20 Free Things to Do at Disney World

There’s so much to love about Walt Disney World, like rides, character meet-and-greets and foods you can only find in the parks, like Dole Whips. There are also a lot of free things to do at Disney World that should not be overlooked.

Free Things to Do at Disney World 

From outdoor movies to butterfly gardens to scenic boat cruises, there are a lot of ways to make the most of a Disney vacation – without opening your wallet, that is. Here are 20 freebies you don’t want to miss (and here’s where to get discounted park tickets). Have fun! 

#1: Watch the Electrical Water Pageant 

Disney Electrical Water Parade
Photo Credit: David Roark

Stake out a spot at one of the several resorts, including Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Wilderness Lodge, to watch the uber-popular Electrical Water Pageant. During this whimsical 15-minute water parade twinkling sea creatures cruise across the lagoon as music plays.

An emerald green sea monster leads the parade as whales, turtles and other colorful creatures of the sea follow behind. The musical procession shimmers and twinkles every night.

#2: Sing & Dance at Chip ‘n Dale’s Campfire Sing-a-Long 

Every evening at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, you and your kids can listen to a cowboy sing western songs and play his guitar. Pose for pictures with Chip ‘n Dale and watch a classic Disney movie under the stars at the campground cinema.

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Bring your own marshmallows to make s’mores or purchase a s’mores kit at the Chuckwagon Snack Bar. Chip ‘n Dale are there for autographs, smiles and hugs too.

#3: Watch the Nightly Magic Kingdom Fireworks Show 

Magic Kingdom Fireworks

Head to the Grand Floridian Resort to watch the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks show from one of the best outside-the-park seats. If you camp out near Narcoossee’s restaurant, you can hear the music that goes along with the show, though there may be a slight audio delay.

The sandy beach at Disney’s Polynesian Resort is another prime fireworks viewing spot. The beach even has speakers so you can easily hear all the music that goes along with the show. This a very popular viewing location for park guests, so get there early.

#4: See the Fire Rock Geyser Erupt 

Every hour on the hour between 7 am and 10 pm, see a miniature version of Old Faithful erupt at Wilderness Lodge. The geyser is located between Bay Lake and the lodge’s Silver Creek Springs pool, in the resort’s courtyard area.

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The geyser shoots water 120 feet in the air. If you’re staying at the Wilderness Lodge, a courtyard view room will allow you to see the geyser spray water all day long.

#5: Wander About a Butterfly Garden 

disney butterfly garden

Stop in the Contemporary Resort (on the monorail line) and look for the small butterfly garden located behind the hotel. The Butterfly Life Cycle house is situated between the main Tower and Bay Lake and his home to cocoons and hatching butterflies.

Alternatively, head to Fort Wilderness for beautiful landscapes and a butterfly garden just outside the Outpost. The Sanctuary is a paradise for nature lovers. It’s a nearly chemical-free haven for butterflies and colorful plants and flowers.

#6: Get a Free Soda at the Coca-Cola Store 

Sadly, Epcot’s Club Cool was shuttered in September 2019 as part of a park transformation. However, you can still sample unique and well, interesting, flavors of Coca-Cola products at the Coca-Cola store at Disney Springs.

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Pop in (no pun intended) for free samples of multiple flavors from around the world, like Fanta Pineapple, Bibo Kiwi Mango and Fanta Melon Frosty. You’ll also find more widely available beverage flavors, like Cherry Coke and Sprite Zero.

#7: Have Your Hair Sprinkled with Pixie Dust 

harmony barber shop

Stop in the Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom and ask to have your child’s hair sprinkled with confetti (aka pixie dust). Or, head to Castle Couture or Sir Mickey’s in Fantasyland for a quick sprinkling as well.

#8: Enjoy a Free Sample of Cotton Candy 

Head to the Main Street Confectionery at the Magic Kingdom and look in the store window for the password of the day. Say the password to the cashier for a free, generous sample of cotton candy.

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For serious cotton candy lovers, head to Goofy’s Candy Co. at Disney Springs. Not only can you get free samples of new flavors, but the flavors are outrageous, like birthday cake, bubble gum and cookie dough. Look for seasonal flavors too, like candy cane and key lime.

#9: Relax on a Scenic Boat Cruise 

disney water taxi

If you’ve had your fill of parks and just want to relax for a few minutes on your Disney vacation, enjoy a scenic cruise on Walt Disney World’s calming waters, including Seven Seas Lagoon, Crescent Lake, Bay Lake and Lake Hollywood.

Ferry boats, cruiser boats (aka friendship boats), water taxis and river boats criss-cross Walt Disney World all day long. Boats can access three of the four parks (only Animal Kingdom, including Animal Kingdom Lodge, cannot be reached by boat).

Boats can also take guests to Disney Springs and multiple on-property resort hotels, like Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside.   

#10: Hunt for Hidden Mickeys 

There are hundreds of Hidden Mickeys across the Walt Disney World Resort just waiting to be discovered. First, what is a Hidden Mickey? A Hidden Mickey is three circles that form a Mickey Mouse head, which appear to be disguised, maybe in a painting or in three ice cream scoops.

Related article: Disney Secrets: 8 Things You Didn’t Know About the Magic Kingdom

It’s a fun scavenger hunt, so keep your eyes open for Hidden Mickeys as you wait in line for rides and settle in for lunch at one of the on-property restaurants. They are everywhere, in restrooms, on ceilings, in murals. Even plants and vegetables turn out to be Hidden Mickeys.

Ahead of your next trip to Walt Disney World, I encourage you to purchase Steven Barrett’s Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets ($14.95). It’s got all you – and your kids – need to start hunting for Hidden Mickeys across the resort.

