- I satisfy my Disney itch by taking my toddler to Disney Springs and keeping our visits cheap.
- A money-saving tip is to pack your own food and start at the Lime Garage entrance.
- Free ones include splash pads, dinosaur excavations, volcanic eruptions, and Lego race cars.
When my family moved to Orlando, Disney World annual passes ($400-$1,300 per person) were out of our budget.
But there are many ways to enjoy magic without spending a fortune.
A shopping, dining, and entertainment district, Disney Springs does not require tickets and is full of free and inexpensive activities for children.
Planning ahead is the first step to saving time and money at Disney properties
My first tip for saving money on Disney activities starts with how you plan and pack for the day.
Bring a reusable water bottle and bagged lunch so you only have to buy fun drinks and snacks.
Also, if you have small children, it is also the time when you want a stroller. Perfect for storing everything or pushing the kids through hordes of tourists.
Start at the Lime Garage and have a drink at The Polite Pig
Lime is the second parking lot from the Disney Springs entrance, so it’s a little farther, but it’s not as crowded as Orange.
I usually get through security and baggage screening smoothly and land just outside the store strip.
We head to Polite Pig Outdoor Bar. My kids drink apple juice, I get an adult drink or mocktail, and I put sunscreen on everyone.
Then you usually head to the splash pad
The Disney Springs Splash Pad is the perfect place for kids to cool off from the Florida sun. A necessary survival tool in the heat.
Shade can be hard to come by at Disney Springs, but we make sure you bring the kids in their bathing suits and go straight to the water.
There are also free activities at the Lego store
Kids can put their engineering skills to the test for free by building a racing car at the LEGO Store. Having hand sanitizer helps as this is a high touch zone.
If you have a budget of $9.95, you can even rearrange the body parts to create 3 cars.
We sometimes window shop for cool sets while we’re in the store, take pictures and add them to our birthday wish list.
No trip to Disney Springs is complete without seeing the Paleo Zone at the T-Rex Cafe.
We love going to T-Rex Cafe, but we don’t like eating out.
Turn right inside the gift shop and enter the Pareo Zone. Here, young children and toddlers can hunt around like paleontologists.
I bring my own beach shovel as the offerings are usually in high demand.
Cross the bridge, play outside the Rainforest Cafe and watch the volcano erupt
The walk from T-Rex Cafe to Rainforest Cafe is really nice, with lots of spots to grab a bite to eat or catch live musicians.
The volcano outside the restaurant roars and erupts every 30 minutes, and the lake below emits a cold fog, always providing perfect relief.
Volcanic eruptions can be seen from anywhere in Disney Springs, but it’s fun to see them up close.
For a few bucks my kids can take a sweet train ride
If you want to spend a little money, you can catch a train nearby. The track is only a few yards and seats eight to ten of hers, but it’s a thrill for little ones.
It always amazes me how much fun you can do with just a $5 ticket.
Freshen up at an uncrowded Starbucks before hitting the water
Starbucks outside of World of Disney are usually much faster than Starbucks in the center.
Once you’ve had your caffeine, head to the Boathouse, turn left, and circle a food truck where kids can eat lunch, play, and run around near the water.
I like to treat my kids to Disney ice cream before getting on the boat
Then, if the kids are feeling good, treat them to Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream and take the complimentary boat to Port Orleans Resort, Old Key West Resort, or Saratoga Springs Resort.
The resort grounds are free to roam, most have playgrounds and you are unlikely to be asked if you want to stay there.
The pool is off-limits without a guest key, but just walking around the resort is fun.
Extend your outing with a nightcap at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Back near the splash pad, it’s easy to catch a bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge, where animals such as giraffes and zebras roam.
There is also a grand staircase my kids love to climb, the Hakuna Matata Playground, and a nightly drum circle.
I don’t know how many nights I stayed just for music and animals. It is free even if you are not staying at the resort.