16 FREE Things To Do at Disney | Fireworks Shows, Skyliner Rides, and More!
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Save money at Disney with these free things to do to have an exciting vacation without being overly expensive.
Heading on a Disney vacation this summer?
While most travelers know all about the magic inside Disney Parks, many do not know about all the FREE things to do at Disney World outside of paying for a day at the park! Going to the parks can get very expensive if you plan on visiting them every day of your vacation. Some of the most memorable things to do at Disney are the experiences you don’t have to pay extra for, so we’re going to share a few you may have not known about.
1. If you’re staying at a resort, know that transportation is included.
While staying at a Disney resort, buses are provided to all parks, resorts, and Disney Springs. If you are driving, you get complimentary standard parking at the parks and Disney Springs (which is always free!), but note that resort parking is $15.
2. There are tons of free recreational activities!
If you’re staying at a resort, you can enjoy various recreational activities, including volleyball on a sand court, playing a round of tennis, and hitting up the arcades. At least one pool in each resort area also has countless kids’ games and activities including trivia, scavenger hunts, and charades that are fun for the whole family!
3. Keep an eye out for free events, like yoga classes, at Disney Springs!
Keep an eye out for free events at Disney Springs, too! Most recently, they’ve been teaming up with Lululemon to host free yoga classes. The Disney Springs website has updates for these upcoming events, and when you select the one you’re interested in, you’ll be redirected to register on Eventbrite. Keep checking back because these classes are constantly being added!
4. Enjoy free celebration pins for all kinds of occasions.
You may be familiar with Disney pin trading, but did you know you can actually get free buttons to celebrate your special day? Whether it’s your first time visiting, an anniversary, or your birthday, Disney offers complimentary pins at Guest Relations locations at Disney Springs and all parks, or at the front desk of your resort. This is a great way for a free souvenir that you can showcase around Disney!
5. Take advantage of the countless photo ops.
Sure, Disney Parks are full of Instagrammable walls, but the resorts are, too (this photo was taken at the Animal Kingdom Lodge)! Lively-themed resorts such as Art of Animation and Polynesian Village Village are various spots for amazing photo opportunities!
6. Watch Magic Kingdom fireworks from one of the nearby resorts!
To celebrate the 50th anniversary, Disney has launched a new firework spectacular at Magic Kingdom known as Disney Enchantment! You can actually view these fireworks across the Seven Seas Lagoon from neighboring Magic Kingdom resorts, including Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Preceding the fireworks, you’ll catch the adorable Electrical Water Pageant from those same resorts!
7. Catch EPCOT’s Harmonious from Disney’s Boardwalk Resort!
EPCOT’s Harmonious is another new nighttime spectacular that features 240 artists from across the globe and your favorite movies! It’s a water show that has fireworks, and from Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, Beach Club Resort, and Yacht Club Resort, you’ll be able to watch the fireworks!
8. Enjoy the live music.
Throughout Disney Springs, you’ll find live music! House of Blues, Raglan Road, and Stargazers Bar are just some of the places you’ll find live music every day. You can view the entire Disney Springs events calendar to make sure you don’t miss out on all the fun!
9. Speaking of entertainment, take advantage of the free street spectacles.
Often there are also street performers such as jugglers, comedians, fire-eaters, jazz ensembles, and more performing in the evenings at Disney’s Boardwalk resort. There are also carnival games and other nightlife options on the boardwalk!
10. Enjoy a movie under the stars.
While staying at a Disney resort, almost every night they will have “Movies Under the Stars” where you can sit back, relax, and watch some of your favorite Disney films near the pool areas. It’s such a cozy activity to enjoy with your family.
11. Take a trip on the Skyliner.
Disney’s Skyliner is an awesome gondola experience that takes you to several resorts as well as EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s a fun ride and a great opportunity to explore some new resorts.
12. Enjoy a ride on the Monorail.
Enjoy a ride on the “inner” Monorail that circles the three Magic Kingdom Area Resorts (Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian). This is a great way to orient yourself and get a look at the resorts and an overview of the Magic Kingdom. You can get off and explore each resort or just enjoy the ride and the view. There’s even a monorail that circles around EPCOT!
13. Try resort hopping!
There are tons of Disney resorts to visit, each with a unique style and theme. You don’t have to be staying at one to take a visit! Coronado Springs has beautiful Spanish architecture, Wilderness Lodge has a mini Geyser, and much more. Each resort is extremely unique; there’s so much to see everywhere you turn. Plus, there’s nothing more relaxing than taking a stroll at night at any of the resorts!
