Disney World is THE ultimate family theme park destination for experiencing the magic of Disney through thrilling rides, spectacular shows, and an enchanting atmosphere. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a culture enthusiast, Disney World has something for everyone!
The theme park is home to four main parks: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, each with its unique atmosphere and attractions. But while it is a magical heaven on earth, it can be also be expensive for families.
Luckily there are plenty of free things in Disney World Resort areas to supplement your trip that can make your visit just as enjoyable without breaking the bank.
Free Things to Do at Disney World
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Take a Trip to Disney Springs!
Visiting Disney Springs is the best way to immerse yourself in the magic of Disney, utterly free of cost. There is absolutely no cost of entry, and yes that includes free parking!
It’s the best place to spend an evening indulging in some retail therapy and delicious meals before catching a movie and settling down to the lull of live music in the promenade. This bustling complex has everything your family could want for a fun time, including an array of free things in Disney World!
Start your trip and get in the Disney spirit by taking some family pictures with photo spots around and you may spot some characters at certain times of the year.
Next, let your little ones run wild and have a blast at the many outdoor fountains and play areas. The sandy play pit at the T-Rex Cafe located at the Marketplace is one that’s particularly popular.
The Marketplace is one of Disney Springs‘ prime attractions. Here, you’ll find the famous Rainforest Cafe, various Disney merchandise stores, and the Ghirardelli chocolate shop, where you’ll get to sample free chocolate.
Talk about free stuff at Disney World! It also has a waterside stage where you’ll be able to witness Disney Performing Arts dance troupes and local bands playing music for free. Don’t worry if you miss a show, because there are various others scheduled throughout the day at the other stages in Disney springs.
Be sure to pencil in at least an hour at Lego Imagination Center when at the Marketplace to get the most out of the massive outlet. The colorful and vibrant store has thousands of lego bricks and sets to peruse and an interactive Lego building station for kids to while away their time. The giant Lego creations out front are a bonus, because more pictures!
Take a Stroll down Disney Boardwalk
Step into a world of nostalgia and charm at Disney’s Boardwalk, an entertainment district near Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts.
It offers visitors the quintessential American boardwalk experience laden with street performers and even an old-fashioned ice cream shoppe.
During the day, you can escape to the tropical paradise of the Yacht and Beach Club and soak up the Florida sunshine. The kids will have a blast building sandcastles while you recharge in one of the comfortable beach chairs.
However, the real charm is at night when the area comes alive with various street performers and buskers. If you want some casual bites, there are plenty of vendors selling cheap food treats around the area. Also head to the hotel area for a free movie under the stars!
The boardwalk is a quaint experience for the entire family, and you can even catch a glimpse of the Epcot fireworks from the location. Parking can be challenging, but the attendants can guide you to the free self-parking area if spots are available, or you can always opt for valet parking.
Go Resort Hopping at Disney World!
Resort hopping Disney World is a fun and unique way to explore the art and atmosphere of each resort. Transport yourself to the grandeur of the Victorian era at the Grand Floridan, or head over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and check out the Art Deco-inspired Disney’s Hollywood Hotel.
At EPCOT, you can explore the world cultures at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn or Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Last but not least, there’s the Disney Wilderness Lodge, where visitors can catch a glimpse of Fire Rock Geyser, reminiscent of Old Faithful, erupting every hour on the hour from around 7 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.
For a photoshoot opportunity featuring various pop culture icons, consider either All-Star Resorts or Pop Century, which both showcase iconic figures such as a 35-foot Buzz Lightyear statue. You can also transform your resort hopping experience into a culinary journey with a self-guided food tour.
Take a walk or hike: There are many walking and hiking trails located on Disney property. These trails offer stunning views of the resort and are a great way to get some exercise.
Resort hopping not only allows you to experience the different resorts and their unique themes, but it also allows you to take advantage of the various amenities and services offered at each resort.
From delicious dining options to recreational activities like art classes and singalongs, there’s something for everyone at every resort. Keep reading to discover the various free activities Disney World resorts have to offer.
Pro Tip: Try to plan your trip close to the holidays if pictures are a priority. You’ll get to see each resort’s one-of-a-kind, spectacular decorations, and holiday celebrations!
Free Things to Do at Disney World: Catch Some Great Views on the Monorail and Skyliner
Sure, you can travel between resorts by car or complimentary shuttle bus, but why would you, when you have much more exciting options at your disposal? Hop aboard Disney’s Monorail or Skyliner and speed off for a birds-eye view of Magic Kingdom and an overhead view of all the resorts.
To board the Monorails, you must get a ticket at the Ticket and Transportation Center, where parking comes with a fee.
There are plenty of Disney Resorts with monorail, but one of the best spots to board it is the Contemporary Resort. Not only does the monorail pass through the building, providing you with a unique viewpoint and a fun experience for both kids and adults, but you can also grab a bite to eat or browse the gift shops while you’re there.
