Where to Park at Disney World: a Helpful Guide

Disney World entrance

There are more options than ever when it comes to getting to the different Disney World parks these days, but that does not stop a ton of people from simply driving. When driving to Disney World in a vehicle, parking is the first part of the day’s experience.

It might seem a little stressful with long lines and huge parking lots scattered around Disney, but having some expectations on what to expect beforehand can help. This guide focuses on helping people understand exactly where they need to go to park at any of the parks and have a better overall understanding of how it works.

The Parking Costs at Walt Disney World 

Rates for Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom

  • Walt Disney World resort hotel guests – Free
  • Passholders – Free with passholder card and identification
  • Offsite guests – $25
  • Oversized vehicle parking – $30
  • Preferred parking – $45-$50

Disney World Resort Hotels parking

  • Guest – Included in total cost ($15-$25 per night)
  • Visitors with dining reservations – Free for three hours
  • Valet – $33

Water Parks and Disney Springs

  • Open parking – Free
  • Valet parking – $20

How to prepare for the Disney parking lots

At the four main Disney World Parks, each one has a huge parking lot for all the cars arriving each day. It can be overwhelming for those driving, but Disney has everything down so that the entire process goes as smoothly as possible.

Initial arrival

Each of the four parks have their own unique entrance that people will be stopped to pay or show their MagicBand. They do a good job of streamlining the entire process, so cars are moving pretty quickly even if there is a long line. There are no special lines to head towards, as they all take different forms of payment. If there are any special lines, there will be signs that mark everything off.

To speed up the process, have a form of payment or the annual pass information and ID ready. This will be beneficial for everyone else waiting in line, cutting down on having to wait too long.

To avoid as many lines as possible, keep in mind that the parking lot opens one hour before park opening at Magic Kingdom. It is 45 minutes before park opening at Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. This not only makes the parking process very easy, but people can take their time to get to the entrance as well.

Finding a spot

No matter how busy Disney is on a particular day, they keep the parking process about as simplified as one can expect. They direct guests the entire way to park in a specific spot to keep everything moving. While they try to keep everything very efficient, they do not necessarily come off as too pushy or demanding. Disney has mastered this ability to cut down on anxiety levels that some drivers may face if they are trying to keep up with impatient parking attendants.

Disney has a lot of land, so parking is extremely spaced out compared to most other amusement parks. That means that even if there is a car parking right next door, it is still pretty easy to get in and out of vehicles at the same time. Families with small children or elderly with them really benefit from the ample space.

To make the parking process even easier, Disney has recently implemented a more spaced out approach to loading up the parking lots. Due in part to COVID-19, they changed to parking vehicles every other space when initially filling at the lot. They then circle back around and fill the other spots later on, which helps everyone have just a little more space to work with when unloading.

Remembering where a car is located

Disney has always had plenty of markings for people to remember where they are parked in a parking lot. Each lot has its own name, and there are rows and other numbers to keep in mind. Everything is color-coded as well, and the rise in smartphones makes it as simple as taking a picture instead of having to memorize everything.

Tip: put something on the car to have it stand out

In a sea of cars, some vehicles can just start to blend in with one another. Even knowing the section and row might not be enough for some people to identify the car right away. One way to easily spot it when returning is to put some type of identifying feature on one end of the car sticking out in the row. 

For example, adding ribbon or even a sticker on the back of a car could allow for some easy spotting. No one wants to be the person going from section to section, hoping to find their car eventually.

Leaving the parking lot

The emotions might be a bit different when leaving the park, but if there is any consolation, it is usually a pretty painless experience. Those who want to make sure that it is as painless as possible should avoid the peak departure times, but even then, Disney has a system set up that makes leaving about as easy as possible.

Perhaps one of the most challenging things for guests is to find a way back to their car. Many people have already logged miles of walking on their legs, and they might be looking for some rest. Hopping on the tram to go back to the parking lot sounds like a great idea, but people might be waiting through a few of them before finally getting on.

Before jumping on any tram, make sure that it is heading towards the right part of the parking lot. Destinations are displayed for all the view before stepping into one.

Other common parking questions

It is never a bad thing to be as prepared as possible before heading to Disney. Parking correctly is no exception. Several of the most common questions people have when parking are below with answers.

Are there charging stations for electric vehicles?

Disney has added several charging stations around Disney World in the last few years. They are open to anyone wanting to use them, but a person must purchase a ChargePoint card beforehand. A person will be charged $.35 per kilowatt-hour for using the charging stations.

The good thing about these charging stations is that most of them are located in a convenient area. It is not only a way to charge the car up, but also get a bit of preferred parking.

Where can a person find charging stations? 

These are all the current locations at Disney World right now. They do plan on adding more in the future as the demand rises.

