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Disney World Parking Secrets You Need to Know

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Walt Disney World may be a very large well oiled machine when it comes to circulating tourists
in and out through Orlando International Airport. However, that machine got cleaned out
recently and now a few parts are missing.

Although you can still take a motorcoach to your Disney hotel as you could with Disney’s Magical Express, the trip no longer comes for free and is not even operated by Disney.

In fairness, Disney always sourced Mears to do the transporting, and Mears continues to do that job even if it is for an additional fee.

The added cost of travel to your Walt Disney World Resort may impact your budget and cause you to consider other options.

As you shop around for alternatives you should also keep in mind Walt Disney World parking
costs.

The costs of Disney World parking add up quickly.

If you drive a car to Disney World, there will be a charge for parking at the hotels and the
theme parks.

However, there are also some Disney World parking secrets that you should know.

Disney World Parking
Disney World Expedition Everest

Disney World Parking Cost

Before we get into the Disney World parking secrets that can help you save some money, let’s
look at the Disney World parking cost if you decide to drive to Disney World in a rental car.


Walt Disney World has charges for most places within the resort area. There are certain exceptions, but they are getting fewer and fewer as time goes by.

Once upon a time, you could park at the Disney World Resort Hotels for free. And even the Disney World parking lot charge didn’t have you rolling your eyes in a kind of “I’m not sure I knew about this but I don’t have any choice” kind of way.

To park at the theme parks, you will have to pay at least $25. Preferred parking costs an
additional $15-25 per day.

  • Preferred parking: car or motorcycle – $45-$50 per day (varies by season)
  • Standard parking: car or motorcycle – $25 per day
  • Oversized Vehicle Parking: Shuttle, Limo, Camper Trailer, RV, Bus, or Tractor Trailer – $30 per day

Preferred parking means you are closer to the entrance to the Disney theme park.

For a long time after the reopening of the Disney parks, the trams were not running. This meant that there could often be a very long walk from the parking lot to the entrance.

I have to admit being pretty annoyed about this at the time. Your walk to the entrance could be 15 to 20 minutes. This is not a great way to start the day. It is an even worse way to end the day as you absolutely don’t want a long walk back to your can – sometimes when you could actually see the trams sitting idle in the lot.

Particularly when I have to admit I felt as though I was being treated as a second-class park citizen as I had “only” paid $25 for parking. Hey ,I should probably have paid $50 to save my tired feet!

Anyway, those days appear to be over as now the trams are running again.

Therefore the advantages of Preferred Parking are less than they used to be. However, if your budget really doesn’t mind, then go for it.

The trams are efficient but there is waiting time. So Preferred Parking will always most likely get you into and out of the park faster. Is it worth the $50 charge? Only you can answer that.

Epcot Spaceship Earth
Epcot Spaceship Earth


There is also a charge for oversized vehicles such as RVs and buses.

There is a $30 charge each day. Pricing for preferred pricing varies by season, so you should look up the pricing when you are confirming the dates of your trip to know exactly what to expect to pay.

Disney World Hotel Resort Parking Fees

Gone are the days when you can park at a Disney World Hotel Resort for free.

Even for guests!

I have to say that I can accept that if you aren’t staying there then I can totally accept there should be a fee, even if you are dining at a resort restaurant.

However, and of course, this isn’t just Disney World where this happens, I am not a fan of hotel parking charges for guests. But having said that, the majority of the hotels where I stay charge them, so I just accept and chill out about it.

Disney charges an overnight fee for parking at any of their resort hotels. The Disney World
parking cost varies by tier depending on which level of hotel you book.

Standard Overnight Parking charges per Resort Category:

$15 per night:

  • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort

$20 per night:

  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

$25 per night:

  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s Beach Club Villas
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
  • Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
  • Disney’s Riviera Resort
  • The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

These prices are for standard self-parking.

Valet parking is currently only available for guests with disabilities. The cost is $33. Disney has no current timeline but they plan to slowly reinstate valet parking in their hotels over time.

Finding Your Car in a Walt Disney World Parking Lot

This is something that anyone who has ever been to a Disney World park has more than likely experienced.

You arrive in the morning very keen to get into the parks. You are confident that you will remember exactly where your car is parked in the Disney parking lot.

You know you really should write it down or drop a pin, or whatever some technology solution is.

