by: guide4wdw – Collin

Our Top Parking Tips for Walt Disney World in 2018

As many of you may know, parking at Walt Disney World has gotten a touch more complicated in the last year, so today we’re taking a look at some parking tips based on our personal experiences over the last 6 months. Fair warning, today we wont be telling you ways to manipulate the system or avoid paying resort parking fees or even how to park at select locations to avoid paying Disney’s parking fees. Truthfully, those tips would only hurt us all in the long run and potentially increase the range of parking fees at various locations on property. Instead, we’re going to share tips and what can and cannot be done in the realm of parking at Walt Disney World. 

Resort Parking Fees

While I have my own thoughts and opinions about this required fee (which I’ll refrain from sharing), there are a few things you should know about how the fees are enacted and charged to guests. In our experience the fee is “hidden” for lack of a better word. Obviously, we knew we would have to pay the nightly parking fee as a result of writing on this site and following the Disney news from day to day. However, what hardly anyone is sharing is that the fee (at least in our case) is not mentioned at check in, is not mentioned at the resort parking gate, and is not even described on any sort of documentation at the resort that we could find. Instead, In our case it was billed directly to our Magic Band and was a required payment at check out. Truth be told, we knew it was coming at some point, but it’s interesting to note that we were never asked if we were flying or driving, so they must have monitored enter and exit times via our Magic Band or cars were potentially recorded by the bell service. Personally, I cannot confirm whether either of these thoughts are true, but I can say that we were never asked if we parked on the property. The fee is not the end of the world but be aware if you are a first time guest or have not stayed at a resort since the change to paid parking, you could face a similar situation. 

The current Disney resort parking fees are as follows: 

  • Disney Value Resorts – $13 per night 
  • Disney Moderate Resorts – $19 per night 
  • Disney Deluxe Resorts and Deluxe Villas – $24 per night 
  • Vallet Parking at Deluxe Resorts – $33 per night 

Also worth noting is that these are taxable rates and you will be assessed sales tax for each night of your parking fee based on Florida sales tax rates. So, in theory a $24 Deluxe resort parking fee isn’t exactly $24 in the grand scheme of things it is a touch more. Valet however does include taxes in the $33 rate.

Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resort guests will not be charged for overnight self parking when staying at a DVC Deluxe Villa. Annual Passholders are still required to pay the fees for resort parking.   

Parking at Resorts as a Visitor (not an overnight guest)

At this point, if you are visiting a resort and will not be staying overnight or more that a few hours you will not be charged for parking at that resort. Some resorts at select times will not allow you to park without being a resort guest, but typically that is reserved to peak crowd times in order to assure guests staying at the resort have a parking spot for their stay. As usual, if you have a meal reservation at that resort, you will be allowed to park at the resort without question. 

We have had excellent luck recently when parking at resorts by simply stating we’re going to get dessert or going to a certain counter service restaurant. Typically, if we do use those statements, we will in fact go to that destination. Also worth noting for those of you who are interested in photography, I have never once been denied parking if I mentioned that I was interested in taking a few pictures of the resort. 

Again, don’t manipulate the system too much or over time visitors will be charged to park at the resorts even if you’re not staying at that particular resort (let’s hope it never comes to that). I wont lie to you and say that I’ve never parked at the Boardwalk to walk over to Epcot to catch Illuminations, but I’ve never done so to avoid parking fees. Typically if we are parking at a resort we are a resort guest somewhere on property and truthfully I don’t know if that makes a difference or not in the chances of being “denied” access to parking at certain resorts. However, if you are a resort guest you park at the parks for free or can ride a bus to the parks for free so in that case you’re not paying to park either way.

Parking at the Disney World Theme Parks 

If you are staying on property at a Disney resort, you do not pay parking fees at the parks. Truthfully, it’s a great bonus to staying on property and can save you $22 per day opposed to staying off site and driving in and paying the parking fees. As always, I recommend taking buses, boats, monorails, and other Disney provided free transportation to and from the parks as a resort guest. You can park the car for your stay and you wont miss it. If you’re flying, don’t worry about renting a car, just take the free Magical Express transportation to your resort hotel from Orlando International Airport and avoid parking costs entirely.

