Disney Testing Paid Parking at Walt Disney World Resort Hotels

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Disney is now testing the concept of paid parking for non-resort guests at Walt Disney World. The concept was recently tested at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and will be tested again soon at Disney’s Boardwalk. The test is the latest attempt by Disney to control parking at the resorts, possibly preventing guests from lying that they are visiting the resorts when they are actually using it as a place to park before visiting one of the Walt Disney World theme parks. Under the possible new policy, guests without reservations or who are not resort guests would have to pay the parking fee in order to park at the resort.

Late morning on the Boardwalk

Paid parking would still not apply to those with dining reservations, Tables in Wonderland members (who get free valet when dining at a resort restaurant only), and obviously resort hotel guests.

What do you think? Is this a good idea?

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Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

79 Comments

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  • I’m down for it. Parking can get kinda crazy at some of the deluxe resorts. As long as dining reservations continue to give complementary parking, which I think is fair, it’s a decent change.

  • I agree with this change. However, for some resorts, where parking is limited, how do they ensure that there is enough parking for guests of that resort? For example, the Contemporary parking is limited. I have been a guest of another Disney resort and had to call security to ask if I can drive over and park there so I can shop at their stores.

    • I do not agree. My cousin lives near WDW and didn’t have money to visit the parks this year, but she did spend a day touring the resorts to see all the Christmas decorations and gingerbread. Something she wouldn’t have done if there was a parking charge.

      • Parking shouldn’t break the bank. It should be as much or less than parking at the TTC, Epcot, or DHS parking lots. Right now parking is $20 at one of those places. That’s a reasonable price in order to discourage people from using it as a means to avoid paying for parking if they’re going to the parks.

  • I understand that some are not honest, but as someone who is honest this would be disappointing. We visited for a week from Kansas in early Dec 2014, including two adults and 3 children. We thoroughly enjoyed a self guided tour of the resorts to look at the holiday decorations one day, in lieu of the expense of another day of park tickets for 5 people. We didn’t have dining reservations but did eat appetizers at a couple of restaurants and also shopped in stores. Perhaps parking could also be validated for shoppers?

  • I am lucky to live close to Disney. I got caught by this new policy while trying to purchase Christmas gifts at the Contemporary. I hope they add an option for those of us who go to the resort to make purchases in the gift shop.

  • We love to visit the resorts at Christmas to see the decorations. We retired to Florida this year to be close to the parks. This year we were turned away from several resortsand not allowed in. I understand the situation but there should be allowances during the holidays. I am an AP holder and spend a lot of money in the parks as well as the resorts and was very disappointed to miss the decorations this year.

  • I have to agree with Gary. What does this mean for annual pass holders. I go to the hotels to make use of amenities such as the renting the boats or bikes or see Piano Bob. I would hate to have to pay for parking.

    • If they are going to charge for parking like they would if you were going to a park, my assumption would be that if you are DVC or AP, then the rules stay the same for free parking. When I visit the parks, whether staying at a house or another resort, I still go by the BCV, my home resort, just to check it out. Also, that’s what I tell the guard. It’s no secret. I say, I’m here to check on things, shop the boardwalk, and visit Epcot for food. They understand and let me in. It’s my home resort and I ought to be able to do that.

  • I am all for it, but as other have suggested hope they can develop a mechanism to validate for those who are truly there to tour the resort, visit a bar or restaurant without reservations or shop (i.e. spend $) – especially at the holidays.

  • Boardwalk has been doing this for months now. I used to visit Boardwalk 6-8 times a year to walk around the lake and enjoy the entertainment while supporting the local food establishments. The last 2 times I tried to enter over the last 6-8 months I was told the only available parking was valet unless you were a resort guest or had a dinner reservation. I’m sure there are a few who try to park at a resort to avoid the parking fee at the parks but I believe there are more of us that aren’t trying to take advantage of free parking. I for one always enjoyed just supporting the Boardwalk and since I’m an Annual Passholder I receive free parking at the parks anyway. Hopefully Disney will figure out a better way to control the parking.

    • Agreed. We like to go to Jellyrolls (which doesn’t have any sort of reservation system as it is a bar) and so where are we supposed to park? HS and then take the boat over? That seems silly. Can’t park in front of Epcot and then cut through as the park closes early, so getting back to our car would be difficult.

    • I think it messes up going to bored walk also just as you have said i love to do this it would stop me from doing so if i had to pay and i would be sad they have the best Disney candy shop

  • what about if I am, staying at POR but want to go to another resort for any OTHER reason, look around, even park and goto MK via Contemporary….is that allowed?

      • Not true. I think it was late October when I was staying at Beach Club or Boardwalk and wanted to park at Contemporary – I was refused because I didn’t have a dining reservation they could verify. I’m also a dvc member – that doesn’t give us free parking, or the right to park anywhere except the resort we’re staying at.

