17 Things You Can Get for Free in Disney World
From the ticket prices to the souvenirs, it's no secret that a Disney World vacation will set you back more than a few bucks. But there are quite a few things available in the parks that don't cost a cent—if you know where to look.
This might be the freebie that Disney World aficionados are most familiar with. You can get them in all four Disney World parks at Guest Services (you’ll find them in Magic Kingdom’s City Hall). These buttons, which you can wear on your person, announce what you’re celebrating, be it a birthday, an anniversary, or even your first trip to Disney. And they don’t go unnoticed by Cast Members, who will congratulate you on your milestone and, if they’re feeling generous, maybe even present you with a free treat like a cupcake! For another easy way to save money on a Disney trip, find out the cheapest (and most expensive) times to go.
For a fun little memento of your Disney trip, ask the driver of your Disney transport vehicle if they have trading cards—they very well may! Known to be available on everything from the monorail to the Magic Kingdom ferry to the resort buses, the trading cards contain cool trivia about the transportation you’re on as well as about your favorite Disney characters. You can also get a pack of free collectible cards at the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game, a park-wide scavenger hunt that starts at the Firehouse on Main Street, U.S.A. During “special events,” the game may even offer rare, limited-edition cards.
Two words: Free food! According to Susan Veness, author of Walt Disney World Hacks, this is one potential upside of being at Disney on a particularly busy day. “When Magic Kingdom is busy, you’ll often see a Cast Member from the Main Street Confectionery standing outside with a tray of small samples,” she writes. And since it is, after all, a confectionery, the samples don’t disappoint; you may be able to taste cotton candy, ice cream, cookies, and the like. Don’t see a Cast Member outside the confectionery? See if there’s anyone offering samples inside the shop. Find out even more secrets Disney employees won’t tell you here.
If you’re spending part of your trip at Epcot, make sure to stop by Club Cool in Future World. At this trendy shopping spot, you’ll find self-service soda dispensers where you can sample several different Coca-Cola brand sodas. And these aren’t your run-of-the-mill sodas, either. They’re international-themed, similar to Epcot’s World Showcase! So you can try the Israeli Kinley Lemon, Mozambique’s Krest Ginger Ale, and the infamous love-it-or-hate-it Italian Beverly drink—no payment required.
Speaking of beverages, you’ll probably want some water during your park stay; you’re trekking around a crowded park in Florida, after all. But you can’t get any water without forking over several dollars for a bottle, right? Wrong! In addition to the free H2O available at the water fountains, you can get a cup of water for free at the park’s counter service concession stands just by asking. The Disney Tourist Blog recommends asking for a large cup to get the most bang for your, well, lack of buck! And, despite the park’s newly enacted ban on bringing ice cubes into the park, you can get those for free at concession areas, too. Learn more about why you shouldn’t be buying water in Disney World.
This one’s not in Disney World, per se, but it is in Disney Springs (and, really, if you’re not going to at least stop by Disney Springs during your Disney World trip, what are you doing there?). At the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop, you can get a free square or two of that mouthwatering Ghirardelli goodness, per Veness. ‘Tis the season for chocolate; Disney World can be even more magical during the holidays.
Ice cream and gift cards
This one’s technically free, but it will cost you your time—and more of it than you may consider worth it, at that. But anyone who takes a Disney Vacation Club tour—a two-hour presentation enumerating the perks of becoming a Disney Vacation Club member—will get some free ice cream, per the Disney Tourist Blog. The blog also states that you very well may get a $20 Disney gift card at the end of the tour as well. The blog also warns that the tour can be pretty persuasive, so make sure you don’t mistakenly sign up to become a Club member (if you don’t want to, of course). By the way, here’s why Disney World tickets are so expensive in the first place.
Refills and toppings
Oh yes, there’s even more free food to be had. (Well, “free with purchase,” technically.) Some of the restaurants in the different parks—but not all—offer free refills on your drinks. Per the Disney Tourist Blog, you can refill your drink for free at Epcot’s Electric Umbrella and Sunshine Seasons, Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest restaurant, and Hollywood Studios’ Backlot Express, among others. Meanwhile, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café and Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café, both in Magic Kingdom, have toppings bars, where you can heap mushrooms, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, and the like onto your meal, to your heart’s content, with no extra charge. As it happens, Be Our Guest is also a great spot to get some of the healthiest foods in Disney World.
