10 Freebies at Walt Disney World

Written by Jessica Ma'ilo. Posted in Disney, Disney Hollywood Studios, Disney Parks, Epcot, Features, Magic Kingdom, Park Wise, Walt Disney World

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Published on April 03, 2014 at 3:00 am with 23 Comments

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

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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.

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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.

 

5. Chocolate

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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!

 

About Jessica Ma'ilo

Jessica is a special education teacher by day and blogger and Fairy Godmother Travel agent by evening. When not supervising play dates or sleepovers, she can be found creating, sewing or singing. She loves hitting the Disney Parks, and she and her family escape to the World and Land as often as they can. She can be contacted at [email protected], and you can also check out her family blog, Magic, Memories, Mayhem.

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  • ParkerMonroe

    Hate to tell you, none of this is actually “free”.

    Regarding the Resort specific offerings (camp fires, tours, buttons, Atlantic Dance Hall): at an average of $500 per night… trust me… you’re paying for these bonuses. In fact, I’d go so far to say if you’re not using these resort benefits you’re getting ripped off.

    Likewise, a single day park ticket is now $100 per person per day. That easily pays for the “free” soda, art class, and trading card game.

    • BradyNBradleysMom

      @ParkerMonroe — I don’t know if your approach is one I would take to this or the parks. I consider all of the above “free” because they are things that I could see costing an extra charge, but they don’t. Anyone who is there can take advantage of them, which is wonderful. Most happen to be things I never thought to do.

      Let’s be real about the admission cost to the parks: it’s not really $100, not if you buy multi-day passes like most people do. For instance, my friend is going to be in the parks in the end of May and she has a 6-day pass for her family. I think it works out to like $30 or $40 per day by that sixth day. So, saying admission is $100 a day is true only if you are buying single day tickets.

      Know how much I paid per ticket to see a Broadway show last time I was in NYC? $137 and the show was not that great and I did not have the best seats. Know how much a ticket to a football game costs in Chicago near where I live? Easily around $150 for decent seats. And that’s for about 4 hours of entertainment, max. Concert tickets are much higher for good seats and that’s just a few hours as well.

      A whole day in a Disney park is worth $100 to me but thankfully when buying the multi-day passes it’s never that expensive.

      • disneygeek24

        I agree with @BradyNBradleysMom I personally think a Disney trip is a lot more affordable than other entertainment. the “whose line is it anyway?” comedy tour just came through my town and good seat near the front were $120 and the show lasted i would say 2 hours max.

        I think what the author was saying is since you are already at the park these are extra added bonuses you can do free of charge without having to pay more out of pocket. Ya of course in the grand scheme of things we are in a way paying for it but also in the grand scheme of things it really is free!

      • jcruise86

        Good post, BradyNBradley’s mom! Skiing is not too cheap either, nor is white water rafting, or ziplining–unless you do it at the L.A. County Fair, which I do recommend, btw–$10 per person when were there at a slow time, but I digress.

        Here in California my daughter and I have enjoyed the free storytelling near the fireplace in the Grand Californian at least 3 times though we’ve never stayed there. And we’ve heard excellent Christmas Caroling quartets there at least three times too.

        I find that employees at Disneyland and Knott’s have always been been very nice about letting us have free cups of ice water–and they’ve been full size cups–not the little plastic ones fast food restaurants give you as retribution for not spending money on soft drinks.

        Does EPCOT’s Club Cool still serve Beverly? I thought that it was discontinued in some countries were it used to sell.

        THANKS again, Jessica, for writing on Micechat!

      • jcruise86

        Tom’s typo time:
        1st paragraph: insert “we” before “were,”
        and in the penultimate paragraph: “were” should be “where.”

      • Alltwelve

        right on BradyNBradleysMom!

        I just paid quite a chunk of change to go to a Bruno Mars concert, and though I had a great time (amazing show!), if I had a choice between a 90-minute concert and a day at the parks, I would totally spend a day at a park. And you’re right about the $100; there are many discounts available if you’re smart about it and it does work out to be cheaper per day than it used to be.

