Thoughts from a Passholder: Walt Disney World Begins Charging for Overnight Parking

by Carrie McLaren with 2 comments

Dear Walt Disney World —

I love you more than most ‘normal’ people and that’s a fact I’m completely fine admitting in public. I’m a native Floridian. I was an annual passholder for many years as a child and now that I’m a mom, my family and I have been annual passholders for the past five years.

You could say I have the ‘Disney bug’. I keep returning, but lately, I’ve been frustrated with you and I’m scared my love is fading.

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World

I live two and a half hours away from you. I can make it a day trip and drive back and forth in one day, but I prefer to spend the night as it gets me another day in the parks too. With prices constantly increasing the past few years, I’ve chosen to stay off-Disney property. It saves money and free breakfast is always a great bonus. Sure, I’m ‘outside of the Disney bubble’, but if the money I’ve saved helps me come back sooner, I’ll choose that option every time. Again and again.

As of March 22, 2018, you’ll begin charging resort guests a daily overnight parking rate. With $13 per night at Value resorts, $19 at Moderate resorts and $24 at Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts. PER NIGHT. Campers at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, those with disabilities/handicapped parking access and Disney Vacation Club members staying on points all receive free overnight parking.

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort - Tokealu Room View

On average, we visit the parks probably two to three days each month, yet I’ve only stayed in a Disney resort twice in the past year. And I don’t see it happening again. (By the way, I used third-party companies to book saving me more money that the rack rate.)

My money can go further elsewhere and quite honestly, the off-property rooms are cleaner, WAY nicer and MUCH bigger than any Disney Value resort room. And yes, some of these off-property places I stay, I do get charged for overnight parking. But here’s the kicker — for my family, it is still significantly cheaper than staying in a Disney resort.

I understand how inflation works and yes, I know we are getting Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land. (I’m especially excited for the Slinky Dog coaster.)

But, to be frank… When is enough actually enough?

For a seven-night stay at a Disney Deluxe Resort, a family will pay $168 just to park their car… and essentially ride a Disney resort bus all week. $168 is ridiculous, especially considering you have TONS of parking available at resorts. It is not a premium! Depending on the season, that’s another night’s stay at a Value or Moderate resort.

You should be ashamed of yourself, but you have stayed silent about it as you continue to get bashed on social media.

What’s next? Charging us bus fares too? As a former PR gal, let me say as nicely as possible — you have created a PR nightmare for yourself and I can’t wait to see how you handle it. Crisis communications at its finest.

I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to visit as often as I do, but I’m afraid the magic is fading. Quickly. And I know I’m not alone in saying this out loud.

From my free breakfast off-property (or bringing my own from home) to packing a picnic lunch for my family to eat at the parks, along with bringing our own snacks – I’m well-versed in stretching my dollars during our visits. Our one ‘splurge’? The refillable popcorn bucket for $1.50. And souvenirs? Absolutely not. When I need a Disney gift, I go to the nearby Disney Outlet store. Four dollars for an out-of-season Mickey Mouse t-shirt? Yes, please!

Sure, some will say “if a parking fee is what tips the scale of you spending too much then maybe you should reconsider visiting.” But I disagree….. I’ll find other ways to save and spend my money on other accommodations to fit my budget around the area. But that doesn’t mean I’m still not angry about it. (Area hotel properties and AirBnB locations must really love this news, by the way.)

Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

And with all of that said, I can’t help but wonder… What is your target audience? It feels like you care more about the families that save money for YEARS to take their one trip of a lifetime, probably never able to return again because of costs. While the passholders and regional travelers that have the opportunity to visit more often (and spend more often) are being priced out. Or maybe its just that we know better?

I think the line has finally been crossed and I’m afraid the magic is slowly dying.

I hate it for my family. I hate it for the families that save for YEARS. I hate it for the familes that will never be able to afford it. And I hate to think what Walt would say about it.  And don’t even get me started on the price of park tickets…..

Walt Disney World – It is time for you to step up and say “enough is enough”.

What do you think?  How will this news affect your next visit? 

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  • Ivanna

    I agree with you. Do Disney read in social media what people think? They should

    • Carrie McLaren

      Thanks for reading, Ivanna! I hope they hear us!

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