – Once Upon a Toy has the largest assortment of toys and games in all of the Walt Disney World Resort. If you haven’t built a Mr. Potato Head in ages, this is your chance. There are also hands-on activities at interactive play stations adults and kids alike will enjoy.

74. Window Shop –  Disney Springs is located on 120 acres along the southern shore of Buena Vista Lagoon, so you could spend half a day just trying to have a look in each of the shops. The World of Disney Store, the largest merchandise location, is 50,000 square feet and the largest character store at WDW. You’ll be lucky to get out of here in under an hour. Clothing for toddlers to adults, collectibles, toys, trading pins, watches and jewelry, arts and crafts, and food and candy provide an endless buffet of window shopping. But you’ll need to be strong to walk out without spending any money.

75. Park for Free – Unlike Universal Studios City Walk, you can park for free at Downtown Disney Springs. Parking has changed drastically with the addition of the two new aboveground parking garages. Traffic will be congested in this area for as they finish road renovations, but parking is now definitely easier and high-tech.

To save yourself some walking, you can take the free shuttle boat from the DisneyQuest and House of Blues area over to the area where Disney busses load/unload by Rainforest Cafe.

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Glitter

The Boardwalk at the Boardwalk Resort

76. Music & a Show – From the Boardwalk, walk over to the back gate of Epcot or over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios around closing time. Enjoy the music and perhaps catch a glimpse of IllumiNations or Fantasmic!  The bridge that goes over to the Swan and Dolphin sometimes has good views.

77. Dance the Night Away – When the sun sets, the sounds and lights come to life at the Atlantic Dance Hall in the elegant surroundings of a stunning Art Deco ballroom. Stars twinkle from the celestial ceiling over the expansive dance floor. Between tunes, take a break on one of the balconies with a romantic view Crescent Lake, which stretches from the edge of the Dance Hall to the BoardWalk and beyond. Atlantic Dance Hall is for Guests who are 21 years of age and older.

78. Dance Some More –  On Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday nights at the Atlantic Dance Hall, request your favorite music videos and dance along with Video VJs. Whether your favorites are Duran Duran or the Black Eyed Peas, shake it to the music and images of popular bands on the big screen above. On Thursday and Friday nights, get caught up in the musical crosshairs as dueling DJs trade fire across the dance floor.

79. Take a Boat Trip – Cruise the loop on a boat around Crescent Lake, which visits Epcot, Boardwalk, Yacht/Beach Club, Swan/Dolphin, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios without going into the parks.

80. Hear a Radio Show – ESPN has a live radio show on Disney’s Boardwalk at the ESPN Club. Sometimes you can catch a live interview with a celebrity athlete at one of these high-spirited sports-radio talk shows. This Disney link may provide more information. 

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Free at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Free at the Resorts

81. Go Visit –  Disney has an “open resort policy” where you don’t have to be staying at the resort to go visit, which is also called “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 or inquire at the front desk about rates and current discounts. Parking is also free while you visit the resorts.

82. Wishes Viewing –  Watch the Magic Kingdom Wishes fireworks show from one of the many Disney resorts on the monorail circle. My favorite resort for this view is the Polynesian, with the fireworks directly across the Seven Seas Lagoon. Music is piped in, so while you might not be at the Magic Kingdom for Wishes, it’s the next best thing.

83. Night Time Water Parade –  Visit the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Ft. Wilderness, or the Contemporary Resort to catch a glimpse of the nightly water show, The Electrical Water Pageant. This water-light parade was created in 1971 for the dedication of Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Scheduled to run just that one time only, popularity keeps it playing each night. Approximate show times are:

  • Polynesian Resort, 9:00 p.m.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, 9:15 p.m
  • Wilderness Lodge, 9:30 p.m.
  • Fort Wilderness Campground, 9:45 p.m.
  • Contemporary Resort 10:00p.m.

84. Fireside Marshmallows – Camp fires at resorts offer free marshmallows and roasting sticks. Complimentary campfire activities can be found at 14 locations at Walt Disney World Resort. Locations include:

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
  • The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

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Free at Disney's Hollywood Studios

85. Campfire Stories and Songs – Stories, songs and more keep the kids entertained and provide a memorable way to cap off your day. Gather ’round the campfire for lively storytelling, spirited sing-alongs and tasty treats. S’mores kits and other refreshments are available for purchase at most locations, or for the cheaper route, you can bring your own. Blankets or something to sit on are welcome so that you can get comfy and cozy.

86.  See a Movie – Come for the campfire, and then stay for a movie. Take in one of the many free “Movies Under the Stars” outdoor movies at WDW resorts following the campfires. Huge screens are blown up for nightly movies outside the resorts. This can depend on weather.  At some resorts, you will need to bring a towel or blanket to sit on, and at others, they provide chairs. Call the resort desk for specific information. (This may have changed in the summer of 2016 following the tragic accident involving a older and an alligator. I would phone the front desk for locations and details.)

Movies and entertainment are subject to cancellation or change without notice. For movie schedules, please check with the Front Desk at your Walt Disney World Resort, or call 407- WDW-PLAY or 407- 939-7529.

87. Hear a Holiday Performance – During the Christmas holidays, choirs, from elementary and middle school through retirement ages, are frequent presences in the resort lobbies signing holiday tunes. Don’t rush off to the theme parks; stop and sing along to a few songs.

88. Playgrounds – Enjoy the playgrounds found at the resorts. There seems to be no need to list all the resorts individually that have playgrounds, because there are playgrounds at almost all of them. These are great for a free day or when the parks close early for holiday parties. Coronado Springs has an amazing kid’s playground next to the Aztec-themed pool.

89. Resort Tours – Several of the resorts, including Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, Grand Floridian, and Yacht Club, offer FREE Tours that are open to any Disney resort guests. Some of the tours require a reservation, so call the resort for specific information in advance.

90Free Snack Samples Many resorts are now offering cupcakes and assorted sugary goodies in their gift shops, kept in refrigerated cases for freshness. One excellent gift shop that comes to mind is Bay View Gifts (BVG) at the Contemporary Resort. Check the top of the snack case for occasional free snack samples like cookies and fudge. Theme park souvenirs can be delivered right to this Resort hotel at no extra charge, letting you keep your hands free while enjoying the parks. 

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91. Free Bus Transportation – Most areas throughout Walt Disney World Resort, including theme parks, water parks, resort hotels and the Disney Springs area, are accessible by complimentary bus transportation. This is old news unless you are planning a first visit.

92. 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 one of his Goofy friends will leave a message on your room phone. 

93. Character Wake Up CallJust 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.

94Lobby Cartoons – Resort lobbies have TVs set up playing older Disney cartoons. If your kids are tired of walking while you resort hop and need a break, tell them to have a seat.

