Walt Disney World and Disneyland can be extremely expensive vacation destinations. My son and I saved for a trip to Disney World and when we vacationed there in 2008, it cost well over $2,000! Of course, that included our stay at an on-site resort as well as our food plans.
We all want to find ways to save as much money on our vacations as possible, which is why I’ve put together your guide of free things you can get or do at Disney. Disney makes it easy to spend money in the parks, but we’re going to show you how to cut some corners!
Photos With Disney Characters
Photographers will be all over the parks trying to take photos of your family, and then charge you for it! If you see a character, just wait in line and ask the cast member to use your phone to take a picture. The Disney Photo Pass Services is a nice one to have, however, because it means that you don’t have to carry a camera around if you want less to carry. They can also capture “Magic Shots” in which Disney characters appear in your photos – something you won’t be able to capture with your smartphone or camera. But, if you just want a few memories of the castle or the fireworks, then skip paying for photos and take them yourself.
Autographs From The Disney Characters
Disney will have plenty of opportunities for you to purchase autograph books in the park, or you can bring your own along! Disney characters will sign anything as long as it’s not an item you’re wearing. Bring along a t-shirt, a story book, a pillow case, photo frame matte, apron, hat, backpack, poster, or an autograph book your kids have made. Be sure to bring a big fat Sharpie marker, too. It’s hard to grip smaller pens when you’re wearing a costume.
Water, Which You’ll Need On A Hot Day At Disney
Did you know that you can walk up to any counter service in the parks and get free water? They are not allowed to deny a Disney guest water. It may be in a small cup, but it is still free water! A couple of times, we were able to specifically ask for a larger cup and got one.
You have no idea how magical ice cold water can feel on a hot day in Orlando.
Free Soda At Disney?
Stop by the Cool Club in Epcot at Disney World where you can try different Coca-Cola products from around the world for FREE! You can even go back and have multiple samples.
You can also purchase a refillable mug and fill ‘er up at Sunshine Seasons and Electric Umbrella at Epcot, Tortuga Tavern and Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, Backlot Express in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Restaurantosaurus & Satu’li Canteen in Disney’s Animal Kingdom You must remember to follow the refillable mug rules!
Free Buttons or Stickers
If you go to any resort or park entrance, they will have a counter where you can grab free Mickey Mouse stickers! Don’t forget to tell your resort of park counter if you are celebrating a special occasion. They will give you a FREE Disney pin!
When my son and I visited, I had no idea these existed! It would have been cool to walk around Disney World showing off our first visit buttons.
Free Pin Trading At Disney
One thing we were aware about before heading to Disney was pin trading. You can walk around the park and trade any pins you have with Cast Members around the park! Any cast member who has a lanyard can trade! These make great souvenirs for kids, and is great free fun!
You’ll also want to hit Pin Traders at Downtown Disney, pin boards placed behind registers, the Pin Drum at the photo purchase area of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, the Pin Oven Mitt at Main Street Confectionary in Magic Kingdom, the Pin trading book at African Outpost in Epcot, the Frontier Trading Post board at Magic Kingdom, and other places the park posts pins. This is because most people approach cast members, so their pins are usually pretty well picked over.
A Free Movie To End Your Day At Disney
Sitting poolside or surrounded by the wild woods, the hotels at Disney parks take turns showing outdoor movies. The films are always family-friendly and completely free.
Wilderness Campfire with Chip and Dale
If you’re near the Fort Wilderness resort, you can take your own marshmallows to roast over a fire while you watch a film with Chip and Dale! It’s also a great way to get the kids settled before bed after an exciting day at the parks.
Visit the Animals at the Animal Kingdom Lodge
There are over 100 grazing animals on the property at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It costs nothing to view them, and there’s even a place for kids to play musical instruments in the gift shop. Cast Members who work in the area are very knowledgeable about the animals and can tell you all about them.
If you are staying at one of the on-property resorts, Disney offers free transportation to and from each of the parks! Buses, monorail, and ferries go to and from the park every single day and you don’t have to worry about finding parking.
This is especially convenient if you have younger ones who have to nap during the day or if you want to take advantage of longer hours at the park.