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Free Things To Do At Disney World - Outside of the Theme Parks

Updated on August 21, 2014

Free Activities At Disney World in Orlando, Florida

If you have some extra time or the crowds in the Disney parks get to be too much for you, you may want to check out some of the fun and free (or low cost) activities listed below that are outside the theme parks. None of these activities requires a Disney park admission ticket and they're all open to the public. These suggestions might work well for your arrival day or even after a day in one of the Disney water parks or after visiting the Animal Kingdom park, which closes earlier than the other parks at Disney World.

Disney World Boats at Magic Kingdom
Disney World Boats at Magic Kingdom

Ride the Boats at Disney World

You can rent boats at any of the many marinas at Disney World but there are several boats throughout the resort that you can ride for free without needing a park ticket:

1. Boats run between the Magic Kingdom resorts and the Magic Kingdom theme park.

2. There is a ferry that runs between the Ticket & Transportation Center and the Magic Kingdom.

3. There is a boat that runs between the Epcot resorts and the "International Gateway" entrance to Epcot.

4. There are boats that run from Old Key West and Saratoga Springs resorts to Downtown Disney.

5. There are boats that run from Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter resorts to Downtown Disney.

6. During certain hours, there may be a boat that goes between the two sides of Downtown Disney.

Disney World Monorail and Cinderella's Castle at the Magic Kingdom
Disney World Monorail and Cinderella's Castle at the Magic Kingdom

Disney Monorails - no park ticket required:

There are a couple of monorails at Walt Disney World and they're an enjoyable way to see a bit of the Walt Disney World resort complex. You don't need a theme park ticket to ride the monorails.

1. The resort Monorail runs between Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Contemporary Resorts and the Magic Kingdom and Ticket & Transportation Center.

2. The Express monorails between the Magic Kingdom and the Ticket & Transportation Center.

3. The Epcot monorail runs between the Ticket & Transportation Center and Epcot.

Recommended route:

1. Park the car at - or take a Disney Bus to - Disney's Wilderness Lodge. Go through the resort, past the pool and see the artificial geyser go off every 30 minutes, on the half-hour during daylight hours. Afterwards, head to the boat dock.

2. Option 1: Shorter boat ride - take the boat to the Magic Kingdom. Option 2: Longer boat ride - Take the boat that goes to the Ft. Wilderness Campground and the Contemporary resort. Exit at either the Magic Kingdom or Contemporary resort, depending on which boat you rode.

3. Ride the Monorail to the Ticket & Transportation Center. Ask to sit in the front (limit- 4 people). You may have to wait for the next monorail to get into the front and they may not let guests do this at certain times, especially after dark.

4. From the Ticket and Transportation Center - take the Ferry Boat to the Magic Kingdom. If you used the Disney bus system, you may want to catch your resort bus here.

5. If you drove - from the Magic Kingdom, take the water launch back to the Wilderness Lodge to return to your car

Disney World - Electric Water Pageant
Disney World - Electric Water Pageant

Electric Water Pageant - a floating parade at Disney World

This nightly floating parade can be seen from the Magic Kingdom area resorts. You don't have to be a guest of the resort to enjoy this and there's no charge to watch. My favorite to watch the Electric Water Pageant.is from the beach at the Polynesian Resort. It is simple and a little old fashioned but enjoyable just the same. I like to get a Dole Whip (Pineapple soft-serve ice-cream type dessert) from Captain Cooks, (the resort's food court) to take with me to watch.

Typical times:

9:00PM - Floats past the Polynesian Resort

9:15PM - Floats past the Grand Floridian Resort

9:35PM - Floats past the Wilderness Lodge

9:45PM - Floats past the Ft. Wilderness Campground boat dock

10:05PM - Floats past the Contemporary Resort.

These times may be adjusted slightly depending on when there are fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. The Polynesian Resort beach area is a great place to watch the fireworks too.

Are you staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel?

Ask for your resort’s Recreation Activities sheet (may not be available at every location) when you check in. Some activities may have a small fee but most are free. You can also request the Recreation & Activities sheet for any resort you dine in or visit just to check the place out.

Campfire Sing Along at Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground
Campfire Sing Along at Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground

Campfire Sing-Along with Chip & Dale at Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground

The Campfire Sing-Along with Chip and Dale is free and a lot of fun and is offered every evening, weather permitting.

If you're staying on Disney property, go to the nearest theme park and take the bus (or boat from Magic Kingdom) to Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground and take the campground's internal bus system to the Meadow Recreation Area for this event. If you drive, you'll have to park the car and take the campground's internal bus system to the Meadow Recreation Area.

Times vary depending on the daylight hours but you can Click Here To See The Movie Schedule

Here is how the evening typically progresses:

Firelighting - Disney has two firepits where you can roast marshmallows (bring your own or buy them there)

Campfire Sing-Along - A Disney employee (called a "Cast Member") will play the guitar and lead guests in a sing-along. Chip and Dale will go come to you at your seat for photos and to sign autographs.

Outdoor Movie - A Disney movie is shown on an outdoor screen.

The Fort Wilderness Campground also has a hay ride every evening but there is a fee for this.

Click Here For All The Details On the Campfire Sing-Along with Chip and Dale

Firepit at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort Hotel
Firepit at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort Hotel

Spend Some Time at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (resort hotel) has several of their own Animal viewing areas that you can view at no cost. Just pass through the resort to the other side to see the animals.

