Free Things to Do at Walt Disney World

“Free” and “Walt Disney World” might not seem like words you would expect to hear together, but there are actually a number of free things to do at “The Most Magical Place on Earth.” Whether it’s a free perk that is essentially included in theme park admission or an offering that can be truly free, here are some of our favorite things to do at Walt Disney World without spending a cent.

Pick up a celebration button

Cast Member Buttons

Celebration buttons are free to Guests who ask for one. These fun souvenirs can be worn throughout your trip to share whatever occasion you might be celebrating. There are buttons for birthdays, anniversaries, first visits, and more, as well as simple “I’m Celebrating” buttons that you can add your own event onto.

The buttons are always available at Guest Services inside Walt Disney World theme parks, but you can also find them at many merchandise locations, and at the front desk of your Disney resort. They are not often out on display unless you happen to catch a Cast Member set up with them at a table at a Disney park, so you may need to ask for one, but they are certainly available, and they are free!

Watch the fireworks

Did you know you can see Disney fireworks without ever entering a theme park? We should note, it will not be quite the same experience as watching in the park, as you will miss the effects that you need to be up close to see, but as far as a free thing to do, this is a great one!

The best place to see fireworks from outside the parks is at a Magic Kingdom area Disney hotel. Both Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa have beaches with views of the Disney Enchantment fireworks from the Magic Kingdom, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort has some great views from a public balcony just passed the resort’s gift shops.

If you do plan to watch the fireworks from a resort, here are a couple of things to note: During peak seasons or special event fireworks (think New Year’s Eve or Fourth of July) the beaches at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa may be restricted to Guests staying at those resorts. Driving into a Disney resort hotel without a dining reservation can also be a parking challenge depending on how the security booth is managing parking availability. If you are driving to the resorts and not planning on dining there, you may want to park at Disney Springs and take a resort bus to be safe.

See the Electrical Water Pageant

Photo Credit: Disney

A tradition since 1971, the Electrical Water Pageant floats by the Magic Kingdom area resorts nightly after the fireworks. The pageant features floats of everything from dinosaurs to the American flag with dancing lights, all synced up to music, and it can be viewed from any of the resorts on Seven Seas Lagoon including Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.

See the animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

View out the window from Animal Kingdom Lodge

View out the window from Animal Kingdom Lodge

You do not need to purchase a theme park ticket to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to see some animals during your Walt Disney World vacation. Head over to Animal Kingdom Lodge, and you will be able to view the resort’s savanna. There, you can spot animals like giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, flamingos, and more, all for free.

For a not entirely free, but budget-friendly trip to Animal Kingdom Lodge, you could also grab a quick service lunch at The Mara, and while you’re there, be sure to check out the exhibits and artifacts in the lobby. With numerous pieces of art authentic to African countries, you can really spend hours seeing the animals and exploring the resort.

View holiday decorations

Grand Floridian Resort Christmas

If your next Walt Disney World vacation falls around Easter or Christmas, there will be lots of decorations to check out around Disney resorts. Christmas is the most popular season for resort hopping as you can spot full-sized gingerbread displays, including a gingerbread house that even serves as a store selling gingerbread at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and a gingerbread and chocolate carousel at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. On top of gingerbread displays, the resorts are decked out with unique trees and decorations, and you can easily fill a day seeing them all.

During Easter, large-scale Easter egg displays are set up at Disney resorts that are pieces of art in themselves created by Disney’s talented pastry chefs. The best resort for spotting Easter eggs is the Grand Floridian Resort, but you may spot additional eggs all over property.

Cruise along the Sassagoula River

While at Disney Springs, you can take the boat, free of charge, to Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts and cruise down the Sassagoula River. The boat ride is a scenic and relaxing journey, and if you decide to hop off at Port Orleans, you can explore the grounds or even stop for some Mickey-shaped beignets.

Become a Wilderness Explorer

Credit: Disney

This one requires you to already be at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, so you’ll need to pay the price of admission to get in, but becoming a Wilderness Explorer is one of the most fun and educational free activities at Walt Disney World. Stop by the Wilderness Explorer station on Discovery Island as you enter the park to pick up your explorer guide. Then, use the guide to complete activities at stations around the park, earning a badge for each one. The activities are primarily geared for kids, but adults can have fun filling out the activities and learning about the animals and cultures represented in the park, too!

See a concert in EPCOT

Credit: Disney

A concert series is always part of the lineup at EPCOT’s annual festivals, and with each festival lasting longer than ever, chances are one will be taking place during your next visit. The EPCOT International Festival of the Arts features the Disney on BROADWAY Concert Series, which hosts a variety of Broadway stars for concerts daily throughout the festival.

Both the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival and the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival host popular bands and musical artists at the Garden Rocks Concert Series and the Eat to the Beat Concert Series. And, during the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, Guests can see Candlelight Processional, a retelling of the Christmas story from the Bible with a celebrity narrator and talented choir.

All of these concerts take place in the America Gardens Theater at the American Adventure pavilion and are free to attend. To guarantee yourself a seat, you can book a dining package, but you are always welcome to stand in the back or wait in line for a chance to grab a seat.

Free experiences at Walt Disney World can really add some extra magic to your next Disney vacation! Check back here on Disney Fanatic for more updates from the theme parks and resorts, as well as budget-friendly tips.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."

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