If you are going to use a car to travel to the Disney World parks, there are a few things that you need to know. Parking at Disney World, whether it’s the Magic Kingdom or any of the other three parks can be a challenge if you aren’t prepared. Let’s look at a few areas that you need to be aware of before you arrive at the parks.
How to get Free Parking
There are a number of ways to get free parking.
- First of all, if you are staying at Disney resorts, you won’t have to pay to get into the lot. You will get a parking pass that will give you free parking. (Please note that being a DVC member does not get you free parking in itself. You get free parking because you are staying at a resort, not because you are a DVC member)
- Second, if you have an annual pass, you will not need to pay for parking at the Disney resorts!
- Finally, there are a few local hotels that will provide free parking for Disney guests, but this is rare, and you’ll have to check with the hotel beforehand.
Cost of Parking at Disney World
At this time, here are the fees for parking:
$20.00 — Car/Truck/Motorcycle/Taxi
$22.00 — Camper or Motorhome
$25.00 — Bus or Tractor Trailer
Factoring in the costs when planning your Vacation
If you are going to stay off-site, there are two ways you can get burned with parking. First of all, many local hotels charge to park at THEIR facility! So you may get double-charged with parking each day! Some hotels charge between 10-15 dollars a day. So if you are going for a week and haven’t budgeted for these costs, you will suddenly have 200+ dollars in parking fees that you may not have accounted for.
Again, it’s very likely that you still will save money by staying in hotels over resorts. However, if you are comparing a hotel and a resort, and the cost savings of staying in a hotel is only 200-300 dollars, make sure you find out what the parking costs are, and factor that into the equation!
Logistics of Parking at Disney World
The parking lots are VERY large. As such, it can be very easy to get lost. Disney tries to make things easier for you with their signs. Different sections of the parking lot will have different names with Disney characters attached. Then your spot will have numbers.
Years ago, it probably was much easier to forget where you parked, but today we have a modern convenience that should make it very easy to remember.
Use your cellphone, and take a picture of your parking space and the section you are in!
This Disney tip can save you a ton of time, especially once you’ve been to Disney for a few days and the parking lots all start running together.
Due to the long distances from the parks to the parking lots, trams are available if you need them. If you don’t have a stroller, the trams are a life-saver. However, if you have a big bulky stroller, they can at times be very awkward to get into. Many times it can be easier to just go ahead and walk, than to wait in line for a tram, pack up the stroller, unpack the stroller and get the kids strapped in again. Of course this depends on the lot.
Quick rundown of Disney World Parking at the four Major Parks
The Magic Kingdom is unique among all the parks, and if you haven’t been in a long time, or if this is your first time, this is a VERY important tip:
The Magic Kingdom itself has NO parking lot! When you follow the driving signs to the Magic Kingdom, you will actually be parking in the Transportation Center. The parking lot of the TC is HUGE! You then will ride a tram up to the front and have to wait in lines to get to the Magic Kingdom by Monorail or by Ferry.
If you are trying to get to the MK early, budget an extra 25-30 minutes! Also, if you park at the Transportation Center from 11-2pm, you are in for massive lines. If you aren’t prepared, you’ll be exhausted before you ever arrive in the front gates. If you are a resort guest, the Magic Kingdom is the one resort that we recommend taking the bus, as you get to bypass the Transportation Center and proceed directly to the front gate.
Our recommendation is simple: Arrive at the Transportation Center at least one hour before Disney opens.
Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios
These three facilities have parking lots within walking distance of the front gates. Usually the earlier you arrive, the shorter your walk is. If we plan on going to any of these three parks before the park opens, we will never take the bus, and will always drive. Why? Because you typically will get very close to the front, have a short walk, and don’t have to wait 15-20 minutes for the bus.
Downtown Disney and Water Parks
Parking is free at all of these facilities. However, there are no trams so you may have long walks. During busy seasons, it can be a real pain to find a parking spot in Downtown Disney, especially if you are arriving at peak lunch and dinner times.