Traveling Mom Karyn did a terrific list of 13 things that are free at Disney World. As Travel Hack Traveling Mom I have four Disney World freebies of my own to share. These tips and tricks will save you both time and money!
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The meme that Disney World is expensive just won’t go away. Sure, the actual tickets will set you back, but the Traveling Moms have tons of hacks to help you save once you get there. From ways to save at Disney World Resorts to buying discount tickets to stuff that’s 100% free just for the asking, you’ll make the most of your time and money using our hacks.
Here are my four favorite Disney World freebies:
Free Unlimited Extra Fastpasses
By now I hope you’re familiar with the FastPass+ system at Disney World that lets you reserve a time for three rides in advance of your visit. But I bet you didn’t know that after you use those three, you can get an unlimited number, one at a time, for the rest of the day! Not only can you get more FastPasses, you can get them at any park – perfect for Park Hoppers.
On a recent visit we booked our three reserved Fastpasses at Epcot to be done by 2 p.m. We then hopped the Monorail to the Magic Kingdom and were able to book 5 (!) additional Fastpasses, one at a time, up until the park closing time. By skipping the lines at Pirates, It’s a Small World, Jungle Cruise, Thunder Mountain, and Winnie the Pooh, we easily saved two hours in line.
To make the Fastpass+ process easy, all you need to do is download the My Disney Experience App. Once you’ve scanned your last Fastpass, you’ll immediately be able to book a new one through the app. You can even do it while you’re in line! My advice is to book whatever is earliest so you can get another one as soon as possible. Rinse and repeat and you’re skipping lines all over the parks.
Free Character Meetups
You don’t have to shell out for a park ticket or a character meal to meet a Disney friend. My absolute favorite free way to experience Disney Magic is the Chip and Dale Campfire Singalong at Fort Wilderness Resort. Pick up a S’mores kit at the resort (or stop by the grocery for marshmallows and graham crackers on the cheap) and roast up some goodness with your two favorite chipmunks. I’ve never seen the singalong get crowded – probably because Fort Wilderness as a campsite is a bit off the radar – so kids get tons of time with Chip and Dale.
Another fun – if brief – character sighting takes place every day at 3:45 at the Grand Floridian. On their way to 1900 Park Fare Cinderella and Prince Charming waltz through the lobby. Kids are invited to join in.
You’ll see other Disney friends at the resorts as well, although it’s not on a specific schedule. Recently at the Animal Kingdom Lodge we ran into Goofy, Pluto and Mr. Smee (Captain Hook’s sidekick) just hanging out in the lobby.
Free Crafts, Lessons, and Activities
Fancy some cookie decorating? How about a drum lesson? Or getting your face painted? All of these and tons more are free every single day at Disney World Resorts. You do NOT have to be a resort guest to participate! Just take a look at the Monthly Recreation Guides for each resort and you’ll never be without something free to do.
In addition to the scheduled activities, it’s fun to just visit each resort as Disney excels at immersing you in a location and a feeling. From the scent of the Grand Floridian- which I’m sure is Crabtree and Evelyn’s Spring Rain- to the creek running through the Wilderness Lodge, you can spend your entire vacation appreciating the Disney resort details.
My favorite resort for activities is the Animal Kingdom Lodge. In the space of three hours recently my daughter and I played a recycling game, decorated giraffe and elephant cookies, learned how to say “elephant” in Swahili (“tembo”), played bingo and caught some zebras taking a nap. Total cost? Zero! (Check out these 4 Disney hotels that are always worth a visit.)
Not free but I’d be remiss to mention: You don’t have to go into the Magic Kingdom to get Dole Whip! Pineapple Lanai at the back of the Polynesian resort lets you get your fix without shelling out for a ticket. Or you can make this yummy treat at home using this Dole Whip recipe.
OK, this one does require you to purchase a meal, but if you dine at any full service restaurant at The Dolphin Resort, your kid will get a free visit to Camp Dolphin. Choose from Shula’s Steak House, Todd English’s bluezoo or Il Mulino New York Trattoria. Your kids have to be aged 4-12 and you must reserve both the meal and camp in advance. They’ll even feed your kid hot dogs or nuggets for free while you dine with other grownups in peace.
Looking for a different kind of break? Free Camp Dolphin visits are available if you go to the Dolphin’s Mandara Spa, too.
If you’re headed to the mouse house, Traveling Mom recommends Undercover Tourist for discounted tickets.