When it comes to vacations, visiting Walt Disney World is in a class all by itself. To maximize the value of your Disney resort vacation, check out some of the free, and nearly free activities available to your family.
Make Use of the Magic Your Way Offers
If you book a Magic Your Way resort and ticket package, Disney will send you a packet of information about your trip (one packet per room), which includes free luggage tags and coupons for activities during your stay.
The packet includes a $15 food voucher for Planet Hollywood at Downtown Disney, as well as a free Planet Hollywood Souvenir voucher. When my family visited last summer, we were able to feed two adults almost exclusively using the $15 voucher. While we were there, we collected our free keychain souvenir from the gift shop. If you decide to take advantage of the food voucher, I strongly encourage you to make reservations beforehand.
The booklet also includes one free admission per room to play a round of miniature golf at Disney's Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course, or Disney's Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course. I'm looking forward to hitting the miniature course this summer with my family.
Your kids will also be delighted to learn that the packet includes a voucher for free play points at your resort's arcade. You'll simply need to exchange your voucher for a play card at the arcade.
Check Out Downtown Disney
The area includes shops, restaurants, and live entertainment with no admission or parking fees. A bus from your resort hotel will take you there for free if you don't have a car. Downtown Disney has plenty of photo opportunities with giant Lego creations, princess statues, a large Buzz Lightyear, and a skeleton pirate based on Pirates of the Caribbean. Let the kids play with Legos at the Lego Imagination Center, or take an inexpensive ride on the carousel. You can also take a free boat ride from one end of Downtown Disney to the other (the areas are called the Westside and the Marketplace) or to nearby resorts. Just make sure to check the schedules of the boats before boarding.
Walk the Boardwalk
Disney also boasts a boardwalk area which includes several restaurants and shops. If you're not in the mood for shopping or eating, have a seat in a shaded area and people-watch, or check out the live performers that are often featured at Disney's Boardwalk. Like Downtown Disney, there is no admission cost to visit this area. You can catch a boat from the Boardwalk to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or nearby resorts.
Sing Along With Chip 'n Dale
Disney's Fort Wilderness resort offers a free campfire sing-along with Chip 'n Dale, as well as an outdoor "Movie under the Stars" for Disney resort guests. Several other resorts also offer a nightly outdoor movie (all Disney movies, of course), so make sure to check with the front desk at your resort. (Last year, our family visited a poolside showing of Lilo and Stitch!)
Light up the night with the Electrical Water Pageant
Disney holds a nightly water "parade" that literally floats by the Magic Kingdom area resorts. Check with the front desk to know when the floats will pass your resort and head down to the water to watch the show. The great part is, Disney pipes in music to go along with the parade! These areas are also great places for watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks. If you're not sure of the best viewing area at a resort, the front desk staff will be happy to help.
Don't feel trapped in your resort
Go visit other resorts and check out the magnificent décor and designs. All resorts have something special to see (like the Monorail traveling through the Contemporary or the erupting geyser at the Wilderness Lodge).
One of the best parts of our last vacation was looking for Hidden Mickeys, which are Mickey shapes cleverly hidden in Disney décor or designs all over Disney World. You can buy the Hidden Mickeys Guide to help you, or try to find them on your own! (This is also a great distraction while waiting in long lines at the parks.)
I hope that these freebies and nearly freebies help make your Disney trip a little more magical!
This has been a guest post by Jennifer from Greencastle, IN
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