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The 15 Best Free (or Almost Free) Things to Do at Disneyland

by Leap on November 1, 2018 11 Los Angeles

Hoppin’ Good News: We’re selling tickets to the Disneyland Resort! Take a look at our discounts on Disneyland tickets, including Park Hoppers for Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. Ribbit!

One of Disney’s best-kept secrets include the free or almost free things to do at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Of course all rides and shows in the parks are included in the cost of admission, but there are some freebies and extra bonuses that any frog can appreciate whether on a budget or not. These year-round items can make your Disney day extra memorable and magical. Our frog squad is known for maximizing time and cost savings so of course we love our freebies!

You may hear a tip or two circulating the Internet about free things at Disneyland. As frog experts on all things Disney, we will debunk these myths and provide you with the facts! We speak from years of experience and from the mouths of actual Disney Cast Members.

Best Free or Almost Free Things to Do at Disneyland

1. Get a celebration button

In either park you can get free buttons from various locations such as the park entrance, information booths, City Hall, and even some food locations. If you are celebrating a birthday, they will personalize it with your name and age. When the tadpoles celebrate their birthdays at Disneyland, the day is made extra special due to that free button. Disney employees and park guests tell them, “Happy birthday!” all day long.

The 15 Best Free (or Almost Free) Things to Do at Disneyland-buttonYou can also get buttons for your first visit or to celebrate other events like a wedding or anniversary, graduation or first visit. There is a general, "I'm Celebrating!" button, too. We have even been surprised with Honorary Citizen buttons! With as much time as we spend in the parks, we really do feel like Disney is our home. Some of the character dining locations also provide buttons and a free dessert on your birthday.

The 15 Best Free (or Almost Free) Things to Do at Disneyland-free sticker2. Find free stickers

Some survey takers in the parks will give tadpoles Mickey Mouse stickers in exchange for your time in answering some quick questions. Street sweepers sometimes carry stickers too, so be sure to be friendly to them and you might get a treat! They seem to love it when guests are showing their Disney spirit through their personal style. We’ve also had Cast Members swoop in to save the day with a sticker if Lily has some tears welling up after a scary ride. It is amazing how powerful a sticker can be!

3. Sample the bread

The Boudin Factory tour in California Adventure gives each guest a free piece of sourdough bread. This comes in handy as a little snack, and the bread you see getting baked as you walk through the bakery is served at Pacific Wharf Café, next door. You can read all about that restaurant and others in the Best Quick Service Restaurants in California Adventure.

Free things to do at Disneyland - Bakery Tour bread sample

Sometimes you can still get a free piece of chocolate at Ghirardelli across the way. It's no longer distributed at the door, but you can sometimes get one inside. It's worth asking about. Just sayin'.

The 15 Best Free (or Almost Free) Things to Do at Disneyland-art lesson4. Take an art lesson

If you are in California Adventure visiting Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome in Animation Academy, hop on over to the Animation Academy next door. You can get an art lesson in sketching Disney characters from a Disney artist. You can keep your artwork (or recycle it). The last time we visited we learned how to draw vintage Minnie Mouse, and we have since learned to draw Winnie the Pooh, Dante from Coco, Goofy and more Disney friends.

5. Get a driver’s license

When you ride Autopia, they’ll give you a free driver’s license, even if you are not tall enough to reach the pedal. After you exit the ride, you have the option of getting a personalized license with your photo for a fee.

The 15 Best Free (or Almost Free) Things to Do at Disneyland-map6. Take a cruise and then pick up a map

This map will actually cost you a ride on the Jungle Cruise and either a jungle animal sound (Ribbit ribbit!) or a jungle joke. But seriously, after your ride, approach the cast member at the desk and ask for a map — it makes a great souvenir.

7. Store your souvenirs

If you happen buy something too big to carry around — ahem, we are thinking of the lightsabers and droids from Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in particular — Disney will hold it for you for free on the day of purchase. Bring your packages and receipts to on of the following locations:

  • Pioneer Mercantile
  • Star Trader
  • Small World Toys
  • Mlle. Antoinette's Parfumerie
  • Port Orleans
  • Elias & Co. in Disney California Adventure
  • Stroller shop in the Esplanade

Just remember to pick it up at the end of the night.

8. Collect pressed pennies

Free things to do at Disneyland - Pressed Penny

Various stores in Disneyland and locations in Downtown Disney have machines that can press a penny into a souvenir keepsake. This is fun for the kids to make and will only cost you 51 cents. Plus it doesn’t take much to carry this tiny keepsake around or take home in a suitcase. You can also get a Pirate Red card from a machine near Pieces of Eight in New Orleans Square or a Shrunken Ned card (good for a laugh) inside the produce stand in Adventureland. Mommy frog has more money saving tips to share as well.

9. Get free medicine

If you feel a headache coming on or have allergy symptoms flaring up, hop into the First Aid centers in the park. Sign in, let them know what’s going on and they may offer you a single dosage of over-the-counter meds to get you back to a zip-a-dee-doo-dah state of mind. Hop tip: Most stores in the parks sell all kinds of medicines from pain relievers to cough syrups. They are usually hidden in a cabinet behind the counter, so if you need more than a quick pick-me-up, just ask a store employee.

10. Get a free replacement

Free things to do at Disneyland - Balloon replacementThe following items are not necessarily free (since they replace an item for which you paid), but they can save you money on a replacement if something goes wrong. If you buy a balloon and it pops or flies away, just bring the broken balloon or weight to a balloon seller and they will replace it for free. Lily was a sad little froglet when she dropped her ice cream, but we told the ice cream shop what happened and they immediately turned her frown upside down with a replacement cone! We did not even have to wait in line. The same goes for broken souvenirs. Tad immediately dropped a souvenir recently and we accidentally ran it over with our stroller. We took to back to the store with the receipt to see how we could fix it. The cast members sprinkled some pixie dust and replaced it.