95. Pool Side Games – Lots of WDW resort activities include a fee, but many Disney resorts now offer games lead by Cast Members poolside for the kids. By the way, swimming at resorts where you are not a registered guest is not allowed (unless you are a DVC member, and this only applies to certain resorts.) Use this link to read more in regards to Resort Pool Hopping Rules.

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96. Resort Monorails – Monorails are a huge part of Disney “history,” and you can ride around for free to resort hop. Kids and kids at heart all love riding the monorails. The middle of the day might possibly be a less busy time, as the monorail cars can be quite congested first thing in the morning and at closing.

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97. Longer Monorail Rides – How often can you ride a monorail at home? For a longer monorail journey, ride over to EPCOT. This trips takes about 20 minutes round trip, not including time to wait for a monorail to arrive. You catch the Epcot monorail at the TTC (Ticket & Transportation Center.)

98. Boat Ride –  There are boats that visit the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge and Ft. Wilderness, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian. You can get off the boat at the Magic Kingdom and wander along the lake outside the gates or hop on the monorail.

99. Online Check-In – As a free service to make your vacation less stressful, Disney allows you to start your check-in online beginning 60 days before your stay at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Then when you arrive, head to the Online Check-In Desk. Pick up your Welcome Folder and MagicBand/Key to the World card. Provide a valid photo I.D., complete your check-in, and you are on your way to fun.

100. Disney’s Magical Express – Enjoy complimentary transportation and luggage delivery to and from Orlando International Airport. Advance reservations are required. The Disney’s Magical Express bus stop is located just in front of all the resort lobbies.

101. Shampoos and Soaps – Shampoos and soaps at the resorts are lovely, created by a company called H2O just for Disney. We stopped bringing our own toiletries with us on vacation, and instead use the H2O soaps, conditioners, and shampoos. If you run out, run down the hall to Mouse Keeping and ask for extras. If you don’t mind paying a tip, call the front desk and ask for extras to be delivered to your room.

102. Freshen Up For registered resort guests, there are towels available that can be used in the pool side showers located in the bathrooms. Take a swim on check-out day. Want to speed up the showering process at night after a long day at the parks?  Send family to the showers near the pool. They are clean and smell lovely.

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free activities at Disney's Animal Kingdm

Animal Kingdom

103. Hear a Story – Just outside the main lobby, Animal Kingdom Lodge has a campfire with a storyteller each night. If you miss the story, pull up a seat and enjoy the fire. You might want to stand further back in the summer.

104. See Unusual Animals – Outside the lobby, you can see exotic African animals walking around on the “Arusha savanna.”  The best time to see the animals is generally regarded as dusk. Cast Members/Cultural Guides will answer questions about the kudu giraffe, zebra, ankole cattle, and other animals.

105.  Experience Night VisionDisney Cast Members will be on hand at the viewing locations for several hours with night vision glasses for watching the animals in their natural habitats, just this time in the dark.

106. Restaurant Tours at Animal Kingdom – The restaurants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offer free 30-minute tours focusing on the culinary selections and architecture.  The three restaurants (Sanaa, Boma, and Jiko) offer dishes from African and India. These restaurants offer pre-dinner tours with samples of their unusual cuisine. For the Sanaa tour, meet at the Sanaa podium at 4pm. To tour Boma and Jiko, meet at the Jiko podium at 4pm.

Beach and Yacht Club

107. Holiday Decorations – During the Christmas holidays, you can see the “Holiday Village” in the resort lobby. Created by Cast Members, there’s a miniature train that makes its way through a quaint village over to a sugar rock mountain.

108. The Edible CarouselAgain during the Christmas holiday season, you can view a life-size, edible spinning Holiday Carousel. 2015 will mark 15 years the carousel has been created. Look for magical surprises and hidden Mickey’s hiding in the carousel’s décor.

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The BoardWalk Resort

109. 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.

110. Stitch’s Bakery Store Front  – During Christmas, explore a Stitch-sized replica of the BoardWalk Bakery’s store front in the lobby. Keep a lookout for Lilo as Cast Members create gingerbread houses right in front of you.

Contemporary/ Bay Lake Tower Resorts

111. See Some Butterflies – Visit the Contemporary Resort Butterfly Garden, located on the left side of the resort as you walk out the back of the lobby towards the pool and Bay Lake. We won’t remove this in hopes they bring it back, but this garden has been gone since Dec. of 2015. 

112. Gingerbread Holiday Decorations  – During the Christmas holidays on the Grand Canyon Concourse, there is a a gigantic gingerbread holiday decoration with ornaments, candy canes and presents. For years, the theme was the Small World characters inspired by Mary Blair’s massive mural in the building. 2014 saw a “Frozen” themed gingerbread display. You will often find Disney Characters available here for photos, and if not, you can snap your own in front of a holiday background.

Ft. Wilderness Campground

113. Butterflies – Just outside the Outpost, visit the butterfly garden.

114. Sing Some Songs – Ft. Wilderness Campground offers a step up from the usual resort camp fires. There is a free sing along with Chip and Dale near the Meadow Trading Post. This occurs every evening at approximately 7:00 p.m. in the fall/winter and 8:00 p.m. during spring/summer. The program starts with a sing-a-long and marshmallow roast. Chip and Dale meet the guests and sign autographs. Then a Disney movie is shown on a large outdoor screen. There is some seating on bleachers and benches, or you can lay out a blanket. No reservations are necessary, so you just show up and enjoy the fun.

115. 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 horseshoes and put them to horses’ hooves. Look for the Dragon Calliope—the horse-drawn musical instrument that Walt Disney purchased for the Mickey Mouse Club Circus Parade at Disneyland Park in the 1950s. There are many differnt variety of breeds residing at Tri-Circle-D Ranch, including Appaloosas, Arabians, Belgians, Clydesdales, paint horses, Percherons, quarter horses, and Shetland ponies.

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Free activities at Wilderness Lodge

Polynesian Resort

116. Do Some Dancing – Learn to Hula Dance at the Polynesian Hotel. You’ll learn a variety of native chants and dances from tropical locales.

Port Orleans Resort

117. Sing-along – Port Orleans-Riverside offers a seasonal “Campfire on de’ Bayou” with stories and sing-alongs around a fire at the Ol’ Man Island Fishin’ Hole.  There are no characters at this Sing A Long, unlike at Ft. Wilderness Campground, and this event usually runs in the winter (Halloween t0 March) for just a few nights a week (possibly Sunday and Thursday) when the weather is permitting. The front desk will have a schedule. No reservations are necessary — just show up.

Grand Floridian

118. See the Fireworks – Watch the Wishes fireworks from the Grand Floridian boat dock. Narcoossees restaurant is nearby, and you can enjoy the fireworks synchronized to the music from their speakers.