  • All for that, as well as proof of being a resort guest when using the pools. I’ve had to troll for parking too many times with people using excuses not to pay at the parks. And I personally overheard someone at the Wilderness Lodge during the summer speaking on her cell phone. Telling the other person, they just park Downtown and take the bus to the Wilderness Lodge and use the pool for the day.

    • DVC members can use pools at all of the resorts except for the gated ones (unless staying there) which are AK, BLT, Poly and Beach Club.

      • DVC members cannot use the pools at all of these resorts. You have never been able to pool hop to Yacht & Beach Club unless you are staying there and I think most all of the pools now have fences that you have to scan your band to get into.

  • I think its a good idea, as long as those with an ADR still get free parking. Sometimes at Y&BC resort guests have a problem parking!

  • I just love when Disney implements changes like this and don’t tell the Cast Members. I work for the main switchboard and had no idea.

  • I can see where this can be a problem but Disney/travel groups advertise numerous things to do at Disney for free e.g. walk the board walk, view the fire fire works at Disney other then in side the parks, carriage ride at Port Orleans or at Wilderness Campground or how about just checking out the different resorts. A suggestion I would make is get a ticket when you enter the parking lot time stamped and if you are offer a specific time say 4 hours you are then charged for a full days parking.

  • As an AP holder and FL resident we use the resorts for other things especially Boardwalk, walking around just getting ice cream, visiting friends in town who ARE staying at the resorts because they don’t have their cars, etc. We may not have reservations but enjoy going there and are always spending money at Disney!

  • I think it’s a great plan, especially for those who are spending hundreds of dollars a night to stay there, I think they should add a parking pass for special events, if people are paying to attend the event.

  • Does anyone know how much the parking fee is? Is it the same as the parks? One work around fir people wanting to shop or done, the parking fee is still in affect, however it is now a credit towards your purchase/bill. But it is only good for a max 3hrs or so. Dining for 2hrs and you would still have to shop.

  • Totally agree with it,would hopefully cut down on non Disney stayers using the buses as well,which has got to be good.Think this is well overdue.

  • What are the details? We always stay at a Disney resort but like to drive over to other resorts. They let you valet for the day sometimes when the lot is full, which I’ve never had to do, but I’d almost opt to pay a flat fee and park myself if that were the only way to park close to where I was going to start and end my day.

    • If you are staying at any resort, as of now, you don’t have to pay to park anywhere. That is why they give you the pass when you check in.

  • I think this is an excellent idea that’s long overdue for the monorail resorts. The last several times we stayed at the Poly (this is going back about 3-4 years), we would come back to the resort around 4:00ish and the parking lot would be completely full. We had to leave our car in the 30 minute parking, notify the concierge so we didn’t get towed, then go back about an hour after Wishes to move our car when the lot was only about 1/4 full. Yes, some of those were guests for the luau or guests with dinner reservations who stuck around to watch the fireworks from the beach which is perfectly fine. However, I also clearly recall coming back from MNSSHP on one occasion and needing to get something from our car. Approximately 40 people got off the monorail and only about 1/2 dozen went to the rooms, while everyone else headed to the parking lot to leave. The concierge at the resort acknowledged that people using the resort as a free MK parking lot was a huge problem, but there was nothing they could do about it. Unfortunately, this policy will prevent some people from legitimately going to enjoy the resort however too many people misused the system as it was. Disney raising prices didn’t help as people on a budget were understandably looking for ways to save a few bucks here and there.

  • People that want to visit the resorts can always park at Disney Springs and ride the busses to the areas they want to visit. We have done that in the past. Just utilized the free transportation provided by Disney. The only down side is that you have to use either Disney Springs or one of the parks as a hub to get to another resort.

  • Well, if that is going to be policy, then it stinks. We are DVC, AP and we just stayed at OKW. OKW doesn’t have a very good (in our opinion) counter service. So we went over to Pop Century for our dinners, at least 5 of our 14 days. We have free parking at the parks, which is fine, but if I have to park at a park, take a bus to Pop for dinner and then take a bus back to my car, that would stink on ice. And forget about bringing dinner back to the room (which we did 90%o f the time)…it would be ice cold!

  • Disney already knows people do this. What’s ridiculous is parking cost of $20. What is the purpose of the cost? The ticket feees are ridiculously expensive enough as it is! Now in late 2015, Disney increased all of the Florida annual passholder tickets by about $80/ticket to incl parking for free. (including children tickets who cant drive) They should build covered parking garages like Universal Studios has with a moving platforms and do away with the trams. As it is, we walk a mile to our car in the heat and rain at times even after using a tram.

