Free things to do at Disney Springs for kids and the whole family!
Did you know that Disney Springs is a free destination for the family at Walt Disney World? If you want to save some money or avoid the theme parks, then Disney Springs is a great substitute. Let’s talk about the top things to do at Disney Springs for free!
Disney is Expensive but Disney Springs is FREE!
Disney World is known the world over for its quality, fun, character theming, and COST! A family vacation to Disney is easily one of my favorite destinations but also one of our most expensive.
While I have shared lots of free and money-saving Disney hacks with my readers, I also want to assure you that there is, in fact, free entertainment and pixie dust for those who seek it at Disney Springs!
What is Disney Springs?
Disney Springs is a popular destination for visitors to the Walt Disney World Resort. Formerly known as Downtown Disney, the area has undergone significant changes in recent years, including the addition of new restaurants, shops, and entertainment options.
Now Disney Springs is a haven of luxury shopping, downright sinful foods, world-famous art and culinary skills, and the bizarre. Many of the draws to Disney Springs can leave you broke, but many are completely free to all entrants.
Despite the many opportunities to spend money, there are plenty of free things to do in Disney Springs, plus entry, parking, and strolling are all free.
Parking at Disney Springs, unlike the resorts and themeparks is free. Further, entrance to the sprawling complex is also free. No tickets required!
Free Resort Hopping from Disney Springs
Before we list some of the best free activities at Disney Springs, let’s talk about one of my favorite things to do from Disney Springs for free: Resort Hopping.
If you aren’t staying on site, and you aren’t going to the parks, Disney Springs is a great starting point for resort hopping. All of the Disney resorts are beautiful, and I can easily spend a day or more simply going from resort to resort to explore.
For example, I love to visit the Savannah at Animal Kingdom Lodge. I love to visit the Gingerbread House at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, and I love to eat the beignets at Port Orleans and the French Quarter.
Disney’s Polynesian Resort sells several different flavors of Dole Whip, you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from several monorail resorts, and you can sneak a peak at the Christmas gingerbread carousel at Disney’s Beach Club Resorts.
If you were to drive to each of these resorts, the resort parking fee could be as much as $25.00, and you would miss out on the bus, ferry, or monorail interactions with the wonderful cast members.
So I like to spend time exploring the resorts in addition to enjoying some of the best free activities that Disney Springs has to offer.
Free Activities at Disney Springs!
Let’s explore some of the best free activities that Disney Springs has to offer.
Scavenger hunts, strolls, and more
- Family activities for kids at Guest Services.
If you are looking for free Disney Springs activities for the kids, make your first stop at the Guest Services Booth. Disney Springs is known for holding free seasonal events.
At Christmas take the Christmas Tree Stroll. Complete the map, and receive a prize.
In the Spring, find the hidden eggs or participate in the Kids Club. Dance, learn, jump, and more with the free events for children hosted at Disney Springs.
These interactive scavenger hunts and interactive activities are a great way to spend a day with the kids while seeing every corner of the enormous complex. Daily events can be found by picking up a schedule from Guest Services.
For the current activity, click here.
2. Stroll Along the Waterfront
Disney Springs sits on the shore of Lake Buena Vista, and a leisurely stroll along the waterfront is a great way to take in the views. There are several areas where you can sit and enjoy the scenery, including the Marketplace Dock, the West Side Boardwalk, and the landing at The Boathouse.
Many of these locations even have leisurely sitting areas set up for you and your family to pass some time, have a snack, or let the kids dance!
From these locations, you can watch boats pass by and catch glimpses of the many Disney hotels that line the lake. At night, you might even sneak glimpses of the distant fireworks shows.
Live, Free Entertainment at Disney Springs
3. Enjoy Live Entertainment
Disney Springs is known for its live entertainment, and there are several performances that take place throughout the day. At the Marketplace Stage, you can catch a variety of acts, including singers, dancers, and comedians.
The stage is located near the World of Disney store and is a great spot to rest your feet and take in some entertainment. In addition, the West Side has its own stage, which features live music on select evenings. You can check the schedule on the stage by the Lime Garage.
You can also catch live entertainment in many of the restaurants or catch a performance of the famous Cirque du Soleil.
Explore the Artwork
4. Art, Architecture, and Collectibles
Disney Springs is home to several art galleries that showcase a variety of styles and mediums. The Art of Disney features Disney-inspired artwork and collectibles, while Pop Gallery showcases contemporary and pop art.
The Marketplace Co-Op has rotating exhibits featuring local and up-and-coming artists. In addition, there are several sculptures and other public art pieces scattered throughout the area.
You can even see displays of local artists through the annual Disney Springs Art Walk.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to see the hidden art all around you though. Find hidden Mickeys. Watch as the streets change in theming and style. Count the different types of bridges, the styles of architecture, and even the water features.
Art and special touches are everywhere in Disney Springs.
5. Visit unique stores, shops, and retailers
If you’re looking to do some shopping but don’t want to spend any money, window shopping is a great option. Disney Springs is home to several high-end retailers, including Kate Spade New York, Coach, and Anthropologie.
