Free Stuff at Disney World

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Free and Disney are not normally words that you think of going together. Yet despite the generally pricey nature of Disney travel, there are plenty of free things to be had at Walt Disney World. Here’s a list of no-cost items both large and small that can enhance your Disney vacation experience.

Food

    • Sweets. More than 50% of the time I that I visit the Main Street Confectionery, there is cast member walking around with a tray full of samples for guest to try. I’ve tasted Krispie treats, cookies, bits of cake, and even cotton candy. Plus, there is almost always a tray of fudge samples sitting on top of the main display case. You won’t be able to fill up here like you might at your local Costco, but if you’re looking for just a bit of sweet to satisfy your palate after your meal, the Confectionery is the place for you.

Cotton candy samples at the Main Street Confectionary

    • Soda. Stop by Club Cool at Epcot and drink your fill of eight flavors of Coke products from around the world. These range from the sweet Smart Watermelon from China to the bitter and, in my opinion, totally yummy, Beverly from Italy. The Club Cool drink stations are supplied with tasting-size cups, but you’re welcome to stay and taste as much as you want for as long as you want. I’ve even heard rumors about guests filling empty water bottles and taking their soda to go.
    • Water. The water bottles sold throughout the parks cost about $2.50 each. If you want to hydrate for free, simply walk up to any counter service restaurant and ask for a cup of ice water. They’ll hand it over at no charge. Add a lid and a straw to your cup, and you’ve got almost the same level of portability as a bottle.
    • Ice. When answering questions for the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, I have often seen questions from international guests asking if ice is available at the Disney hotels and how much it costs. They can rest assured that there are free ice machines at all the Walt Disney World resorts.
    • Meals for infants and toddlers. Children under the age of three will not be charged for food at Disney’s buffet and family-style table service restaurants when dining with their families.

It’s a “toppings bar,” right?

  • Salad. Several of the Disney World counter service restaurants feature a “toppings” bar with lovely fixin’s for your purchased burger: lettuce, tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, shredded cheese, and more. I’m not putting my personal stamp of approval on this one, but it is common knowledge in some circles that you can make yourself a substantial, and free, side dish for your meal from this quasi-salad-bar.
  • Dining. Disney often uses free dining plan offers as lure to entice guests to visit during historically low-crowd times. If 2012 follows the pattern, it will be fairly easy to travel to Walt Disney World and receive free dining from mid-August through early October. However, there is a definite caveat emptor with this. Depending on your eating habits and where you stay, free dining might end up costing you. Check out Tom Bricker’s excellent analysis of whether free dining really makes sense.
  • A cupcake. You say it’s your birthday? Yes, it’s your birthday (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Tell your server at any table service restaurant and there’s a decent chance that she’ll gift you with a complimentary cupcake. No guarantees, but worth a shot.

Memorabilia

    • Celebration buttons. If you’re celebrating, be it a birthday, anniversary, first visit, family reunion, or anything else really, stop by the Guest Relations office at any of the theme parks and they’ll give you a free button with which to publicly proclaim your celebratory status.

If you’re celebrating, then you’re getting a free button.

  • Stickers. If you spend a day a Disney World, a cast member will hand you a sticker, or possibly many stickers, white, round, and emblazoned with the smiling mug of Mickey Mouse. It’s just something that happens.
  • Maps. You’re saying, “Yeah, so?” Well, park maps are a resource you shouldn’t overlook. Save them for your scrapbook. Frame them for playroom decor. Use them for small-item gift wrap. Turn foreign-language maps into a great teaching tool for your child’s school language lessons.

Entertainment

  • Fireworks. You want to see the evening fireworks, but you don’t want to pony up for park admission? No problem, just head over to a nearby resort and watch from there. Great spots for Magic Kingdom fireworks viewing include the beach at the Polynesian and the bridge at the Contemporary between the main building and Bay Lake Tower. For Epcot fireworks, try the beach at the Beach Club or Boardwalk.
  • Electrical Water Pageant. If you’re watching the fireworks outdoors at a Magic Kingdom area resort, stay after to watch the charming electric water pageant. This series of barges shows a sweet and simple light display synchronized to music while cruising around Bay Lake. Disney true confession time: This is one of my favorite attractions in all of Walt Disney World.
  • Street performers. Weather permitting, you can find magicians, musicians, jugglers and more performing on the Boardwalk. Park yourself on a bench and enjoy the show.
  • Campfire and movies. Again weather permitting, many resorts show free movies in the evening, often outdoors on the beach or by the pool. All are welcome, just give a call to your favorite resort and ask what’s playing. The most elaborate of these free movies is the nightly Chip & Dale campfire sing-along at Fort Wilderness. The chipmunks and a guitar-playing friend greet guests before the film.

Free movies at many resorts.

  • Holiday decor. From mid-November through early January, Disney is dressed in its holiday finest. Much of the best holiday decor is located in the resorts: a life-sized gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian, a train display at the Yacht Club, a tree decorated with African ornaments at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, and more. You’re welcome to stop and admire them with no charge.
  • Play time. Do you have a Lego lover in your house? Stop by the Lego store at Downtown Disney. You can stay as long as you like, playing with unique Lego shapes and racing Lego cars.
  • Animal viewing. If your kid is interested in animals, stop by the Animal Kingdom Lodge. There are many viewing stations where you can observe giraffes, zebras, and other exotic species for as long as you like. Come in the evening and you may be able to borrow night-vision goggles for viewing creatures in the dark.
  • Park admission for preschoolers. The best reason ever to bring your two-year-old on vacation, kids under the age of three are allowed in the theme parks at no charge.

