Disney
Things to do at Disney without needing a ticket including meeting the characters.

Here Are 12 Things To Do At Disney That Don't Require A Park Ticket

Because Dole Whip is still a must!

Rachel Chapman

There’s always something new and exciting happening at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. For instance, there’s always a limited-time menu item you need to get for Insta or a brand new ride or roller coaster, like the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, you haven’t tried. While there’s a lot to see, eat, and experience in the parks, there are plenty of things to do at Disney without needing a park ticket as well.

Let’s face it, a Disney day is not cheap. While there are ways to have a budget-friendly day at Disney, park tickets start at $104 for Disneyland in California and $109 for Disney World in Florida. If you’d rather save that money for food and shopping, you can have just as much fun at Downtown Disney District, Disney Springs, and one of the resort hotels on property. In fact, you can find some of those Insta-worthy snacks outside of the parks as well. You just have to know where to find them. You could also ride the monorail or Skyliner as you shop around Disney World, which could be just as fun as any ride in the Magic Kingdom.

If you’re looking to have a park-free or budget-friendly Disney day, here are 12 things to do at Disneyland and Disney World, no park ticket required.

01

Do The Dole Whip Challenge

Courtesy of Disney Parks

You don’t need to go to Disneyland or Magic Kingdom to enjoy a classic Dole Whip treat while at Disney. The Swirls on the Water at Disney Springs has a full menu of Dole Whip treats that includes more than just the traditional Dole Whip and float. Challenge your friends to try some of the unique Dole Whip treats like the Habanero Lime Nachos and Sangria Float before ranking your faves.

You can also find Dole Whip treats at Pineapple Lanai in the Disney's Polynesian Village Resort and Tangaroa Terrace Tropical Bar & Grill in Disneyland Hotel.

02

Shop At The World Of Disney

If you’re looking to spend your money on brand new Minnie ears instead of a park ticket, you’ll want to stop by the World of Disney store at either Downtown Disney or Disney Springs. These massive stores have all the latest Disney souvenirs from Loungefly backpacks to spirit jerseys.

03

See The All-New Cirque du Soleil Show

Rachel Chapman

At Disney Springs, there is a brand new Cirque du Soleil show that is a must for Disney fans. The all-new production, Drawn to Life, perfectly interweaves Walt Disney Animation into classic Cirque du Soleil acrobatic stunts. It’s impressive, nostalgic, and has great characters, like a villainous first draft drawing. Tickets are $85 per person.

04

Sail Around On A Car Boat

Instead of hopping onboard the Jungle Cruise, you can ride around the water in a car boat at Disney Springs. This retro Amphicar experience takes you on a 20-minute guided tour of Lake Buena Vista. One ride costs $125 but seats up to four people, so it’s still cheaper than a park ticket.

05

Watch The Fireworks From The Contemporary Resort

Rachel Chapman

Did you know you can watch the fireworks without needing a ticket? There are plenty of free viewing spots to watch the fireworks at both Disneyland and Disney World, but if you want one of the best locations, you’ll want to make reservations at Disney's Contemporary Resort.

The Celebration at the Top: 50th Flavors & Fireworks experience lets you enjoy delicious hors d’oeuvres and drinks as you watch the fireworks over Magic Kingdom. It’s $129 per person, but it’s totally worth it for the shimmering cocktails, stunning views, and tasty desserts.

06

Try Every Cookie From Gideon’s Bakehouse

A must-do for anyone with a sweet tooth at Disney Springs is to stop by Gideon’s Bakehouse for their “almost half pound” cookies. The viral cookies on their menu are so popular that you have to join a virtual queue just to get in line to buy some. However, they’re definitely worth the wait, and you’ll want to not only buy every cookie flavor they have, but their iced coffee drinks and cakes as well.

07

Try A Viral Corn Dog From Downtown Disney

Rachel Chapman

If you follow Lizzo on TikTok, you may have seen when she went to Downtown Disney to try the viral pickle dog. The pickle dog is a panko-breaded, pickle-wrapped hot dog with peanut butter dipping sauce. At the same corn dog cart, you can also find this giant mozzarella stick coated in rice crispy puffs that’s a must for foodies.

08

Ride Around The Magic Kingdom Resort Monorail

If you want to do some shopping while also experiencing a free Disney ride, take the monorail around the Magic Kingdom resorts — the Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian. Each of the resorts has its own shops and dining options you can enjoy.

Once you’re done at one resort, just hop on the monorail to get to the next one. You could even finish off your adventure with some tiki drinks at Trader Sam's Grog Grotto and Tiki Bar at the Polynesian.

09

Find Some Of The Most Insta-Worthy Disney Treats

Rachel Chapman

While many of the Insta-worthy snacks you see on the ‘Gram are exclusive to the parks, there are also a ton of delicious treats available at the many Disney resorts, Disney Springs, and Downtown Disney as well.

You could even make it a foodie adventure day as you find all the Disney menu items on your to-eat list. One spot for food that’s almost too pretty to eat is Amorette's Patisserie, which has Mickey Mouse dome cakes.

10

Grab A Drink From Disney Springs

While drinking around the world at EPCOT is something on your Disney bucket list, a bar crawl around Disney Springs is just as much fun. The restaurants and bars around Disney Springs have tons of cute cocktails and tasty snacks as well.

If you’re picking just one place to grab drinks with your besties, though, you can’t go wrong with Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar. The Indiana Jones-inspired bar inside an airplane hangar is themed just right and has a happy hour every Monday through Friday.

11

Take A Ride On The Skyliner

Rachel Chapman

New to Disney World is the Skyliner system that takes guests from different resort hotels to the theme parks. You can ride around the Skyliner for a free Disney ride along with stunning views of Walt Disney World. Make sure to stop at Disney's Riviera Resort on your Skyliner day to take pictures in front of their gorgeous mosaic murals and grab coffee from the Parisian-inspired Le Petit Café.

12

Have A Princess Brunch With Your Best Friends

Make your weekly brunch tradition more magical by booking the Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures at the Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. This three-course breakfast includes Disney princess encounters for the ‘Gram, and it starts at $125 per person. There’s even rose napkins, sparkling desserts, and a gift you receive at the end of your meal.

The CDC recommends traveling only after you’re fully vaccinated and your vaccine has become fully effective. If you’re not fully vaccinated and must travel, check the CDC guidelines before you book. Check your destination’s vaccination and testing requirements before you depart.