The Disney Skyliner, on the other hand, is a cable-car system that offers breathtaking views of Walt Disney World.
Each cabin has a capacity of 10 people, including those with wheelchairs, scooters, and even strollers if you are traveling with children.
There are Skyliner hubs located at Art of Animation/Pop Century Resorts, Caribbean Beach Resort, Riviera Resort, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios, each with its unique theme.
Keep in mind that both the Skyliner and monorail are nearly 65 meters above the ground. So, if either you or your kids are afraid of heights, we recommend sitting this one out.
Watch the Fireworks at Magic Kingdom
Watching the fireworks is a magical way to end your day at Disney World and one of the best free things in Disney World.
Both Magic Kingdom and Epcot put on fireworks shows every night, and the good news is that you don’t need to purchase a park ticket to enjoy them.
You can watch them for free from any of the resorts on the monorail at Disney World! If you want to watch them during dinner, we recommend Top of the World and California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort for some of the best views.
Another place to watch fireworks is from the beach at Disney’s Polynesian Resort; the atmosphere is so beautiful it is almost surreal.
The resort even plays music on the beach, so you feel like you are right there! Get you and your family a few leis from the lobby and kick back for a spectacular show.
To make the experience even better, grab a Dole Whip from Pineapple Lanai to enjoy while you gaze up at the sky. For a free Epcot fireworks viewing, the Beach Club Resort is a fantastic option.
Discover the Magic of Disney’s Butterfly Garden
The Butterfly Garden at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is a must-see for nature lovers and families looking for free things to do at Disney Resorts.
Lodged within the lush gardens of the resort, the garden is home to hundreds of beautiful butterflies representing over 70 different species, including skippers and swallowtails!
The best part is that you don’t need park tickets to visit the Butterfly Garden! It’s open to the public, so you can enjoy it even if you’re not staying at the resort.
The Butterfly Garden is also an excellent spot for photography. Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, the vibrant colors and natural beauty of the butterflies and flowers make for some truly stunning shots. The Butterfly Garden at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is the perfect spot to relax, explore, and create lasting memories with your loved ones.
Free Things to Do at Disney World: Catch a Movie Screening or Singalong!
Movie screenings are one of the best free things in Disney world! What’s better than watching your favorite Disney movies and characters play on the big screen under the stars for free?
If you are not a resort guest, you can enjoy an evening of Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. Here, you can indulge in s’mores and have a Disney character meet-and-greet while enjoying a complimentary movie screening.
You do not need to be a guest at the resort or have a park admission ticket to enjoy this activity!
“Movies Under the Stars” is an exciting event at nearly all of the Walt Disney World Resort Hotels that is complementary to all resort guests. Here you can catch iconic Disney films such as The Lion King, Tangled, Toy Story, and Beauty & The Beast.
Not only is it an affordable way to spend your evening, but it’s also a magical experience to gift your family. So, pack your marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate squares (or purchase a $9 smores kit at the venue) and head to one of the Disney resort hotels for an unforgettable night of movies and magic.
Electrical Water Pageant at Wilderness Lodge
Get ready for a blast from the past with Disney’s Electrical Water Pageant, a beloved tradition that has been lighting up the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake since 1971!
This enchanting display features 14 different floats to take you on a mesmerizing journey through the waters of Disney World. It begins at 9:00 p.m. at Polynesian Village, 9:15 p.m. at Grand Floridian & Narcoossee’s, 9:30 p.m. at Fort Wilderness Lodge, 9:45 p.m. at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, and 10:10 p.m. at Contemporary Resort.
During extended park hours, it starts at 10:35 p.m. outside Magic Kingdom‘s entrance.
You don’t want to miss the twinkling lights, fantastic music, and bright green sea monster that make up the magical display.
After all the parades and fireworks in the park, this simple yet charming tradition is a must-see for any Disney fan. With free admission and access to plenty of prime viewing locations, this is one of the best ways to unwind and soak in the Disney magic free of cost.
Unleash the Wild with Disney’s Animals!
Are you a wildlife lover but don’t want to spend a fortune on Animal Kingdom tickets? Why not consider Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge!
This resort offers a free and fun opportunity to see some of the world’s most incredible animals. The resort is surrounded by savannas teeming with African wildlife, such as giraffes and zebras.
Visitors can access these savannas from the resort’s lobbies at Kidani Village and Jambo House. Often, there are even animal experts on hand to answer any questions and provide interesting facts about the various species. And, if you visit at night, you may even have the chance to look for animals using night-vision goggles!
But that’s not all – in addition to the savannas, the Tri-Circle-D Ranch at the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort offers a chance to see majestic horses for free. While you can pay to take a carriage ride, horseback ride, or even a sleigh ride during the holidays, you can also just sit back and observe these beautiful animals at no cost.
