I recently conducted an interview for our Disney College Program interview series with a former parking attendant who let me in on a little secret that I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of in order to park for free at the parks.
First of all, how much is it to Park at Disney World?
Well, hang on to your wallet because parking at Disney currently costs a whooping $20 per day. Now you’ll be able to take your parking ticket and use it to park at any of the parks in the event that you decide to park hop that day, but still, on top of that $100+ park ticket your still not able to park for free at any of the parks. Cue the “this is high way robbery comments”. However, like the old saying goes… the early bird gets the worm and that is true at Disney as well.
The toll booth attendants will get up to their booths before the park opens, however if you show up early enough before they get to the booth there is nothing stopping you from pulling in and parking. You can pull right in and park right up front near the entrance and even if you see security or parking personnel they’ll just let you do your thing. They don’t enforce the parking fee until the tollbooth is actually open. Granted in order to do this you’ll probably be waiting around either in your car or at the park entrance for an hour until they begin letting guests in, but you’re still saving $20 and there’s a whole slew of other benefits to being one of the first guests in the park.
If you aren’t going to make it to the park bright and early your other option for free parking would be to park at Disney Springs (formally known as Downtown Disney) and take one of the buses to a resort and then transfer to the monorail, ferryboat, or another bus that is headed to the park. Keep in mind the hotels on the monorail line are the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and the Contemporary. The monorail will take you to the Magic Kingdom or you can transfer at the Transportation and Ticketing Center to another monorail headed to Epcot. If you get on a bus headed to the Boardwalk or any of the Boardwalk hotels you’ll be able to easily walk to the back entrance of Epcot. I don’t think many people even realize that there is a back entrance to the Epcot at the boardwalk, so it is usually dead there and you’ll be able to bypass the lines at the front entrance and walk right into the World Showcase (for reference the back entrance is located next to France). The boardwalk also offers you the opportunity to jump on one of the ferryboats headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Hollywood Studios does not have a private back entrance similar to Epcot, so the ferry will drop you off right near the front entrance.
Overall all there are options if you’re trying to save a little money or would rather spend twenty bucks on something other than parking fees, but both are going to require some sort of sacrifice. You’ll either have to be up at the crack of dawn or you’ll be spending a decent amount of extra time to bypass the fee.