Are you considering driving a car and parking at Disney World? Then this article is just for YOU!! Just like with my general tips for Disney World (see all 75 of them here) I have some AWESOME tips to help you save money and enjoy your vacation even more. This article is perfect for families considering renting a car as well as families who drive to Disney World in their own vehicle. You will learn the benefits of using your car to get around the Walt Disney World Resort while spending the least amount of money doing so.
5 Amazing Tips for Parking at Disney World [save money]
Check out that trunk space in the Chevrolet Traverse!!
Coming from Southern CA we had always utilized Walt Disney World’s awesome transportation options, however, as our family has grown over the years we have become less excited about waiting to pile onto a busy bus. So, we now choose to rent a vehicle so that we can save time and avoid the hassles of loading all the kids onto the Disney buses.
Now, don’t get me wrong the complimentary transportation that Walt Disney World offers is pretty amazing. They get you to and from the resorts for FREE and in pretty decent timing, I don’t think we’ve waited longer than 30 minutes. And, we still enjoy the monorail and boat services because to for our kids those are both parts of the experience of our Disney trip. It’s just a little bit more convenient to have your own vehicle. That said there can also be additional costs which is why I am sharing our BEST tips for parking at Disney World as well as our favorite reasons to do so.
My Favorite Benefits of Parking at Disney World
1 You don’t have to deal with waiting for the bus to arrive.
Check out how easy it is to load our massive stroller into the Chevy Traverse, see that smile on my husband’s face. I can assure you that is not the same face he has as we are running to catch a bus and he is left trying to fold up a stroller and climb onboard a bus packed with other guests and crying kids.
2 You always have a seat.
Unlike the bus system, when you have your own car on property at Disney you know you always have a safe seat. I still remember days where my husband is holding one of our kids in one arm and holding on to the bus rail with another arm. It really freaked me out. That is why I choose cars like the Chevrolet Traverse who received a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score for safety† from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Plus, It seats up to 8 passengers and it does so comfortably. So, our family of 7 could easily get in and out of the car. This car was so much cooler than my minivan at home, it had tons of leg room, tons of USB ports in the 3rd row- much needed for all the electronics my kids have today. Anyways, I got off track. When you have your own car, you basically have a comfortable ride everytime and aren’t smushed in with 100’s of other people who I am sure are nice, but don’t need to be so close to you.
3 It’s much more convenient to get to your dining reservations.
There have been several instances where we ended up at the wrong resort when we tried to utilize Disney Dining + Disney Resort Transportation. The buses are great at getting you from your hotel to the parks but trying to navigate going from your resort to a park, and then onto another bus to get to your Disney Dining Reservation (located within a Disney Resort) is a bit CRAZY, to say the least.
This is one BIG reason why having a car on the property is valuable. It makes getting to your dining reservations super duper easy. I would also note it allows us to stop at the grocery store for snacks and we can drive to cheaper dining options off-property when we have a car as well. So, even if you do end up paying for parking, you may actually end up saving in the long run.
4 Avoid the Big Crowds After the Firework Shows
This may be the BEST benefit of parking at Disney World. NOT HAVING TO WAIT IN THOSE MASSIVE CROWDS after the firework shows. There are some amazing not-to-be-missed shows at each of the Disney Parks. However, because these shows are so incredible they are also super crowded and in most cases the timing of these shows correlates to the park closing meaning as soon as the show is over everyone needs to get out of the parks.
This creates some crazy long lines for the Disney buses and boats. Disney tries to be prepared by having multiple buses lined up but the truth is you will most likely have to wait as you watch several buses fill up with guests for your resort before you make it onboard. Then when you do get onto the bus or boat you will be lucky to find a seat.
I can tell you that walking past these guests to head to your spacious car, have I mentioned how roomy the Chevy Traverse is, will be super rewarding!!
Top 5 Tips for Parking at Disney World
Ella with our Chevrolet Traverse, awesome family car by the way!
