We all know that visiting Disneyland can be quite a monetary investment and although it is a worthwhile vacation and magical memory making investment, I am always on the lookout for how to make the most of it. One way I do this is to find all the “free” things I can around the Disneyland resort and parks. Now with the exception of the tours at the resort hotels, all of these “free” items are found in the parks and do require theme park admission. Let’s see how much FREE we can find:
- Water –There are drinking fountains in locations all over the parks, but why slurp tepid water with the rest of the masses? Every location in the parks that has a soda machine will give you a cold refreshing cup of ice water for the asking, no purchase necessary. No purchase necessary=FREE!!
- Buttons – Buttons abound at the Disneyland parks, some you get by eating at character meals, some are randomly handed out by cast member, some are given out for special events or promotions and some are given out if you are celebrating something special. But no matter which one you get they are all FREE!!! The easiest to come by are the Celebration buttons (currently: 1st Visit, Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, Happily Ever After, Just Married and the generic I’m Celebrating). You can pick yours up at City Hall in Disneyland, the Chamber of Commerce in California Adventure or at the front desk of the Disneyland Resort hotels.
- Ride Photos – Now don’t get to excited, you still have to pay for the photos on most rides like Splash Mountain and Radiator Springs, but on one ride at Disneyland, you can get a free ride photo. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters! When you get off the ride there are monitors that you can look up your photo and email it to yourself (or to a friend or a family member) for FREE!!
- Tours – There are quite a few wonderful tours that Disneyland provides for their guests at a significant cost, but did you know that there are three tours that are FREE and two of them you don’t even need to be in the parks to take so they are really FREE!! The Grand Californian offers a tour of the hotel called the Art of the Craft tour, it highlights the architectural influences and all the artisans that came together to create the hotel. The Disneyland Hotel offers a tour called the Happiest Hotel on Earth, it tells of the history of the Disneyland Hotel and Disneyland itself. Inside California Adventure you can take the Story of the Carthay Circle tour at, where else, the Carthay Circle restaurant. It is a great tour that focuses on the history of the Carthay Circle Theater and the early years of Walt Disney, before Disneyland. It runs daily at 10:30 am and it is FREE!!
- Newspaper – At California Adventure inside the Chamber of Commerce you will find in the corner a little unobtrusive wire stand that is holding The Buena Vista Bugle. It is a newspaper that is the “official publication of Disney California Adventure Park”. They started putting out the paper after the refurbishments of Buena Vista Street. It is not a daily paper, but rather seasonal. They put out about four issues a year. Oh, and unlike the Times it is FREE!!!
- Stickers – Along with buttons, cast members love to give out stickers. They all feature Mickey and are sometime specific to who is giving them out. The Disneyland firemen give out firemen Mickey stickers, security cast members give out police Mickey stickers, the heath staff cast members give out doctor Mickey stickers and so on and so forth. Oh and did I mention that they are FREE??
- First-Aid – Although it is the happiest place on earth, sometimes our bodies get a little unhappy during our stay. The First-Aid stations located in both parks can help with minor ailments. They have single dose aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and antacids available as well as all sizes of bandages. The cost: your signature on their sign in sheet, so you know it is FREE!!
- Food – Okay, you are not going to be able to make a meal of anything listed here but there are some small samples that are given out on the Pacific Warf at California Adventure. First off the Bedouin Bakery Tour gives out samples of their amazing sourdough bread and just across the way at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop they will give you a piece of their famous chocolate, just for walking in the store. Yummy for FREE!!!
- Souvenirs – Although it would be nice to get a free set of Mickey ears, I am really referring to some items that I have come across sporadically over the years. Once upon a time, you use to be able to get a “Death Certificate” from the Haunted Mansion, however, people started taking it a little too seriously and Disney had to discontinue distribution. As of this writing, you can still get an adventure map of the Jungle Cruise ride. It is FREE, but you have to ask a cast member at the ride and it is hit or miss. My daughter also received a small coloring book while waiting in line at Soarin’ Over California from a cast member since it was her first Big Girl ride (she had just passed the 40” mark). These items are at the cast member’s digression and never a guarantee.
Do you have any favorite freebies at the Disneyland parks? I am always on the lookout for FREE so fill me in if you know of something I missed!