Free Things to do at Walt Disney World
Want to enjoy a day outside the parks? Looking for fun on your arrival or departure day without having to buy a Theme Park ticket? Here's a few of our best secrets on how to have fun at Walt Disney World for free!
Disney’s Boardwalk Area
Situated on Crescent Lake and across from Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, this turn-of-the-century inspired Boardwalk promenade is the perfect place for an early-evening stroll, or to catch live performers. Check out some of the gift shops like the Wyland Gallery or the Screen Door General Store. The best time to visit is early evening, this is not a late-night destination unless you plan to visit the night clubs: Jellyrolls and the Atlantic Dance Hall.
Disney hotels worth exploring
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (a monorail resort) has many free activities for guests! One of the most magical activities is watching Wishes Nighttime Spectacular from the beach. You can also catch the Electrical Water Pageant (see below). Join some talented Polynesian storytellers in the Great Ceremonial House for classic storytelling or catch the Polynesian's Torch Lighting Ceremony at dusk.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa (a monorail resort) has a beautiful (and grand) lobby. Each afternoon a pianist performs enchanting tunes on a grand piano. The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra plays jazz and popular Disney songs into the evening. During the holiday season, check out the life-size gingerbread house in the lobby.
Want to see something really beautiful? Try The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort for a free tour of the models that are available as part of the Disney Vacation Club. A Cast Member would be happy to give you a no-pressure tour of these magnificent rooms (available for a limited time).
Disney’s Contemporary Resort (a monorail resort) is a classic Walt Disney World Resort hotel, opening on October 1, 1971, the same as the Magic Kingdom. Check out the 4th floor, where you’ll find an outdoor terrace that overlooks the Magic Kingdom - it's perfect for viewing Wishes Nighttime Spectacular. You can also view the Electrical Water Pageant (see below).
Explore a meandering river, waterfall, and the scenic overlook at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. It’s especially pretty at night! Fire Rock Geyser erupts every hour and sprays water 120 feet in the air! Ask Guest Services for a Hidden Mickey scavenger hunt. If you're staying at the resort, you can request to be the Flag Family of the day where you'll be guided up to the roof to raise the flags (request this at check in, it's very popular).
The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is a must-see if you’re a fan of Walt Disney or even a train buff. Located in the Golden Spike Room, you’ll find model railroad cars that once belonged to Walt Disney himself! The rustic Golden Spike Room is filled with memorabilia showing Walt Disney's love of trains.
The Wonders of Wilderness Lodge Tour is led by a “park ranger” who provides history, fun facts, and a tour of the artifacts on display that most people overlook. This one-hour tour is a wonderful way to spend the morning and most people report it's actually better than some of the paid tours that Disney offers.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of the most unique hotels you'll ever see! Relax on the scenic overlooks or hit the trails where you can view animals like zebras and giraffes. After dark, use night vision goggles to view the animals, free of charge of course! Don't miss the authentic African storytelling at the fire pit offered each evening as well.
The Culinary Tours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge are 30-minute tours of the highly-rated Jiko and Boma restaurants. A tour of Sanaa at Kidani Village is also available. Your culinary guide will reveal some architectural secrets and a few Hidden Mickeys. You might even get a free sample or two along the way.
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort showcases the natural beauty of central Florida. Stop by the Tri-Circle-D Ranch at the Settlement Depot where the working horses of Disney World reside. Don't miss the Dragon Calliope on display in the barn - Walt Disney purchased it for Disneyland Park in the 1950s. View Best Ways to Horse Around at Walt Disney World.
Chip n Dale Campfire Singalong at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort is a great way to spend an evening. It's BYOM - Bring Your Own Marshmallows (and sticks) or purchase a s’mores kit at the Chuckwagon Snack Bar. Enjoy singalongs and a meet and greet with Chip n Dale. Afterwards, stay for a Disney movie under the stars. Bring your own blanket, chairs, or towel.
Free monorail tours
Riding the monorail is an attraction all by itself and of course it's completely free! There are three lines, each offering a unique experience: the Resort Monorail services Disney’s Contemporary, Polynesian Village, and Grand Floridian Resorts, and is ideal for stopping at each of Disney’s flagship resort hotels. The Express Monorail runs between the Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center, perfect if you just want to take a quick 15-20 minute ride. The Epcot Monorail is the longest and most scenic, gliding over wooded areas and then right through the middle of Epcot!
