As we were about to embark on our recent trip to Disney World, I decided to research parking options.
I was shocked to find out that it costs $17 a day to park at each of the four Disney World theme parks, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and EPCOT.
Luckily, I found out a way to get free parking and still make it to the theme parks, but we didn’t take advantage of it.
How to Park for Free at Disney World Theme Parks
Even though Disney charges you $17 per day to park a car at each of their four theme parks in Orlando, Florida, there is a way to get free parking at Disney World.
Essentially, you park your car at their shopping area, currently called Downtown Disney (which will soon be rebranded to Disney Springs). It is currently 100% free to park at Downtown Disney.
Once you arrive at Downtown Disney, you’ll need to take one of the Disney transportation buses to one of the Disney hotel resorts. Technically you have to be a resort guest to use the transportation, but they never check to see if you really are or not when you board or exit the bus. Once at the resort, simply hop off the bus and wait for a bus to the theme park you want to go to.
If you decided to go to a resort on the monorail system, (The Grand Floridian, The Contemporary or The Polynesian Resorts) you can simply hop on the monorail to head to the Magic Kingdom or EPCOT without taking a second bus.
So why pay for parking when you can park for free? I’m glad you are wondering, because we have very good reasons for paying $17 a day for four days to park at Disney World.
Why We Paid $17 a Day to Park at Disney World
Despite the fact that we could have parked for free, we paid $68 over four days to park at each of the four Disney World theme parks. This was money well spent in our opinion and we wouldn’t have done it any other way.
First, by paying to park at each of the theme parks, we were able to cut down our total travel time drastically. If we went to each of the theme parks via Downtown Disney we could have easily added 2 hours or more of travel time each day.
Of course, it could have been much less, but I figure an hour each way would have been a minimum travel time. We would have been totally reliant on the bus system which doesn’t run on a set schedule. If we missed a bus, we could have to wait a while before the next bus showed up.
Sometimes Downtown Disney opens up after the theme parks do, so we wouldn’t be able to show up until well after opening which is the best time to go on rides due to short lines. We didn’t want to miss out on that awesome time each morning.
We also wanted our car close by so we could store items in our car and retrieve them throughout the day. We kept my wife’s camera in the car when we went on rides, but we went out to the car to get her camera afterward so she could take pictures of the the highlights of each theme park.
We could have paid for a locker, instead, but we didn’t want to lug all of our stuff around on the buses and then risk something happening to it in a locker that Disney claims no liability over.
As you can see, we thought out our decision to pay $68 for four days of Disney World parking pretty seriously and we decided it was money well spent. Hopefully you now can make your own decision next time you drive to Disney and stay in a hotel off of the Disney World Resort.
What would you have done? Would you have paid for parking or taken the long way and gotten free parking? Let me know in the comments!
Photo by: danuv Text added by: Lance Cothern