What To Do If You Cant Find Your Car At Disney World
If you dont use our parking tip for Disney and you have no idea where you parked your car, you will want to go back where you got off the tram.
At some point another tram will arrive and you will want to let a cast member know that youve lost your car.
Someone will come by to help you locate it without you having to walk through the parking lot row by row.
License Plate Recognition Technology
Disneyland Resort and Downtown Disney District have deployed automatic license plate readers in their parking lots. Disney may use this technology to:
- Locate a lost vehicle
- Prevent unauthorized or illegal behaviors
- Monitor use of the facilities
For more information on their use of APLRs, review the latest news from Disneyland directly.
Disney World Parking Costs Are Insane
Parking rates at Disney World change on a regular basis, but currently, Disney charges the following rates to park at the four major Florida theme parks.
Standard parking costs $25 per day, but it isnt exactly convenient. Depending on where you park in the lot, youll either have to take a tram or a long walk to the theme park entrance.
Oversize vehicle parking for RVs, shuttles, limos, campers, buses or tractor-trailers cost a little bit more at $30 per day.
Preferred parking is $45 to $50 per day. It costs more because it is located closer to the theme park entrances. Essentially, you pay more so you dont have to walk as far or take a tram to the park entrance.
I do see how this could benefit families with small children or families on a tight schedule, but $45 to $50 is crazy talk to me just to park your car. A four day trip to Disney World would cost you $180 to $200 just in preferred parking costs alone.
Sadly, Disney doesnt even offer a discount if you arrive late in the day. For instance, the Disney parking cost after 6 pm is the same as if you arrived bright and early in the morning.
While Disney didnt use to charge you to park in their hotel/resort parking lots as a resort guest, they do now.
The fees range from $15 to $25 per night for self-parking depending on the resort you stay at.
One place Disney doesnt charge for parking is at their water parks, Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach.
Standard parking is also free for Disney World Annual Passholders.
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Who Gets Free Parking At The Disney Theme Parks
As you can see, the parking charges will certainly add up on a Disney trip, but the good news is that some people are able to get free parking. If you are staying at a Walt Disney World resort, you wont pay to park in the theme parks. On top of that, annual passholders also enjoy the perk of free parking at the resorts. This is why these passes are so popular with locals, as you will make a huge saving throughout the year with free parking.
Parking At Epcot Animal Kingdom & Hollywood Studios
The lots for the other parks are not nearly as large or tricky to navigate.
- Epcot is divided into: Discover, Amaze, Journey, Imagine, Create, and Wonder.
- Hollywood Studios parking lots are based on characters you can meet at the park: Minnie, Jessie, Mickey, Buzz, Olaf & BB8
- Animal Kingdom sections the parking lot into exotic & fantasy animals: Peacock, Unicorn, Yeti, Dinosaur, Butterfly & Giraffe
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Theme Park Parking Costs
The four Disney World theme parks are Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disneys Animal Kingdom, and Disneys Hollywood Studios. Each of these parks charge the same amount for parking per day. Your daily rate covers all theme parks for that day so you can bounce from one park to another for a single parking price.
The cost depends upon your type of vehicle and if you choose preferred or standard parking. For example, cars and motorcycles may choose between standard parking, which is currently $25 per day but can fluctuate throughout the year, or preferred parking for $20-$25 more. The preferred parking lots are closer to the entrances which are handy after a long day of walking and standing in lines. Please note that if you are only visiting one park per day and arriving for park opening time, your parking spot will most likely be very close to the preferred parking spots and if walking is an issue, there is always a tram running at all the theme park parking lots. Dont feel that you must spend for this costly perk.
The Disney Platinum and Disney Platinum Plus annual pass holders and Disney Resort hotel guests receive complimentary standard parking at any of the Disney theme parks but can pay the additional $20-$25 to get the preferred parking spots. There are also oversized vehicle lots that charge roughly $30 per day.
Driving To Parks At Walt Disney World
One big perk of driving to Walt Disney World is that you can drive to and from the parks. Parking at Disney World parks costs $25 for standard parking and $45 or $50 for preferred parking.
Guests of Disney hotels enjoy free theme park parking as a perk of their stay. Most Disney World annual passholders also get free parking.
