Who doesn’t love Free?
We know that Disney and Free aren’t synonyms, but there are some fun experiences that you may be missing that are totally free… or very low cost.
Or free with the price of admission or hotel stay.
We know, we know… there’s not much at Disney that come without some strings attached!
Here are our favorite things to do “for free” at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
- 79 cool and free things at Disney World
- 20 Ways to Score Free Stuff at Disneyland
- Magic Kingdom Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt
Find the No-Guilt Disney Team
Contact us by email at [email protected] or find us on socials:
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- @realmousewifeFL on Twitter
Music from https://filmmusic.io
“Vivacity” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)
License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Check out this episode!
Episode Transcript: Free Things At Disney You May Be Missing
To all who come to our happy place… Welcome to the No-Guilt Disney Podcast, where we have no guilt about our love for all things Disney.
We are three Disney fan girls who probably know more about the Disney Parks than most grown women should, and we’re perfectly okay with that.
For sure, and hopefully we’ll share a few things that we know that maybe you don’t today. Hello, everyone. My name is Theresa and you can find me on Twitter at @GertieTheDino.
I’m Jane and you can find me on Instagram at @RealMousewifeWDW.
Hey, y’all! I’m Patty Holliday from No-Guilt universe, which is NoGuiltDisney.com, NoGuiltFangirl.com, and, of course, NoGuiltLife, my original OG blog. You can find me on all socials at @NoGuiltLife. Today, we’re going to talk about some of the best things that you can find at Disney that are… Drumroll please… Free. Listen, we know that “Disney” and “free” do not typically go together. That’s just not what any of us think of when we consider these things. However, there might be some things on this list that surprise you. You may know about some of them, you may have forgotten about some of them, but we wanted to run down a list of what we know that you can do at Walt Disney World or Disneyland. Some of these overlap and you can do at either one. Some of them are going to be specific to Disneyland, and we’ll talk about those. The whole idea here is this is going to be free or very cheap, with a caveat. That caveat is some of these things do require that you be in the parks. While we’re saying “free” and we’re throwing that word around loosely, we do recognize that’s not exactly free, because you had to pay to get into the theme park in the first place. Or possibly [these opportunities are] only available to you if you are staying at the resorts or even just easier to access if you’re staying at the resorts. Keep all of that in mind. This is circling around the folks that are going to be there on vacation or are looking for something outside the norm or the typical to-do or you have a rainy day and you want to give your kids something to keep them occupied while you’re at a resort, something along those lines. If you’re looking for things to do that are a little bit different, but also won’t cost you much or are straight up free of charge, that’s what we’re aiming for in this list. Did I sum that up well, ladies?
You did an amazing job. You’re doing amazing, sweetie.
I appreciate that.
You know I love being called Kris Jenner. The other caveat that I want to throw out there is that some of these things were available and were programs that were in place well before the whole pandemic thing that we were all forced to participate in over the last couple of years. Some of these items may or may not be back in full force just yet. My thought process is [that] some things could be chalked up to supply chain issues. Other things could just be a matter of not Disney’s priority right now. They’re just not high on the list of bringing them back. My point with this conversation is [that] we’re going to give you what we know they have done in the past. Obviously we haven’t been to all the resorts or we haven’t experienced “#AllTheThingsAllTheTime”. We’ve done a lot, but we haven’t done them all in the last week, yes? Things are changing constantly at Walt Disney World. If there is something that we say that you’re interested in, we’re throwing it out there for you to go and ask. Walk up to a Cast Member and say, “Hey, are you guys still doing this? Or is this an option? Or I heard that once upon a time I was able to do this, can we do that?”. We’re giving you the information, you do with it what you may on your vacation. With that being said, Jane, what’s your first free thing that you love at Disney?
Oh my gosh. The first thing I feel like I need to start off with some big bang or something. I would say the first free thing that I really want to hit home on is the hotel hopping. It’s not the same as it used to be. You definitely can’t drive up to a hotel and be like, “Hey, I just wanted to check out your lobby”. You can’t do that anymore. They’re definitely tighter in terms of security post-pandemic, but you can use the internal transportation on resort property and either go from your resort to a park and then take a bus, a monorail or a Skyliner or over to another resort to check it out. The reason that I bring this up is because especially [during the] holidays. If you’re here for Christmas, this is a big one. You want to go around [and] see the Deluxe Resorts. They have all the Christmas trees and the gingerbread houses. At Easter, the Grand Floridian has the Easter eggs that they do in the lobby. I actually think some of the other hotels do contests. I know the Contemporary does them. It’s not even just the Deluxe Resorts – I know Patty, you’re going to die when I say this – but the Value Resorts are so great for photos. You can get like Cars Land at Art of Animation, right?
It is just like a little bit of Cars Land and you can take the most adorable photos. The Little Mermaid section is adorable. Even the All-Star [Resorts] have great sections for photos. If you want to make some of those memories, [if you] have kids, [and] you want to see things that are just humongous and fun, I definitely think that the Value Resorts are really great for that.
You are not wrong. I’m just shocked that you recognize it. Have you been there? Or you just say [that] you’ve seen pictures?
Oh, I’ve been there!
I’ve run around those places. That’s one of my favorite things. When I used to run, people. I don’t run anymore. To run that loop at Pop Century and Art of Animation. I love that one because you had character stops the whole way.
You do. The year that Lady and the Tramp was the 5K [theme] for Wine & Dine Weekend, we drove over to All-Star Movies to find the Lady and the Tramp statues to take our medal shots.
That’s a perfect example of a fun, cool, free thing to do at Disney. That was pre-pandemic, so we were able to just drive in and do it. You are correct. Resort hopping got a little bit more complicated. You’ve got to finesse things a little bit, so it may not be as easy to do as it once was. But again, you can always ask and see what they’ll let you do or see what will happen. Resort hopping is huge and so much fun to do, particularly [at] the monorail resorts. Last trip with our friend Julia, we did the monorail bar crawl.
I’m still convinced you like this because y’all just had some drinkies and you felt really good and you were like, “This is fantastic!”.
It was fun and plus, Julia really likes to shop and I don’t like to shop. Not only did we get a drink, but we also had to go into every single merchandise location gift shop and check it all out. Then when we got our bags together, we just hopped back on the monorail and went to the next one. It was a blast! When we didn’t have park tickets but we were staying on site, we did that. I can’t remember… We took a bus from our resort to Magic Kingdom and then walked from Magic Kingdom to Contemporary to start it. That might have been how we got around not having to be staying on the monorail [resort line] to start this process. That’s what we did and it was great. I’m all about that resort hopping. It’s a lot of fun.
There’s a million things and I’m sure other things will come up on this list so I’m trying not to hijack all of the things. I just feel like the resort hopping thing is so underrated, especially in the Moderates and the Values. People just immediately think [to] go see the Deluxes because they’re the biggest, the brightest, the bestest. Look, I believe in all that crap. I’m not putting down the Deluxes. That’s where I stay. But, there is a lot that you can get from the Values and the Moderates and I think people skip that.