  • I’m all for them charging a fee to non-resort guests and I think it should be a “convenience” fee that is higher than regular parking at the parks.. When we stayed at the Boardwalk, there were times when we ended up parking across the street because the parking lots were full. Hotel guests pay a premium to stay onsite and shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not a parking space will be available at their hotel.

  • I already pay for parking at the parks on the ticket I have which was a lot of money And to pay another $20 on top of that is awful… I do understand if your at the hotel and it’s hard to park but really if I pay $20 you find me a space so I’m sure you can find a space for the people in the hotel yes ? Just another making scream I think ! I use to love just having a little walk round and taking the grandchildren for an ice cream… And yes I do have a Disney ticket for the last 14 years with parking on it for all those years !! Premier one the most expensive one !! Years ago you use to get 20% at some shops with that ticket then they dropped that to 10% now it’s all about money !! Rant over.

  • Everyone upset about this should boycott Disney. Once enough people boycott Disney will realize they sre already mski5 ashit load of profit and once they upset the masses their profits could be in jeperdy.

  • Yay! Now I can save the money I would spend on my Annual Pass on something different. Also, I’ll save enough to go to some other restaurants in Orlando, instead of WDW. I’ve been a passhoder for more than fifteen years. Good riddence to the increasingly greedy corporation!

    • I’m confused. Your AP never got you free parking at the resorts. Having a car got you free parking at the resorts. I mean, you can stop buying an AP of course, but it’s not like they took any feature away from your AP.

  • DISNEY PARKS ARE BUSTING AT THE SEEMS….WAYYYY TOO MANY PEOPLE, LONG WAITS, TOO MANY STROLLERS. Sorry to shout. it’s a madhouse here this week. They need to charge for infants too…the stollers are out of control. But yes, they need to charge to park, and more for admission. ANYTHING to lower the crowds. PLEASE.

    • You have picked to go at one of the most busiest times of the years, of course it’s crowded. The prices are too much as it is. They don’t need to be raised anymore.

    • The real thing that is out of control is the ECV’s. Probably 80% of those that have them don’t need them for the reason they were intended.

  • Against it. As a cast member who enjoys visiting the resorts to dine with my family or to go shopping for special gifts for Christmas and birthdays I think it’s very sad that they are going to a paid fee to park. Dining and shopping at disney is already a premium price. Adding $20 to park is Crazy. But I guess if Disney does not want my money I will go somewhere else who does because I will not be paying to park

  • While charging for parking at the resorts may be a new concept, it had always been an unwritten policy of certain resort hotels…..namely the Poly, Contemp, GF, and Boardwalk/BC/YC area resorts to not allow parking at those resorts at certain times of year………I remember being told years ago during the holiday season at the GF if we did not have an ADR (even before they were called ADR’s) we could not park there……the security guard had a clipboard with dining reservations listed. And, we were/are DVC members staying onsite so were very familiar with resort hopping. We were also turned away from the Contemp for the same reason (this was before BLT was even built).
    I do not agree with the new policy if it does pertain to everyone who is not staying at that certain resort but staying at another onsite resort……I think the way the article reads it’s a little unclear…….Disney does usually refer to WDW as a whole “WDW resorts”……so I would take the article to mean if you are not staying anywhere on Disney property. I do not like the fact that you no longer get a dashboard parking pass and I think that fact alone makes it much easier for offsite guests to park at a resort……but I don’t think charging to park is the answer to that either. I think if Disney chooses to not utilize parking passes for onsite resort guests they need to come up with some type of plan to determine WHO is an onsite guest and who is not. As far as a local or someone staying offsite, there should be a policy that a parking charge will not be instituted IF that person provides a dated receipt from either the gift shop, QS, or a bar within that hotel upon exiting the parking lot.

  • So we visit WDW 2-3 times per year. A lot of times we stay at POR or POFQ but want to visit Boardwalk just to walk around. The past few years we’ve had to pay $20 to valet as the guard would not let us park in the free parking even though we were staying on Disney property. With valet being increased to $30 what would stop someone from making a reservation for a restaurant they have no intention of showing up for and using the back entrance to Epcot. The fee of $10 that is applied to your credit card for not showing up would still be cheaper than the valet if the reservation was made for only 1-2 people.

  • The Disneyland DTD parking fee design seems it could perfectly resolve this. 2 hours free, 2 additional free hours with validation by restaurants, steep ($12) hourly fee after that. Those that want to shop at the resort, eat quick service, visit for the holidays, no problem. And no drain on the spaces because they’re there for a short time. But quickly discourages park day guests.

