Yes, a vacation to Walt Disney World is expensive. Staying at a Disney Resort Hotel can increase the cost even more. However, it may be well worth the extra cost when you consider all the extras you get for free.
Last time we looked at some of the free perks that apply to most all the Disney Resorts, including free parking, free transportation, and amazing theming and decorations.
Today we will continue the list with free things for specific Disney Resorts. (Note: the count continues from yesterday’s article.)
32. Play Games: In the Community Halls of Animal Kingdom, the Boardwalk, Old Key West, and Saratoga Springs, guests can play foosball, air hockey, pool, ping-pong, darts, and more. Guests can also make crafts, watch TV, rent DVDs and books, and join rainy day activities. Similar activities, plus equipment for bocce ball, are available at the Bay Lake Tower Community Hall.
33. Play Sports: At the Animal Kingdom, guests can play half-court basketball, shuffleboard, and tennis. The Boardwalk Resort Hotel has a sand volleyball court and tennis courts. Guests can also play tennis at the Boardwalk. At Coronado Springs, guests will find a white-sand volleyball court by the Dig Site pool complex. Caribbean Beach also has volleyball on a beachside court at Barbados Village, and at the Contemporary Resort, guests can play volleyball lakeside. Fort Wilderness offers basketball and volleyball, and Old Key West has lighted tennis courts, basketball, and beach volleyball. The Polynesian Village Resort offers guests a lagoon-side volleyball court. Finally, Saratoga Springs has clay tennis courts and basketball courts. Complimentary equipment is available at nearby locations with a MagicBand.
34. Take a walk: runDisney has several events throughout the year at Walt Disney World, so it’s no surprise that many resorts have walking/jogging/running paths.
Deluxe Resorts: The one-mile path around Crescent Lake is a beautiful view that allows guests to see five Disney Resorts: The Boardwalk, The Yacht Club, The Beach Club, and The Swan and Dolphin. At the Contemporary Resort, guests can run around Bay Lake Tower and the South Garden Wing circle, which is a .9-mile paved jogging path. The Grand Floridian and Polynesian guests have access to a trail around the Seven Seas Lagoon, which is approximately 1 mile each way and connects the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and the Wedding Pavilion. It has amazing views of Magic Kingdom. Saratoga Springs also features paved pathways measuring about 1.44 mi trail and .8 mi loop.
Moderate Resorts: Coronado Springs has a 3/4-mile promenade loop, and a .9-mile run around the idyllic wetlands near the Ranchos and Cabanas. The Caribbean Beach features a 1.4-mile promenade around Barefoot Bay. Fort Wilderness has one of the longer paths measuring in at 2.5 miles. There is also a 3/4 mile shaded fitness/bike trail that connects Wilderness lodge and Fort Wilderness. Old Key West has a 1.37-mile path beginning at Conch Flats and running past the shimmering canal and fairways of Lake Buena Vista Golf Course. Guests of Port Orleans can run alongside the Sassagoula River’s 1.7-mile path connecting Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter.
Value Resorts: Pop Century offers one mile of paved sidewalks around the complex. At the Art of Animation resort, guests can use the 1.38-mile trail along Hourglass Lake. Watch out for colorful courtyards inspired by Disney-Pixar’s Cars, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid. All three All-Star resorts are connected by a one-mile long jogging trail.
35. Photo-ops: There are many places to take pictures at Walt Disney World Resort, but some places make a better backdrop than others. The theming at the Art of Animation resort is beyond compare. There are also similar photo-ops at the All-Star Resorts including Herbie, the Love Bug, One Hundred and One Dalmatians puppies, and Toy Story characters.
36. Grill out: BBQ grills are located at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower and Fort Wilderness Campground.
37. See some butterflies: The Contemporary Resort Butterfly Garden is located on the left-side of the resort as you walk out of the back of the lobby towards the pool by Bay Lake. Guests can see more butterflies in the garden just outside the Outpost at the Fort Wilderness Campground.
38. Dockside Fishing: At Fort Wilderness Campground and Port Orleans Resort, bring your own pole (or rent fishing gear for a fee), and fish in the well-stocked water. Don’t forget that all Disney Fishing is catch-and-release only.
39. Hear a Story: Find the storyteller just outside the main lobby every night.
40. Enjoy a campfire: You’ll find the storyteller around the campfire, but if you miss the story, just relax by the fire and roast some marshmallows.
41. See Unusual Animals: Exotic African Animals walk freely around the Arusha Savanna. Visit at dusk for the best photo-op. Cast Members and Cultural Guides are available to answer questions about the kudu giraffe, zebra, ankole cattle, and many other animals.
42. Experience Night Vision: Check out the animals in their natural habitat with night vision glasses.
43. Resort Tours: The restaurants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offer free 30-minute tours that teach guests about food and architecture. Take a pre-dinner tour and sample the classic dishes from Africa and India.
Yacht & Beach Club
44. See Christmas Decorations: The Holiday Village is created by Cast Members and includes a miniature train that travels through a quaint village and over sugar rock mountain.
45. Edible Carousel: Also during the Christmas season, guests can see the life-size, edible, spinning Holiday Carousel. Look for magical surprises including Hidden Mickeys hiding in the décor. Spoiler alert: you can’t take a bite of the carousel even though the whole thing is edible.
46. The Holiday Gazebo: This merry gazebo appears in the lobby of Disney’s Boardwalk Resort with a scene made entirely of gingerbread and chocolate. Look for Hidden Mickeys!
47. Stitch’s Bakery Store Front: During the Christmas Season, guests can explore a Stitch-sized replica of the Boardwalk Bakery’s storefront in the lobby. Keep a lookout for Lilo as Cast Members create gingerbread houses right in front of you!
