The word free doesn’t exactly spring to mind when one thinks of Disney World. Disney World tickets aren’t cheap, but they are worth the one-of-a-kind experiences found inside park gates. Luckily, there are free things to do at Disney World that will help keep your budget intact.

Lobby of Animal Kingdom Lodge

Lobby of Animal Kingdom Lodge

1) Free Disney Tours
Many Disney World resorts offer free tours open to the public. Wonders of Lodge is a one-hour tour of the art and architecture of Wilderness Lodge. During your visit, be sure to catch Disney’s version of Old Faithful, erupting every hour. (You can’t get that kind of timing at Yellowstone!) Over at the Animal Kingdom Lodge there are three tours: Sanaa Cultural Tour, a restaurant tour with menu sampling; Disney-Designed, a cultural-representative led tour of the design of the African-inspired hotel; and the Culinary Tour, featuring the restaurants Boma and Jiko. Disney’s Boardwalk Inn has a daily 45-mintue tour at 9am, “Showplace of the Shore,” discussing the story behind the architecture, artifacts, and artwork that graces the restaurants, buildings, and detailed recreations of the Boardwalk. A free one-hour tour starts in the lobby of the Art of Animation Resort each day, providing behind-the-scenes details about the planning, design, and creation of the resort.

Electrical Water Pageant Flickr

Electrical Water Pageant
Photo Credit: Jeff Kern/flickr

2) Electrical Water Pageant
At the resorts surrounding the Magic Kingdom, you can see a 150minute nightly presentation known as the Electrical Water Pageant. Watch as charming sea creatures ranging from real to lore light up the lagoon, with a bright green sea monster leading the way. Set to a variety of Disney tunes, this production is similar to the Main Street Electrical Parade in style. Toward the end of the show, a patriotic tone takes over with flashing American flags and patriotic songs.

3) Disney World Fireworks
As someone who has seen countless Disney World firework shows, I can attest they are some of the best. Fortunately, you don’t have to be inside the parks to see the shows. Preferred outside viewing locations include the Ticket and Transportation Center at the Magic Kingdom, beaches at Polynesian Village or Grand Floridian Resort, and the bridge between Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower. Disney’s Boardwalk Inn has a limited view of Epcot’s Illumination. Basically, you won’t see the lower level fireworks and lasers but the big pyrotechnics are still stunning.

Magic Kingdom Fireworks

Magic Kingdom Fireworks

4) Boat Rides
One of the most relaxing things to do at Disney World is to go for a boat ride. There are free water taxis connecting Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot and nearby hotels like Disney’s Beach Club, and Downtown Disney has service to and from resorts like Old Key West Resort and Saratoga Springs. Other boat cruises at Disney World are available at the Grand Floridian Resort, Polynesian Village, and Wilderness Lodge, among others.

5) Disney Wilderness Preserve
Technically, this isn’t on Disney property but it’s free and fantastic. At The Disney Wilderness Preserve, visitors can hike, bird watch, and enjoy old Florida’s natural beauty. The Preserve is home to birds such as bald eagle, red-cockaded woodpecker, wood stork, sandhill crane, northern harrier and crested caracara. The preserve is also home to the southeastern big-eared bat, Sherman’s fox squirrel, eastern indigo snake and gopher tortoise. The Florida panther has even been documented crossing the terrain. Plant life that can be seen features cypress swamp, freshwater marsh, scrub, flatwoods and oak hammocks. Key flowers include the fall-flowering ixia, Catesby’s lily and terrestrial orchids.

Add these five free things to do at Disney World to make your vacation a budget-friendly one.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.