Internet access is available for free in all four Disney World parks, its water parks, and Disney Springs. Thanks to the password-free Walt Disney World Resort network, you can share your memories of your trip to your heart’s content.
If you’re not totally worn out from a full day at the parks, consider ending your day at one of the fun nighttime events offered by various Disney resorts. The Fort Wilderness Resort hosts the nightly Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long, where you can snack on S’mores and sing along to some of your favorite Disney tunes. Many of the other Disney Deluxe and Moderate resorts offer campfires too, per Veness, and guests at any Disney resort can stop by for free. Another free perk for Disney resort guests is the nightly Movies Under the Stars—sit back, relax, and take in a Disney or Pixar flick. And, if you’ve already seen the movie playing at your resort or just want a change of scenery, you’re welcome to stop by another resort for their movie night.
Vacation planning tips
OK, this one’s technically not at Disney World, but it is a helpful—and free—offering that a lot of people may not know about. While you’re planning your Disney getaway, head to the Disney Parks site. All you have to do is click “Free Vacation Planning Videos” and choose your desired destination. For Disney World alone, you’ll find more than ten different videos detailing each of the parks and offering you planning tips while, of course, getting you nice and hyped for your vacation. You can also sign up to get tips and offers sent right to your home, and you don’t have to pay a thing! Not totally sold on Disney World as your chosen park yet? Learn all of the differences between Disney World and Disneyland.
Arts and crafts
You know that Epcot’s World Showcase is one of the best places at Disney to indulge in delicious food and beverages from around the world, but did you know that it’s also a great spot for crafty kids to make their own free souvenirs? At each different country in the World Showcase, you’ll find “Kidcot Fun Stops…where kids receive a craft item they can decorate,” writes Veness. These little mementos will undoubtedly be priceless—in more ways than one! In addition to the Kidcot Fun Stops, there are plenty of other secret spots you never knew existed in Disney parks.
Glitter makes everything better, doesn’t it?! Especially when you don’t need to pay for it! Stop by the Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street, U.S.A., and one of the barbers will give your little one’s hair a sprinkling of glittery “pixie dust” confetti. (Powers of flight aren’t guaranteed, sadly.) And the full treatment, with a haircut, hair gel, and some snazzy color, actually isn’t too pricey in Disney terms; you’ll pay under $20 for a child’s haircut.
This one’s not the most exciting free offering, but it’s still pretty nice! Don’t want to carry your new purchases around the parks all day? You’re in luck! On every day of your trip other than the last day, you can request that any souvenirs you buy be delivered to your hotel, free of charge. Here are some more insider secrets that will make your Disney World trip better.
A flight or driving “license”
Bringing a little navigator with you on your trip to Disney World? Head to the Tomorrowland Speedway and Dumbo the Flying Elephant rides, where kids can get a driver’s and a pilot’s certification card, respectively—a fun little souvenir. Find out how you can save money on a Disney trip if you shop at Target.
Parking in Disney Springs
Unfortunately, you can no longer park for free at a Disney hotel, unless you’re a Disney Vacation Club member. Parking at Disney Springs, though, is still free—but there are some caveats. Firstly, you can’t get directly from Disney Springs to the parks on Disney transport. You’ll have to catch a shuttle to a hotel first, and then catch one to the parks—a pretty circuitous, time-consuming process. In addition, parking at Disney Springs for a day at the parks is something of a frowned-upon practice in Disney guest circles. If those things don’t bother you, well then, be our guest (see what we did there?).
You may be inclined to pass by the PhotoPass Cast Members without a second thought, assuming that they’ll offer to take a picture of you with their fancy cameras and then make you pay an arm or a leg for it. But, according to the Disney Tourist Blog, they’ll also be happy to just snap a picture of you with your camera, too. (The blog advises taking a PhotoPass card from your photographer afterward, as a courtesy.) Still worried about the price of a Disney trip? In addition to all these freebies, find out some more ways to save serious money at Disney World.