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Capitalize on These Five Family Freebies During Your Next Disneyland Visit
Even though it costs a pretty penny to take the family to Disneyland (1313 Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, CA), there's also a few ways to get a little extra enjoyment out of the park without spending more money. The kids will enjoy collecting buttons and stickers, watching the fireworks and getting treated like a Disney prince or princess on a birthday. It's worth taking the time to plot out a plan before your Disneyland trip to maximize the freebie bonus bonanza.
Watch the Fireworks
Enjoy an evening of fireworks any time of the year, weather permitting, for free. The fireworks show, "Remember... Dreams Come True" takes place at 9:30 p.m. most nights, except when a different, seasonal fireworks show is scheduled. Check the Disneyland fireworks schedule for details and remember that the fireworks displays may be canceled or postponed during severe weather.
The best viewing areas inside the park are in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle and It's a Small World, along Frontierland's Rivers of America and along Main Street, U.S.A.
The fireworks are also visible from outside Disneyland's gates. Park at Downtown Disney (1580 Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, CA) , which offers free parking for three hours. The tram waiting area near Mickey and Friends offers the best view, especially on the top floor of the parking structure. If you prefer not to visit Downtown Disney, the intersection of Ball and Harbor Streets is an excellent choice.
Take Home a Handmade Souvenir from Animation Academy
Kids of all ages can learn how to draw Disney characters from a real Disney artist at the park's Animation Academy in Hollywood Land. Classes take place every half hour and vary from class to class, so it may be fun for the family to visit more than once, especially if your park visit spans several days. Each lesson lasts approximately 15 minutes. These classes are also a nice way to relax or to get out of a rain shower or the heat if the weather is taking its toll.
Collect Free Buttons
The kids will enjoy their own scavenger-hunt-style adventure by collecting buttons from various people and places around the park. Visit City Hall near the park's entrance to start the adventure. Kids can ask to become an honorary citizen of Disneyland, which requires taking an oath. In return, they'll receive an Honorary Citizen of Disneyland pin or sticker.
City Hall also offers offers special pins the kids (and adults) can wear all day, in honor of special occasions. Kiddos can ask for the First Visit or Just Graduated pin, or an I'm Celebrating pin, for a birthday or other memorable day.
Wear the buttons all day to gain special attention from cast members.
Socialize with Cast Members for Free Stickers
Many Disneyland cast members, from costumed characters to maintenance staff, carry pockets full of special stickers just for the youngsters in your clan. Cast members will hand out stickers to kids that ask for them or who engage in conversation. The stickers may vary from cast member to cast member, so the kids have a chance to take home quite a few special souvenirs.
Enjoy a Birthday Bonanza
If you plan in advance, it's possible get lots of birthday freebies for your little one on her special day. Some of the sit-down restaurants offer free birthday cupcakes or cake slices to that special someone. Make sure the birthday boy or girl wears a celebration pin to maximize the potential for birthday perks.
Check with the park's restaurants ahead of time if you know you'll be visiting on a child's birthday to ensure the restaurant offers a birthday freebie. Ideally, plan for birthday dining options at least a few weeks before visiting the park, as some restaurants (especially those not owned by Disney) require signing up for a proprietary club in order to enjoy birthday perks. Sign up online at any restaurant you think you may visit during your stay—this way you'll have an abundance of bonus options when the birthday boy or girl gets hungry.
If staying at a Disney resort, inform the front desk staff about the child's birthday in advance. In some cases, balloons or autographed character photos may be placed in the room before your arrival, although this is not guaranteed.
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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.