On the subject of resort hopping, I’m going to go ahead – Theresa, I think we blew your whole plan completely out of the water now because I’m going to go to something very specific at one of the resorts. Sorry! We tried for 10 seconds. When you mentioned Moderate Resorts, one that people kind of forget is there and unless you’re specifically staying there: Fort Wilderness, y’all. The Fort Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds. It’s like a little vacation within a vacation. I’ve always said it’s a “two types of vacation” situation. You get all your crazy, wild theme parks just across the water, but then you get to come back and have this very relaxing, very calm and cool, chill experience being in the great outdoors. You can go and visit this particular area. It’s free parking. You park up in the front, and then you can take the internal shuttles to the different places inside of Fort Wilderness Resort. [You can] visit the Tri-Circle-D Ranch, which is [a] fairly new and very modern horse facility in the back [of property]. We checked it out two years ago when they just reopened after [the] pandemic. We were staying at Fort Wilderness and so I explored all over. And I was like, “Ah, I forgot this is here!”, and it was just really cool. We got to talk to horse people, my daughters got to watch them wash them down and change everything out. Somebody was cleaning some tack. We don’t see horses on the daily, so it was kind of neat to have this up close and personal experience and it was free. You could just walk on over there. We actually had our dog with us, so he was able to see the horses, too. Then also while you’re over there, you can stay for a campfire and a free Disney movie. I think this has just come back or is on the list –
Okay, it did come back. I knew it was either here or coming very soon. You can go to a campfire, watch a movie, Chip and Dale come out, they do a sing-along. It’s a lot of fun. It doesn’t cost you anything to do that aspect of it, but of course your kids are going to want s’mores, so you’re going to have to cough up the bucks to buy a little s’mores kit, which isn’t very much. I want to say like under $10 for a s’mores kit for four people, something along those lines. Piggybacking off of the resort hopping idea, head over to Fort Wilderness one day. If you have some free time, if you have a free day, if you just need to get out of the hustle and bustle of the parks or Disney Springs, because we know, goodness, they are so packed and there’s so many people right now. Another bonus for Fort Wilderness: a lot of shade, a lot of trees. It’s a really great location for a lot of reasons, so consider that on your park hopping list of things to do. You can take the boat from Magic Kingdom to go straight over there. It’s easy.
Depending upon what time of year you go, Halloween and Christmas at Fort Wilderness are unmatched! The people that come and stay there, they set up camp for forever. I’m pretty sure these people come and live at Disney for two to three months at a time. Its the guests; it’s not Disney itself. They come and they put up all kinds of displays. On Halloween weekend, they do a golf cart parade, and people decorate their golf carts. When I say decorate their golf carts, it’s not like we’ve got some streamers hanging off and a cute little drawing. No. These are like massive parade floats that people build on their golf carts. It’s so amazing that last year when I saw it, I was like, “Patty, I need you to book me a campground” and she was like, “Are you feeling okay?”. Yes, I’m okay. But, we still haven’t gotten in because it’s so hard to get in for that weekend.
It really is.
Halloween is huge. Christmas, same thing. [For] Halloween, people start putting things up October 1. Then as soon as Halloween is over, they start switching out into their Christmas stuff. You can go there and walk around and see inflatables and blow ups and displays and lights and everything! It’s awesome because these people brought their own magic to share with other people, and that’s super cool. It’s not “from Disney” free but hey, it’s free from person to person.
I love it. Theresa, what’s your first free thing that you want to throw out there?
I’ll add on to what you were saying. The campfires – you can actually get to see those at most, if not all, the resorts usually around 7pm. Each one has a different spot that you could go to. They don’t all have s’mores, but I think most of them do have marshmallows. If you’re just doing a marshmallow, I’m pretty sure that part’s free. All of the resorts do have the campfires and the Movies Under the Stars. If you are staying at one of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels, go ask for an activities guide. Every week, different days have different activities that you can do. Some of them do have a small upcharge and it’ll usually be noted with a dollar sign on the activity sheet, but there’s a lot of other free activities you can do at the resorts. There’s also a few that have some scavenger hunts. One specific [scavenger hunt] that I’ve seen – I don’t know whether or not it’s back yet – [at] Port Orleans French Quarter during Halloween season, they’ll have these carved pumpkins with different characters hidden around the resort. You can get a little sheet to go around and find each one of them and if you find all of them, you get a small prize. Don’t get excited. It’s a very small prize. You can go to the resorts and do these little scavenger hunts. I think right now for the 50th anniversary, the Magic Kingdom area resorts have one that’s a Magic Kingdom attractions scavenger hunt. If you’re walking around, you might see a sign that has a big letter “D” and says the name of an attraction on it and it gives you some history about the attraction. They set it to the old ticket books for the A, B, C, D, E attractions.
That scavenger hunt is definitely at all the Deluxe resorts. It might be at all hotels, but I know it’s definitely in all the Deluxes.
I remember seeing it at the Polynesian specifically and maybe one or two others. I think I saw it either at Pop Century or Art of Animation when I was staying there recently. I can’t remember, but I’m pretty sure they had it, too. Something to ask about, but there might be other resort specific scavenger hunts that we don’t know about. Another thing I don’t believe is back yet but it’s something to keep an eye out for – Art of Animation would also have a drawing class, similar to what would be at the Animation Academy that you could go and learn how to draw different characters. That one is, I believe, still temporarily suspended, but they said “temporarily”. It may or may not come back, I guess as staffing continues to increase. Keep an eye out for that and ask about any activities that are happening at your resort.
I do know that there are three scavenger hunts at Riviera and it’s depending upon how much time you have. One of them actually covers Riviera and the Caribbean Beach Resort. It’s much larger. They say if you have a couple of hours, you might want to do that one. They have three of them over there. I know that Wilderness Lodge has a lobby Hidden Mickey scavenger hunt that they’ve had forever. You definitely have to ask at the front desk for that one.
I love the scavenger hunts because they’re free [and] it’s an easy way to get your kids motivated to get up and get out of the hotel room. If you’re not going to the pool that day or if it’s raining, it gives you some options. Speaking of scavenger hunts, I’m going to throw these out there. I have on my blog – this is not an official scavenger hunt, but I will put a link in show notes – Jane took a bunch of pictures at Magic Kingdom last year of pumpkins that we saw along Main Street USA. There are some hilarious pumpkins. There are some really clever touches and things that they did that they put all up along second story, by the windows. We made a list of them. We put together a scavenger hunt. I’ll stick that link in the show notes for you. There’s also going to be a new Halloween scavenger hunt announced for Walt Disney World. This is going to be in EPCOT during the Halloween season. It’s called Pluto’s Pumpkin Pursuit. I’m thinking the same general idea that we did ourselves over in Magic Kingdom, they’re going to do that over in EPCOT. This is similar to what they have over at Disneyland. Disneyland did this in Downtown Disney and it actually cost a little bit because you did have to purchase to officially play. You had to purchase a little map for 10 to 15 bucks, something like that. I’m assuming you’ll see the same thing at EPCOT, but you know what – no one’s going to stop you if you want to go look around for pumpkins yourself. That’s something to keep in mind. Not necessarily free, but available to you. However, my Magic Kingdom pumpkin one is free, just go to the blog and check it out.