Services

    • Transportation to Walt Disney World. If you’re flying into Orlando International and staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel, Disney’s Magical Express service is included with your room. This free shuttle to and from the airport offers a savings of about $75 over taking a cab to the World, each way.

The Lego store is a great free play space.

  • Transportation within Walt Disney World. Anyone who is partaking of any part of Walt Disney World is welcome to use any of the free on-property transportation, including, boats, monorails, and buses. You don’t have to be staying at a Disney hotel to qualify, you don’t even have to be visiting a theme park.
  • Parking. Guests staying at Disney hotels can park for free at the theme parks. Off-site guests will pay $14 per day. Self-parking is free at all the Disney hotels and Downtown Disney.
  • Photography. The PhotoPass photographers in the parks will take pictures with their cameras at no charge, but it will cost you big to actually buy the photos. Bypass this charge by asking the PhotoPass photographers to use your camera to take your picture. They’re happy to do it and most of them are pretty good at composing a shot; they do it all day long.
  • Wi-Fi. This is a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE new development. There is now free in-room and public space wireless Internet service at the deluxe and convention center hotels. If your hotel hasn’t been upgraded to free Wi-Fi yet, feel free to camp out with your laptop or iPad in the lobby of any of the deluxe hotels. It’s a comfy place to get some work done.
  • Package delivery. If you’ve taken the decidedly not-free step of buying merchandise in the parks, Disney will gladly take it off your hands so you can enjoy the rides, and more shopping, unencumbered. Packages can be sent for free to either a pick-up area at the front of the park, or even to your Disney hotel.
  • Luggage storage. Check-out is at 11:00 a.m., but your flight’s not til 7:00 p.m.? No problem. Just drop your bags at the hotel Bell Services desk. They’ll hold your luggage in a secure location until your departure, at no charge.
  • Luggage transfer. If you’re switching between two Disney hotels mid-trip, Bell Services will move your luggage between locales for you, for free.

So what am I missing? What have you found that’s consistently or surprisingly free at Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments below.

UPDATE: We’ve complied an all new list of MORE free things at Walt Disney World. Check it out!

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Posted on January 17, 2012

149 Responses to “Free Stuff at Disney World”

  • Love this. Thanks for these great tips. I had heard of some of them but had not heard about the food ones. I hope I get to put then in practice soon : )

    • I altaulcy hope that he will be successful, I live out by Disneyland and after that law suit you could see the improvements in safety. I wish Florida’s equivalent to DOSH would be given the authority to shut rides down, like they have out here in California when safety standards aren’t met. There does need to be some oversight by an outside agency, I think the recent string of transportation accidents proves this (again out here DOSH would handle that as well).

    • There is a free scavenger hunt for kids who go to Epcot. Ask at the welcome center when you arrive. They are given a paper to hunt for all of the hidden Mickys in the World Showcase (there are tons). They are awarded prizes if they find them all.

  • by Heather Young on January 17, 2012, at 12:34 pm EDT

    The Ghirardelli Store in Downtown Disney has a greeter who gives out free samples of chocolate they are promoting.

    • Yep, I had forgotten about that one. Good call

    • This is one of our favorite freebies!

    • And if you like the caramel ones for example and you head to the cash register to see if they have any suggestions, they will often open up a special drawer and give you several varieties of caramel chocolates to sample. (Dark chocolate, sea salt & caramel, caramel & toffee, etc.) A good way to sneak a couple extra samples!

  • Don’t forget the pictures you draw in the Animation Academy in DHS! These are my favorite souvenirs from any WDW trip, and they’re totally free. (Granted, you have to create the drawing yourself, but still, a good deal.)

  • Wearing the “It’s My Birthday” button can sometimes result in other freebies besides the cupcake, such as a treat at the Confectionery or a soft drink from a counter service location. Also, it’s just really nice to have so many cast members and guests wish you happy birthday!

  • Little known(?): Your kids (or you, probably) can ask for trading cards from any transportation CM. Collect the full set of buses, boats, and monorails.

    Pin trading: This isn’t really free since you’re trading, but buy a bunch of Disney pins pre-trip from eBay, and you can trade them with many CMs throughout the parks. (This satisified my kids’ need for souvenirs as they got the chance to pick out “new” pins at almost every shop we passed.)

    • You’re kidding?!?! They don’t look at you like you’re crazy if you board a Disney bus and ask for a trading card? Who do you ask for the monorail one?

      • Sorry for the delay… Yep, on the bus we tried to ask when the driver wasn’t in the middle of a route (while waiting at a major pickup site for a few minutes.)

        On the monorail, after we got off at the MK stop, we waited for the crowds to clear the platform then asked one of the cast members.

      • you ask the monorail driver or any Cast Member on the monorail platform. Many of them carry the trading cards in their pockets…also they USED to carry “sticker” monorail “wings” like the ones the drivers wear.

        • Actually, I live 15 minutes from the parks and we like to go walk the hotels and watch the fireworks from time to time.. The monorail cast members gave my 9 month old son and 12 month old niece the sticker wings one night very recently :)

  • One of my new favorite freebies to collect are Fastpasses. My last trip was the first two weeks of December, so we really never needed them because lines were tolerable and we had a great touring plan (thanks, guys). They are a great size to scrapbook with, and have cute designs on the top.

  • One time leaving Typhoon Lagoon they were handing everyone hot/cold mugs. No kidding. Free! Not as big as the refillable mugs but free!

