2. Chip 'n' Dale's Campfire Sing-A-Long
Speaking of free experiences outside the parks, a hidden gem worth checking out—and one of the best family activities around—is Chip 'n' Dale's Campfire Sing-A-Long at the Fort Wilderness Campground. Take the boat over there from Magic Kingdom, and once ashore, make your way to the bus pickup area to be taken to the Meadow Trading Post stop (we recommend riding the "Orange" line).
A short walk later, you'll find yourself at an outdoor theater with two open fire pits where you can roast marshmallows (they sell s'mores kits if you're so inclined) and hot dogs while a cowboy takes to the stage to lead everyone in song and dance. (Don't worry introverts, nothing is mandatory). After a while, your favorite chipmunks Chip and Dale come out and make their way through the audience to sign autographs and take pictures.
After the show, you'll be treated to a classic Disney movie under the stars, which changes from night to night.
4. Animal Kingdom's "Secret" Entrance
Ever notice how long the wait to get into Animal Kingdom can become at times? You don't necessarily have to wait in those lines. As you approach the entrance, take a detour to the left instead, through the Rainforest Cafe restaurant. Exit the gift shop on the other side, and you'll find a secret entrance to the park right there in the courtyard.
If you do this at rope drop in the morning, it might just help you beat the rush to your first ride of the day.
3. Great (and Sometimes Free) Experiences Outside the Parks
Who says you have to go into the Disney World parks to experience the magic? There's plenty of fun things to do outside of the four parks, if you're willing to look for it.
For example, you can do a little "resort hopping" by riding the resort monorail around the Seven Seas Lagoon and making stops at each resort—the Polynesian, the Grand Floridian, and the Contemporary—along the way. This is especially fun to do during the holidays when they're all decked out in yuletide decor.
You can also hop over to Disney Springs and simply enjoy the ambiance as you walk around looking at all the shops.
1. Take the Resort Monorail
Magic Kingdom's main monorail gets crazy busy towards the end of the night when everyone is leaving. Head over to the resort monorail instead. The line is always shorter and still stops at the Transportation and Ticket Center. The only caveat is that the monorail seems to appear less often and you do have to account for the added resort stops. But hey, that's just more air conditioning you get to sit in!
There are way more tips we could include on this list, but we'd better stop now so we don't take up your entire day ;)
Have fun making good use of this information!