So its going to be the same as the Remy one, the bee one, the Easter one, the Christmas one? We always tell people if you want the prize, you have to then pay for the map. But if you don’t want the prize, you can just walk around and find them.
Yes, exactly. There’s going to be plenty of people who essentially put that map online for you, so you can go and look if you want to, and you can save yourself some money. The scavenger hunts are huge. They’re fun. I have heard that there’s a Finding Dory scavenger hunt in EPCOT over by the Seas Pavilion. I’ve never seen this. I’ve never done it myself. I have no idea what the status of it is right now. If anybody is curious and you want to go find out if that’s available, go over to the Seas Pavilion and ask them about the Dory scavenger hunt and let us know if it’s still a thing.
Just to note, scavenger hunts are also available sometimes at Disney Springs. Right now, they’re doing one with Orange Bird over the summer, so there’s a map for that. While you’re walking through Disney Springs, you could look for Orange Bird. I know at Christmas they usually do one. I anticipate we’re going to see a lot more of the scavenger hunts pop up pretty much any place they can put them because I think it’s really easy for them to do and it’s definitely a great way to keep kids entertained while the adults can have a little adult fun, too.
Especially if you have kids that are old enough, like my kids are. I can just be like, “Hi, Claire! Take the younger one. Y’all go do this scavenger hunt together. Mama’s gonna sit right here with her drink at the pool. Bye!”. I agree. I definitely think it’s a good idea.
I have two other things that are free at the resorts that some people may or may not know about. If you don’t know about it, it might just be because these are not things you’re thinking about while you’re on vacation at Disney. If you are a resort guest, almost all of the Deluxe resorts plus Coronado Springs and Riviera Resort have fitness centers that resort guests can use for free. There’s a bunch of exercise equipment and some spaces to do different exercises. You can also rent the tennis courts for free. It’s first come, first serve. You let them know at Guest Services that that’s something you’re interested in. They have tennis courts at the Contemporary, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boardwalk Inn, Fort Wilderness, Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, and the Yacht and Beach Club. If you have your own equipment, you can just go and play. If you don’t have it, it’s a small rental fee for it. If you are a DVC Member, the equipment is also free to rent. Just an FYI – if you have an extra day and or if you have a workout routine that you’re into and you want to keep it going, you do have the availability to do that at some of the Disney resorts.
I think a lot of people might know this one, but just to reiterate it for anybody who doesn’t know. If you are able to get a dining reservation – or even if you’re not – if you’re able to get to any of the monorail resorts on a non-holiday weekend – let me be clear about that – you can watch the fireworks from those resorts and that would be completely free. The reason that I say this is obviously you can watch the fireworks from anywhere you can see fireworks from, right? But when you’re at the Contemporary, you can go outside on the fourth floor, which is where all the shopping is and Chef Mickey’s. There’s an actual outside patio area and they pipe the music in so you can see the fireworks over Magic Kingdom. You can hear the music, there’s actual seating there. You can get that park experience without actually being in the park or, if you’re like me, sometimes you just want to see fireworks but you don’t want to deal with crowds. Same thing with Grand Floridian. I believe that they still pipe the music in on the boat dock and then [at the] Polynesian at the beach on their boat dock, as well.
At Fort Wilderness at their boat dock, they will also do it. Also, if you’re there to watch the fireworks, depending on the timing, you might also get to see the Electrical Water Pageant.
Which is adorable! Is this an OG experience? Is this something that has been around since like day one?
It really hasn’t changed that much since day one. I don’t know if I’m 1,000% accurate on that. But it’s been around for a long time. Those floats keep on floating, y’all. If you need a little Disney nostalgia, highly recommend taking the time out and making your way to one of those locations. Anywhere around the monorail or Fort Wilderness are going to be perfect places to watch this. [It’s] usually nine o’clock at night, right? Is it right before fireworks or in between if they’re doing fireworks twice that night?
There is a schedule. It’s 15-minute increments for which of the Magic Kingdom resorts it will be in for where you can see it. They do have a schedule, and it’s pretty much the same every night. But yes, this was a 1971 original. I think it’s gone through like some slight changes. They do have an additional float now for the 50th anniversary. It’s very similar to what it was when it was first introduced.
It’s adorable. I’m a fan of it. It is something that I will go out of my way to go and catch. The music, y’all. The music is a little bop. You’ve gotta go. You’ll get it stuck in your head, it’s great. All right. What else do we have? Are we good with everything that we can think of off the top of our heads with free stuff at the resorts?
Okay. Go for it.
No, no, no! This is what you’re here for!
I spend a lot of time at resorts because I’m here.
Y’all, do you remember the time Jane went for the reopening of Walt Disney World [during the pandemic] and brought a puzzle and sat at the pool and put a puzzle together? I remember that story. So yes, Jane spends a lot of time there.
How about two weeks ago when we checked into the Animal Kingdom Lodge for five days and only went to the park once?
Well, to be fair, you were in the club level. Who was going to kick you out when you were getting free drinks and free food?
And our room was right there! So we didn’t even have to socialize with anybody else. We would just grab food and drinks and bring it back to our room. We sat and like watched movies and played games and we had a great time doing all the things that Patty hates that I’m able to do on vacation at Disney.
Hey, you vacation your way, boo. I’m going to vacation mine. Let’s be clear, Disneyland is not that type of vacation for either one of us, it’s going to be totally different.
No, it is not. I do want to bring up Animal Kingdom Lodge. A lot of people forget about Animal Kingdom Lodge because it’s so far out of the way and if you’ve never been there before, you’re just like, “Oh, whatever. There’s animals, blah, blah, blah”. But, if you’re not going to do an Animal Kingdom day, or if you don’t like it because it’s a zoo, Patty. Going to Animal Kingdom Lodge, you can see so many animals. It’s so cool. There’s Cast Members that will talk to you about the animals. They’ll tell you the animals’ names, what’s quirky about them, they’ll teach you about the species. This is a really cool thing to do, especially if you have kids. I don’t have kids; I still do this stuff. There’s different savannas, so there’s different animals in different parts all over the hotel. You get to see them a little bit closer, especially in the evenings. You can go outside and see them as the sun’s going down. They’re not always out. I will tell you that from staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge this past month, I would joke if it is five o’clock yet because the giraffes don’t clock in until five o’clock. Outside my window, I didn’t get giraffes until five o’clock every day. Oh, is it time for a shift change? I made up names for every animal that were just not appropriate. I like to throw it out there because I know a lot of people come and they’ll spend two days and if you have little kids, you’re just looking for rides. So, you might say, “Okay, I’m only going to go to Magic Kingdom and maybe Hollywood Studios if they’re Toy Story fans,” right? Going over to Animal Kingdom Lodge is a great way to see some animals and learn some things. Also great dining, but that’s a whole separate conversation. It is a fantastic lobby. Highly recommend the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Yep. That was on my list of “a vacation within a vacation”. It’s a zoo. Just kidding, it’s not a zoo. Disney’s like, “It’s not a zoo, Patty!”.