Visit Disney’s Wilderness Preserve
The Disney Wilderness Preserve is a nature lover’s paradise that covers 11,500 acres and houses over 1,000 species of plants and animals. While the preserve is not actually within Disney world per se, it’s very close by, just a 45-minute drive away.
It is definitely a must-visit spot and a completely free activity for travelers who want to experience the beauty of the Everglades ecosystem.
You can enjoy hiking, birdwatching, and observing different species in their natural habitats. The preserve is filled with diverse landscapes, including cypress swamps, freshwater marshes, scrublands, Flatwoods, oak hammocks, and restored longleaf pine forests.
You’ll even get to see rare birds like bald eagles and common species like Eastern meadowlarks.
There are three trails available, with the 0.5-mile loop being the perfect choice for families with children. The Conservation Learning Center is also a highlight for showcasing the preserve’s commitment to conservation with eco-friendly features like geothermal heating and cooling and a freshwater catchment system.
Don’t miss Lake Russell, either, a peaceful 540-acre lake that can be reached by hiking the Red Wilderness Trail. You’ll learn all about how the preserve is dedicated to conservation efforts like removing non-native plants and conducting controlled burns.
The preserve is open from Wednesday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on weekends from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. So, if you’re looking for a fun and budget-friendly outdoor adventure, head over to the Disney Wilderness Preserve!
Draw Your Mickey Mouse at a Free Class
For a fun activity with kids, head to the Art of Animation Resort. This resort offers daily animation and drawing classes in the lobby that are absolutely free! Whether you’re a seasoned artist or a beginner, this is the perfect opportunity to get creative and bring your favorite Disney characters to life.
Every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., guests can participate in 30-minute classes where an expert instructor will guide them to draw a famous Disney character. The best part? You can take your beautiful creation home as a free Disney souvenir!
To make the most of this amazing experience, make sure to arrive early as each class has a limited capacity of 50 people, and they fill up fast. But don’t worry, if you miss a class; you will only have to wait 30 minutes for the next one!
Scavenger Hunt for Hidden Mickeys
Here’s another great self-guided family activity to engage the kids: the Mickey Scavenger Hunt! It involves scouting out as many “hidden” Mickey Mouse head silhouettes around Disney World as you can. Disney’s Imagineers have incorporated hidden Mickeys into the designs and construction of various Disney resorts, so start your journey at the Wilderness Lodge and Boulder Ridge Villas and go forth from there.
Other popular resorts like Port Orleans, Polynesian, Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, Pop Century, and even the Animal Kingdom Lodge offer their own unique and free scavenger hunts as well. While not always focused on finding hidden Mickeys, they are lots of fun to crack, and you can even claim a prize for completing the hunt!
Take a Boat Ride!
Disney Springs is laden with beautiful scenery and ambiance. The area is surrounded by lush greenery and sparkling waterways, making it the perfect place to relax and unwind.
Take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront, or hop aboard one of the complimentary boat rides that travel through the area.
Disney World offers a variety of water transportation options that provide a unique and enjoyable way to travel to the parks and resorts.
From ferries and water taxis to friendship boat rides and cruisers, guests can experience the scenic waterways of the Seven Seas Lagoon, Lake Hollywood, Crescent Lake, and Bay Lake.
Departing from various resorts, guests can travel to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Magic Kingdom or explore the beautiful surroundings of Disney Springs. With operating hours running daily from 30 minutes prior to park opening until 1.5 hours after park closing, guests can take their time and relax as they enjoy the sights and sounds of Disney World from the water.
One of the most peaceful and memorable options is the 20-minute boat ride from Disney Springs to Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter, passing by the treehouse villas of Saratoga Springs. So whether you’re looking for a serene escape or just a fun and efficient way to travel, water transportation at Disney World has got you covered!
Take a Trip down to the Disney-built Town Celebration!
Celebration is a charming, small town, originally developed by the Walt Disney Company, that is located just a 10-minute drive from Disney World.
Although not a part of Disney World, this pedestrian-friendly community is perfect for families looking for a change of pace from the bustling theme parks.
Take a stroll down Market Street, where you can find various specialty stores, boutiques, and galleries. This street often hosts different events each month, such as craft festivals and antique car shows.
Relax in one of the oversized wicker chairs at the Bohemian Hotel Celebration or grab a treat from Kilwins Ice Cream and enjoy it by the lake.
Take a walk around the Lakeside Promenade or along the nature trails, or let your kids have a splash at the Interactive Fountain! Celebration offers a taste of Mayberry-meets-Florida with a touch of Disney magic.
Disney World is the ultimate destination for creating memories and having fun, but there are also plenty of free activities available for the entire family to enjoy.
From mesmerizing parades, spectacular fireworks displays, entertainment options, and transportation, there are endless ways to experience the magic of Disney World without spending a dime. So, whether you’re planning a trip or currently on one, be sure to take advantage and make the most of your visit!
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