As long as Disney World has been welcoming guests, paying for parking has been an expected reality at the theme parks. However, Disney World is currently testing paid parking at Disney World Resort hotels as well. Parking lots at the hotels regularly fill to capacity during times of moderate and heavy crowds where self parking has always been free. Guests staying at the resort or those with dining reservations would continue to park for free.
This policy is an obvious response to the problem of guests saying they are visiting the resorts, but who are really parking there to visit one of the theme parks. The Contemporary Resort near Magic Kingdom, where the paid parking policy was recently tested, is particularly problematic as guests seek to park within walking distance and avoid the hassle of navigating parking trams and then the ferry or monorail. WDW News Today is reporting that next up in the test will be the Boardwalk Resort which also routinely has parking capacity issues and is within walking distance of the back entrance of Epcot’s World Showcase.
While parking at the resorts is often difficult to find, and Disney must ensure that registered guests can be accommodated, the new policy is problematic for other guests who enjoy visiting the various Disney hotels. Particularly during the holiday season, exploring the amazingly themed resorts is a great way to spend a non-park day (an often overlooked way to soak up the magic that we have regularly encouraged).
What do you think? Good idea or bad idea?
6 Ways to Enjoy Disney World Without Going into the Parks
by Cindy N
When most people plan their vacation to Disney World, time at the parks is usually at the top, middle and end of the list. Disney World, though, has so many awesome activities that can be enjoyed outside the park. You may find that you want to include some extra “non-park” days into your vacation. Here are the top 6 ways to enjoy Walt Disney World without going in to the parks!
6 – Spend a Day at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
We love Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground for it’s natural beauty and activities. There is so much to do here and you don’t need to be a resort guest to enjoy them! Read our article to see why you should spend a day at Fort Wilderness.
5 – Recreation
Disney World boasts a variety of recreational activities for the whole family. From bike and boat rentals, to Specialty Cruises and watersports, and championship or miniature golf, chances are Disney has just what your family is looking for! Read our article to see the many amazing recreational opportunities at Disney.
4 – Non-Park Specialty Tours
Disney World offers a variety of special, guided backstage tours. This special tours offer guests unique glimpses into the workings behind the goings on of Disney World. While many tours are offered only in the parks, there are plenty of tours available outside the parks. Boardwalk Ballyhoo Guided Tour, Pirate Adventure Cruises for Kids, Wilderness Back Trail Adventure, and Family Culinary Adventure are the specialty tours available outside of the parks. Visit the Disney World website for more information on these tours.
3 – Visit Resorts & Even See Some Rooms
One of our family’s favorite activities, especially during the holidays, is visiting the different Disney resorts. We have a lofty goal of staying at each Disney property and we enjoy visiting the resorts that we have not had a chance to stay at yet. It is fun to scout out each property and see all that it has to offer. Sometimes you can even see a room, just ask at the front desk it that is possible. During the holiday season, we love taking a resort tour to see the resort decorations and holiday displays. Each resort is decked out and has their own particular theming and decorations.
2- Meet the Characters with Resort Dining
If you are unable to get into the parks for whatever reason, then Character Dining meal is a perfect opportunity for your family to meet the characters and get a fantastic meal in the process. Here is a list of all of the characters you can meet at resorts:
Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort – Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck, and Goofy
1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort – Mary Poppins, Alice and Wonderland, The Mad Hatter, Tigger, and Winnie the Pooh
Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Yacht Club – Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, Goofy, and Donald Duck
O’hana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort – Lilo, Stitch, Pluto, Mickey Mouse, Goofy
Mickey’s Backyard BBQ at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Chip ‘n’ Dale
Note: Character appearances are not guaranteed and are subject to change.
1 – Disney Springs
The recently reimagined Downtown Disney into Disney Springs has been both exciting and a bit frustrating. The construction, road closures and lack of parking has been tough, but we know that when it is all finished, the pain will be so worth it. Already the new Orange Parking Garage has made an enormous difference in finding parking. New restaurants, like The Boathouse, are making Disney Springs a dining destination all on its own. The shopping will thrill many, not to mention the various entertainment options. Splitsville, has 30 bowling lanes and 5 bars! The AMC Theater boasts 24 screens and the not to be missed Fork & Screen Dine-In theater. Finally, DisneyQuest will thrill the most avid gamer. There is so much to see and do at Disney Springs that you’ll want to carve out plenty of time to spend at this amazing destination.
Remember, Disney World is twice the size of Manhattan. There is so much to do outside the parks. Take time to explore all Disney World has to offer. And take a minute to give your fellow Disney fans your suggestions below in the comments section.