On that note, I thought of something else that you can do. These are back as of the last time I looked it up, which was in March of this year, 2022. There are yoga classes at certain Walt Disney World resorts that are free. There are also yoga classes and a walking class at Disneyland that used to be free, that ain’t free no more.
They charge for them now.
They do charge for them now, but they’re $25, $30. We did the power walk through Disney California Adventure one year, and this was when it was free. You get up early, you get to power walk through the whole of DCA. And I’m not kidding, this is no stroll. They’re pushing you through this place pretty quickly. If you wanted to see some behind the scenes experience, if you want to be in the parks, but when nobody else is around… Trust me, there’s not a lot of time to stop and take pictures because they keep you moving, but it was a lot of fun and it was a very unique experience. I’m going to throw that out there. I think it’s $25 to do that now and you have to be staying at one of the three Disney [resorts] to get access to that. At Walt Disney World, they’re still free. There’s some yoga classes that you can take before you go rope drop. A lot of things have changed, so you definitely have to keep asking what’s going on. [At] Contemporary Resort on Tuesdays and Thursday mornings at 7:30, they have a complimentary yoga class. All ages are welcome, but it does max out on how many participants. If you are interested in that and you want to take your kids with you, just make sure you show up early enough so that there’s space for everybody. Saratoga Springs does it on Mondays and Wednesdays. Boardwalk Inn has yoga on the lawn Mondays and Wednesdays at 8:15. Again, everything’s going to be limited to where you’re staying. If you are staying at Boardwalk Inn or Boardwalk Villas, then you’re going to be able to sign up for these classes. Saratoga Springs, you have to be a Saratoga Springs guest. Contemporary Resort, same thing. Keep those in mind. They are free. From my experience with doing the Princess yoga and the yoga before Springtime Surprise, yoga at Disney is peaceful and it’s comfortable. It’s this nice stretch that gets your mindset and everything ready for the day. Take a look at some of these if you happen to be staying at those resorts. I will link that in show notes as well because I have the list of it for you. Theresa, anything else you have at the resorts?
Nope, those were the ones at the resorts. Like I said, make sure you ask about the activities guide because there are some things that used to be around and aren’t anymore. Two of the ones in particular are the resort tours at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge. Hopefully, by the time you’re listening to this or getting ready to go, more things will have come back. Definitely make sure you’re asking about the weekly resort activities and find out everything that’s available.
Moving on, what are some other favorite free things that maybe you can find them at Disneyland, at Disney World? General freebies. I’m going to throw the first one out there that comes to mind and that’s transportation. If you happen to have a kid who digs all things transportation – I had this experience. My oldest son was a train nut. He loved trains like you wouldn’t believe. Anything that looked like a train, acted like a train. The trams in the parking lot, he loved them. Anything along those lines, he was always down to ride them. Going to Disney World or Disneyland, there are some free transportation options that you might want to hop on board and check out while you’re there. You can take a boat, you can take a monorail around, you can take the Skyliner and check out some resorts. It’s all free and you can just get a different view of things and experience. Runners – I’ve got to throw this out there That monorail ride from Magic Kingdom to EPCOT will take on a whole different experience. Once you’ve done a half marathon or marathon at Walt Disney World, you will be the most obnoxious person going, “Oh, I remember that! I remember that! That was mile ‘this’, and then I stopped there! There was an aid station there!”. You see a lot of the route where you are dying and you hated it, because there’s no shade and you’re just on this freeway-type situation. That’s a fun thing to do. Once you have done your races at Walt Disney World, hop on that monorail and go point out everywhere that you just ran. And it’s free.
Speaking of free and transportation, something that I think a lot of people don’t know about is that Disney has these transportation trading cards. Whatever transportation you’re riding, you can get a trading card for it. Each different colored tram used to have their own. I think the different monorails have their own, the different ferries. I’ve heard that the Skyliner does now have it. That was one I wasn’t sure about. If you go there, you can ask a Cast Member for one of the transportation trading cards and build a collection. Anytime you can get a free Disney souvenir, I’m all for it. Definitely ask about the transportation trading cards.
Kids love those things. Totally do it. Yep.
We’re staying with generic free items, yes?
Okay. Here’s the big one. Cups of water! Cups of water, people! We do not need to spend, as I did at Disneyland, $9 on a giant Smartwater bottle. Yes. I spent it. Yes. The Cast Member said, “This bottle is $9. Are you sure you want that, ma’am?”, and I said yes. Because I was dying.
In this economy, Jane?!
Girl, it was so hot. I’ve learned a thing about my water drinking and the one thing is it has to come from an actual Smartwater bottle. Don’t ask me why. It does. I learned this recently that [out] of the 9000 water bottles that I own, you can’t get me to drink water out of them. I think part of it is it’s not see through and it doesn’t have a water nozzle. I won’t drink my water if it’s in a water bottle. You give me a Smartwater bottle, I’ll refill it and I will drink tons of water out of it. I learned that and I just had to make a choice and I went with my Smartwater. They have little Smartwaters and they have big Smartwaters. At this one place where I went to get my Smartwater for the day – because I would get one and then I would refill it with free cups of water. The guy said to me, “Ma’am, these are $9. Are you sure you want this?,” and we were dying because he really was trying to get me to say no. I would love to say no, but I don’t know where I’m going to find another one and I’m thirsty. It’s 98 degrees. Just give me some water. So yes, I spent $9 on a bottle of water. But anyway, you can get free cups of water at any quick service. Any of the parks. Just go up and say, “Hey, can I get a cup of water?”, and they’ll give you a cup of water. You can say, “Can I get two cups of water?”. You have a family? You want them all to have water? “Hey, can I get seven cups of water?”. They will gladly give it to you. That is something they prepare for, they have little cups for them. They pre-fill them at a lot of the quick service [places] so that they’re always prepared for people to ask for them. Don’t think it’s an inconvenience. Free cups of water. Huge. Get them. Refill your water bottles, whether you paid for them or they’re SmartWater. Whatever kind of water bottle you’re using, refill them with free cups of water.
Also, I want to reiterate because of how many times you just said it… “#NotSponsored”. Smartwater did not sponsor this episode.
Oh, sorry. I just love my Smartwater! Sponsor me!
If there’s anyone listening [with] ties to Smartwater, we’re not opposed. Reach out. I do the same thing. I have awesome water bottles. In fact, my favorite one right now that I’m obsessed with is my Spider-Man Corkcicle water bottle tumbler. It keeps the water nice and cold. But when I go to the parks, I don’t like to bring big water bottles because they’re heavy. It’s an additional thing to have to carry around. I am like Jane, too. I buy the water bottles. I don’t buy Smartwater. I stick with sucky Dasani. I’m sorry, Dasani. If you’re listening, change my mind. Reach out, let’s talk. I buy a Dasani and then I do the same thing every time I stop anywhere at a quick service. I get two or three cups of water and I fill it up. I do only end up using the one plastic water bottle for my entire trip because I just keep refilling it. I do the same thing with that and she’s exactly right. Nobody’s going to look at you weird. I’ve walked up and asked for six cups of water because there were three of us and we all wanted to fill up our water bottles when we sat down and ate. Honestly, you don’t even have to eat. You can just walk up to the the mobile ordering, at least that’s been in my experience. You go up to the mobile ordering window and you ask them for a cup of water and that’s where they’ll give it to you at the quick service. Water is amazing. If you are better than me and Jane and you do bring your water bottle from home, they do have a couple of water filling stations now. They are not everywhere, but I do think you can find them in every park at this point. I started a list of where I could find them, but I know I haven’t completed it. Anything that’s being refurbed or anything that is new, you are likely to be able to find a water bottle filling station right outside of it or even inside it. For example, Smuggler’s Run has a water filling station inside the queue. I think it’s when you exit, but the point is you can look for it and you can fill your water bottle up before you head out after you fly the Falcon. Free water is there, it’s a thing. Keep yourself hydrated in either park that you’re going to. Very important to do. And any way you do it, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure that you keep drinking. That’s our little health PSA of the day. Oh, speaking of drinks… If your’re at EPCOT, you know you can get your free Club Cool sodas. Do you guys do this?
