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Best Place to Park at Disney Springs

Best Place to Park at Disney Springs

Whether you’re on vacation and just visiting or you’re a Florida local, there are a few key things you should know about parking at Disney Springs. Because it’s free to visit Disney Springs, it gets a lot of foot traffic, especially from those who live locally and are looking to get a bite to eat at one of the many amazing restaurants on Disney property. Because of this, they’re more prone to take their own cars, rather than vacationers who may hop on a bus from their resort to get here. So, if you’re looking to learn more about the best place to park at Disney Springs if you’re driving a rental car, keep reading. 

What is Disney Springs? 

Disney Springs is a themed shopping and dining center located right outside the main Disney World property. Though it’s part of Walt Disney World, Disney Springs is kind of in a league of its own when compared to the parks right up the road. 

Built around a natural spring, Disney Springs is home to four distinct neighborhoods: The Landing, Town Center, The Marketplace, and West Side. In each section, you’ll find a plethora of unique dining, shopping, and entertainment options that are fit for the whole family. 

Here, guests can experience unique activities such as grabbing a bite to eat at Planet Hollywood, launching an Amphicar straight into the water at the Boathouse, and ordering a cupcake from an ATM at Sprinkles – the world-famous bakery that I highly recommend you visit next time you’re here. 

To learn more about everything you can do at Disney Springs, click here. Trust me when I say….you’ll find something new to do every time you visit. 

History of Disney Springs

If you haven’t been to Disney World in a while, you may not be too familiar with what Disney Springs is when first hearing it referenced. That’s because for years it was called Downtown Disney, and truth be told, I still call it that from time to time just as easily as I still call Hollywood Studios “MGM.”

Whatever name you call it, the history of Disney Springs stretches all the way back to 1975. Back then, it was known as the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village. The shopping area was really different back then, having both a pet store and tobacco shop, which is a ludicrous thought when you consider what Disney Springs and all of Disney World itself are like nowadays.

Fast forward to the 1980s and it was rebranded to the Disney Village Marketplace, which thanks to former Disney Company president, Michael Eisner, included the famous Pleasure Island – a section of the center strictly reserved for adults looking to let loose and enjoy a night on the town that he pushed for to siphon profits and guests from the popular Church Street Station in Orlando. By the mid-to-late 1990s, the area was rebranded to what many of us grew up with: Downtown Disney, which was comprised of Pleasure Island, the Marketplace, and the West Side. Once Pleasure Island closed down in 2008, it would become what’s now known as the Landing. 

Downtown Disney rebranded AGAIN in 2013, becoming Disney Springs. However, this was no simple rebranding. Over the course of three years, more than 100 locations were added and updated to include new dining and shopping experiences. 

Things to Do in Disney Springs

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Not only is the vibe at Disney Springs much more relaxed, but the fact that you can enjoy some instrumental Disney music and take in the sights for free makes it one of my favorite spots in all of Orlando. 

There’s so much to do at Disney Springs, and best of all, there’s a little bit of something for everyone. 

Adrenaline junkies will love taking a ride on Aerophile – the World Leader in Balloon Flight, which takes you 400 feet above Disney Springs and gives you a bird’s eye view of downtown Orlando and Epcot. Foodies will love Gideon’s Bakehouse and Paddlefish, whereas kids will love ordering from a cupcake ATM at Sprinkles. 

Aside from the activities mentioned above, the top things to do at Disney Springs include: 

  • Buy some Disney pins, Minnie Ears, or stuffed animals at the World of Disney
  • Make your own Dino at T-Rex
  • Grab dinner and take in a movie at AMC theaters
  • Enjoy a coca-cola flight at the Coca-Cola store
  • Go bowling at Splitsville Luxury lanes
  • Take a ride on an Amphicar from the Boathouse
  • Buy some Legos or make your own at the Lego Store

How Far is Disney Springs from Walt Disney World? 

Disney Springs is still considered Walt Disney World property, but it’s only a couple of minutes away from Disney’s water parks at Old Key West resort. 

Can I Meet Disney Characters at Disney Springs? 

Unfortunately, no. But it would be really cool if you did! 

Disney Springs Parking Lot Options

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So now that you know a little bit more about the history of this popular entertainment center and what to expect, let’s answer a few questions about the best place to park at Disney Springs. 

There are six parking garages available at Disney Springs: 

  • Lime Garage (The Marketplace) 
  • Orange Garage (The West Side/Town Center)
  • Watermelon Lot (Cirque du Soliel)
  • Strawberry Lot (West Side)
  • Grapefruit Garage (The Marketplace)
  • Lemon Lot (Near Rainforest Cafe)

Directions to Disney Springs

Are you planning on visiting Disney Springs soon? If you’re staying on Disney property or near it, you’ll want to take 1-4 and get off Exit 67 toward Disney Springs/Epcot. Once you get off the exit, stay in the right lane and you’ll see signs for the parking garages. 