But you are very confident you will have no problem remembering Simba 5 or Goofy 14.

Epcot Italy Pavilion

You’ve had a great day in the park and you are really tired. You can’t quite remember where your car is but you think you know approximately where it is.

After 30 increasingly fraught minutes looking for your car, when everyone has exactly the same color and make of car from the car rental company, you really wish you had taken a note of where you parked.

There is a solution. Assume you will have so much fun in the Disney World park that there is no way you will remember such a mundane detail as where your car is actually parked.

The My Disney Experience app for Walt Disney World now has a facility for you to mark where your car is. Use it. You will be thankful at the end of the day. Remember to enable Location Services, Bluetooth, and Notifications so that this feature works best and you are not that very tired family in the parking lot really wishing they knew where their car is.

Free Disney World Parking

Yes, it does exist, but not in as many places as it used to!


Walt Disney World parking costs can get out of hand, especially if you try to save money on your
hotel by staying at a non-Disney resort.

One of the secrets to parking at the Disney World theme parks for free is that if you are a registered guest at a Disney hotel, your standard theme park parking is complimentary.

That means you only have to pay your nightly parking fee for the resort tier you’re staying in.

This can potentially save you a lot of money. This is another reason to think about staying in one of the wonderful Walt Disney World Resort Hotels.

Whether or not that saves money vs staying at a cheaper non-Disney resort depends on your specific circumstances, but it’s worth consideration. You do need to factor this in when you are considering where to stay for your Walt Disney World vacation.

Remember staying at a non-Disney hotel may include free parking or other cost-saving benefits besides the
lower room rate.

Where to Park in Walt Disney World for Free

Orlando, USA – March 22, 2009. The sun sets on the World Showcase Lagoon at Epcot Center Theme Park, Walt Disney World Resort.



There are other places in Walt Disney World where there is no charge for parking. Parking at
Disney Springs for example is notorious for its complimentary parking.

I say notorious because if you plan to park there and take free transportation to a theme park, you’ll be waiting around for a while.

The buses only go to the Disney World Resort hotels.

Technically, you can take a bus to Disney’s Contemporary Resort and walk to Magic Kingdom.

Or do the same from Beach Club to EPCOT. Technically you could do that.

Disney Springs also offers valet parking for $20.


Other complimentary parking lots include ESPN Wide World of Sports; the Campsites at Fort
Wilderness, Typhoon Lagoon; and Blizzard Beach.

So you can do this but it is going to mean a lot of time waiting for buses and transfers. You kind of have to factor in whether it is really worth the time taken for the $25 benefit.

Free Disney World Parking Benefits


If you are a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) member, you can park at your resort for free even if
you don’t use your vacation points, as long as you stay at a DVC resort Villa.

Otherwise, if you don’t use points and stay at a resort other than a DVC resort villa, you will have to pay for
parking.


All the hotels themselves are also free to day guests. It’s widely believed that you have to have
a dinner reservation to get free parking at the Disney resorts, but that’s not true.

You can visit any Disney resort during the day free of charge as long as you are there to shop, dine, or engage in the recreation options at the hotel.

One of my favorite things to do is go to Animal Kingdom Lodge to indulge in one of the amazing Animal Kingdom Restaurants. You do need to have a reservation, but the parking will be free.

More Disney World Parking Secrets


Did you know that Walt Disney World has 36 electric car charging stations? Disney Springs has
nine alone! Three Garages each hold three charging stations.

The Disney World parking cost for charging an EV is $0.35 per kilowatt-hour. However, there is a minimum service amount of $1.50.

If you pay with a ChargePoint account, you’ll get a ping when your car is ready. Other
charging ports are located at select parks and resorts.

Magic Kingdom has 5 and EPCOT, Disney Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park each have 4.

In addition, Disney’s Riviera Resort and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge each have 2. Coronado Springs offers
6! All charging stations are available on a first-come-first-serve basis.


Finally, you don’t have to pay more than once per day, even if you leave one park to go to
another park.

Your parking pass is good for all parks for the date you purchase, so all you have to do is show your standard or preferred parking ticket at the parking lot toll booth and you will be able to park without any additional charge.

Want to Know More About Disney World?

The more that you know about Disney World the better your vacation will be. It is the Most Magical Place on Earth but it is so vast and complex now you really do have to do your homework.

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