  • I always bring my own water bottle to the parks, and the stands will fill it up for free. Less waste that way.

    • We took our own mugs to Disney World and they wouldn’t refill them, not even with water, (tried to do the green thing) instead they handed us our drink in a paper cup, They said they weren’t allowed to refill mugs anymore. 2013

      • But there are water fountains everywhere–we take our water bottles and refill them often.

        • I always carried a canteen during the summer and filled at the water fountains. I could never see buying water when it was free. Always look for one under shade so the water is ice cold.

          • You can ask for ice water at any place that has a fountain drink machine. It is free at all Disney parks. Animal Kingdom doesn’t provide lids. Some places give you a really small cup, but most will give you a regular 16-20oz cup of ice water.

  • Ugh, I’m sorry to be a killjoy here, but lying about your birthday (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) in order to get a free cupcake and whatever other goodies is stealing. Ask yourself: are your honor and dignity only worth the price of a cupcake?

    • I totally agree. Not a good example to set for all the children nearby to witness.

    • Not a killjoy, but my company won’t allow me to carry over my vacation and with a January birthday it’s nearly impossible to schedule a vacation the end of January because of that rule. So according to Disney my birthday is in December, because that’s when I celebrate it there. I also used to celebrate my oldest child’s birthday a month early because of vacation rules when he was young. With a September birthday if I celebrated it in August I didn’t have to take him out of school to take him out of town. Sometimes you break the rules for good reasons. ;)

      • Those aren’t “good reasons.” Lying is lying & if a cupcake is important enough to lie for you need to rethink whether you can afford a Disney vacation.

        The movies are free to resort guests, not everyone. Along with the ‘toppings bar’ I am very disappointed that the touring plans website would publish this information. Really expect more from you guys.

        • You guys are completely up yourselves with all this moral chat – lighten up and get a damn life. Who actually cares if it’s an actual birthday or not? Oh wait, WDW probably can’t afford a few extra cupcakes. Jesus has corrupted you.

          • I am proud to be “corrupted” by Jesus, thank you. Maybe if more people was the world would be in a better state.

            As for the celebration pins, our hotel asked us if we had anything we were celebrating and we told them my sons birthday was the 1st and my grandmothers the 16th. They gave them both pins. My daughter was upset that she didn’t get one (she was 5) so they gave her one too. They want you to have a good time, hince the reasoning behind the whole thing. When they told Olivia Happy Birthday my five year old (also corrupted by Jesus) polietly told them thank you, my birthday is in July but I wanted a pin too. The cast memebers promptly said “happy belated birthday!” And went on their way.

            On another note it’s called morals. If you think its ok to lie for a cupcake, yours are apparently different than mine.

          • Proudly corrupted by Jesus too! I’m sad for you, that you are not. As far as lying for a cupcake goes, here’s a suggestion. If Disney really wants to celebrate with you, no matter what, how about telling the employee that your birthday has past, or is in the future but you’d like to celebrate it now. See what they say. Then it’s not a lie. If they are told celebrate no matter what, you get a cupcake.

          • When i made my reservations the cast member asked me what i was celebrating and told me to be sure to stop at the front desk to get a birthday pin. it doesn’t have to be that day to enjoy Disney magic.

          • I, too, am “corrupted” by Jesus!! Proudly so. What an absurd statement…. I came looking for honest tips, like the trading cards on the railway, free samples. Not to sit in a soda place drinking more than my fill, or making a salad of condiments, or lying about my birthday, or worst telling my chiLd to lie!! JMHO WWJD? :)

        • I don’t think they are “lying for the price of a cupcake”. I think they are celebrating and it is nice to feel special for one day. Free cupcake or free greeting. They ARE celebrating their birthday, not lying about it!

        • To all the people saying what a bad example it is to celebrate CLEARLY aren’t realizing what a HORRIBLE example it is to children to pass judgement on others. For the record, Disney’s policy is to celebrate an event with a guest (Birthday. Wedding, Anniversary, Honeymoon, Family Reunion, First Trip, etc) EVEN IF IT’S NOT THE ACTUAL DAY. They do not in any way frown upon someone visiting their Parks or Resort to celebrate a special day, whether it be the day of or 6 months away. They understand that a child’s Birthday may fall during the school year, but that the family may visit in June to celebrate. That is the specific reason they ask you, “What are you celebrating?” rather than “Is today your Birthday?” They don’t care what day it is! If you have any thoughts that your child will get the wrong idea, explain to them that it is only dishonest if they lie and claim it is their actual Birthday. Let them know it is perfectly fine to say (as someone else pointed out), “Today is not my actual Birthday, but I am celebrating it!”
          Then let them have fun. Maybe you’ll see that life is much better when you learn to relax instead of pointing fingers at others and making them feel bad about things you know nothing about. It’s not very magical of you.

          • I agree completely!

          • You are absolutely right, I was at WDW waiting on my daughter and husband to get off a ride when a CM came up to me carrying all the pins signifying what you were celebrating, they asked if I was celebrating and I said I wasn’t, I was with my infant child and they asked if it was his first trip, it was not, they asked if it was a birthday, nope again. They gave me a bunch of stickers and said they thought that I should celebrate my annerversary of the first time I visited the park and handed me 4 buttons/pins for this event. So, clearly they want you to celebrate and be merry when you visit, not bitter and angry because you might be a day, week or month off on whatever special occasion you have in mind. Also, my sons b-day is Xmas, so we celebrate his half b-days either at home or out in public does this make me a bad person to do this…..NO!!