How Much Does it Cost to Park at Disney Springs?

Here’s a word we don’t get to use that often when it comes to talking about Walt Disney World: NOTHING. That’s right, it is completely FREE to park at Disney Springs, regardless of the time of day or year you visit. 

However, if you prefer to utilize valet services, keep in mind that you will have to pay money for them. Valet parking at Disney Springs is available Monday-Thursday from 3:00pm – 11:00pm, Friday and Saturday from 11:00am-11:30pm, and on Sundays from 11:00am-11:00pm. Valet services are available near Cirque du Soleil, World of Disney, and near the entrance of the Orange Garage for $20.

If you prefer to use Preferred Parking, which gets you closer to the entrance of Disney Springs, you’ll have to go to the Mango Lot. Preferred parking costs $10 per vehicle. 

Read more: THE NOT SO KNOWN DISNEY PARKING SECRETS

Can I Park at Disney Springs All Day? 

While you won’t be able to keep your car there overnight, you can absolutely leave your car there during business hours. 

The parking garages at Disney Springs usually open around 7:00 am and close down around 2:00 am, however hours can vary. Keep in mind that many of the stores in Disney Springs close down around 11:00 pm anyway, so these late hours are usually there for guests with late dining reservations. 

Do the Garages at Disney Springs Have Electric Charging Stations? 

Electrical vehicles are all the rage right now, so if you have one, don’t worry: you can absolutely charge it while parked at Disney Springs. 

Electrical vehicle charging stations at Disney Springs are located on the third floor of the Grapefruit Garage, and on the 5th floors of both the Lime and Orange Garages. 

Rideshare Services at Disney Springs

If you don’t want to park at Disney Springs, but taking a bus isn’t an option, go ahead and take advantage of rideshare services. There is a designated pickup and drop-off location on the far right side of the shopping center near the Marketplace and near Cirque du Soleil on the West Side.

This area has benches for you to sit on while you wait. Both Uber and Lyft are available here. Just remember that anytime you use a rideshare service, check the license plate and make/model of the vehicle before getting inside. You never want a lovely day at Disney Springs to turn into a living nightmare. 

Can I Take a Minnie Van to Disney Springs?

Minnie Van

Yes, you can! Minnie Vans are Disney’s version of rideshare vehicles like Lyft and Uber. These vehicles will pick you up in the same spots as any other rideshare service (as mentioned above). 

Minnie Vans aren’t usually the most economical form of travel, costing around $30-$50 per family. However, they can come in handy if you don’t want to take bus transportation to Disney Springs, wait around at the end of the night, or deal with parking. I’ve used them sparingly, mainly when I wasn’t in the mood to wait around or was really, really exhausted and desperate to get back to my hotel. 

Map of Disney Springs Parking 

Here’s a map of Disney Springs parking: 

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To scroll in and see it up close, click here

Which is the Best Disney Springs Garage to Park at? 

Ask any Disney fan and they probably have some pretty strong feelings about the best place to park at Disney Springs. Realistically speaking though, the best place to park at Disney Springs will vary based on your personal preference and what you plan on doing that night. 

Most people agree that parking at the Lime Garage is best because it puts you right near the World of Disney (which almost everyone wants to visit while they’re at Disney Springs), as well as many popular restaurants/dining spots such as the Daily Poutine, Amorette’s Patisserie, T-REX, Sprinkles, and Paddlefish. 

Though the Lime Garage lets you out in the Town Center, it’s not too far from the Marketplace, which features popular stores like Basin, the Lego Store, and the Marketplace Co-Op. Personally speaking, the Marketplace has a lot more Disney-esque places to visit as compared to the rest of the shopping center, so if you have kids or are Disney-obsessed like me, parking here is probably best. 

The Orange Garage is usually best for anyone who has dining reservations, as the West Side and The Landing sections are home to some of the most popular dining spots on Disney property. This includes Morimoto Asia, Paradiso 37, Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, STK Orlando, Raglan Road, Enzo’s Hideaway, Wine Bar George, and Gideon’s Bakehouse (to name a few).

Read more: BEST PLACES TO EAT AT DISNEY SPRINGS: PLUS PLACES TO SKIP

Honestly, the best garage to park at is completely based on your plans for the evening, so there is no right or wrong answer. 

The Technology of the Disney Springs Parking Garage

The parking garages at Disney Springs use some pretty neat technology. Not only do the signs out front of each garage let you know if they’re at capacity, but they also display the number of available spots. 

Furthermore, once you’re inside the parking garage, Disney installed lights at every spot, so if it’s green, you know it’s available. Once you park your vehicle in a spot, the light will turn off and the sign out front will be updated for the next guest. 