I did it once. I don’t need to do it again.
I do in almost every trip. I preferred the old setup where you could just walk in. For me, that was a really fun aspect – people watching and watching the reactions to certain beverages. Now, they do still have it but you have to wait to get in line and it’s no longer the organized chaos that it was. It’s just organized and they send you to your spot. I do it less often now, but it is still fun to go in and try the different sodas. There is one soda now that I think is worse than Beverly. I’m not telling you which one it is. Go find out for yourself.
I think I know. After we’re done recording, I’m going to have to know that, but I think I know which one it is.
Club Cool is basically all the different versions of Coke or sodas from around the world. That’s the whole shtick there. You go and you can taste it. Kids love this. Parents love to prank their kids because everybody knows about Beverly and the mysterious one that Theresa’s not telling us about, apparently. It’s a fun way to cool off and to cool down and to also get something different into your system. I am also with Jane; I think I’ve done it once and my kids love it. They always ask about going to it, and I’m like, “You guys go ahead and go, I’m staying out of the crazy”. The best part of Club Cool to me was the air conditioning. The floors were sticky, man. It just was not my jam. I didn’t love being in there.
But now, Club Cool is right next to the Creations [Shop] and Connections [Café and Eatery]. It’s a great place if people want to go. If your family wants to go and drink all the things at Club Cool, you can go shopping or you can sit in Connections and use their free air conditioning.
Correct. That’s what I would probably hit up, to be honest.
Something that everyone probably is aware of at this point, but it’s always good to be reminded are the celebration buttons. They have First Visit, Birthday, Happily Ever After, and then a generic I’m Celebrating and there’s room to write in stuff on there. If you are doing something special [or] if you’re there to celebrate something, you can go get those. Any of the resorts have them. You can get them at Guest Services. It’s just nice to have. Anytime you can get a little free souvenir from Disney, I say go for it.
Absolutely. And if you get a birthday [button] or just married [button], you may also get another freebie that you’re not looking for. Cast Members sometimes will surprise you with a free treat or a free dessert when you’re sitting down to have a meal. I’ve had the Happy Birthday button on before and they’ve given me a free cupcake for my birthday. Listen, free cupcake. I’m down with it. Those are definitely fun things to do. You can get them and you can write anything you want on them. I’ve written down [that I’m] celebrating that runDisney is back. I’ve had one that was celebrating Shang-Chi last year when we went to Avengers Campus. They make great little cute souvenirs. Something to talk about and also great for pictures. I’m down with this and most people probably know about them, but throwing that back out there that you can be as creative as you want to. Theresa, your friend was super creative two years ago, right before pandemic when she went viral.
My friend Lisa went [to Walt Disney World] and her kids [were] going back to school. She decided to do a button that said “celebrating my kids being back in school” and took it around all over the parks. A lot of people seemed to enjoy that. She had a lot of reactions. She lives at Disney, so obviously when her kids are going back to school, she’s going to be spending those days in the parks.
Listen, anybody that has paid attention to my blog or knows me, you guys know how I struggle over the summer. It’s not because I don’t love my kids. It’s just that I work from home so they’re around. They’re more of a distraction. Trust me, the pandemic was a trip, y’all. When I saw that, I was like, “Brilliant!”. It’s not that I don’t love them or want them around. It’s just that I can’t ever get anything done. I’m all on team “celebrating my kids going back to school” every year. Disney is absolutely the way to do it if you’re local enough to make it happen. Also free – probably everybody knows this – you can get park maps and a lot of people like to keep [them] as free souvenirs. I had a kid that was obsessed with park maps. We would take them home in between trips. He would just sit down and looked them over and he’d read them and he traced with his finger. He talked about all the places we went and all the things that we did. Don’t trash these or think it’s on your phone, you don’t need it. Sometimes putting them in the hands of your kids can really pay off long term. Also, who knows… 50 years from now, your grandkids might find it tucked away in a box and it gives you something to talk about. “That time that I was there on opening day of Avengers Campus and I got this park map!”. “Tell me about it, Grandma!”. “Sure! Let’s talk, kids!”. I’m just saying, you may not expect it, but it could happen. Park maps [are] free, and [you can] pick them up at any park as you walk in.
Another really random free item that you might not think about – I know that they have these at Oga’s Cantina and Jock Lindsey’s [Hangar Bar] and possibly other places, but you can get free little cardboard coasters that they bring with your drink. They’re very themed so they’ll have a couple of different ones at Oga’s, themed to different Star Wars things. Jock Lindsey’s [are] themed to Indiana Jones. I think at Jock Lindsey’s there are six or seven. I’m not sure how many Oga’s has, but if you were there and getting a beverage you can get these little coasters and the artwork is pretty fun on them. Nothing super impressive, but again, anytime you get a free souvenir at Disney and something that’s unique to Disney, I’m going to share it.
For sure. Alright Jane, what else do we have free?
This is from TikTok, because I spend my time on TikTok. If you go to Luxury of Time or Diamonds International in Disney Springs, you can ask them for a free necklace. They have a teeny tiny kids necklace that they’ll give everybody for free. Now, I know that this has gone viral on Tiktok for a while, so for a long time they were out of it. If you go, they’ll give you something. All you need to do is go in and be like, “Hey, I heard there’s a free necklace”, and they’ll be like, “Yep, here you go”. No purchase necessary. Nothing. You just walk in, they’ll give you a little necklace and on your way you can go. Disney Springs. It’s called Luxury of Time or I think it might say Diamonds International now. Walk in there, ask them for a free necklace.
What else can you do at Disney Springs for free once you got your fabulous necklace that you might want to show off in your vacation pictures?
Apparently, you can go to the photo booth.
Theresa, you know about this. Tell it.
I don’t do this.
