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May 30, 2013

11 FREE things to do in and around Walt Disney World

Filed under: Travel — Lesli Peterson @ 3:11 am

disney ears

Airplane tickets (or gasoline), tickets into the Parks, the hotel room, 3 square meals a day, souvenirs….the list of opportunities to spend your money at Disney World is endless.  Did you know there are a myriad of FREE fun options as Disney, as well? As you plan your magical vacation, be sure to include these activities on your itinerary.

  1. From the Disney Resorts Contemporary, Polynesian or Grand Floridian, or within Magic Kingdom or Epcot, catch and ride the Monorail.  There are three lines; choose the inner rail for a view of the Magic Kingdom and beautiful resorts.  This is a great way to cool down, take in the view, or acclimate to the Park layout.
  2. Boat rides are free within the parks. Ride from Port Orleans to Downtown Disney and back via the Sassagoula. Enjoy the breeze around Crescent Lake (outside the parks) for an overview of Epcot, Boardwalk, various Disney Resorts, and Hollywood Studios. If you are visiting during the hottest months, consider taking these rides in the evening.
  3. Enjoy free samples from Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop in Downtown Disney; you don’t need to make a purchase in order to indulge.
  4. Stop at one of 11 Kidcot stations in EPCOT. Kids can draw, rest, see Cast Members and make special crafts.  A few dollars will get you an upgrade with more features, but the basics are free.
  5. Stop in and visit the resorts while riding the monorails, taking the ferry, or parking at the resort for three hours free of charge (get a permit at the gate.)  All-Star or Pop Century have great photo taking opportunities for the family (how about a family photo in front of a 35 foot tall Buzz Lightyear or a 25 foot tall Woody?) Table Service Meals and Counter Service Restaurants are located within various resorts; it is a way to experience a “change of scenery” during mealtime.  If you have a few bucks to spend, many resorts also offer activities like surrey rides or carriage outings.
  6. If you are staying at any Disney resort then you can embark on a free tour of Yacht Club, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Grand Floridian or Wilderness Lodge. Call ahead for reservations. These Deluxe resorts are outfitted as lavishly as the Parks themselves; you won’t want to miss them.
  7. Bring your swimsuit to the Parks and play in the water! Hollywood Studios has a 52-foot leaking water hose, Animal Kingdom has a small fountain area near Kali River Rapids, and Epcot has two interactive fountains (one near Test Track and another near Future World) as well as leapfrog fountains near Imagination! pavilion. Magic Kingdom has splash play for the little ones at Casey Jr. Splash ‘n’ Soak, the tiki statues near Jungle Cruise, and Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride.  Finally, Downtown Disney has interactive fountains and more water fun at The World of Disney Store.
  8. On the Disney Boardwalk you can watch the street performers and listen to various bands performing. You can also see the Ferry Boats cruise back and forth.
  9. Any Resort guest is welcome to join the campfire program at Fort Wilderness.  Meet near the Meadow Trading Post every evening around 7pm in the fall and 8pm in the warmer months. The kids will enjoy a sing-a-long and campfire roast; you can purchase food (including s’mores kits) at the Chuckwagon, or save and bring your own.  Chip and Dale sign autographs and then a Disney movie plays on an oversized screen to round out the fun.  There is some seating or you can bring your own blankets. If you prefer the beach to the forest then opt for the s’mores and movie through Beach Club or Grand Floridian.
  10. Take a break from the Parks and head 20 minutes south of the city to The Nature Conservancy’s Disney Wilderness System.  This Everglades ecosystem is open weekdays, 9am – 5pm. You can hike the 2.5-mile trail, and see animals like bald eagles and gopher tortoise in their natural habitats. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
  11. While you are out of the Park, take a drive to Celebration, Florida, about 10 minutes from Disney World.  This community was planned and built by Disney (sold in 2004), and reminiscent of a scene from The Truman Show.  Market Street schedules a host of family-friendly activities each month, or you can leisurely stroll the area’s boutiques and specialty shops.  Venturing along the suggested walking tour path will ensure you see the most notable aspects of the town, including the oversize wicker chairs calling your name at the Bohemian Hotel Celebration. Providing another opportunity to save on lunch, pack a cooler and blanket, and head to the Interactive Fountain for a picnic and water play.

Do you have additional ideas for FREE FUN while at Walt Disney World?  Share them with us here or join the conversation on Facebook.

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