Parking at Disney Springs and Going to the Theme Parks

If let’s say you have a dining reservation at California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort mid-way through your day at Disney Springs, you can grab complimentary bus transportation to the resort, leaving your car behind. 

Likewise, once you finish your resort dining reservation, you can hop on a bus back to Disney Springs. It’s going to and from the parks that get a little complicated. 

First and foremost, there are no buses available to take guests from Disney Springs to any of the four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, or Hollywood Studios). So, your best bet is to grab a bus to a resort and then get on another bus from the resort to your desired theme park. While this sounds simple, the reality is that this kind of transportation journey can take at least two hours. Why? Because the buses may be at capacity both at Disney Springs and on their way to the theme parks. As such, you may have to wait longer while additional buses arrive, which can generally take about 20 minutes. 

Then, of course, there’s the issue with time. Disney Springs opens later than all of the Disney theme parks, generally around 10:00 am (though hours may vary depending on the time of year). Magic Kingdom, on the other hand, opens at 9:00 am, maybe earlier if you have access to Early Entry. So, even if you hop on a bus at exactly 10:00 am, the earliest you may even get to Magic Kingdom (for example) is close to noon, when accounting for bag check and security, etc. 

Furthermore, since it can take a long time to even get on a bus at the end of the night at one of the theme parks, you may end up getting to Disney Springs too late. Or, at the very least, be completely stressed along the way wondering if you’re going to make it (or is that just me?) Though the parking garages at Disney Springs generally close around 2:00 am, parking at Disney Springs to visit the theme parks really just overcomplicates matters. 

Helpful Tips for Parking at Disney Springs

Here are some helpful tips for parking at Disney Springs: 

Look at the Map BEFORE You Go

If you plan on parking at Disney Springs, do yourself a favor and look up which parking garage is closest to the place you want to visit. For example, if you have dining reservations at Planet Hollywood, then you’ll want to park at the Orange Garage because it’s the closest one. 

Likewise, if you’re visiting Disney Springs to get your shopping on at World of Disney, parking at the Orange Garage is fine BUT you’ll have to endure a LOT of walking, so it’s recommended that you park at the Lime Garage instead.

Of course, you can walk the entire length of Disney Springs during your visit, but if you don’t plan on exploring everything, check the map out ahead of time and save yourself some walking. Disney Springs is 120 acres or the equivalent of about 2,200 feet. This area is much larger than it looks.

Use Your My Disney Experience App

I swear, Disney technology just keeps getting better and better. One technological service you probably aren’t taking advantage of is the Car Locator feature available through the My Disney Experience app. 

This complimentary feature automatically saves your parking details through Location Services so you don’t have to struggle just to remember where you parked. 

Here’s how it works: After you park your car, open up the My Disney Experience app and tap on the Car Locator button on the dashboard. Follow the on-screen prompts. If you don’t have Location Services enabled on your phone, you’ll have to enter your parking details manually. However, if you have Bluetooth and Location Services enabled (which is recommended), your parking info will be automatically filled out. 

Once you’re ready to leave Disney Springs and head back home or back to your Walt Disney World resort, open the app again and let the car locator’s magic guide you to your car’s location. Pretty cool, right? 

Don’t Forget About Busy Days

If you’re visiting Disney Springs on vacation, then you’ll probably go to Disney Springs whenever you want. However, keep in mind that locals may be more prone to visit on Friday nights and weekends. The same goes for long weekends like Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the 4th of July. 

As such, you have to remember that the parking garages may fill up quicker on weekends, at nights, and on holiday weekends. But, don’t worry: finding a parking spot at Disney Springs isn’t as much of a headache as it is trying to find a spot at your average parking garage. 

When a garage is full, there will be a sign outside the entrance so you know and can drive off to another garage they have available. In fact, there are about 3,000 parking spots available at each garage. 

In all my years visiting Disney Springs, I’ve never had any problems finding a place to park, even when it’s been really busy. That being said, you can always look at Disney crowd calendars to get an idea of what park capacity is. If the parks are crowded, guests may be more inclined to visit Disney Springs instead, which can increase its capacity. 

Read more: BEST DISNEY WORLD CROWD CALENDARS

Arrive 60 Minutes Early

If you have dining reservations, it’s recommended that you arrive at least 60 minutes early to account for full lots and walking to and from the destination. While parking at the Orange Garage may make the most sense for you, you have to account for the possibility that you may have to park elsewhere if the Orange Garage is full. 

While Disney Springs has been accommodating to me in the past anytime I’ve been running late, it adds a lot of unnecessary stress to your evening. Arriving early helps to combat that. 

How Do You Feel About Parking at Disney Springs? What Do You Think is the Best Place to Park at Disney Springs?

Do you like parking at Disney Springs, or do you prefer bus transportation? Do you use any of the tips mentioned here? What do you think is the best place to park at Disney Springs? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for all the latest Disney tips, tricks, and trivia. 

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