You can save plenty of money by spending some of your vacation time away from the theme parks. Here are some free things to do at Disney World – outside of the theme parks. Our list includes fun and free activities, mementos, attractions, and services.
So long as you are staying at a hotel in or near Disney World, chances are high that you will have free access to a pool. Swimming and lounging near the pool are obviously some of the most popular activities that require no additional expense beyond the cost of your stay.
18. Resort Hopping
Disney World’s resorts are spectacular, and resort-hopping is one of our favorite free things to do at Disney World activities.
Just because you aren’t staying at a particular hotel doesn’t mean you can’t go and check out the lobby, grounds, and pool areas of the nearby resorts. Several resorts – including Animal Kingdom Lodge, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, and Yacht Club – offer free tours to any Disney Resort guest.
Check with each resort for tour times and reservation information (if applicable).
19. Magical Express
One of the perks of staying at select Disney World Resorts is the Magical Express service. This benefit gives Disney Resort guests complimentary motor coach transportation (and luggage delivery) to and from Orlando International Airport.
The service also allows you to check your luggage and receive your airline boarding pass right at your Disney Resort hotel.
20. Package Delivery
If you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you can arrange to have your park souvenirs delivered directly to your hotel instead of lugging them around the park.
At the time of your purchase, just tell the cashier to make arrangements to have your package delivered. It will arrive at your hotel room on the same day as your purchase, and the service is free of charge!
Whether it be buses, boats, or monorails, all Disney World transportation is complimentary (ie, FREE). Riding the “inner” monorail – which circles around Magic Kingdom, Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian, and Polynesian Resort – can be a fun and free adventure.
Get off at each stop and explore the beautiful lobbies and grounds of these resorts.
Use other modes of Disney Transportation to visit other Walt Disney World Resorts, attractions, restaurants, etc.
Making use of Disney transportation is a great way to familiarize yourself with the surrounding areas outside of the theme parks.
See our interactive Disney World Transportation Map to plan your bus, boat, and monorail routes around the resorts and theme parks.
22. Polynesian Lei
When you visit the lobby at the Polynesian Resort, pick up a complimentary lei (traditional Polynesian necklace). They are pretty, and best of all, they are free!
23. Boat Rides
All boat rides at Disney World are free, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t take advantage of this “Free Things to do a Disney World” perk, especially on a nice evening.
There are several relaxing and scenic boat rides to choose from, including Port Orleans to Disney Springs loop along the Sassagoula River; the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Magic Kingdom loop; the Magic Kingdom, Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge, and Fort Wilderness loop; and the Crescent Lake loop which stops at Epcot, Boardwalk, Yacht/Beach Club, Swan/Dolphin, and Hollywood Studios.
We especially love boat rides at dusk – when the park shimmers with light.
Disney’s BoardWalk area is a quarter-mile promenade featuring dining, shopping, and exciting nightlife.
There are several free activities to enjoy at BoardWalk, including street performances (music, comedy, juggling, and more), relaxing by the lake as the Friendship Boats come and go, or dancing the night away at Atlantic Dance Hall (no cover charge, 21+).
At night, strolling the BoardWalk is one of our favorite free things to do at Disney World.
25. Disney Springs
Between all the exquisite dining, shopping, and entertainment options at Disney Springs, it’s easy to spend money in this lively area of Disney World. However, there are a few free things to do, as well.
Besides window shopping, you can watch street performances and musicians in several Disney Springs locations, Raglan Road offers live music on the weekends (no cover charge, 21+), and House of Blues has free live music at its Front Porch Bar (no cover charge, 21+).
For kids, the Lego Imagination Center has a 3,000-square- foot, interactive, outdoor LEGO play area (free), and kids really enjoy the interactive water fountains play area at Disney Springs.
26. Nightly Movies
A number of Disney World Resorts offer free outdoor movie nights. These screenings (projected onto large screens) usually feature classic, family-friendly Disney and Pixar animated movies. Check with your resort for more details.