119. Hear a Live Performance – There may be no better place in all of WDW to hear a live pianist and a Big Band performing Disney themed tunes, all for free. Little kids and adults alike will often dance along.

120. Take a Run/Walk  – This pathway runs along Seven Seas Lagoon. Approximately one mile long each way, it connects the two Resorts, passes Disney’s Wedding Pavilion and offers a view of Magic Kingdom park.

121. Gingerbread House – There is a life-size gingerbread house built in the lobby during the holidays. 2016 is the 18th Anniversary of the gingerbread house, which is the most spectacular of all the Disney Christmas decorations.

122. Meet Mickey & Minnie – During the Christmas holidays, a HUGE Christmas tree is erected in the middle of the lobby. Mickey and Minnie, all decked out in Christmas attire, appear by the tree for photos. Lines are not that long, so bring your camera and ask a Cast Member to snap a shot of the whole family.

123. Wash Your Hands – At Basin White, a retail store found in the main lobby, you can wash your hands with free salt and sugar scrubs. They also have free samples of hand lotions. This store smells simply wonderful, and your hands will feel silky smooth after you finish your wash.

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Free activties at Disney resorts

Activities at Wilderness Lodge

124. Rail Road Memorabilia  – Walk from the main Lobby over to the Vacation Club Villas section to see the Walt Disney railroad memorabilia. If you enjoy Disney history, you probably know that Walt Disney was fascinated with steam trains. The Wilderness Lodge Villas host a mini-museum of art, photographs, replicas, and actual artifacts from Walt’s hobby and Disney World’s earliest years.

125. Play Some Games by the Fire – In a corner of the Villas building at Wilderness Lodge in the Carolwood Pacific Room, you can spend the afternoon playing chess, sitting by the fireplace, or learn more about Walt Disney’s favorite hobby. This is a lovely, relaxing area of the Lodge. Pull up a chair by the fireplace; be sure you notice the fireplace screen featuring ironwork trains.

126. 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.

127. Check Out the Indian Artifacts – Artifacts from a variety of Native American tribes, including the Cheyenne, Crow, Sioux and Blackfoot, have been collected, re-created, and displayed throughout Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Authentic reproductions of headdresses, painted robes and drums, as well as work from artists noted for their reverence for nature, can be seen in the lobby’s secluded alcoves and throughout the Resort’s restaurants and sitting rooms.

128. Carved Totem Poles – There are two hand-carved totem poles, both 55-feet tall, with one topped with a raven and the other with an eagle. All the animals carved into these totems depict Native American myths and legends. By Wilderness Lodge Mercantile,there is a 10-foot totem pole with carvings of Donald Duck, Goofy, and Mickey Mouse.

129. See Mickey & Goofy at Christmas – Mickey and Goofy often make an appearance during the Christmas holidays at night. Photos are free. Again, PhotoPass photographers are available to snap your picture, or you can just take your own photo.

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130. Free Help Planning a Vacation– Using a Disney Vacation Planner is free. Our Destinations in Florida agents charge nothing for their services, zero, zip, nada.  They are a zero out-of-pocket expense to clients. From dinner reservations and purchasing tickets to determining resort discounts and free vacation quotes, Destinations in Florida can make your vacation a reality.  And remember, they charge clients nothing. 

There you go…130 items and activities at Walt Disney World for FREE. I like to think of this as a one stop reference to a ton of cheapskating information you could use on your next trip. Disney World is magical and fantastical, but it is expensive. We could all use a financial break every now and then.

And while you’re here, you will definitely want to read our most popular article ever, written by our  Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans that have been there and done that, vacationers who know how to get the most from a pricey vacation.

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

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

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you searching for those freebies…

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

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Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

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

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Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Erin, Julie, and Elizabeth, our Disney Vacation Planners with Destinations in Florida travel.

You can also e-mail them at cp@destinationsinflorida.com.

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

 

Amanda Major, owner of Cheapskate PrincessAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-costal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Princess Travel Experts with Destinations in Florida travel, Erin, Julie, and Elizabeth. You can also e-mail them at cp@destinationsinflorida.com.

 

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you grabbing a front row seat by the resort fireplace. If you ever spent time at a Deluxe Resort, only to drive back to your way less expensive hotel, then you just might be a Cheapskate Princess!

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Almost 130 FREE Walt Disney World Resort Activities!

130 Free Disney World Activities

Updated July 2016!

The Walt Disney World Resort is the most visited entertainment complex in the world. The property covers 47 square miles, offering visitors 24 unique themed resorts, four theme parks, two water parks, nearly 300 restaurants, a sports complex and the Downtown Disney shopping area. There is more to see and do than your average visitor has time or money to actually accomplish. With prices seeming to increase every year, some families struggle to make their Disney vacation dreams a reality.

If you ever Googled “Free Disney Stuff,” you just might be a Cheapskate Princess. There are many free activities and “stuff” to be found at Walt Disney World, but often it takes lots of research to locate what you can do and get without paying anything. Some of the following activities are free to the general public, while others are free only to registered guests staying on property with a valid room key, called your MagicBand/Key to the World Card. If you need a room key to take advantage of free offers, we’ll let you know.

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Free Activities at the Beach Club Resort

Resorts in General

1. Go Visit:  Disney has an “open resort policy” where you don’t have to be staying at the resort to go visit. This would be a great time to determine what section of the property you might like to make reservations for on your next trip or inquire at the front desk about rates and current discounts. Parking is free while you visit the resorts.

2  Theme “Park” for Free: Guests staying at the Disney Resorts park for free at the theme parks (at least as of summer 2016. This may change at any minute); you may receive a parking pass for your dashboard.

3. Goofy Greeting Call – When you check in, ask the Cast Member assisting you to set up a “Welcome Call” from a character. Like Disney magic, one of the Disney characters will leave a message on your room phone. The kids will love this!

4. Lobby Cartoons: Resort lobbies have TVs set up playing older Disney cartoons. If your kids are tired of walking while you resort hop and need a break, tell them to have a seat. This is also nice child distraction while the adults check in after a long drive or flight.

5. Night Time Water Parade: Visit the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Ft. Wilderness, or the Contemporary Resort to catch a glimpse of the nightly water show, The Electrical Water Pageant. This water-light parade was created in 1971 for the dedication of Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Scheduled to run just that one time only, popularity keeps it playing each night.

Approximate show times are:

Polynesian Resort, 9:00 p.m.

Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, 9:15 p.m

Wilderness Lodge, 9:30 p.m.

Fort Wilderness Campground, 9:45 p.m.

Contemporary Resort 10:00p.m.

