Archive for October 2016

Free and cheap activities at Disney you don’t want to miss

happy kids roasting marshmallows on campfire


There are hundreds of free and cheap activities you can enjoy on your Disney trip. You certainly don’t have to spend a small fortune at Disney and the following Disney activities on a budget are here to prove it:

Go swimming! Almost all Orlando-area hotels will have some kind of pool. All of the Moderate and Deluxe Disney resort hotels include wonderful themed elements, water slides or other features. Some non-Disney hotels, such as Radisson Resort Orlando – Celebration, Swan/Dolphin and Caribe Royale, also have elaborate waterfall pools and slides. Cost: FREE to guests of the hotel.

Play miniature golf. There are two courses: Fantasia Gardens, near Disney’s Hollywood Studios; and Winter Summerland, near Blizzard Beach Water Park.

Go fishing. This is strictly “catch and release.” There are two places to rent cane poles (worms also provided): Port Orleans Riverside (near Ol’ Man Island) or Ft. Wilderness (at the Bike Barn).
Rent a boat! Most of Disney’s Moderate, Deluxe and DVC resorts have a marina where you can rent various types of watercraft.

Visit Tri-Circle D Ranch (home of the draft horses used to pull the trolleys down Main Street at the Magic Kingdom) at Ft. Wilderness. There are a few farm animals to see and pony rides for very small children from 10 am to 5 pm. There is FREE day parking at Ft. Wilderness and you can get from the day guest parking to the farm area by special buses that run only in the “Settlement.”

Sing around the campfire and watch a FREE Disney movie. The campfire program at Ft. Wilderness is open to all Walt Disney World resort guests. It is held every evening, at about 7:00 pm in fall and winter and about 8:00 pm in spring and summer, near the Meadow Trading Post. The program starts with a sing-a-long and marshmallow roast. You can bring your own food or buy it from the Chuckwagon, which sells S’more kits and also offers other food such as pizza and hot dogs. Chip and Dale meet the guests and sign autographs. Then a Disney movie is shown on a large outdoor screen. There is some seating on bleachers and benches, or you can lay out a blanket. No reservations necessary — just show up. Cost: FREE to all Disney resort guests.

A similar outdoor campfire and movie program is offered at Beach Club Resort and at the Grand Floridian Resort. There is a campfire sing-along on the beach, followed by a Disney movie. (No characters attend this one.) Ask at the front desk for a schedule. S’more kits that make enough for about 4 people are sold there. No reservations necessary — just show up. Cost: FREE to all Disney resort guests.

Port Orleans-Riverside offers a seasonal “Campfire on de’ Bayou” with stories and sing-alongs around a fire at the Ol’ Man Island Fishin’ Hole. (No characters attend this one.) It usually runs in the winter, from Halloween through sometime in March, and only a couple of nights a week (most recently, Sunday and Thursday), weather permitting. Ask at the front desk for a schedule. S’more kits that make enough for about 4 people are sold there. No reservations necessary — just show up. Cost: FREE to all Disney resort guests.

Take a stroll. There are lovely walkways or nature trails around almost all of the resorts.

At night you can wander along the Polynesian’s beach, sit in a cabana and watch the Electrical Water Pageant and the fireworks over the Magic Kingdom. Walk through the tiki-torchlit gardens between the Great Ceremonial House and the beach. It’s all very romantic. (Please keep in mind that the beach and particularly the cabanas are primarily intended for guests of the Polynesian, though there is nothing to prevent the general public from using them.)

Watch the Wishes Fireworks from the Grand Floridian boat dock. Narcoossees restaurant is nearby and receives the audio soundtrack from the Magic Kingdom, so you can enjoy the fireworks synchronized to the music. There’s a little bit of delay due to the distance, but it still works. Seeing the fireworks reflect off of the lake is beautiful.

