Is there any free parking left at Disneyland and Walt Disney World?
With the recent increase in parking fees at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts (form $12 a day to $14), I thought it time to review a couple strategies that folks have used to get around paying those fees.
The tollbooths are coming! The tollbooths are coming! (At Walt Disney World)
At the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, if you park in the Downtown Disney lot, your first three hours are free. You can get an additional two hours free if you get a validation stamp from the movie theater or one of the table service restaurants. The parking rate is $6 an hour after that.
(Note: Anaheim's Downtown Disney is located within easy walking distance of Disneyland and California Adventure. If you are a Walt Disney World veteran and haven't been to the Disneyland Resort recently, the layout there is much like the layout at Universal Orlando - a parking garage, a central shopping area and two theme parks at the end of the shopping area.)
Given that you'll pay $14 to park in the Mickey and Friends garage at the Disneyland Resort, you're money ahead by parking in Downtown Disney if...
- You are staying less than five hours and 20 minutes, or
- Are staying less than seven hours and 20 minutes, and eat in one of the Downtown Disney restaurants.
I know of some annual passholders who have opted not to pay the extra $79 for the "free" parking option on their annual passes, opting instead to use the Downtown Disney lots for short visits. [Update: Forgot to mention that there's no extra charge for parking on the $429 Premium Annual Pass.]
At Walt Disney World, Disney's eliminated most of the loopholes in the system that allowed folks who aren't staying on site to park at the resort's hotels or Downtown Disney and use Disney shuttles to get into the theme parks without paying for parking.
But one loophole remains, or, at least, it did last time I was at WDW. It's a "back door" way into the Magic Kingdom parking lot, accessed from Vista Blvd. You can get to Vista Blvd. by one of two ways:
- Take State Road 535 (Apopka Vineland Rd) north from I-4. Turn left on Winter Garden Vineland Rd (also SR 535), then continue northeast to Vista Blvd.
- From Buena Vista Drive, turn north on Bonnet Creek Parkway (like you are going to Port Orleans), continue on Bonnet Creek north to Vista Blvd, and turn left.
Once on Vista Blvd., continue until it merges onto northbound World Drive. You'll see the parking lots on your left. Turn left at Seven Seas Drive (the first intersection). This will take you past the TTC and the Polynesian. That road will dead end into Floridian Way, on the other side of the parking lots. Stay in the far left lane and proceed south on Floridian Way, past the parking lots and the "Mickyard" speedway, until you come to the "Parking Return" sign, just before passing the tollbooths, which will be immediately ahead on the left. Make that hard left turn and blend into the traffic heading into the parking lots.
People staying at any of Walt Disney World's on-site hotels get free parking at the theme parks, but now have to pay $10 a day if they choose to use the valet parking option at their hotel.
My plan? Whenever I visit Orlando, my family stays with Grandma and Grandpa, who live in Celebration. So we just get them to drop us off at the parks, if they won't be joining us. :-) All of the Walt Disney World theme parks have free guest drop-off and pick-up zones, for which no parking fee is required.
What's your strategy for parking at a Disney theme park?
Agh! Don't give out the local's secrets!
WOW. Although my family and I ALWAYS stay on site that is truly a GREAT idea. Please keep ALL ur money saving ideas coming.
If you go to the Magic Kingdom early enough. Met friends for breakfast at the Polynesian, there was no one at the toll booths to collect funds.
I went with a friend who was a cast member so it was free parking and free admission all around! I'm gonna take them up on their free birthday admission this year and probably keep one of these parking loopholes in mind (Getting to Florida from Ohio isn't cheap, so I'm allowed to be stingy.)
We like to go to the character breakfast at either the Poly or Grand Floridian and then hop a monorail to MK afterwards. At the end of the day, you return on a generally less-crowded monorail to the hotel, rather than the TTC.
Or, here's an idea - you could pay the parking fee like you're supposed to rather than "stealing" parking. Because that's what you're essentially instructing people to do - steal parking from the company. Theme Parks charge a parking fee to offset costs - the cost of maintain the lot, the cost of staffing the booths and parking areas, the cost of security cameras and patrols to keep your vehicle safer than it would be without those measures, and the cost of operating shuttles and trams to and from the park's entrance. Parking fees also help keep people from using the parks as a local hang out. They keep people from parking just to hang out at the entrance for a free glimpse of the fireworks, or to just use the lot as a skateboard park or meeting place.
OK, so yet another reason for me not to go to Disney or any of the Orlando parks. The economy stinks and you are trying every way possible to make it less affordable for people to throw their money at you. I will just stay local and support my local theme park another year. Hate that business in general are all about greed and taking as much as they can from a small group instead of being fair in pricing and allowing more to purchase their products.
My strategy? A lot of walking.
They have a right to charge money for parking. If you're too cheap to stay on property (which grants you free parking and transportation), expect Disney to try and recoup the lost revenue somehow.
I know several ways to get around WDW without paying a dime for parking.
Parking in a cast lot is definitely not cool. (When I worked there, a security agent checked for cast IDs before allowing you into the park or on the bus to the park, so I'm having a hard time seeing how a guest could use the cast parking areas anyway.)
In another thread, I mentioned that when my grandson Zachary and I stay off Disney property, I always choose a hotel that offers free bus transportation to the theme parks. From what our bus driver told us this year, Disney now allows them to drop off their passangers at Epcot bus parking lot and then transfer over to a Disney bus to their destination if it's other that Epcot. Other years, we were dropped off at the theme park of our choice, but now you have to transfer. Still, you don't have to drive or pay for parking.
In response to the rant above:
Whether or not you can park in a cast lot or not either way you are stealing from the company. "Parking in a cast lot is definitely not cool." Really parking in the cast lost isn't cool but denying a park the money that helps them build a better experience for YOU is cool?