A few years ago I was a real sass about bus transportation at Walt Disney World. I still think it’s far from perfect, but at least in my experience it has improved significantly. That said, you’ll still occasionally see horror stories about incredibly long waits.
What’s more, transportation problems are sometimes unavoidable. If youve ever tried to take the bus to a park about 45 minutes before open, you might notice the bus line goes from zero people to multiple busloads in just a few minutes.
The bus stops only accommodate one bus at a time. In mornings, youll usually have at least one mobility scooter per bus. It winds up taking a while to load these buses and get them to the parks.
In our experience, the parking lots at the parks open at least 30 and often an hour before the park opens to the first guests .
For these reasons, having a car makes it much easier to control your arrival time for rope drop at Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. Relatedly, on most days these parks have pretty efficient operations at the end of the day, so you shouldnt have an awful time getting out of the parking lot.
As for Magic Kingdom…
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Park At Disney Springs And Grab The Boat To A Resort Then Grab A Bus
If youre looking forward to some Beignets to start your day at Walt Disney World then you can head to the bus ramp at Disney Springs. This will take you to Port Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside. While this wont be the best way to save time at Disney it will, by all means, be the most leisurely and fun.
How To Get It
If you stay in Disney resort hotels, you have parking fees included in your room rate. You will simply need to pay the extra $25 for the closer preferred parking place.
Parking fees are included in the cost of an annual pass. If you are an Annual Pass holder, you will have to pay $25 for the closer preferred spots as well.
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What Time Should You Arrive
If your goal is to be there for park opening, for the smoothest morning we recommend you try to be one of the first people into the parking lot.
Right now, the parking plazas have been opening at roughly the schedule below:
- Magic Kingdom 1 hour before park opening
- Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom about 45 to 60 minutes before the park opens
Try to time your arrival to the parking lots to match those times. If you are a little bit early, theyll likely hold you for a bit before they start letting people into the parking lots.
Once you have paid, parking at all 4 parks is self-explanatory, and there are tons of Cast Members working in the parking lots to help you find your way.
All parking lots are well labeled with cute, themed names to help you remember where you parked.
For guest safety and to promote physical distancing, Disney is currently parking guests in every-other-spot. This makes it so much easier to get out of your car and unload your stuff, all while staying at least 6 feet away from the car next to you.
Then, later after guests have cleared out the Cast Members will go back and fill in the empty spots.
We really love this new method for parking and we hope it is something that Disney continues after things return to normal.
Take a picture of your parking space and the nearest lot sign each time you park! This makes finding your car at the end of a long day much easier.
Avoiding a long walk
Parking At Disney World
In this post, we discuss having a car at Walt Disney World Resort, including parking at Disney World, reasons to have a car, alternatives to having a car, and how having a car can impact your strategy for visiting the parks. If youre wondering whether it might make sense to have a car at your next Walt Disney World trip, read on to get an overview of all the factors you need to consider.
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What Is Walt Disney World Preferred Parking
Preferred Parking at Walt Disney World, is available at each of the parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.
If you are driving to the parks for the day, you need to plan to pay $20 to park in the regular parking spots. So, think it less of a $40 fee to park but rather a $20 parking upgrade.
The parking spots are in the first few rows and you and your family wont have to ride the tram to get to the front of the park. This is especially helpful for families with strollers or wheelchairs. The reason being you only have to set up the stroller or wheelchair one time instead of once to get to the tram and then only to have to fold it up and unfold it again for the tram ride.
Bonus, if you have to leave the park quickly, to say, catch a flight being near the front and not having to ride the tram to your car in the lot is a game changer.
For annual passholders, standard parking is complementary. Utilizing preferred parking would incur a $20 fee . That is something for annual passholders to factor in when budgeting for their Disney trip. Do you want to spend $20 extra on parking or Dole whips?
Save Your Money And Skip Preferred Parking
Image: Jett Farrell-Vega
Preferred parking is a VIP option Disney added in the last two years to give guests access to closer parking areas. While this may sound intriguing, the catch is that preferred parking comes with a $45-$50 price tag.
Most of the time, preferred parking at Disney parks just isnt worth it. Disneys trams run very regularly, and at both Epcot and Disneys Hollywood Studios, parking far away is fairly rare. Preferred parking becomes slightly more attractive at Disneys Animal Kingdom which has one of the resorts most sprawling parking lots, but the trams are still very regular to help reduce walking time.