11. Snap a pic of your ride photos

Many rides, especially thrill rides, take your picture while you ride. The pictures are displayed on monitors for a short time immediately after the ride. If you have MaxPass, which comes with unlimited PhotoPass downloads, you can also download and share the hi-res attraction images through the Disneyland Mobile App. Just type in the photo number from the monitor into the app. If you do not have MaxPass, Disney also allows guests to snap a picture of the image on the screen with their own device. Try that at any other amusement park and you will get a harsh reprimand. After you exit Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters you can use the screens to email yourself the photo souvenir for free. (Although we are not bragging about the poor quality of that photo.)

12. Get free short-term parking for Downtown Disney

You can get three hours of free parking at Downtown Disney if you make a $20 minimum purchase. You can get up to five hours of parking at Downtown Disney from any Downtown Disney table service restaurant. Just be sure to take that ticket with you and get it validated.

13. Build with Legos

Free things to do at Disneyland - LEGO store races

In Downtown Disney, anyone can build with Legos outside and inside the Lego store. You can construct a project and play with it. There are some interactive brick-building stations inside the store as well.

14. Pick up free FASTPASSES

If you are willing to give up 60 to 90 minutes of your time in exchange for saving time later by skipping the lines, you might want to stop by the Disney Vacation Club kiosk (now located near Tortilla Jo’s) at Downtown Disney. If you attend their presentation they will give each member in your group (including kids) free FASTPASSES that you can load on your pass or park ticket. They have videos and toys to entertain the kids while you listen to the presentation.

The 15 Best Free (or Almost Free) Things to Do at Disneyland-Free Ziploc 15. Get free locker rental or Ziploc

At Disney California Adventure you can get up to two free hours of locker rental near Grizzly River Run. It comes in handy if you want to protect your phone or camera from getting soaked on the ride. You can also store something for a short time. Just be sure to remove your items within two hours or a $7 per hour fee will apply after it expires. You can find these somewhat-hidden lockers to the left of the ride entrance and behind the large bear. Speaking of keeping your phone dry on water rides, sometimes you can collect a free Splash Mountain Ziploc bag as you enter the building. It's toadally cute and hopful. We hold onto them and reuse them for future visits. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah!

Mythical and Legendary Freebies at Disneyland

There are some fake stories circulating the Internet about free things to do at Disneyland. Let the frog family set them straight. There is not a free “death certificate” at the Haunted Mansion, and the employees who work this attraction must be tired to death of explaining this to guests. In 2019, the Haunted Mansion turned 50, and some of the merchandise for purchase for this occasion included a Death Certificate, signed by M.T. Tomb. It states, This certifies that you have officially and voluntarily assumed the role of caretaker for a resident and happy haunt from the Haunted Mansion." So if you really want one you can buy one or make one up yourself.

Do not attempt to give birth (or lay tadpole eggs) in the park. Years ago, when a baby was accidentally born in the park the child received a lifetime admission to Disneyland. As word got out, Disney found that women were trying to induce labor in the park just to receive free Disneyland visits for life, so that policy stopped many years ago.

Hopefully you can use this list of free things at Disneyland to make your next trip just a little more special. We always want to know of any new free or inexpensive things to do at Disneyland, so let us know your discoveries too. Share them in comments below! Want to save big bucks on your Disneyland trip? Hop over to our discount Disneyland tickets

Related: Guide to the Disneyland FastPass Service

Related: Ultimate Guide to Downtown Disney at Disneyland

Related: How to Take Disney MaxPass to the Max

Keep hopping!

Keep hopping, Leap!
View Comments
<<  Newer Posts | Older Posts  >>
May 8, 2019 at 12:12 a.m. Chuck Says...

Ive seen the photos of the haunted mansion death certificate. Obviously disney designed, spooky but fun. But discontinued. Probably one on ebay....

Reply
May 8, 2019 at 7:49 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

That sounds so fun, Chuck! What a bummer that they discontinued it :(

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Oct 22, 2016 at 12:10 p.m. Natalie Says...

Hi,

Was just wondering if you get to keep the glasses when eating at Disney restaurants (paris), heard a rumour that an old boss had glasses which she had kept from the restaurants.

Reply
Jun 8, 2016 at 9:18 a.m. Jeslyn Says...

Do we have to show our Passports/ID to get the Birthday button?

Reply
Jul 18, 2016 at 10:56 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jeslyn,

No, you do not. Just let them know you are celebrating your birthday!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Aug 25, 2015 at 4:35 p.m. Kim Says...

Do you know anything about stroller switch passes? When do you ask for them? Do you have to use them right away or can they be used as a sort of fast pass? Heading there in a couple of weeks and we will definitely need to use that service!

Reply
Aug 31, 2015 at 11:21 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Kim,

We have a full post about ride swap at Disneyland that answers your questions. Check it out!

https://www.undercovertourist.com/blog/disneyland-height-requirements/

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Aug 9, 2015 at 3:06 a.m. Emilio Says...

Ask the attendant at the turn style for the mark Twain ride for a chance to pilot the river boat. In the end you get to blow the stream horn of the boat and get a pilots certificate in the end. There is also a log book of all the people that was able to go in the bridge. Make sure you sign in.

Reply
Jun 19, 2015 at 1:15 p.m. Corey Says...

Are the fastpassess issued by the Disney Vacation Club presentation good for several days or only the day of issuance?

Reply
Jun 28, 2017 at 2:02 p.m. brenda.allen Says...

i like disney world

Reply
Jun 22, 2015 at 6:41 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Corey,

They are usually good for a period of time — not just that day. When I asked about them, they were good for at least a few weeks and you don't have to use them all on the same day.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
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