As if the most recent hikes in theme-park tickets weren’t enough, the price for driving to the House of Mouse just got a little more expensive.
Recently, The Walt Disney World Resort has brought itself one step closer to its competitors with its decision to officially end complimentary parking for resort guests – there goes our happy thought!
Up until now, on-site parking has been included with all overnight stays at Walt Disney World Resorts. Effective March 21, 2018, all guests reserving rooms on property will be subject to the following tiered overnight parking fees:
- Value Resorts: $13.00
Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s All Star Music, Movies & Sports Resorts, & Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
- Moderate Resorts: $19.00
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside & French Quarter Resorts, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, & Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Deluxe Resorts: $24.00
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort, Disney’s BoardWalk Resort, & Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort
Welcome to the Walt Disney World Fees Club! All rates will be charged per night, per vehicle in addition to the guest’s nightly accommodation rates. Those who reserved rooms prior to March 21, 2018 will still enjoy complimentary resort parking.
An average nightly stay at a Walt Disney World Deluxe Resort ranges (based on dates of stay) from $345-$1,100 USD per night at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort to $500-$4,500 USD per night at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. These are just two examples of Deluxe Resorts. Even at its most affordable $345 USD per night, guests of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort will now be paying an additional $24 USD per night in parking… and we haven’t even gotten to the prices for park tickets, dining, shopping, tours, special events, etc.
Now you may be wondering if there are exceptions to the overnight parking policy. There are a few:
- Guests with valid disability placards will be provided with complimentary parking; or
- DVC Members who utilize vacation points for their reservation or who are staying overnight at a Disney Vacation Club Villa Resort.
Make no mistake, many in the hospitality industry have been utilizing parking fees as a revenue source for years, and this fee certainly is not new to Orlando-based hotels. The EPCOT-based Swan & Dolphin have been charging an add-on “facility/parking” fee which is said to include access for its guests to their in-house fitness center as well as the replenishment of bottles of water in the guest’s room daily. Many have asked why they need to pay this fee if they are not utilizing these amenities.
Universal Hotels also currently charge over $20 USD per night for guest parking and have been doing so for quite some time. However, Walt Disney World Resorts are not “hotels” by industry standards. Amenities like world-class customer service, dining and shopping, complimentary parking, bus transportation, fitness center access, extra magic hours, and toiletries are just a few of the standards that have separated Walt Disney World Resorts from Off-Property Hotels, Motels and Time-Shares.
Some in the Disney Community are arguing that this will be a positive change for the resorts. They counter that parking lots will be less crowded which will allow more easy access to parking spots for resort guests. Typically this is only a concern at theme park adjacent resorts or during holidays, and since this new fee exclusively affects overnight guests, we believe the resorts (like Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort) will continue to struggle with day guests who park at the resort saying they’ll be dining at a restaurant (when they’re really walking into EPCOT) in order to avoid the fees associated with theme park parking. If this was the reason behind the new added fee, the reasonable method would be to apply the fee to all guests (day and overnight) theme park adjacent resorts. However, that is not the case and these parking issues will remain unresolved.
In our opinion, Disney Parks & Resort’s journey into the dangerous and frankly quite tacky land of add-ons and fees on-fees-on-fees isn’t a magical one. We don’t mind paying for something when there is value in the expense. For an average five night trip to The World, guests who plan to park a car on property at either a Moderate or Deluxe Resort should budget an additional $100.00 for parking fees to their travel fund. The average Walt Disney World guest from the UK stays around 14 nights on property totaling $182 USD for parking at a Value Resort. We have to ask, where is the value in these fees?
We do not regularly drive to The Walt Disney World Resort nor do we regularly rent a car. With this in mind, you might be asking why we even care about the added parking fees since they most likely will not directly affect us. It’s simply disappointing. We know this will not be the end of add-ons, and there’s nothing magical about greed. This new policy has us asking – what’s next Disney? Will Parks & Resorts begin to charge us a daily fee for use of the pools, hot tubs, and fitness centers, for our use of towels and bed sheets, to participate in resort activities like “movies under the stars”, or for FastPasses? Universal already does this with their Express Passes – watch this space.
As of now, there are no plans to begin charging short-term “day guests” who are “dining” or “shopping” at a Walt Disney World Resort and park on resort property for the duration of their activities. Also, watch this space.
Meanwhile, we are left a few questions…
- How will they police the new parking fee? Will it be prepaid; will it be bundled into resort/dining/ticket packages; or will it be a surprise at the end of your stay that magically appears on the guests’ bill?
- Who will be responsible for explaining this fee to the once-in-a-lifetime guests who saved for years and are sticker-shocked when they see the parking add-on to their already confusing end-of-stay billing statement? The people we feel bad for here are the Cast Members at the front desk who will most likely take the brunt of the anger directed at this new policy.
- Will the guard stations throughout The Walt Disney World Resort that have since been unstaffed (with the exception of major holidays and/or events), now be staffed full-time? Deluxe resorts have been staffed and asking for dining reservations/scanning magic bands now for quite some time. However, the guard stations at moderate resorts like Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort (again, with the exception of peak holiday travel dates) are often times not staffed.
- How will they know if a guest is there for “shopping”? Obviously “dining” is easier to define as the guest will most likely have a dining reservation or a restaurant name in mind. However, when it comes to shopping at the resorts, that category is pretty vague.
Forget the car! There are still ways to avoid these overnight parking fees:
- As of this post, Disney’s Magical Express bus transportation still offers complimentary round-trip group transportation 24/7 to your resort from Orlando International Airport.
- Private town car services like Town Car Now of Orlando as well as Uber, Lyft, and Disney’s Minnie Vans (operated by Lyft) are all affordable options to get you to and from your required destinations. We often take advantage of Uber when we’re on Disney Property to transport us to our date-night destinations from our resort.
- Parking at The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resorts, Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Blizzard Beach Water Park, Disney Springs are all still complimentary, and resort shuttles are available free-of-charge to all Walt Disney World Resorts.
- Theme-Park Parking for Walt Disney World Resort guests is also still complimentary.
- Plan your trip according to where you want to be. One reason we do not require a car on WDW Property is because we plan our trip around where we will spend the majority of our time. For us, the EPCOT Resorts are the most convenient since we have the ability to walk to two of the four theme parks. Take some time to look at where you want to play, dine, and shop throughout The World – then pick the resort that is the most convenient for you.
Walt Disney’s vision for Disneyland (and then Walt Disney World) was to create an affordable place where adults and children could share magical moments together. We are simply disappointed at the news of more add-ons coming to Walt Disney World, but we know these will not be the last.
Will these new fees play a part in your upcoming trip to The World? Do you think the new parking fees will make guests rethink off-property hotels? Will you plan your trip differently or cancel it all together? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the new parking fees at The Walt Disney World Resort. Drop us an e-mail, tweet us, or let us know in the comments below.
The comments, opinions, and views set forth on this site are the reflected personal positions of the site’s creators. This site is not an affiliate of The Walt Disney Company. The comments, opinions, and views set forth within this site are not the official positions of The Walt Disney Company, and they do not reflect the Company’s position.