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Fees are seriously trying really hard to take some of the fun out of travel. Travelers hate them, those selling travel apparently love them, and sites like this one aim to help you navigate and avoid or at least reduce them whenever possible. Now the much beloved Mickey Mouse and his line-up of Walt Disney World Resorts are adding a fee to their assortment of pixie dust. For the first time ever, the Walt Disney World Resorts will institute a parking fee for those who park cars overnight in their hotel resort parking lots. You know, the very same parking lots that already exist and until now have been included in the nightly rate.
Walt Disney World Resorts Introduce New Parking Fee
Following in the footsteps of most hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, beginning with reservations made from March 21, 2018, onwards, the following nightly parking fees will apply to those who park cars overnight at the Walt Disney World Resort Hotels.
- Disney Value Resorts: $13 per night
- Disney Moderate Resorts: $19 per night
- Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts: $24 per night
I know you can do basic math without my help, but for a five-night family trip to Disney World, that will ring it at or above an additional $100 just in parking fees if you park at moderate or deluxe resorts. You can buy a lot of Dole Whip ice cream for $100, so let’s jump right to how to avoid this new Walt Disney World Resort fee.
Avoid the New Disney World Resort Parking Fee
The most temporary but easiest way to avoid the new Disney World resort parking fee is to make your Disney resort booking before March 21, 2018. If you have been dragging your feet booking a Disney World trip, stop stalling and starting booking if you want to avoid the new parking fees. As long as you book your trip by March 21, 2018, you won’t have to pay to park at your Disney Resort this time around.
Who is Exempt
If you are staying at the Fort Wilderness Resort campsite, you can park one motorized vehicle at your campsite without a fee.
Disney Vacation Club owners will not pay parking fees when using their vacation points at Walt Disney Resort hotels or when staying at a DVC Deluxe Villa, regardless of whether or not they are using vacation points or cash.
Rent DVC points?
The next obvious question is whether those renting Disney Vacation Club points will be able to avoid the new Disney Resort parking fees? I don’t think we know yet for sure, but for now, the answer has to at least be maybe. There are already parking fees in effect at The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort and Disney’s Aulani in Hawaii, and those staying on rented DVC points are exempt from the self-parking fees for up to two vehicles. I’m trying to get a solid answer to this question as soon as I can.
Skip the car and use the Magical Express Bus
If you are flying into Orlando, the Disney Magical Express Bus was already a solid option to avoid needing to pay to rent a car at all. This (as of now) still-included service to and from the airport for those staying at a Disney Resort will allow you to not only avoid the new resort parking fee, but also the cost of a car rental. I know that our days at Disney are so full that we don’t need to add driving around in a car to our list of to-dos, so the Express Bus was a good option for us. When we do want our own transportation, Uber, Lyft, or the new Minnie Vans will be our go-to ground transportation options on most trips.
You can, of course, stay somewhere other than a Disney Resort to try and avoid the parking fee, but beware that many area hotels already charge parking fees. As an example, the on-site Disney Swan and Dolphin both charge not only a $32 per night resort fee but also a $20 per night self-parking fee. Other area properties largely have similar parking and resort fees.
However, if you happen to have Hyatt Globalist status, you can avoid paying not only resort fees, but also the $22 per day self-parking fee at the nearby Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress when you are on an award stay. You would also then have access to their Club Lounge with your Globalist elite status, which may now look even more attractive given that the Disney World Resorts have ventured into the world of fees. I know that won’t help everyone, but it is an option for some.
I’m sure they know more than me, but I really think Disney is making an error creeping into the world of fees. One of the magical aspects of staying at a Disney Resort is that there weren’t then add-on resort fees, parking fees, shuttle fees, etc. The price for a night of lodging might have been higher than I wanted, but it was an all-in price. In doing away with that model, they are doing away with some of the magic. They aren’t having any trouble drawing crowds, but like with everything, there has to be a tipping point at some threshold. If history is an indicator, dipping a toe into the world of fees is usually is only the beginning of what is to come.
For now though, you can still avoid the Walt Disney World Resort parking fees via a few different strategies, that I will do my best to keep updated as we learn more.
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.