Free Disney stuff is the best, right? If you’re looking to make the most of your magical getaway (and the most of your budget), then these free Disneyland tips and tricks are just for you!
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This is part of our ongoing series Disney on the Cheap. If you’re considering a Disney vacation, make sure you check out the rest of our information!
Get Free Disney Stuff Before You Go!
You can start collecting your free Disney stuff before you even leave your home. In fact, gathering up some of these freebies before you make the trip can help build the anticipation and excitement of your upcoming adventure!
Free Disney Planning DVD
The free planning video that Disney provides includes an overview of the parks, hotels, and shopping district. It will help you prepare for the trip and know what to expect when you arrive. Order your copy here!
Autographed Character Photo
If you send a letter to your favorite character, you could receive an autographed character photo in return! The returned photos vary from 5 x 7 cards to full 8 x 10 photos.
Just send your letter to the following address:
Walt Disney Company
Attn: Fan Mail Department
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank CA 91521
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You can also use this address instead:
Walt Disney World Communications
PO Box 10040
Lake Buena Vista FL 32830
It can sometimes take up to three months to receive your reply, so be sure to request one in advance! This is a fun way to get your children excited for an upcoming Disney trip… or just surprise them for a birthday or holiday.
Free Disneyland Food & Drink
Free Disneyland Cups of Water
It’s important to stay hydrated and bottled beverages can be insanely expensive inside the park. Any counter service restaurant will provide you a free cup of ice water. You can ask for a large cup instead, which is significantly bigger than the tiny normal sized ones.
Free Chocolate from Ghirardelli
Stop by Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Shop in Disneyland’s Pacific Wharf area and you’ll get a free chocolate square!
Free Boudin Sourdough Bread Slices
Right across from Ghirardelli, you’ll find the Boudin Bread Factory. Stop by for a free slice of Boudin sourdough! I love Boudin’s, so this is by far my favorite in this list of free Disney stuff!
Free Desserts on Your Birthday
If you’re celebrating a birthday, be sure to mention it during your reservation! It appears that most table service restaurants will give you a free dessert to celebrate your birthday after your meal.
Free Samples of Crazy Flavors
If you’re hesitant to buy dill pickle flavored popcorn or a Mint Julep drink, then you’re not alone. Food inside the park is pricey and gambling on something crazy can be scary! Many of the food stands that offer these flavors will allow you to try a free sample before you decide to buy.
Free Copies of Official Recipes
If you stop by Disneyland City Hall or California Adventure’s Chamber of Commerce, you can pick up recipes for everything that is cooked inside the park.
Free Disney Souvenirs
Free Disneyland Maps and Flyers
Park maps, time guides, and attraction flyers all make great souvenirs of your trip – and they’re totally free!
Free Jungle Cruise River Maps
When you step off the Jungle Cruise ride, be sure to ask the Cast Members for a map of the attraction. They are free so they often run out, but you can always return to pick one up.
Free Disneyland Celebration Buttons
Stop by City Hall or almost any other store to pick up a Celebration Button. There are special buttons for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and more. It’s been rumored that guests with “1st Visit” buttons can sometimes get freebies or special treatment, but this may or may not be accurate.
Free Animation Academy Artwork
Every 30 minutes, a drawing class occurs at the Animation Academy. Just show up at the Disney Animation Building and learn how to draw your very own Disney characters! You can keep your sketch as a souvenir.
Free Lilly Belle Commemorative Ticket
Make your way to the train station and ask about a ride on the Lilly Belle train car. This specialty caboose was reserved for VIPs and special guests. However, it is sometimes available for the public to use. It can only seat 14 people and it is usually available right after the park opens for a specific number of riders. All riders will receive a free commemorative ticket when they ride the Lilly Belle!
Free Disneyland Stickers
Many cast members have stickers. I read that most janitorial Cast Members have stickers. You can also get a free Senior Wilderness Explorer sticker when you complete tasks at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.
Free Ride Photos
Save money and skip the MaxPass. You can take a photo of your on-ride photos with your cell phone. It won’t be the same quality but it’ll still preserve the memory! Other parks, such as SeaWorld, use face blockers that prevent you from snapping a picture of the picture. Disneyland doesn’t mind, though.
Free Park Newspaper
When you visit California Adventure, pick up a free copy of the park’s newspaper, the Buena Vista Street Bugle. This newspaper is a reminder of what was happening at the park at the time of your visit.
Free Character Autographs
You can collect Character signatures at the Character Experiences. However, I recommend bringing your own autograph book. Books at the park can cost $10 or more!
Disney Gift Cards (With No Value)
My daughter discovered this one! She was enamored with the Moana gift card but I wouldn’t buy one for her. The cast member told her that she could take it as a free souvenir. She said if we weren’t loading money on it, they were free!
Free Disneyland Experiences
In addition to free Disney stuff, we also found some incredible magical experiences you can enjoy for absolutely free!
Sit in the Railroad Train Cab
Ask a Cast Member and you may be able to sit in the Disneyland Railroad train cab! This experience is obviously limited but I have confirmed on several website that this is possible.
Jedi Training for Kids
If your children want to battle a Sith Lord, you will need to enroll them in the Jedi Training Academy. The sign-up booth is located across from the Autopia entrance. It’s available first thing in the morning, and registration fills up fast! Children will get a free certificate for participating.
Honorary Riverboat Captain
Families with a young child may be offered the opportunity to become the honorary riverboat captain of the Mark Twain Riverboat. If you are selected, you will be able to take a trip around the river in the pilot’s quarters and you’ll get a special certificate for helping out!
Watch out for these myths!
Although there are plenty of legitimate freebies that you can get at Disneyland, there are a lot of rumors about fake ones. Despite what you’ve heard, the freebies in this section are just myths.
You cannot get a free death certificate at the Haunted Mansion.
The Haunted Mansion does not and has never distributed free death certificates. Please don’t pester the Cast Members about this!
Your child does not get free lifetime admission to Disneyland if they are born in the park.
This is an urban legend. In 1979, a woman gave birth in Disneyland. Her baby, named Teresa, received a visit from Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy in the hospital. She was presented with an honorary Disneyland birth certificate.
There have been a total of four children born in Disneyland thus far. None of the other three babies born in Disneyland received the same treatment… and none of them, including Teresa, received a free lifetime admission pass.