(Article last updated: March 14, 2018)
You probably already know that Disney World offers lots of free transportation options to help you get around. But did you also know that they make it just as easy (and sometimes even easier!) to drive?
Yep. It's true.
And they make parking at Disney World just as simple.
If you plan on driving (or are even thinking about driving) on your next Disney World vacation, we have some Disney World parking tips and suggestions to make navigating around Disney World property easy.
Let's get started...
In this article
- How much does parking at Disney World cost?
- What to expect when parking
- Parking at each Disney World park
- Driving around Disney World
- Locating the Disney World entrance sign(s)
- What to expect on the toll roads
- Parking and driving FAQs
- Can I get a discount for parking?
- What about Tables in Wonderland card holders? Can they park for free?
- Is Disney parking free after 6 p.m. (or 7 p.m. or 5 p.m., etc.)?
- If I leave and come back do I have to pay again?
- What if I Park Hop? Will I need to pay at both parks?
- Is Preferred Parking a good deal?
- Is there valet parking?
- Renting a car at Disney World
How much does parking at Disney World cost?
Although parking at Disney World resorts used to be free, Disney started charging for it with bookings made March 21, 2018, and beyond.
The costs are:
- Value resorts - $13/night
- Moderate resorts - $19/night
- Deluxe and DVC resorts - $24/night
If you are used to receiving a paper parking pass that you displayed in your car on previous trips, don’t be surprised if you don’t now. With the introduction of MagicBands, Disney has been transitioning to a paperless parking pass system. Instead, you may be required to scan your MagicBands. Be prepared to have those ready at both your resort and the parks.
Not staying on Disney property?
Unless you are an Annual Passholder you'll be paying for parking at Disney World. Make sure you factor that cost into your total when you compare staying offsite to the benefits of staying on Disney property.
Parking Costs for Walt Disney World
4 main parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios)
- Free for Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests
- Offsite guests $22/day
- Passholders - Free with Passholder card and photo ID
- Preferred Parking - $45/day
- If you are visiting for dining reservations or to tour, etc., you can park up to 3 hours for free
- Valet $25/day
Water Parks & Disney Springs
- Free for self-parking
- Valet parking for $25/day is available at Disney Springs
What to expect when parking
The 4 main parks will have booths at the entrance to the lots where you stop to pay (if you are staying offsite) or show/scan your MagicBand (if staying onsite).
Nearly all the booths will be open on both sides so you can pick whichever lane is the shortest.
The booths take both cash and credit/debit cards. If you plan to use your Annual Pass for free parking, you may be asked to show your drivers license, too.
If using an Annual Pass, we've always found it fastest to show the Cast Member the back of our Annual Pass card (where your name is located) and drivers license at the same time. Doing it that way makes it easy for them to match up both names quickly so we can be on the way!
Once you have paid, parking at all 4 parks is self-explanatory, and there are tons of Cast Members working in the parking lots to help you find your way.
All parking lots are well labeled with cute, themed names to help you remember where you parked. Make sure you remember the name as that is what the tram operators will call out when you head back to your car in the evening (more on that below).
Another thing to remember:
Take a picture of your parking space and the nearest lot sign each time you park! This makes finding your car at the end of a long day much easier.
The road leading into the lot will have color-coded stripes to help direct guests to special parking spaces. If you need special parking (such as handicapped parking) be sure to ask at the booth where to go and the Cast Members will tell you which color you should follow.
At Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney Springs, Disney has charging stations for electric vehicles available on a first-come, first-served basis. To use the stations you'll need a ChargePoint card and you'll pay $0.35 per kilowatt hour.
You can find charging stations in these locations:
- Epcot: 4 stations at the front of the Journey Parking Lot
- Animal Kingdom: 4 stations in the Medical Parking Lot
- Disney Springs: 3 stations on the 5th floor of the Orange Garage and 3 stations on the 5th floor of the Lime Garage
Avoiding a long walk
If you park too far away to walk to the front gates, all parking lots have trams that run all day on a very regular schedule (5-10 minutes apart).