The PhotoPass Studios, which are over on the Disney Marketplace side. This is free “asterisk”. It is free to go and use the PhotoPass Studios. When you’re there, they have this generic backdrop, so they can do a bunch of different backgrounds for you. They have a bunch of different props you can use. You can basically go and do a free photo session there. The thing to note about that is in order to get the photos, you do need to have PhotoPass or Memory Maker. This is one of the places that PhotoPass generally will not take photos with you on your own phone, so you will have to eventually purchase the photo somehow. It’s something people don’t realize. If you want to go, you just walk up and go. You don’t need to make a reservation, you don’t need to pay for it, you can just go and do that. There is a second PhotoPass Studio that I didn’t realize until recently. It is over in Sir Mickey’s and it’s called the Royal Portrait Studio. I think they use that primarily with Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for kids to take their photos after they’re done, but anybody can go there. That one is a solid backdrop, so it looks like the castle windows looking out at a wooded area. They also have props there. If you have PhotoPass, it’s worth it to get a couple additional free photos and especially to have them indoors. You might get to have some photos where you’re not squinting.
We did the one at Disney Springs one year, and let me just tell you, they are the most hilarious awkward family photos ever. I wasn’t family, I was there with friends. It made me laugh so hard. Definitely, it was free and it was fun. It was a good air conditioned time and they moved you along from background to background. I had one PhotoPass photographer. One was in front of a green screen, and then they put different backgrounds and backdrops and they would tell you different poses. They also have a very Life Touch Studios-type gray background. You could get headshots done in there, y’all. I’m not kidding, I tried it. My hair did not look good, so I’ve never used them. It’s an option. It’s a suggestion. If you’re looking for a way to take some very cheap pictures, but through a professional photographer… And they took time with us! They let us pose and they moved us around and they suggested things. It was not a “wham bam, move you through” kind of thing. It was a good experience as far as that was concerned. Just something to consider and to look at. If you’re in Disney Springs and you want to do this, its over by Earl of Sandwich.
What I’m hearing is I need a new headshot for LinkedIn and you’re suggesting I go do this at Disney Springs. I currently use a photo that I took in EPCOT during Festival of the Arts and I have a rainbow shirt on and that matches the rainbows that were behind me. I had just come from getting my hair cut, so my hair is perfect. The truth is, I don’t really think that there’s anything wrong with it, except that I’m in a rainbow shirt. But what you’re saying is we should go there and get headshots.
I’m just saying it’s definitely an option. I can’t promise they’re good.
I think I’m going to go just for funsies. In fact, I’m texting Heather right now.
I think you guys should go because I think it would be fun. But truthfully, what I have been using as my current headshot has been from the Capture the Magic situation that I did over at EPCOT, which I’ll tell you guys all about. That’s not a free add on at all. In fact, they upped to the prices recently. It’s definitely still a good value if you need family photos, if you want something different, if you want some posed official pictures without people behind you. They’re really good about making sure it’s just you in the picture. It’s a really great experience. The free version of that would be over at Disney Springs or in Magic Kingdom. Definitely good options if you need some photos, my friends. Other quick things that are free… The Disney apps are free. Obviously you’re going to know about the Disneyland app and the Walt Disney World app that everybody [is] unfortunately glued to at this point in time. There’s also a Play [Disney Parks] app. I personally never use [this] because I also don’t like games on my phone. That’s not my thing. However, there’s a lot that you can do in the Play Disney Parks app that you can also use interactively in the parks, particularly over in the Galaxy’s Edge area. I think Toy Story [Land] has some things, too. Keep that in mind if you are looking for a different way to experience the parks, if you’ve been there a zillion times and you want to take some time playing games and building up your score. That Play Disney Parks app is free, and it’s available and it works in the parks.
I’ve done it. I’ve used it in Hollywood Studios a lot, actually. I don’t think I’ve ever used it in any other park, but I’ve definitely used it in Galaxy’s Edge. I’ve used it in the line for Rise [of the Resistance]. When you’re waiting, there’s things for you to do in the line. I’ve used it for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. It’s a cute distraction. If you’re looking for something to do while you’re waiting in line, I think it’s great. Or, for kids to do. I definitely think it’s cute. I don’t do it all the time, though.
It’s really good if you’re there waiting in line, and you need something to keep entertained or to not focus on the fact that you’re waiting in line. I think it’s a helpful one to have. I don’t use it a lot, but I think it’s nice to have additional things that they’re offering for free that can enhance your park experience, but it doesn’t take away from it if you’re not using it. Most people know about this; I won’t talk about it too much. Pin trading is free. You do have to have at least one pin to start off with. Anywhere around the resort hotels, in the parks, at Disney Springs, pretty much anywhere you go, you’ll be able to find these pin trading boards. It can be like a little scavenger hunt if you’re looking to complete a certain type of collection. You can just go up and pin trade with any of the Cast Members there and they’re happy to do it. That’s a general one. There’s something else that’s free that I feel like we should talk about briefly. Patty, do you want to talk about if somebody would like to use a Disney travel agent?
I sure do. Also free, in most cases. Caveat this – there are some travel agents out there that do much more in-depth planning details type things for a planning fee for you. You may come across a travel agency out there who tell you, “Yes, I can do that for you and there’s a non-refundable XYZ fee attached to it”. But by and large, for the most part, most of us, including me – hi, I’m a travel agent that specializes in Disney and Universal – we don’t ask you to pay us directly. What we will do for you and how we will help you, at least in my experiences – I’m pretty much available to you to answer any questions you have or to help you out in any way I can. That is free of charge to you. Disney is going to pay our commission out of the price of your package, which by the way, is the same price [whether] you are to book it yourself. Disney will just keep that money versus if you allow one of your favorite travel agents to take care of it for you, then we get to take a little bit of that slice of money away from Disney. I wanted to throw out a couple of other things that you can do that are completely totally free over in Animal Kingdom. There is, as Theresa mentioned briefly at Art of Animation with the drawing classes, there is a current animation experience at the Conservation Station in Animal Kingdom. Now the kicker to this is it’s literally not on the beaten path. You have to get on a train to go over to this section of the park. I think a lot of first time Animal Kingdom goers aren’t aware that that’s even available. There’s basically a petting zoo type situation happening over there. I have a friend who saw an animal having surgery through the windows, because that’s where they take care of [them]. She said, “We spent three hours watching the surgery and it’s still the coolest thing my kids talk about!”. Obviously, we don’t know when those surgeries are going to happen so you may or may not show up on a day where something is planned. You never know what you’re going to get when you go back there. They do have a list of drawing experiences that you can do with your little free train ride over there to that back section, and get your drawing on. Also, in Animal Kingdom, [there’s the] Wilderness Explorers. You can get a handbook and then go and collect your badges. It’s primarily aimed for kids, but I doubt they’re going to tell an adult they can’t do it, because we all know we’re kids at heart. This is a free experience that is a scavenger hunt type thing. I haven’t done it personally, so I don’t have experience as to what you have to do to earn your badges. It’s a cool little free option to do while you’re in the park and it’s easy to spot, too. There’s a couple of different stations and the Cast Members are dressed like Wilderness Explorers. Two free things over there.
The main spot to get it is on that that main walkway going into the park. We did this with my nephews on their first trip and they loved it. I think there’s 25 different prompts that you can do. Obviously, you don’t have to do all of them, or you can do them over a series of multiple trips. A lot of them involve being in some of those walk-through attractions and finding different things. Then you can meet up with a Cast Member who’s wearing the Wilderness Explorer outfit and they’ll verify that the kid got it right. Sometimes it’ll be an experience where they have to talk and interact with them to learn something. You’ll be able to see those Wilderness Explorers Cast Members around the park, and they’ll be able to mark off their guidebook for what they’ve gotten done.
