If you’ve opted to drive to Orlando or are hiring a car during your Walt Disney World vacation, it’s important to get to grips with the parking situation before your trip. Driving on your vacation can offer you more flexibility than relying on Disney buses and transportation, but you’ll want to have a good idea about how parking in the resort works before you head to Orlando. Today we’re going to share our guide to parking in the Disney theme parks and resorts to help you get ready for your next family adventure.
Parking Charges at Walt Disney World
If you haven’t visited Walt Disney World for a few years, you may be surprised to learn that you now have to pay for parking at Disney resorts. These charges vary depending on the category you are staying in and start at $15 for the Value resorts. Moderate resorts will pay $20 a night, and then Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts charge $25 a night. It’s important to keep this in mind when budgeting for your trip, as you don’t want to be surprised by the bill when you arrive. There are a few exceptions to these rules, such as for guests with disabilities, cast members staying as guests, DVC members, or individuals dining at the resort without staying for the night. The campsites at Fort Wilderness also offer free parking for guests.
Heading to the theme parks, if you are staying off-site, you’ll also be charged for parking. The current charges are $25 a day for a car and $45 a day for preferred parking. During the peak season, the preferred parking charge is often raised higher to $50 per day. Shuttles and RVs are also able to park, but they will be subject to a $30 a day charge. This is why so many guests opt to stay at Disney’s resorts, as you’ll enjoy free parking thanks to staying onsite, which can add up after a week-long trip. Once you pay for parking in the morning, you won’t have to pay again if you park hop, but make sure you keep your receipt handy when you change parks.
Things to Know About Parking at the Walt Disney World Theme Parks
Parking at each of the Walt Disney World theme parks opens roughly one hour before the opening time for that park. As of the current time, parking trams are still not running, so this is something to keep in mind if you are traveling with young children. Of course, the earlier you arrive, the easier it will be to park closer to the theme park, saving your legs from walking too far at the start of each day.
We highly recommend that you take a photo on your phone of where you’ve parked your car at the start of the day. You won’t believe how many guests don’t have a clue where they’ve parked at the end of the day, which is the last thing you want after being on your feet for ten hours or more. Also, ensure you don’t leave any valuables in your car when you head out for the day. If you leave anything in the car, you are going to have a long journey back to it, and it’s not something you’ll want to consider when you are having so much fun in the theme parks.
Parking for the Magic Kingdom
All of the other theme parks allow you to park outside their entrance, but the one exception to this is the Magic Kingdom. The Magic Kingdom’s parking lot is located at the Ticket and Transportation Center, and from here, you will choose between the monorail or the ferry to the park. You’ll want to allow time to make this journey at the start of your day if you are arriving at the park for opening time or a breakfast reservation. Remember that the parking lots at Disney are huge, so you’ll want to make sure you add on extra time for this. There’s nothing worse than being in a rush for your breakfast reservation, only to miss it because you didn’t allow enough time to park and then cross to the Magic Kingdom.
In the past week, Disney fans were thrilled to see the reopening of the Epcot monorail loop. If you are park hopping from Magic Kingdom to Epcot, you may find it easier just to leave your car in the same spot and hop on the monorail. At the end of the day, you’ll ride the monorail back to the Ticket and Transportation Center to retrieve your car. This is one of the prettiest rides, as we love entering Epcot this way as you get to ride through the park on your way in.
Parking at the Water Parks and Disney Springs
While only Blizzard Beach is open at this current time, the great thing about visiting the water parks is that parking is free for guests. One thing to note is that they don’t run a parking tram here even during normal operation, but to be honest, the parking lots are a lot smaller for walking across. You can also enjoy playing the Winter Summerland mini golf course here with free parking.
Disney Springs also has no parking fees, which is why it’s so popular with locals and visitors. You’ll find they’ve built multiple new parking lots in recent years, which offer you walkways directly into Disney Springs. If you are ever planning to visit ESPN Wide World of Sports for an event, it offers free parking for guests, as there are no buses from the theme parks to this location the majority of the time.
Who Gets Free Parking at the Disney Theme Parks?
As you can see, the parking charges will certainly add up on a Disney trip, but the good news is that some people are able to get free parking. If you are staying at a Walt Disney World resort, you won’t pay to park in the theme parks. On top of that, annual passholders also enjoy the perk of free parking at the resorts. This is why these passes are so popular with locals, as you will make a huge saving throughout the year with free parking.
If you fancy enjoying an upgraded parking experience on your next trip, valet parking is offered at all of the Deluxe resorts. It costs $33 a day for this service, and it’s important to note that this is not offered for free to DVC members. However, valet parking is provided for free if you have a current handicap license plate or tag. If you have the Tables in Wonderland card and an Advance Dining Reservation for a restaurant in the resort, you’ll also enjoy free valet parking. This will take any of the hassle out of parking before your dining reservation and is a great option if you are in a rush.
Parking costs at Walt Disney World can soon add up on a family vacation, but by staying onsite, you’ll soon find you save a fortune in the process. Driving on a Disney trip offers many advantages, but some guests do find that they prefer just leaving the bus drivers to do the hard work on their trip. Of course, you’ll want to weigh up the pros and cons of driving on a Walt Disney World vacation to decide which is the best option for your family. Whatever you do, make sure you remember where you park each day, as otherwise, you’ll have a long night searching for your car at the end of your day in the parks.