As prices continue to rise, you might be wondering how to enjoy a day at Disney World for less. Surprisingly, there are many things you can do on Disney property for low or no cost. Let’s dive into some of our favorite options for free and cheap things to do at Disney World without ever needing to step into a park.
Disclosure: Many of the activities listed will be located at Walt Disney World Resorts. Since it is difficult to park at the resorts right now without a hotel or table service dining reservation, it is recommended you park somewhere free (at a park if an AP holder or Disney Springs if not) and take free Disney resort transportation to get to your resort destination.
Tri-Circle-D Ranch & Fort Wilderness
Tri-Circle-D Ranch is not only a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the parks, but it also doesn’t cost anything to visit. Yes, they do have activities such as horseback riding and pony rides for an added cost, but you can go and check out the place for free. Stroll through the stables, meet the horses, watch the cast members care for them, and check out the Dragon Calliope. There is also a neat historical display about Walt Disney and Horses.
After visiting, you can spend a lot of time walking around and exploring Fort Wilderness. If the holidays are near (Halloween or Christmas), many campsites will decorate and it can be fun to check out the décor. If you’re looking for something to eat while you’re there, you can grab a snack from The Chuck Wagon for under $10.
Savanna Gazing at Animal Kingdom Lodge
One of my favorite free things to do is head over to Animal Kingdom Lodge and watch the animals. There are multiple savannas to check out and you can spend some time exploring each of the savanna overlooks located at both Jambo House and Kidani Village. I also just really love the atmosphere and the plant foliage walking around this property. If you are in the mood for a low-cost snack after all that walking, The Mara at Jambo House has options for around $10. For more detailed information about each savanna, check this DVC Fan article.
Live Music at Disney Springs
Disney Springs is a great place to go for some free entertainment. There are multiple locations where free live music is offered. Check out Advent Health Waterside Stage, Exposition Park, Riverboat Squire, Reglan Road Patio, Sunshine Highline, and Waterview Park. If you are interested in a low-cost snack while you enjoy the entertainment, you can build your own Blaize Pizza. Get unlimited toppings for only $10.45. Or grab my favorite Earl of Sandwich Holiday Turkey Sandwich for only $7.99. Honestly, just strolling around Disney Springs and window shopping is a great free activity. I just love walking a loop around there and seeing what’s going on.
Stroll the BoardWalk and Crescent Lake Area
Disney’s BoardWalk Resort is a destination in itself. You can stroll along Crescent Lake taking in the beautiful atmosphere, hearing the music, and watching the boats go by. Hopefully soon, Disney brings the free entertainment back out as well. The Atlantic Dance Hall is free to enter for those over 21 years old. It provides a spot for music and dancing. If you are looking for some cheap eats along the BoardWalk, head over to BoardWalk Bakery. You can pick up a sandwich for around $10 or a dessert for around $5. The Pizza Window has large slices for under $10. Or check out BoardWalk Ice Cream for a scoop or milkshake for around $5. I’m a happy person grabbing a scoop of ice cream and sitting in a wicker chair on the big porch at BoardWalk.
I love resort hopping. It’s especially fun at Christmas time to check out all the festive décor. Any time is fun to explore resort lobbies, walk the grounds, and immerse yourself in the theming. We love walking the paths around the resorts. You could do a monorail resort hop of Grand Floridan, Polynesian, and the Contemporary or a Skyliner hop of Riviera, Caribbean Beach, Pop Century, and Art of Animation and throw in BoardWalk and Yacht & Beach Club. When the Sassagola River Cruise boat service reopens, you can potentially use it to hop to Saratoga Springs, Old Key West, and Port Orleans Riverside & French Quarter (by transferring at Disney Springs). There are so many resorts to explore, and each has some lower-cost quick service offerings if you decide to snack. If you’re hopping around to see Christmas decor, don’t forget to check out Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Watch the Park Nighttime Shows Outside the Parks
You don’t have to have parks tickets, Annual Passes, or fancy dinner reservations to watch the evening shows. Magic Kingdom fireworks can be seen from the Ticket & Transportation Center, the Contemporary (there is a public balcony on the fourth floor), the Polynesian Beach, and Grand Floridan. My favorite and least crowded place is on the path between the Polynesian and Grand Floridan. Epcot fireworks can be seen from areas of the BoardWalk. The Electrical Water Pagent can be seen from resorts that sit on Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake.
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