Walt Disney World to Charge for Resort Overnight Parking for Reservations Booked March 21st, 2018 and Beyond: Details and a Few Thoughts

Hi everyone –

Last night, I first saw rumors pop up about possible parking fees at the Walt Disney World resorts. Today, Disney made that official, with the parking rates of $13.00 for Value Resorts, $19.00 for Moderate Resorts, and $24.00 for Deluxe Resorts inclusive of tax for reservations made March 21, 2018 and after. As someone who has stayed more than 200 nights on Walt Disney World property over the last 40+ years (probably closer to 300) and spent 7 years in the travel industry, for one year as a DRC Cast Member and then 6 years as an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner before spending the last 11 years blogging about Disney and travel…here are a few thoughts along with information on the changes.

Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, photo by Denise Preskitt

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While this is the first time that Walt Disney World has charged for resort parking (not including valet, which has had a fee for many years), it isn’t the first time that Walt Disney World has charged piecemeal for amenities that are now considered standard. I had to look up the year that internet and mini-fridges became standard with all rooms, and both seem to be 2012. That is more recent than I even expected, but before that, both cost about $10.00 plux tax per day. I remember when mini-fridges were a club level room exclusive, which gave more value for those rooms.

One thing I have liked about staying at Walt Disney World in recent years is that there haven’t been extra fees. Booking a room was the price it was, and not more. On the other hand, some of my favorite local resorts – both on property non-Walt Disney World owned, as well as off-property – have parking fees and often resort fees. This move by Disney makes those resorts a little more competitive. When it all comes down to it, the most important thing is the bottom line price after fees are added and that one feels they have value for the money paid when all costs are added. And by value, it won’t necessarily mean inexpensive – just the best price for what is offered, which in the case of Walt Disney World includes many very unique resorts you can’t find anywhere else close by. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge for example are two of my longtime favorites.

Disney Vacation Club members are exempt from the parking fees in most instances. From Disney: Members will not be charged for standard overnight self-parking when staying at a DVC Deluxe Villa, regardless of whether they use vacation points or another form of payment. Members also will not be charged to park when using vacation points to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. When I was a travel agent, many Disney Vacation Club guests would book a few nights with cash as part of an overall stay that included moving to a Disney Vacation Club villa before/after, so it sounds like those few nights with cash may be charged for parking. But overall, that will be a tipping point for some considering a DVC membership who visit Walt Disney World regularly to join. I don’t know how it will work for guests renting points.

Even though Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground is now in a moderate category, there is no fee for one vehicle at the campsites. From Disney: Complimentary standard parking is available to Guests staying at the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Each campsite provides parking space for one (1) motorized vehicle.

Valet parking at resorts that offer it is now $33.00 per day, including tax. For those who don’t remember, this was also very talked about when it went from free to a paid service years ago – but yet, valet is popular and guests pay it. So while parking fees at Walt Disney World resorts are heavily discussed now, eventually they will be just a standard cost of staying onsite.

One thing that isn’t currently changing is that guests who visit resorts for “select dining, shopping, entertainment, and recreation experiences” won’t be charged to park. That was uncertain yesterday when rumors began circulating (not the first time the rumors had come up over the years), but otherwise I would have expected some sort of validation option for shopping and dining as other resorts elsewhere have. I am happy this hasn’t changed, even as parking fees will be added for any nights I stay in the future.

As someone who is local to Walt Disney World, this charge will always effect me if staying at a Walt Disney World resort. I don’t stay nearly as often as I once did, so an occasional fee won’t hit me as much as someone who is coming in for a week or two (or three). For some guests, this might mean lessening a trip by a day or two to keep within a budget – or one less table service meal or staying at a Moderate instead of a Deluxe resort. In some cases, it will mean staying offsite. Make sure to get the best deal you can for whatever vacation option you decide. We do recommend Mousefan Travel, they can help explore trip options.

There is still almost a week to book a Walt Disney World vacation for the future before fees take effect as of March 21st, 2018 and later bookings.

For more information, read here on the Walt Disney World website.

What are your thoughts?