23 Magical Disneyland Freebies for Budget-Minded Guests
‘Disney’ and ‘free’ aren’t usually two words you hear together in the same sentence, especially at The Happiest Place on Earth. And unfortunately, that happiness doesn’t come cheap. As thrifty families know all too well, from ever-increasing prices across the resort to the sad departure of FastPasses in favor of Disney Genie+, the cost of a Disneyland vacation keeps going up.
Luckily, you don’t have to pay for everything at this Anaheim resort. Budget-minded guests can take advantage of several Disneyland freebies, including complimentary souvenirs, activities, food and services. Read on for how to save with free stuff at Disneyland.
All About Free Stuff at Disneyland: Souvenirs, Activities, Food & More
While some of the fun freebies Disneyland has offered in the past are no longer available, like character letters from Molly the Messenger at California Adventure and *sniff sniff* FastPasses, there are still some things you can enjoy at The Happiest Place on Earth for no cost at all. You know, besides possibly a park ticket.
And no, we aren’t talking about wearing an inappropriate shirt so you can get a free Disney to-shirt like some on TikTok are suggesting. Instead, we say get your money’s worth and squeeze every last drop of complimentary ice water out of Disney that you can.
Wear your celebration buttons with pride – and graciously, but not greedily, accept any other complimentary stuff that might come your way. Use the Disney PhotoPass Photographers like your own personal paparazzi (within reason). And, be sure to check out some of the other Disneyland secrets to get free stuff on our list.
No-Cost Disneyland Souvenirs
While you could certainly spend an arm and a leg on apparel, toys and home décor, you can actually take home quite a few mementos simply by keeping the things you collect throughout your day. That’s why they’re called keepsakes, after all. Plus, if you know where to look and who to ask (you’re welcome), you’ll even find a few secret souvenirs.
Celebration buttons top the list of free things to do at Disney. Why? Because, if you’re lucky, this wearable Disneyland freebie begets more Disneyland freebies – or, at the very least, wishes of congratulations from Cast Members and other guests.
Available at City Hall in Disneyland Park and Guest Services at Disney California Adventure Park, and often merchandise locations across the resort, buttons are on offer for all sorts of celebrations, including birthdays, first trips, anniversaries and honeymoons. A more general “I’m celebrating” version is also available. Best of all, in addition to being a souvenir in and of itself, wearing a celebration button can often snag you special perks, such as free food.
Theme Park Maps, Coasters, Stickers & Other Paper Ephemera
Chances are that you’ll pick up a lot of stuff throughout your Disneyland adventures. Rather than throwing that park map away at the end of the day or leaving that cute, themed coaster back on the table, stash it in your bag to take back with you.
These provide a fun snapshot into your day at the parks, all without eating into your souvenir budget. But, that’s not all. Some Cast Members love to keep stickers on hand. So, don’t hesitate to be friendly and ask if they have any.
Photographs by Your Own Personal Photographer (Sort of)
No matter where you go around the world, one of the best free souvenirs you can get is a picture. After all, a photo is worth a thousand words. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of photo ops or complimentary photographers at The Happiest Place on Earth.
Don’t expect a hard sell at Disneyland from the PhotoPass Photographers. Rather, these friendly Cast Members, along with Character Attendants at meet-and-greets, will be happy to take your picture with your camera for no cost at all.
Jungle Cruise Map
Although this map won’t tell you where Rise of the Resistance or your next meal is, it is a nice way to remember your punny river cruise – oh, the dad jokes – down some of the world’s most remote waterways. Once your voyage is through, simply ask the nearest Cast Member, “Is there still a secret Jungle Cruise map?” Just be aware that maps are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and you may be asked to do something Jungle Cruise-related to earn one.
Autopia Driver’s License
Autopia in Tomorrowland has been around since Disneyland’s opening day in 1955. So, this is one freebie you’ll definitely want to get your hands on. After going on your retro ride down a pint-sized highway, ask a Cast Member for your driver’s license, a regal blue card with Disneyland’s iconic logo and a space for your photo.