  • I think that a timed visit for free, but all day parking at the same rate as park parking makes sense. Resort guests always park for free at the parks or at other resorts (with a dining reservation for example) but I think that they do need to put something in place for people trying to ditch on parking fees. As other poster said, you could park at Disney Springs and use transportation. The sad fact is that so many people break the rules and once again Disney looks like the bad guy just for trying to enforce them.

  • So you arrived at Boardwalk and are not staying there and the guard told you you had to use valet parking?

    Let’s imagine instead that (better method) a portion of the lot were cordoned off for later arriving guests sleeping at Boardwalk. You could have found the rest of the lot full and had to use valet parking without the guard having to tell you that.

    Perfectly good policy. You should not be entitled to use the portion of the lot reserved for guests staying at Boardwalk just because you got there sooner.

  • As Florida residents our family enjoys Disney activities quite often. In December, we (10 of us) went to enjoy the decorations & “play” at the resorts. We had snacks & drinks @ the Polynesian Resort, then RENTED a Pontoon boat after which we Monorailed to the Contemporary, where we spent $$$ playing Arcade games, shopped & ate dinner, without a reservation. Collectively, we spent OVER $300. Now, we are going to be asked to PAY TO PARK. Parking revenue @ WDW is a GOLDMIND! Using INCREASED COSTS may help the parking problem, just like INCREASED ticket prices & restrictions on annual passes, etc. will. But Disney should take care that ALL THESE ATTEMPTS FOR CROWD CONTROL will be achieved by RESIDENTS STAYING AWAY FROM ALL RESORT ACTIVITIES! Be CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR! You MAY SUCCEED!!!

  • We are visiting from the UK – annual pass holders and been visiting DIsney since 1993 – just tried to park at the Contemporary and ran into the no reservation no parking rule – it’s just a shame this has not been explained and communicated – made to feel like a pair of criminals by the guard and I thought as AP holders why we cannot park like this at the hotels it is one of the things we like to do when we come across – come on DIsney get your act sorted and get this sorted.

  • I am glad they are trying to get a problem under control. If I go into Charleston for shopping, I have to pay at the parking garage. Same thing. Too many times while staying on property at Disney, we could not find a parking spot or people were trespassing to go pool crashing. I am glad they are doing this and finally fencing in the pools too. We save to take our trips…others should try it!

  • I agree and disagree with the policy. We used to go to the California Grill lounge nearly every month, even more frequently during periods of frequent visitors. It was a must take place when we had out of town visitors. Looking back at 2014, we went to the California lounge 15 times, frequently meeting friends there so multiple cars were involved because we were arriving from and departing in different directions and at slightly different times because of babysitter schedules.

    Since the lounge does not accept reservations, which why would an open seating lounge require reservations, we no longer can park for free at the Contemporary Hotel without paying valet charges for a romantic night at the lounge, or for that fact at The Wave, on the lobby floor. As neither of these places are inexpensive, an additional $25 plus tip for parking significantly increases the costs for enjoying these lounges. If this parking policy were in effect in 2014, we would have been looking at near $1000 added to the nearly $4000 we and our friends spent at the Contemporary Hotel businesses. That’s a 25% increase, which is not inconsequential. While we could pay the $25 parking fee and just drink and eat $25 less food and alcohol, the unwelcome felling of the whole experience makes it more likely we just won’t be there more than once or twice a year, and still eat and drink less on those visits, and we will be much less likely to subject our out of town friends to this treatment. So if Disney is okay with losing $4000 in annual sales from one couple and their friends for an additional $1000, then so be it.

    I rather like the way Universal Orlando does it down the road. I believe there you don’t pay to park, but you do pay to leave if you don’t have a receipt from one of the places in that specific resort. Essentially the validate parking if you spend more than a predefined, reasonable amount. validated parking when you spend at least $50 at the resort (outside of the theme parks) seems reasonable.

  • My wife wanted to visit Wilderness Lodge last Thursday evening and was told she could not since she was not staying at the resort. She informed the guard that she is a Florida resident annual passholder which includes FREE parking and simply wanted to grab something from Roaring Fork. He gave her a form where she was to have a cast member at Roaring Fork sign to prove that she went there. She handed the form back to him and told him to FORGET IT!!..she felt like a convicted felon for asking.

    • I hope you guys reported this! It sounds like he should have asked for some sort of annual pass holder card and allowed you both to enter! This doesn’t sound like something Disney would be happy about

  • Yes good idea! I’ll gladly pay $25 to park at Contemporary if it means a five minute walk to MK. I Haven’t been to Disney in years and while doing my research I’m totally dreading the parking. I want to get to the parks really early during the peak christmas season when we’re visiting and the resort buses don’t even run until 45 minutes until the rope drop! Driving myself, parking at Contemporary, and walking from there sounds like a much better deal if The paid parking makes it acceptable.