6. Wishes Viewing: Watch the Magic Kingdom Wishes fireworks show from one of the many Disney resorts on the monorail circle. My favorite resort for this view is the Polynesian, with the fireworks directly across the Seven Seas Lagoon. Music is piped in, so while you might not be at the Magic Kingdom for Wishes, it’s the next best thing.

7. Luggage Assistance: Luggage transfers to other Disney hotels is free.  Luggage storage before you check in and after you check out – so you can go play at the parks – is free. Tipping is optional but simply the right thing to do.

free things at the Polynesian Resort, what to do at the Polynesian Resort, resort tours at Disney's Polynesian resort

8. Pool Side Games – Lots of WDW resort activities include a fee, but many Disney resorts now offer games lead by Cast Members poolside for the kids. By the way, swimming at resorts where you are not a registered guest is not allowed (unless you are a DVC member, and this only applied to certain resorts.) Use this link to read more in regards to Resort Pool Hopping Rules.

A Guide To Disney World Resort Pool Hopping

9. Fireside Marshmallows – Camp fires at resorts offer free marshmallows and roasting sticks. Complimentary campfire activities can be found at 14 locations at Walt Disney World Resort. Locations include:

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
  • The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

10. Campfire Stories and Songs – Stories, songs and more keep the kids entertained and provide a memorable way to cap off your day.

Gather ’round the campfire for lively storytelling, spirited sing-alongs and tasty treats. (See #9 above) S’mores kits and other refreshments are available for purchase at most locations, or for the cheaper route, you can bring your own. Blankets or something to sit on are welcome so that you can get comfy and cozy.

11. See a Movie – Come for the campfire, and then stay for a movie. Take in one of the many free “Movies Under the Stars” outdoor movies at WDW resorts following the campfires. Huge screens are blown up for nightly movies outside the resorts. This can depend on weather.  At some resorts, you will need to bring a towel or blanket to sit on, and at others, they provide chairs. Call the resort desk for specific information. (Update: call your front desk to see where these movies are being shown now…June 2016) 

Movies and entertainment are subject to cancellation or change without notice. For movie schedules, please check with the Front Desk at your Walt Disney World Resort, or call 407- WDW-PLAY or 407- 939-7529.

12. Playgrounds –  Enjoy the playgrounds found at the resorts. There seems to be no need to list all the resorts individually that have playgrounds, because it’s almost all of them. These are great for a free day or when the parks close early for holiday parties. Coronado Springs has an amazing kid’s playground next to the Aztec-themed pool.

13. Resort Monorails – Ride the free monorail around to resort hop. The monorails are a huge part of Disney “history.” Kids and kids at heart all love riding the monorails. The middle of the day might possibly be a less busy time, as they can be quite congested first thing in the morning and at closing.

14. Longer Monorail Rides – How often can you ride a monorail at home? For a longer monorail journey, ride over to EPCOT. This trips takes about 20 minutes round trip, not including time to wait for a monorail to arrive. You catch the Epcot monorail at the TTC (Ticket & Transportation Center.)

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15. Take Senic Pictures – There are numerous photo opportunities at the resorts. You can return home with photos looking like you vacationed at a Victorian Resort, a Polynesian village, and a rustic lodge deep in the northwestern woods.

16. Plastic Character Photos – Don’t forget the photo opportunities with extra large character sculptures at the Disney value resorts. There are huge Big Wheels, Buzz Lightyear characters, and tons more Toy Store characters, etc.  Remember parking is free at the resorts.

17. Free Wifi –  Enjoy the free WIFI offered at all of the resorts and parks. Wifi is free for DVC members (Disney Vacation Club) at all DVC resorts.

18. Resort Tours – Several of the resorts, including Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, Grand Floridian, and Yacht Club, offer FREE tours that are open to any Disney resort guests. Some of the tours require a reservation, so call the resort for specific information in advance. We have many of these tours listed below.

19. Boat Ride –  There are boats that visit the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge and Ft. Wilderness, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian. You can get off the boat at the Magic Kingdom and wander along the lake outside the gates or hop on the monorail.

20. Take a Stroll – There are lovely walkways and/or nature trails around almost all of the resorts. We will list many of those for you under the specific resorts below.

21. Christmas Decorations  – The Christmas decorations – wow- are just simply incredible. There are specific holiday must-sees listed under the specific resorts below, but all the resorts are all decked out. Do some holiday resort hopping.

22. Wake Up Call – Guests of Walt Disney World resort hotels can request a free wake up call from Mickey or Stitch on their hotel phone.

23. Free Bus Transportation – Most areas throughout Walt Disney World Resort, including theme parks, water parks, Resort hotels and the Downtown Disney area, are accessible by complimentary bus transportation. This is old news unless you are planning a first visit.

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Free things to do at Disney resorts, what can you do for free at Disney Resorts, Disney Resort tips

24. Online Check-In – As a free service to make your vacation less stressful, Disney allows you to start your check-in online beginning 60 days before your stay at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Then when you arrive, head to the Online Check-In Desk. Pick up your Welcome Folder and MagicBand/Key to the World card. Provide a valid photo I.D., complete your check-in, and you are on your way to fun.

25. Disney’s Magical Express – Enjoy complimentary transportation and luggage delivery to and from Orlando International Airport. Advance reservations are required. The Disney’s Magical Express bus stop is located just in front of all the resort lobbies.

26. Free Snack Samples– Many resorts are now offering cupcakes and assorted sugary goodies in their gift shops, kept in refrigerated cases for freshness. One excellent gift shop that comes to mind is Bay View Gifts, BVG, at the Contemporary Resort. Check the top of the snack case for occasional free snack samples like cookies and fudge. Theme park souvenirs can be delivered right to this Resort hotel at no extra charge, letting you keep your hands free while enjoying the parks.

27. Shampoos and Soaps – Shampoos and soaps at the resorts are lovely, created by a company called H2O just for Disney. We stopped bringing our own toiletries with us on vacation, and instead use the H2O soaps, conditioners, and shampoos. If you run out, run down the hall to Mouse Keeping and ask for extras. If you don’t mind paying a tip, call the front desk and ask for extras to be delivered to your room.

28. Hidden Mickey’s – Disney’s Imagineers have a fun tradition of incorporating “hidden” Mickey Mouse head silhouettes into their designs and construction, and lots of people enjoy hunting for them. Entire books are dedicated to finding them.

29. Hear a Holiday Performance – During the Christmas holidays, choirs, from elementary and middle school through retirement ages, are frequent presences in the resort lobbies signing holiday tunes. Don’t rush off to the theme parks; stop and sing along to a few songs.

30. Games Poolside –  In the last several years, Cast Members have taken up places poolside at all the Disney Resorts to lead children in trivia games, dance parties, ball games, hula hooping, and other activities throughout the afternoon. If you are taking a break from the parks or just cooling off in the pool, grab those kids and have them join the fun.

