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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.