          • As a former Cast Member I completely agree with Cheryl. Disney isn’t just for everyday and/or everyday fun, it’s also about celebrating. They want you to celebrate anything from your birthday or anniversary to something as simple as having gotten an A on a quiz or it simply being Wednesday. If they give you free stuff it’s because they can and want to not just because you are celebrating but because they want to do something special for you. There are so many websites with stories of people who experienced something absolutely wonderful that a Cast Member did for them. They will make your day by simply remembering your name to helping you plan the perfect proposal. So let them do something for you and if you feel bad about something like it’s not your actual birthday then just say it’s not but you are celebrating it and I’m positive they won’t take back whatever they gave you.

        • Good grief! So if I celebrate my birthday a month early because I’m going to be busy on my actual birthday then I am lying and setting a bad example for children? I am going to ruin my children’s innocents because I got a free cupcake at Disney. Gasp!!! I’m sure giving someone a cupcake that just probably paid $150.00+ for dinner wont break Disney! If they are so worried about it then they would ID someone. Obviously they aren’t that worried about it, neither should you. Don’t get uptight over something so small. Its a Disney vacation, lighten up and ENJOY YOURSELF!

      • My birthday is right in the middle of Spring Break season. That means I’m not going to be at the parks during my birthday because I don’t want to go during peak crowds. Which means I don’t get a free cupcake.

        You are teaching your child that lying is okay as long as you benefit from it.

        • I once had a reservation agent try to get me to say that we were celebrating our kids birthdays in late August (their b-days are in Spring break/Easter). I declined because it felt like lying even though he kept saying “in Disney you can celebrate your birthday year round!”
          That trip I discovered that “someone” in reservations had noted on ALL of our dining reservations that DH & I were celebrating our Anniversary and we kept getting cupcakes etc even though I kept telling servers it was back in May and we tried to decline. I guess some cast members want you to celebrate no matter what, but I genuinely felt guilty and uncomfortable every time.
          I’d like to know the official policy if Erin has it- it seems to be a very grey area.

          • by Elizabeth Jordan on March 14, 2012, at 2:29 am EDT

            I am taking my kids to disney the last week in may, My middle childs birthday is May 5, my oldest is June 2 and my little boys is May 31. Our trip is their birthday present. And the people at Disney World tell you when you call to make reservations that no matter when your birthday is you can celebrate it while your there. We are taking our kids to disney as their birthday present. They know its not their birthday and I told the people at Disney that it isnt going to actually be my middle childs birthday while were there. They still told me I could get the same benefits and to me that isnt cheating. After all is it really fair to make one child suffer simply because her birthday is during the school year and her siblings are during the summer. COME ON PEOPLE!!!!! Have a heart.

          • I was really enjoying reading this blog……..that is until the huge block of posts arguing morality. Agree to disagree already and move on people.

        • Seriously? Get over yourselves people! Apparently none of you have ever worked for Disney, because then you would know you are all being ridiculous. Good job at trying to be better than everyone else on a blog.

        • LOL! You are really ridiculous!

        • I think there is a difference between saying “today is my birthday” and “today we are celebrating my birthday”. Disney is often a once a year or once in a lifetime trip. We are going this year with the kids for the first time. We are considering taking one day to celebrate my son’s birthday and 1 day to celebrate my daughter’s. we aren’t doing it to get free stuff, we aren’t lying or teaching our children to be dishonest. We simply feel it would be wonderful to celebrate each child’s birthday in the “Happiest Place on Earth”.

        • by Stephen Hill on April 24, 2013, at 10:29 am EDT

          But it is OK to lie as long as you benefit from it. Ha. I’m going to celebrate a different birthday for each year of my life each day I am at Disney this year. And do the same next year. Then I may celebrate the birthday of get a damn grip.

          • by Cheryl Greaves on April 24, 2013, at 12:46 pm EDT

            @Stephen Hill: If you read the comments and responses NO ONE is suggesting that you or your children lie. Disney as a company has outright said that they ‘celebrate’ special occasions (Birthdays, Anniversaries, Honeymoons, etc) at any time. IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THE ACTUAL DAY TO CELEBRATE. It is a policy.

      • Yup they are GREAT about accommodating birthday celebrations that aren’t ON the actual birthday. We just celebrated my daughter’s 3rd birthday, but due to airplane black out dates, we traveled when we could get the flights. We told them ahead that we would be celebrating her birthday, and they had her REAL birthday date, but she was still given a birthday button and loads of attention. It was the most magical birthday she has had to date! :D She was treated like a princess at dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table!

    • If it bothers you, feel free to celebrate your un-birthday. Alice would insist.

      • We had two children celebrating their actual birthdays in the parks a few years ago. That is great but we have three children, so one was left out. I decided to take the Alice approach and when asked if he was celebrating he told them it was his “Un Birthday” the cm LOVED this and created him a pin by adding “Un” to it and made a big deal in front of everyone. She also gathered a handful of stickers for the “Un-Birthday Boy!” Talk about walking on cloud nine….

      • I just wanted to say that this what we do at WDW. We each pick a day and have a Very Happy Unbirthday! it’s fun and we all love it, old and young. Also, just because it is your birthday does not mean that you will get freebies….they are not guaranteed.

    • Disney Cast Members ask you what you are celebrating – not if today is your birthday. There are no laws stating that you have to celebrate your birthday only on your date of birth. Ever thrown a party for your kid before or after their actual birthday? Same thing! You don’t have to lie to you kid, just explain that today is not their birthday but you’re celebrating it.

