Did SeaWorld Orlando’s Parking Fee Just Go Up By Nearly 50%? Yes. Sometimes.

Now this is an interesting new spin on pricing.

For a while now, Walt Disney World and Universal Studios have been playing with the price of park passes so they’re more expensive on more popular days; they call it “dynamic” pricing. SeaWorld Orlando has apparently decided to join the dynamic pricing game and pocket a little (or a lot!) extra money and, depending on the day, charge varying amounts for PARKING.

Yep, parking. Here’s what they’re doing.

Parking at SeaWorld, until a couple of weeks ago, had been $20, which was a nice change of pace from the $22 they charged for parking at its neighboring theme parks down the road. And then, all of a sudden, BOOM, not only was general parking for cars $22, which was disappointing but understandable and definitely not surprising (frankly, we were surprised when they hadn’t raised it to $22 when Disney and Universal had), but it then jumped from $22 per day to $30 per day. Literally overnight (as per The Orlando Weekly).

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LEFT: New parking prices. RIGHT: Parking prices the previous day. Photo via The Orlando Weekly / Ken Storey

The weird thing though? At first SeaWorld wasn’t admitting they raised their parking prices. From Twitter:

The link they posted gave an option of buying a general parking pass online for $20.65, which is nice, but it didn’t explain why the signs at the parking kiosks said $30 for general parking (yet in their FAQ, they say that general parking STARTS at $22. Not that parking IS $22).

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Meanwhile, Orlando Theme Parks News (they of the Tweet above) started DMing with SeaWorld, who finally admitted they were doing parking costs dynamically and it would reach its peak price during busing [sic] days. (it’s assumed “busing” was typo or autocorrect for “busiest”).

So they ARE raising the parking price. Sometimes.

There’s another issue with all of this, in that Premium Annual Passholders used to get free preferred parking and now they only get free general parking, with “limited availability” preferred parking…but nowhere does SeaWorld specify what this “limited availabilty” means. The first X number of cars? Only until until a certain time?

July 9 (via Orlando Weekly) = “Free preferred parking at all SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks):
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July 10 = “Free general parking ($22 savings per visit)” – so no longer $20 and free preferred parking at all Florida parks (limited availability)”
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I’m sure the price of the Florida Platinum Pass didn’t go down, but their ability to get preferred parking certainly did. Classy. #rolleyes

And meanwhile, unlike WDW and Universal, who specify how much their dynamically priced passes will be on any day of the year, there is nowhere on Sea World’s website that tells you how much parking will be on any given day; it’s a craps shoot. It could be $22, it could be $30, or who knows, maybe it’ll go up even higher than that (Busch Gardens Tampa, which also recently started dynamic pricing for parking, has seen days where general parking has recently been $34).

What can you do about it?

  • Well, you can go to SeaWorld, bite the bullet and pay the ridiculous fee to park there, regardless of what it costs.
  • Depending on what you consider to be “home base” while you’re in Orlando, you could consider getting an Uber – if you’re relatively near SeaWorld to begin with, the price might be cheaper than parking (this page actually compares Uber, Lynx and Minnie Vans on Disney property but it also includes links to Uber & Lyft price calculators). And if you’re brand new to Uber, you can even save up to $15 off your first ride if you use the code q47f4 (Full disclosure: if you use our referral codes or links, we get a small kickback, which helps pay the bills here at Your Mileage May Vary.)
  • If you’re staying at at hotel in Central Florida, they may have shuttle access to/from SeaWorld. It might be free or you might have to pay (depends on the hotel), but it’s possible that even if there’s a cost, it might be less than the parking fee.
  • Central Florida has a bus system called Lynx. It’s not the fastest way to get from Point A to Point B, but it’s definitely the cheapest. Here’s a link to tell you all about it.

Joe and I like SeaWorld and visit once or twice a year, when we can get 50% of tickets. I hope, for their sake, that dynamic parking prices doesn’t come to bite them in the butt.

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