Some interesting news has come out of the Happiest Place on Earth today; you can now pay more to park closer to the Transportation and Ticketing center!
The idea of preferred parking isn’t new, I’d be hard pressed to think of any park that isn’t Disney, who charge for parking and doesn’t have some form of “preferred” section for those who pay more. As a Universal Orlando passholder, I park in the Preferred section every time I go; it’s just a benefit of having my pass.
Disney, this week, is testing a new preferred parking scheme on visitors to the Magic Kingdom** [Epcot too, see update below] during non-peak days (Tues-Thurs), probably to gauge reaction and demand for the new parking plan. Before we all get worked up for no reason like everyone on Twitter, lets break this down a bit.
First; this is not the only time Disney has had preferred parking. A few decades back, yes decades, Disneyland flirted with the idea of preferred parking in its lots, only to discontinue the practice sometime in the 90’s (if my memory serves correctly, I could be a bit off on the dates though). While this may be a first for WDW, it is definitely not unprecedented.
Next; this doesn’t provide significant advantage with how it is currently being implemented. With how Magic Kingdom is laid out, anyone parking (preferred or otherwise) still has to take the monorail or ferry boat to the park itself via the Transportation and Ticketing Center. No matter how much you pay for parking, you’re still going to have to venture through the TTC; you just can more easily walk there instead of taking the tram. If implemented at any of the other three parks, I could see a more compelling advantage depending on how full the lots are since the parks all connect directly to their respective parking lots.
Finally, and most importantly, this is a temporary and completely optional test. Yes, I said it, you don’t have to pay extra to park in Preferred (Which, right now, is only the Aladdin parking lot). If you are a regular guest; parking is still $20. If you are and Annual Passholder, your parking is still free unless you choose to pay the $15 surcharge for preferred. Even better, this test lasts three days and, for now, that’s it.
I’ll be honest, I’m not at all bothered by this and would even hazard to say I’m happy about it. I commented to a Cast Member friend of mine the other week how I wished Disney would have some preferred parking available so we can skip the tram/walking if we wanted to so this is something I could see myself using depending on the day and who I’m visiting with.
This test is also so short-lived and minimally impactful on 90% of guests and Annual Passholders, that it doesn’t warrant any outrage or cries of “Disney is just trying to get more money from us!” because, duh; they’re a company, that’s sort of their MO. Unlike the revamped demand pricing for tickets or rumors about a “resort fee” that may come to Disney hotels, the preferred parking plan is extremely more optional and possible to bypass completely without any added hassle on your part; just wear better walking shoes.
*All images from Touring Plans
**UPDATE: It seems as though the test does extend to other parks as Epcot is currently offering preferred parking for the same price as Magic Kingdom. Paying the $25 get you a spot in the “Amaze” section of the parking lot (which I think I’d a much better value since the TTC isn’t still between you and the park).