Thursday, March 15, 2018

New! Parking fees for guests of Walt Disney World Resorts


To the frustration of many Walt Disney World fans, yesterday morning Disney officially announced to authorized travel planners the addition of parking fees for resort guests.  The resort parking fee rumor has been floating around for awhile and with the increase to park tickets, this move by Disney does not surprise me at all.

What do you need to know?

1.  The parking fee does not apply to existing reservations.  If you make a reservation on or after March 21, 2018 to stay at a WDW resort in Florida and you park a vehicle overnight, a parking fee will be added to your bill upon check-out.

2.  The amount of the parking fee is dependent upon the classification of the resort:
  • Value resorts = $13 per night
  • Moderate resorts = $19 per night
  • Deluxe resorts = $24 per night
  • Valet parking at deluxe resorts = $33 per night

3.  The following guests will not be charged a parking fee for self-parking:
  • Guests staying at the campsites at Fort Wilderness
  • Guests who are shopping, dining or enjoying entertainment for the day at a resort
  • Disney Vacation Club Member staying at a DVC Deluxe Villa
  • Guests with disabilities

What do I think of this change?

Obviously this new fee is a revenue generator, which I find interesting considering Disney overall has seen significant growth in revenue and net income.  In other words, they're not hurting.  Companies of this size analyze the impact of these types of decisions and apparently, Disney was able to come to the conclusion that lost guests due to the new expense would not be enough to offset the revenue generated from the parking fee.

The unofficial response from Disney regarding the negativity surrounding the parking fee has been "it's industry standard" and "Disneyland hotels already charge for parking."  Industry standard? Well, yes and no.  Typically, one would be charged hotel parking fees in crowded, urban areas.  Disney World resorts and parking lots are located on large plots of land with plenty of space.

The revenue generating impact of this fee is twofold.  Not only will guests with vehicles be charged a new fee but guests are more likely to forego a rental car and opt to use Disney's transportation.  Without a rental car, guests will probably spend their entire vacation inside the Disney bubble.  This also generates revenue.  Disney does not want you spending your money at Universal or Sea World.  They want you to spend your money at Disney restaurants, stores, etc.  I have to say that Disney does a good job with this.  With all of our Disney vacations, I never once felt the need to travel "offsite."

I've come across the argument that Disney guests without cars can easily leave the bubble by calling an Uber or Lyft.  I don't know if I agree with this thought process though.  Most guests have young children and don't these children need to be in car or booster seats?  I know Uber now has a program where you can get a car with one car seat.  Florida also has fairly lenient car seat laws.  My girls are almost eleven years old and, under Massachusetts state law, still required to use booster seats due to their size.  Grabbing an Uber is not so easy for young families.            

What's next?  $15 resort fee per room per night?  That's another rumor floating around.


Anonymous said...

I’m disappointed to hear this. Disney vacations are expensive enough without another $13-33 a day being added to the bill. It’s not enough that Disney takes our money for lodging, park tickets, dining and shopping, but now we have to pay for parking too? I’m disgusted. (That being said, I really appreciate all the information you share about your Disney vacations- thanks for sharing!)

Sarah said...

It definitely feels like they're trying to pull every $ possible. :(

adrian faulkner said...

I heard recently that Disney intend on putting massive price increases on all Disney hotels/park entrance in an attempt to lower crowds but maintaining revenue making it all only for the seriously wealthy to be able to afford but it's only a rumour i hope

Sarah said...

Adrian - that would be really crappy!

Anonymous said...

Our Disney travel planner said this is due in large part to guests parking at resorts and riding buses to the parks to avoid parking fees at parks. But if that's the case, it seems that parking passes for hotel guests would be more logical?

Sarah said...

Taking advantage of free parking at the resorts is definitely an issue. People park at a resort, eat at a restaurant and then take a bus to the parks. I wonder if they're going to change their enforcement of resort parking. It does seem like it would be easier to do better monitoring of parking. I did read one article stating there was now going to be a parking fee for anyone staying more than 30 minutes but I couldn't find anything else backing that up.

Meghan said...

At Disneyland you don't get free parking by eating at a resort restaurant. Thats crazy to me (never been to Florida Disney, grew up 10 minutes from Disneyland) because what stops people from making a breakfast reservation and leaving their car there all day while theyre in the parks? Is it free to park at the parks? I can't imagine its free, so doing that sounds like a good way to get free parking. At disney its WAY MORE expensive to park at the hotels and it is hourly, like 10 or more dollars an hour. Seems like theyre leaving a big loophole open.

also...are you sure your girls are almost ELEVEN? That cannot be possible. I refuse to believe it.

Bree at Clarity Defined said...

I was looking forward to your thoughts as soon as I saw the news yesterday, especially since I know you've driven in the past.

Being in California, this change does not impact me. When I go, I fly and I don't rent a car unless I'm staying off-site.

That said, I was disappointed to see the news and the charge for a couple of reasons. If the issue is "parking abuse" (people parking at the resorts and then taking the buses to the parks), then it seems day use parking at the resorts should require the fee (the same way you charge day visit parking at the parks), not the guests already spending hundreds a night. Also, a parking space is a parking space, so charging more at the already more expensive hotels is straight gouging.

And while yes, Disneyland charges for parking, parking is extremely limited in Anaheim (our Downtown Disney also charges for parking while Disney Springs does not) AND there are plenty on walking distance hotels near Disneyland that don't charge for parking (so that's still an option).

Overall, I'm not surprised (and like I said, not impacted), but it is disappointing.

Sarah said...

Meghan - For WDW, it costs to park in the park parking lots (how many times can I write park) unless you are staying at a WDW resort. If you're staying at a resort, than you aren't charged for parking at the gates. Guests who are not staying at a WDW resort have found a loophole by parking at a resort, where parking is free, and simply hopping on transportation to the parks. Yes, they are almost 11. Goes by fast!!

Bree - It won't impact us either as we now fly and use Disney transportation but it is disappointing. What's next?

Anonymous said...

Had they increased room prices by the parking fee I wouldn't have probably noticed, but a separate parking fee stands out. I know it's spending the same money but we were there the week before Christmas 2017 and the resort parking lot had very few cars.

JoAnn said...

We usually drive now as we like having our vehicle. It is also cheaper for us to drive and less hassle. We haven't been to Disney since January of 2014 due to pricing. We were going every two years. Now we foster and it would be even more expensive to go. We went from a family of 3 to a family of 5 and as much as I would love to take our foster children it is just not in the budget right now. We have been sticking close to home. We have recently started going to the Wisconsin Dells to the Wilderness resort. My 13-year-old loves it here and she can take a friend or two and we can take our fosters. We just go in the offseason and it is very reasonable. As much as I love Disney, I just can't see spending that much money on one vacation when we can do so much more elsewhere. I will miss the magic, but we are creating memories in other ways.