Give Your Wallet a Break With These Five Free Disney World Activities
If you think of Walt Disney World as a place to spend a lot of money in one trip, you may be right—but there's plenty to do in and around the park that doesn't cost a dime. Here are five ways to relax, ride and enjoy some of Disney's shows without ever opening your purse or wallet.
Stroll the BoardWalk
The Coney Island-style boardwalk around Crescent Lake offers a great way to stretch the legs a bit while taking in plenty of sites, sounds and entertainment, plus an abundance of window shopping. The best part is the boardwalk is open for free to the public—no entry to the park required.
Spread throughout the Disney BoardWalk area are jugglers, musicians, fire eaters and other street performers. Children will enjoy viewing their reflections in funhouse mirrors. Sports buffs will appreciate live radio shows at the ESPN Club. Step into Wyland Galleries (2101 N. Epcot Resorts Blvd., Lake Buena Vista, Orlando, FL ) to view aquatic sculptures and paintings. Enjoy a relaxing view as Disney's Friendship Boats drift along the lake.
Ride the Monorails
Disney's monorail systems serve as another excellent freebie, open to everyone, even non-park guests. Ride the monorail to relax a bit, rain or shine, or to enjoy views of the Magic Kingdom in a completely new way.
One monorail connects the park and Disney's Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian and Polynesian Village Resort, making stops at each. The other travels from the Transportation and Ticket Center to Epcot, offering views of the famous Spaceship Earth sphere. If you ask before boarding the monorail, the driver may allow young children to ride up front for an even better view.
Watch the Electrical Water Pageant
The nightly Electrical Water Pageant is like a parade on water. This light-up floating fantasy starts at approximately 9 p.m. each night, weather permitting, near Polynesian Village on Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. Watch illuminated sea creatures and King Neptune glide along the water following the same path each night from Polynesian Village to Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness and Contemporary Resort. View the show for free from outside any of the aforementioned locations. Checking with front-desk staff at one of the resorts for specific show times outside each resort and for weather information, as the show may be canceled during harsh weather.
Ride Boats for Free. Yes, Really!
Besides the monorails, Walt Disney World also offers several completely free boating options, available even without entry to the park. Cruise Crescent Lake on a boat that connects Epcot, the boardwalk area, the beach club and several other Disney destinations, or take another boat that visits the Magic Kingdom, Grand Floridian and the Polynesian Resort. Yet another boat takes travelers along the Sassagoula River, from Port Orleans to Disney Springs and vice versa.
Some of the ferries and water taxis are located at stops within the park, accessible to paid park guests, while others are near the Ticketing and Transportation Services area and outside resorts along the water, available to anyone. All boat launch locations are well-marked.
Note that severe weather or lightning may result in temporary boat-service closures. None of the boats allow luggage or alcohol.
Watch Fireworks Any Night
Walt Disney World closes out its nights with fireworks shows, visible from select areas outside the park, too. The absolute best viewing place is from the beach at the Polynesian; the views are about as good as they are inside the park, plus you can hear the music that goes along with the fireworks show.
Catch the Happily Ever After fireworks display at approximately 9 p.m., weather permitting. The promenade at the BoardWalk also offers nice views of the bigger fireworks, although low-level sites may be blocked from view. Check with Disney World staff for other fireworks displays during your visit, as the park also has special shows to celebrate July 4th and Halloween.
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- Walt Disney World: Transportation: Frequently Asked Questions
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- Travel + Leisure: Where to Watch Walt Disney World Fireworks Outside the Parks
Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.