48. Hear a Radio Show: ESPN broadcasts live on the Boardwalk just outside of the resort at the ESPN Club. You might even get to see a celebrity athlete!
49. Do some dancing: Atlantic Dance Hall and Jelly Rolls are great over-21 nightspots. Dance to Top 40 hits or enjoy a dueling piano bar. The Art Deco ballroom also offers a romantic atmosphere under twinkling stars over the dance floor or outside on the balcony overlooking Crescent Lake.
50. Take a boat ride: Cruise the loop on a boat around Crescent Lake which visits Epcot, The Boardwalk, The Yacht & Beach Club, The Swan & Dolphin Hotel, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. None of the stops require a park ticket.
51. Music and a Show: From the Boardwalk, walk over to the back gate of Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios around closing time. You can hear the music and maybe even see IllumiNations or Fantasmic! You don’t need to enter the parks to have great views.
Contemporary / Bay Lake Tower
52. Gingerbread Christmas Tree: The Grand Canyon Concourse hosts a gigantic gingerbread Christmas tree decorated with ornaments, candy canes, and presents just in time for Christmas. Disney characters often show up for photos!
53. Watch the fireworks: Watch Wishes from the Grand Floridian boat dock. If you can get a reservation, Narcoossee’s restaurant is a great place to enjoy some wonderful food during the fireworks show.
54. Hear a live performance: There may be no better place in all of Walt Disney World to hear a life pianist and a Big Band performing Disney-themed tunes. This is fun for the whole family!
55. See the Gingerbread House: Every year at Christmastime, a life-sized gingerbread house is built in the lobby. The tradition has continued for over 15 years.
56. Meet Mickey and Minnie: During the holidays, Mickey and Minnie appear in front of the huge Christmas tree in the middle of the lobby. Lines aren’t usually very long, so bring your camera and ask a Cast Member to snap a picture for next year’s Christmas card!
57. Wash your hands: At Basin White, a retail store found in the main lobby, you can try out salt and sugar scrubs and free hand lotions. The store smells wonderful, and your hands will feel great! Guests can also find a Basin store in Disney Springs offering the same great free things.
58. Do some dancing: Learn to hula dance and a variety of native chants and dances from tropical locales.
59. See a geyser: Disney created a miniature version of Old Faithful, and it erupts from 7AM to 10PM on the hour. It is located at the back of the property past the pool on Bay Lake.
60. Resort Tours: The Wonders of Wilderness Lodge tour is open to any Disney Resort guest Wednesday through Saturday at 9AM. A Wilderness Lodge Guide will walk you through the lodge and provide little known information.
70. Railroad Memorabilia: The Vacation Club Villas are home to Walt Disney’s railroad memorabilia. If you enjoy Disney history, you will love this mini-museum of art, photographs, replicas, and actual artifacts from Walt’s hobby and Disney World’s earliest years.
71. Enjoy the fireplace: Play chess and other board games by the fire in the Villa’s Building in the Carolwood Pacific Room. You can also just enjoy the floor-to-ceiling fireplace on a rocking chair.
72. Enjoy the Christmas Tree: Like other resorts, the Wilderness Lodge erects a massive Christmas tree in the center of the lobby. PhotoPass Photographers are available to snap your picture, or you can take your own photo.
73. Check out the Indian Artifacts: Artifacts from a variety of Native American tribes including Cheyenne, Crow, Sioux, and Blackfoot, have been collected, recreated, and displayed throughout the Lodge. Guests can also see authentic reproductions of headdresses, painted robes and drums, and work from artists who are famous for nature scenes.
74. See the carved totem poles: There are two hand-carved totem poles measuring about 55-feet tall depicting Native American myths and legends. There’s another 10-foot tall totem pole with carvings of Donald Duck, Goofy, and Mickey near the Wilderness Lodge Mercantile.
75. Go on a bear hunt: Reportedly, the Wilderness Lodge is the first Disney Resort Hotel to have a mascot: the brown bear. It can be found all over the resort in cartoons and silhouettes. Cast Members say that windows were even designed to resemble a bear face.
76. Mickey Hunt: Wilderness Lodge has a special self-guided Hidden Mickey hunt available to everyone. Just stop by the front desk and ask for the clues. This is a great way to spend an afternoon exploring the resort.
Fort Wilderness Campground
77. Sing some songs: A step up from usual resort campfires, Fort Wilderness has a free sing-along with Chip and Dale near the Meadow Trading Post every evening around 7pm in the fall and winter and 8pm in the spring and summer. You can even get an autograph!
78. Watch a movie: After the Chip and Dale sing-along, stay for a movie under the stars. There is some seating available on the bleachers and benches, but feel free to bring a blanket or towel to lie on.
79. Bring your pet: Fort Wilderness is the only WDW Resort that allows pets on certain camping loops. Remember, pets are not allowed in the parks or in other areas, so make plans to keep your pet cool in your air-conditioned camper for short periods of time or take Scruffy to visit a local doggy day care.
80. Explore the Ranch: At Tri-Circle-D Ranch, guests can walk through the stables to see Cinderella’s ponies and majestic horses of Main Street USA. You can even watch the blacksmith make horseshoes and put them on the horses’ hooves. Dragon Calliope, a horse-drawn musical instrument purchased by Walt Disney for the Mickey Mouse Club Circus Parade at Disneyland Park in the 1950s, is also available for viewing.
Old Key West
81. Get a locker: Complimentary locker rentals are available near the Old Key West pool. Use your MagicBand to rent a locker key for free!
82. Sing-along: Port Orleans Riverside offers a seasonal (October to March) Campfire on de Bayou with stories and sing-alongs around a fire at Ol’ Man Island Fishin’ Hole a few nights a week weather permitting. See the front desk for the schedule.
Are you surprised there are so many freebies at Disney Resorts?
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