Walt Disney World - Free & Cheap Things To Do

Some of the FREE Disney-themed items on this page are direct from Disney, while others are provided by independent Disney fan sites, manufacturers and other sources. All of them are fun, FREE or inexpensive!

FREE Disney Recipes

Here are some sites where you can get Disney-related recipes for FREE:

Intercot Info Central - lots of recipes, mainly from the resort restaurants

Walt DisneyWorld Recipes -  comprehensive site for Disney-related recipes.

Free for All Guests

Free Official Disney World Planning Videos

This is a freebie anyone can get before their trip. Just click this link, sign up with your address, and Disney will give you access to online videos about planning your Walt Disney World vacation for absolutely free. If you’ve never been to Disney World, this is a no-brainer, as you can find out more about the attractions, parks, restaurants, and resorts.

Free Customizable Stick Figure Family Decal

Disney has a great, fun online tool to create a Disney Parks family stick figure decal. You can include each member of the family, and deck them out with Disney accessories like Dole Whips, Mickey Ears, and turkey legs. You can even pose your family in front of your favorite Disney Park. If you’re a US Resident, Disney will actually print out and send you your customizable decal.

Celebration Buttons

If you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or any other life accomplishment, go to the Guest Services desk at any of the parks. Tell them what you’re celebrating, and the cast member will give you a free special occasion button. For certain buttons, they’ll even write your name on it (and usually adorn it with Mickey ears). This is not only a great keepsake from your vacation, but wearing the pin will even get you some attention. Cast members and other guests are bound to tell you “Happy Birthday” or “Congratulations!”

Free Ice Water or Cup of Ice at Counter Service Restaurants

Free ice water is essential on a hot Orlando day. Skip the $2.50 bottles of Dasani, head to a counter service restaurant in any of the parks, and ask for a large cup of ice water. This also works for hot water, so you can bring packets of instant coffee with you into the parks.

Free International Soda at Club Cool

Club Cool is an amazing spot in Future World. They offer free samples of Coke products from around the world. This former hidden gem has gained popularity in recent years.

Free Concerts at Epcot

Throughout the year, Epcot will have free concerts at the America Gardens Theatre, near the American Adventure. With the Flower Power Concerts at the Flower and Garden Festival, the Sounds Like Summer series, Eat to the Beat during Food and Wine, and the Candlelight Processional during the Holidays, chances are that there will be a special performance at Epcot while you’re staying. Be sure to check the Times Guide for more information.

Free Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing

If you can make your way to the Polynesian, you can watch the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks from the beach without having to pay for entry to the park. They even pipe in the music. This is especially great during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, as this is the only way to watch those fireworks without buying a ticket to the party. This also works at the Ticket and Transportation Center (which provides a surprisingly nice view), the Grand Floridian, or the Contemporary’s California Grill (although you have to eat dinner there to watch the fireworks).

Free Illuminations (Epcot) Fireworks Viewing

If you’re at the Boardwalk, head towards the International Gateway (aka back entrance) of Epcot. Along this path you’ll be able to see Illuminations. Our favorite spot is the bridge near ESPN Club.

Free Electrical Water Pageant Viewing

Want a retro light parade to round out your night at Disney World? Then head to one of the resorts around the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake to check out this quaint show featuring floats of a dragon, the American flag, and (my favorite) a dancing octopus. The Electrical Water Pageant takes off by the Grand Floridian/Polynesian at around 9 pm nightly and makes its way towards the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness.

Free Wifi

At all parks and Disney World resorts. Stay connected without hitting your data-cap. This is vital, since the MyDisneyExperience app has become such a crucial part of the WDW experience. The Wifi at Disney World has actually gotten quite fast and reliable.

Free Ghirardelli Chocolate Samples

Head to the Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop in Disney Springs(formerly Downtown Disney), and you’ll see an employee near the entrance with a basket handing out free squares of Ghirardelli chocolate. Samples change season to season, so this is worth repeat visits. One square per guest per visit.