      • EXACTLY! When I was a kid my brother and I had our birthday party in August…my birthday’s in April! And not because we were at Disney, but because that’s when we celebrated it….celebrating being alive for another year doesn’t mean you have to celebrate it day of! I know cast members that went on days and would ask for a birthday button….if Disney really cared they’d ask you to show ID lol….Disney’s all about celebrating the day for what it is…magical time with your family. I went to Downtown last year the day after my birthday and got a button….because it’s genuinely nice to be wished happy birthday…not for the free stuff! (Also the button’s pretty sweet lol!)

        Also free stuff…You can sign up for the Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom game at the firehouse for free and you get cards….you can play the game (or not) but you still get free cards either way! You get one set of cards per ticket

    • It ISN’T stealing if Disney encourages you to “Say it’s your Birthday”, They don’t care!!! Why do you think it’s in this info??

    • Kudos to Smallworld. Your honor should be invaluable.

    • by Current Cast Member on March 14, 2013, at 12:49 am EDT

      I work at Disney currently and I can vouch for just about everything the comments below referencing birthdays. We don’t care if it’s your actual birthday!! I’ve worked in the parks, in resorts, and in restaurants at WDW and if your celebrating (regardless if your birthday is 6 months from now or is today) we will celebrate with you! We will give you the birthday button and a cupcake. We will make you feel special in celebration of YOUR special day! What’s so wrong with that?

    • by Kailey Best on March 18, 2013, at 6:29 pm EDT

      I realize these are old posts but I figured as a Cast Member at Walt Disney World I would let you know a little secret: We know that not everyone that is wearing a birthday buttons is actually visiting on their ACTUAL birthday. We are all encouraged to celebrate these birthdays just the same! Some people come to Disney once in their entire life and Disney wants to make your trip as special as possible! I promise we are not going to check your ID (unless you want an alcoholic beverage!) and we’ll believe you that it’s your birthday. Even if you tell us it isn’t and you’re celebrating late/in-advance we’ll celebrate it just the same! I promise you’re not stealing! We want to celebrate with you!
      Happy Birthday/UnBirthday to you! =]

      • I have been there over my birthday. Lots of fun. This trip my daughter and wife will be wearing birthday buttons. Their birthdays are the day we leave and a week after we leave. SO what? It is still a birthday trip for them. I think I’ll go with the un-birthday for me and see what happens.

    • You could always just keep your opinion to yourself.

    • You are totally a killjoy!!!! Disney loves to make everyone feel special. The old saying “you don’t get anything you don’t ask for” totally rings true at Disney. Any cast member or Disney worker alike will tell you if its “6 months before or after your celebration” that you can definitely celebrate it at the magical world of Disney!!!! They want it to be magical, so just go with it. Its not lying because “6 months before or after” covers the entire year :)

    • I truly think all of you need to get over yourselves. Disney is supposed to be a HAPPY place.. one of the happiest on earth to celebrate anything with your family, friends, and loved ones. The one who made the comment about “if you need to lie about a birthday to get a cupcake then question if you really can afford a Disney trip.” DISNEY does not need people like you to question others decisions or choices.
      Geez, my birthday is June 15th and this is our celebration trip… does this mean on May 26th I should not feel inclined to celebrate.
      For those of you on your high horses… climb down and come back to reality.

      ON a HAPPY NOTE… thank you for this article. These are fantastic trips for families who really do need to save a bit while traveling with families.
      XXOO

  • My family got free snacks from a roaming cm while waiting in front of the castle at MK for the street party. Seemed he was randomly picking families, walking them to the nearest cart and giving them popcorn and ice cream. Nice!

  • There’s also the Flag family at Wilderness Lodge and family of the day at Magic Kingdom. I also have read about first rider at Blizzard Beach for Summit Plummet and Kilimanjaro Safari.

  • Love Club Cool!!!!

  • People bringing in their own large bottles to refill at Club Cool is a sure way to ruin a good thing for everyone.

  • You can always find free stuff at Disney but the biggest and best free thing from Disney is the smile and the sence that anything that is done at Disney is ok! Smiles and happiness are free and the rest is well ok with me!

  • We are going in early February to celebrate my B-day and DS9′s B-day (both of us Feb B-days) but we won’t be at WDW for the actual days. Last time, we explained to Dining Reservations and to CMs our situation and they were totally cool about it. We weren’t lying and WDW totally understands that guests can’t always celebrate at WDW on the correct calendar day. IMO, there is no need to lie. WDW wants us to feel welcome so we will come back.

  • Hi my friend! I wish to say that this post is amazing, great written and come with almost all important infos. I would like to look extra posts like this.

  • Dont forget about Sorcerer’s of the magic kingdom!!! Its a great interactive trading card game you can play in the magic kingdom. Just go to the firehouse on mainstreet, get your cards and map and start playing!

  • If you have a child, you can ask the monorail driver when he gets out if you can ride upfront. It depends on how crowded it is or if another family with a child has already asked. Then your child will get an “official Monorail driver” card. Just be nice and not demanding…I’ve seen families pitch a fit because there was already someone in the front with the driver.
    Also, as far as the birthday thing, I don’t feel guilty if it’s within the same week, because chances are, that it is specifically a birthday trip. But no, I couldn’t pretend it’s someone’s birthday if it wasn’t. BTW, some of the best freebies aren’t actually “things”. When we went for my daughter’s 7th birthday and she was wearing her b-day button, the Jungle Cruise driver let her “drive” into the dark cave and out again. She was SO careful. One of my favorite Disney memories.

  • We rode with the driver in the monorail ay Disneyland in June2012.