14. Watch the animals roaming around Animal Kingdom Lodge!
Animal Kingdom Lodge has its very own Savannah with hundreds of animals! Throughout the day you’ll see tons of your favorite animals, including zebras, flamingos, giraffes, and more. On top of the actual hotel room balconies, there are various viewing areas across the resort where you can sit back, relax, and animal watch.
15. Sing around the campfire.
Gather around the campfire at tons of different Disney resorts! This offer is fully complementary to resort guests as long as the weather is permitting. For specific times, double-check your resort’s recreational activity schedule. Some resorts even have grills you can use if you want to have your own BBQ, too!
16. Use a certified Disney vacation planner.
The BEST thing that is FREE when considering a Disney Vacation is the use of a Certified Disney Vacation Planner! While any travel agent can book your trip for you, only certified Disney vacation planners are specifically trained through Disney to best suit your family’s needs.
Not only that but most offer FREE price watching. That means that if you book your trip and later down the road a special comes out for your same stay, your package can be adjusted down to reflect the least expensive package price! Awesome!
We just got back from Disney last week.. haven’t been since 2015. It’s totally lost it’s magic for us (4 kids.. toddlers to teens), sadly. Overcrowded, crazy standing room only with people yelling and shoving and being crazy to see fireworks. It was unreal. 🙁 We also came back with Covid after avoiding it (and we are nurses!) for 2 years. Sooo much money spent to be so disappointed.
With that said, we didn’t wait in not one line thanks to genie+ service. With 2 babies/toddlers that was invaluable. But I doubt we will be going back again for a long time, if at all.
SO sorry to hear about that, Heather. ❤️Thanks a bunch for taking the time to share about your recent experience with us. Wishing you all a very speedy recovery. 💕
I just got back from Disney this past Sunday….we went b/c my husband had a business conference at a Disney Resort so we made a vacation out of it. I have 5 kids 3 yrs through teens and it was not as fun as I remember as a kid. The lines are so long!!!! You can not go on any ride without waiting at least 20-25 mins. Rides would be temporarily closed several times in different theme parks. The food, although pretty good is so expensive!!!! The price for anything is so high.People were running to lines when it opened and the only hope of getting on the more popular rides is during the fireworks show at night or paying even more money to get genie plus. You have to be tied to your phone as well for everything from wait times to reservations. I will not be going back for a very long time if ever. It’s honestly just not worth it in my opinion. I am a nurse too, and we all came back sick as well.
Thanks for the honest feedback on what your trip was like for you, Amy. I’m so sorry to hear everyone came back sick. Hoping you all feel better real soon.❤️❤️
Actually, if you drive, they charge you to park at the hotel. Parking was $15/night for us. Then they allow you to park for “free” at the theme parks.
Thanks so much for pointing that out, Kiki! We’ll get that updated. 🤗
Parking at their value resorts is $15 per night
Parking at their moderate resorts is $20 per night
Parking at their deluxe resorts is $25 per night
Going to cost me $175 to park when I go in August for a week.
Thanks for sharing this list with me, Karen. Good to know!
Agree with previous poster. Parking is not free. I booked on-site hotel and ticket package through Disney website. I was charged a daily parking fee in 2018 and 2022 for parking my car at the hotel each day. If I wanted to drive it to the parks, then it would be “free” at the parks, but I technically paid for that parking. It used to be free. Honestly, it’s just another way to get money because once I drive 9 hours to get there, I am not driving to the park each day. My car sits at the hotel while they shuttle me around.
For the people that have gone to Disney recently, if you do go to the shows, I read that Disney has stopped announcing ladies and gentlemen, or boys and girls, due to trying to be politically correct with the pronouns. Have you noticed that during the shows? Just curious to see if what I read matched what’s actually happening there.
So crazy but I have to agree with some of the posts here, we just got back from 5 days as Disney and it’s sooooo crowded. It’s always been busy but now it’s just insanely busy and the prices have just made it almost unenjoyable :/ it will definitely be awhile before we ever go back or if we ever do again. I’m just not sure I like the road Disney is headed on.
Resort hopping created many photo opportunities due to all the different themes. Even the value resorts have amazing places to take pics at. So, did the old Downtown Disney area.
Great ideas! I had no idea about the free buttons. I’ll have to keep that in mind. We have a trip planned this November. I am so excited to take my kiddos! It will be their first time and our first family “vacation” since we typically use vacation time to travel to visit family. I’m not really worried about things having changed because they won’t know any different and I think we will have a blast regardless! I’m just hoping they open up more character dinners before that time.🤞 I wanted to ask if anyone had suggestions on how to score a deal on the Disney bubble makers they sell in the park? So far they never seem to be on sale when the Disney store has sales and I’d really prefer to not pay $30 in park for them. TIA!
