Walt Disney World (FL)

Ten Things That Are Still Free at Walt Disney World

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It’s no secret that Walt Disney World vacation prices are always on the rise. But even in this era of $200 Halloween parties and paid access to the formerly free expedited queue access, there are still a few freebies that are available to any Disney World guest. Here are ten that you may want to check out during your Disney World vacation.

1. Transportation

I enjoy the free Skyliner more than many of the in-park rides.

Free Magical Express from the airport is going away at the end of the year, but all the on-campus transportation is still free. This includes the monorail, buses, boats, and Skyliner. For me, riding the Skyliner is just as fun and exciting as many of the in-park rides that require the purchase of an admission ticket – the views are stellar and it gives you a real sense of the scope of the resorts. Many people feel similarly about riding the monorail. You could easily fill half a day sampling all the transportation options.

For some extra oomph, try riding the Skyliner or monorail after dark when Spaceship Earth is illuminated with her new evening light show.

2. Fireworks Viewing

Much of the Magic Kingdom fireworks action can be seen from areas outside the park. That means you get most of the oooh and ahhh effects without paying for a park ticket or subjecting yourself to the crush of crowds inside the park. And, good news, many of areas from which you can see the fireworks outside the park, such as the monorail line resort beaches, also pipe in the firework show music and narration. My favorite free spot to watch the fireworks is from the walkway between Bay Lake Tower and the Contemporary resort. This elevated vantage point lets you see some of the castle area as well as the flashes in the sky.

The Bay Lake Tower walkway is an excellent spot from which to see the fireworks.

3. Electrical Water Pageant

This sweet show has been around forever and it still brings a smile to my face every time I see it. The Pageant travels the waterways around the Magic Kingdom hotels every evening, weather permitting. Grab a spot on the beach and get ready for some old-school happy.

4. Movies Under the Stars

Most Walt Disney World resorts offer free outdoor movies, weather permitting. The movies are different at each hotel and rotate monthly. You don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to stay and watch. The movies at the Boardwalk resort are particularly popular as people encounter them while strolling the sights and then stop to enjoy the show. As an added bonus, some hotels also hold campfires with marshmallow roasts nearby.

The Electrical Water Pageant is a charming diversion.

5. View Exotic Animals

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is surrounded by animal viewing areas. Giraffes, zebras, ostrich, and a host of other exotic creatures routinely stroll by the outdoor viewing areas at both the Jambo and Kidani Village locations. You don’t have to be a guest of the Lodge or buy a park ticket to stop by and watch these magnificent beings.

6. Enjoy the Entertainment at Disney Springs

There is loads of free entertainment available at Disney Springs, ranging from high school dance troupes performing on a waterside stage, to a strolling musicians with an accordion or a piano attached to a bicycle. Look for bands performing outside at House of Blues, Splistville, and Raglan Road.

The Wilderness Lodge geyser is always a thrill.

7. Watch a Geyser Erupt

The Wilderness Lodge geyser erupts several times throughout the day. It’s a hoot to see unsuspecting visitors watch the massive spout.

8. Souvenirs

Many Disney souvenirs are expensive, but there are ephemeral items that can easily serve as free souvenirs of your visit. Park maps are colorful and reminders of your trip, they’re free and available at all Disney World resorts and at the Guest Relations center at Disney Springs. Celebration buttons (first visit, happy birthday, etc.) are also free and available at the same locations.

Guests relaxing in front a free movie at Disney’s Boardwalk resort.

9. Visit a Horse Barn

Fort Wilderness is home to some of the many horses that work at Walt Disney World, including those that pull the Magic Kingdom trolley and the white ponies that sometimes appear at the wedding pavilion with a glass carriage. Guests are welcome to stop by and pay them a visit.

10. Grab Some Ice Water

Bottled water will run you at least $3.00 each at Walt Disney World, but every quick service restaurant at Disney World will give you a cup of ice water for free. This works in the theme parks and resorts. If you’re out exploring the hotels and need some hydration, just stop by the food court and get a chilled beverage.

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

3 thoughts on “Ten Things That Are Still Free at Walt Disney World

  • What would be the best way for a non-Resort guest to actually get to these resorts to view the movies, the fireworks or the water pageant? Or in the case of the Boardwalk to even just stroll around and grab pizza and ice cream? I’ve read that lately they have been very strict about not letting people park at the resorts unless they are on the list for a table service reservation. Uber is extra cost, and the only no-cost way I can think of is parking at Disney Springs and taking a bus from there, but for me that is just not worth the time it would take.

    • @Keith If you’re an annual pass holder, you can park at the theme parks for free, but I’m assuming that doesn’t apply to you.

      You are correct that they’ve tightened security for guests parking at the resorts without some sort of reservation (dining or overnight stay). You could probably park at the All Stars without getting too much pushback and possibly Fort Wilderness (depends on the cast member), but anything on the monorail or Skyliner routes is definitely a no go. And as you stated, parking at Disney Springs is free.

      Other than getting an Uber to a hotel or theme park, I don’t have any workarounds for you. Sorry.

    • Parking at Disney Springs is your best, non hassle, inexpensive bet for visiting any of the resorts. Bonus is it’s well lit and right off the highway.

      If you don’t mind spending a bit of money for the excursion make a reservation to dine at any one of the locations and they’ll check your credentials as you enter to park. Once in you can park for hours so have time to look around and watch that movie.

      Take note, not all movies are shown in a location non-guests can get in to. For example, the movie at AKL was being shown in the pool area when we were there earlier. To be in there you must be a resort guest of Jambo or Kidani.


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