Wow – 80+ Free Things at Disney World Resorts (Part 1 of 2)

A Disney World vacation is expensive; there’s certainly no denying that. Between the park tickets and options, resort stay, snacks, and souvenirs, a family can easily spend thousands of dollars visiting the world-famous resort.

What if I told you, though, that there are more than 80 free things just at the resorts that guests can enjoy at no additional charge?

Do I have your attention?

Do you think that a Disney Resort might be a better deal?

This will be a two-part series, so be sure to check back for the next edition.

Read today’s article to learn about free things for all Disney World Resort Guests.

Free at Resorts

1. Online Check-in: Begin your check-in online 60 days before your stay, and Disney will send you a text message with your room number. If you already have your MagicBand, you can skip the front desk and go straight to your room!

Online check-in allows guests to get to their room and begin enjoying your vacation more quickly!
Online check-in allows guests to get to their room and begin enjoying their vacation more quickly!

2. MagicBands: MagicBands are relatively new to Disney World, and they are your new key to the kingdom. These rubberized bracelets hold an RFID chip and allow guests to access hotel rooms, enter parks, make purchases, and get PhotoPass photos.

3. Lobby Cartoons: Kids love the Disney cartoons playing in the lobby while parents check in after a long drive or flight.

4. Open Resort Policy: Disney has an open resort policy, which means that WDW Resort Guests can visit any resort on property. If you’re driving, parking is free; if you don’t have a car, see free transportation below.

5. Free Wi-Fi: All of the Disney World Resort has free Wi-Fi.

6. Free Parking: Guests staying at a Disney World Resort park for free at the theme parks!

7. Luggage Assistance: Cast Members will store your luggage for free before or after check-in so you can enjoy the parks while waiting for your room or be ready or for your bus ride to the airport. Tipping is optional but is the right thing to do whether a monetary tip or a compliment on the Disney Tip Line.

8. Free Snack Samples: Many resorts are now offering assorted sugary snacks in their gift shops. Check on top of the snack case!

9. Package Delivery: Who wants to carry their souvenirs around all day? At Disney, you don’t have to! Simply tell the Cast Member cashier that you’d like your package delivered to your hotel. Pick up your package at your hotel’s gift shop.

10. Shampoos and Soaps*: H2O creates toiletries just for Disney. Use them during your stay or take them home with you. They make great souvenirs!

*Unused or partially used items are gathered up and packaged by Cast Members and donated to an organization called Clean the World. If you don’t want or need the toiletry items, consider doing something good for those who are less fortunate than you.

11. Resort tours: Although some tours require reservations, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, Grand Floridian, and Yacht Club offer free tours for resort guests. Many of these tours will be listed in future editions in this series.

12. Picture taking: There are many photo-ops at the resorts, and your scrapbook will look amazing since even an amateur photographer can take amazing pictures with Disney as the backdrop.

13. Character Photo-Ops: At the value resorts, there are larger than life characters including Buzz Lightyear, Sully, and Lightning McQueen. Posing by these statues can make for great photos!

14. Goofy Greeting Call: Ask the Cast Member checking you in to set up a “Welcome Call” from a Disney Character. With a little Disney magic, the character will leave a message on your room phone!

15. Wake-up call: Request a free wake-up call from Mickey or Stitch. The kids will love it!

Free Recreation

16. Electric Water Pageant: From the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness, or Contemporary Resorts, guests can enjoy this nightly water show. The parade was scheduled to run only one time in 1971 when the Polynesian opened, but its popularity has kept it around every night.

17. Wishes: Guests can see Wishes even if they aren’t in Magic Kingdom. My favorite spot is from the white sand beaches of the Polynesian Village Resort, but the fireworks can be seen from any Magic Kingdom Area Hotel.

Magic Kingdom Area hotels like the Polynesian are close enough to Magic Kingdom for guests to enjoy the fireworks right from their resort.
Magic Kingdom Area hotels like the Polynesian are close enough to Magic Kingdom for guests to enjoy the fireworks right from their resort.

18. Pool Side Games: WDW resorts now offer poolside games led by Cast Members. Enjoy everything from a scavenger hunt to a dance party!

19. Freshen up: Registered resort guests have access to towels at poolside showers. After a swim, wash off in these showers or speed up the shower process before or after a day in the park by sending someone to these showers. They are very clean and smell wonderful.

20. Fireside Marshmallows: Many Disney Resorts have campfires at dusk, and Cast Members are on hand to pass out free marshmallows and roasting sticks. Did I mention that the marshmallows are unlimited? Get your fill! S’more kits are available for purchase, or you can bring your own.

21. Campfire Stories and Songs: Cast Members tell stories and lead sing-alongs. Bring a blanket or towel to get comfy.

22. Movies Under the Stars: Many resorts also show Disney movies at night on large projection screens. Check your activities schedule and the weather since these are subject to change.

23. Playgrounds: Almost all Disney Resorts have playgrounds that kids can enjoy for free.

24. Hidden Mickeys: Entire books are dedicated to Disney’s Imagineeers’ placement of Hidden Mickeys. Spend some time on your next vacation trying to find them! You don’t need a book to find some of the more obvious ones.

25. Take a hike: Many resorts feature beautiful walkways and nature trails. Take advantage of these for a relaxing stroll.

The paved walkways of Disney Resorts are great places to continue your fitness routine while on vacation.
The paved walkways of Disney Resorts are great places to continue your fitness routine while on vacation.

Free Transportation

26. Monorail ride: Resort hop for free via the monorail. Aim to ride during the middle of the day since the morning and evening hours can be quite congested.

For a longer experience, hop on the monorail at the Ticket and Transportation Center and ride all the way to Epcot. The ride takes about 20 minutes round trip.

27. Boat Rides: Boats arrive and depart from the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian.

28. Free Bus Transportation: Disney has complimentary bus transportation to all Disney Guests.

29. Disney’s Magical Express: Enjoy complimentary transportation and luggage delivery to and from Orlando International Airport.

Free Holiday Entertainment

30. Holiday Performances: Stop by the resort lobby at Christmastime to see choirs of all ages singing holiday favorites.

31. Holiday Decorations: Disney’s holiday decorations, especially at Christmastime and Easter, are simply incredible. This is a great time to resort hop.

What’s your favorite free resort activity?
Leave your comments below.