Walt Disney World threw a curveball into the Disney and theme park world when they announced they would soon no longer allow overnight free parking at any of its Florida-based resorts. True to their word, effective for reservations made March 21, 2018 and thereafter, they began charging hotel guests $13 per night for self-parking at Value Resorts, $19 per night at Moderate Resorts and $24 per night at Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts. However this turned out to not be the only place where what had previously been free parking no longer was.
Effective March 30, Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets, the outlet mall located a few miles from Walt Disney World on the other side of I-4 and home to Disney’s Character Warehouse at the Orlando Premium Outlets, has also begun to charge for parking. Yes, paying to park at an outlet mall. And not a tiny sum, either! You now have a choice of:
- Valet Parking for $15
- Paid indoor parking for $10 (there’s a garage in the back of the building
- Preferred and upgraded parking for $3 for the first 2 hours and $3 for each additional hour (available via app)
There’s apparently some free parking in the far-off corners of the property, but good luck on trying to get a spot. As it was, it was nearly impossible to find a parking spot at this outlet mall when all the spots were free. If so many more spots are now only available if you pay for them, those free ones surely just went from “nearly impossible” to “why even bother?”
Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets is trying to make this all sound like a wonderful idea, and advertises it as an easier, more hassle-free way to park.
“No big deal,” you think. “I’ll just go to Orlando International Premium Outlets on the far north end of International Drive instead. That’s a bigger outlet anyway and they still have free parking, right?”
Orlando International Premium Outlets is also owned by Simon Property Group and on March 30th they also greatly shrunk their free parking options and expanded their paid parking. Here’s what’s on their website:
In a nutshell, any discount that you thought you might get from shopping at either outlet just got eaten up by having to park if you drive there.
So what can you do?
Welp, as of this writing, Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores is the outlet mall of choice that still has free parking. Granted, it’s a smaller outlet, with about 40 or 45 storefronts. But it’s closer to Disney (only about 2 miles away – go straight down Rt. 535, then under I-4, and after you go under the overpass for Rt. 417/the Greeneway, it’ll soon be on your left) and they have FREE SHOPPING SHUTTLES from a bunch of hotels in Orlando and Kissimmee!
There are also lots of outlets on the north side of International Drive that have free parking – but they’re more strip malls than outdoor malls so going to those will involve more driving around to get from place to place.
Take an Uber. You can get a free ride [up to $15] as a new Uber customer, using the code q47f4 (full disclosure: if you use that referral code, we get a free ride up to $15, as well).
It’s not super difficult to use the public bus system, called Lynx, and there’s at least one stop at or near each of the outlet malls.
If you have someone in your party who drives and hates shopping, perhaps you can plan for him/her to drop off and pick up the shopper(s) in your party (for the on-shoppers out there…you’re welcome LOL!).
Although we live in Orlando and the outlets are geared more towards tourists, I still visited the two Premium Outlets for specific clothing – mainly socks, sneakers and, on rare occasions, coats. That’s gonna change because I’m not about to pay for parking at either location, nor am I going to drive around, looking for that elusive free spot a mile away from the stores.
Your mileage may vary.
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