You'll have buy a theme park ticket, but once you do, there are some great attractions and free experiences tucked away in the Disney parks and resorts, just waiting to be discovered. These ideas are perfect for times when the lines are a little too long, or for when the older members of your party want to ride one of the height restricted rides. Here are five of the coolest free things kids can do in Disney World, guaranteed to please:
1. Wake up Tinkerbell: Tink is sleeping — and when the Magic Kingdom opens, some lucky little girl will have the opportunity to wake her up. Head to the "Fairy Treasures" shop located in Fantasy Land, and ask about Tink. If you are too late to wake her up, look for the twinkling lights indicating that fairies are zipping about the shop.
Tip: Missed waking Tink? Pick up a schedule of character greeting times, and meet your favorite fairy in person instead.
2. Capture bad guys with Kim Possible: Kids can explore the countries of the World showcase with special handheld "Kimmunicators," a type of cell phone designed to trigger special effects in each participating country. While this activity is directed at kids, adults can have a blast deciphering the clues as well, so be sure to give it a try. Pick up your mission details at Innoventions before proceeding to World Showcase in Epcot.
3. Take the Animation tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios: While the studio no longer produces animated films, the show and tour is fun and informative — and the animation playground is a hit with kids of all ages. The best part? You can meet and greet Mickey and other characters in air conditioned comfort, and with little or no wait.
4. Get a taste of Africa: Sure, you can see giraffes from your balcony, but one of the nicest features of staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge is the array of free kids activities offered each day. Be sure to pick up a schedule, and stop by the pool for animal and Africa related art and cultural activities. Stop by the fireside each night for storytelling, or join the noisy-but-fun parade through the main lobby each evening. All of the Disney deluxe resorts are wonderful, but the assortment of well thought out activities at the Animal Kingdom Lodge make it a don't miss for kids.
5. Sample soft drinks from around the world: It is tempting to blast right through the center corridor of Epcot, and run for Soarin or Test Track, but if you slow down just a bit you will find an oasis of sweet beverages to sample — for free. Head on over to "Club Cool," located right next to the big fountain at the center of Epcot and try a variety of Coca-Cola offerings from around the world.
Tip: Watch out for "Beverly." This bitter soda from Italy is a little tough on little taste buds.
Traveling with kids? Don't miss line busters — great ideas for passing the time in line.