By Carol Garcia
“The best things in life are free.” Well, as followers of “TheMouseForLess,” we all agree with this statement to some degree. But can anything be free when it comes to a Disney vacation? Well, surprisingly, yes! There are many things that can be collected for free (or at least included as part of admission to the theme parks).
So, whether you are going to create a scrapbook of your memories, or are just looking for something to stash away as a momento of your trip, here are some freebies to consider:
- Park Maps. Each park has maps at the entrance just for the taking. There are even maps in foreign languages.
- Fast Pass Tickets. Although the ticket will be collected if you use them, any unused tickets make great mementos. Also, if you put your ticket into the FastPass machine second time, you will get a blank ticket with the ride’s name on it.
- Park Tickets and Room Keys. These are meant to be taken home. They have fun designs, especially those for hard ticket events, and even if you don’t want to put them in a scrapbook, the kids will love playing with them.
- Photopass Cards. Bring them home, order your pictures and keep them for fun!
- Monorail Co-Pilot cards. We’ve collected lots of these over the years. We’ve heard that they may no longer be available, in favor of collector’s cards available from drivers throughout the property. Either way, ask if you get to sit up front on the monorail.
- All of that information you receive upon check in. It’s fun to look back at what was happening at the resort in years past. There are also great bits of information and graphics on these items.
- Swizzle sticks or other decorations. My kids love the paper umbrellas, and fun shaped swizzle sticks available at some restaurants. These things are subject to change, so be on the lookout for them.
- Pressed pennies. Yes, they aren’t free, but they are very inexpensive. A penny costs 51 cents (50 cents plus the penny being pressed).
- Cups, plates, napkins and popcorn buckets. Yes, you pay for the food or drink inside of them, but you can take them home and have a great memento. We have even used the popcorn buckets to store small toys such as Legos. The Mickey shaped plastic plates that kids meals come in are great fun and a fun way to remember the trip after you get home, too. If you have any leftover (unused) paper napkins from your meal, just tuck them away. You never know when a couple of extra napkins will come in handy as you are traveling through the parks.
- Bags! There are bags everywhere at Disney. If you are already making a purchase, you can ask for a couple of extra. They make fun wrapping paper or lunch sacks when you get home.
- Birthday buttons. The person celebrating can pick up a free button at the front of each park. It can not only be worn during your trip, but by other family members when you are at home and celebrating there.
- Some resorts offer freebies. The Wilderness Lodge allows one family staying at that resort to raise the flags each day (you can read more about that here). There are also tours in the Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom, pool games for the kids and lots of fun places to explore at Fort Wilderness. Ask the front desk at check-in for suggestions at your resort. If you have a special meal planned at another resort, check if there are any free activities available at that resort, especially if it is a Deluxe.
Finally we have a few tips from some readers:
- Max Lyman wrote “We love to go to Innoventions: East at Epcot and play the game where you get to build a robot at the end. I forget what it is called, but you start out learning about different plastics, then play this computer race against the other people in your group, and then at the end, you get to assemble your own robot to take home. It’s fun- and it’s free!” (editor’s note: This sounds like Fantastic Plastics Works.)
- Alexandra Caldwell wrote: “Last time we were at Magic Kingdom, our daughter was able to wake Tinkerbell! Right when the park opened, we ran-walked to Tinkerbell’s Shop in Fantasyland, and dd was the first child in the store, so she asked if she could wake Tink. She was given a wand and, well, maybe I won’t give the details, as I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Afterward, she got a certificate and some stickers- it’s one of her favorite things about our last trip.”
- Megan Sloan reminded us that character autographs come with the price of admission: “Our two kids are autograph collectors. We’re so pleased, because it’s so much cheaper than collecting pins! We’ve gotten all the classics, and are now tracking down some of the harder-to-find characters. There’s a great pocket guide to characters on theMouseforLess- the kids use that to see who they are missing. And don’t forget to ask Cast Members for autographs. They love it, and sometimes you can get a very special autograph. Our waiter in Norway wrote a whole paragraph in Norwegian, and our son had to find another Norwegian CM to translate it for him. http://www.themouseforless.com/downloads/WDWCharacters.pdf
Wow! All that for the price of admission (and in some cases, not even that)! Do you have a favorite freebie to collect? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to share it with our readers!
For a printable copy of this list from Mousefest, visit our website.