It is no big secret: a Walt Disney World vacation isn’t cheap. By the time a family pays for their transportation (flying or driving), hotel, theme park tickets, food, souvenirs and the various other things that go along with a trip, well, their wallets feel significantly lighter than before they arrived.
What is a secret for many, though, is the number of free things Walt Disney World has to offer within the parks and resorts for all guests–and not just those who are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort. When it comes to Walt Disney World freebies, there are numerous experiences and even a few take home souvenirs any family can enjoy. I like to think of them as hidden gems throughout the resort. It’s not as though Disney is deliberately hiding them from guests; after all, each of these things are right out in the open! There is just so much to do around the resort that these treasures can be easily overlooked. Each trip, I try to find another to add to my list; I like to call it my freebie treasure hunt! Here are a few of my favorite finds:
4. Park Maps
Every good treasure hunt starts with a map, right? Walt Disney World park maps are not only handy to have to find your favorite attractions, but they make beautiful souvenirs! Each map is unique to its park, shows all the attractions, restaurants and shows and are a piece of art unto themselves. Some people like to scrapbook with them, while others collect them and hang them on the wall. So, grab a couple of maps from each park, tuck them in your suitcase and let your imagination run wild with how to display them once you get home.
3. Celebration Buttons
Will you be celebrating something special during your Walt Disney World vacation? Maybe it’s your family’s first visit or a child’s birthday during your trip. You could be on your honeymoon or celebrating a milestone anniversary. No matter what special occasion you may be celebrating, make sure to stop by Magic Kingdom’s City Hall on Main Street USA or Guest Services at any of the parks to pick up your celebration buttons! These 3-inch diameter buttons are free for all guests and can be customized to your special celebration. After you get your button, make sure you wear somewhere visible. You’ll be amazed at the attention you’ll get from other guests and Cast Members around the park. And, while there is no guarantee, you never know when a Cast Member may spread a little extra pixie dust your way in honor of your special day or event!
2. Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
Launched in 2012, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is a role-playing, interactive game that can be played in and around the Magic Kingdom. To play, guests must pick up a free pack of collectible game cards near the fire station on Main Street USA. Each of these cards has a special skill or magical quality and features Disney characters. Guests then use these cards at kiosks around the park, clearly labeled on the park map, to use their magical powers to help defeat the Disney Villains. The game is free to play and guests can receive a new pack each day. Note: even with a new pack of cards, guests may still receive duplicates. There are also special, limited edition cards during special events such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. There are numerous online trading clubs for Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, so you can keep up the fun by trading to get your favorite or missing cards from your set!
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1. Monorail and Boat Rides
It’s hard to imagine how people miss these; they are right there at the Transportation and Ticket Center ready and waiting for guests to enjoy. Most people see the monorails and boats as a means to an end: get us to the parks or back to the parking lot! However, you should leave a time in your schedule to hop on board the resort monorail and take an impromptu tour of the Polynesian, Grand Floridian and Contemporary. You can get off at any stop and get back on whenever you want to during operating hours. There is no charge and you do not need to use a theme park ticket to get on board! Or, if you’re not into resort hopping, take a ride on the resort monorail or the Epcot monorail during the evening hours. The lights are beautiful, you could catch some of the dazzling fireworks and it’s simply a nice way to relax among all the fun craziness that is a Walt Disney World vacation!
These recommendations are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding free fun at Walt Disney World. Study those park maps carefully and even ask Cast Members to give their recommendations on some of the more “out of the ordinary” experiences around the Walt Disney World Resort. You are bound to find more of these no-cost, hidden gems to put on your “must-do” list!