        Don’t get me wrong, it still makes me sick to my stomach sometimes when I see how high the prices of certain items are (Mickey Mouse ear hats and Food and Wine Festival nibbles are at the top of my price complaint list), and though I understand ParkerMonroe’s point (though, looking at everything, pretty much nothing is free these days), its nice to be able to take a free art class or sample sodas from around the world. Just have fun!!!

      • ParkerMonroe

        Trust me, I understand the “perceived value” sales strategy.

        Comparing the price of a Disney Park ticket [specifically] to a Broadway/Football ticket was a carefully crafted Eisner-era dynamic marketing tactic that, apparently, has worked quite well. You, and many others, joyfully repeat it as a way to prove to yourself (and others) that you got value for your hard earned dollars.

        Truly, the man could sell snow to eskimos.

        Paying $150 for one seat at a 3-hour sporting event is absurd. Comparing that over-inflated price to something else and then calling the comparison a “value” is even more ridiculous.

        That’s like having $10,000 to spend on a car. The salesman shows you $20,000 vehicles and you finally settle on a $14,000 car and then tell everyone you gopt a real deal and saved $6,000. No… you overpaid by $4,000.

        However, I also understand market demand. If companies raise the price higher than the public is willing to pay… people stop paying. That’s just economics 101. So… apparently people are completely happy and willing to part with their hard-earned cash and receive less and less each time. The Park’s soaring attendence records is all anyone needs to prove that. Disney is in a very unique place and they’re taking full advantage of it. They raise their prices and attendence goes up. So they double-down and raise their prices again. Even more people show up. Who’s to stop them? If I were in their place I’d keep going until the market slowed (people stopped showing up). That’s just smart business.

        All I’m saying is… don’t fool yourself into believing free ice water is some sort of magical bonus or that Disney is benevolent for “giving away” tiny little cups of soda. They’re a business and they’re VERY good at math.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Resort specific offerings are open to all, not just those staying at that (or even Disney) resorts. And if you want to get down to it, not much is actually free, but this is a fun article meant to give tourists a few “no extra charge” ideas to add to their vacation. If it’s not your cup of tea, by all means, don’t take advantage, but no reason to poo-poo on those who may find these tips helpful.

  • WDWHound

    Great article. I have been going to WDW regularly for years, but I didn’t know about the free ice water. I figured they would charge for the cup or something like that. Its a small thing, but its nice to know.
    Regarding the comments in the previous post: Yes, technically many of these things aren’t free in the literal sense of the word, but they are things you might expect to pay for on top of your admission or hotel costs. A better term might have been “included in the cost of admission”, but that seems like picking nits. I think the word free fits the spirit of I the author was trying to communicate.

    • WDWHound

      That last line should be “I think the word free fits the spirit of what the author was trying to communicate.”

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Always nice to snag a refreshing swig of filtered h2o without shelling out for it.

  • DisneySam

    Here’s the thing, you don’t have to be a resort guest to watch the movies or gather around the fire and roast marshmallows. They don’t check to see if you have a resort ID first before allowing you to do any of those things.

    There is also the map and talisman that you get when you do the pirate’s adventure in Adventureland and the Wilderness Explorer’s Guide in Animal Kingdom. The point to illustrating some of these items, and the Sorceror’s cards, was to make mention of a free souvenir when you participate.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Absolutely! The in-park freebies may be technically “included in your admission cost,” but if I’m not paying extra, I’m happy!