That’s awesome. A lot of fun to go and do for free. I want to also throw in a real quick Disneyland free things that you can do. This is one that I don’t think Walt Disney World parks [does] – I’m just doing a quick mental check and I don’t think this exists. You guys can fact check me on that; I have no problem with that. At Disneyland, you can get free lunch… kind of. Listen, you can pack up and bring your own food to Disneyland. There is a picnic area between the parks, so it’s outside of the gates. If you’ve ever been to Disneyland, you know that the Esplanade – the space between the two gate sections – is not very big. This is very close to the parks. There’s also lockers situated over there. I know people that have packed up their lunches in the morning, they get their locker, they place it in a cooler in the locker, and they leave it there and they go into the park have their day. When they’re hungry, they exit the park and come and get their picnic lunches out and sit at these awesome picnic tables that are in some shade. It’s a nice little area off to the side. If you’re looking for it and you’re not familiar with it, it’s underneath the monorail line. Just follow the monorail line towards Disney Springs type area and you’ll eventually come across it. It’s a great way to have your free lunch and some shade if that’s what you choose to do and you want to save a little bit of money. At Walt Disney World, I don’t think there are any picnic locations outside of the park.
I would imagine you can kind of create your own picnic location. I don’t know if there are official ones. Actually, you can get some free food at EPCOT.
Tell us about it Theresa.
It was closed for a while and it is coming back. If you’re in EPCOT, especially for the upcoming Food and Wine Festival, the Florida Blue Lounge is something that previously was in Akershus. Now, it’s going to be over at Restaurant Marrakesh. Anybody can go in and you can get a free beverage and a free snack. Some of the snacks were yogurt, hummus and pretzels, a little Babybel cheese or some fruit. It’s not open yet. I think it opens on September 3 with the start of the festival. Disney has confirmed that the free lounge in EPCOT is going to be coming back. If you’re there doing Food and Wine Festival and you need a break and air conditioning or want to get some snacks without having to pay for them, make sure you go and check that out.
Hey, free snacks. That’s amazing! Who knew [about] all of this free stuff when you’re on your Disney vacation? It’s out there. It’s an option. It’s definitely a thing. Sometimes, you’ve just got to know when to look for it or how to find it. Back at Disneyland, but you can also do this at Disney World… In the Downtown Disney area at Disneyland [and] Disney Springs at Disney World, there’s a LEGO Store and you can sit and build some LEGOs. Your kids can go in and there’s a whole pile of stuff, if you don’t mind the germs and digging in there with other kids. You can also find at both Downtown Disney and Disney Springs live music and entertainment happens quite a bit. Keep those in mind if you’re looking to not spend money but still be entertained. Disney does offer some options out there.
Similar to what Patty was talking about with the wilderness explorers, there are a few other interactive activities that you can do within the parks. At Magic Kingdom, they have the Pirates Adventure ~ Treasure of the Seven Seas in Adventureland. You can get a little booklet. You might have seen people going around or some things happening when you’re in Adventureland, maybe some cannons going off or other things that are moving around. It’s a free experience and it’s similar to what they had at EPCOT for the Kim Possible or Agent P, where you go and you make little things happen. They look like normal props around around the land if you’re not specifically looking for them. It’s a little interactive scavenger hunt-type experience, mostly geared towards kids. There’s currently not one at EPCOT right now. They [were] replacing Agent P with a DuckTales World Showcase Adventure that is supposed to debut this year. We haven’t heard much about it recently, but I’ve heard that it’s still intending to come, especially because they have that infrastructure there. Keep an eye out for the DuckTales World Showcase Adventure coming up. World Showcase does still have the KidCot Fun Stops, where kids can do little crafts and get their passport stamped while they’re going around the World Showcase, which is helpful because I know that’s not always the most exciting spot for kids at Disney. They’ve tried to find ways to make it engaging. Hollywood Studios did have the Jedi Training Academy, which is currently unavailable and question mark if that is coming back or not. That was the interactive activity that you could do at Hollywood Studios.
Jane, what are we missing?
In Magic Kingdom, if you do not want to spend your time doing Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, but you still want to have a little pixie dust, you can get glitter on your hair and from a Fairy Godmother in Training. No – they’re not in training anymore.
Fairy Godmother Apprentice.
Yes. From a Fairy Godmother Apprentice. At Sir Mickey’s, you can go in and ask if you can get sprinkled with pixie dust and they will absolutely take out their wands and do a little magic for you and pixie dust your hair. I highly recommend this for people who are coming for short trips and have little girls. You can put their hair up in the hotel in the morning and then bring them in and get them pixie dusted. That way, you’re not spending a tremendous amount of time and money and all that good stuff on the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, but you still got to have them feel like a princess. They also will do this for adults.
That’s what I was going to say. Princess runners! This is your time to shine, my friends! Go get your pixie dust. They used to do this at the end of the half marathons, where they would pixie dust us as we finished. It was optional. You’d walk up and say, “I’d love some pixie dust, please!”. I’m not sure if that’s still a thing or that’s still happening. However, if it’s not, take your medal [and] your tiara and head over to Magic Kingdom and get a little bit of pixie dust there. I haven’t seen this at Walt Disney World, but I know for sure it was available at Disneyland. I have zero idea on what has changed with [the] pandemic. However, you can get a license when you do the speedway [Autopia]. You can pay $5 to get your picture on it, but they will also give you a free one that is a generic license. Kids love this because they love that dumb ride and they love to feel like they got to drive. As a kid, my favorite theme park activities were anything that I got to drive and get behind the wheel. The fact that Disney is like, “You can also have your little license, little kiddo”. It’s a lot of fun and it’s super cute. Check those out. Again, we don’t know what’s completely back with COVID. These may be things where you have to ask for them now or before they used to be free or unavailable. Keep that in mind. That’s something that if you didn’t know it was a thing, it’s a thing. Go check it out.
That’s actually not even the only location where it has been a thing in the past. You can also get a pilot license for Dumbo. Soarin’ did have it at one point in time. That’s one [where] I don’t know if they still do it or not. Another one that I do have, and I’m very proud of it – If you’re on the Jungle Cruise, sometimes a skipper will invite certain people to help pilot the boat. If you get the honor, you will get a little card saying that you drove the Jungle Cruise boat as an honorary skipper. I don’t know how they decide how to do that, when to do it. It’s some of that little sprinkled Disney magic along the way. If you do have the chance to to skipper a Jungle Cruise boat, they will give you something to recognize that.
I think they also used to do that with the Mark Twain or the big steamboat ship at Disneyland. You could ask to pilot it and they would give you a little certificate for it. Again, not sure that those certificates exist anymore. I don’t remember ever hearing about this existing at Disney World, but in Disneyland at Haunted Mansion, you could get a death certificate at the end of that experience. These may be things that have been long sunsetted and no longer available, but you never know when the magic will come back. You never know unless you ask. We’re just throwing everything out there that we know about that was once a thing that may still be a thing. Let us know if you have any of those current recent experiences, or the next time you go, check it out and we’d love to hear what your experience was or what the Cast Members were able to tell you about it. Jane, last thoughts? Anything else free that you love at Disney? I feel like we got a lot.
