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Insider Guide to Parking at Disney World

Insider Guide to Parking at Disney World

Disney World is the happiest place on earth. Who wouldn’t get excited to spend a few days at the parks?! For some visitors, the planning starts months, if not years in advance.

People research the best time to visit Disney, things to do in Orlando beyond Disney, and where to stay in Orlando near Disney World. But one thing that gets overlooked often is: parking at Disney!

That’s your first stop before all the magic you’ll experience throughout your visit, and I am here to help you get through it seamlessly!

Overall, going to Disney World is a dream come true for many visitors, but whether you’re going to drive there in a rental car or your own vehicle, parking can be a nightmare.

As an annual pass holder, I’ve learned ways to use parking to my benefit and how to make the commute from your parking spot to your designated park way more enjoyable! In this article, I will go over those tips with you by price, park, and crowd.

Parking Price

If you are not an annual pass holder or a guest at their resort hotels, there will be a fee you have to pay to be able to park and head to the parks.

There are different options for parking: standard parking, preferred parking, and oversized vehicle parking.

For standard parking, it is $25 per day at any park. If you’d like a spot closer to the entrance you can purchase the preferred parking, the fee can vary from park to park, but it will be in the $45-50 range.

I have been able to experience both standard and preferred parking but never tried the oversized one. If you do have an oversized vehicle, I have researched and found out it’s a $30 fee per day.

In the midst of my research, I also learned that if you park in one park, leave and decide to return, they will not charge you again, it is the total per day, not per entrance.

Sign for different parking zones at Disney World

Standard parking or preferred parking?

There is some debate if the preferred parking is worth the extra $20-25. And to be honest, I would not pay the extra.

I’ve had the opportunity to park in both, standard and preferred, and what I noticed is when you park in preferred parking you will be adding steps to your trip. The parking is definitely closer to the park entrance, but that means the complementary tram will NOT pick you up and drop you off right at the entrance!

If you opt for standard parking, and there are a few rows of cars already there, then a staff member will stop by almost every 5-10min to pick everyone up and drop them off by the park’s entrance.

At the end of the day, those same trams will pick you up and drop you off right by your car, that way you don’t have to walk that extra mile, because believe me, you will have walked enough throughout the day at the parks!

Skip parking

If you have the opportunity to stay at one of Disney World Resorts, you will be able to skip parking.
All the resorts have some sort of transportation from the rooms to the parks, but monorail, gondolas, buses, or ferry rides.

You are still given the option to take your car or rental and drive to the parking lot, park, and then take the tram and head to the entrance of the park you’re visiting that day. But, you do have the option to use all means of transportation offered by the resorts to avoid parking.

From personal experience, I once stayed at the resort, and taking the monorail straight from the hotel was a fun experience. You also get extra magical hours by staying in their resorts, so it is something to consider.

Some of the Walt Disney Resorts include:

Monorail train entrance at Disney

Difference between Parks

Disney parking lots are pretty much all the same. Cars come in and form lines, where staff members will guide you to where you should park.

One tip I give you is to follow directions. When the staff members point to where you should park, go there. If not, they will most likely make you move your car and waste a little bit of time.

The main difference between Disney parking lots is the size and way of reaching the parks from your designated parking lot. Below I will go more into detail on what those parking lots look like and some tips and tricks to follow.

Parking at Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom has the biggest parking lot of all parks. Their parking lot is divided between villains and heroes, and I recommend taking a picture (on multiple phones if possible) of the specific character you parked in.

Once you parked, you can take the tram to the second stop before arriving at the actual park. Once you get there, you’ll have to either take the monorail or the ferry to arrive at the entrance of the park.

I always recommend taking the ferry when you arrive because they don’t operate at night. So, if you’d like to experience both, take the ferry in the morning and the monorail at night.

Parking at Epcot

Epcot has the second-largest parking lot of all parks. You don’t have to take the monorail nor a ferry to get to your destination, but trams are at your disposal.

I will always recommend using the trams. The parking lot is also divided into categories, so make sure to write down where you parked so you’ll know where to return.

Parking at Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios has a smaller parking lot, and for a while, the trams were not operating, but since the beginning of 2022, they are back on track!

Since it is a smaller parking lot, walking from your parking spot to the entrance might be an alternative option.

Personally, when visiting Hollywood Studios I would walk to the park and then take the tram back to my car, just a personal preference. And don’t forget to take a picture of the category you are parked in!

Parking at Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom has the smallest parking lot. It is also divided into categories, so make sure to annotate or take a picture of where you parked!

The park closes earlier than all the other parks, so make sure you are aware of it when planning your trip!

Simba parking zone at Disney

Park Hopping

If you are an annual pass holder you can hop from park to park, which means you can also hop from parking lot to parking lot. Let me explain…

Epcot to Magic Kingdom

As mentioned before, once you park at Magic Kingdom, you must take a tram to get to the second stop; there you’ll have to enter the monorail or the ferry to then arrive at the park.

But, if you park at Epcot, you have a short tram ride or a short walk to the entrance where you can take the monorail straight to Magic Kingdom.

I personally did this multiple times, and it was very worth it, especially after the fireworks when everyone would be exiting Magic Kingdom to go to its designated parking lot, while I would simply go to a different park.

Hollywood Studios to Epcot

Disney World recently opened their gondolas! All of the gondolas are decorated with characters and figures, making them magical!

The gondolas are a sky-liner that takes you from specific resorts to the parks. One thing that you can also use it for is to connect parks! You can go from Epcot to Hollywood Studios and vice-versa in these gondolas. That way you can pick your preferred parking lot and then hop from park to park.

Fun Tips for Parking at Disney World:

1. If you are going to the parks to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, you can try your luck to park in the preferred parking without the extra fee! One time it was my mom’s birthday – when we arrived at the gate, we mentioned that we were celebrating, and they gave us the preferred pass for free! It is not guaranteed, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

2. To make our tram rides fun, my sister and I memorized the announcement of the tram and say it every time we ride it. Made it a funny sweet family memory and I recommend others to try!

3. When using the monorail, try to sit or stand by the window. When taking the monorail, it is possible to see multiple resorts and parts of the parks that you would normally not see!

From my trips I was able to spot cabanas, camping tents, their wedding venue, and of course, multiple hidden Mickeys around the property! It is also a great “small ride” to rest before the long day you’ll have ahead of you or after walking all day.

4. If after your magical day at the park, you arrive at your car and realize your battery died, they have staff members around the parking lots to help you! They will show up within 10-15 minutes to help you. I had it happen to me once and they were extremely quick to help!

From my point of view, parking can be a stressful moment, especially if not planned ahead of time. Disney World has made it simple with easy directions and lots of staff members in place to help you at any moment. Being an annual pass holder has allowed me to try all options of parking and I hope these tips and tricks are able to help you!

Do you have any special tricks you use when trying to park at Disney? Comment and let me know!

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