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

by Leap on January 18, 2021 11 Los Angeles

One of Disney’s best-kept secrets include the free or almost-free things to do at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. 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 (and a few holiday or festival 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 Resort. 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

The 15 Best Free (or Almost Free) Things to Do at Disneyland - Button1. Get a celebration button.

In either park, you can get free buttons from various locations such as the park entrance, information booths, registers in stores, City Hall (there is usually a bin with all the buttons out front) 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.

You can also get buttons for your first visit, or to celebrate other events such as a wedding or anniversary or graduation. 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 character dining locations also provide buttons (and even a free cupcake on your birthday at Goofy's Kitchen).

You might also get a free button on certain days such as Mickey's and Minnie's birthday on Nov. 18. Free buttons may flow for other special events such as movie previews or other special days that pop up (such as Disney+ Day when park guests received free hats and buttons).

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 Disney 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 Lesson

4. Take an art lesson or do free crafts.

If you are in California Adventure visiting the Animation Building, hop into the Animation Academy. 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, Tigger and more Disney can take your artwork with you when you leave (or recycle it if it's not as frame-worthy as you had hoped). In the Sorcerer's Workshop across the way, draw a cartoon, learn how to make it move and take it with you.

During many holiday celebrations or festivals at Disney California Adventure you can do free crafts or compete coloring pages. We have enjoyed doing free crafts at the tables out for Lunar New Year, Food and Wine Festival, Halloween Time and Holiday Time.

5. Get a driver’s license.

When you ride Autopia, you can get 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. We don't always get a license, but when we do we love the free souvenir. Ask the cast member near the elevator if they have any if they are not distributing them.

Free Things to Do at Disneyland - Autopia Driver's License

The 15 Best Free (or Almost Free) Things to Do at Disneyland - Map6. Take a cruise and then pick up a map (temporarily unavailable).

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. Since it is not offered at the moment, a skipper told us how to find it online and print it out ourselves. Hopfully this returns to the parks soon.

7. Store your souvenirs.

If you happen to 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 one 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! I You can also ship your items home from First Order Cargo or Pioneer Mercantile (for a fee).

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 $1. Many machines have recently changed so that the machine provides the penny and the price went from 51 cents to $1 per coin. If you want three souvenir coins for $3 you have to use a credit card. 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 even 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.

When Tad tripped over a curb because his eyes were on his phone instead of the ground, we made a trip to first aid. He got free bandages and an ice pack.

10. Get a free replacement.

Free Things to Do at Disneyland - Balloons Over Sleeping Beauty Castle

The 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 it 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 Genie+, which gives you unlimited PhotoPass downloads for the day, you can also download and share the high-res attraction images through the Disneyland Mobile app. Just type in the photo number from the monitor into the app. 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 (just know that the quality makes it evident that it was sent from outer space!).

12. Get three hours of short-term parking for Downtown Disney.

Parking rates at Downtown Disney have changed. You'll pay $10 for the first hour no matter what, but you can get additional hours for free. You can get an additional three hours of free parking at Downtown Disney if you make a $20 minimum purchase. We like to buy a Disney gift card to get the validation and use it to make purchases we would be making anyway, so it really doesn't cost us anything. 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.

Do not park at Downtown Disney if you are going to character dining or other restaurants at the Disneyland Resort hotels. You can park at the hotel where your meal is located for free. Goofy's Kitchen and Storytellers Cafe allow for three hours of valet parking. Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures gets you five hours of parking.

13. Free PhotoPass photos and Magic Shots for Disney Visa card holders.

If you have a Disney Visa or a Disney ATM card, you can get free PhotoPass photos in two specific locations. Pre-pandemic you got to meet surprise characters and take your photo with them. Since the parks reopened it's been a Magic Shot. There is a location in each park and they have more limited hours. In Disney California Adventure you can locate the spot in Hollywood Land behind Hollywood Lounge (usually mid-morning to early afternoon). At Disneyland, you can find it at Star Wars Launch Bay (in the afternoon to early evening). Bring your card and ID.

14. Get freebies with your Magic Key.

Magic Key holders can collect free buttons, gain access to free PhotoPass downloads with Magic Shots, gain access to free themed photo ops or get other perks for being a passholder. In the Disneyland app, search for "Magic Key Holder Celebration Month" or "Magic Key Program" to find the latest offers. You might even visit a Magic Key corner for exclusive giveaways at holiday events and After Dark parties. Guests got a free valentine at Sweethearts' Nite. You might even get a free magnet or button in the mail!

15. Get free locker rental.

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 the record 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. The good news is that if you really want one, you can print one out online.

Do not attempt to give birth (or lay tadpole eggs) in the park. Years ago, when a baby was accidentally born in the park, there was a rumor that 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, but that does not happen. However, all babies receive free admission before they turn three. Our favorite babies born (well hatched) in the park are the duckings. And they can stay their whole lives if they choose to. Lucky ducks!

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: Ultimate Guide to Downtown Disney at Disneyland

Keep hopping!

Keep hopping, Leap!
View Comments
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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....

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

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

Keep hopping!


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


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.

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

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

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

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!

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!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

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.

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?

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

i like disney world

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

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