Parking rates at the theme parks are currently:
  • Standard Parking – $22 per day 
  • Preferred Parking – $45 per day (definitely not worth the cost)
  • Oversized Vehicles – $27 per day
Disney Water parks do not currently charge parking fees.  

Parking at Disney Springs

This is the one parking location that surprises me more that all the others. Parking at Disney Springs is complimentary and truthfully one of the nicest parking situations I’ve ever experienced at Disney or elsewhere. The parking garages are an eyesore obstructing the views of Disney Springs from the street (which I still miss), but gone are the days of circling the parking lots and trying to desperately hope that someone left on the row you were driving down. 

Today, things are much easier, head to a garage that is not listed as “full” on the street signs, pull into the lot and look for a sign that tells you what floors have empty spaces and how many are available. Typically the top floors have plenty of room and the flow of traffic is pretty nice compared to the nightmare that is the Orlando outlet malls (If you’ve been, you know how much of a daunting task parking at those outlets can be!) . The system that verifies what spots are empty and what floors have empty spots isn’t fool proof but it is fairly quick at registering what spots are taken and which ones are not. It’s a fairly high end system and the escalators and security guards directing guests in the right direction after you park are an added bonus to a better parking situation. 

Valet parking available at Disney Springs for $20 per day. 

Staying Off Site? Here’s What I Recommend

Off-site resorts are a touch tricky for a couple of reasons. Most non-Disney resorts will have a parking fee and typically a resort fee on top of the parking charge. Additionally, you will be charged to park at the Disney parks. The only real work around that which is not frowned upon by Disney is a ride sharing service like Uber or Lyft. Both services are pretty well known and reliable. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the liability exceptions in Uber and Lyft user agreements but sometimes it’s your best bet when trying to cut costs. A typical Uber from reasonably close by resorts can be cheaper that renting a car and parking it at the parks throughout your stay. Combine the low cost service with a dining reservation at a resort hotel and you can easily cut out a second paid trip to other locations on property by using Disney resort buses to get to the parks from your reservation location. 

Also worth noting is that after 4:00pm shuttles run from all Disney parks to Disney Springs, which could potentially cut off another paid trip via Uber or Lyft.  

Wrapping Up

Inevitably parking is getting a little complicated at Disney and truthfully I thought the resort parking fee was something we would never see at WDW in quite the blatant form that it is today. At the same time, it’s just something we have to learn to expect and factor into the cost of the stays we book. Is it fair to annual pass holders?… Probably not. However, there’s not too much we can do about it at this point. As usual the social media outcry faded away and did nothing but frustrate people along the way. In my opinion, it’s not worth fretting about and truthfully is something that will likely only get worse before it gets better. Is it a vacation ruiner? Not in the slightest. 

Knowing what to expect and the best way to work with the given situation in the case of parking is far more important that spending hours on end trying to find ways to manipulate your stay to avoid costs. Simply pay the parking fee and enjoy the extra few minutes it affords you at your resort or in the parks. All the offsite services that will bus you in from other parking areas and such are more trouble that their worth and your time in the parks is far more valuable! 

My greatest recommendation? Accept the changes, know the fees and do your best to pay what is only absolutely necessary to manage your time and budget effectively. There’s no good solution to avoid this and Disney inevitably knows that and as with any company they’re trying to make money just like anyone else. Form a business perspective I can’t entirely fault them for that.

If you’re one of the more seasoned WDW guests reading this, be surest check out our last post on some of our top Disney Parks book recommendations! 5 Books Every Disney Parks Fan Needs In Their Collection


Your Thoughts

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you’re there, and we’ll keep the conversation going in the future. We’re not the largest Disney community, but we’re one that’s there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

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Ready to Plan?

Last but certainly not least, if you’re starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You’ll probably even save money along the way.