Free Disney transportation

All Disney bus transportation is free. For example, you can park for free at Disney Springs and ride Disney buses to any hotel to check it out. 
You can ride the monorails for free.  You can visit the hotels on the Magic Kingdom monorail line OR ride the monorail that goes between EPCOT and the Disney Transportation & Ticket Center(by the Magic Kingdom).

You can ride the boats for free:
1) The Disney Boardwalk area boats that go between EPCOT, Disney Studios, Swan/Dolphin, Beach and Yacht Club, and the Boardwalk are all free to ride.
2) The boats at Disney Springs that cross the lake AND also service hotels such as Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside resorts, etc.
3) The boats on Bay Lake that go between Disney's Wilderness Lodge, Contemporary Resort, and For Wilderness.
4) The paddle boats between the Disney Transportation & Ticket Center and the Magic Kingdom are free to ride.

Free Animal Viewing

Animal Kingdom Lodge for free animal viewing. Both sections back up to the theme park animal areas and you can see some of the animals for free.

Free Live Entertainment

In the Grand Floridian lobby from late afternoon into the night, you can enjoy performances by solo expert pianists and the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra (that plays ragtime, Dixie, traditional jazz and popular Disney tunes)

 

Places to Visit

Disney’s BoardWalk
Disney’s BoardWalk is built around a lake and is beautifully themed to be reminiscent of Cape May or Coney Island in the 1940s. It’s fun just walking around and enjoying the atmosphere! If you are staying on Disney property, you can use Disney transportation to get to the BoardWalk. If you drive to the BoardWalk, you can get a FREE 3-hour parking permit from the lot attendant. While some of the restaurants are open at lunchtime, the best time to visit the BoardWalk is after sunset. It’s beautifully lit up.

Some of the FREE and inexpensive things you can do at Disney’s BoardWalk:

  • Often there are street performers (jugglers, comedians, fire-eaters, jazz ensembles, etc.) in the evenings — stroll around and watch them!
  • There are lots of vendors selling inexpensive food treats.
  • You can try your luck at a carnival-style game (small cost).
  • Sit and watch the Friendship Boats come and go.
  • Visit Jellyroll’s (a dueling piano bar featuring sing-a-longs to your favorite pop tunes) for a $12 per person cover charge (21 and over).
  • Check out Atlantic Dance Hall, which has dancing to DJ-spun Top 40, usually with no cover charge (21 and over).
  • Rent an old-fashioned fringe-topped surrey

Disney Springs
If you like to shop (or window shop), you’ll enjoy this attractive shopping and restaurant zone, which also offers some great FREE entertainment. If you are staying on Disney property, you can use Disney transportation to get to Disney Springs. If you are staying at a Disney Spring resort area hotel, you can take the bus or walk. Otherwise you’ll probably need to drive or take a taxi. Parking is FREE.

Some of the FREE and inexpensive things you can do at Disney Springs:

