TMSM Explains: Free Things to Do and Money Saving Ideas For Walt Disney World Part 3
Whenever people ask about how to “Save Money At Disney” in the Nation we see the same answers pop up a lot. Answers like “Ask for a free cup of ice water instead of buying bottled water.” “Ask PhotoPass Photographers to take a picture with your camera.” and “Check out Kidcots, the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game, and Wilderness Explorers because they are free with your admission.” On this week’s TMSM Explains we want to share the second part of a few unique free or money saving ideas. Over the last two weeks we shared the first two parts of this rather long list, so if you missed them feel free to go back and read them here and here. Also this week we want to share a few Disney Cruise Line tips with you too!!
- If you are flying, and are worried you will have luggage that is overweight on the flight home you have a few options. The first is pack an empty carry-on bag in your checked luggage; this way if you need it you have it. The next is to pack a flat-rate priority box, a pre-paid flat rate label and a roll of packing tape in your luggage, this way if you go over in weight you can just mail stuff home.
- Use Disney’s shipping option when picking up items for friends that ask you to find them a specific item. It isn’t uncommon for me to have friends ask me to “pick up a such and such” for them while we are in the parks. I use to schlep everything home, hoping it didn’t get damaged in my luggage, and then mailed it from the house. Over the last year or so I had a revelation. It was just as much to ship straight from the parks as it was from home, BUT shipping from the parks I no longer had the additional weight in my luggage and Disney would replace anything damaged in the mail without a hassle. So now, I just snap a picture of the final price with shipping, fill out the shipping form to send the item to my friend’s house directly, and they PayPal me the amount I spent.
- When pin trading avoid those “cheap bulk pin lots.” Yes, they are less expensive than buying pin new pins in the parks, but the majority of those lots are full of cheap scrapper pins. And while you may not care about giving away fake pins, people who trade good pins for them will care. Remember, saving a buck isn’t worth becoming a topic in a TMSM “Don’t Be That Guy” article.
- Pay attention to your room charges during your trip, and keep an eye on charges that appear on your credit card or bank account after your trip. As horrible as it is to think about, not everyone at Walt Disney World or in the Orlando area is truly as magical as you want them to be. Credit Cards can be skimmed, and you want to avoid bank fees and surprise charges by paying attention to your statements.
- Believe it or not, there is such a thing as free soda at Walt Disney World. Well ok, there are free samples at Club Cool in Epcot, but still this is a fun and free way to try something new.
- Take a free art class. While we all know that the Hollywood Studios art classes are now closed, many don’t realize that Disney’s Art of Animation Resort offered the same thing every day. These free drawing classes open to any Walt Disney World resort hotel guest at 11am, 2pm, and 5pm, but their availability is subject to change so ask your resort’s concierge desk to confirm the class is available the day you are planning on going.
- Check out the Disney resorts, and their resort guest activities. Many don’t realize that the list of activities goes well past the nightly free movie near the pool. Some resorts have marshmallow roasts, and others like Animal Kingdom Lodge have educational activities.
- Take a tour of Disney’s complimentary resort transportation, and ask about transportation trading cards. Many of the drivers, captains and pilots for Disney’s Transportation group carry transportation trading cards. These free cards provide information about the bus, train, monorail or boat you are riding. Just remember when asking that they have a limited supply, and to show respect for your fellow riders. If the line to board is long, ask when you get to your final destination and remember to use your magical “Please” and “Thank You” words.
- Collect “Free Souvenirs” games like Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasure of the Seven Seas Game at Magic Kingdom actually give you cards or maps you need to play the game. But once you are done playing they become fun free souvenirs. Yes, we know we said this one pops up a lot, but honestly it seems like a lot of people forget about it!
- If you have on of the newer “RFID” Refillable Mugs, take it with you. You can pay to reactivate it. While there isn’t a huge savings in doing this, you are helping cut back on your kitchen cabinet clutter.
