Preferred parking is simply getting to park closer to the park entrance closer to where handicapped parking is. You still have access to the tram that takes you from the lot directly to the entrance (except for the Magic Kingdom - explained below). When you stop at the entrance gates, ask for the preferred parking and pay the fee. You will be given a card to hang from your mirror and asked to put on your hazzards so the parking attendants know to direct you to the front lot. There will be another parking attendant to show you exactly where to park and then give you a cold bottle of water.
The benefit of using the preferred parking is to be close to the entrance so that you can just walk without having to take a tram. This is very handy when leaving the park at closing time when there are long lines waiting for the trams.
Expert Tip: If you arrive to a park before 10:00am, you will have a great parking spot close to where the preferred parking is located. I do not recommend paying for preferred before 10:00am.
If you have an electric vehicle you’d like to charge, Disney does supply that at Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom park, and Disney Springs. There are a limited amount of ChargePoint charging stations which are at a first-come, first-serve basis. Just ask a cast member to direct you. In Epcot, there are four stations at the front of the Journey Parking Lot. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom park, there are four stations in the Medical Parking Lot. Finally, at Disney Springs, there are six stations. There stations are on the fifth floor of the Orange Garage and there are there stations on the fifth floor of the Lime Garage. At the water parks you will need a pre-ordered ChargePoint card which is available at chargepoint.com. The cost to charge at these stations is $0.35 per kilowatt with a minimum service amount of $1.50. Charging will stop once the vehicle’s battery is full and a “ping” sound will alert you when the car is ready.
Magic Kingdom Parking
Parking at the Magic Kingdom is part of the journey! I cannot stress it enough to please remember where you parked. Disney does provide a tram to take you in but there are two sides of the parking lot, Heroes and Villains, and therefore are two trams. If you get on the wrong tram, you just gave yourself a zero percent chance of finding your car. Ever been to Disneyland? You can fit all of Disneyland and California Adventure Park into the Magic Kingdom parking lot. So, please, please remember what character and what row number you are parked in otherwise it’s going to be a long night getting out of the park. My best advice is the make a note in your phone or take a picture of the row number.
Once you park, walk to the end of the row. They will be pulling cars in behind you so please always walk in front of your car. Once you get to the end, you will see a tram waiting for you. The tram is free to use and highly encouraged. The tram takes you to the Transportation and Ticketing Center also known as the TTC. As you exit the tram, you’ll go through bag check as well as a metal detector if they randomly select you. Once you get through that, you have two choices. You can take the Highway in the Sky aka the Monorail over to the Magic Kingdom or the Staten Island style Ferryboat. They both take just about the same amount of time but the Ferryboat does hold more people. Either way, you will cross the Disney Created Seven Seas Lagoon before seeing the beautiful view of the Castle over the horizon. From exiting either the Monorail or the Ferryboat, you will walk straight up to the turnstiles and start your magical day in the Magic Kingdom.
Epcot, as well as the other parks, are a bit easier to get to. Epcot lots are named things like Imagine, Discover, and Create. Even though it’s a little harder to get lost, please pay attention to what section you are parked in and the row number. Just like Magic Kingdom, there will be a tram waiting for you but this one will bring you right to the entrance. From there you will go through the same security measures (bag check and metal detector) and then be able to scan your ticket at the turnstiles and begin your day of exploration!
Animal Kingdom Parking
Disney’s Animal Kingdom can be a bit wild. There, the lots are named after animals such as Dinosaur, Peacock, Giraffe, and even Unicorn! But just the same there are row numbers so make sure you take down which animal lot you’re in as well as the row number. Locate the park to get an idea of which way the end of the row is and walk to it. Once again, the tram is there to the rescue! Especially after a long day of walking, this tram is a lifesaver. The tram takes you straight to the entrance where you will go through the same security and then enter the park. Just remember, it’s a jungle out there!
Hollywood Studios Parking
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a place of glitz and glamour and beautiful images of old Hollywood and the stars that made it so. This is very true…except for the parking lot. Here you will get a character but they will be something like Mickey Stage, Donald Music, or Goofy Film. This way if you forget the Stage part but remember Mickey, you’re still going to be okay! But again, please remember the row number. Text yourself, write it on your hand, take a picture. Whatever you must do to remember it. Once you’ve taken note of where you are, head down the row again to find your best friend, the tram, and it’ll take you right up to the entrance where you’ll go through security and then proceed to the turnstiles to start your glamorous day!
Just to give you an idea of how big these lots are, there are more than 12,000 parking spots just in Magic Kingdom and they have more on the way!
Disney Springs Parking
Parking at Disney Springs is now a lot easier than it was in the past. It has gone through a major transformation and I, for one, have never been more excited about parking garages. There are two parking garages as of right now, the Orange garage and the Lime Garage. They are working on a third right now so who knows what fruit that will be named after! The Lime garage is in the Town Square part of Disney Springs where you will be welcomed by a gorgeous fountain and many, many shopping options. Because these garages were built by the city and not Disney, they are your basic “Level 2 Row 8” style of naming. The wonderful thing with these garages are the sensor lights over every spot so it eliminates wondering down row by row hoping for a spot. The Orange Garage is on the West Side of Disney Springs. This is where you want to park if you’re going to the AMC Theaters or Splitsville. You also have surface parking in the Lemon lot at the end of the West Side which is the best choice if you’re going to the House of Blues or Cirque Du Soleil. There is also a valet option near the West Side from 4:00pm until 2:00am and in the Lemon lot from 10:00am until 2:00pm. Both cost $20 and you pay once you pick up your car.
Parking at a resort is such a wonderful feeling because it means you made it. You can now leave your car in its resting place for the next couple of days as you take Disney transportation pretty much anywhere on property. Resort parking is free for resort guests or guests with a dining reservation. Every resort will have buses that take you to all four theme parks, Disney Springs, and the water parks. If you want to make it out to mini golf, you have to take your own car unfortunately.
Some of the resorts will also provide valet parking at $20 per day.
About Amanda, your Magic Reporter…
I am simply making up for lost time. As a child, I was never able to come to the Disney parks and so I’m making up for it by being a kid that forgot to grow up. I am the lead guide here at Orlando for Families and it is the best job I could ever ask for. I am a graduate of the College of Disney Knowledge as well as a certified specialist by Universal Orlando Resorts.
I am a young adult still trying to figure it all out but my passion is Disney and people. I try as much as I can to get out there and learn everything I can about all things Disney and bring it to the people. I was a cast member for the last five years and it has molded me into the person I am today and I want to share my experiences with as many as I can to help improve their trip.
I will always be honest and direct with you. That’s just how I am and what we believe in at Orlando for Families. We’ve learned from our attempts at almost everything and want to share that first hand knowledge with you!
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