Bina’s Guide to the Creatures of Batuu
A complimentary Disneyland activity with a free reward, this Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge scavenger hunt sets guests in search of the wildlife of Black Spire Outpost. Your quest – which is intended for “younglings” under 10 years old but occasionally handed out to adults by lighthearted Cast Members – is laid out in Bina’s Guide to the Creatures of Batuu. Pick up your guide from the Creature Stall. Then, once you’ve completed the clues, make your way back to claim your complimentary prize.
A Drawing Lesson from a Disney Artist
Another attraction that is included in the price of admission is the Animation Academy in Hollywood Land at California Adventure Park. Step-by-step instructions (and supplies) are provided by a Disney Artist, with aspiring animators learning how to draw a popular Disney character. Not only is this an incredibly fun – and funny/challenging – experience, but you also leave with a free personalized memento. Your artwork!
Free-of-Charge Activities & Experiences
In addition to things like rides and shows, which are included in the price of a decidedly-not-free Disneyland ticket, guests can also add an affordable sprinkle of pixie dust to their day (both literally and figuratively) with the help of these free things to do at Disneyland.
A Sprinkle of Pixie Dust
Typically, you could spend as much as a few hundred dollars for a prince or princess makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. But, if you’re looking for a free way to add a little bit of magic to your child’s (or your!) day, pop by this full-service fairytale salon to have a pixie dusting of glitter sprinkled in your hair by one of the Fairy Godmother’s Apprentices. While the salon doesn’t reopen for makeovers until August 25, 2022, you can still get glittered over at the boutique.
Complimentary Lightning Lane Access with Rider Switch
At the cost of $20 per ticket per day (not including Individual Attraction Selections), Disney Genie+ doesn’t come cheap. Luckily, for guests traveling with small children, Lightning Lane access is available for free to one parent or guardian in each family, thanks to the Disneyland Rider Switch Service. Simply tell a Cast Member at any ride with a height requirement that you’d like to do a Parent Swap and receive a pass for Lightning Lane access for one adult in your party, plus up to two guests, for absolutely free.
Visit the Disneyland Hotels or Downtown Disney
You don’t need to pay for a pricey park ticket for a taste of Disney magic. Just head to Downtown Disney District or one of the Disneyland hotels instead. While Downtown Disney offers up an array of shopping and dining possibilities, as well as live music, resorts like the Grand Californian Hotel and Disneyland Hotel are fun places for a meal or simply to walk around and admire the design.
Art of the Craft Resort Tour at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel
Speaking of design, Disneyland has even offered a special guided tour in the past which is dedicated to the Arts & Crafts interiors and architecture, a quintessential Golden State design style, of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. The Art of the Craft Tour runs for approximately an hour and is typically only available a few days a week. Ask a Cast Member at the hotel for the most up-to-date schedule.
Play Disney Parks App
Take your Disneyland vacation to a new, immersive level with the Play Disney Parks app. Available to download for free from both Google Play and the App Store, it’s a fun way to keep you and your crew entertained as you wait in line for rides. This is especially true in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, where the app brings the land to life with hacking abilities, translations, quests and more.
Disneyland Fireworks, No Park Ticket Necessary
Heading to Downtown Disney for a date night with your special someone? Or, perhaps you’re looking to soak up a little park-ticket-free pixie dust after a late flight in. There’s no better way to end your night than with a free showing of the Disneyland fireworks. Make your way to the Esplanade in between Disneyland and California Adventure or atop the Mickey & Friends parking garage to catch the show.
No Admission Fee for Kids Under 3 Years Old
For folks with large families, the cost of all those park tickets can really add up. Fortunately, if you’re traveling with especially small children, they won’t cost you a dime, as kids below the age of 3 are allowed into Disneyland for free.
