Let’s face it: a trip to Disney isn’t exactly cheap. There are hotel accommodations, travel expenses, park tickets, food, and a bevy of other “incidentals” that are unavoidable. There are, however, many activities to do around Walt Disney World resort that won’t cost you a dime. The items on this list are all free and won’t require park admission. Feel free to enjoy them to your heart’s content!
11. Take a Tour
Special tours are a popular Disney “extra”. They allow guests to experience Disney “behind the scenes”. While these tours can be very entertaining and informative, they can also be rather pricey. The 45-minute Boardwalk Ballyhoo Guided Tour departs every week from Wednesday through Saturday at 9:00am from Disney’s BoardWalk Resort, and is completely free. It is an opportunity to examine the 20th-century architecture and artwork in this beautiful resort area. There is also a free culinary tour at Animal Kingdom Lodge that meets each day at Boma at 3:45. This tour lasts approximately 30 minutes.
10. Sing Along
Many resort hotels have some manner of a campfire sing-along at each night, weather permitting. For an extra-special experience, head over to Chip ‘n Dale’s Campfire Sing-Along at Disney’s Fort Wilderness. This nightly event (weather permitting) invites families to join in traditional “camp” songs and take photos with Chip ‘n Dale. The sing-along is followed by a family-friendly Disney film under the stars. These sing-alongs are free to any Walt Disney World resort guests, and you do not have to attend the event at your particular hotel.
9. Build Something
Downtown Disney is home to every Lego fan’s dream; a massive space filled with every conceivable shape and color of LEGO brick imaginable. There are tables just outside the main doors of the store filled with thousands of blocks intended for children to use for exploration and building. If you happen to visit on the first Tuesday of any month between he hours of 5 and 7, your child may be able to participate in the Mini-Model Build, an event for children ages 6-14. A kit with all pieces needed to build a specific model will be supplied to each child, free of charge! No matter when you visit, be sure to bring your camera. The entire store is surrounded by massive sculptures made entirely from LEGO blocks.
8. Watch a Movie
Most Disney resorts offer a nightly movie shown somewhere outdoors on the hotel’s property. At Animal Kingdom Lodge, for example, the movies are shown in the pool area at Kidani Village. You can get a schedule of the movies to be shown during each week at your hotel’s front desk. This is great way to unwind after a long day of park touring or just settle in after a day of doing all the other great free stuff on this list!
7. Learn to Hula Dance
There are complimentary Hula Dance lessons offered in the lobby of the Polynesian most days of the week. The classes last about an hour, but guests are welcome to come and go as they please. Most days the classes begin around 3:45, and there is a morning class on Saturdays.
6. Take a Ride
If you have young children who are into “transportation” (trains, boats, buses), you could easily spend an entire day just jetting around the World. Guests of Walt Disney World resorts are able to use any form of Disney transportation completely free of charge. Adults may enjoy a quiet ride aboard the FriendShip boats in Crescent Lake, which makes stops at the Yacht and Beach Clubs, BoardWalk, the Swan and Dolphin, Epcot and Hollywood Studios. You can also use Disney bus service to visit several of the beautiful Disney resorts. Wilderness Lodge has amazingly beautiful grounds and Art of Animation features three-story tall states of popular Disney characters. These hotels are worth seeing!
5. See the Butterflies
There is a patch of land behind the Contemporary Resort that has been planted with various flora and fauna designed to attract butterflies. There is another butterfly garden at the Ft. Wilderness Campgrounds.
4. Listen to the Music
Walt Disney World offers several opportunities to listen to live music with no associated cost. The Grand Floridian Lobby Society Orchestra performs several 30-minute shows nightly beginning at 4 pm. The group performs ragtime, jazz, and some traditional Disney tunes. YeHaa Bob Jackson performs several 30-minute shows on Wednesday through Saturday nights at the River Roost Lounge in Port Orleans – Riverside. This is a piano/comedy routine appropriate for all ages.
3. Visit the Wildlife
Head over to Animal Kingdom Lodge for some spectacular views of animals grazing right on resort property. There are 30 species of African animals living at the resort, which can be viewed from special areas behind the main lobbies of both Jambo House and Kidani Village. There is even a flamingo pond near the Uzima pool at Jambo House! The animal viewing at this resort is just as good, if not better, than any zoo I’ve visited.
2. Watch Fireworks
The Wishes fireworks display at the Magic Kingdom is viewable from several areas outside of the theme park. The beach at the Polynesian is one option for a great view. But my favorite outside-the-theme-park vantage is the viewing balcony on the fourth floor of the Contemporary Resort. The soundtrack from Wishes is pumped through speakers on the balcony, giving you a complete experience of the show.
1. Walk the BoardWalk at Night
This area of Disney is spectacularly beautiful at night. It’s worth the trip there just to see it, but as an added bonus, the BoardWalk area features street performers each night beginning around 7pm. There are several different acts, including comedians and acrobats, and there is no charge to enter this area or view the live performances.
If you combine several of the above activities with a few hours at the hotel pool or playground areas, you could easily build a fun day for little to no cost! Do you know of any other free and fabulous activities at Walt Disney World? Share your experiences with us!