From the Boardwalk, meander up to the back gate of Epcot, or over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios around closing time and enjoy the music and perhaps a glimpse of IllumiNations or Fantasmic!. The bridge that goes over to the Swan and Dolphin sometimes has nice views at that time.

During the day, explore the woods from the Wilderness Lodge to Ft. Wilderness.
Stroll from the Grand Floridian to the Wedding Pavilion and poke your head in. (Unless there’s a wedding in progress, of course!)

At Animal Kingdom Lodge, you can walk out to the viewing areas and see the exotic African animals roaming free. Note that the animals come out around dusk — you won’t see any during the day. (Please keep in mind that hotel guests’ rooms open right out onto the viewing areas, so quiet is very much appreciated.)

Visit the Butterfly Garden located behind Acadian House in Port Orleans Riverside’s Magnolia Bend section.
Cost for all of the above ideas: FREE.

Rent a bike and explore the trails around one of the resorts. Every Disney resort hotel has some kind of trail, but the trails around Wilderness Lodge and Ft. Wilderness are especially nice.

Rent an old-fashioned fringe-topped surrey at Disney’s BoardWalk. Bicycle around the pier and visit Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club resorts and the Swan and Dolphin. Also available for rent at Old Key West. Surreys can accommodate two to four people.

Watch the Electrical Water Pageant. This floating parade is visible nightly, usually starting at 9:00, from Disney’s Magic Kingdom-area resort hotel docks and beaches. The pageant takes about an hour to move slowly around the lake, stopping at each resort in order: Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Ft. Wilderness and Contemporary. Cost: FREE.

Make the rounds of the Disney resorts and collect something! You can make your own scavenger hunt for little or nothing:
Make a list of every Hidden Mickey you can find
Get a pressed penny or a pin for each resort.
Have a drink in the lounges and save the swizzle sticks (some of them have fun themed designs).
Go on a bargain hunt. Most of the resort hotel shops have at least one shelf or table of marked-down items. You might find a great deal.

Investigate special kids’ programs at your Disney resort hotel. The Deluxe resorts usually have kids’ recreation programs such as coloring, crafts, pool games, Hidden Mickey searches, and storytelling at various times. Cost: FREE to guests of the hotel.

FREE and Cheap Stuff to Do at the Disney resorts

Disney resorts

Every one of the Disney hotels is themed and some of them are literally breathtaking. All of the Moderate and Deluxe resorts, especially, have extraordinary themes and are well worth a visit. You can take Disney transportation from any of the four theme parks to any of the resort hotels. If you drive to one of the resorts, you can get a FREE 3-hour parking permit from the gate attendant.

The pools are amazing: at Coronado Springs the pool looks like a Mayan ruin; the Stormalong Bay pool at the Yacht/Beach Club includes a huge “shipwreck” that contains a slide; the pool at the Wilderness Lodge starts as a “spring” in the lobby, passes under a bridge, then cascades down a waterfall into the pool and ends in a geyser that goes off once an hour! (Note that use of the pools is for the hotel’s guests only, but you can certainly walk around and “ooh and ahh” for a few minutes.)

The Deluxe resort lobbies also have amazing elements and displays that fit with the theme, and a few (including the Grand Floridian) sometimes have a pianist performing.

If you’re looking for a fun photo opportunity, consider visiting the All Star resorts or Pop Century. These hotels feature enormous “pop culture” icons. Take a family photo in front of a 35-foot Buzz Lightyear!

Several of the resorts, including Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, Grand Floridian, and Yacht Club, offer FREE tours that are open to any Disney resort guest (whether you are staying at that particular hotel or not). Some of the tours require a reservation, so inquire in advance.


Disney parking


There are a lof of free options for parking in Disney as well as cheap and free options for getting to and around the Disney parks. Here’s a list of tips that might help you save some money while enjoying your Disney vacation:


If you park at one of the Disney Resorts, you have several options to get to the Parks for Free!

