Parking at Walt Disney World for Non-Resort Guests
It’s high time to discuss parking at Walt Disney World for guests staying off-property and visiting Walt Disney World. (Because if you're an on-property guest, parking is FREE!) Dad’s been so busy talking about resort transportation for guests staying at a Disney hotel that he’s missed out on sharing his thoughts on this subject, which affects hundreds of thousands of people each year.
Dad was sent a question recently about the where someone staying offsite can park at Walt Disney World, and some other ways of getting to the property like taxis and buses. It inspired him to dedicate a whole page on everything you should know about parking at Walt Disney World – how it works, what it costs, what are the options, and even some tips and tricks. So let’s get started!
Oh, but before we dive in, let me say, I do highly recommend in having a car at Disney World.
Parking at the Transportation and Ticket Center (know as the TTC – the main parking lot for Walt Disney World and the only parking lot for the Magic Kingdom), Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom costs $22 per day for regular cars, vans, motorcycles, etc. (and $27 per day for oversized vehicles like RVs, limos, and the like).
That regular, $22 parking is free for Disney resort hotel guests, but you'll have to pay if you want preffered parking whether or not you're a hotel guest. That's right - for a whopping $45 per day you can get a spot closer to the entrance of the park (or Monorail/Ferry departure point when going to Magic Kingdom).
Once you’ve paid for parking at Walt Disney World for the day, you’ll get a ticket that can be re-used all day long whichever parks you go to – which is handy if you’re planning to park hop.
There are some lots where parking at Walt Disney World is free and you can catch a bus. Disney frowns on it, and they’ve made it a real hassle to get to the parks from any of these free lots to discourage this practice. It’s inconvenient and can take a long time - took me over an hour one night to get from Epcot back to Disney Springs.
The process involves parking at your free location of choice, heading over to the resort bus stops, taking a bus to a resort, transferring at the resort to a bus to go to the park you’re visiting that day. Don’t forget, you’ll have to repeat this process in reverse at the end of the day when you want to go back to your car.
If you’re really that keen on free parking at Walt Disney World and using Disney resort transportation, you should really consider if staying on-site is right for you.
In Dad’s opinion, these options are a waste of valuable time in the parks simply to save a few bucks, but if you insist on trying it out for yourself, you can try to park at Disney Springs, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon (beware that the water parks each close for a month, during which time their parking is unavailable too).
It’s important to note that ESPN Wide World of Sports, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon all have different operating hours than the parks (typically shorter hours) so you might not even be able to get back to your car at the end of the day!
Parking at a Walt Disney World hotel and simply using the bus system won’t work either – hotel parking is for hotel guests only. You can park at the resorts if you are visiting to eat at a restaurant, but you’ll have a limited parking window of a couple hours. This applies to all resorts on-property, including the Disney Springs area hotels, Shades of Green, The Walt Disney World Swan and The Walt Disney World Dolphin.
The Parking Lot Symphony
Every night just after the fireworks shows, one of the most interesting symphony's you'll ever here happens. It's called the Parking Lot Symphony. The music comes from instruments with odd names like Toyota and Ford and Chevrolet. You'll hear symphonic melodies never conceived by any of the masters. It's one of Dad's favorite times of the day. Where did I park that car? (And what kind of car were we driving again?)
If you’re staying off-site, taking the local Lynx transportation system is a possibility, and while it is much cheaper than parking every day (a weekly pass is $16) it does have its limitations. Depending on your location, it can take a very long time to get to the Transportation and Ticket Center, and from there you would need to take resort transportation to the parks anyway.
For instance, Old Town is just outside of the Walt Disney World property, and it would only take 10-15 minutes to drive from there to the TTC. But on the bus, it would take nearly an hour. Add to that the fact that bus frequency is only every 30 mins, and service starts at 6am and ends at 11pm, and this option seems like more trouble than it’s worth.
Taxis, Uber, and Lyft
If you can afford a taxi, you can afford parking at Walt Disney World. Even hotels just a few miles from your destination will cost $20 or more each way. Remember, Walt Disney World is the size of San Francisco – even taking a taxi from two points within Walt Disney World is quite a trek! If you’d like to calculate a specific taxi fare for yourself, visit taxifarefinder.com.
Even with services like Lyft and Uber which are cheaper than taxis, you have to account for transit both ways which will definately coast you more than parking.
Inside Walt Disney World
The Walt Disney World website states “Transportation to and from the Parks and Walt Disney World Resort hotels is complimentary for Resort hotel Guests.” But it is extremely uncommon to be asked to see a pass so you could use resort transportation to get around. But since you only have to pay for parking once, it’s quicker and easier to park hop in your car (yes, I mean a rental too)!
Dad's Bottom Line
Parking is one thing that Disney doesn’t inflate the price of. If you are visiting Walt Disney World, staying off-site, and have a car use it. Pay the $22 a day for the parking at Walt Disney World, and take your car with you from park to park. It’s worth it. Trust me.