#11: Explore Disney Springs

disney springs

There’s a lot to see and do at Disney Springs (formerly known as Downtown Disney), which is home to dozens of restaurants, shops and family-friendly attractions.

As far as free things to do at Disney Springs, get free drink samples at the Coca-Cola Store and play with LEGO bricks at the LEGO Store. There are also plenty of free, live performances.

Many of the eateries offer live singing and dancing too. Stop in Raglan Road Irish Pub for Irish tunes and dancing. Kids can take the stage to join the dancers and receive a certificate of achievement just for participation.

#12: Watch a Classic Disney Movie 

For guests staying on-property, you can hop around to multiple resorts to watch free outdoor movies. Often movies run after-dark at one of the resort’s pools or on the beach, maybe on the lawn. Just ask at the front desk when you arrive for the schedule of movies for the week.

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Many guests opt to stay for the free movie (no tickets required) after dinner at a resort restaurant. Some on-property hotels encourage you to explore sister hotels, like in the Disney hotels cluster that includes the All-Star Sports, All-Star Movies and All-Star Music Resorts.

#13: Stroll the Disney Boardwalk

disney boardwalk

The Disney Boardwalk, home to turn-of-the-century Atlantic City theme Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, is a delightful area for a stroll. Live street musicians and buskers entertain guests throughout the day. You can also pick up water transportation from the Disney Boardwalk to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

#14: Get Free Disney Stuff on Your Birthday 

Walt Disney World has long been a popular destination for birthday celebrations. Maybe it’s because you can collect free stuff at Disney World on your birthday. For starters, make a beeline for guest services when you arrive for a massive Happy Birthday button to wear around the parks. It’s a total badge of honor and will get you extra love from cast members.

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Another birthday freebie is a sweet one. As in, free dessert. Many restaurants across the Walt Disney World Resort offer free celebratory desserts. Spice Road Table and Boma are two restaurants that have been known to reward birthday boys and girls with sweet treats.

#15: See Wild Animals at Animal Kingdom Lodge

giraffe-animal kingdom lodge

See wild animals, like zebras, gazelles, impalas and giraffes, for free from Disney resort hotel, Animal Kingdom Lodge. Exit the back doors of the lobby for a safari viewing experience. You’ll feel as though you’re on the savanna in Africa. The views are doubly incredible from the second-level.

Ask at the front desk for an animal viewing guide to learn more about what you may see, as well as fun and interesting facts about each wild animal on property. Look for guides from Africa who can tell you more about each animal. Eat lunch at Mara’s Café or Boma.

#16: Get Creative at Kidcot Fun Stops at Epcot

At Epcot, kids can stop at craft stations set up at countries throughout the World Showcase to collect stamps and create their own free souvenirs at Disney World. There are nearly a dozen Kidcot Fun Stops set up in or just outside each of the pavilions.

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Kids can learn from cast members about their home countries as they create special keepsakes from each country. In the Norway Pavilion, you’ll find the Kidcot Fun Stop at The Puffin’s Roost. In the Canada Pavilion, it’s near the exit to O Canada! It’s a fun way for kids to learn more about each of the nations in the World Showcase.

#17: Get Character Autographs

disney stitch autograph

Character meet-and-greets take place all day every day at each of the parks. It’s a total must to bring along a Disney autograph book. Buy one before you go to Walt Disney World so you don’t need to hunt one down when you arrive.

Bring a fat pen too to make it easy-peasy for characters to sign your autograph book. It’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss when on your Disney vacation. You may also want to check out my Disney packing list for more stuff you don’t want to forget when you visit Disney.

#18: Explore the Disney Wilderness Preserve

Just 40 minutes south of Magic Kingdom lies the Nature Conservancy’s Disney Wilderness Preserve. This 11,500-acre preserve is home to more than 1,000 species of animals and plants. If you plan to rent a car (you’ll need one to reach the preserve), don’t forget to bring a car seat or portable booster seat to keep your child safe en route.

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Here you can hike, bird watch (bring your binoculars) and savor Florida’s natural beauty of this wetlands area alongside Lake Russell. There are three scenic hiking trails, including the White Trail (0.5-mile), Red Trail (2.5-mile) and Yellow Trail (3.6-mile).

#19: Take a Free Art Class

disney art of animation resort
Photo Credit: Matt Stroshane

One of the coolest things to do in Disney World for artistic and creative kids is to take a free art class at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Classes are offered daily at 11 am, 2 pm and 5 pm. Kids will learn how to draw popular characters to take home as souvenirs.

#20: Trade Pins with Cast Members

One of the most fun things to do at Disney World is to swap pins with cast members. You can buy plenty of Disney trading pins on-site, but you can also save money by buying them online ahead of time, along with a colorful lanyard.

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On Amazon, it’s not hard to find multiple lots of 25 or 50 assorted trading pins. Attach them to your lanyard to wear around the parks and get ready to trade pins with cast members.

Before You Go: How to Save on Park Tickets

There are multiple ways to save money on Disney World tickets. I wrote a post about it here, which includes seven ways to save. There are discounts for military and for Florida residents, but since I am neither, my go-to for discounted Disney tickets is Best of Orlando.

magic kingdom castle

Best of Orlando is a discount ticket broker that sells direct to consumers. Every time I’ve gone to Orlando I’ve bought discount tickets to theme parks from Best of Orlando, whether for Walt Disney World parks, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa.

Best of Orlando also offers discounts on seasonal events across the Disney resort, like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Beyond park tickets, they also sell admission tickets to area attractions, like Kennedy Space Center, Gatorland and Crayola Experience: Orlando.


Do you have any favorite free Disney activities? Let me know in the comments section below about your favorite free things to do at Disney World. For more to do in Orlando, check out my post on free stuff to do in Orlando with kids.