If you’ve been living under a rock, or just don’t eat, breathe and sleep Disney, then you may not have heard that Walt Disney World has decided to start charging parking fees for guests at their resorts. People got mad, vowed to never return to WDW and the internet basically exploded.
Ok so I might be exaggerating about that last part, but in all honesty, a lot of Disney fans are just plain outraged, and if I’m being honest, rightfully so. Something that once was free and considered a perk of staying onsite at Walt Disney World is now going to cost you $13/night for Value resorts, $19/night for Moderates and $24/night for deluxe hotels. DVC guests staying with points are currently exempt from the new parking costs and Free Parking will still be available for guests who stay at the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. But that’s it. So how can you avoid these fees?
If you’re on a budget, this could really bite a chunk out of money you had set aside for fun or maybe it’s money you just really didn’t have at all.
While it is easy to just get angry and decide to never return to Walt Disney World again, let’s be honest for a second and realize that a lot of people are probably not going to be doing that, even if that was their initial reaction. Instead, let’s talk about a few ways you can avoid those parking fees right now.
Ok, so I realize this is the most obvious of solutions and one that some people cannot avoid, but if you don’t have to drive, then don’t. The beauty of living in today’s world is that you really don’t need a car at Walt Disney World. If you’re already paying to stay on property at Walt Disney World, then you’re receiving the perk of the Magical Express and their transportation and if you need to leave property or don’t want to take Disney’s transportation, you can Uber anywhere. Will the Uber cut into your budget? Sure, but it will likely be less expensive than paying a fee to park your car every day.
2. Stay off property at a Good Neighbor hotel
One thing that Walt Disney World doesn’t really advertise a whole lot is that you can actually receive a lot of the same benefits off property that you can get on property. And at a cheaper price. We have stayed at several Disney Springs hotels and they have all had extra magic hours, their own transportation to the Parks and some of them even offer the 60 day fast pass booking window. Do you have to pay for parking? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes those Parking fees are waived if you are a member of their rewards program and it never hurts to ask. Regardless, when we have stayed at Disney Springs, if Parking was not free, it also was not as expensive as you will pay to park your car at Walt Disney World. My whole point here…. shop around. You might be surprised. We recently stayed at Best Western Disney Springs and it was lovely.
3. Stay at an AirBnB
If you’ve been reading our blog for any amount of time, you will know that we love AirBnB. Not only are the prices usually much better than a WDW hotel, but you also get the comforts of your own home and many of the spaces available near Disney are themed which is pretty fun. If you’re an annual passholder, you won’t have to worry about paying to park at the Parks, but if you’re not, just know that most of the time, Uber is going to be cheaper than paying that parking fee. Book and AirBnB through this link to save even more. You’re welcome.
4. Stay at Walt Disney World renting DVC points
DVC guests staying on property using points are currently exempt from paying the resort parking fee, so if you rent DVC points to stay on property , you can take advantage of this. We have a quick guide to renting DVC points here. Now this is something we are hoping to learn more about this year, but if you’re confused about how this works, you can read more from Mousesavers by clicking this link.
5. Book your Disney Vacation Through a Third Party
So sometimes, and I put the emphasis on sometimes here, booking through a third party like hotels.com or travel agent will give you perks like free parking. I actually see this a lot on hotels in the Disney Springs area and The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin and what a lot of people don’t realize is that WDW hotels can be booked through third party sites while maintaining all of the perks you normally would receive. So its definitely worth checking out. And even if they don’t offer free parking, most of the time you will see cheaper room rates via a third party which can offset the new fees you are going to be paying in parking.
6. Don’t Use the Car You’ve Brought
After staying at several WDW resorts with a car, we have maybe figured how they actually track that you have a vehicle at the resort. Once you’ve checked in, and you leave and come back, you have to scan your magic band to be allowed past the entry gate of the resort. It seems to us that we are billed according to how many days we scan in. For example, we had a 3 night stay at Coronado Springs, but only used our car one day, so we got charged for parking for one night. We had a 3 night stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge and used the car all 3 days and were charged for 3 nights of parking. Make sense? Maybe not, but that’s what we’ve seen so far. It’s clear Disney is trying to get you to spend all your time in their parks. So if you have that car so you can pop over to Wizarding World of Harry Potter… then they’ll charge you for it. At least this is what it seems like so far.
For those asking, how do they know if you even have a car? I think that’s how they know. We were never asked for license plate info or if we even had a car, but noticed the charges when we checked out. So somehow, they knew.
Hopefully, you have found this article to be helpful! And hopefully this will help you find a solution that works for you and your family. And if not, remember, Wall-e reminds us, there’s a lot of world out there:)