Updated May 22, 2018
“Free” and “Disneyland” are not often used in the same thought sequence, but you might be surprised at what all you can find at the parks that doesn’t cost a dime.
Take a look at my list and let me know what I have missed.
In this article
Ask for iced water at any counter service restaurant at Disneyland or California Adventure. There are plenty of water fountains throughout the parks, but sometimes a nice cold cup of water is good, too.
Upon entry, go to City Hall for your button of choice. There is usually a variety to choose from. You can also find these at the parking garages, many restaurants and other locations throughout the park. Ask a cast member and he or she will point you in the direction of your closest option.
Then, when you’re home, follow this tutorial to transform your button into a magnet for your refrigerator!
Map of the Jungle Cruise
Maps of the Jungle Cruise route are available upon leaving the attraction. They sometimes run out, but they’re most often in stock. Simply ask a cast member for one when the ride is over. These are not offered out to you after the cruise. You must ask for one.
Take it home to frame it, laminate it, or just put it on your refrigerator.
As in the photo above, where my monsters were preparing to create drawings deserving to be hung in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you can create your own character drawings. Animation Academy is a fun attraction in California Adventure.
I mention it in several posts including What to do When it Rains at Disneyland and What to do When it’s Super Crowded at Disneyland. Talented Disney artists will walk you through how to draw classic characters. Look for the schedule of who you can draw and when just outside the building on Hollywood Blvd.
You’ll leave with the artwork when you’re finished with the class.
Pilot License from the Mark Twain Riverboat
If you’re lucky enough to pilot the Mark Twain Riverboat (tips on how to do that in this post), you’ll leave with a certificate like the one above. Honking the horn is perhaps the most fun part of this experience, but leaving with the certificate is good, too.
See a former Facebook post on my experience. It’s so awesome!
Mardi Gras Beads
Jazz musicians throw out plastic beads – just like the ones you get in New Orleans during Mardi Gras – while performing at the French Market or in the streets of New Orleans Square.
The Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop will delight you in many ways and that starts as you first enter through the door. A cast member is typically there to hand you a sample (as shown above) of the chocolate found in the shop. It will entice you to buy more!
Take a tour of the famous Boudin Bakery and see how their yummy sourdough bread is made. You’ll receive a sample of the bread during the short tour. Upon leaving, you can buy your own bread if you like – shaped like Mickey or other seasonal styles.
We’ve bought turkeys at Thanksgiving and snowmen at Christmas. We’ve seen the Captain America symbol and also characters from Cars. I love this as an easy snack for the entire family. The breads cost around $7 and the Pacific Wharf Cafe (next door) will give you all the butter you want. I often have my kids sit down for a bit and we all share in the carb-filled delight. Great price and the bread is delish!
Stickers are often handed out when kids are in Disney meltdown mode, but you can also request them from cast members. They all vary throughout the park and if the cast member you ask for the sticker doesn’t have one, he or she will refer you to someone who does.
I don’t know what it is about these stickers, but kids LOVE them.
I think it must be like the churro phenomenon in my family:
*Churro at Costco for $1? Not interested. But EVERYONE WANTS ONE AT DISNEYLAND FOR $4 each.
*Sticker outside of the park? Meh. But, inside the park, they become magical. And, unlike churros, they’re free!
I never really considered FASTPASSES when I planned this post, as they’re part of your experience and not something you can really take away from the park. However, so many of you suggested them when I asked about what your favorite freebies were on my Facebook page, so I’m adding them to my list.
Knowing how FASTPASSES work will make all the difference in your visit. Review my post for how to use them, learn about Rider Switch and also find out information attractions that offer Single Rider lines.
Grand Californian Hotel Perks
The Grand boasts many lovely amenities, but here are a few you might not know about:
- The Art of Craft Tour occurs each day at 1pm and lasts about an hour. It covers the architecture of the hotel and unique artifacts that can be found in the lobby and restaurants. This tour is free and open to anyone – staying at the hotel or not. Sign up at the Guest Services desk in the lobby that morning.
- When children color a page for a character at the hotel, the character (or Mickey Mouse if the specific character is not available) will write your child a note thanking him or her. This sometimes happens during your stay and if there’s no time for it, you’ll receive the thank-you in the mail upon returning home.
- The Grand has many other forms of recreation that you can find on the Disney site. Close proximity is not the only perk of staying here.
There are lots of other free items and perks that come along with certain vacation packages from travel agents, from obtaining the Visa Disney card and more. I’ve limited this list to those that are free to all park guests, regardless of how they booked their trip or how they paid for it.
Take a look at this post that details what to do after your Disneyland trip. I’ve included many options for preserving memories, including a tutorial on turning your park maps into coasters. I encourage you to save ticket stubs and such from your experience because Pinterest has a plethora of options similar to the coaster option.
Have you received something free at the parks that I failed to include? Find me on Facebook to let me know or leave me a comment.