There's a lot more to Walt Disney World besides the theme parks – and not everything has to cost money. Watch movies under the stars, enjoy live music and entertainment, see animals and so much more – and all without spending a penny! Here's our list of the top 10 free things to do at Walt Disney World.
Visit Disney Springs
Disney Springs not only offers superb dining and unique shopping, but there's a bunch of free stuff to do there as well. Stop at the Ghirardelli shop for free chocolate samples, let your kids play as long as they want building things at The Lego Store, catch live music nightly at the outside amphitheater and see other entertainers like the Strolling Piano. Plus, it's fun to walk around all the interesting stores and window shop. Best of all, parking is always free at Disney Springs!
Stroll along Disney's Boardwalk
Walk along the relaxing and scenic Boardwalk, themed like a turn-of-the-century boardwalk. Stop into the Ample Hills Creamery for a free ice cream sample (or two.) Enjoy live street entertainers during the day and gorgeous views of the water at night. You can pack a lunch and have a quiet meal at one of the outdoor seating areas along the water.
Watch a Movie Under the Stars
Every night at Fort Wilderness, you can see a Movie Under the Stars. Usually scheduled to start just after sundown, watch a different classic Disney film every night of the week. Head there a little earlier for a free Campfire Sing-A-Long with Chip 'n' Dale. You can attend these nightly events even if you're not staying at Fort Wilderness! Other on-site resorts offer movies under the stars as well, so check with the concierge at your hotel for more details.
Ride the Monorails
Riding the monorails can be a lot of fun, especially when you're not in any hurry. Take the route around the Seven Seas Lagoon to check out incredible views of the Magic Kingdom from your highway in the sky. You'll also pass through the various resorts along the path. Hop on the Epcot line to take a scenic route through Epcot's Future World, which is great for taking pictures of the park. Don't forget to ask an attendant for a monorail transportation card to keep as a souvenir!
Take a Scenic Boat Ride
On a nice day, you can set sail on one of the many boats around Disney World. The Friendship Boats that travel between Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot make for a relaxing trip. In addition to the two parks they stop at the Boardwalk, the Yacht and Beach Club and the Swan and Dolphin (which all provide free parking during the day!) You can also cruise between Disney Springs and Port Orleans, or travel on the Ferry Boat at the Magic Kingdom.
Enjoy Live Music
Stop in at the Grand Floridian Resort for free musical performances daily. The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra performs ragtime, Dixie, traditional jazz and even popular Disney tunes several times a day. They play right in the massive lobby of this beautiful resort. Between the full shows you can catch a solo pianist playing classic Disney hits as well. Comfy couches and seating throughout the lobby make for a relaxing break away from the parks.
See Animals of the Savanna
Visit the Animal Kingdom Lodge to check out some of the exotic inhabitants that call the resort home. Ask the concierge for an "Animal Viewing Guide." This booklet tells you all about the animals and makes a great keepsake. Then head out the back doors of the lobby to see giraffes, zebras and many more animals! You can get a good view from the second story as well. Grab a meal at one of the resort's restaurants for some of the best food at Disney World while you're there!
Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Searching for hidden Mickeys is one of the best (free) ways to spend your day at Walt Disney World. The Wilderness Lodge is a great place to start because you can ask for a free "Hidden Mickey Hunt" guide at the front desk. It has hints for all the hidden Mickeys at the resort and you can check them off as you find them. This is a great rainy day activity too since many of the locations are found inside.
Have a Family Picnic
Pack a lunch or some snacks and head to one of the beautiful picnic areas at the resorts along the Seven Seas Lagoon's monorail path. Nearly all of the Disney World resorts offer picnic areas, but the ones at Grand Floridian, Polynesian or the beaches of Fort Wilderness are some of the best. Relax, enjoy the weather and people-watch from your picnic table or blanket.
Watch the Fireworks and Water Pageant
You can get a great view of the Magic Kingdom's nightly fireworks from the beaches at the Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Wilderness Lodge, or watch it from the concourse at The Contemporary. Right before the fireworks, you can also catch the Electrical Water Pageant from these viewing areas. It's like a parade on the water and even features its own music as it floats by the resorts.
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