Taking your family to Disney can get quite expensive real fast. For many parents, it’s stressful to just imagine their vacation budget by estimating the cost of meals, lodging, transportation, souvenirs and park tickets.
But don’t despair. There are tons of fun things to do at Disney World that don’t require extra money. Some are included in your park admission, so make the most out of your day at the park. If you stay on property at one of the Disney resorts, you have the added benefit of themed pools, fun playgrounds and scheduled activities.
Top 10 free things at Disney World
1. Ride the monorail. You can ride the monorail that takes you from the Ticket and Transportation center in Magic Kingdom to Epcot or the monorail that takes you up to Magic Kingdom’s entrance. During off-peak times, it can be quite relaxing, gives you a great view of the parks and is totally free.
2. Meet the characters. Get a picture with your favorite characters and have them sign their autograph. You don’t need an autograph book. Any notebook, photo mat or paper will do. Take a pen or Sharpie, or else the characters will not be able to sign anything. For specific times and locations, you can use an app to find Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, Disney Princesses and other popular characters.
3. Try soft drinks from around the world. Did you ever wonder what soda pops are popular in Japan, Germany or Costa Rica? Try out refreshments from different countries at Coca Cola’s Club Cool shop in Epcot for free! Do not do this if you don’t allow your kids to drink soft drinks. You can also purchase merchandise and other refreshments.
4. Celebrate! Get a button proclaiming it’s your birthday, anniversary, or first visit button. Just stop by Guest Services.
5. Go around the world in 80 minutes. Visit the country pavilions at Epcot, find the KidCot centers and let your kids decorate their crafts (in the past there have been masks and a cutout of Duffy the Bear) and later have Cast Members stamp them. Each country has a different stamp and if you’re lucky, you can get a Cast Member to write your name in their language. There are many performers as well to feel you are in a different country.
6. Fireworks anytime of year. It doesn’t have to be the Fourth of July or New Year’s to enjoy the spectacular fireworks Disney offers its guests. Check the schedule ahead of time, since time and days vary according to the specific park. Animal Kingdom does not have fireworks for the safety of its animals.
7. Enjoy the parades. There are several parades scheduled during the day. Check each park’s schedule online, at the park or using an app. For premium views, get there early. Many cast members entertain children with Hula-Hoops or funny stories on Main Street USA, for example, so time seems to go by faster.
8. Enjoy the resort pools: if you are staying at a Disney-owned hotel, take advantage of the amenities. The hotels boast beautiful and fun pools. Some resorts even have water slides that provide hours of fun for the entire family.
9. Stroll through the Boardwalk: Located in the Epcot resort area, it is relaxing, beautiful, stroller friendly and full of shops and places to eat. At night, you will find entertainers such as comedians and magicians. There are also carnival-style games (but those will cost you money).
10. Ride the friendship boat in the Epcot resort area: it runs continuously from Epcot to Disney Hollywood Studios, with stops at the Boardwalk and at the Swan and Dolphin resort.
Free things to enjoy as a family at Disneyworld
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Do you have any favorite tips to save money when you go to Disneyworld? Let me know and comment!
All photos: Jeannette Kaplun
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