8 Free Ways to Experience the Magic of Disney From Your Home
Thanks to the House of Mouse, these fun activities will keep the whole family entertained.
As the pandemic shuttered businesses and forced everyone to stay home, Disney devotees were crushed to see their beloved House of Mouse close its doors. Thankfully, after nearly two months, the theme parks are slowly reopening, starting with Shanghai Disneyland and the Disney Springs entertainment district at Disney World in Orlando. But because social distancing and sheltering in place is still recommended, many families and fans will still have to miss out on their Disney adventure. This is why Disney has decided to bring the magic of Mickey and all of his happy pals straight to your home through a host of hands-on virtual activities, recipes, and games. Best of all, these special experiences are completely free. And for a sneak peek of how Disney might change in the future, check out the 8 Major Ways Disney World Will Look Different After Coronavirus.
Take a virtual spin on your favorite rides.
Strap on a virtual seatbelt to try out Disney's most popular rides from the comfort of your couch. Experience hairpin turns and stomach-lurching drops on Disneyland's Incredicoaster (keep an eye out for 19 different Jack Jacks). Rumble down the tracks of Magic Kingdom's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad through a recreation of Arizona's Monument Valley. On Hollywood Studio's Slinky Dog Dash, it feels like you can reach out and grab Slink's ears as you whiz by all of Andy's toys that line the rails of the Toy Story-inspired coaster. You can even try out Disney's newest attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, without having to commit to a multi-hour line. One warning: The nearly three-minute virtual "It's a Small World" ride will have you humming the earworm song for the rest of the week!
Become a Disney Imagineer from your couch.
Don't just watch the Disney rides on screen, learn how to create an attraction and an entire theme park with the free "Imagineering in a Box" course. The interactive lessons focus on everything in Imagineering, the creative forces behind the parks, from developing fictional lands and crafting a storyline to designing ride prototypes and creating characters. If you're an aspiring animator, try the Pixar in a Box course, which delves deep into the science behind crafting hyper-realistic computer animation and effects.
Learn how to draw from Disney animators.
You can also put pencil to paper with illustration instructions from top animators. For princesses and all things Frozen, including Anna, Elsa, and Olaf, try out the Draw with Disney Animation videos. Or go to infinity and beyond with Draw with Pixar video lessons that will teach you how to make Toy Story's Buzz Lightyear and Mater from Cars, among other figures. And for more fun ideas, check out how This Family Recreated a Disney Trip at Home During the Quarantine.
Cook classic Disney snacks.
Disney is usually pretty tight-lipped about its secret recipes. But, while most of the parks are on hiatus, the House of Mouse has shared DIY instructions for its most iconic treats. (Though after diving into these decadent dishes, you may need to take a few laps around your living room to walk it off.) A few of our favorites include the Prime Time Café PB&J Shake from Hollywood Studios, Epcot's Cheddar Cheese Soup from Canada's Le Cellier, and The Grey Stuff cookies, from the Beauty and the Beast-themed Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom.
Read Disney's limited release e-books.
Book lovers take note: During the stay-at-home order, Disney has been offering limited releases of new books. Although the window to download them is usually about two weeks, you get to keep the tomes forever and read them as many times as you like. Two recent options—Marvel's Black Widow: Forever Red and Queen's Shadow, a Star Wars novel— are particularly exciting. Keep an eye on this page for the latest releases. Then, check out the 7 Things You Won't See at Disney World Ever Again After Coronavirus to discover what might be missing during your next trip to Disney.
Go behind the scenes at Walt Disney World.
Disney doesn't like to reveal how the magic is made, which is why access to its creative headquarters is strictly monitored. And even The Imagineering Story TV series is on the pay-for-play Disney+ streaming platform. But you don't need to know someone or subscribe to see behind the scenes anymore. During quarantine, the Walt Disney Imagineering team has been sharing video tours of their campus, showing some insider areas of the department headquarters, including the Model Shop, Art Library, Research & Development, John Hench Hallways, the DISH, Studio C, and the Sculpture Studio.
Download Disney coloring sheets and games.
When you're stuck inside, playing games is a great way to pass the time. Using your mobile device, you can test your trivia knowledge with the Play Disney Parks app, or for more kid-friendly options, head to the Disney store's Magic Moments section. Here, you'll find printable coloring pages with Winnie the Pooh, Aladdin, and even Baby Yoda, as well as downloadable games such as Star Wars bingo. May the force be with you, and enjoy the free bounty of the universe! For some magical Disney facts, check out 30 Disney Facts That Will Give You a Childlike Sense of Wonder.
Tell your kids a Disney bedtime story.
In April, Disney released a toll-free "Bedtime Hotline," where little ones could dial in to hear a special message from Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, or Goofy. Although that experience is no longer available, there are three online bedtime stories you can download and read to your children. Dreams really do come true!