The one exception some guests might appreciate is preferred parking at Magic Kingdom if you will be staying for the nights final fireworks during a busy season. While preferred parking doesnt help you avoid the Transportation and Ticket Center, having preferred parking can make that experience go a lot smoother at the end of the night when tram lines get long in peak season. While this is an attractive option, for most guests, you will probably want to save your $50 for other parts of your trip.
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Avoid Parking Completely And Use Designated Guest Pickup Or Drop
Disneyland has designated specific areas for guests getting picked up or dropped off by a driver to access Downtown Disney and the Disneyland Resort theme parks. The two access points are:
- Harbor Boulevard Use the right southbound lane of South Harbor Boulevard between South Manchester Avenue and Disney Way to enter the drop-off area.
- Downtown Disney District From Magic Way, take Disneyland Drive, turn left at Downtown Drive, and follow the signs for the drop-off zone.
Standard parking rates will apply after a 15 minute grace period. Waiting is permitted, but parking or leaving a vehicle unattended in this area is not.
What If You Are Not A Disney Hotel Guest
If you are not staying at a Disney Resort, can non guests visit Disney resorts? The simple answeryes! I personally have visited many of the resorts at which I was not staying just for the different food options. If there is space to park, you typically can park at the resort you are visiting for a few hours for free. If there is no space, you may need to park elsewhere and use Disney transportation.
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Whats The Cost To Park At Disney World
Before you make your way out to Walt Disney World, its important to know what to budget for when it comes to parking. Youre mostly likely asking yourself how much does it cost to park at Disney World?
And yeah, the parking prices can be absolutely ridiculous at any of the Florida theme parks.
You may also want to know if parking is free at Disney World?
Its not, but later in this guide I will give you tips on how to park at Disney for free.
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Are You Willing To Do Some Extra Walking
Another great benefit to living near the Disney attractions, have been the ability to explore the Disney Properties as often as I could. I have learned that if you visit Disneys Boardwalk as a guest, not staying at the resorts, you can park for free.
All you need to do is show your ID to the security guard, who then directs you to the guest parking area. Keep in mind, if you are going to Epcot, there is a back entrance that is connected to Boardwalk located around the lake. That entrance leads you in by the France pavilion over at the countries in Epcot.
Also, if you feel like spending some extra time sightseeing around Disneys Boardwalk, you also have the option of riding bikes around the lake, instead of just walking. However, there is a fee for renting the bikes.
If you want to leave Boardwalk and head over to any of the other theme parks, there are Disney Buses located in the front of the main entrance of Boardwalk that guests can take to any of the four main theme parks .
If you walk around Disneys Boardwalk at nighttime during the Epcots firework display, you will be able to enjoy the view from the bridge. Remember to find out what time the fireworks show begins.
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Are You Planning Multiple Visits To Walt Disney World
If your planning several trips to Disney, then you should consider becoming a passholder. Annual passholders, premium passholders and premier passholders, include free parking to all the Disney theme parks.
In fact, these benefits are a good way to save money by simply avoiding the cost for parking at Disney World. If you are planning on multiple trips to Disney World, then you will need to read my related articles:
Are You Coming In From Out Of Town
A great option to avoid the cost for parking at Disney World is to park in the garages at Disney Springs and then take a bus over to any of the theme parks. Learn where to park at Disney Springs in my other article about Disney Springs parking.
The good news is that you can park there all day and dont have to worry about your car being towed. However, the downside to doing this is that its time consuming. It also can become tiring from all the walking and waiting around for the busses.
Make sure to remember where you parked your vehicle, because there are several different garages that have been built. I usually send myself a text message or take a quick picture with my cellphone of the parking space, including the name of the garage.
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Which Guests Must Pay To Park At The Theme Parks And How Much Does It Cost
Non-Disney resort guests, or those staying off Disney property , are charged to park a vehicle at the four major theme parks.
Guests pay for parking once per day and can move from park to park that day without paying again. Keep your parking receipt and show it to the cast member at the next parks toll booths. Youll be allowed to enter the parking lot without paying a second parking fee.
Daily parking charges for those required to pay for parking are:
- Preferred Parking for Car or Motorcycle: $45-$50
- Passholders and Resort guests with free parking only pay additional $20-$25 for Preferred Parking