  • Coronado Springs Resort – General parking area near ADA spaces
  • Wilderness Lodge – General parking area near ATA spaces
  • Magic Kingdom – Near the front of the Medical Parking lot and the Zurg parking lot
  • Epcot – Front of the Journey parking lot
  • Animal Kingdom  – Medical Parking lot
  • Hollywood Studios – Front of the Mickey parking lot 
  • Disney Springs – Fifth floor of the Orange, Grapefruit, and Lime garages

Can anyone use the parking lot trams?

When the parking lot trams are up and running, they are free and available to anyone. They fill up on a first-come, first-serve basis. They usually are running throughout the day, but they will shut down from time to time.

As convenient as they are, people should not automatically expect to have access to them all the time. There are times when walking to the front of the park is going to take roughly the same amount of time. It is a nice luxury to have at the beginning or end of the day, but not a given.

Are there any special rules for the parking trams?

To keep the trams moving in a working order, guests are encouraged to find a seat quickly and stay inside the tram at all times. There is usually a new one arriving once every 5 to 10 minutes, so people do not have to wait too long if it fills up with people the first time.

Guests bringing a stroller, or carrying around bulkier items are encouraged to pull them up and break them down as much as possible to make room for others. Some smaller strollers might be able to go on the tram without any adjustments, but people are encouraged to fold them up and out of the way before getting on.

People should never feel in any type of rush when they are leaving the park and wanting to use one of the trams. They run for an hour after each park closes, so most people will have plenty of time to get to where they need to be. It sometimes pays off to wait a little bit after the park closes to get on the tram, as the parking lot thins out a bit and it is a smoother experience overall.

Is there value in preferred parking at Disney World?

While hearing about preferred parking might seem like a nice perk, most people who spend the extra money or a bit underwhelmed with how much of a perk it actually is. It is going to get people closer to the entrance of certain Disney parks, but not really so much of a change that it makes a big difference.

Most people look at just how many miles they end up walking at Disney World anyway, and they do not think of this added steps as that much of an issue. Unless preferred parking is included with the package or given as a free upgrade, it is really not worth the extra expense for the vast majority of people.

What happens if a person’s car breaks down at Disney World?

Whether it is a person’s old car, or their rental is not in as good as shape as one would think, there are cars to break down from time to time at Disney World. Disney understands this, and they are very helpful in giving people the assistance they need, so they do not feel like they are in a super vulnerable situation.

There is a roadside service available through Disney, 24 hours a day. If a person has any complications with their car, they can get the help they need right away. Rates are pretty affordable, so it is not something to worry about too much in a time of need.

Can a person park for free at Disney Springs or a waterpark and then go to one of the other parks?

Generally speaking, this is frowned upon by Disney for those people trying to save some money. While it could theoretically work, it is not exactly super easy to get from the parking of these areas to the other parks at Disney World. People will need to walk a long way, or they are going to need to take some type of final transportation.

What is the best way to avoid paying for parking at Disney?

Parking fees might seem unavoidable for some large groups, but there are ways around having to spend that extra bit of money each day. It might not seem like that much savings, but it can start to add up if a person does not have to pay extra money each day to park.

Simply put, leaving the car at the hotel, or just not ever getting a car, is the best way to go. Not only do certain hotels offer free shuttles directly to Disney parks, but there is also the opportunity to take a regular bus, taxi, or ride-sharing service. Most of these options might cost a few dollars, but it is still better than having to pay for a full day of parking.

Keep in mind that if it does cost money to get there, it is likely going to require that same amount to get back. At the end of the day, a lot of people will end up thinking that $25 to park a car is not that bad of a deal with the convenience of being able to hop in and leave whenever the day is over.

What is the parking costs for Disney World resort hotels?

Disney World resort hotels only recently started charging for overnight parking over the last few years. The prices are not that far off from parking at the parks, but people who are staying at hotels will have them included in the total charge.

The value resorts only charge $15 per night per vehicle, while mid-range resorts charge $20, and deluxe resorts charge $25. Keep in mind that parking for up to three hours is no charge as long as a person is dining that day.

What type of disability parking options are there at Disney World?

Disney World does a great job of offering plenty of disability parking at all of the parks. All that is required is a valid disability parking permit, and a person will be directed accordingly. The same general fees apply for parking, but they do have them in strategically located spots so that getting to the parks is relatively easy.

Once out of the car, make sure to display the disability permit on any mobility devices to avoid any questions. Disney does a pretty good job of passively checking for these permits, so as long as it is displayed correctly, no one should ever be asked any questions.

A Final Look at Parking at Disney World

No one enjoys having to pay extra fees during vacation, but it is something to keep in mind when setting up a budget. The rise in popularity with different transportation methods might be attractive to some, but others want to have their vehicle with them before and after a long day at the parks.

If any issues pop up, simply reach out to a cast member, and they will help out as much as possible. Parking might look overwhelming at first glance at Disney, but most people can navigate it reasonably well in the end.

Dustin Baier

Hey, I'm Dustin a Dad of 4 and married to Sweet Pea Chef for over 15 years now :) We got engaged at the Disneyland Hotel way back when and love a vacation at Disney World, Universal Studios, really anywhere with theme parks!

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