Not everything at Walt Disney World requires that you spend an arm and a leg – in fact, there are many free activities in the Happiest Place on Earth. Here our Top 49 Free Things to do at Walt Disney World:
Yes, this seems pretty obvious. But taking the time to walk around your WDW resort and just take in the scenery and environment is pretty amazing. Take your time – you’ll see things you never imagined, and it’ll likely give you a new appreciation for WDW as a whole.
There are a few spots within the WDW resort where you can fish. It’s catch and release only, but it still is a relaxing experience.
47. Free photographers
Want a photo taken of your family? Any cast member will be more than happy to stop what he or she is doing (unless it’s operating a ride!) and take your photo – and that includes the professional photographers in the parks as well.
You don’t have to go to EPCOT to see Illuminations. In fact, the show is so bright that you can usually see the show from outside the park – sometimes the best non-park viewing spots are on the pedestrian bridge near the Swan and Dolphin hotels.
45. Brochures and maps
Plan your visit not by heading to the parks first, but instead head to the resort hotel’s lobby and pick up brochures for any Disney park or site at the resort. Not only can you plan out your day, but you can find new and hidden treasures you never knew existed, too!
44. Free samples
At Animal Kingdom Lodge, the restaurants provide an amazing variety of African and Indian dishes. But you don’t have to wonder what you’ll like. Around 4 p.m., the restaurants offer pre-dinner tasting tours that will help you see what fits your tastes.
43. Cooling stations
Yes, this one is one you actually have to get into the parks to enjoy, but the cooling stations are awesome on a hot day. You can walk through, get hit with cool mist, and not have to be drenched, either!
Some of the resorts have sports courts you can use for free, from volleyball to tennis. You’ll likely need your MagicBand to check out the equipment, but most resorts don’t charge for the use of the balls, racquets or courts.
It’s not necessarily a runDisney event, but head out early in the morning (the middle of the day might be a bit too humid, especially in the summer) to take a run around your resort. You’ll literally see Disney waking up for another day while saying you got to take a run while you were at Disney. Don’t forget to stay hydrated!
40. Disney’s Old Faithful
Over at Fort Wilderness, there’s a smaller version of Old Faithful. Time your visit right, and you’ll see it erupt on the hour – every hour – from 7 a.m. ‘til 10 p.m.
39. Hula dancing, anyone?
Once you’ve taken in the Butterfly Garden, stop by the Polynesian and learn how to not just hula dance, but learn some chants and dances from various tropical locales.
38. Butterflies at the Contemporary Resort
The Contemporary Resort has a Butterfly Garden as you walk out toward the pool and Bay Lake. It’s a beautiful exhibit, and you can take it in as part of your resort hopping tour of the Contemporary and any other Disney resort hotels, too!
37. Vacation Club Tour
If you take the tour for the Disney Vacation Club, you’ll get free ice cream for you and your family. Other families may receive a gift card or FastPass passes for rides in the parks. You learn more about DVC and get a free gift, too!
36. Boardwalk performers
Many of the resorts have entertainment specific to their themes, but the Boardwalk is one that takes it to a whole new level. The street performers bring memories of Atlantic City in its heyday, with jugglers, musicians, comedians and others walking along the boardwalk and entertaining the crowds.
35. Relax near the water
Whether it’s a bench overlooking the water at the Boardwalk or the Beach Club or Yacht Club or a seat on the beach at the Caribbean Beach Resort, simply sitting by the water and taking a few quiet moments for yourself is very relaxing and can help you wind down after a long day in the parks (or help prepare for one, too!).
The playgrounds at the various resorts are amazing! Yes, you’re at Disney to ride the rides and see the attractions at the parks. But when you’re at your resort hotel, the playgrounds are a great substitute, and your kids can really burn off some energy and enjoy themselves in the playground areas, too.
33. Florida wildlife!
From ducks to other birds to geckos and (baby) gators to any other number of different living things, the resorts are filled with different animals and reptiles that will capture your attention and imagination – and make for great photo memories, too!
32. Wedding Pavilion
Over at the Grand Floridian, the Wedding Pavilion is a beautiful place to visit to see where thousands of couples have taken or renewed their wedding vows. It’s a little pricey to set this up through Disney, but you can spend a few moments there with your special someone for free!
