Filed under: Disneyland (CA)
- Water. The water bottles sold throughout the parks cost $2.75 to $3.00 each (depending on location). If you want to hydrate for free, simply walk up to any counter service restaurant and ask for a cup of ice water. By default they will give you the smallest cup, but you may ask for a larger size. There are a few locations that do no offer free cups of water. Cozy Cone Motel and Clarabelle’s in Disney California Adventure and Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor in Disneyland are a few of the locations that do not offer free cups of water.
- Ice. Ice machines are available on most floors at all the Disney-owned hotels.
- 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.
- Some sort of birthday dessert. Tell your server at any table service restaurant, and there’s a decent chance that she’ll gift you with a complimentary dessert. No guarantees, but worth a shot. Example, Blue Bayou will give you a free cup of chocolate mousse. Even the exclusive (and expensive) Club 33 will give couples celebrating an anniversary a free Mickey and Minnie shaped chocolate covered mousse dessert.
- Chocolate samples. Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop in Pacific Wharf at Disney California Adventure passes out chocolate samples to anyone who walks in the door.
- Free bread. The Bakery Tour in Disney California Adventure gives all guests a free slice of warm bread as they enter the attraction.
- Taste Pilot’s Grill toppings bar. Sure, this is meant to be used as toppings for your overpriced hamburger. But you probably won’t be thrown in Disney jail for making yourself a little side salad with your meal.
- Celebration buttons. If you’re celebrating, be it a birthday, anniversary, first visit, family reunion, or anything else really, stop by Guest Relations in Disneyland or DCA, and they’ll give you a free button with which to publicly proclaim your celebratory status.
- Cars Land buttons. Yes Cars Land has its own free buttons! Cast members up and down the main street of the land will randomly give out buttons during the day. Some CMs make a game out of it and ask you Cars trivia and to make you earn the buttons. Others will simply hand them to you. There are several different characters and colors, so that adds a collectible-factor to it.
- Guest Survey stickers. Guest survey cast members will randomly approach guests as they are leaving the parks. If you or someone in your party completes a survey, they will be handed a sticker of Mickey Mouse.
- Maps. Park maps are one of my favorite souvenirs, and I have collected hundreds of them over the years. 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.
- Fireworks. If you want to see Disneyland’s fireworks without entering the park just head over Downtown Disney near the front of House of Blues. Another great spot for fireworks is the esplanade in the middle of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. These aren’t the best spots to view fireworks, but you can still see them. Don’t feel like walking? A great spot for fireworks is on top level of the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure.
- Play time. The Lego Store in Downtown Disney has bins of Lego bricks near the front of the store for guests to build and play. There are even ramps where everyone can race their creations.
- 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.
- 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. Disneyland Resort hotels offer free in-room and public space wireless Internet service.
- 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.
- Over the counter medication. Each of the theme parks has a first aid station staffed with nurses ready to assist with minor theme park ailments such as blisters, sunburn, and motion sickness. They’ll also provide you, free of charge, with a few doses of many over-the-counter medications, including antihistamines, antacids, and acetaminophen, as well as bandages in several sizes.
- DVD “rentals.” This one’s for Disney Vacation Club members. Don’t forget that you have access to a large library of DVDs at your resort when staying on points. You can borrow them for free.
- FASTPASSes. FASTPASS tickets are free and available to any guest in the parks. They allow you to skip sweating in line and instead visit an attraction at a specified time to ride with a minimal wait. Of course, a well crafted touring plan may obviate the need to use FASTPASS, but that’s another story.
- Storage of medical devices. The first aid stations at the parks will be happy to store bulky devices such as nebulizers or breast pumps while you’re touring in the parks. This keeps them safer than the potentially overheated park lockers.