Free Cartoon Drawing from the Animation Academy in California Adventure
In California Adventure, you can take a cartoon drawing class in the Animation Academy. Each visitor gets a sheet of paper and a pencil - and drawing lessons for a favorite Disney character. If you make a nice, big one and carry it home safely, it makes a great souvenir to hang on the wall.
Tips for Animation Academy
- If you really want to make a take-home souvenir out of your drawing, bring a tube to roll it up into - even an empty paper towel roll will help.
- Don't make a tiny little drawing on a big sheet of paper. Instead, follow your teacher's lead and fill the same amount of the paper as they do.
You Can Get Free Pins at Disneyland and California Adventure
At City City Hall in Disneyland and the Chamber of Commerce in California Adventure, all you have to do is stroll up and ask for a free button to get one.
Among the buttons you can get are First Time Visitor and Birthday versions. They also have a selection of buttons to celebrate all the stages of married life: engagements, getting married and anniversaries. Or just to celebrate in general.
My favorite is the "honorary citizen" button.
Tips for Disneyland Pins
- You don't have to prove anything to pick up a button. You could be celebrating your January birthday in July and they don't care or check your ID for proof.
- If you wear your pin all day, expect people to comment. Cast Members will always say something, but I've also seen people in a ride queue spontaneously sing "Happy Birthday" to someone wearing a pin.
- If you're celebrating your birthday, you can get more than just a pin. Here's are more ways to celebrate your birthday at Disneyland.
- If you lose your pin, don't fret. Just go get another one.
The pins you see above were photographed a few years ago. Designs change periodically, making it fun to collect a set if you visit often.
Character Autographs Are Free at Disneyland and California Adventure
Character autographs are free. All you have to do is stand in line to get one. Bring something from home for them to sign and you don't have to spend money on a souvenir autograph book, either.
Tips for Character Autographs
- Characters will autograph almost anything - including clothing, as long as you aren't wearing it.
- Some of the characters wear thick, bulky gloves. Bring a chunky pen like a Sharpie to make it easier for them to hold.
- Think of something fun to ask the character to write and you'll get a unique autograph.
- To have more fun when you meet the characters, check out these tips for How to Meet the Disneyland Characters.
Disney Gift Cards Are Free (Kinda)
You will have to give them money to get a gift card, but you're going to spend some anyway and when it's empty, it's a cute souvenir that you could make into a luggage tag.
They start at $15 and if you spend it all (which you probably will), you can keep the card and it cost you nothing.
Tips for Disney Gift Cards
- Gift cards are a great way to keep your kids on budget at Disneyland. Buy one for each of them and when they're empty, they're done.
Get Free Copies of Your Ride Photos at Disneyland and California Adventure
At most theme parks, you have to pay for a copy of your ride photo. If you pull out your phone to take a picture of the screen, you'll be asked not to. At Disneyland, guests can snap a picture of the image preview screen with no hassles.
Check when you exit to see your photos from Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Tower of Terror and other rides. At Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters, you can email a copy of your photo to yourself - or your friends.
Tips for Ride Photos
- Check our Disneyland Ride Guide and California Adventure Ride Guide to find out which rides have photos and where they are taken. An unprepared rider can look pretty goofy if they aren't ready to smile for the camera.
- Take a moment to position your camera so the screen looks square. To do that, you may have to tilt it up or down, or side to side.
- If it looks darker on your screen than it should, tap the screen in a darker spot and see if it lightens up. Too bright? Tap a bright spot instead.
Get a Free Jungle Cruise Map from Disneyland
Jungle Cruise skippers once handed this map out to any guest who asked for it, but now they've gone high tech and you can get it online.
You can see a larger version - and download it for yourself from the Disney Parks Blog.
This One Is a Myth: Haunted Mansion Death Certificate
Quite a few websites mention getting a free death certificate at the Haunted Mansion.
There is not and has never been such a thing, and the employees who work this attraction must be tired to death of explaining this to guests.
Free Chocolate at Ghirardelli in California Adventure
When you visit the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop in Disney California Adventure, they give each guest a free piece of Ghirardelli chocolate. If you walk through the Boudin bread factory, you'll get a free piece of bread.
But don't get too excited yet. They're both just tiny bites. That piece of chocolate is about the size of a quarter.
Free Copy of the Buena Vista Bugle at Starbucks in California Adventure
Look around the seating area at the Starbucks in California Adventure and you'll find the latest copy of the Buena Vista Bugle.
The Winter/Spring edition included features about how the citizens of California Adventure are celebrating the holidays, A Plateful of Perspective by writer Ingelbert Irving, celebrity sightings and a classic Mickey Mouse comic strip.
Free Face Painting and Crafts (Sometimes)
During the Lunar New Year celebration at California Adventure and other events like Dia de Muertos, kids can get their faces painted for free.
Check for seasonal events during your visit and click through to find what is offered and where to find it.
To get maximum enjoyment from the face painting, make it one of your first stops.