The best way to board the Resort and Express monorails is at the Magic Kingdom station or at the Transportation and Ticket Center. For the Epcot monorail, you'll need to board at the Transportation and Ticket Center station or at Epcot. Remember that Disney Transport Buses do not run between hotels, only from hotels to Theme Parks so you'll need to takes buses marked for Epcot, Magic Kingdom, or Transportation and Ticket Center depending on where you plan to start your monorail tour.
See Hotels Worth Exploring above for more must-see activities at the monorail resorts.
Electrical Water Pageant
A floating parade of friendly sea creatures light up the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake each night with synthesized Disney music. It can be seen from the Magic Kingdom resort hotels and even just outside the Magic Kingdom, near the boat docks. It’s a classic Walt Disney World show and of course, it's totally free!
Approximate Electrical Water Pageant Showtimes by resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Resort 9:00 p.m.
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort: 9:15 p.m.
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort: 9:30 p.m.
- Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort 9:45 p.m.
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort: 10:00 p.m.
- Magic Kingdom Entrance Area: 10:35 p.m.
Walt Disney World boat tours
Take a roundtrip boat ride along the Sassagoula River making stops at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort - Riverside, Disney's Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter, Disney’s Saratoga Springs, and Disney’s Old Key West Resort by boat. You'll even pass by the secluded Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs. Hop off at each stop to explore the hotels or just enjoy the round trip ride. Check out the resort calendar for activities happening at these resorts if you would like to join in the fun.
Epcot Resort Area
Enjoy a scenic, round trip boat ride from Epcot to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Boats stop at Disney’s Boardwalk, Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels. While onboard you’ll pass by picturesque landscapes of some of Disney’s most beautiful hotels. Feel free to hop off and explore these magnificent resorts.
Magic Kingdom Resort Area
Catch a boat to Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort and Campground, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort for a day of exploration!
Boats traveling to Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort and Campground, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Contemporary Resort sail over the Seven Seas Lagoon, over an extremely rare “water bridge” and continuing on to Bay Lake. The water bridge connects these two bodies of water with boats on top, and cars underneath!
One suggested tour is to take a boat from the Magic Kingdom to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, hop off and explore the resort. Then, return to the dock and take a boat to Disney’s Contemporary Resort to catch the Resort Monorail. Be sure to check out the Contemporary while you're there. Take the Monorail Resort tour (see above) and finally return to the Magic Kingdom.
The Campfires at Walt Disney World
Complimentary campfire activities are offered at select Walt Disney World Resort Hotels (see below). The Best of the Best include Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter - Cajon Campfire, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside -Campfire on de’ Bayou, Disney's Ft. Wilderness Resort: Chip n Dale's Campfire Singalong (see above), and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge - Jambo House Campfire.
Campfires typically include storytelling and s’mores with guests gathered around a crackling fire. The campfires are often followed by a Disney movie under the stars. Make a night of it and bring a blanket or chairs, or even towels from your room to sit on. Campfires are free to all guests whether you're staying at the hotel or not.
Be sure to consult the Walt Disney World Resort Calendar for times.
Disney World Resorts Offering Campfires
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Disney's Beach Club Resort
- Disney's Boardwalk Inn
- Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney's Contemporary Resort
- Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
- Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disney's Old Key West Resort
- Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
- Disney's Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
- Disney's Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
- Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- Disney's Wilderness Lodge
- Disney's Yacht Club Resort
- Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
Visit The New Disney Springs
Disney Springs, formally Downtown Disney, is a great way to spend your last day at Walt Disney World without having to buy an additional Theme Park day. But it's been totally reimagined and it’s a great place to visit anytime during your Disney vacation! Of course you’ll get free parking and free admission to Disney Springs and are plenty of ways to have fun - for free!
The Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop often gives free samples of their chocolate or frozen treats. The Lego Store at Disney Springs has an interactive outdoor area set up for kids of all ages to explore, create, and build with Legos. If you really want to see something unique, head over to the Boathouse Restaurant where you can catch the Amphicars take guests out for a tour. Amphicars are half boat and half car. Why not try on a stylish hat at Chapel Hats and take some selfies? If you’re an Indiana Jones fan, go check out Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, inspired by the film, Raiders of The Lost Arc. You can also take a free boat ride to the Disney's Port Orleans Resorts or any other Disney Springs Area Resort Hotel (see Boat Tours above).
Last Updated: December 2017 by Darren Wittko