There are also two fire pits - one indoors and one outdoors and they have a nightly story time at the fire pit - ask for the scheduled time when you arrive or check the activity board on the lower level, near the restrooms by Boma (a restaurant).

The resort itself is incredibly beautiful and the gift shop here has some very unique items.

While the Animal Kingdom Lodge does have a couple of very good sit-down restaurants, my family even enjoys getting a relatively inexpensive meal from the food court. Whether permitting, we enjoy sitting outside at the tables that overlook the pool.

Here's another suggestion that isn't free - Adults might enjoy the Victoria Falls lounge which features African wines and spirits, Windhock Beer, Kenyan Coffee, and handpicked loose teas from Asia, Africa, and Europe.

A giraffe and a bongo at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Arusha Rock Savannah Animal Viewing Area

A giraffe and a bongo at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Arusha Rock Savannah Animal Viewing Area
A giraffe and a bongo at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Arusha Rock Savannah Animal Viewing Area

Free Activities at Downtown Disney

See the Lego Store sculptures - they always impress us. They might also have employee led activities for the kids.

The Characters in Flight balloon isn't free but it is still neat to see, even if you don't ride it. It's especially pretty at night.

You can sometimes take a boat from one side of Downtown Disney to the other. You can also ride a boat from the Market Place Area to Old Key West & Saratoga Springs or to Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter resorts.

DJ Dance Party - Downtown Disney's West End Plaza. Mini-street dance parties from 6:30PM - 9:30PM. They do have periodic breaks through the evening so check back if there's nothing going on the first time you pass by.

Live Entertainment - click on the "Downtown Disney" tab at http://www.wdwent.com/ to see who is performing during your visit. There may be music at the West End Plaza, in front of Fulton's Crabhouse, or on the Waterside stage.

World of Disney - this is a huge Disney gift shop with themed rooms and some Animatronics throughout the store. We've seen employees engaging children in games and activities at times during the day.

Magic Masters - See sleight of hand demonstrations during store hours.

Fun Stuff at Downtown Disney

Click thumbnail to view full-size
One of the amazing Lego sculptures outside the Lego store at Downtown Disney.Nova Era perform at Downtown DisneyFun coloring with the Disney Cast Members in the World of Disney store.Characters in Flight up above Downtown Disney
One of the amazing Lego sculptures outside the Lego store at Downtown Disney.
One of the amazing Lego sculptures outside the Lego store at Downtown Disney.
Nova Era perform at Downtown Disney
Nova Era perform at Downtown Disney
Fun coloring with the Disney Cast Members in the World of Disney store.
Fun coloring with the Disney Cast Members in the World of Disney store.
Characters in Flight up above Downtown Disney
Characters in Flight up above Downtown Disney
Yee Ha Bob Jackson at Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort Hotel
Yee Ha Bob Jackson at Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort Hotel

Live Music at the Disney Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter Resorts

8PM - Midnight / Wednesday - Saturday Nights

YeeHaw Bob at Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort - Bob Jackson is a very fun performer who leads a boogy-woogie, rag-time sing-along at the River Roost Lounge in the Port Orleans Riverside resort. This event is family friendly. He typically performs on Wednesday - Saturday nights. No cover charge. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages available for purchase.

Tom Casey at Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter Resort - Mr sings and plays piano with a selection of songs you know and love. This event is family friendly. No cover charge. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages available for purchase.

Grand Floridian Resort Parasol Parade at Disney World in Orlando Florida
Grand Floridian Resort Parasol Parade at Disney World in Orlando Florida

Parasol Parade at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort Hotel

Parasol Parade at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort: The housekeepers of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort hotel take part in a Parasol Parade every Monday and Friday morning at 8:00AM, weather permitting. Check your Grand Floridian recreation Calendar to confirm date and time. The parade starts at the Grand Floridian Marina and slowly makes its way through the Victorian Courtyard and around the pool.

Auntie Kau'l Brandt is a cultural ambassador at Disney's Polynesian Resort Hotel in Florida
Auntie Kau'l Brandt is a cultural ambassador at Disney's Polynesian Resort Hotel in Florida

Polynesian Resort - Meet Auntie Kau'l Brandt - Cultural Ambassador

Auntie Kau'l Brandt has been serving as a "cultural ambassador" to Disney's Polynesian Resort since it opened in 1971. Five days a week, you'll find her at the desk near the children's television area of the Polynesian Lobby where she greets guests, answers questions about Hawaiian culture, teaches hula, plays the ukulele, and leads children in craft activities. She is a very special part of this very special resort so take the time to meet her.

We've offered some tips and suggestion for free fun at Disney World but we'd like to hear your ideas and experiences too. You're also welcome to ask a question.

Do you have a favorite free activity at Disney World?

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    • davierb123 profile image

      davierb123 4 years ago

      Going in 3 weeks on a tight budget ! So thanks for sharing

    • OrlandoTipster profile image

      OrlandoTipster 5 years ago

      I wasn't aware of all the free things to do.

      I like the street entertainers at the Boardwalk.

    • profile image

      mredway 5 years ago

      The games at the pool and the bus rides! :)

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

      Nothing free to add but you sure packed a lot in here. :)