By Bus

• Walt Disney World has an extensive bus system, so there is no need to rent a car unless you are traveling outside of the property.
• The bus routes are set up to facilitate travel from a resort to a park.
• Most resorts have five bus routes originating from them, providing direct service to all four theme parks and Downtown Disney.
• Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are also serviced by the Downtown Disney and Animal Kingdom routes respectively.

By monorail

• Walt Disney World’s monorail system is one of its signature attractions, and it’s not even inside one of the parks. They do a great job of getting large numbers of guests from place to place, but they’re also quite comfortable and fun to ride.
• There are three monorail lines. The one you want to take is:
• The Resort Line: This route stops at all the resorts it passes. Polynesian, Grand Floridian and Contemporary. This route is used by resort guests to get to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot, and by guests visiting one of the resorts.

By boat

• Walt Disney World also has several waterways which are serviced by ferryboats.
• From the Magic Kingdom, ferries transport guests to the Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Fort Wilderness Campground, and Wilderness Lodge.
• From Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, service is to the Swan/Dolphin, Yacht/Beach Club, and Boardwalk.
• From Downtown Disney, service is to the Port Orleans, Saratoga Springs, and Old Key West Resorts.

On Foot

• In some places, walking is the most convenient way to travel from one area to another.
• Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the three resorts in between (Swan & Dolphin, Yacht & Beach Clubs, and Boardwalk) are connected by walkways
• Downtown Disney is connected to Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort.
• From Disney’s Contemporary Resort, you will find it quicker to walk to the Magic Kingdom than to take the ferry or monorail.
• From the Polynesian Resort, it’s a five-minute walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center, to take the monorail to Epcot.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (2016) – special events, tips and advice



Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party takes place several times a week in September and October 2016 at the Magic Kingdom and is a compulsory Disney special event to attend for all Halloween-lovers! Despite the beautiful Halloween decoration (that you can enjoy even if you haven’t bought a ticket for the party), there are numerous special events that will create special Halloween memories for you and your family.


The Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party starts at 7 p.m. but, if you have a ticket, you can enter even at 4 p.m. The party goes on until midnight and takes place rain or shine. Tickets are available for purchase since 5th May at but if you don’t want to risk buying tickets in advance for an event that might take place in a storm, you can purchase them on site.


Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (2016) special events:


  • Trick or Treat

The traditional Halloween trick-or-treating is one of the special events taking place at the party. You will receive a bag upon entrance, but you can also bring your own bag (if you plan on getting more treats). You can get your Halloween treats at the numerous candy stations throughout the Magic Kingdom.


  • Boo-To-You Parade

The Boo-To-You Parade is held at 8:30 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. A particularly fascinating view is the Headless Horseman (you can see him just before the parade begins). A must-see, the Boo-To-You Parade will pleasantly surprise you and you will be able to enjoy the sight of your favorite characters dressed up in their Halloween costumes.


  • the Magic Villains Style Castle Show

The Magic Villains Style Castle Show takes place at 10 p.m. It features dancers, projections, and other special effects that are worth seeing!


  • Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular

You can enjoy the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular on the stage in front of the castle 4 times during the party: at 8 p.m., 9:15 p.m., 10:40 p.m., and at midnight. Note that the 8 p.m. show starts on 16th September.


  • HalloWishes show

Happy HalloWishes Fireworks can be seen at 10:15 p.m.


  • Character meet-and-greets

During Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party you can meet and greet some of Disney’s most famous characters like Mickey Mouse, Tinker Bell, Aladdin, Princess Jasmine, Captain Jack Sparrow, Tarzan, Alice, the Queen of Hearts, Ariel, Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Donald and Daisy… and many more!


A few words on costumes

When it comes to costumes, as of 2016, there are new rules and the costume policy has changed. In a nutshell, your costume should be family-friendly and appropriate for the occasion. You can dress as your favorite Disney character but you won’t be allowed to pose for pictures or sign autographs for other party guests. Weapons (or objects resembling weapons) as well as sharp or pointed objects, are prohibited.