Everyone loves free, right?! Disney World isn't always the most cost-effective vacation but if you know where to look, there are many tons of things to do, to experience and to take home for FREE!
FOR INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO THE 2013 FREE DINING OFFER GO HERE.
MISC Free Stuff
Children - no, Disney is not giving away children but until they're three years old, Disney doesn't charge park tickets or dining fees at any of their many buffet style restaurants (if your child turns three during your vacation, he or she is still free)
Magical Express - Disney's name for the bus/shuttle service both to/from Orlando International Airport and any of the Disney owned/operated resorts
Bus Service - Disney has perfected transportation between all their resort, Downtown Disney, Disney Water Parks and the Four Main Disney Theme Parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios & Animal Kingdom)
Parking - If you opt to stay "on-property" at a Disney World Resort and you decide to drive to the parks, the daily $14 fee is waived
Wi-Fi - There is now complementary Wi-Fi at all Disney World Resorts as well as all four main Theme Parks and Downtown Disney (the network name is Disney - Guest)
Package Delivery - Another perk for Disney World Resort Guests is the ability to buy something in the parks and have it sent back to your resort gift shop for free...if you're not staying at a Disney World Resort, you can still buy a package early in the day and have it sent to the front of the park for pick up at Guest Services later
First Aid - Each of the theme parks has a first aid station which will be happy to help you with basic medication (children's tylenol, bandaids, etc) at no cost
Free Stuff To Do
Jedi Training Academy - One of the most popular extras for children 4-12 years old is to fight the Dark Side. Check out our Jedi Training Academy Post for more detailed information
Club Cool - An Epcot treasure, you can take a break from the heat (or cold depending on what time of year) by stopping in and tasting dixie cup size samples of Cola from around the world
Photos - PhotoPass pictures aren't free but the PhotoPass photographers are happy to take a picture using your camera any time
Agent P Adventure - Solve clues using a high-tech secret agent device (read: specially designed cell phone) to defeat Dr Doofenshmirtz while enjoying the sights (and tastes) of Epcot's World Showcase
Hidden Mickey Hunt - All over the parks and resorts you'll find "Hidden Mickey"s...there are clue books you can buy before you go to help you find them all or you can just make a game of it as a family and see who can find the most over the course of a day...or a trip
Downtown Disney Lego Imagination Store - Shopping isn't all you can do at the Lego Store in Downtown Disney. Complete with tubs of legos and a computer hub where kids can design Lego structures and play games
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom - An interactive role-playing trading card game that took Disney four years to create and starts at the Fire Station inside Magic Kingdom. You begin your quest with a map and five (of 70 total) Sorcerer cards which you use to battle villains throughout the land
Character Meet & Greet - For many families it's a main reason for going to Disney World...their little Johnny or Suzie wants to meet Mickey or Cinderella. It's a great experience and many children over the years look back on their autograph books with fond memories but consider doing something a little different...bring fabric swatches and a fabric pen (and a clip board) to make a character autograph quilt when you return home or bring your child's favorite sport's ball...the characters love it and your kids will have something totally unique (not to mention the memory of playing catch with Goofy)
Free Stuff to Experience
Camp Fire/Movie @ Ft Wilderness Campground - Held nightly at 7pm with the movie starting closer to 7:40pm in the middle of the Ft Wilderness Campground
Savannah Views - Can't get enough of Disney's Animal Kingdom? Pick up an animal viewing guide at the Animal Kingdom Lodge's front desk and check out the elevated viewing area (Arusha Rock)
Piano Bob - For a family-friendly good time, head over to Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Weds-Sat nights. Piano Bob is a hilarious piano lounge entertainer at the River Roost Lounge
Boat Ride - Take a ferry boat from Magic Kingdom to the Ticket and Transportation Center (where you must park for Magic Kingdom) or a Motor Launch between Magic Kingdom and one of several resorts
Talking Trash Can - Though he's sometimes difficult to find, Push the (walking) Talking Trash Can wonders his way through Magic Kingdom...remote controlled, he delights children as they ask and he answers all sorts of questions
Water Painting - Not technically a scheduled event, if you see a cast member with a broom and bucket of water, stop for a moment and watch the temporary art dazzle
Mousekeeping Scenes - Another which cannot be guaranteed, if you bring stuffed animals from home (or buy them while you're in the parks) and leave them in your room, often times Disney housekeeping (called Mousekeeping) will set them up in cute "scene" or use a towel to make a character
Free Stuff to Have
Maps - Not only will they get you to all your favorite attractions, if you grab a couple extra and hop on pinterest, you can create a wonderful, free souvenir
Water - Probably not the flashiest of free things but after a long, hot day, getting a cup of ice water from a cast member can be really refreshing (warning: most, if not all, people who have had Disney's tap water agree it tastes terrible so you may want to bring flavored powder packets)
Stickers - If you have a small child with you, expect to come home from Disney with buckets of Mickey Mouse stickers. Nearly all the cast members have them and hand them out like candy on Halloween...which comes in handy during a baby's first hair cut at the Harmony Barber Shop
Ghirardelli Samples - Downtown Disney's delicious ice cream and chocolate lover's paradise offers free samples daily
(photo credit: onlywdworld.com)
FastPasses - Disney is in the process of changing their fastpass system but as it stands now, you go to the attraction of your choice, discover the stand by wait time to be too long and walk up to the fastpass distribution box. Next, you insert your "key to the world" (resort room key/park ticket) and out comes both your key and a fastpass ticket with a one-hour return window later in the day. (Example: You get to Space Mtn at 11am to discover a wait time of 90 minutes (groan) so you walk over to the Space Mtn fastpass distribution box and see that the current return window is 1:15-2:15) so rather than wait in line for an hour and a half, you get a fastpass for each member of your party and go grab lunch. Your fastpass window opens and instead of a 90 minute wait, you walk through the fastpass line in less than 15 (fastpass wait times vary but are always significantly shorter than the stand by line).
KidCot Crafts - Epcot's World Showcase isn't always thought of as small-child friendly as it caters most often to adults who wish to eat and drink their way around the world but with the addition of the KidCot Craft stations at each of the World Showcase Country Pavilions, children can create a personalized souvenir at each stop.
Celebration Buttons - If your staying at a Disney resort be sure to mention any special events that you're celebrating when you check in. If not, swing by any one of the park guest relations offices (all located near the entrance and request a "celebration button." Not only is the button free, but throughout the day (or trip) you'll have cast members and fellow guests alike commenting on your birthday, anniversary, family reunion, 1st visit or whatever the event may be.
Email Postcards - There are few places in Epcot from which you can send yourself or loved ones special email postcards...inside Innoventions and at the Mission Space gift shop area are particularly popular (Mission Space may be too much for you or your little one but you can still enjoy the games and fun just ask a cast member how to get into the gift shop area and be sure to double check ride height requirements before you go)
In the end, the best thing you'll get free at Disney World are the things you can't plan for-magical experiences that surprise and amaze you.