12 Things You Can Get for Free at Theme Parks
Theme parks visits are big on fun and thrills, but between ticket prices, meals, and those sought-after souvenirs, they can also go heavy on the wallet. Still, there are freebies to be had at the parks, you just need to know where to look.
Whether it’s a scorching hot day at the park or you’re simply trying to stay hydrated (as one should), there’s a way to dodge the cost of purchasing expensive bottled water. At Walt Disney World and Disneyland, guests can simply ask for a cup of ice water at any counter service restaurant and they will be handed one for free, according to WDW expert Lou Mongello, who shared this helpful bit of advice with People.
Theme park photographers are always at the ready to snap pics for families at the most coveted spots, like Cinderella’s Castle in Disney World, then sell you the image in a glossy 5×7 or with their Memory Maker deal (all of the digital images you take throughout the parks). But there’s a free way to get those same picture-perfect moments. At Disney parks, you can just ask these pro photographers to snap a photo with your own camera or phone and they’ll oblige. For an unconventional vacation photo, you might want to check out one of these wacky amusement parks.
Common medical supplies
All of the walking theme parks require can easily add up to some painful blisters. Need a band-aid? You can get one for free at First-Aid centers in the Disney Parks, Universal Studios, and likely many others. They can also help with other mild discomforts so before you purchase a remedy, ask at First-Aid.
LEGOLAND California Tickets
Park admission is typically the most expensive part of any excursion, but currently, Legoland California is offering free admission to kids ages three to 12 on their 2019 birthday. Parents or caregivers must present proof of birth date upon arrival at a LEGOLAND California ticket booth to receive the free admission ticket (and can find all of the fine print details here). Far from California? These are the best amusement parks in every state.
Visiting Walt Disney World for the first time? Or hitting Universal Studios on your birthday or an anniversary? Check out Guest Services where either of these theme parks (as well as Disneyland) will happily offer you a pin that touts whatever you’re celebrating that day. It’s a sweet little (free!) keepsake and you may even get a shout out from park employees and fellow revelers during your day. These theme parks go all-out for the holidays.
Universal Studios Hollywood trick-or-treating
Universal Studios (both Orlando and Hollywood locations) are best known for bringing out the scary around Halloween with their massively popular Halloween Horror Nights. However, Universal Studios Hollywood has added some family-friendly daytime activities during the spookiest time of year. The weekend before Halloween (check the USH website to confirm dates) kids are invited to dress up in costume and trick-or-treat—for free!—at select locations around the park. Simply pick up a map that denotes the candy-filled spots and a park employee will stamp the map and hand over a treat. Love the sweet stuff? These Halloween candy facts are to die for.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s Year of Beer
To celebrate 60 years in the biz, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is treating guests (must be 21 years of age or older, of course) to two complimentary beer samples during each park visit in 2019. This is a throwback to the park’s origins as a beer garden when it first opened in 1959. Cheers!
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Game
With admission to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, guests can mosey on over to the Main Street Fire Station to pick up a free pack of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards. Have a blast playing the game as you make your way around the park and feel free to pick up another set if you find yourself spending a second day at the Kingdom. If you love Walt Disney World, you’ll want to make sure you know every nook and cranny of these secret spots around the parks.
Raise your hand if you want a free sweet treat. The Ghirardelli shop in California Adventure at Disneyland hands out sample squares of their famous chocolate to park visitors guests. If you’re closer to the East Coast head to the free Hershey’s Chocolate Tour (located next to Hershey Park) and snag a sample of their cocoa creations at the tour’s end.
Most theme parks have mobile apps to help you navigate these labyrinths of fun more easily. With the My Disney Experience app, for example, you can check on attraction wait times, find specific merchandise (and purchase it!), manage your Fast Passes, and even play Disney-related games while waiting in long lines. Other free amusement park apps will also feature wait times, allow you to place counter-service food orders, and even offer discounts for signing up with it. If you’ve only been to Disney World or Disneyland, here’s the differences between the two parks.
It doesn’t cost a thing to ask your favorite roaming theme park character to sign something for you, though you may want to purchase an autograph book ahead of time (or make your own) to avoid paying a premium for one inside the park. This makes for a sweet and sentimental souvenir, too.
Disney’s pin trading program
Pin collectors rejoice! Disney cast members sporting pin lanyards are at the ready to trade Disney pins with you for free. Just remember that there are certain rules to this exchange. It has to be Disney pin (no fakesies) and the pin you are trading must be in tip-top condition. And while you’re trading pins with the cast members, consider this: These are the best places to work in the Disney parks.