31. Package Deliveries – You can have any purchases you buy at the parks delivered to your resort for free. Now you don’t have to worry about buying those really large toys or heavy glass figures, but you still might have to figure out a way to get them home. However, don’t do this if you are leaving the very next day.

32. MagicBands and cards – MagicBands and cards are all-in-one devices that serve as your “ticket,” “room key” and more.For more info., use this link: Walt Disney World MagicBands: A Cheapskate Guide.

33.  Freshen Up – For registered resort guests, there are towels available that can be used in the pool side showers located in the bathrooms. Take a swim on check-out day. Want to speed up the showering process at night after a long day at the parks?  Send family to the showers near the pool. They are clean and smell lovely.

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130 Free Disney World Resort Activities

Specific Resorts

We tried to find activities that were specific to the individual resorts. Hopefully this will give you incentives to visit one day or make a reservation for a future vacation. Some activities are only available for resort guests, while others are available to anyone resort hopping. If you will need your MagicBand/Key to the World card, you will see that designated in red.

There are nightly camp fires and movies at all the resorts, so we did not list those individually. We did list the jogging trails individually, because each one is a different length.  This may help you make a plan to keep up with your fitness goals, especially if like me, you eat too many Disney cupcakes and Mickey Premium Ice Cream bars.

Art of Animation Resort

1. Take a Run/Walk – Jog on the 1.38-mile trail that curves along Hourglass Lake, passing colorful courtyards inspired by Walt Disney and Disney•Pixar classics CarsFinding NemoThe Lion King and The Little Mermaid. You are not that far of a walk over to the Pop Century Resort.

2. Take Photos – I realize you can take pictures at any of the Disney resorts, but some are more worthy than others of driving over with your camera. Finding Nemo, The Lion King, the Little Mermaid, and Cars themed decorations make for excellent free backdrops for family pictures.

All-Star Resorts

3. Take a Run/Walk –  A 1-mile-long, paved jogging trail connects Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, Disney’s All-Star Music Resort and Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort.

4. Take Some Photos – Again this is a resort worth walking around with a camera just  to get some unusual photos of your family with Disney “characters” that do not involve standing in line at a theme park. Snap photos with Herbie, The Love Bug, puppies from Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and residents of Andy’s Room from Disney’s Toy Story.

Animal Kingdom

5. Hear a Story – Just outside the main lobby, Animal Kingdom Lodge has a campfire with a storyteller each night. If you miss the story, pull up a seat and enjoy the fire. You might want to stand further back in the summer.

6. See Unusual Animals – Outside the lobby, you can see exotic African animals walking around on the “Arusha savanna.”  The best time to see the animals is generally regarded as dusk. Cast Members/Cultural Guides will answer questions about the kudu giraffe, zebra, ankole cattle, and other animals.

7.  Experience Night Vision– Disney Cast Members will be on hand at the viewing locations for several hours with night vision glasses for watching the animals in their natural habitats, just this time in the dark.

8. Resort tours – The restaurants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offer free 30-minute tours focusing on the culinary selections and architecture.  The three restaurants (Sanaa, Boma, and Jiko) offer dishes from African and India. These restaurants offer pre-dinner tours with samples of their unusual cuisine. For the Sanaa tour, meet at the Sanaa podium at 4pm. To tour Boma and Jiko, meet at the Jiko podium at 4pm.

9. Play Games – At the Community Hall at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village, you can play games like foosball, air hockey, pool, ping pong, darts and more. Guests may also make crafts, relax in the TV viewing areas, rent DVDs, join the “rainy day” activities and check out books. Amenities and activities are available to current Animal Kingdom Resort guests.  Most are complimentary, while some are available for a fee. Also found in the Community Hall is complimentary pool table. You will need your MagicBand/Key to the World Card.

10. Play Sports –  Play basketball on a half court near the shuffleboard and tennis courts. Like to play tennis?  Enjoy two lit hard courts and water fountains, located in the sports courts area.Complimentary equipment can be checked out from the Community Hall on a first-come, first-served basis by Guests staying at the resort using your

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Free at the Contemporary Resort

Beach & Yacht Club Villas

11. Take a Run/Walk – Remember you have your pick of several jogging paths, including a loop around Crescent Lake.  Play on the lit tennis court near Admiral Pool.

12. Play Some Sports – Enjoy a rousing game of volleyball? There’s a sand court near Tidal Pool, and complimentary volleyballs may be checked out from Ship Shape Health Club. You’ll need your your MagicBand/Key to the World card. Complimentary tennis balls and racquets for the tennis courts are available with your MagicBand/Key to the World card.

13. Holiday Decorations – During the Christmas holidays, you can see the “Holiday Village” in the resort lobby. Created by Cast Members, there’s a miniature train that makes its way through a quaint village over to a sugar rock mountain.

14. The Edible Carousel – Again during the Christmas holiday season, you can view a life-size, edible spinning Holiday Carousel. 2013 will mark 13 years the carousel has been created. Look for magical surprises and hidden Mickey’s hiding in the carousel’s décor.

Boardwalk Resort

*The Resort Itself

15. Take a Run/Walk – It’s a nice mile walk around Crescent Lake, and during your walk, you can see five different Disney resorts, The Boardwalk, The Yacht Club, The Beach Club, The Swan and The Dolphin, which all have beautiful lobbies just right for a FREE water break. The longest course follows Epcot Resorts Boulevard and Buena Vista Drive toward Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

16. Play a Sport – Enjoy a game of tennis? Complimentary tennis racquets and balls are available from Community Hall, a short walk from two lit courts available with your MagicBand/Key to the World card.

17. Play a Game – In the Ferris W. Eahlers Community Hall, you can play games like foosball, air hockey, pool, ping pong, darts and more. Guests may also make crafts, relax in the TV viewing areas, rent DVDs, check out books, and join “rainy day” activities.  Amenities and activities are available to current Guests of the Boardwalk Resort available with your MagicBand/Key to the World card.  Most games are free.

18. The Holiday Gazebo  – Gaze up at this merry gazebo in the lobby at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort and examine a scene made entirely out of gingerbread and chocolate. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for Hidden Mickeys just waiting to be discovered.

19. Stitch’s Bakery Store Front  – During Christmas, explore a Stitch-sized replica of the BoardWalk Bakery’s store front in the lobby. Keep a lookout for Lilo as Cast Members create gingerbread houses right in front of you.

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Grand Floridian Resort free activities

*The Boardwalk Just outside the Resort

20. Hear a Radio Show – ESPN has a live radio show on Disney’s Boardwalk at the ESPN Club. Sometimes you can catch a live interview with a celebrity athlete at one of these high-spirited sports-radio talk shows. This Disney link may provide more information. 

