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Listen, we love good Disney vacation hacks to save serious money or get freebies. It’s like buried gold. But sometimes, the tips you’ll find on blogs or Tiktok are fool’s gold; they straight-up don’t work.
So before you find yourself embarrassed or spending more than you’d planned, you’ll want to be armed with the knowledge that there are some tips that are too good to be true. We’ve done the research to help you out.
1. You can’t really get free Disney tickets anymore when you do a timeshare tour.
Yeah, this one’s a bummer. Not that many years ago, there were gobs of resorts that wanted you to check out their timeshares, and when you were done, you’d get free tickets to Disney. No longer.
The only timeshares we’ve found that are actively doing these tours are Westgate Lakes Resort in Orlando and the Disney Vacation Club. Westgate makes you pay $40 to attend, which goes toward any “gift” you receive at the end of the presentation (usually a $100 Disney gift card), plus “special rates” on park tickets. There are a bunch of other timeshares in the Orlando area that follow the same format.
Disney Vacation Club freebies vary but usually come in the form of a $25 – $100 Disney gift card, breakfast, or dessert. Making it through an awkward presentation doesn’t pay like it used to.
2. Extra Magic Hours don’t save you any time, really.
You should check the Disney World or Disneyland park calendars before you get into the parks to check if Magic Morning or Extra Magic Hours are happening since they tend to make the parks more crowded.
Even if you’re among the lucky resort guests who get into the park early or stay late, the extra crowds will essentially eat up your extra time with longer waits throughout the day.
And Disney is already expensive enough, so you’ll want to avoid Disney crowds as much as you can.
3. Birthday freebies at Disney aren’t really a thing.
When you get into the park, we always suggest getting a free celebration button at any shop. You can get a button if you’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary, first visit, or any other celebration. And Cast Members will go out of their way to tell you “Happy Birthday!”.
Unfortunately, this is as far as the freebies go. We’ve heard reports on Disney Tiktoks that people get free food and souvenirs, but when we went to Disney, this didn’t seem to be the case at any kiosks or counter-service restaurants.
And in that vein. . .
4. Anything you’ve read about FastPass is old news.
Disney officially replaced their FastPass service on Dec 8, 2021, with the new Lightning Lanes. While they’re similar to Disney FastPasses, there’s a big difference: You’ve gotta pay for them — to the tune of $20 per person, per day via Disney’s Genie+.
And some rides require “Individual LIghtning Lane” tickets, which cost $7 – $20 each, depending on the ride and season. Regardless of which LIghtning Lane you’ve bought, you can only use one pass per ride per day.
So if you were planning on using the free FastPass to avoid lines all day, you’ll want to reassess — and check out our ways to avoid crowds at Disney.
5. Don’t expect a birthday call from a Disney character at the hotel.
Previously, if you stayed at a Disney resort hotel with a child celebrating a birthday, a Disney character would call on the big day. According to the official Disney site, there’s no mechanism for scheduling this right now, but if you call the front desk, you might be able to set something up — no promises, though.
There also used to be an option to set up a Disney birthday call via the Disney Channel website, but that has since been discontinued.
6. You can’t use the Lost & Found for free storage.
Some Tiktokers say they turn THEIR OWN BAGS into Disney Lost & Found and then retrieve them later, to save $10-$15 per day on the park’s storage lockers.
That’s a really risky way to save a little money. Because when you turn in a “lost” item, it goes into Disney’s Lost & Found system. Disneyland told us that it typically takes 24-48 hours for an item to even be registered in the system, and up to two weeks to return to the owner.
That seems like a big gamble that could end up with you separated from your bags for a long time.
7. Free stickers aren’t available through all Cast Members.
Sometimes, Cast Members have some stickers that they can give out to kids, but it’s a roll of the dice. We’ve heard that if you ask maintenance staff (in white outfits), they’ll be more likely to have stickers to give out.
That said, we asked just about every Cast Member we could find at Disney World, and struck out every time.
Also, there’s a Tiktok tip that if you say “Do you have any magic?” you’ll get freebies, but Cast members just smiled at us and said no.
8. Ride freebies at Disney are largely discontinued.
While you used to be able to get a free Autopia/Tomorrowland Speedway driver’s license, a Dumbo pilot’s card, or a death certificate from the Haunted Mansion, these items have been largely discontinued.
If you still want these items, you can purchase some of them at the gift shop at the end of the ride — like the $6 Tomorrowland Speedway driver’s license. But if your heart was set on these freebies, you’re going to want to look elsewhere or budget around $15 for it.
We’ve been told the Walt Disney World monorail license is temporarily unavailable because it’s being redesigned; expect to see it again in the first half of 2022.
9. You can’t order Starbucks in the park using the Starbucks app.
This one’s a bummer because the lines are substantial, and pretty much every other fast-service restaurant inside the parks lets you order ahead. But it’s a no-go for Starbucks; you gotta wait in line like everybody else. And the wait will likely be longer than some rides, depending on when you go. . .
It might be easier to zip over to Disney Springs outside the park, where you can order Starbucks using the app.
If you’re looking for more ways to save at Disney restaurants, no worries. We have all the Disney dining tips that’ll have you as much as you can on your Disney vacation.
10. Asking for a better seat on rides won’t work anymore.
In the end, any special favors depend on how willing your Cast Member is, but since there are social distancing requirements as well as crowd control protocols in place due to Covid-19, Disney has asked guests to respect where Cast Members place them on the ride.
11. You can’t enter a ride through the exit as parks close.
This one’s just dumb. Disney Tiktokers say they squeeze in one last ride by entering through the exit and hopping the barrier near the front of the line. Not only is it super rude, but it’s super not OK with Disney; if you get caught you could be banned from the park. For life. Not exactly worth an extra ride.
12. Free MagicBands? Not anymore!
Instead of having to get out your ticket every time you park hop, check into a Lightning Lane or buy a snack, MagicBands will just let you scan its computer chip.
Disney World used to give these MagicBands to hotel guests for free, but now that you can do everything a MagicBand could do (and more) with a smartphone or Apple Watch, they’ve discontinued this freebie. But they do still work, and you still can buy them (for $29.99 and up. . . although people do resell them online).