Even if you’re not interested in purchasing anything, the window displays are often elaborate and entertaining to look at. Many of the Disney Springs retailers are famous around the world or quite unique.
Our family loves to visit the Coke store and enjoy the sweeping views from the top balcony or see what new chocolate creation is at the Ganachery.
Watch the Aerophile Balloon and Amphibious Cars
6. High-Flying and Unique Entertainment.
The Aerophile balloon is a tethered helium balloon that takes guests 400 feet in the air for stunning views of the surrounding area. While riding the balloon comes with a price tag, you can still enjoy watching it ascend and descend from the ground.
My kids love watching the balloon load, ascend, and descend over the throngs of visitors. While the balloon is located near the West Side, it’s hard to miss its colorful design from all over the complex.
After you watch the balloons go up and down a few times, head to the Boathouse where you can watch people take Amphicar (amphibious boat cars) rides around the lake.
These strange boat cars are great fun to watch speed around the complex.
See the Lego Sculptures
7. Don’t miss LEGO!
The Lego Store in Disney Springs is a can’t miss with kids in Disney Springs. It costs nothing to go inside and see all the unique sets and models set up in the store. Plus, your children can enjoy the free play area where they can build their own unique creations or minifigures.
However, Disney Springs is also home to several impressive sculptures made entirely out of Legos. Don’t miss the dragon in the water, life-sized princesses and more.
From a towering Darth Vader to a life-size Buzz Lightyear, these sculptures are sure to impress both kids and adults alike.
Catch a Movie
8. Discount and free movie tickets to escape the heat or the rain in Disney Springs.
The AMC Disney Springs 24 is a movie theater that shows the latest blockbusters. While tickets to the movies do come with a price tag, the theater also hosts discounted screenings of current blockbuster hits.
Buy a matinee ticket before 4, take advantage of the $5.00 snack combo, and be sure to apply your military, student, or senior discount. All of these are easy ways to save some money at Disney Springs.
Plus, this theater has also been known to have special events with free screenings of classic Disney hits on select weekends. Check the theater’s schedule to see if any of your favorite movies are being shown.
Visit the Rainforest or Have a Jurassic Encounter
9. Rainforest dining and Jurassic adventure.
The Rainforest Café is a popular restaurant located near the Marketplace. While dining at the restaurant is not free, you can still visit the attached gift shop and take a look at the animatronic animals that are on display.
The shop is designed to look like a rainforest, complete with lush foliage and a variety of animal sounds.
Or, book a reservation in the T-Rex Restaurant where animatronic dinosaurs loom over your table or greet you at the front door. If you want to skip the price of the meal, head straight to the gift shop or the dinosaur-themed waiting area. You can even find a dinosaur-themed Build-a-Bear inside the restaurant that doesn’t need a reservation.
Sadly my family has never been able to actually eat a meal in T-Rex Restaurant because the animatronic dinosaurs that generally thrill small children terrify my 3 small kiddos.
Take a Selfie
10. Selfie stations: the official and the unofficial
Disney Springs is home to some of the most iconic brands and locations on Instagram. So, what better place to snap a selfie?
Photo bomb the cupcake ATM at Sprinkles, pose with the donut truck at Everglazed, high-five the M&Ms at the M&M store, and more.
Better yet, take a selfie with the dinosaurs at the T-Rex Café or the dragon in the lake. What better place for a photo scavenger hunt, a selfie war, or a family photo shoot with the lake in the background?
And while you are thinking about it, come follow me on Instagram, here.
Have free fun at Disney Springs with just your camera.
Sample for Free
11. Watch for free samples all around Disney Springs.
Want free chocolate samples? Head to Ghiradelli. Hoping to sample that new Coke flavor? See what is available for sample at the Coca-Cola store. Want a free sweet snack? Order a pup cup from the Disney Springs Starbucks.
Lots of the unique and world-renowned brands at Disney Springs offer a taste, a sample, or a smattering of free items to Disney Springs visitors.
While the hope is that they entice you to purchase an item, the restrained, budget-conscious traveler can just enjoy the free fun!
Celebrate the holidays
12. Have the best free fun at Disney Springs during the holiday season with lots of holiday-themed free activities at Disney Springs!
While the Disney theme parks are decorated to the hilt for Christmas, so is Disney Springs. Every nook and cranny of the complex is covered in trees, garland, lights, ornaments, and more.
The entire place is magical and a great family location for seeing Christmas decorations.
Plus, if you visit in the evening, snap a family selfie under the enormous Christmas tree under the snow!
Free Family Fun Activities at Disney Springs
Disney Springs is a great place to add on your list of must-dos for your Walt Disney World Vacation. Or, if you are in Orlando and looking for fun, then park at Disney Springs and enjoy the day. The best part is that you can do it all for free!
If you want to take a break from the lines, skip the park expense, and still experience some of the magic of a Disney vacation, then make your way to Disney Springs!