These trams are quick, efficient, and can significantly cut down on your walk if you find yourself parking further back than you'd like.
Using a stroller
Traveling with a stroller at Disney World?
As with the buses, you will have to fold your stroller before boarding the tram, so keep that in mind as you unload your car. It might be easier to fully unpack/prepare your stroller for the day after you exit the tram at the park gate.
At the close of business, thousands of people will be heading out of the park.
What does that mean for you?
When the parks close, lines will form for the trams like those for the buses. However, the tram lines move very fast and it shouldn't take too long before you are being dropped off near the end of the aisle where you parked.
At the end of a long day, everything can start to blur. When heading out to the lots the tram drivers will tell you both the lot name (for example, "YETI") and the row numbers (i.e. "rows 50-59").
While you wait to board the tram is an excellent time to double check the picture you took that morning of your parking space. That way you won't be scrambling and you'll know exactly when to hop off the tram.
Since many people rent a car at Disney World and since many rental cars are the same color, consider tying a brightly colored ribbon to an antenna to make it easier to spot your car. If you don't have an antenna, as long as you are close enough to make it work, you can use your car's key fob to blink the lights or honk the horn.
If you are leaving at park closing (along with thousands of other people), don't be surprised at how quickly and efficiently the parking lots empty.
If you've ever attended a large sporting event or concert where there are thousands of people all trying to leave at once, you may have experienced long lines of cars with nobody moving, people getting angry, and general chaos.
Not so in the Disney parking lots.
You'll be happy to find things to be amazingly easy and simple when leaving. No non-moving bumper to bumper lines of cars or chaos to be found.
The exit signs in the parking lots are well labeled. It is as easy to find your way out of the lot as it is to find your way in.
Parking at each Disney World park
Parking for Epcot is located straight out in front of the park. Guests that are parking roughly 45 minutes before the park opens can expect to have an easy walk to the gates. In many instances, guests parking that early will not even need to use the tram.
Hollywood Studios is undergoing lots of construction right now and that can cause frequent parking lot changes. Again, arriving 45 minutes before the park opens can generally mean that you park close enough that you won't need a tram.
The Animal Kingdom parking booths are notorious for not always opening as early as the other parks. In the past, guests might find the booths closed when arriving before 8:00 am. and this would make it difficult to get to 8 a.m. breakfast reservations without having to really hustle.
But with Pandora now drawing larger crowds, that seems to not be as common of an occurrence anymore.
The Animal Kingdom lot also frequently has early morning guests parking further back than you might find at other parks. Some days arriving 45 minutes early might get you within an easy walk to the front and other days you might need to hop on a tram.
Driving and parking at Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios is usually just as fast (if not faster) than using Disney bus transportation. With these 3 parks you park your car in lots directly outside of the gates.
Because the parking lot for Magic Kingdom is actually about a mile away at the Transportation and Ticket Center, it is usually faster to use Disney's transportation.
Guests that drive and park must first hop on the monorail or ferry in order to get to the front gates of Magic Kingdom.
However, if you utilize Disney bus transportation, you are dropped off right outside the gates - no monorail or ferry needed. The other Disney transportation options (boat & monorail) from applicable resorts are also usually faster than driving.
If you decide to drive to Magic Kingdom, we recommend you add on an additional 30 minutes to your transportation time. That additional time allows you time to park, walk or take the tram to the Transportation and Ticket Center, and then time to ride the monorail or ferry over to the front gates.
Driving around Disney World
Disney is an expert at wayfinding signs.
Even people that get lost going to their local grocery store should have no problem navigating Walt Disney World. Major directional signs are bright purple, which makes them easy to recognize.
As you approach the Walt Disney World Resort, the signs for the resort hotels will be purple in color and start off more general. And the hotels will all be grouped by areas such as “Epcot Resort Area”, “Magic Kingdom Resort Area”, "Animal Kingdom Resort Area," etc.
As you get closer to your destination you will begin to see specific signs (which will be blue) for your resort.