I bought everything on Amazon for our kids before we went. They don’t know the difference, and still had a blast with souvenirs. You might be able to have them shipped to the hotel. We brought ours with. We bought, lanyards, trading pins, shirts, etc.
Anyone have DisneyLAND tips?
I haven’t been in more than 30 years, but we’re currently slated to go in September (after multiple cancels and reschedules due to COVID)
Wear good shoes, be patient, and have a plan before you arrive. It gets overwhelming when you walk in the park without a plan. If you can still schedule rides, do it. It saves a lot of time and frustration, especially with kids. Be prepared to spend a lot of money. Most importantly, have fun. It’s expensive, but it was the best trip my family has ever taken. We went precovid, so I am not sure of all the changes. If there is a meal plan do it. Make reservations at restaurants ahead of time.
We periodically go on cruises out of Port Canaveral and pre-game for a day or two in Orlando doing what we call ‘Fake Disney’ (i.e. not paying for park tickets or their pricey on-site hotels), and we do many of the recommendations listed here. I just love the SkyLiner – it’s tied with Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway as my current favorite Disney World experiences. I agree the parks are currently super-crowded and can be expensive but we still love them and it’s still worth the hassle, for now. This year we’re using annual passes that we purchased and have held onto since before the pandemic, and to economize we stay offsite and limit park meals to once per day. Once our passes expire it may be a while before we visit the parks again, but we’ll definitely continue to do a lot of the free stuff listed here.
Orlando native. Annual pass holder from out of state. We go every other month and I would have to say, if I didn’t have an annual pass, I’d be an extremely upset WDW visitor. We have the ability to shrug things off, go for a couple hours and then go home, try again the next day, just walk around and play the Adventureland Scavenger Hunt or explore Tom Sawyer Island without any rides, etc. If I invested thousands of dollars and lots of time planning, I’d agree that the “magic” is not the same. The magic is now what you make it, so you must go with sadly, low expectations. With that being said, if you have the ability to utilize a good neighbor hotel, stay off property, or just go and resort hop and enjoy the sights without the stress of the parks…do it! There’s Sangria class at Coronado, character dining at other resorts, bars galore, and so many fun excursions and things to do you just don’t even need to go to the parks. A lot of people will say their best days were non park days.
We just got back late last week where we had to cut our trip short because we got COVID as well! Despite us having our second booster 3 weeks prior, my husband started to get a tickle in his throat after only 2 days in the park. 5th day he got sick enough he decided to test and he was positive. We decided to check out early, cancel our flight, get a 1-way rental car, and drive home! Serious bummer for sure! We were supposed to go to Quebec for my husband’s 40th birthday afterwards and we had to cancel that whole trip.
Again, we had TWO boosters and still got sick! Not just positive… SICK! We work remotely and are pretty antisocial, so we definitely didn’t get it before Disney. Maybe the flight… But we were still surprised!
Part of me was like “we reaped what we sowed” and whatnot… But I was a bit dismayed by how they were cramming everyone into the theaters just like pre-COVID! “Fill in all available seats, folks!” We were there this time last year and although I missed the shows and fireworks, at least we didn’t get sick then. :-/
I’m a diehard Disney Parks fan… We are even DVC members. We went to Disneyland Paris on our honeymoon! And even I’m having second thoughts about it now!
IMPORTANT!!! Make sure to get travel insurance if you decide to go anytime soon!
This isn’t quite free, but it was a cheap souvenir that provided lots of entertainment between getting in line for rides…my kids loved finding the pressed penny machines around the parks. There was one in every country in EPCOT’s World Showcase, as well as all over the other parks and resorts. They had a great time selecting which design they wanted from each machine and they collected them all in a little pressed penny case we got on Amazon before our trip. Each machine took 2 quarters and a penny, so it added up over the course of the trip, but I thought it was still reasonable for the amount of entertainment it provided.
We just went to Disneyland last month, and the pressed pennies are now $1 each, and they supply the penny.
FYI, we actually bought some pressed pennies less than a week ago at Disney World. They cost $1 each now (or $5 for all 8 designs) and most you have to pay with a credit card or mobile pay. Even at the 98% increase in price, it’s still a great deal compared to other souvenirs! 🙂
SWEET! Thanks for the helpful tip, Joan! I bet your kids love their pressed penny souvenirs! ❤️