21. Watch a Performance – Often there are street performers like jugglers, comedians, fire-eaters, jazz ensembles, etc. in the evenings.

22. Do Some Dancing – Check out Atlantic Dance Hall, which has dancing to DJ spinning Top 40 hits, usually with no cover charge (21 and over).

23. Dance the Night Away – When the sun sets, the sounds and lights come to life in the elegant surroundings of a stunning Art Deco ballroom. Stars twinkle from the celestial ceiling over the expansive dance floor. Between tunes, take a break on one of the balconies with a romantic view Crescent Lake, which stretches from the edge of the Dance Hall to the BoardWalk and beyond. Atlantic Dance Hall is for Guests who are 21 years of age and older.

24. Dance Some More –  On Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday nights, request your favorite music videos and dance along with Video VJs. Whether your favorites are Duran Duran or the Black Eyed Peas, shake it to the music and images of popular bands on the big screen above. On Thursday and Friday nights, get caught in the musical crosshairs as dueling DJs trade fire across the dance floor.

25. Take a Boat Trip – Cruise the loop on a boat around Crescent Lake, which visits Epcot, Boardwalk, Yacht/Beach Club, Swan/Dolphin, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios without going into the parks.

26. Music & A Show – From the Boardwalk, walk over to the back gate of Epcot or over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios around closing time. Enjoy the music and perhaps catch a glimpse of IllumiNations or Fantasmic!  The bridge that goes over to the Swan and Dolphin sometimes has good views.

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels

27. Take a Run/Walk  – Enjoy a scenic, 0.8-mile loop around Crescent Lake. For a more challenging trek, 2-, 3- and 4-mile routes are also available.

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Disney free boat ride

Coronado Springs

28. Take a Run/Walk – This 0.75-mile-long promenade loops around Lago Dorado. Extend your outing with a jogging trail that leads to the Ranchos and Cabanas and reveals an idyllic wetlands area. Take a brisk 0.9-mile run or walk along the scenic trail that loops around 22-acre Lago Dorado.

29. Play a Sport – Join a friendly volleyball match on the white-sand court by the Dig Site pool complex. Volleyballs can be checked out from Siesta’s pool bar by Guests with your MagicBand/Key to the World card.

29.5 Let the Kids Play – The Dig Site pool complex has swings and a fantastic kid’s playground for a quick break.

Caribbean Beach Resort

30. Take a Run/Walk – This 1.4-mile promenade circles Barefoot Bay.

31. Play a Sport –  Join a friendly volleyball match on the beachside court at Barbados Village. Volleyballs may be checked out at the Marina by Guests with your MagicBand/Key to the World card.

Contemporary/ Bay Lake Tower Resorts

32. See Some Butterflies – Visit the Contemporary Resort Butterfly Garden, located on the left side of the resort as you walk out the back of the lobby towards the pool and Bay Lake.

33. Take a Run/Walk – Circle Bay Lake Tower and the South Garden Wing on the 0.9-mile, paved jogging path.

34. Play a Sport –  Enjoy a friendly beach volleyball match on the lakeside court. Complimentary volleyballs can be checked out at the Boat Nook Marina with your MagicBand/Key to the World card.

35. Play a Game – In the Bay Lake Tower Community Hall, enjoy complimentary pool, ping-pong, foosball, board games, puzzles, DVDs and rent video games. Equipment for basketball, bocce ball, tennis and shuffleboard can also be checked out here. Guests will need your your MagicBand/Key to the World card.

36. Kids Games – The chalkboard in the children’s area in the main lobby will announce games and crafts offered by the recreation team.You will frequently see Cast Members playing games and doing crafts by the huge floor to ceiling windows on the other end of the building from Chef Mickeys on the Grand Canyon Concourse level.

37. Gingerbread Holiday Tree  – During the Christmas holidays on the Grand Canyon Concourse, there is a a gigantic gingerbread holiday tree decorated with ornaments, candy canes and presents. You will often find Disney Characters here for photos, and if not, you can snap your own in front of a holiday background.

38. Grill Out – Resort guests can utilize the outside BBQ grill for dinner.

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Ft. Wilderness Campground

39. Butterflies – Just outside the Outpost, visit the butterfly garden.

40. Grill Out – Campground guests can utilize the outside BBQ grill to prepare your dinner.

41. Sing Some Songs – Ft. Wilderness Campground offers a step up from the usual resort camp fires. There is a free sing along with Chip and Dale near the Meadow Trading Post. This occurs every evening at approximately 7:00 p.m. in the fall/winter and 8:00 p.m. during spring/summer. The program starts with a sing-a-long and marshmallow roast. Chip and Dale meet the guests and sign autographs. Then a Disney movie is shown on a large outdoor screen. There is some seating on bleachers and benches, or you can lay out a blanket. No reservations are necessary, so you just show up and enjoy the fun.

42. Bring Your Pet – Of all the resorts at WDW, only Fort Wilderness allows you, on certain camping loops, to have your pet stay with you.

43. Take a Run/Walk – Enjoy a 2.5-mile-long pathway through Resort grounds. For a quick jaunt or to extend your workout, explore the 0.75-mile shaded fitness trail and bike path that connects Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Jog through lush meadows and pine and cypress groves. Maps are available from the Concierge.

44. Explore the Ranch – At the Tri-Circle-D Ranch to  through the stables to see Cinderella’s Ponies and the majestic horses of Main Street, U.S.A.. Watch the blacksmith make horseshoes and put them to horses’ hooves. Discover the Dragon Calliope—the horse-drawn musical instrument that Walt Disney purchased for the Mickey Mouse Club Circus Parade at Disneyland Park in the 1950s. There are many differnt variety of breeds that live at Tri-Circle-D Ranch, including Appaloosas, Arabians, Belgians, Clydesdales, paint horses, Percherons, quarter horses, and Shetland ponies

45. Shoot Some Hoops – There are several basketball courts located throughout Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Basketballs are available in a designated box at each court. If the box is empty, simply call Housekeeping from a Comfort Station phone and a basketball will be delivered to the court.

46. Play a Sport – Enjoy a game of volleyball?  There is a the sand court in the Meadow Recreation Area. Complimentary volleyballs can be checked out from the Bike Barn with your MagicBand/Key to the World card.

47. Dockside Fishing – All fishing at Walt Disney World Resort is catch-and-release only. Bing your own pole and fish the old-fashioned way in well-stocked waters. Casting-rod fishing gear can also be rented on-sit from the Bike Barn, but there will be a charge.

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Polynesian Resort Walking Trails

Grand Floridian

48. See the Fireworks – Watch the Wishes fireworks from the Grand Floridian boat dock. Narcoossees restaurant is nearby, and you can enjoy the fireworks synchronized to the music from their speakers.

