Are you planning a trip to Disney World and looking for things to do besides the parks?
Although there are many great experiences for families inside the main theme parks, Walt Disney World offers lots of extra special things to do outside the parks as well.
You may be wondering WHY a family would look for things to do at Disney World without going into the parks. There are lots of reasons guests choose to spend time on these extra activities:
- They are looking to save money and don’t want to purchase park tickets.
- They are looking for unique or special experiences.
- They don’t like rides.
- They need something to do on their arrival day or departure day.
Regardless of your reasoning for spending time on activities besides the parks, this post provides super fun things to do at Disney World for free (or for really cheap)!
Where can you go without a ticket?
Before we talk about where you can go WITHOUT a ticket, let’s first discuss the places you must have a ticket to enter.
Many readers often wonder if you have to have a ticket to get inside the Disney World theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The answer is yes, you definitely need to purchase a park ticket for the theme park you plan on visiting with your family. Even if you are just wanting to eat at a restaurant inside a particular park, you still MUST have a ticket to be allowed inside the gates.
In addition to needing tickets for the four main theme parks, you will also need a ticket to enter the water parks: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.
With a few exceptions, you can pretty much travel anywhere else on Disney property WITHOUT a ticket.
Below, I will provide a list of things to do at Disney World for free. These activities do NOT require you to have a ticket to any of the parks.
Free (and Cheap) Things to Do at Disney Springs
Disney Springs is a really fun area of Walt Disney World that provides lots of options for shopping, dining, and entertainment. You do not need a ticket to enter Disney Springs, and you can self park for free.
If you are wanting to visit this area without spending a fortune on shopping or dining, these are some free and cheap things you can do at Disney Springs!
Coca-Cola Polar Bear
You can visit the second floor of the Coca-Cola store to pose for a photo with the giant polar bear mascot.
Disney Springs provides several different areas where you can enjoy live entertainment for free. The Marketplace Stage, Waterview Park, Sunshine Highline, and Riverboat Square are all great options for listening to live music. You can check the entertainment schedule at Disney Springs prior to your trip to see the times for the outdoor live performances.
Who doesn’t love a carousel?! Although this activity is not free, the cost is only $3 per person. Children under 42 inches tall must have an adult ride with them on the carousel. This adult is free of charge though!
Marketplace Train Ride
Just like the carousel mentioned above, the train ride at Disney Springs costs $3 per person. If you are an adult who needs to ride with your smaller child (under 42 inches), you do not have to pay for your ride.
Each evening the Irish pub, Raglan Road, provides live performances on their outdoor stage. You can enjoy the music and dancing as you walk by the restaurant.
Located in the Marketplace area of Disney Springs, the splash pad is a fun way for kids to cool off from the heat. This activitiy is completely free for guests.
Even if you don’t plan to purchase anything, the Lego Store is a super fun place to browse. They have huge statues of Disney characters made completely from Legos. You can also find tubs of Legos outside the store where kids can play for free.
Although the Amphicar ride near The Boathouse costs over $100 per ride, you can find a free boat ride at Disney Springs. The ferry boat that carries visitors between Disney Springs and the Port Orleans Resorts is completely free to ride. This 20 minute boat ride is really relaxing and fun!
If you are visiting Disney Springs around the Christmas holidays, you can find even more free things to do. Take time to enjoy the Christmas Tree Stroll, Holiday Scavenger Hunt, Magical Snowfall, and Santa Claus Visits.
Although certain spaces at the resorts are strictly reserved for hotel guests, there are public areas at the Disney resorts that are fun and free for anyone to enjoy!
Below, I will list the best things to do at Disney hotels for free or cheap!
Animal Kingdom Lodge
If you have an animal lover in your family, take time to walk around the public areas of Animal Kingdom Lodge. You can see all kinds of animals, including giraffes, zebras, flamingos, and much more!
Hop on the monorail for a unique and exciting ride! You can take a tour of the monorail resorts: Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Just hop off the monorail at each stop, tour the lobby and common areas of the hotel, and jump back on the monorail. This is an especially fun activity at Christmas time when the resorts are decked out for the holidays!
Also note that you can ride the monorail to Epcot Theme Park. It will drive through part of Epcot before parking outside the gates. Therefore, you do not have to have a ticket to Epcot just to ride the monorail.
Port Orleans Resorts- French Quarter and Riverside
As mentioned above, you can ride the ferry from the Port Orleans Resorts to Disney Springs for free. You can also spend time walking around the gorgeous grounds to these moderate resorts.
Similar to a Monorail Tour, you can take a tour of the resorts on the Skyliner. These gondolas run between Disney’s Art of Animation, Disney’s Pop Century, Disney’s Riviera Resort, and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.
In addition, you can ride the Skyliner to the International Gateway entrance to Epcot. You do not need a ticket to Epcot as you will not enter the theme park. Once you arrive at this back entrance to Epcot, you are within walking distance to Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, and Disney’s Boardwalk area.
Disney’s Beach Club and Yacht Club Resorts
Disney’s Beach Club Resort is one of my family’s favorite places to stay at Walt Disney World. If you have the time, I highly recommend checking out this hotel and her sister resort- Disney’s Yacht Club.
Disney’s Beach Club area has lots of free activities for families to enjoy:
- Play in the sandy beach area by Crescent Lake.
- Take a ferry boat ride to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (You won’t enter the gates, so you will not need a ticket.)
- Watch the Epcot fireworks show.
- Enjoy ice cream from Beaches and Cream. (While not a free activity, Beaches and Cream has amazing ice cream!)
Disney’s Boardwalk is a great place to visit with kids, and it is completely free to explore. Since you do not need a ticket to stroll along Disney’s Boardwalk, this is a great option for families looking for free things to do at Disney World!
There are numerous places to eat and shop on the Boardwalk, and you will find plenty of activities that are free or cheap to enjoy. Disney’s Boardwalk offers street performers like jugglers and muscians that are free to enjoy.
You can also play carnival style games outside on the Boardwalk for a couple dollars per game. You can visit this post to learn more about this kid friendly entertainment district:
Final Thoughts on What to Do at WDW besides the Parks
Walt Disney World offers so many things to do besides the parks, and many of these activities are completely free.
If you have time during your vacation, I recommend trying at least a few of the items from the list above. Some of my family’s favorite memories at WDW were made outside the parks!
What is your favorite thing to do at Disney World without tickets?
Comment below and let me know!