To make it easier to get where you are going, make sure to know within which area your resort is located. This is especially true if you are planning to visit another resort hotel for a meal, etc.
The signs for the 4 main parks, 2 water parks, and Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) are self-explanatory and plentiful. You can’t miss them!
There are usually multiple ways to get to and from different locations. If you miss a turn or an exit, don’t panic; just keep following the signs. Map apps works well on Disney property so be sure to have one ready to use for your trip.
Locating the Disney World entrance sign(s)
Did you know that there is more than 1 of the big "Welcome to Walt Disney World" gateway signs?
All of the main entrances to Walt Disney World have the giant signs.
Don't get confused (and argue with your spouse that you are going in circles) if you feel like you keep going through them. You've probably just made a loop and are going back into or out of the Walt Disney World Resort on a different road.
It is important to note that stopping to photograph the signs is not allowed. If you want a picture make sure to have your phone or camera out and ready.
Use burst mode on your phone to snap a rapid series of pictures so you will have several to choose from.
What to expect on the toll roads
Venturing off Disney property with a car?
Florida is full of toll roads. Many of the direct routes to Walt Disney World require you to pay a small fee.
The toll roads around Disney World use the SunPass system.
Unless you have your own SunPass transponder (which allows you to use the special Express Lanes), you will want to be prepared with change to pay your tolls.
If you are driving your own car and you have a transponder for the turnpike system in your area, make sure you check to see if your local toll system works with SunPass.
Toll booths may be unmanned. Having exact change (a baggie full of $8-$10 dollars worth of quarters would be sufficient for the drive to and from the airport) is absolutely necessary if you will be going down any toll roads.
Most of the rental car agencies offer a “deal” in which they will let you use their SunPass transponder for a daily fee.
Be careful with this offer.
You will be charged the daily fee every day of your rental in addition to the cost of the tolls.
The fees vary from $3.95 per day all the way up to $10.49 per day. Considering the cost of the tolls is around $3.00 to $4.00 each way, you can see that their “deal” could wind up being a huge expense for you.
To compare the fees that each agency charges you can visit the SunPass website.
Parking and driving FAQs
Can I get a discount for parking?
Annual Passholders can park for free but there aren't any discounts for parking.
What about Tables in Wonderland card holders? Can they park for free?
Yes! If you are dining in the parks and you have a Tables in Wonderland card you can park for free.
- If you park before 5 p.m. you will need to pay to park and then take your receipts to Guest Relations to be reimbursed.
- If you arrive after 5 p.m. you will just need to show your Tables in Wonderland card at the parking booth.
Is Disney parking free after 6 p.m. (or 7 p.m. or 5 p.m., etc.)?
No, unfortunately. We will say that if you are heading into the lots near closing you will often find the booths closed up or Cast Members will just wave you in, but there is no specific time when parking is "free" so you should always plan to pay.
If I leave and come back do I have to pay again?
Nope! Just save your receipt!
What if I Park Hop? Will I need to pay at both parks?
Nope! Save your receipt from the first park and show it when you park at the 2nd park.
Is Preferred Parking a good deal?
We don't think so. If you plan to arrive early (like our touring plans suggest) you'll likely be parking in the rows directly behind the preferred parking. The $23 you'd save per day on just using regular parking will buy lots of Mickey ice cream bars, and that is probably money better spent.
Is there valet parking?
Yes, but only at the Deluxe resorts and at Disney Springs.
Valet parking costs $25/day but guests with a Tables in Wonderland card or ones that qualify for handicapped parking can valet park for free.
Renting a car at Disney World
Want to drive during your trip but won't have your own car? Check out our guide to Disney World car rental for info on how that works.
If you have been thinking about driving but were worried it would be too confusing - don't. Like many other things Disney does, they made navigating the Walt Disney Resort simple enough that even the most directionally challenged could do it.
If you aren't sure that driving is for you and you'd like to see what Disney has to offer for transportation, you can read about how to navigate using Disney World transportation.
Have you tried parking at Disney World before or still have questions? Tell us about it in the comments below.