Visiting WDW for free

This is a spin-off thread from this thread.

A friend of mine is currently in Orlando with her DH and two of her (adult) DDs. The DDs are spending two days in the WDW parks, but my friend and her DH didn’t want to spend the money to do so. They asked me what other options there might be for getting some Disney action.

Meanwhile, I’ve been wondering how I can dramatically cut the cost of a currently planned trip to Orlando in June next year.

That’s when I was hit with a moment of genius. I reckon you can not only fill two days with non-park WDW activity, you can have a really good time doing it, in part because you are not visiting the parks.

I gave a couple of itineraries to my friend.

Today she drove to DS and parked there. She then took a Disney bus to the Poly, which she explored, before walking to GF. She wandered around, had some food, and then took the monorail to MK. From where she took the boat to WL. Suitably awed, she took the boat back to MK and walked to CR. And then a bus back to DS. (Yes she could have done it more efficiently, but she was complaining the monorail was too cold and wanted to get out at MK rather than CR).

Tomorrow, AKL — the lobby and savannah — then the Boardwalk and its hotels and the Skyliner and maybe its hotels. Also, CSR.

I’ve been to WDW nine times since I got sucked into you people’s cult. And so many times I’ve promised myself I’d do a thing I wanted to do but ended up not doing it because of the tyranny of the parks. We’re all so obsessed with damned rides that we miss out on all the other stuff. For example, I’ve always wanted to eat at Three Bridges at CSR. Never done it. Takes away park time. I’ve never done HDDR for similar reasons.

Not being able to go into the parks suddenly feels liberating and exciting to me. And, also, so tranquil.


Not all of us are obsessed with ride ride ride ride ride collapse. I was at HS for 2.5 hrs today. I watched the parade, shopped, walked, had lunch. It was lovely.


That’s slightly disingenuous. You have an AP. You go all the time. You can afford to not be obsessed with rides.

Though I accept your point. What you did does sound lovely and I’d like to take that approach some time.


My upcoming trip in December/January is going to be doing allot of “free” stuff. Right now that includes a monorail tour to see xmas decorations, meals at WL and AKL maybe HDDR. So yeah, very little is actually free so will be looking for more ideas. Having a vehicle helps but in for you is probably unnecessary.


I didn’t mean to slight anyone. I agree I can relax about my visits and I’m grateful. When we didn’t live here I too would vacation as if I was possessed. But I do believe and work on slowing down to enjoy the present.


Due to physical limitations we have always (since June 2021 at least) needed to plan a rest/resort day every few days or so. That’s one reason our trips are “longer” because we need more time to see the same (or less) amount of things.

I don’t know if you would like this but we are doing something we think is pretty neat when we go to DL in less than 2 weeks. We are making personalized Lego mini figs. It only costs about $14 per person. I think you can do a walk up but likely would wait a long time particularly in June. You can sign up ahead of time. We did this and they only have availability open about 3 weeks ahead of time. Also, if you do make an appointment, take a screenshot because even though they take your email address, they don’t send you a confirmation email, at least we have gotten one yet. If I think of more options on our trips I’ll let you know.

ETA: sign up online beforehand


If I wasn’t going for the rides, I wouldn’t go there. But I’m an infrequent visitor anyway. And full disclosure, I’m hoping next time I go will be at Christmas with a friend who is a ride wimp. We’d concentrate on Christmas stuff. I’d still have to do my favourite rides though.


I love resort hopping!

There is nothing better than a nighttime stroll around French Quater! Especially after catching Yeehaw bob over at the riverroost.

Several of the resorts and Wilderness lodge was one of my favorites - offer free tours that give a theming and architectural explanation of what the imagineers envisioned.

Also alot of t the resort restaurants are better than the dining inside the park and ADRs are much easier to get.


I just plotted out my May/June 2023 trip and I have one full resort day plus a few hours on a couple of other days when we’re not going to the parks. But I couldn’t bear to not get tickets for every day other than the one resort day. I could save a lot of money if I squished all my non-park time into one more full resort day, but I would feel like I’m missing out on the parks the whole time. :joy:

One thing I made sure of is to schedule a morning at AKL where we don’t leave until lunch time. That way we can hang out and watch the animals over breakfast on our balcony.


I hope I get to do this soon.

The rides are wonderful and they are set in a wonderous place.

I do see a cheering on of those that seem to accomplish A LOT (rides) in a day. The longer the list the higher the praise. That’s fine, but not all of us tour this way. I like @mathhound am incapable of that pace. The only thing I miss about my previous trips (younger self) is my stamina.

Carry on :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Some of my favorite out of the parks activities (in no particular order): fireworks from the Poly or the balcony by the CR gift shop. Toasting marshmallows at CR followed by a movie on the lawn. Listening to live ukulele music at the Poly at the outdoor Tiki Terrace or a table close by if I’m eating at Captain Cooks. Cheap eats while sitting at the tables near the Boardwalk in the evening. Tea at the GF was pricey but a lovely break from the crazy crowds and I want to go back.


Oh and one more thing I’ve wanted to do but never fit in – the WL tour of Walt’s trains. It happens mid-morning and I’m always in a park by then.


Even though I don’t go often, I always try to combine parks and other things.

Plus I’m fairly liberal with adding 30-45 minute breaks into touring plans. To just soak it in.

Priorities are different for everyone.

Anyway, to other suggestions:

Explore Fort Wilderness, visit the stables
Ditto POR & POFQ, with live music some evenings at both
Stroll Crescent Lake in the evening or after dark
Do “movies under the stars” at any resort (check out the resort activity calendars - the DIS keep a track of them now that my previous recommended site seems to have folded)
Take the boats from DS to OKW or POR / POFQ

Sadly my favourite boat ride, around Bay Lake, hasn’t returned. But you can also ride from the IG to DHS.

There are also activities like tennis, mini golf and foot golf which you can do outside of the main parks. And there are jogging trails from many resorts, and even fun runs or yoga at some (might also be a cost to those).


You can always just visit the Carolwood Pacific Room yourself. It’s at the Boulder Ridge Villas building.


DSIS and I visited WDW for “free” before Christmas last year for a few days, as part of our eating our way through FL trip. Those 3 days at WDW cost nearly 3x the cost of the first 4 days in south FL because of the fine dining, snacking, and of course, shopping at WDW :grimacing:!

I impressed DSIS with my ability to get around to the different resorts using Disney’s free transportation system after we parked for free at DS! Our touring of WDW is talked about here, if you like to look. A bunch of it is Christmas time but some of the things are available year round and getting around on Disney transportation system is still the same: .


There’s a parade at DHS? :flushed:

scurries back to do some vacation research


If your anything like me - used to go back to the room so the kids could nap.
Now i go back to the room to nap


I used to be able to go go go from RD to closing out the parks 3 days in a row. I couldn’t do that on my last 3 DLR trip! :disappointed_relieved: For that matter, DD24 can only do 2 days and she likes touring at a more relaxed pace! :roll_eyes: Thankfully, the go go go pace isn’t required for DLR if you go 3 days!

For our February trip to WDW, we will only do two days before a full day break. I have yet to do my TPs for the trip.


Have done the sunrise Yoga - it’s definitely free


I’m green with envy! That AP is still elusive to some of us.

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