    • Disneyland may not have implemented the new “no guests in the cab” policy…but I can 100% assure you that it is NOT allowed in WDW.

  • Lying about bday not cool. Taking the side bar toppings to make a salad not cool :( we go there a lot w our little boy and we pay for what we get. They will stop giving stuff to kids for their bdays if everyone takes advantage :( just bring your own sandwiches in a soft side cooler bag for lunch. We bring juice boxes, water bottles, sandwiches and grapes everytime we go. It just has to be soft sided. Don’t take advantage ….

    • Disney puts the toppings there for you to eat. Does it matter if you pile your burger high with lettuce, tomatoes, etc or if you eat them on the side? Seriously?! As long as you are buying the burger it does NOT matter! (ask a cast member at the restaurant if you don’t believe me!)

  • There is also a first aid station with a nurse on staff who is available to assist with many things. We went to get Benadryl for my son because he was having some sort of allergic reaction. She gave us extra Benadryl, as well as stickers and suckers for my other kids, and ibuprofen for me and my husband who had headaches. All free.

    • Yes, I would also familarize yourself with the locations of these if you have small children. We had an incident at Animal Kingdom. Where my daughter’s leg got pinched by the stroller tray. She was pretty upset and it bled just a little, but we took her to the first aid station and they fussed over her and put a band-aid on it and when we left she was all smiles again!

    • At all parks near the first aid station is a baby center. There is a large, clean room with huge, sanitary changing tables, high chairs, AND private nursing rooms!

    • First Aid and Baby Stations are awesome at WDW. One thing to note, most bathrooms are automated. We were in the midst of potty training our daughter and had an automated potty flush with her on it. She is now five and is still terrified of those things. Very few bathrooms at WDW are not automated. Pack post it notes to place over the sensors (we called them magic papers) to keep the toilets from flushing. One of the cast members actually told us about this helpful hint when we were searching for a “regular” potty.

      • You can do the same thing with a small strip of toilet paper. My little guy hates toilets that flush themselves, so I just put a piece of toilet paper over the sensor and remove it when we’re done.

  • My best friend and I are planning a trip this summer following our graduation. Is there a button for that? That would be cool! I don’t understand why people are so angry about the birthday button. If you’re going to Disney for the specific purpose of celebrating your birthday, what difference does it make if that specific day is your birthday or not? A child or an adult, for hat matter won’t remember the fact that you lied, so much as the fact that they had the most wonderful day of their lives and felt truly special. Disney is all about making dreams come true and celebrating all the good things. A child shouldn’t be kept from that just because their schedule won’t let them come at a different time. And it is clear that Disney feels the same way. Well that’s all I have to say on that. Great article! Very helpful!

    • I think there is either a special event button or a button specifically for graduation. My friends and I are going to Disney this year after we graduate and my friend who planned the trip registered our event to get a button, I believe. :)

  • You people are hysterical! I used to work at Disney and used to go to the theme parks a lot. If anyone is stealing it’s Disney! It cost a fortune! And you have to pay to park as well. I remember when you could go to Disney and see an entire park and go on all the rides in one day. Now there is so many people you can’t get on 1/2 the stuff. Not to mention I can’t remember the last time I went and didn’t have at least one main attraction not operating. Did they give a discount? NOOOOO!!!! I say get your cup cake, get 20 if you can. They are making billions and the cast members don’t see much of it!

  • Thank you for tips! All good to know. The trip and stay are expensive enough, it is really nice to know that they do have some great freebies. I am relatively sure that such a humungous theme park knows full well that not everyone wearing a birthday button has their birthday (or anniversary or whatever) that day. Ummm, folks- you are going to the land of MAKE BELIEVE!!!! We will not be having a birthday while there but my kids will be celebrating theirs there. There is a difference, do what YOU are comfortable with but don’t judge. I am sure that it also has not escaped their attention that people are taking advantage of the toppings bar or the soda tasting- not at all supporting it or saying that it is right, I don’t agree, so my family would not be doing that- but you can bet they already know, it may be worth it for them to keep the guests happy. So THANK YOU for providing the info!!!

  • There is a free scavenger hunt for kids who go to Epcot. Ask at the welcome center when you arrive. They are given a paper to hunt for all of the hidden Mickys in the World Showcase (there are tons). They are awarded prizes if they find them all.

  • On one visit there, we had a day that we weren’t visiting any parks. We went to Downtown Disney (which is great in itself and free!), and caught a bus, free transportation to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and explored the grounds and the lodge, saw animals, ate some African food (appetizers at the bar are pretty reasonable). It was fun and totally free! Well except for food and drink.

  • While I understand the moral and ethical reasons for not wanting to lie about it being your birthday when its not, I have to side with others that point out the question being “What are you celebrating?”. I’m fortunate that when we take our kids this summer I’ll actually be there on my son’s birthday, but my daughter’s birthday is in November. We live in Texas. I love my children, but their education is so much more important to me than a trip to Disney, no matter how wonderful it may be. That said, you better believe I will be celebrating with my son while we’re there even if its not the reason we’re there. There are some families that have to save for a year or more to afford a trip to another state just to experience the magic. Now if we follow everyone’s ethics, they would also have to plan that trip around the day they want to celebrate. If you live near the park, I can understand how you can feel that “lying” about when your birthday is might seem like a bad thing, but for those of us that have to save and plan and then follow rules about when we can/can’t take vacation from work or when/if we’re willing to take our kids out of school your argument is invalid. Its not lying, its making a special trip to celebrate an event. So WHAT if it falls months before/after.

