We all agree Disneyland is full of happiness—cheerful characters walking around, zippy rides to go on, fun treats to eat—but we can also agree on another thing: It’s not cheap.
However, we did some investigating to see what free things can be had at the 85-acre theme park.
I know what you’re thinking, the park that can cost families a mortgage payment—or a few—in just a long weekend gives things away for free? Yep! And here’s what we found.
1. Phone Apps
First and foremost, you should use some key Disneyland phone apps to help you organize your big day(s) at the park. They’ll not only help you get around with map apps and show you ride wait times, but they’ll also let you make dinner reservations and give you fun trivia.
If your balloon pops, or if you find a popped one on the ground, go to a balloon vendor and get another one… for free.
3. Go On A Tour
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is BEAUTIFUL, and they provide complimentary tours to the public.
4. Park At Downtown Disney
Parking fees are never fun to shell out for, so when you just need to park for two hours, try Downtown Disney… for free.
If you eat nearby or go see a movie and get a parking validation, you can get another two free hours. Sweet deal! Also, this gives you a good opportunity to go back to your hotel to rest between rides, then just park downtown before and/or afterwards!
Everywhere you go at Disneyland, you see bottled water. But, when you see a concession stand, don’t be swayed by those pricey bottles, no matter how refreshing they may look. Instead, ask for a cup of water and you’ll get one for free.
Toddler tantrums are an all-too-frequent occurrence at Disney parks. The excitement, heat and overstimulation can get to the little ones during a long day of fun. Luckily, there’s almost always a Disney cast member with a pocket full of stickers nearby, ready to swoop in and save the day with some free stickers for distraction.
7. A Snack To Tide You Over
Need a tiny snack to stop hungry tummies from growling? Hit up a few popcorn stands for some samples.
We all know kids’ stomachs are tiny anyway, so this could work until it’s time for lunch or dinner. Similarly, at Disney California Adventure, the Boudin Bread Factory Tour will give you free sourdough samples and Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Shop gives out free chocolate squares. You can even make a game of snack-sampling with your kids.
8. Free Food For Kids Under 3
It’s no secret that food at the parks can really add up, and you don’t exactly want to shell out to buy your 3-year-old a meal he or she will barely eat. What do you do? Hit up Disneyland’s buffet restaurants, like Goofy’s Kitchen, to get a free meal for kids under 3 years of age.
9. Free Photos From (Certain) Rides
If you’re like me, you love those photos they take of you on rides… but not the price. However, certain rides, like Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, let you email the pic… for free. So always ask. You never know!
10. Character Photos
Your child wants a photo with Minnie, or another of the many Disney characters roaming the park, but your wallet is getting a bit thin. Usually, you can just ask the photographer to use your phone to take a photo… for FREE.
11. Souvenir Buttons
If you don’t want to spend a ton on souvenirs, stop by Guest Relations or City Hall and get a Special Occasion Button.
Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary or first visit, there’s bound to be a pin for you. Certain stores also have them on hand, so ask away!
12. Autographed Pictures
A wonderful souvenir from Disneyland is an autographed photo of your all-time favorite character. Once again, it’s amazing what a little asking can get you. All you have to do is send a letter to:
Walt Disney Company
Attn: Fan Mail Department
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Don’t forget to specify which character’s autograph you want!
Photo by Sean MacEntee