Yes, you do have to purchase admission to sit down and see Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios. But you still can see much of the show by hanging out around the front gates or even on the bridge near the Swan and Dolphin hotels.
30. Downtown Disney fountains
Take in the interactive fountains at Downtown Disney. They are great and give kids – and any adults who are kids at heart – the chance to hop through the fountains and get a little (or a lot) wet!
29. Kids Under Three Are Free
This seems pretty self-explanatory, but not only do kids under three not need to pay admission to the parks, but they also can eat free for buffet and family-style table service meals. Eat up!
28. Celebratory Buttons
At each of the Disney Parks – or if you stop by your own hotel’s front desk – you can pick up a button recognizing your birthday, anniversary, first trip to Disney or any number of other celebrations. And the buttons are all free!
27. The LEGO Store
The LEGO Store in Downtown Disney is an experience that can occupy hours if you let it. From taking in the statues built out of LEGOs inside and outside of the store to actually playing with LEGO samples, the store is a great place to hang out at any time of day!
26. ESPN Club and ESPN Radio
When you’re walking along the Boardwalk, you’ll come across the ESPN Club. You don’t have to go in to experience an interview with a sports star, and taking a seat, looking out over the water and listening to a good interview definitely makes your cares disappear.
25. Hidden Mickeys
Take a look around the hotels, the parks and all around the resort. There are any number of books you can purchase to help you find Hidden Mickeys all around WDW, but you can also just set out to find them yourselves, too!
24. Room soaps
For anyone who decorates their bathrooms in Disney, the Disney resorts are a great place to shop. Yes, you can purchase soaps and shampoos for your bathrooms, but lots of people take home extras in their rooms for their own homes – either to display or to use.
23. Pin trading
Confession – yes, you do have to purchase a pin or two to get started. But then, the trades are completely free from that point forward. Find some cast members with pins, and you’re off to the races collecting some amazing pins from WDW!
22. See amazing animals without going to Animal Kingdom
Head over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge around dusk. In addition to some amazing architecture throughout the resort, you can see giraffes, Ankole-Watusi cattle, zebras and other native African animals.
21. Magical Express
Yes, you do have to pay for a trip to Disney via airfare and then a subsequent stay at a WDW resort. But the ride from Orlando International to WDW is not just free, but it takes a ton of stress off of you, eliminating the need to find a taxi or rent a car to get to your resort of choice.
20. Boat ride
Yes, this is part of the free resort transportation, but the water taxis you can take between several of the resorts, Downtown Disney and three of the four Disney parks (sorry – right now, no water taxis travel to Animal Kingdom). The rides are more than free – they’re very relaxing and give you a very unique view of WDW.
19. Resort transportation
You want to get somewhere? Jump on any one of the resort’s buses, and they will take you to any of Disney’s parks, Downtown Disney, or help you connect to catch another ride to go anywhere within the resort.
18. Wake up call
Similar to the welcome phone call once you arrive at the resort, you can request a wake-up call from Stitch or Mickey. Again, the kids eat this up (and so do a lot of the adults)!
17. Wifi access
Who doesn’t try to detach from the real world when they’re at Disney, right? But you at least want access to social media to post your Disney photos. Disney resorts have free wifi for you to use and post those great family photos with Mickey or your other favorite characters.
16. Resort tours
Some of the resorts – like Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Grand Floridian, the Yacht Club and Wilderness Lodge offer free resort tours for Disney resort guests. You may need a reservation, but it’s still worth the time to make the phone call and get the time blocked off for a tour.
15. Plastic character photos
So many of the resorts have plastic characters built into the scenery – the All Stars, Pop Century and Art of Animation are just some of the resorts with those characters. If you’ve got small kids, getting their photos taken with these characters is a great memory maker you can do for free.
14. Holiday decorations
If you can vacation at WDW during the holiday season, you’ll see some of the most amazing decorations around. The best ones are at the resorts – from a giant gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian to a giant Christmas Tree in Wilderness Lodge, the resorts are filled with decorations that rival even those at the parks. The Beach and Yacht Club villas traditionally have an edible carousel! And don’t forget the amazing performances in several resorts as well.