27. Kids Programs
Many Disney Resort hotels offer special kids programs. These free recreational programs offer activities ranging from pool games to arts and crafts. These activities keep children engaged and entertained after their exciting day at the park. Boredom is seldom a problem at Walt Disney World!
28. Art Class
The Art of Animation Resort offers art classes each day (11 am, 2 pm, and 5 pm). Learn how to draw a popular Disney character and keep your artwork as a souvenir. The classes are free and open to everyone, including non-Resort guests.
29. Electrical Water Pageant
Head to the docks and beaches of Disney’s Magic Kingdom resort hotels to watch the Electric Water Pageant. The free show takes place every evening/night on Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake and features 14 floats lit-up to depict sea creatures.
30. Campfire Sing-a-long
Campfire sing-alongs are free and open to all Disney World Resort guests. The Fort Wilderness sing-along and marshmallow roasts are held every evening near the Meadow Trading Post.
This event features a Chip and Dale meet and greets followed by a screening of a classic Disney movie (projected on a large outdoor screen).
You have the option of purchasing food at the sing-along, or you may bring your own food to the event.
Similar (free) programs are held on the beach at Beach Club Resort and Grand Floridian Resort, as well as a seasonal “Campfire on de’ Bayou” at Port Orleans-Riverfront. Check with these resorts for more details.
Head to the backside of Wilderness Lodge to see a miniature version of Old Faithful. The geyser is open to the public, free to view, and spouts on the hour (between 7 am – 10 pm).
32. Animals Viewing
Check out the viewing area at Animal Kingdom Lodge around dusk to watch exotic African animals roaming free in their (Animal Kingdom) habitat. While Animal Kingdom Lodge guests have similar views from their hotel rooms, anyone can enter the viewing area of this resort to watch the animals, free of charge.
33. Butterfly Gardens
The butterfly gardens at Fort Wilderness and the Contemporary Resort are open to the public and free of charge. Call the Gardening Hotline at (407) 938-3900 for more information.
34. Ghirardelli Chocolate
We would be remiss if we didn’t include chocolate on our “Free Things to do at Disney World” list. Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop in Disney Springs offers free squares of chocolate to all guests as they enter the store. Each guest receives one square per visit, so we recommend visiting the store as much as possible!
35. Birthday Treats
There is no better time to visit Disney World than on your birthday. Why? Because several Disney World restaurants offer free treats to these special guests.
Sign up for “Starbucks Rewards” to receive a free birthday drink (Starbucks – Disney Springs), “Earl of Sandwich’s Loyalty Club” to receive a free birthday sandwich (Earl of Sandwich – Disney Springs), “Sprinkles Perks” to get a free birthday cupcake (Sprinkles Cupcakes and Ice Cream – Disney Springs), and “Shula’s E-Club” to receive a free birthday entrée with the purchase of another entrée (Shula’s – Dolphin Resort).
36. Disney Wilderness Preserve
At the headwaters of the Everglades, about 20 miles south of Orlando, The Nature Conservancy’s Disney Wilderness Preserve offers a perfect side-trip for nature lovers. Visitors can hike the 2.5-mile nature trail and view plants and animals in their native habitat.
The Preserve is open to the public from 9 am – 5 pm (daily November – March, weekdays March – October excluding holidays) and is free of charge (donations are welcome).
Originally developed by the Disney Development Company in the early 1990s, Celebration is an interesting planned community located about 10 miles outside of Disney World. So, like Disney Wilderness Preserve, you must have access to a car to see this great little town, but we think it’s worth the trip.
The old-fashioned downtown area (Market Street) has plenty of interesting sights to see, attractions to explore, shops, restaurants, pedestrian-friendly walkways, and nature trails, plus the exquisite Bohemian Hotel. The town of Celebration also hosts free Christmas celebrations, antique car shows, craft festivals, and more exciting and free events throughout the year.
Leave your wallet in the car and just walk around this interesting town.