A Walt Disney World vacation is not known for being an inexpensive venture, although there are many ways you can maximize your budget and save money on your trip. But, once you are there you can find a lot of fun things to add to your trip that fall into the $20 or less category. If you have planned some down time, resort days, or non-park time into your itinerary these are great suggestions for not wasting any fun time on vacation while not breaking the bank.
10. Resort Activities
Depending on which Walt Disney World resort you stay at for your vacation, you will have some choices of resort activities that you can participate in. Some of these activities are completely free (like the activities at Animal Kingdom Lodge to earn beads), and others are available for a small fee. Most all resorts offer a campfire with S’mores with a Movie Under the Stars. Many offer craft activities like making a Mickey Tie-Dye T-Shirt or creating another vacation souvenir. And some resorts have a painting activity geared toward adults to create a painting based on the resort. Several resorts have started offering a Fun Run once a week for a small fee—you get to jog or walk through the resort and at the end you get a fun swag bag for completing the race. Be sure to ask for an activity guide when you check in to your resort, and tune into the resort channel on your TV to find out what is being offered during your vacation.
9. Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade
If you are looking for a “retro” activity at the Magic Kingdom, head over to Frontierland and look for the shooting arcade. Located near the Trading Post and the DVC kiosk, the Shootin’ Arcade features infrared targets in a gallery filed with 97 targets on a jail, hotel, tombstones, and bank. $1.00 buys you 35 shots.
8. Monorail Dessert Crawl
This isn’t an official Disney offering, but something you can do on your own that is a lot of fun. You will get to ride the monorail (free) around to all of the Magic Kingdom area resorts to explore. At each resort you can get off the monorail and explore, and then find a tasty sweet treat. Most of the quick service restaurants have specialty cupcakes or other desserts to sample, but at the Polynesian I recommend stepping right outside the back of the lobby for some version of a Dole Whip at the Pineapple Lanai. The amount you spend on this activity can vary depending on the treats you choose & how many you share. This is the family friendly version—for adults you could do a lounge crawl, but that will easily add up to more than $20 on your second drink.
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7. Pick A Pearl
There are a couple of Pick-A-Pearl locations in Walt Disney World including the Yacht & Beach Club Resort and Disney Springs, but my favorite location is the Mitsukoshi Department Store in Epcot’s Japan Pavilion. Here there is a great show put on as you pick your shell and it is opened to reveal your pearl. The activity itself is still less than $20 (around $17), but if you choose to have your pearl set into jewelry it will set you back a bit more. I recommend budgeting for the setting that way you can enjoy your pearl as a souvenir for years to come.
6. Tri Circle D Ranch Pony Rides
Fort Wilderness Campground is like an entirely different world within Walt Disney World Resort. Many people visit the campground (if they aren’t staying there) to go to Hoop Dee Doo Revue Dinner Show, but there are so many fun recreational activities to do here it is worth the boat ride from the Magic Kingdom. At the Tri Circle (get it, Mickey) D Ranch you can visit some of the horses that work Magic Kingdom and other Disney events, and you can take a Pony Ride. Rides are $8 per person (cash only) ages 2 & up. Riders must weigh less than 80 pounds, and be shorter than 48 inches. Parents or guardians lead the ponies. Times and days may vary, so check with your front desk concierge to see if they have a current schedule—most days seem to be 10:30am-5:00pm. And of course it is weather dependent.
Since the Pony Rides are for kids only, let’s switch gears to something for adults only. Jellyrolls is a dueling piano bar on the Boardwalk and it is big on nighttime fun for grown-ups. The current cover charge is $15, but you will go over your $20 if you add drinks to that (& I would recommend it). The highly talented musicians here can play just about any song you request, so half of the fun is trying to stump them. The other half is enjoying the great music and atmosphere.
4. Aerophile Characters in Flight Balloon
Want a Bird’s Eye View of Walt Disney World resort and the surrounding area? The Aerophile Characters in Flight Hot Air Balloon at Disney Springs is a great way to do it. This tethered hot air balloon ascends into the sky and the circular basket allows guests panoramic views of the area. The pricing is currently $20 for adults and $15 for kids, but if you are planning on this activity check Groupon because there are often deals posted that you can purchase in advance. The balloon is very weather dependent and cannot go up if winds reach certain speeds for safety.
3. Festival Workshops
Throughout the year Epcot offers so many Festivals it is hard to find a time when they are not hosting one. At the Festivals you can find hands-on workshops, tastings, and other activities that you can participate in to enhance your experience. Some of these are free workshops that are a first come-first served basis, and others you register for in advance. Depending on the workshop, you can find some that would fit into the $20 or less category. (and a few that are just slightly over that but so worth it). These unique experiences are great ways to experience Walt Disney World more in depth, and to learn about topics that interest you during your vacation.
2. Harmony Barber Shop
Hands down, one of my favorite experiences. We have done Harmony Barber Shop several times with my boys, and each experience has resulted in a great haircut and wonderful customer service. Prices are quite competitive with just about any barber shop or chain hair salon. Current pricing is $19 for adults; $18 for kids (not including tip). Paying a visit to the Harmony Barber Shop gives you a feel that Main Street USA is a real place and that you are one of its citizens—it is part of the immersion of Walt Disney World. If you have a little one who needs a first haircut, I can’t recommend this experience enough. It goes over the $20, but for $25 (currently) you get the first haircut experience in a memorable place, and a set of First Haircut Mickey ears.
1. Mini Golf
Walt Disney World offers two Mini Golf Courses, each with 2 sides. Fantasia Gardens is located near the Epcot resorts—just across from the Swan and Dolphin. The Gardens side is traditional mini golf themed to the Fantasia movies; the Fairways side is more difficult with actual fairways rather than themed holes with bumpers. Winter Summerland near Blizzard Beach is my family’s favorite. Santa and his Elves have come to Florida for a vacation and set up camp. The mix of holiday and tropical vibe here is so fun, and either side, Winter or Summer, is highly themed and not too difficult. Prices are $14 for adults for 18 holes; $12 for kids. But, if you booked a Walt Disney World vacation package (more than just your room) you should have vouchers for a free round before 4pm. We have so much fun every time we play, I recommend that you add this to your vacation itinerary on your next visit.
What are your favorite Walt Disney World activities for $20 or less?