Complimentary Food & Drink Offerings
As much as we love eating at the many Disneyland restaurants, we don’t love how much Disney dining eats into our travel budget. Luckily, there are a few ways to save some dough during mealtime at The Happiest Place on Earth.
Cups of Ice Water
Though not as hot as Walt Disney World in Central Florida, Anaheim can still get pretty warm during the day, particularly in the summer months. As a result, staying hydrated is incredibly important. While you could just get a swig from one of the drinking fountains, instead, head to a nearby quick-service restaurant and ask for a big ol’ cup of refreshing ice water.
Although you can’t get into Disneyland free on your birthday (that was just for the Year of a Million Dreams), many restaurants will often (but not always) surprise you with a complimentary dessert, complete with a candle, and a rousing birthday song if they know you’re celebrating.
Sourdough Bread from The Bakery Tour
San Francisco is known for its pillowy, crusty and delightfully tangy sourdough bread. And since California Adventure is a love letter to the Golden State, it’s only natural that you can not only sample some of this world-famous bread but also tour a working bakery to see how it’s made. So, swing by if you’re feeling peckish but don’t want to pony up the cash for a snack.
Kids Under 3 Eat for Free
Just like kids under 3 get into Disneyland for free, they can also eat for free, too. Available at the Disneyland buffets, there is no cost for these youngest of Disneyland guests to eat off their parents’ plates. This is a particularly great deal for families heading to a restaurant with Disney character dining, like Goofy’s Kitchen or breakfast at the Plaza Inn or Storyteller’s Café.
But wait, there’s more. Disney wants to make sure that guests are having a magical time with their family and friends. So, you’ll find plenty of thoughtful amenities on offer throughout your visit to The Happiest Place on Earth, whether you’re in the parks or at your hotel.
Disney Character Wake-Up Calls
What better way to start your day than with a wake-up call from the likes of Mickey Mouse? Just talk to a Front Desk Cast Member or press the wake-up call button on your hotel room phone to schedule your time. Please note that you can’t choose which character rouses you from your much-needed sleep and calls must be scheduled daily.
Nobody wants to feel like crud at Disneyland. Luckily, as long as it can be fixed with some over-the-counter pain medications or a few strategically placed Band-Aids, Disney has got you covered – for free. Staffed by nurses, First Aid centers are located near the Baby Care Center in Disneyland and the Chamber of Commerce in California Adventure.
With the ability to plan out virtually your entire vacation from the Disneyland app, having stable Internet access is a necessity. Not only is Wi-Fi free (albeit spotty) inside the theme parks, but you can also get connected to complimentary Wi-Fi at the Disneyland Resort hotels. For the best service, head to one of the free hotspots located across the resort – just look at the Disneyland app for the closest location – or head to a hotel lobby to soak up some A/C while you surf the web.
Next-Day Package Delivery to Your Disneyland Resort Hotel Room
As fun as souvenir shopping can be, it can also be downright annoying to have to lug your treasures around all day long. Rather than schlepping it throughout the parks, ask the Merchandise Cast Member to have it sent back to your Disneyland Resort hotel at no cost to you. Then, the next day, pick it up at your hotel’s on-site merchandise location.
Three to Five Hours of Complimentary Parking at the Hotels
Treating yourself to a meal at Napa Rose, Storytellers Café or Goofy’s Kitchen? Or perhaps an indulgent treatment at Tenaya Stone Spa? You also get to enjoy complimentary valet parking (or self-parking, if you’d rather). Sadly, you won’t be able to park there all day for free. For those heading to Storyteller’s Café or Goofy’s Kitchen, complimentary parking is available for three hours, while guests dining at Napa Rose or going to the spa get two extra hours.
Well, thrifty travelers, that concludes our roundup of the top 23 Disneyland freebies. Is there anything we forgot? Let us know in the comments! Wish you could save even more money? Don’t miss our discount Disneyland tickets.