Want to know a secret? There are some fun and free (or almost free) things your kids can do to keep busy and have fun at Walt Disney World in between riding the attractions, watching the shows, and meeting the characters. Here are some of our favorites:
Collect Transportation Cards
Probably one of the best hidden gems at Walt Disney World for kids are the Disney Transportation Cards. As the name implies, these are cards that represent the different modes of transportation at Walt Disney World: busses, boats, and monorails (rumor has it Minnie Vans are now on the cards too!). There is a color picture of the bus/boat/monorail on the front of the card and the back has lots of interesting information about that particular mode of transportation. You can get one (or a handful) by simply asking your bus driver/boat captain/monorail operator if they have any. In our experience, getting these can be hit or miss. Some drivers/captains have a ton, while others don't have any. Keep asking whenever you have the opportunity to use Disney transportation.
TIP: Be on the lookout for Skyliner transportation cards as soon as they open for guests. Cost: FREE. Disney Transportation Cards are a fun and free souvenir to collect on your next WDW vacation.
Play Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is an interactive game that gives guests the opportunity to be Merlin's apprentice and use magic to battle villains in locations throughout the Magic Kingdom. To get started, head over to the Main Street Fire House and a helpful cast member will give you an overview of the game as well as your first pack of cards and a map. You will use the map and the clues to discover portals throughout the different lands of the Magic Kingdom (except Tomorrowland) where you will use the different magic spells on each of your cards. Each card has a Disney character with different magical abilities.
TIP: As repeat Walt Disney World guests, we like to play Sorcerers because we've already done all the main attractions and we like to try different things, but it should be noted that this game can be very time consuming so take that into account if you are a first-time park visitor. TIP: Even if you don't want to play the actual game, these cards are fun to collect and trade with other park guests and make great free souvenirs. Cost: FREE (one pack per paying park guest per day and you will have to scan your MagicBand for your daily pack of cards).
Sorcerer's of the Magic Kingdom is a fun, interactive game for the whole family.
Play A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas
Another fun and interactive activity at Magic Kingdom is A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas. The signup area is at the Crow's Nest, a small orange building located in Adventureland next to Golden Oak Outpost food kiosk. Using your treasure map, you will search throughout Adventureland for hidden locations that you will then touch with either your MagicBand or your talisman and they will come alive. This is a super fun way to explore Adventureland and a relatively quick game to complete. The best part is that after you complete your mission, you will earn a treasure card, which is another rare and free souvenir.
TIP: Check the hours of operation for the game, as they don't coincide with park hours. Bonus TIP: You can get a FREE Pirates of the Caribbean FastPass if you play more than one mission. COST: FREE.
Play Pirate's Adventure in the Magic Kingdom for a chance to get a FREE Pirates of the Caribbean Fastpass. Photo: Disney Parks Blog.
Trade Some Pins
Warning: Pin trading is fun for guests of all ages and can become habit forming! Disney sells pins that celebrate every conceivable character, ride, holiday, special event, movie, food item, and pretty much anything else you could possibly ever want to commemorate in pin form. Pins can be purchased in all four Walt Disney World theme parks, as well as at Disney Springs, ShopDisney online, and in the Walt Disney World Resort hotels. It's not advisable to order them from third-party sellers on Amazon or Ebay because you might not be getting authentic Disney pins. Once you have some pins, you can put them on a lanyard or in a trading binder and keep them with you when you want to trade. Trading can be done at any of the WDW parks, resort hotels, or Disney Springs with any cast member and/or other willing guest.
Cost: Authentic Disney trading pins start around $10 but can vary in price depending on exclusivity (e.g., some pins are only sold at special events like holiday parties, so they cost more).
Trading pins can be fun, but also costly! Photo: Lisa Rufle
Use the Play Disney Parks app
At Walt Disney World, one thing is practically guaranteed: You will be waiting in lines. But now you can minimize the breakdowns, tantrums, and boredom by downloading the Disney Play app to your smartphone (iPhone and Android supported phones). Filled with Disney trivia, music, games, and more, you can earn achievements for riding attractions. The app is compatible for playing games and doing activities in all four Walt Disney World theme parks, Art of Animation Resort, and both Disneyland theme parks in California.
TIP: Looks like when Star Wars: Galaxy Edge opens, there will be a lot of "enhanced adventures" available via this app. Cost: FREE (but, much in traditional Disney fashion, they will offer you the chance to purchase an exclusive pin after unlocking specific achievements).
The Disney Play app is full of interactive games and activities to play while you are at the parks. Photo: Disney Parks Blog.
Do a Seasonal/Festival scavenger hunt at Epcot
Epcot probably knows they have a reputation for being the least kid-friendly park at Walt Disney World, and they have created a genius way to keep young guests interested in things beyond Future World: Scavenger Hunts. There are seasonal and holiday inspired scavenger hunts (Easter, Christmas), as well as scavenger hunts that coincide with the different ongoing Epcot festivals (Festival of the Arts, Flower & Garden Festival, Food & Wine Festival, and Festival of the Holidays). To play, guests purchase a kit that contains a map and some themed stickers, and then follow the clues to find the different objects/characters on the map. Upon completion you can redeem your map for a prize.
Cost: Under $10 (but it really is priceless because it provides adults with a chance to explore World Showcase with minimal choruses of "I'm bored").
Seasonal and Holiday scavenger hunts make Epcot fun for kids.
Collect Disney Safety Cards
Similar to Disney Transportation Cards, Disney Safety Cards are an extension of Disney's Wild About Safety website, and use The Lion King's Timon and Pumbaa to remind guests to stay safe at Walt Disney World. Safety card topics include staying seating in your ride vehicle, wearing sunscreen, staying hydrated, and washing your hands. In our experience, these are much harder to find than the transportation cards. As a matter of fact, we only learned about these on a whim from a security guard in Disney Springs who saw my son with the Transportation Cards. Keep asking different cast members (including security guards) if they have any or if they can point you in the right direction. They are worth collecting because a few of them are now scratch and sniff!
Cost: FREE (if you can find a cast member with them).
Disney safety cards are fun to collect and remind kids how to stay safe in the parks. Photo: Disney
What are some of your family's favorite under-the-radar, low cost things to do at Walt Disney World?
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