Parking at Disney World is one of the most essential things you’ll need to plan for when traveling with a vehicle. And I’m talking parking at the Disney World Resorts, Disney Parks, preferred parking, handicap parking, paid parking, free parking, and more!
That’s a lot of parking. If you aren’t careful, those parking costs can add up. So it’s crucial to consider parking costs and plan your days accordingly.
This review will cover parking at Disney World. We’ll look at parking at the resorts, theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs.
Additionally, I’ll provide you with a few tips to maximize your vacation.
This article was updated on January 10, 2023.
Disney World Resorts Parking Charges
If you’ve read any of my reviews, you know I’m not a fan of paying to park or resort fees. Thankfully, Disney doesn’t charge resort fees yet.
a few years back, Disney began charging parking fees at their resorts. Those parking fees are as follows: Value Resort Parking: $15.00 per night Moderate Resort Parking: $20.00 per night Deluxe Resort Parking: $25.00 per night
Per Walt Disney World:
“Beginning this evening, Jan. 10, overnight self-parking will again be offered complimentary to guests staying at Disney Resort hotels at Walt Disney World. This is a Disney difference many of you have asked us to bring back, and we’re happy to reintroduce it to make your vacation a little easier and more affordable – whether you’re road-tripping across the country, renting a car or vacationing as a local Florida resident. As a reminder, Disney Resort hotel guests also continue to receive complimentary standard parking at Walt Disney World theme parks, daily early theme park entry (with valid admission and a park reservation), and complimentary on-site transportation options such as buses, monorails, and Disney Skyliner.”
Valet parking usually is available at the resorts for $33.00 per night. Disney recently announced that valet parking would return over the upcoming summer months.
Valet service is available for guests with disabilities who require parking assistance. Additionally, accessible parking is available for guests with a valid disability parking permit.
Additionally, it’s evident if you are using your magic band or the phone app to open the self-service gate when you come and go. That’s a pretty good indicator you have a personal vehicle or rental.
If you have your car with you, Disney quickly reminds you that they offer complimentary standard parking at their theme parks for resort guests. But let’s face it, you are paying for parking.
You just aren’t paying for parking twice. So it’s not necessarily free.
While there aren’t many ways to get around parking charges at the resort, I do have a tip for hotel guests of the deluxe Disney World Resorts. If you have been out shopping or picking up groceries and arrive back at the hotel in the pouring rain, use valet.
Valet parking is only $8.00 extra for one day and is well worth your time to unload your packages in the breezeway. Remember to retrieve the car from valet parking by the following day. (And make sure it’s noted on your ticket.)
Disney Vacation Club members are not charged for standard self-parking when staying at one of the deluxe villa resorts. However, if you are staying at a non-villa resort and not using DVC points, you are charged for parking like everyone else.
In addition, per Disney, day guests visiting a Walt Disney World Resort hotel can enjoy complimentary parking for dining, shopping, and recreation.
So, this is what the Disney website states, but I want to throw out a big red flag here. You will likely need some dining reservation or scheduled recreation to park at a resort under most circumstances.
I know because I often park at the resorts and can tell you now that you will have difficulty parking without a reservation. Now and then, I’ll have someone who lets me park (usually in the DVC lots). But most of the time, I have to find an alternative without a reservation.
For me, that’s no big deal because I am an annual passholder. Annual passholders can park for free in the theme park parking lots. However, we are still subject to daily parking fees at the resorts like any other Disney Resort guest.
Now that we’ve covered parking at the resorts, let’s look at the theme parks.
Disney World Theme Parks Parking
Daily parking fees for all four of the Disney parks are as follows:
- Preferred Parking ($45-$50 per day)
- Standard Parking ($25.00 per day)
After you pay for parking, it is good for the entire day at any Disney theme park. So if you were to park at Animal Kingdom in the morning and then park hop to Magic Kingdom for fireworks, show your receipt to park again at Magic Kingdom.
Additionally, guests of the Disney Resort hotels can upgrade to preferred parking. You do this by paying the difference in cost between your included parking and the going rate for preferred parking.
Unless you have a good reason, I wouldn’t recommend preferred parking. It’s an outrageous cost to potentially be a few rows closer to the entrance.
And it’s important to know that when parking at Magic Kingdom, you still won’t be able to reach your car quickly.
The Magic Kingdom parking lot is at the Transportation and Ticket Center. You’ll walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center when you park in this lot.