1 Parking at the Disney World Parks is FREE for guests staying on Disney property
Many guests don’t realize that if you are staying on property you actually are able to park your vehicle at any of the Disney parks for FREE. All you have to do is show the attendant your magic band and you receive complimentary standard Disney World parking. Preferred parking is an additional fee whether you are a resort guest or not though.
Guests of the Disney Resorts used to receive free parking but that all changed and now they charge per day. Value Resorts – $13 Moderate Resorts $19 & Deluxe Resorts $24 Guests staying at the Disney Deluxe Resorts can opt for Valet service for an additional fee of $33 per day. DVC Members do still get self parking at all resorts for FREE
2 Annual Pass Holders Receive FREE Parking at the Disney Parks
Standard self-parking is complimentary for Annual Passholders, Premium Passholders, and Disney Premier Passport holders.
3 Parking at Disney’s Water Parks, Disney Springs, and ESPN Wide World of Sports is FREE for ALL Guests
Whether you stay on Disney property or not you will receive free parking at all the Disney Water Parks, Disney Springs, and the ESPN Wide World of Sports.
3 Magic Kingdom Parking + Dining Reservations
My least favorite Disney World Park to have to park at is Magic Kingdom. I have gained some insight over the years that has allowed me to sort of sideswipe having to park at the Ticket & Transportation Center at Disney World and it has to do with dining.
In order to park at one of the Magic Kingdom area hotels (Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge, and Polynesian) you need to be a resort guest. However, you may also park at these resorts if you have a valid dining reservation. So, what we like to do is strategically book our Chef Mickey’s breakfast and our Kona Cafe dinner reservations around the days we are going to be at the Magic Kingdom. They say you can only park in the resort lot for a limited time but we have never had any trouble leaving our car in the parking lot at the resort while we had fun in the parks.
4 Take a Photo of Your Cars Location
Don’t laugh! I am serious. Parking at Disney is no joke, there are thousands of vehicles and even though you think you will remember where you parked something happen to your brain after being tossed around on all of those rides and you will no doubt walk out and have no clue where in the world you parked. So, either take a photo of the lane number and character you are parked in, or drop a pin using Google maps on your phone.
5 Your Parking Ticket is Valid at Each of the Parks, You Can Hop With It!
If you are staying off the property and you do need to purchase your parking at Disney World you will be happy to know that your parking ticket is valid at all 4 parks throughout the day. This makes it very easy to hop from park to park.
EXTRA- Shhh! Use with caution- Parking in Disney’s FREE Lots
I would not recommend this but some folks will tout parking at one of Disney’s free lots when you are staying off Disney property and utilizing the free Disney transportation to get around. Here is the thing while this may work you could also run into a host of trouble.
#1- Disney frowns on this so they have made the routes to the parks very inconvenient from these locations. It will most likely take you an hour to get to the park.
#2- Some of these lots, like the Water Parks, have earlier closing times than the main parks. If you were to overstay your time you may not be able to get back to your car.
Disney World Parking Prices (*per Disney’s website March 2018)
Guests pay one fee for a parking pass good all day at all 4 theme parks—Magic Kingdom park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. Our special preferred parking lots are located conveniently close to the theme park entrances.
- Preferred parking: car or motorcycle – $45 per day
- Standard parking: car or motorcycle – $22 per day
- Oversized Vehicle Parking: Shuttle, Limo, Camper Trailer, RV, Bus or Tractor Trailer – $27 per day
- Standard self-parking is complimentary for Annual Passholders, Premium Passholders, and Disney Premier Passport holders.
Disability Parking at Disney World
There are specially marked lots for guests traveling with various disabilities. You can refer to the Walt Disney World website here for more details.
Do you enjoy parking at Disney World?
You may also enjoy these awesome Disney World Posts:
- Disney World Tips & Tricks [Over 75 Amazing MUST KNOW Tips]
- Magic Kingdom FastPass- Tips & Tricks
- Epcot FastPass- A Complete Guide
- Tips & Tricks- Animal Kingdom FastPass
*Disclosure- we received a press vehicle to test drive courtesy of Chevrolet. However, all of my thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. I seriously LOVED that vehicle and I loved the Chevy Avalanches we used to own as well. Awesome cars!!
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