Disney is a fabulous marketing machine and Disney World is its greatest marketplace. Many rides empty into their very own souvenir shops where high-priced trinkets exploit their themes. There are toys, jewelry and clothing for every character and every taste and they all come with a substantial price tag. You’ll soon be thinking, “Nothing is free at Disney!”
But that’s not true – if you know where to look! Here are 5 great freebies you can find at the parks.
1. Are you celebrating something special – like a birthday, anniversary or even someone’s first trip to Disney World?
Stop by Guest Services at any of the parks to receive a special personalized pin. The fun doesn’t stop there either. Everywhere you go, Cast Members will greet you with “ Happy Birthday Emily!” or “How are you enjoying your first visit, Ryan? We’re so glad you’re here!” This is a great way to make a special occasion even better!
2. Does your toddler need his (or her) first haircut? If so - hold off till you arrive at the Magic Kingdom.
For $14.00, your young son or daughter can get their first ‘big kid’s haircut’ at The Harmony Barbershop near Main Street USA. Disney will make it even more memorable by giving them mouse ears that say “My 1st Haircut” and other fun surprises!
The barbers here are professional stylists who know what they’re doing – but they’re also showmen who have lots of tricks up their sleeves to make little ones feel comfortable and enjoy their special treatment.
The shop is located between the Car Barn and the Emporium – just before Main Street. You’ll recognize it by the red and white striped barber pole out front. Like everything Disney – this is much more than just a hair cut factory. It’s also entertainment and a trip back through time. There are lots of cool antiques like a working Western Electric phone box. It’s also a frequent stop on the tour of the “Dapper Dans” – a real barbershop quartet.
The rest of the gang can get in on the fun while junior is getting trimmed. The barbers also do regular cuts (for men and women), beard and mustache trims, and colored hair gel.
There are no appointments. All services are on a “first come, first served” basis.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week
Costs of Services:
Adult Cut: $17
Child Cut: $14 (12 and under)
Beard & Mustache Trim: $10
Colored Gel: $5
3. Are your kids big fans of Jack Sparrow and the crew of the Black Pearl? Let them join the crew and get an Apprentice Pirate Scroll.
Outside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, Jack and his First Mate recruit new junior pirates throughout the day. If your crewmembers join the fun, they’ll receive commemorative scrolls at the end– signed by Jack Sparrow himself!
4. In the Animal Kingdom, kids can pick up a free “Kids’ Discovery Club Passport” at any of the 6 stations around the park.
Each station has a fun learning activity especially for kids – but don’t forget to get the passport stamped at each station too. If they get all 6 stamps – they’ll get a special bonus.
The locations of the stations are marked on the free Park Map you can pick up as you enter The Animal Kingdom.
5. Does your budding artist dream of becoming a Disney animator? Even if they can’t draw a straight line - they must visit “The Magic of Disney Animation” in Disney’s MGM Studios for a special treat.
This often-overlooked attraction is brimming with Disney fun. The opening live/animation show featuring Mushu (from “Mulan”) is excellent – but that’s just the beginning! Afterwards you can meet the latest Disney characters and experiment with various animation activities.
But don’t miss “The Animation Studios” at the back. This is amazing! You’ll get your own stool and drawing board and a real Disney Animator will walk you – step-by-step - through how to create a Disney character. At the end, you get to sign and keep your drawing.
Note: The studio is small so make sure you get in line early if you want to take part in this activity.
So – who said “There’s nothing free at Disney”? Enjoy!