There’s a separate list of things for DVC Members, but I don’t want to go into that because that doesn’t apply to everybody. So, I don’t think so. Theresa, do you have anything else?
Yes, I have one thing that is temporarily suspended, but I would be shocked if it doesn’t come back. One thing is a not a guarantee, but does happen. The one that’s not a guarantee, but it can happen sometimes is how to get a free FastPass. If you have a child who is going up to an attraction and standing in line and they are just below the height limit to be able to ride that attraction, occasionally Disney will give your family a little card that’s essentially a free FastPass for when they come back and are finally tall enough to do that ride. I don’t know how often they do it. I don’t know how frequently it happens. You do have the chance, especially if your child is very upset [or] if they have a sibling who’s able to ride and they can’t. Disney will make sure to take care of them. I know a friend who got this slightly before the pandemic started. This is one of those “may or may not still happen” [situations], but keep an eye out for a Cast Member if your child is just not quite tall enough to ride. Disney will try to take care of you.
It’s really cute. On that note, I always call it the “Disney lottery”. If you have a small kid – parents, you just scored free rides without waiting. There’s a rider switch program, which is also free. It does not cost you anything extra to do. If you have a child that can’t ride and they do get that free FastPass for the future, you can get another one right then and there for the parent that has to sit out with your child because they can’t ride. It’s rider switch. It happens at both parks. You simply take the smallish child up to the Cast Member. If you’re at Disney World, they’ll scan your MagicBand. If not, they’ll do it on your ticket, and they’ll use this iPad and set you up for a return time. It’s basically like you have a Lightning Lane now. We’re calling it FastPass because we old, but it’s a Lightning Lane. They will have you return with up to two extra guests. If you have older siblings who want to ride Tower of Terror, they might get extra free rides because of their younger sibling who can’t or won’t ride it. Also, it’s a great program. It’s a super easy to use. We have one child who is much younger than the others. She’s also just not a thrill seeker. We use it all the time and the others are happy to take those extra spins on any attraction that Lucy does not want to ride on. Wanted to throw that out there since it was kind of along the free FastPass idea that Theresa just shared. Theresa, what else do you have?
The other one that is temporarily suspended, [but] I do believe they will bring it back. This is package pickup/package delivery. If you are in one of the parks, you’re buying some stuff, you happen to get it early in the morning, and you don’t want to carry it around with you all day, Disney would let you send it up to the front of the park. If you’re going to be in the park for a few hours, you could then go back later that afternoon or before you leave, pick up your packages at the front of the park and bring them with you. If you’re staying at a Disney resort hotel, you can do the same kind of thing. You would be able to say, “Okay, I’m staying at this resort, I wanted to have it sent back there”. Usually it won’t be that night, it might be the next day. You’d be able to go to the main gift shop at the resort and pick up any things that you’d had sent back there. It’s just nice if you don’t want to be carrying around stuff all day, if you get some of the larger items. You can also ship things back home from the resorts. That does have an additional fee based on your total order of all the things that you’ve purchased, and you can only send home things that you have purchased from Disney. Keep that in mind. I will be very excited whenever they bring back the package pickup at your resorts, so that way you can go and collect your things before you leave. One thing I forgot to mention when we were talking about resorts… If you are doing a split stay at several resorts, Disney will transfer your luggage for you. For free. Let them know. I don’t do this a ton, but every now and then I’ll decide way into my trip [that] I want to add an extra day and I can’t get it at the resort where I was originally staying. If you let Disney know you’re doing a split stay, tell them where you’re going to next. They will transfer your luggage for you.
One caveat with that, your items will not arrive until the afternoon or evening.
Correct. It’s a delay.
Keep that in mind. It’s super simple and easy to do. You just drop it off at bell services. If you plan on being in the parks all day long, then you don’t care. It’ll show up when it shows up and it’s all good. But, if you are a parent with kids or you have something in there you know you’re going to want… Even if you just want to go use the pool at the new resort mid-day, take that with you. Or, take an Uber over to the new resort so that you can easily get to your luggage. It is free. It works. It’s an amazing option. I have absolutely used it exactly like how Theresa described. Then, my last thing that is free – and bless it, I don’t know how we would do Disney in this day and age without it. The Disney parks offer free WiFi. At some point, I’m sure they’ll figure out how to charge you for that. I think when My Disney Experience really ramped up, they put in some additional efforts to make sure that the WiFi was stronger at Disney World. Disneyland took a little bit longer to get on board. Their WiFi notoriously has been really bad over there, but it’s gotten a lot better. I think now with Genie, Genie+, the Lightning Lane services, everything that we are being asked to do for planning purposes on our phones, the free WiFi is essential. If, for any reason, you need free WiFi and air conditioning, you can sit for free in any of the lobbies and scroll away to your heart’s content. I think that’s it. I think that’s my last free thing that I can add to this.
I do want to say [that] they had to make the WiFi better, because now on both coasts the hotels have a casting option for streaming video from anything that you have a login for. You can log in on your phone and cast it to the TV. The only way to do it is to log in using their WiFi. For them to have have everybody streaming off their WiFi, they had to bump up their WiFi. We used it at Animal Kingdom Lodge and we watched movies off of our Netflix and our other streaming services, #NotSponsored. We did it in California as well. They definitely had to increase their WiFi for that.
It makes sense. Disneyland in particular was just painful. I don’t know what pixie dust and magic they did over there to fix it, but I’m so glad that they did because that made a huge difference. Absolutely.
Especially in their larger hotels. At Disney’s Grand Californian, I used to have a problem accessing the WiFi. Same with Animal Kingdom Lodge. If you get in certain rooms, you’re blocked. You can’t get a signal at all. Now, you get everything everywhere. They definitely did some upgrading. Kudos to them for that because crappy WiFi was always [at the] top of their list.
That being said, if you’re trying to get into a virtual queue, sometimes getting off of the WiFi is a little better. I remember back in the day when you used to have to pay to get internet at the Disney resorts, before the My Disney Experience app. When you just wanted to get internet, you used to have to pay for the internet at Disney resorts. I’m glad that that’s also free now. It’s wonderful. They have the free WiFi, but if you’re trying to do something quickly on the app, maybe turn the WiFi off just for those few seconds.
Oh, for sure. That is tip number one for anybody trying to do virtual queue. Get rid of your WiFi and go with your LTE or your 5G because that is definitely the way to go. Alright, I think that’s it. I think those are our 87,000 zillion things that are free at Disney that you did not know or you probably knew all of them. Hopefully, we didn’t leave anything out. If we did, where can they find us, Jane?
If we left anything off the list that you think you want to share with everybody else, please let us know. You can email us at [email protected] or you can join our Facebook group, which is No-Guilt Disney.
And make sure you join us each week on the No-Guilt Disney Podcast, because as Patty likes to say –
It’s no fun to fangirl free things at Disney alone. Bye, y’all!