We go to disney World every year when we go toour timeshare in Kissemme. We have always parked at the Polynesion Resort or the Boardwalk Resort. The guard at the gate at both resports asks if we are visiting or staying there. We just say we are visiting and the guard gives us a 3 hour pass. We have always left our car parked there while we were in the parks and there has never been a problem (I do not leave the 3 hour pass in sight). It sounds like we won't be able to do that anymore.
I don't think they should charge for parking at all. Parking should be complimentary, especially when you consider the high prices of the tickets
The path you mentioned is intended for Cast Members and other Disney property vehicles. There are signs that point that out.
I wonder how long before Disney closes up the loophole for getting into the parking lot for free. It'll be interesting for someone there to watch for it- that will also let Robert know how closely Disney mgmt. follows TPI.
Back in march and April of this year. Disneyland had free parking over at the Anaheim gardenwalk mall. This was something they were testing out. They offered a shuttle but it was also just a 15 minute walk. My assumption for this testing was because they are getting ready to lose the lion king parking areas for the cars land expansion of ca adventure.
We fit our entire family into one car, and then we split the cost.
I was responsible for the "rant" but was at a computer where I couldn't log in. I'm sorry, but "if you don't like it, don't do it" isn't a viable answer when we're talking about theft of service, and we ARE talking about theft of service. Disney (and other parks) charge what they think they can collect and what they think they need to charge to cover expenses for things like parking. They are entitled to do so. Using a loophole or outright lying by claiming to be at a resort for dining or whatever is theft of that service. You didn't pay for it, nor did you utilize one of the many legitimate ways to avoid daily parking fees like staying on property or purchasing a pass that includes it.
Here is an idea – Park at Typhoon lagoon where there is no parking fee and then use the Disney bus system…
Someone in an earlier post sort of gave me this idea and I'd like to find out what you think Robert and the others? Why not make the parking complimentary? You could off set the cost by adding say $3-$5 per ticket. That way everyone pays something, children included. Two tickets= $8. four tickets= $16 and so on. I know the more tickets you buy, the higher the price you pay and some would complain. But at least everyone would be paying man,woman and child. Just an idea Robert.
If you are really that desperate for free parking at WDW. You can park at DD for free, take a bus to any resort, then from any resort to any park.
BTW, a loophole is a loophole. IT IS NOT THEFT OF SERVICE. WDW doesn't like it? Close the hole.
BTW, Holiday World in Indiana - parking is FREE (so are soft drinks and sunscreen). Attendance is UP for 2009.
^While Holiday World does have great amenities there a vast differences between parks obtaining 1.03 million in attendance and having a park with 15 million in attendance. Yes Disney prices are probably to high but giving out free parking, soda, sunscreen would not be as rewarding for them or you. Holiday World is not adding $10-$100 million additions each year. Actually I'm thinking there largest was Voyage at under $8 million. Having "free" items are still going to cost! Its like when the government increases taxes on business all the business does is raise the price of their service/good to compensate for what they are now paying.
I am a Florida Resident and a Senior. I love Disney World and go as often as I can. Usually stay on-property, but few times we "the other" theme parks and still needed a Disney "fix" We REALLY did do a dining reservation and left the car in their lot........Was it more than 3 hours of course it was , as I said we needed the "Disney Fix".........with the amount of money spent dining, gifts , etc, I think they will forgive me the extra "free' hours.I love Disney, but I have to agree the parking prices are too too high.
The parking fee doesn't bother me too much. It's the price of the ticket that I would like to learn how to save on.
Parking fees tick me off, although, moreso for hotels or resorts than theme parks. (For example, having to pay a parking fee while staying at the Universal onsite resort Royal Pacifc - THAT was wrong.)
Here is a tip. Say if the MK is open late one day (till 12 or 1am), if you drive into the MK around past 8:30, they will not charge for parking, nor let alone check to see if you have a pass. I done this plenty of times.
Thanks, Robert, on behalf of that poor cast member who will now be stationed at the "Parking Return" lane to check for parking passes/daily parking receipts...
Just another thought as well...Parking fees are a control method as well. If parking was always free than there would be a greater chance of running out, so maybe the fee does help encourage "carpooling". LOL. Of course then there is the extra $6-$10 you can pay not to ride a tram. I am amazed that my home park, BGW, constantly sells out of the preferred parking!
All this talk about excessive parking fees is a moot point. Why does Disney charge so much? Because they can. Try and tell me again how much it costs Disney to maintain the parking lots - they're all poured asphalt and concrete with an average 30 to 40-yr-life; tell me how much Disney has to pay for the operational costs of the trams and the employees running same - the driver and attendant each make a little over minimum wage, so how many cars have to pay $14 each to equal 2 employees operating 1 tram working an 8-hr shift for maybe $8/hr without benefits?; and tell me about how much the security cameras cost - they have been amortized over and over - maybe 500-1,000 times their original costs to Disney. Please do not proselytize about poor Disney being ripped-off by someone using their parking lots - what a crock. WDW is a cash-cow - always has been, always will be - stop drinking the Kool-aid and wake up - anytime someone buys a $70+ ticket and then has to leave the park early due to weather/illnes/etc, do they get a refund? Come, on, man! Do you feel sorry for the IRS? Is it your 'patriotic duty' to pay more and more taxes because the Democrats want to take your hard-earned money and give it to illegal aliens and people who refuse to work themselves and thus do not pay any taxes? Get a life.
I flat out refuse to pay that much for parking. I now park at the waterparks and take the bus. When that is no longer free, I will find somewhere else.
^Actually if you believe in true Capitalism you would think that Disney charging what they do is no problem. It is supply and demand if there is demand at this price capitalist will charge it. Disney is just doing what America is built on.
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