  • waymire01

    One freebie we enjoyed was the “kids club” thing at Epcot. I apologize I forgot the actual name (sick today bare with me) but you will find kiosks spread around throughout the countries. You can do a little craft or coloring page.. in Japan there was a cast member who would write your name in kanji (I think, apologies if I messed that up).. each area has a special stamp to collect.. it was actually a lot of fun even for the adults.. we were practically ordered to participate so that is allowed. Also a very nice break for the feet and the “run, run, run” of the rest of the park. Another free thing that is not actually an organized event is resort touring.. the resorts are fantastic, each is unique, and there is so much to see. We always found new things to do/eat/experience. If you don’t want to deal with buses just doing the “monorail circuit” is fun, and a good way to get out of the rain if you are unlucky with the weather one day. If you are even semi-proficient with a camera there are so many fantastic photo opportunities in the world.. beyond the usual family photos and castle shots. I got some wonderful photos of waterfalls/fountains, “wild” animals, flowers, distinctive architecture, etc. Of course there are the hidden mickeys as well.. we had a blast competing among the family for who could find the most.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      My kiddos love the Kidcot Fun Stops! Wish they were as content coloring when I need them to be occupied at home. ;)

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    For the ice water, I’ve noticed some counter service restaurants only give a small cup, but the times I’ve asked for it at Sleepy Hollow, they’ve given me a large cup each time. I use that water to top off my refillable water bottle I bring with me to the parks.

    I’ve done the movie on the beach at the Wilderness Lodge once. That was fun. One of these days I’d like to do the campfire and movie things at Fort Wilderness.

    And no visit to Downtown Disney is complete for me until I get my free chocolate square from Ghiradelli. It’s usually milk chocolate with caramel filling they hand out, but during the holidays they hand out their peppermint bark and a couple times I’ve gotten dark chocolate with raspberry filling.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Mmm…now I’m wishing I had chocolate.

  • Turboman

    I’m sad that my favorite free Disneyworld souvenir – the Fastpass ticket – has moved off to Yesterland. I loved the little art work they would put on the tickets and tried to get one from each ride, usually bringing a few home to commemorate each trip.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Yep, I miss the FastPasses, too.

  • bern1992

    Re: the Ghiradelli Chocolate Square, they’re always happen to let you sample a different flavour to the one that’s being handed out, or even in addition to. Just ask!

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Good to know! They almost always happen to be handing our caramel, my fave, so I never thought to ask for anything else. One fall I got pumpkin. Not a fan. Haha! Next time I’ll ask for something different.

  • Alltwelve

    My favorite Micechat contributor with yet another wonderful article!!! Here are a couple of my favorite freebies:

    1) Petting zoo at Fort Wilderness: A few years ago, we had a very cranky 4-year old (my nephew, who couldn’t take another minute of “magic” at the kingdom), so we boarded the boat to the fort just to get away. I knew the petting zoo was there, but didn’t intend to go there. He loved it!!! He seemed so curious about the animals. Sadly, I think it was the first time he had seen an actual pony, goat and chicken (so sheltered)! Anyway, its a good place for adults to go- and free!

    2) Miyuki at the Japan Pavilion: Its been a couple of years since I’ve been to WDW, but one of my favorites in Epcot was Miyuki, the candy lady. She’s this Japanese lady that makes the most amazing animal shapes out of candy and gives them to you for free! She only makes a few at a time (and I’m not sure if she’s at Epcot anymore), but it was always great to see her and I got a free sweet treat! Does anyone know if she’s still around?

    By the way Jessica, thanks to your recent article about dining at Disney, I now have a 7pm reservation in September for Be Our Guest!!! I couldn’t have done it without your help and will toast you with a big mug of beer! Anyone have suggestions on what we should order there? Thanks!

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Thanks for reading! Glad you were able to score that elusive Be Our Guest reservation! It’s a beautiful restaurant; I really think you’ll enjoy yourself. I enjoyed the seafood options, and the steak was pretty good, too!

      Sadly, Miyuki is gone! We loved watching her, too! The kids were lucky enough to get a gorgeous crane before she had to stop giving them out after her shows. We’ll have to stop in at the petting zoo in June. We’ll be staying at the Ft. Wilderness cabins.