  • We are going to WDW in June (1st – 8th) and our trip lands right between our boys b-days (5/30 and 6/9). This trip is their birthday present AND it is their 1st time going so I suppose we could ask for 2 buttons when they ask what we are celebrating. It is also my husbands 1st visit. I’m not going to be able to sleep the night before we go….I’m so excited to see their faces. Personally – WDW can keep the cupcake. I’m sure my kids and ourselves will have enough treats the week we are there.

    • Make sure you pick up a few “my first Disney trip” buttons too. They’re great souvenirs to remember this momentous occasion! :)

  • We are so excited to be going to Disney again. This will be our 3 YO twins first time. We have a family of 6 and will take advantage of the free samples, animal viewing and water. They are beasts with food so sharing is not an option.

  • We are going to WDW June 19 – 30 and I can hardly wait! I have been to Disneyland three times and LOVE it but this is my first time to WDW! Thanks for all the great information here!

  • Another great tip for a family traveling with young ones is to check out the First Aid stations at each park. They have rooms available for nursing young ones, for changing diapers and sometimes even a small room with a television and books for older siblings to check out while Mom takes care of the baby. I would take our youngest there to nurse and cool off while hubby took the older ones on a ride or two. It was a great place to re-energize. There are also band-aids, etc. and usually a nurse if you have a medical emergency or just a blister to take care of.

  • Don’t forget if you have little princesses with you to stop by the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at the castle, OR the castle couture shop across from the castle for a sprinkling of magical pixie dust. Available to all upon request! It makes things a bit more magical!

  • We took our daughter for her first trip a few days before she turned 3… funniest thing ran into Cinderella’s step mom and sisters. The wicked stepmother eyed her birthday badge andf asked her if it was her birthday. My daughter, sacred to death says no, it’s on Wednesday. And She gave her the evil eye and said “Well then it’s not your birthday then”. LOL!!! I will never forget how great it was.

  • My mom and I went to Disney in Jan last year to celebrate my birthday which was in December, when we checked in and they looked at my ID to set up my room key (they do this to set up your meal plan and link a credit card to your room key if you want so you dont have to carry it around the park with you)the cast member noticed that my birthday had just passed and handed me a button with my room key without even asking me…I tried to give it back saying it wasnt my birthday anymore and they refused to take it back saying that I should celebrate with a smile. So I ended up wearing it and it was really nice to get all of the smiles and birthday wishes (my birthday is also Christmas so I frequently get forgotten in the hustle of the holiday). I never asked for any “freebies” and politely declined saying a “happy birthday was enough for me”. Im in my late 20s and I have never had a better “birthday” it was nice to have a day of my own for a change…why should I (or anyone else with a holiday birthday or school-time birthday) get left out just because of when we were born? I dont think it is lying at all to say “I am here to celebrate my birthday” no matter when your birthday is in relation to when you are there…it would be lying to say “Today is my birthday”. It would be a different thing entirely if you were a FL resident and had season passes and when there like once a month and got a free cupcake every time you went but if you are going just once in a year I dont think it is wrong at all.

    I feel a little conflicted about the whole salad from the toppings bar…I see the point that they wouldnt put it out there if they didnt want you to eat it but for me personally it feels dishonest but Im not going to make a scene about other people doing it…it just feels wrong to me so I wouldnt…its not my place to judge others.

    As far as water goes I think it is awful what they charge! Last time we went I bought a “Bobble” which is a regular water bottle with a filter in it…before we left the resort I would fill it up with ice and throughout the day I would add water from the drinking fountains (located near the rest rooms which I wiped off with a wet wipe first…the thought of all of that bacteria freaks me out) and then when we would buy our lunch I would add more ice and water from the soda fountain before we left (which I dont think is “stealing” because I paid for the soda I drank and you get free refills while you are there so in my twisted mind I drank one less soda and got a water instead). I think they are not allowed to refill your personal mugs anymore because of the sanitation issue and that is why they give it to you in a paper cup so if you are hung up on that do the drinking fountain thing.

  • When my husband and I book our dining reservations we always put we are celebrating our anniversary. We go in December because we love the Christmas time but our anniversary is in October. When we mark our anniversary date, we put that it’s in October and they still do the free cupcakes. It’s not stealing. LIke others have said, they want you to come celebrate there whether it’s the day of the celebration or not.

  • WOW…. This whole good vs. “evil” thing is hysterical!!!! I should know I’m a 13 year vet of the place… We simply do this to create the magic, whether it is or isn’t that day!!! Obviously most of you have not been to Disney world because this would not be up for discussion!!! It’s a place FOR CELEBRATIONS!!!! why do you think ther are so many parades or the fact that its called ” the happiest place on earth”? its a giant play ground for kids and adults…. So do yourselves a favor and put on your big kid underwear and suck it up!!!!

  • I am not sure if this is still going on but when I was younger like 10 or 11 I am 18 now (I know not that long ago) my family stayed at the Boardwalk hotel. Every time you left or came into the hotel a CM would hand you a toy figure of Mickey or one of his friends or Winnie the Pooh or one of his friends. These were free and you could get as many as you want or even ask for one that you did not have yet. The CM were always willing to look for different ones and would still give you one even if it was the 50th time you came by.

  • We went to celebrate our 2 year anniversary and got a free dessert from Tony’s Town Square Tavern.

