The answer: yes and no. Ever since Walt Disney World started their phased reopening in July of 2020, the experience of visiting the “Most Magical Place on Earth” has definitely been different. One big difference has included whether or not you can park at a Disney resort without staying there.
While you used to be able to park at one of the resorts and hop onto their transportation system to get around the parks, Disney announced on their website that guests cannot enter a Walt Disney World resort UNLESS they have a confirmed resort stay or dining reservation. For example, you can park at Disney’s Contemporary Resort if you have a dining reservation at California Grill, but not if you’d be walking to Magic Kingdom for a reservation at Be Our Guest.
Below, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about parking rates and whether or not you can still park hop to the other resorts, even without a reservation.
What You Should Know About Disney’s Transportation System During COVID-19
Even if you’re not staying at a Disney Resort hotel, you’re still allowed to use their various transportation systems including the bus, monorail, boats and ferries (when available). Disney’s buses run about every 20 minutes on average. With the new COVID-19 restrictions, buses are transporting less guests to and from the parks in an effort to adhere to social distancing guidelines. When you enter the bus, you will be assigned a numbered seat. There are partitions up between guests and everything is spread out. Because buses are not transporting as many people as they used to, we’ve noticed an uptick in the number of buses that come around so guests aren’t waiting an exuberant amount of time to get to the parks.
Like the buses, the monorail system has adopted a socially distant-friendly system and recently added partitions between guests to help increase capacity. These dividers now allow for two groups to sit on the same bench. Guests will be assigned a section, which is clearly marked in the cabin.
Boat transportation is only available to the Magic Kingdom from select Disney hotels. Like the other methods of transportation, the boats are working on a limited capacity but do offer outdoor seating.
How Much Does it Cost to Park at Disney Overnight?
Disney recently increased their overnight parking rates. As of 2021, the rates are as follows:
- Value resorts (Disney’s All Stars, Pop Century, Art of Animation): $15 per night
- Moderate resorts (Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans, Cabins at Fort Wilderness, Coronado Springs): $20 per night
- Deluxe/Villas (Polynesian, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Contemporary, BoardWalk Inn, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Yacht and Beach Club): $25 per night
If you’re staying at the campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness, complimentary standard parking is provided for one motorized vehicle. Disney Springs offers free self-parking, as well.
Read more: The Not So Known Disney Parking Secrets
What if I’m a Member of Disney Vacation Club?
If you’re a member of Disney Vacation Club (DVC), you will not be charged for standard overnight parking if you’re staying at a DVC Deluxe Villa. Members will not have to pay a fee to park if they’re using their vacation points to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. If you are a DVC member, but you are not using points for your Disney vacation, you will have to pay for standard overnight parking according to your hotel’s tier listed above.
Can I Avoid Paying for Parking?
There are a couple of ways you may be able to get onto Disney property without paying for parking. First, you can become either a DVC member or Annual Passholder. You also may be able to utilize shuttle transportation to get to the parks if you’re staying off property, but these transportation times do not include Disney resorts and they operate on a completely different schedule based upon the hotel you’re staying at.
While you may be able to save a few bucks by doing this, the best way to avoid parking fees for both the parks and resorts is by staying on property. Sure, you’re technically still paying for these parking fees since they’re bundled in the price of your ticket but for me, it’s definitely worth it.
How Much Does it Cost to Park at a Disney Theme Park?
To park at one of Disney’s four theme parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom – you’ll have to purchase a parking pass. These parking passes are valid all day at any of the four major theme parks. These prices are listed below:
- Standard car or motorcycle: $25 per day
- Oversized vehicle (RV, camper trailer, tractor trailer, etc): $30 per day
- Preferred parking (close proximity to the entrance) for either a car or motorcycle: $45-$50 per day
These prices may fluctuate depending on the time of year. Surge pricing is usually in effect during the summer, spring break and holiday season when the parks are at their busiest. Typically, the parks see a minor dip in crowd levels in January and February and mid-September after kids return from school, but this has become less and less over the years.
Read more: Park Hopping Returning to Disney World!
Can I Still Resort Hop?
Yes, you can. Resort hopping has soared in popularity over the past couple of years and has become a great way to explore the other resorts on property completely for free. If you’re visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Epcot, you can easily stop at Disney’s Riviera Resort, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach because all three of them are on the Skyliner loop. Likewise, guests can walk over to the BoardWalk Inn and Disney’s Beach club from Epcot. If you’re at the Magic Kingdom, you can walk over to Disney’s Contemporary or take the monorail to the Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Floridian. If you’re parked at Disney Springs, you can take a bus over to one of the resorts, regardless of where you were originally staying because it’ll drop you off at the main lobby.
You can also utilize a rideshare service such as Lyft or Uber, however, you will be asked at the gate as to whether or not you have a reservation. When driving through, I’ve never personally been asked to show confirmation of my dining reservation; my Uber driver just said we had one and we were granted access into the resort, but this may not always be the case. If you’re interested in resort hopping, our recommendation is to make a dining reservation or a Mobile Order, as this has usually been the easiest way to resort hop without any issues. It’s important to keep in mind that because these resorts are trying to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, they may not let you onto the property if you show up too early for your dining reservation. Once you have finished eating, you shouldn’t have any problem walking around the resort. My husband and I visited Old Key West on our last trip and once we were finished eating at Olivia’s, we walked all around the property to take in the sights with no issue.
In light of the current park restrictions, resort hopping and parking at one without staying there is much more difficult, but not impossible. Bob Chapek, the CEO of Disney stated that the COVID-19 restrictions will stay into effect for the remainder of 2021, however, things have started to loosen up. In April 2021, it was announced that Disney World guests can now take their masks off for outdoor photographs as long as they are socially distant from other parties. This is huge news and it may be a sign of things starting to change at Disney. Only time will tell if things change with resorts, but we will be sure to update our site as soon as that information becomes available.
As a self-proclaimed Mouseketeer, Courtney Dercqu is a fan of all things Disney. Between decorating her desk with souvenirs from the park, to making unique mouse ears and having a dedicated Disney Instagram, Courtney is a true believer in the magic of a Walt Disney World vacation. Having had more than 200 articles published on various content, Courtney’s excited to share her knowledge and experience with everyone! Be sure to follow her on Instagram for all the Disney magic.