Since Joe and I are Disney fans who live about 9 miles from Walt Disney World (WDW), we both tend to keep an eye on the various message boards, Facebook groups and blogs that focus on all that is part of the most popular theme park resort in the world. But since we live so close, we don’t keep tabs on more than just general knowledge when it comes to WDW hotels because frankly, except for renting rooms with our Disney Vacation Club points so we could host some parties for our friends, we haven’t stayed at a hotel at WDW since around 2003. But when I read this the other day, it piqued my interest because, well, it’s not what one would expect from a place that advertises “Disney Magic.”
The charges to park at Walt Disney World’s theme parks have gone up every year (sometimes more than once a year) for just about as long as WDW has been around. For a long, long time there were ways to sometimes avoid having to pay those fees – some 100% legit, others a little more questionable – but over the years Walt Disney World has managed to squelch almost all of them.
Here’s the list of what used to be options to not have to pay for WDW theme park parking and what each situation is now, as well as what your options are nowadays.
Your trip is all planned – your hotel deposit is paid for, and you know how much your taxes and hotel fees are going to be. You drive to your destination and then you’re reminded about something you forgot to take into consideration – overnight parking charges.
Why DO hotels charge you for parking, anyway? And what can you to avoid having to pay it? Well…
I’ll admit it – I’m a snob about airport parking. When Joe and I are going out of town somewhere, my #1 favorite place to park is in the airport terminal parking garage. I know, I know…snobbish. But hey, if I’m going out of town, I want to get to where I’m going ASAP and if I’m coming home, I want to get back to my car ASAP.
However, the cost of parking at the airport has gone up astronomically, so in recent years I’ve agreed to park in the “economy” lots if we’re going to be gone for more than 1 or 2 nights. Still on airport property, but you have to take a shuttle to get to and from. So our costs went from about $17 per day to about $10 per day. That was still doable for several years but our local airport is now in the midst of some huge growth, to the point where the parking garages are usually not an option because they’re almost always 100% full, and the “economy” lots have expanded into the outlying grass…and besides the shuttle buses running slower because they have to make more stops, there’s poor makeshift signage, and dragging your rolling suitcase over wet grass and dirt is not fun at all. So Joe finally talked me into (duh, duh, DUH!) offsite parking.
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.