  • Check out the wonderful interactive fountains where children (and adults who have the guts) may enjoy playing and getting wet. The new expansion also added a whole artificial spring, which is just fun to wander around and look at. In the middle of the main pool, you can see a gentle burbling which is supposed to be the actual spring itself. There’s a cool functioning archimedes screw which you can spin to pull water up out of the spring, plus fun little details built into the architecture and signage all around the spring itself.
  • Take a look at the fanciful paintings of Disney Springs in years past that are displayed on the walls in the Welcome Center (which is the new Guest Relations booth for the Marketplace side of Disney Springs). You can see the supposed “history” of Disney Springs, and the origins of the various buildings and features scattered around the area, all of which were fabricated out of whole cloth by the wizards at Disney Imagineering. The Welcome Center also has air conditioning, comfy chairs and FREE ice water.
  • The Lego Imagination Center has a FREE 3,000-square-foot outdoor play area filled with thousands of LEGO blocks, plus some absolutely amazing and huge Lego sculptures for you to admire! Also, it normally participates in the Monthly Mini Model Build (usually first Tuesday of the month, starting at 5:00 pm), where kids ages 6-14 can build and take home a FREE mini model! Click here to see upcoming events at the Lego Imagination Center.
  • Ride on the Marketplace Carousel. The cost $3 per person. Children under 42 inches must be accompanied by an adult, but the adult is not required to pay.
  • Most of the restaurants are quite expensive, but you can get a meal (sandwich, side and drink) at Earl of Sandwich for under $10 per person.
  • Amorette’s Patisserie is a nifty place to check out, just to see the details the Imagineers have filled the place with. If you want to get a snack, the best deal in terms of food value is the banana-hazelnut crepe, which is pretty substantial for $7. Don’t make the mistake of walking around with it; it’s messier than you’d think.
  • Visit the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop and enjoy a sundae (as of mid-2017 their fancy specialty sundaes are about $11.95, but you can get a single large scoop with hot fudge for $6.25, or a double scoop for $8.05, plus any free toppings you want including nuts, cherries, sprinkles or chocolate chips) or a shake (about $6.50 – $8.50). Go into the chocolate shop side of the store and they will usually give you a FREE chocolate sample!
  • There are multiple locations where individual musicians and bands perform in the evening, ranging from full-scale cover bands and dance bands to individual performers with just a guitar and microphone. Two places they usually show up are the small courtyard just next to the Boathouse, and the crossroads where the main walkway meets the walkway to the Orange parking garage. Entertainment is scheduled from about 7 PM to 11 PM (with breaks) most evenings during mid and high season and weekends during low season.
  • House of Blues frequently offers free live music at its Front Porch Bar – enjoy for the cost of a drink! (21 and over)
  • Raglan Road often has free live music in the bar, particularly on weekends – enjoy for the cost of a drink! (21 and over)

Celebration
Just a ten-minute drive from Disney World you can travel back in time to find the town of Celebration, a planned community originally developed by the Walt Disney Company. This is a pedestrian-friendly, wonderful small town (think Mayberry!) You can have a great time exploring the old-fashioned downtown area called Market Street. Here are some ideas to take advantage of during your tour, that will cost you little or nothing, as well as a couple of splurges to consider.

  • Explore the Lakeside Promenade or the miles of walking paths and nature trails.
  • Window-shop on Market Street, which has wonderful specialty stores, boutiques and galleries.
  • Market Street often has different events scheduled each month, such as craft festivals, antique car shows, etc. During the winter holidays, Market Street hosts an event called “Now Snowing Nightly” — it “snows” on Celebration’s main street four times a night and the town provides entertainment and a visit to Santa in his lakeside chalet, all for FREE! Click here to see what’s going on at Market Street.
  • Visit the Bohemian Hotel Celebration, located right downtown. Sit in one of the oversized wicker chairs, people-watch, and have a drink or coffee at the lobby bar.
  • Have an appetizer or dessert at one of the varied restaurants including award-winning Spanish and Cuban cuisine!
  • Pick up some picnic items and head over to the Interactive Fountain to let the kids (or you) have a splash!
  • Treat yourself to an ice-cream or lemonade from Kilwins Ice Cream and then enjoy it relaxing in one of the rocking chairs by the lake.

The Disney Wilderness Preserve
About 20 miles south of Orlando, at the headwaters of the Everglades ecosystem, is The Nature Conservancy’s Disney Wilderness Preserve. Here you can observe native plants and animals by hiking a 2 1/2-mile trail.

The Preserve is open 9:00 am – 5:00 pm daily (including weekends) November through March. It is closed on most holidays and closed on weekends March through October. Admission is FREE, though donations are appreciated. Before visiting, please call the preserve at (407) 935-0002, as there may be limited access due to flooding or restoration activities.

 

 

 

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