- Hold onto your wigs, because I may just blow them away with this… Seriously consider buying Disney’s Travel Insurance. This option is $77.50 per adult, and automatically covers all minors in your party. Disney Vacation Club Members save even more thanks to a new member perk. DVC Members can get travel insurance for a full use-year of protection for $89 per adult.
Why get travel insurance? Jo-Ann Moss of Vibrant Cruises says it best “Purchasing travel insurance is one of the smartest things a traveler can do. Not only does it cover medical incidents while traveling, a good company will cover trip cancellation due to employment termination, corporate merger, jury duty, military duty, court order, even needing to stay home to witness a birth. Though many travelers feel they’re covered with their regular health insurance, life is uncertain and cancellations are sometimes necessary for reasons beyond health concerns.”
Currently the option Walt Disney World guests have when buying travel insurance directly through Disney is Travelex. Travelex covers trip delay, cancellation and interruption. It also covers baggage delay and personal effects, emergency medical and dental expense, emergency evacuation and repatriation, rental car damage, 24-hour accidental death and dismemberment, and travel assistance.
- Check out free tours offered to Disney Resort guests at various resorts. Ask your resort concierge desk for tour times and meet up locations as these tours can be cancelled as needed.
- Wonders of the Lodge Art and Architecture Tour at Wilderness Lodge. This hour-long tour highlights the theme and architecture of the lodge. It also teaches guests about the artifacts and art throughout the lobby.
- The Blessing of the Four Directions is another tour held at Wilderness Lodge in November. November is Native American Heritage Month and to celebrate this the Lodge has interpreters James Hansen (Black Wolf) and Anita Hansen (Quick Silver) come in and perform a ceremony intended to drive out negative energy and purify the resort for coming year.
- Guests have a choice of two culinary tours at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. “The Behind the Scenes Culinary Tours at Jiko and Boma” and the “Sanaa Cultural Tour” are lead by African “Cultural Representatives” through the two locations. The guides answer questions, point out Hidden Mickeys and more.
- Over at the Art of Animation resort guests can take part in the “All Around the Art of Animation” one-hour walking tour which starts daily in the lobby and walks guests through behind-the-scenes details about the planning, design, and creation of the Art of Animation resorts.
- The Boardwalk Ballyhoo tour is held on select days at the Boardwalk Resort. Guests meet at the Belle Vue Lounge and take a 45-minute long guided walking tour through the resorts art, artifacts, and architecture.
- Scavenger hunts. Some resorts offer their guests a special scavenger hunt; Pop Century Resort is one of these locations. Guests of Pop Century can ask the front desk for a free scavenger hunt map that takes them through the resort to find select statues and icons. If your resort doesn’t offer a scavenger hunt, there is always Ingress, which as we mentioned a few months ago on “TMSM Explains” can be played at the resorts and in the parks.
Here are those Disney Cruise Line Tips we mentioned!
- Take your own beer or wine. Remember you are limited to what you can take onboard with you, and can only drink these items in your cabin, but it will still help with your bar tab!
- Pre-book your Rainforest Day Spa pass through Disney Cruise Line’s gift site. The Day Spa is wonderful, and well worth the pre-purchase discount price of $16 per adult. (I highly recommend going on a in port day as the ship is quieter on those days.)
- Before you book, sit and think about the type of room you want. If you know you won’t be in the cabin much, consider booking the inside stateroom over the room with verandah.
- While many say “shop around for excursions” I personally am not a fan of this idea. Disney will hold the ship if a bus full of guests on a Disney contracted excursion are running late, but there is no guarantee they will for outside booked groups.
- Take advantage of free and low costs activities near the port. In Alaska we discovered the National Parks locations that were in walking distance of the ship. In one city they were free, in another it cost less than $10 per adult and we learned good deal about the history and culture of the area. I also became a Three-peat Alaskan Junior Park Ranger by completing free activities they offered.