Welcome to “Thrifty Theme Park Adventures!” As an ardent theme park lover, I understand that fun-filled theme park adventures can sometimes be a strain on your wallet. That’s why I’ve created this column to help you navigate exhilarating theme park lands without burning a hole in your pocket. Each column will unravel a world of budget-friendly secrets, free activities, and smart spending strategies specifically tailored for different theme parks around the globe. Read a new “Thrifty Theme Park Adventures” every other Thursday. The goal is to make every penny count while ensuring your theme park experience is as enchanting and unforgettable as ever. ~ Samantha
Just eleven years after Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom opened to the public, Walt Disney World’s EPCOT became another famed park that would dazzle and entertain guests of all ages.
EPCOT, which is an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, sought to bring culture to the masses through parades, concerts, and, of course, their world-famous dining
It’s tempting to skip EPCOT altogether after spending so much time and money exploring the Magic Kingdom, but there are so many exceptional things to do and see at EPCOT that make it a must. Plus, many of the best things to do at EPCOT are free!
Eating your way through EPCOT may deplete your wallet, so here are a few of the best attractions and activities that won’t cost a thing.
Exploring Global Flavors: Club Cool’s International Soda Sampling
A delicious drink at EPCOT will cost you between $3.50 and $15.00, but there is one place where you can drink for free.
Over in the air-conditioned pavilion at World Celebration is Club Cool, where they make frozen beverages and ice cream floats to help you beat the heat. A refreshing regular Coca-Cola will run you at least $3.99, but you can sample up to eight different sodas from around the world for free.
The soda options include selections from Italy, Korea, Madagascar, and other countries, each with its own distinctive flavor profile that you won’t find anywhere else.
This is the place to go if you want to have something more exciting than plain water, and it won’t cost you a single cent.
Disney Meets the Vikings: The Stave Church Gallery’s Link to Frozen
The Stave Church Gallery is a place where history and mythology collide. Located in World Showcase, this museum dedicated to Norwegian Vikings shows how Norse myths shaped their daily lives.
The attraction is modeled after the medieval wooden stave churches that still stand in Norway, giving an air of authenticity to the experience. You’ll find loads of historical artifacts, religious relics, and other exhibits that show how Vikings lived, as well as the deities they worshipped.
The Stave Church Gallery also brings history to the present with its exhibit that shows how Viking history greatly influenced the costumes, props, and scenery in the Disney animated film Frozen.
EPCOT’s biggest and littlest visitors can all learn something in this one-of-a-kind museum. And, of course, it’s totally free!
Taking Out the Trash in Style: Discover EPCOT’s JAMMitors
At EPCOT, even the cleaning crew can put on a performance.
The aptly-named JAMMitors can be found rocking out at various places throughout EPCOT with a performance reminiscent of the celebrated production STOMP.
These musical janitors use their trash cans and lids to lay down some funky beats that you can’t help but tap your toes to.
The 10-minute show (see Explore More: Videos at the end of the article) is free, making it perfect for music lovers and anyone looking to kick back, relax, and catch some unconventional tunes. The group can usually be found in World Discovery.
A Passport to Fun: The Kidcot Experience for Young EPCOT Visitors
This activity is designed for children who love to collect, create, or both.
Kidcot Fun Stops are located at every international pavilion throughout EPCOT, allowing the littlest visitors a chance to express themselves artistically while collecting Disney memorabilia along the way.
Parents and kids can begin their journey at any of the Kidcot Fun Stop pavilions. A cast member will get you set up with a Ziplock “suitcase” to collect the free traveler’s cards, each with a fact about the country of that pavilion on one side and a picture of Disney characters on the other.
Children are given crayons to color in the Disney characters, and then they’re ready to place the traveler’s card in their suitcase before going to the next international pavilion.
You don’t have to visit all eleven Kidcot Fun Stops, but you’ll get a special postcard from Mickey Mouse if you do.
Kids love coloring and collecting all of the unique traveler’s cards, while parents can rest up before moving on to the next attraction. And it makes the perfect souvenir, especially since it’s completely free.
A Symphony of Cultures: Experiencing Global Tunes at EPCOT
EPCOT hosts concerts at the America Gardens Theatre all year round, giving you and your family a chance to see live music from talented artists hailing from all corners of the world.
With themed concerts like Disney on Broadway and their famed Garden Rocks Concert Series that showcases contemporary rock acts, it may seem like there would be an extra cost to attend a concert at EPCOT.
The great news is there is no additional cost to any concerts or performances at the America Gardens Theatre. It’s all included in the price of admission to EPCOT.
Seats can fill up quickly, so plan ahead to make sure you don’t miss out on your favorite acts!
The Ultimate EPCOT Quest: Following Clues and Thwarting Villains
Join Scrooge McDuck and his plucky nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie on a hunt for the 7 Lost Magic Treasures in the interactive game Disney’s DuckTales World Showcase Adventure.
This scavenger hunt is the successor to the Phineas and Ferb Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure, which left EPCOT in 2020.
Using the Play Disney Parks mobile app, the game will have you following clues and thwarting villains while searching for the missing artifacts hidden in each of the seven country pavilions.
Disney’s DuckTales World Showcase is a great game for kids to play with their siblings, but no rule says adults can’t get in on the action too!
Making a Splash at EPCOT: A Free, Fun Break from the Heat
After walking around in the hot Florida sun, sometimes an ice-cold drink isn’t enough to cool off. That’s why EPCOT offers a complimentary splash pad to beat the heat, located on the main path connecting Future World to World Showcase.
The splash pad shoots gentle streams of water upward throughout the day, so guests can splash water on their faces or get completely drenched.
If you’re traveling with a curious toddler or a child that loves the water, make sure to pack a bathing suit and water shoes so your little one can enjoy this attraction without soaking their walking shoes.
Mark Your Calendar: A New Nighttime Spectacle at EPCOT in Fall 2023
A brand-new firework display to replace Disney Harmonious will be debuting in the Fall of 2023. While the name of this new attraction is being kept hush-hush for now, there are some details Disney has released to the public to get everyone excited.
Guests will gather around the World Showcase Lagoon to view this firework display which promises to use a combination of fireworks, lasers, light, and music to amaze guests. The music will blend both original compositions and classic Disney songs that aim to promote unity.
If you’re an avid EPCOT visitor, you may know already that this show will be the fourth installment in the last four years. While the change-up may raise a few eyebrows, it is definitely still worth saving a spot at the Lagoon to view this upcoming spectacle.
No one takes fireworks as seriously as Disney does, and this new attraction will be sure to be absolutely awe-inspiring.
When most people think of EPCOT, the first thing that comes to mind are the endless options for food and drinks from around the world that you can indulge in.
While the food and drinks at EPCOT are certainly worth spending time and money on, it’s also important to note that EPCOT has some incredible experiences and attractions that won’t cost anything at all.
Save some time between snacking on a German pretzel and delighting in some sugar-dusted beignets, and make sure to check out some of the awesome free attractions at EPCOT during your next visit.
Explore More: Videos
JAMMitors Performance at EPCOT
Explore More: Resources
Feature image – Gene Duncan, Photographer ©Disney