Disneyland is the Happiest Place On Earth. It’s also an expensive one. A trip to Disneyland might set you back a few hundred dollars, which may leave your wallet a little less happy. What if I told you there are plenty of things that are free at the Disneyland Resort? What if I told you about 17 of those things in particular? Got your attention? Read on to find out why free and Disneyland do indeed go hand in hand.
Alright, I can hear it now.
What in the WORLD is she talking about, free at Disneyland? Girl, those tickets and hotels are expensive!
Yes, this is true. I won’t even argue that point.
However, I know you’re going. You know you’re going. Disney knows you’re going.
So you might as well get the most bang for your buck while you are there. Here’s a list of 17 free things you can take advantage of at Disneyland.
Free at Disneyland Resort
Phone Apps. Download the official Disneyland app to keep an accurate eye on wait times, show times, and character meet and greets. Confession: sometimes I open it up when I’m home just to see what I’m missing. Sigh!
Free Pokemon Go hunting. Let’s be honest: you heard the castle is a gym, and you want to check it out. You won’t be alone!
FastPasses and Rider Switch Passes. Everyone knows FastPasses are free. And if you didn’t know it, well, you do now. FREE!
FastPasses are like paper reservations holding your place in line. First, you pull a FastPass; then you can watch a parade or eat a meal, and return to the line at your appointed time.
Do you have a baby or young child too small to ride something like Space Mountain? Then you just won the Disneyland lottery. Three words: Rider switch passes. While your party takes a trip, you’ll wait at the exit with the small child. When they get off, it’s your turn with the rider switch pass. The bonus rides come in for others in your party: you are allowed to take up to 2 additional people with you. Your sweet babe just scored someone a wait-free extra ride!
Holiday Freebies. You can score bags of free candy at the annual Mickey’s Halloween party. And we’re talking good quality stuff here, folks. While entry to this event is a stand alone ticket, you can probably clean up on candy for the year and recoup some of that cost.
If you are visiting over New Year’s Eve, you can also scoop up free hats and horns for the midnight celebration.
Free Package Check Service. I love this one. Say you get ahead of yourself and buy yourself something pretty early in the day. And maybe one (or two) of those huge stuffed animals that you’ll never be able to fit into your suitcase anyway.
You don’t have to haul these around all day and hope you don’t lose them. Take them over to the Disneyland Resort Stroller Shop, The Star Trader, Port Royal, or Pioneer Mercantile in Disneyland and at Elias & Company in Disney California Adventure. They will hold your packages for you. For Free. You must have the receipt for items you purchased, and they won’t store limited editions.
Autopia Driver’s License. You can grab a free driver’s license while in line at Autopia. They are paper and not customized, but they are a fun and free way to remember your trip.
Free cups of water at any quick service location. Don’t dehydrate! Ask for a free cup at any walkup location. You can also get free chocolate squares at Ghiradelli and go across the way to Boudin Bakery to get some free sourdough bread.
Uh, I think that might be 2 of my three main food groups right there. Unfortunately, no free wine tastings that I know of at DCA.
Maps, guides, and celebration buttons. All free. Grab them when you first walk in and over at City Hall. Simple souvieners to take home with you.
Free Broadway style show. Frozen at the Hyperion lives up to the hype. And it’s free. Grab a FastPass (do not skip this step- learn from my mistake!) and enjoy the show.
Okay, so those things actually require a bit of money up front. I mean, they are all happening at the parks, which means you are paying for the park ticket.
What about totally free?
Oh, I’ve got you. Check this out.
Fireworks. You’ll see a ton of people seated in the Esplanade, the area between the two parks. They know the drill: it’s a great location to pop a squat and watch the Disneyland fireworks for free. It’s a decent view, too!
Wi-Fi. Disneyland does not have wifi in the parks at present. And that’s tough when you are social media connected. Um, I may have run into data issues when I was there recently. Oopsie!
But you can pop in any of the onsite hotels (the Disneyland Hotel is my favorite) and “borrow” the free wifi in the lobby. This is one of the reasons I’ll book dining at a resort hotel. I gotta feed my internet addiction as well as my belly! While you’re there, enjoy the free AC.
Free lunch. You can bring your own food. There is a great picnic area just outside of the Disneyland gates where you can set up and enjoy your meal. We’ve rented a nearby locker and stashed the cooler inside until we were hungry. You don’t have to reenter security, so it’s a great option when you are looking to save a little bit of money.
Downtown Disney offers these additional freebies:
LEGO building at the LEGO store.
Window Shopping. This is the place where dreams are only a Visa swipe away! But leave that Visa in the wallet and just enjoy playing the “someday” game.
Live music and entertainment. Including televised live sporting events at the ESPN Zone.
The tram. On slow days in the parks, this can be a nice option for entertainment. If there’s a line, I’d skip it to allow folks who need to get to the parking structure first dibs. Kids who are transportation nuts love this little excursion! The tram gives you a little rest, and sometimes you get to spy some seasonal decorations on the trip.
And the number one thing that’s free at Disneyland? Exercise. I mean, have you seen the miles you can put on your legs? Strap on your Fitbit and see how many miles you can complete in one day. It’s mind blowing! My biggest Disneyland day was 77,000 steps and 34 miles (13.1 were on the half marathon course). WOW.
There are free things over at Walt Disney World as well. Be sure to read up on those options if you are heading coast to coast this year! You’ll want to take advantage of all the free you can, ’cause this magic is expensive, my friends!