13. Scenic pictures
Taking pictures at Disney gives you some of the greatest photos you’ll ever take. Not only can you get great shots around the resort just at the front gates of each park before even going in, but you can get scenic shots at each of the resorts, too, whether it is at Animal Kingdom, Boardwalk, or anywhere in between.
Years ago, when you had the chance to sit in the monorail cockpits, it was just that much better. But a ride on the monorails is still awesome. Hitch a ride from the Ticket and Transportation Center and ride over to EPCOT and back, or just ride the circuit through the Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Floridian resorts and past Magic Kingdom. It’s a great way to not just spend some time riding in style, but you get a great view of the resorts as well.
11. Movies Under the Stars
At night, if the weather cooperates, take a stroll from your hotel room and watch a movie outside “Under the Stars”. We enjoyed “Monsters University” during our last trip – sitting out in the main patio area at Caribbean Beach Resort and watching the movie on a giant screen set up by cast members. Movies usually vary each night from classics to more contemporary choices.
10. Poolside games
Cast members at most – though not all – Disney resort pools spend part of their day leading games for kids. They’re not big-time water sport games – think Simon Says, games with pool noodles or something similar – but they are yet another free activity that helps to make the vacation even more special.
9. Welcome call
When you check into your resort (again, this assumes you’re staying on site), ask the cast member at the front desk checking you in to set up a “welcome call” to your room. Usually, by the time you get to your room, a Disney character has already left a message welcoming you and your family to WDW. Your kids will love it!
8. Must-do videos
This is a guilty pleasure, and it does assume you are staying on site in a Disney resort room. However, the “Disney Must-Do” videos hosted by Stacey Aswad are on a constant loop on one of your hotel room’s Disney-only channels. It’s usually the first channel we turn to when we get to Disney to 1) see the updated Must-Do’s for this trip and 2) get us firmly into the Disney spirit as soon as we arrive!
7. Downtown Disney entertainment
Entertainment at Disney’s shopping and nighttime showcase isn’t limited simply to kids’ fare. From street entertainers to those camped out in formal entertainment sections, Downtown Disney provides great music and entertainment into the late-night hours. You can simply wander through the crowds, take a seat, and let the music relax you even more after a day enjoying the resort.
6. Downtown Disney Kids Dance Parties
Our youngest couldn’t contain himself and joined one of these parties last year. Set up at random spots throughout Downtown Disney (ours was right outside Once Upon A Toy), the dance parties help kids really enjoy themselves and burn off a lot of energy, too – all the while making great memories. It’s so contagious, maybe some parents might want to join in, too!
5. Downtown Disney, period
After a long day in the parks, nothing relaxes you more than heading around Downtown Disney and strolling through the stores to see all things Disney merchandise. If you want a refreshment, those do cost money. But browsing the stores doesn’t cost a thing, and it’s fun to do, too!
4. Night Time Water Parade
Across the lagoon directly to the south of the Magic Kingdom, the Electrical Water Pageant takes the Electrical Light Parade in the Magic Kingdom to a new path on the water. You’ll see sea creatures, American flags and twinkling stars all part of the parade, and it’s visible from several locations around the lagoon.
3. Lobby cartoons
One of the first things we did when we arrived for our first Disney family trip was check in at All Star and watch our kids wander over to the television to watch some Disney cartoons. You can see them when you’re resort hopping, too – some of the old classics that have been around for years and that helped shape what Disney is today.
No, you don’t have to purchase park tickets to see the Magic Kingdom nighttime fireworks. Just position yourself outside the park and watch one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Or, if you’d like, watch from one of the resorts around Magic Kingdom on the monorail circuit.
1. Resort Hopping
It’s one of the most enjoyable things we like to do when we’re not in the parks or in Downtown Disney. Taking time to head to another resort to look around, see what’s unique, and then see whether or not that’s a resort you’d like to stay at when you next travel to WDW. You can stop in for a bite to eat at one of the resort restaurants if you’d like. Otherwise, take a stroll and see all about that resort while you’re there. Best of all, if you’re already staying on property, the transportation is free!