49. Hear a Live Performance – There may be no better place in all of WDW to hear a live pianist and a Big Band performing Disney themed tunes, all for free. Little kids and adults alike will often dance along.

50. Take a Run/Walk  – This pathway runs along Seven Seas Lagoon. Approximately 1 mile long each way, it connects the 2 Resorts, passes Disney’s Wedding Pavilion and offers a view of Magic Kingdom park.

51. Gingerbread House – There is a life-size gingerbread house built in the lobby during the holidays. 2013 is the 15th Anniversary of the gingerbread house, which is the most spectacular of all the Disney Christmas decorations.

52. Meet Mickey & Minnie – During the Christmas holidays, a HUGE Christmas tree is erected in the middle of the lobby. Mickey and Minnie, all decked out in Christmas attire, appear by the tree for photos. Lines are not that long, so bring your camera and ask a Cast Member to snap a shot of the whole family.

53. Wash Your Hands – At Basin White, a retail store found in the main lobby, you can wash your hands with free salt and sugar scrubs. They also have free samples of hand lotions. This store smells simply wonderful, and your hands will feel silky smooth after you finish your wash.

Old Key West Resort

54. Play a Game – In the Conch Flats Community Hall, you can play games like foosball, air hockey, pool, ping pong, darts,  shuffleboard, and more Guests can make crafts, relax in the TV viewing areas, rent DVDs, join “rainy day” activities, and check out books. Amenities and activities are available to current Guests of the Resort your MagicBand/Key to the World card. Most are complimentary.

55. Play a Sport – Enjoy two lighted tennis courts near the main pool, plus a 3rd court on Old Turtle Pond Road. You can shoot some hoops at the court near Hospitality House and play a game of beach volleyball on the court near Hospitality House.  Complimentary racquets and tennis balls are available from Hank’s Rent ‘N. You can check out equipment for tennis, basketball and volleyball with your MagicBand/Key to the World card.

56. Get a Locker – Unlike at the water parks where you pay for your locker rentals, complimentary locker rentals are available near the main Old Key West pool. Take your MagicBand/Key to the World card to Hanks Rent ‘N Return with your for a locker key.

57. Take a Run/Walk – Beginning at Conch Flats, there is a 1.37-mile-long path that winds along the shimmering canal and the fairways of Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course.

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Polynesian Resort Free Activities

Polynesian Resort

58. Play a Sport –  Enjoy a friendly beach volleyball match on the lagoon-side court. Complimentary volleyballs may be checked out from Mikala Canoe Club Marina with your Key to the World card. The volleyball court is located on the beach between the Hawaii and Tahiti buildings.

59. Take a Run/Walk – Enjoy views of Magic Kingdom park, Disney’s Wedding Pavilion and more as you jog along the lagoon. This approximately 1-mile-long path connects Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

60. Do Some Dancing – Learn to Hula Dance at the Polynesian Hotel. You’ll learn a variety of native chants and dances from tropical locales.

Pop Century Resort

61. Take a Run/Walk  – Enjoy a breezy run or walk: Take a brisk one-mile jog around Disney’s Pop Century Resort complex.

Port Orleans Resort

62. Sing-along – Port Orleans-Riverside offers a seasonal “Campfire on de’ Bayou” with stories and sing-alongs around a fire at the Ol’ Man Island Fishin’ Hole.  There are no characters at this Sing A Long, unlike at Ft. Wilderness Campground, and this event usually runs in the winter (Halloween t0 March) for just a few nights a week (most recently, Sunday and Thursday), weather permitting. The front desk will have a schedule. No reservations necessary — just show up.

63. Take a Run/Walk  – Jog along the tranquil Sassagoula River on a 1.7-mile promenade connecting the Riverside and French Quarter Resort areas.

64. Go Fishin’ – Catch and release fish with your own fishing pole. If you need a pole, visit with an old-fashioned cane pole at the rustic wooded alcove on Ol’ Man Island.

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Saratoga Springs Resort

Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

65. Play a Game – At the Community Hall, you can play games like foosball, air hockey, pool, ping pong, darts and more! Guests may also make crafts, relax in the TV viewing areas, rent DVDs, join the “rainy day” activities and check out books. Amenities and activities are available to current Guests of the Resort with your MagicBand/Key to the World card. Most are complimentary

66. Play a Sport – Check out complimentary racquets and tennis balls and play on two clay courts located in the sport courts area. Equipment is available from Horsing Around Rentals with your MagicBand/Key to the World card. Courts are available on a first-come, first-served basis from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM. You can shoot some hoops on  a resort courts located in the sport courts area. Basketballs can be checked out from Horsing Around Rentals with your MagicBand/Key to the World card.

67. Take a Run/Walk – Run on paved pathways through this spacious Resort hotel and along the manicured greens of Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course. Designated jogging trails include 1.44-mile and 0.8-mile loops.

Wilderness Lodge

68. See a Geyser – Disney created a  mini version of the geyser Old Faithful, which erupts on the hour from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The geyser is located at the back of the property, past the pool, right on Bay Lake.

69. Resort Tours – The “Wonders of Wilderness Lodge” tour is open to any Disney resort-hotel guest.  The times are Wednesday through Saturday at 9 a.m. On the tour, a Wilderness Lodge guide walks the lodge with you, providing information that few visitors know.

70. Rail Road Memorabilia  – Walk from the main Lobby over to the Vacation Club Villas section to see the Walt Disney railroad memorabilia. If you enjoy Disney history, you probably know that Walt Disney was fascinated with steam trains. Wilderness Lodge is the host of a mini-museum of art, photographs, replicas, and actual artifacts from Walt’s hobby and Disney World’s earliest years.

71. Play Games by the Fire – In a corner of the Villas building at Wilderness Lodge in the Carolwood Pacific Room, you can spend the afternoon playing chess, sitting by the fireplace, or learn more about Walt Disney’s favorite hobby. This is a lovely, relaxing area of the Lodge. Pull up a chair by the fireplace and be sure you notice the fireplace screen featuring ironwork trains.

72. Warm Yourself by the Fireplace – There is a really large floor to ceiling fireplace in the lobby, with rocking chairs aplenty, that mimics the rock strata of the Grand Canyon.

73. Enjoy the Christmas Tree –  When the holiday season rolls around, a massive Christmas tree is erected in the center of the lobby. PhotoPass photographers are available to snap your picture, or you can just take your own photo.

74. Check Out the Indian Artifacts – Artifacts from a variety of Native American tribes, including the Cheyenne, Crow, Sioux and Blackfoot, have been collected, re-created, and displayed throughout Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Authentic reproductions of headdresses, painted robes and drums, as well as work from artists noted for their reverence for nature, can be seen in the lobby’s secluded alcoves and throughout the Resort’s restaurants and sitting rooms.