  • In the evenings at the Port Orleans River Roost Bar area (KID FRIENDLY) Tuesday – Saturday beginning at 8PM Bob Jackson performs songs, piano, fun and a GREAT FREE show. We go early and order a few appetizers for dinner and a couple of reasonably priced drinks and usually stay till he is done at midnight. He does three sets and by the time the first one is done the kiddies are ready for bed! He also gives out free pictures autographed to whomever you want. This show is so worth seeing and gives you a break from the crowds at the park – but be ready to participate!

  • As a fan photographer, I will say that we have a job to do and ends to meet. We have a certain amount of packages that we must sell and pictures to be taken or we can lose our job. So please keep that in mind before you just take advantage of our services for free.

  • Disney world is a fantastic place! I went with my sister for her graduation trip, and they gave her a “celebration button”. It was so nice to see all the cast members asking her what she was celebrating. It made our trip!

  • I know this is a little late but I’m so confused as to why people are arguing on a blog over DISNEY WORLD, the happiest place on earth! Who are we to judge the actions of others? Every hear “don’t judge someone because they sin differently than you?” It’s clearly applicable here. I’m only 17 and it was embarrassing to read “adults” arguing of a cupcake. How is it morally wrong to celebrate your birthday on a different date? Am I wrong for not celebrating Jesus’ birthday a week after Christmas because my aunt was in the hospital? I say if you’re truly there to celebrating something, or a Cast Member insists you must be, go for it! That cupcake probably took $1.00 out of Disney’s bank to make and if they didn’t want people to take them they wouldn’t offer them in the first place! Even if you aren’t celebrating and you tell them so -chances are a cast member will still have something in their pocket to give you. Yes, Disney is extremely expensive, that’s why they do the little things they do to put a smile on your face. Of course, there will always be the few who really do take advantage of the freebies but you know what? It doesn’t directly affect you so why let it bother your vacation? As for not being able to refill personal mugs of water: i did a report last year on the business behind Disney and it’s like an inventory thing. All those complimentary cups are the same size versus varying size mugs and bottles. I’m not meaning to be rude but a majority of you were worried about setting a bad example for children by lying but look at you attacking another person you don’t even know over the Internet just because they don’t have the same views as you..

    • Cailtin- You are quite an admirable young woman. Your parents certainly raised you with common sense, empathy and good morals. It is sad to see “adults” passing judgement on others over a cupcake or buttons or stickers. I agree with you 100%.
      I have not been to Disney in 25 years- since I was a very young child. So, it’s my 1st time as an adult or the 25th “anniversary” from my 1st trip. I’m also on my very 1st Spring Break vacation – I’m a teacher now and have never been way during Spring Break. My husband and I will celebrate our anniversary in a few months. We vacation EVERY year the week during our anniversary but for many reasons are going in April rather than mid-summer. It just so happens our date-a-versary falls during our trip. I’m not saying I’m going to take advantage of a cupcake or lettuce. But if I come back with an anniversary button or the like, that does not me a horrible awful person. Most people are not at Disney on the actual day of the event they are celebrating. Many people don’t even celebrate their own birthdays at home on the actual day. It’s about being happy & celebrating being with the people you love. Thank you for a young perspective on this. If all people had your views we would certainly have a more pleasant world.

  • I think that all the people calling the others liars are absolutely hypocritical. Do you feel like your better than others? That’s a great example to set for your children. Yea lying is not good but neither is thinking your better than somebody. It’s Disney and whether its your actual celebration day or not your usually paying a lot of money to go there. What ya need to be teaching your children is…..as an adult grow up….that’s why so many children are so damaged. As much money as Disney makes off of poor souls try can afford to give everyone a cupcake everyday of the week. I think that should be a new promo actually. Get over yourselves. I couldn’t help but add my opinion. Everyone is different and SEES things differently. There’s an idea teach your children that. Now go get a cupcake and get over yourself.

  • Another free ammenity I had no idea about… I had the unfortunate circumstance of getting extremely sick at WDW while celebrating my10th anniversary. While the vacation became a huge disapointment and waste of money, a kind cast member led us to the first aid center at Epcot where I was able to get the medical attention so desperatly needed. It wad comforting to know I could get help being so far away from home.

  • I will be having my first Disney trip ever in a couple of weeks… My 18th birthday is Friday, and we’re going to be at Disney Monday. Do I think it’s a problem to say I’m celebrating my birthday? No. It’s supposed to be the happiest place on Earth.

    Thank you for the tips and tricks, I’ve been all over Pinterest trying to find money savers for my family :)

  • There is a free activity at EPCOT – it used to be Kim Possible but I think they changed it to Special Agent Oso. It’s really fun. You walk around with a special (real) cell phone and follow clues.

  • If you are taking your little one to the Magic Kingdom, you can make an appointment at the barber shop to have your child’s first haircut. They do an excellent job, they give them a free pair of special mickey ears that say ‘first haircut’ a sweet certificate and wrap up the hair for you. And of course stickers. :-D it’s also not any more expensive than a regular salon.
    And how awesome that their first haircut is at the happiest place on earth!

  • For your Memorabilia section: At Epcot, kids (and adults) can get a free paper face mask (or take a fake passport with them) and get it stamped at each country. Look for the KidCot areas within each of the countries. It’s great for the kids to learn about other cultures. In some of the countries, they’ll also write the kid’s name in their language.

  • In Downtown Disney you can drive A “speed” Boat for free! You forgot that one :-)

  • by Amanda Elder on May 7, 2013, at 1:15 am EDT

    My husband and I went for our honeymoon to WDW and when we got our “ears” they offered free personalized stitching on our hats. I hear they do that if your celebrating and buy your hat for that.