Nancy's Monthly Magic, Episode 2

Every month, we invite Nancy Bobby of The Affordable Mouse to enter Disney Dispatch Manor and enlighten the masses with some affordable Disney World tips. Nancy's current batch of tips are about what you can do at Disney World ... for free!

Greetings, Disney Dispatch friends!

I'm so happy to be back again this month with another round-up of great affordable ideas for your vacation to Walt Disney World. Everyone wants to know how to save money on their Disney vacation, but one thing I also like to consider is getting the most for my money. I am always on the lookout for fun, interesting, new, hidden, or surprising things about Disney World that add value to my trip without increasing the cost.

So this month, I'm sharing five of my favorite - and free - things to do at Disney World.

You may be aware of these freebies, but as you sprinted to Soarin' or to Space Mountain, you may not ever have stopped to actually do any of them. On your next trip, stop and check them out: I bet you'll be glad you did!

Living with the Land

Let's start in Epcot, over in the Land pavilion, where you'll find Soarin', arguably the most popular attraction at Walt Disney World. This is THE ride to do when you're at Epcot, and along with Mission: SPACE and Test Track, it's probably on the list of 'must-dos' for just about everyone who walks past that giant golf-ball on legs. (Come on, you know you have described Spaceship Earth just like that before, admit it!) But in the Land pavilion you'll also find another ride, a true hidden gem, well worth checking out.

Living with the Land will be a fascinating ride for anyone who enjoys gardening, plants, science, eating - that's pretty much everyone, isn't it?

Have you ever seen a pumpkin shaped like Mickey ears? Or plants growing vertically, without the benefit of soil? What about a fish farm? Would you like to know how to grow tomatoes that you'd actually like to eat?

This 14 minute boat ride will show you all of these things and much more. Just having the chance to see the fish farm and alligators is worth it. Oh, and you may also see your next Epcot dinner in there: the Land's greenhouses and fish farm supply a good portion of the food for many Epcot restaurants.

Kim Possible Adventure

Also in Epcot is an experience that my family and I literally stumbled upon during our last Disney vacation. If you have ever wanted to 'save the world', here is your chance.

The Kim Possible Adventure in Epcot's World Showcase is free, fun, and yes, educational, but your children don't need to know that last part. Offered in seven of the World Showcase countries, this experience allows you and your group to use a special 'Kimmunicator' (which looks like a cell phone, but it's not - it's a Kimmunicator), and follow instructions that, if done correctly, will make you all heroes as you save the world.

Think high-tech scavenger hunt. But the really cool thing is that as you go about your mission, you are reading and learning. And it's way fun. What a surprise! Not just for little kids, Kim Possible is a great way to spend an afternoon.

American Idol Experience

Now let's wander over to Disney's Hollywood Studios where, I assure you, there's more fun to be had beyond Tower of Terror, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.

Whether you follow the television show American Idol, or even if you've never seen it, take the time to visit The American Idol Experience. During this 25 minute show, you will have the chance to watch and listen to three actual Park guests sing their hearts out for the chance to audition for the real show.

Are there lots of corny jokes? Are the judges painful caricatures of those on the 'real' American Idol? Sure, but that's part of the fun! What you will also find is some true talent from real people who walked through the gates earlier that day just like you did: real moms and dads on vacation with their families, real teenagers who decided to audition on a dare and made it, real Park guests. Who can sing! And the best part may be their families in the audience cheering like crazy for their loved ones.

Go. Listen. Cheer with the families. It will make you feel good.

Ferry Boats

Most people who visit Disney World find the monorail a fun way to get around, and there are tons of kids who think the monorail is actually a Disney attraction. (Oh, wait, you mean it isn't?) But another fun, free, and frankly very relaxing way to navigate certain parts of Disney World is the ferry boat system.

If you have never taken a ferry boat ride from the Magic Kingdom to (or from) the Transportation and Ticket Center, I encourage you to give it a try. It's a great way to ride across Bay Lake, enjoying the breeze and the scenery. There's also some history involved, and it's the perfect chance for your kids to see how folks used to get up and down the rivers (there's that learning thing again!).

To ride the ferry, you may have to go out of your way a bit, but take the time in your trip to feel like Mark Twain for a few minutes: you may be surprised how much you all enjoy it!

Look Down, Look Up

My last fun freebie today isn't an attraction, ride, or show; it's a piece of advice I was given by a Cast Member on our most recent Disney trip. When talking about the amazing details and designs that are everywhere at Walt Disney World, he said most people miss the best ones because they are frantically running from one ride to the next. His advice, which I really took to heart, was to always look down and look up to see the most interesting things of all - and when I did, what interesting things I discovered!

Try it next time you are at Disney World, and make a game with your family to see who finds the biggest surprise!

See You Next Month!

So there you go, friends, some of my favorite ways to add value to your next Disney vacation. Not a single one of them will add one penny to the cost of your trip, but what you will receive by experiencing them is, in the words of the commercial ... priceless.

Loving Walt Disney World but hating to spend a fortune on feeding her obsession, Nancy Bobby started her site, The Affordable Mouse, as a way to share information, ideas, tips, and suggestions about how to plan affordable Disney vacations. Her fondest wish is to move near the 'World'. Until then, she pretends that she is there by telling random people she meets to "Have a magical day".

Don't stop there! More Features Await...

Stuff Not to Skip

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