75. Carved Totem Poles – There are two hand-carved totem poles, both 55-feet tall, with one topped with a raven and the other with an eagle. All the animals carved into these totems depict Native American myths and legends. By Wilderness Lodge Mercantile,there is a 10-foot totem pole with carvings of Donald Duck, Goofy, and Mickey Mouse.

76. Go On a Bear HuntWildernesslodgesite.com says the Lodge is the first Disney Resort Hotel to have an official mascot, the brown bear, who is found all over the resort in cartoon and silhouettes. They report, “It’s a little known, but confirmed, fact that the shadows cast by the resort’s multi-peaked roof structure were designed to resemble a bear! You can see this well if you look at the resort from the vantage point of Bay Lake.” If you are on a boat approaching the resort, a Cast Member told me the windows also seem to resemble a bear face…don’t forget to look as you approach the lodge from the water.

77. Mickey Hunt – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has a special self-guided Hidden Mickey hunt available to everyone. Just stop at the front desk and ask for the paper describing the clues for the hunt, then spend an afternoon exploring the resort.

And we already mentioned the walking trail above to the Wilderness Campground.

Free at Disney World Resorts

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Not Specific to the Just the Resorts, but Still Free!

1. Transportation Trading Cards – Cast Members on the various forms of Disney transportation may have transportation trading cards.As you are getting on or off teh resort bus,  ask if your driver has any available. Sometimes they are out of stock, so if you strike out with one Cast Member, just ask the next one.

2. Trading Pins –Disney Pin Trading is an exciting, interactive experience where our Guests can trade Disney pins with our Disney Cast Members and other Guests. It’s fun for the whole family and CREATES cherished “pin pals.”  Start a new collection or exchange pins for the ones you’ve always wantedWhile Disney trading pins are not free, actually trading them is. There are  Trading Pin boards you can find around the resorts and gift shops, and Cast Members wear lanyards for trading. Guests can make up to two pin trades per cast member per day

3. Trading Vinylmations – Vinylmations are no longer being traded since this article was published in 2013, but we left this information here because they are still for sale in resort and park gift shops. 

The name Vinylmation is a combination of the word Animation and Vinyl. The figures are all shaped like Mickey Mouse but have different themed markings, colors, and patterns. There are designated places where guests may trade figures with Cast Members. Trading now takes place at select Disney Stores as well.

Disney Parks allow people to trade in their Vinylmations for either one out of a mystery box numbered one through 24, or for one in a small clear case. If you do not like the Vinylmation from the mystery box then you may trade with one of three in a clear case that you can see which ones there are. Each store has a slight variation on these rules but generally you can trade up to two times per person.

4. Search for Hidden Mickeys  – Search for the Hidden Mickeys hidden all around the resorts. These are the three circles that make up the Mickey logo. They are all over!

5. Keep a Map – There are time schedules and park maps at the resort front desks. These are great to to put in scrap books later. The maps are colorful and kids to look at them when they get home. They are also great to put in picture frames.

6. Free Stickers -There are Cast Members running all over will hand you a free stickers. No only great for t-shirt decorations, but stickers are also great mementos for scrap books.

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Boardwalk Resort Free Activities

7. Free Water – And I’m not talking about the water fountain or lake water here. Visit any food counter service restaurant and ask for a cup of ice water.

8. Kids Under 3 Eat Free – Children under the age of three eat for free at Disney’s buffet and family-style table service restaurants. Do you even need another reason to schedule a vacation with toddlers?

9. Package Deliveries – You can have any purchases you buy at the parks delivered to your resort for free. Now you don’t have to worry about buying those really large toys or heavy glass figures, but you still might have to figure out a way home.

10. Get a Button– Special occasion buttons are given to celebrate a Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, 1stVisit, and Just Married. Special events like this can be celebrated six months before the actual date and six months after the date, so go ahead and celebrate with a button.

Other General Freebies

11. PhotoPass – While you do have to purchase PhotoPass itself, Cast Members who take photos do it for free. You can also then view your PhotoPass photos online for free.  For more detailed information, use this link.  

12. Phone App.– My Disney Experience is an iPhone app. that helps you plan your next vacation. Make dining and reservations, see maps and wait times, and even book your next vacation. (That could be financially dangerous for some of you!) For more detailed information, use this link.  

Seven Seas Lagoon

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13. Order Free Maps. You’ll need a Disney account online to do it, but go to Disney World Customized Maps and order FREE maps of the parks. Pick your family’s favorite park activities and attractions and then have them delivered to your door!

This link no longer works since this article was published in 2013, but we kept in in case they should activate it again. The link now goes to #14 listed below.

14. Google Maps – Google maps have some really cool, almost-cartoon-like maps of the Disney parks and resorts. These are great for kids entertainment and adults that need a mental vacation.  Use this link: FREE Disney Virtual Vacation…Check Out the Walt Disney World “Parks” Maps.

15. Free Planning DVDs –  To request a free planning DVD, use this link. Here’s what you get.

  •  A complete tour of the 4 Theme Parks, 2 Water Parks and over 20 Resort hotels at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida
  • A tour of the Disneyland Resort in California, including 2 enchanting Theme Parks and 3 Resort hotels
  • Affordable ways to play and stay during your Disney vacation
  • Pocket-sized planning guides, planning tips, and information on special events

16. Enjoy Ice Cream – Take the free Disney Vacation Club tour, and you will receive free ice cream at the end for your entire family in a private ice cream parlor. A running joke in my family is why remodel the living room when I can put in an ice cream parlor.

17. Free Tickets – Kids under the age of three do not pay admission to Disney World Theme parks.

18. Free Photographer – Many guests assume PhotoPass is not useful for them if they’re not going to purchase the it. The truth is any PhotoPass Cast Member will take photos of you with your own camera. All you have to do is ask.

Disney's Yacht Club Resort

So add all that up and you get almost 130 FREE activities at or for the Disney World Resorts, whether you are a registered guest or just a guest for the afternoon.

Leave us a comment and let us know if you remembered anything we forgot…

And while you’re here, be sure to read our most popular articles ever:

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Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you grabbing a front row seat by the resort fireplace. If you ever spent time at a Deluxe Resort, only to drive back to your way less expensive hotel, then you just might be a Cheapskate Princess!

 

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Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Julie, Elizabeth, and Erin, our Disney Vacation Planners with Destinations in Florida travel.

You can also e-mail them at cp@destinationsinflorida.com.

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

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-costal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Princess Travel Experts with Destinations in Florida travel, Julie, Elizabeth, and Erin. You can also e-mail them at cp@destinationsinflorida.com.