Over the years and across multiple Disney vacations we’ve been fortunate enough to pick up on a few different opportunities that many first time and returning guests may or not recognize. Along the way, we’ve found ways to minimize costs and really get the most for your money during a Disney vacation by taking advantage of all of the free offerings available throughout the parks and resorts. Of course, I would never recommend taking towels or anything like that from resorts, but a few simple complimentary items can really help make the trip home a little easier and the souvenir portion of a vacation a bit less expensive. As always, if you’re ever in doubt on what is and is not technically ‘free,’ simply ask a cast member and you may be surprised by their answer. So, here’s a few of our personal top free souvenirs.
1. Disney Ink Pens
-Each resort on property places a few Disney ink pens inside of guest rooms for your convenience. Surprisingly, these pens do write fairly well and feature a Disney Parks and Resorts logo. As with any company, pens are a great way to promote free advertising so go ahead and take the pens home with you. While it seems like a simple idea, when you use these pens at home at work or simply writing a grocery list or something similar, it really takes you back to memories of your most recent vacation.
2. Disney Stickers
-Stickers are handed out everywhere at Walt Disney World and to the surprise of many, they do often vary in design form location to location. In our own experience, if you ask nicely, the cast will typically give you a few extra stickers to take home with you to share with friends and family.
3. Coloring Sheets
-At many Walt Disney World resorts, kids areas in the lobby or on club level floors feature a vast variety of free coloring sheets. If you’re flying or driving home, these are great to take with you to entertain kids along the way and take even a small portion of your Disney experience home with you.
4. Polynesian Leis
-Another great resort perk are leis at the Polynesian resort. Throughout the day, both guests staying at the resort and simply visitors to the property are given flower leis to set the tone for their experience at the Polynesian. It’s a simple touch of class and something that guests of all ages can enjoy. Simply head to the lobby near the main entrance and you’ll likely find a cast member right outside the door or just inside the lobby passing out this free ‘souvenir.’ It not only adds a bit of fun to your time at the resort, but also creates something free to take home and one of the many items on this list that travel incredibly well.
5. Epcot Festival Passports -At each of the Epcot Festivals, small booklets are given out detailing all that is available during the event complete with stickers or a check list for what you have accomplished and what you have still to do. For many, these little booklets offer a way to keep track of what they’ve eaten at the festival, what they’ve experience of the exhibits and shows, and even what they may look forward to on another day in the park. At the Flower and Garden Festival, Food and Wine Festival, and Festival of the Arts, these passports are a simple hidden gem of the experience but also a nice keepsake for your day in the park.
6. Celebratory Buttons
-In a similar way to the stickers mentioned earlier on this list, buttons are a small free element from the parks. Buttons are available for a variety of special circumstances guests are visiting the parks for including first time visits, birthdays, anniversaries, and much more. Simply go to guest services or many other retail locations on property to grab a button to commemorate your special event. Beyond simply receiving the free button, it adds a certain element of surprise to your vacation experience. The Disney cast makes a certain effort to watch for and engage with guests wearing these special occasion buttons. If it’s your birthday, it’s usually your birthday all week at WDW and the cast are glad to wish you a happy birthday throughout your time in the parks.
7. A Paper Fastpass (If you’re lucky enough to get one.)
-With the largely paperless fastpass+ system that has revolutionized the Disney wait time avoidance platform, paper fastpasses have almost entirely disappeared on the east coast. Personally, I miss bit of the manual aspect of the paper based system but in all honesty that’s likely a bit more nostalgia that anything else. However, if on the off chance you are given a paper fastpass by a cast member in a unique situation (yes, it does still happen from time to time), you may want to hold on to that paper pass because you never know what may become a collectors item in the future. If nothing else, it’s a simple reminder of a moment on vacation and a great item to integrate into some type of crafting project (if you’re more creative that me lol). For Fastpass+ booking tips be sure to look at our 5 Simple Fastpass+ Tips That Could Better Your Vacation Experience.
8. In Room Bath Products
-This is perhaps one of the best items on the list. Bath products at Walt Disney World are surprisingly nice and in virtually unlimited supply if you’re nice to your housekeeping staff or ask for them at the front desk. Disney does sell the full size variation of these products online and in many resort shops, but the travel size bath products are incredibly useful. As an added bonus, on club level floors, be sure to take advantage of the greater variety of products offered. For more on Club Level and if it’s actually worth the cost, check out our Are Club Level Accommodations “Worth It?” – A Closer Look article. Rumor has it that these in room bath products could be on the way out in favor of larger containers placed in dispensers within the resort bathrooms. However, I don’t see that as a long term solution or a full resort lineup solution for cutting costs.
9. Themed Drink Coasters
-As a rather new phenomenon at Walt Disney World, custom drink coasters created for particular locations have started to pop up everywhere. If you’re at a table service location, particularly at Disney Springs, be sure to check out what’s under your drink. The coasters aren’t reused by the dining locations in most cases, so you might as well take them with you. Personally, we just picked up a few from Homecomin’ kitchen, but they are also available in many resort rooms as well!
-For kids, this may in fact be the ultimate free experience. Kidcot allows guests at Epcot to grab a cardboard Duffy the Disney Bear and decorate it as they tour the world showcase. The bear is simply a design on a paint stick to hold onto from location to location, but it really creates a reason for kids and adults alike to dive deeper into the countries of Epcot’s World Showcase. I can still remember doing a similar variation of this as a kid and the memories of exploring the showcase and making every effort to get every pavilion specific stamp before we left the park. It was a truly memorable experience that is completely complimentary within the park.
As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you’re there, and we’ll keep the conversation going in the future. We’re not the largest Disney community, but we’re one that’s there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!
A few short years ago, I was sitting in a college apartment trying to figure out what was "next" and came up with this idea to share my accumulated knowledge of the Disney Parks and Resorts with others. The end goal was to help others make the most of their Disney experience and it's been quite the journey!