From there, you’ll have a few choices. You can board one of the three different monorails, take the ferry to Magic Kingdom, or catch a bus to Magic Kingdom.
Related: Disney World Monorail Guide
In most cases, guests of the Disney Resorts will want to take a bus from their resort to Magic Kingdom. Those buses drop off on the other side of the lake within a few steps of the theme park.
On returning to your car from Magic Kingdom, remember how you can get back. You’ll want to take the Ferry or Express monorail back to the Transportation and Ticket Center.
Then you’ll need to walk or take the tram back to your car.
One other important thing to remember is where you parked. I always try to take a picture with my phone at the end of the row where I parked.
When the trams are operating, the driver will remind you of where you parked before pulling off. But if you are trying to get settled and not paying attention, you’ll be whisked away and completely miss the announcement.
Tip: If you were to forget where you parked, get assistance from a cast member or the tram driver. They have a few ways to help you find the general area based on your arrival time.
The Transportation and Ticket Center’s parking lot is enormous. You could spend a long time looking for your vehicle if you’re not careful. It’s so large that it’s divided into two sections, Villains and Heroes.
For instance, you might get Heroes, Peter Pan, row 35. Therefore you would want to exit the Heroes lot, locate Peter Pan (or exit the tram at Peter Pan), and then look for row 35.
The same goes for Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. However, those are all reasonably walkable parking lots.
If you aren’t familiar with Disney property, take the bus. Transportation, like anything else, can work smoothly or be a real headache.
There have been times when I’ve waited for over 30 minutes for a bus along with other tired, upset guests. People in these situations often start to vent, which can be even more unpleasant.
Since I’ve started driving to the parks, I almost always prefer to drive over buses. That way, I’m in control and don’t have to rely on anything else.
Also, there is no drama when exiting the park, walking to your car, and leaving, unless you forgot where you parked. Even I am guilty of that sometimes.
I have one tip for those staying off-site who don’t want to incur parking at the theme parks every day. You can trade parking costs for the price of a meal.
You might enjoy breakfast one morning at, say, Grand Floridian Cafe. With a reservation, you could park at the resort and then take the monorail, boat, or walk to Magic Kingdom after your meal. (Or Kona Cafe at the Polynesian is a good option.)
When you leave Magic Kingdom, head back to the Grand Floridian and retrieve your car. The plus side of this is that you won’t be charged for parking that day, and you will have a nice meal instead.
The downside is that you probably won’t make it to the park at opening time.
For Epcot or Hollywood Studios, you might try a breakfast reservation at the Riviera’s Topolino’s Terrace or Ale and Compass at the Yacht Club. Topolino’s offers a character breakfast.
And Ale and Compass is one of our favorite spots to enjoy breakfast at Disney World.
For Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you could do breakfast at Boma. Although you might not want to leave, the food is delicious.
Related: Boma Breakfast Review
Plan a meal like this on a day when the park is open later, and you can experience Pandora, the World of Avatar, in the evening.
Again, these are just suggestions to help offset parking charges for off-site guests. And the tradeoff might not be worth it for those of you who plan to spend the early morning touring time in the parks.
Parking at Disney Springs and Disney’s Water Parks
Lastly, I wanted to mention parking at Disney Springs and the Disney World Water Parks.
Thankfully, parking is complimentary at all three of these locations:
- Disney Springs
- Blizzard Beach
- Typhoon Lagoon
Both water parks have two large surface parking lots outside the entrance. In addition, Blizzard Beach shares a parking lot with Winter Summerland’s mini-golf course.
At Disney Springs, there are three parking decks available and one surface parking lot. The lime parking garage is central to most of the popular locations.
However, it can be somewhat comparable to the Fast and Furious when it comes to finding a parking space on a busy day.
We have a complete transportation guide for Disney Springs that provides plenty of tips for getting to and from the venue.
For those visiting Disney World on a tight budget, you might consider an off-property resort-like the Springhill Suites at Flamingo Crossings. They are one of the few hotels in the area that does not charge for parking.
Related Hotels include:
- Fairfield Inn at Flamingo Crossings Review
- Towneplace Suites at Flamingo Crossings Review
- Best Marriot Hotels Near Disney World
And for those considering the Disney Value Resorts, Art of Animation and Pop Century are good choices.
Hopefully, this article provided you with a good overview of the parking costs at Disney World. Feel free to share your favorite parking tips or thoughts about paying for parking below in the comments!