We all know the Most Magical Place on Earth can leave a not-so-magical dent in your wallet. From resort rates to dining to souvenirs, it seems like we’re pulling out the plastic (or, now, the MagicBands) every time we turn around at Walt Disney World. Believe it or not, there are a some freebies to be had around the World, and, no, you won’t have to sit through a Disney Vacation Club presentation for these.
Here are my top 10 freebies at Walt Disney World. Be sure to add your favorites to the list in the comments below.
1. Ice Water
If you’re a frequent Park Wise reader, you should know this little tidbit by now. If the cost of bottled water makes you sweat, step into a counter service location and request a cup of ice water. It tastes better than the fountains, less cumbersome than having to tote around bottles in your backpack and, hopefully, some kid didn’t have his mouth on the spout before you got your drink. Oh, and it’s free! Really! You don’t have to order anything else. Just enjoy your h2o, and get back out into the park!
2. Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Cards
You, yes, you can help save the day at Magic Kingdom when you accept the appointment of sorcerer’s apprentice and aid Merlin in battling the forces of evil throughout the flagship Florida park. This interactive game takes place at various locations, and your magic spell cards are the keys to the kingdom. Sure, you can buy packs of cards, but you can also start your journey with a free set! Stop at the fire station on your way into the park (or near the Christmas Shop) to receive your cards and start the game.
Get Park Wise: Guests must use their ticket/band to sign up and receive their free cards. Tickets that haven’t been used for entry that day can’t be redeemed, so if Uncle Fred is still asleep in the room, his ticket can’t be used for extra cards.
3. Art Class
Take a break from the heat or an afternoon storm inside the Animation Academy at Hollywood Studios. Classes are held approximately every half hour and last about twenty minutes. Led by a Disney animator, you’ll learn to draw some of Disney’s most famous animated faces. I’m an admittedly horrible artist, and all of my drawings have come out looking like the real thing, so don’t worry about skill here. Be aware that if you take the class at Disney Quest, the resulting drawing is not complimentary, but you’re free to take your work of art home at no charge from Hollywood Studios.
4. International Soda
Stop in at Club Cool for a little refreshment while wandering Future World at Epcot. There are several fountains featuring different sodas from all over our planet. Sample-sized cups are available at no charge, and you’re welcome to try each offering. A great spot to cool off and quench your thirst without reaching into your wallet.
Get Park Wise: If you’re traveling with a first-timer, make sure they try the Beverly! And for extra points, have your camera ready to record their reaction.
If you’re wandering Downtown Disney, be sure to stop in at Ghiradelli and indulge in the sample of the day. Sure it’s a single square and will be gone in about 30 seconds, but isn’t free chocolate always worth a mention?
6. Grown-Ups Night Out
Drop the babes at the kids’ club or leave them with the grandparents and head over to the Boardwalk. Featuring live entertainment in the evenings, as well as plenty of food and drink options along the planks, the Boardwalk is also home to Atlantic Dance Hall. Boasting no cover charge, the hall is open nightly from 9:00 P.M. To 1:45 A.M. I will say that it’s not always the liveliest club scene around, but it’s a nice spot to grab a drink, and if you’re with your own crew, you can pretty much dance like idiots and not be too worried about many other people, uh, admiring your moves. Of course, once you start buying drinks, you’re reaching back into your wallet, but it’s nice not shelling out a cover in this day and age.
7. Resort Tours
Several of the deluxe properties such as the Boardwalk Inn and Wilderness Lodge offer resort tours several days a week. These tours are free of charge and open to any Disney guest, not just those staying at the respective resort. Most tours are a little under an hour and take place in the morning. Contact the front desk of your desired resort for more information.
8. Celebration Buttons
Although many bits of magic may befall you as a result of advertising your celebration, these pins are the only guaranteed tangible freebie you’ll get celebrating your special occasion with the mouse. Pins can be picked up at the front desk at any Disney resort, as well as guest relations in the parks. Wear your birthday/graduation/wedding/etc. pin proudly, and you might just snag a few other freebies during your trip.
9. Campfire and Movies
Ready to relax after a day in the parks? Several resorts offer a nightly campfire and marshmallow roast. While marshmallow packs were once a costly (well, compared to a pack at your local grocery) investment at the campfires, they’ve been given as part of the campfire experience (aka free of charge) the last several times we sidled up to the pit. S’more kits seem to be a thing of the past now, but you’re free to pack a couple of grahams and chocolate bars to add to the fun. After your ‘mallows are roasted, head over to the movie under the stars. Check out the signage for a schedule of movies throughout the week.
10. More Campfire Fun
Kick it up a notch by heading over to Fort Wilderness and join in on the campy fun with your favorite chipmunks at Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long. Bring your own s’more supplies for a truly free experience, or purchase a kit at the snack bar. After the sing-a-long, bid the boys farewell and stay for a movie. Benches are provided, but feel free to tote your own lawnchairs (probably only part of your gear if you’re staying at Fort Wilderness) or blankets to enjoy the show.
What are your favorite free experiences, edibles or souvenirs at Walt Disney World?
MiceChatters, it’s your chance to be a part of Park Wise! Although Walt’s park was my original Disney home, we tend to head East more often these days. I love a freebie, and Disneyland definitely needs her own freebie column! Email me (Jessica@FairyGodmotherTravel) your favorite Disneyland freebie along with your name (or user name), and it may be featured in the Disneyland freebies column!