Disneyland Parking Tips – How To Park For Free And More

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Sometimes it is the small things you don’t think about when planning a Disneyland vacation that can throw you for a loop. Disneyland parking is something we rarely see mentioned on planing sites, but you will want to plan for. From the cost, to how to get free parking at Disneyland, we have tips yo will want to read. Today we are talking about Disneyland parking, tips and tricks. Plus what can you expect from parking during the closure of Disneyland’s Theme Parks.

So you are planning your first visit to the Disneyland Resort! Congratulations! You are about to experience some amazing magical memories. Planning your first trip can be overwhelming, so I am going to share with you some things to know before you go.

When guests start planning their visit to Disneyland, they often think about everything from what rides to go on, learning about Disneyland MaxPass and Fastpass, booking character meals, and more. But often times, the things they forget to plan for are the thing they encounter as they head to the parks. Parking at Disneyland.

There is so much to know before you go be sure you search this blog or check out the Disneyland tab for more tips. And if you want to get your questions answered, be sure to like and follow my Facebook page as I do weekly Disneyland “Ask Me Anything” live streams where I answer all your questions, from parking, to hotels and beyond.

Hotel Guest Parking

There are a few things you will need to know about Parking at Disneyland Resort. If you rent or drive your car to the Disneyland Resort, you will need to utilize parking at some point, either at your hotel, at the parks, or both. So I am going to give you all of the info you need about parking at Disneyland so you are prepared.

On-Site Hotel Parking at Disneyland

If you are staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel and plan on utilizing their parking, you will need to know that there is a fee for parking.

As of early 2020 the rates for parking at the on-site hotels at Disneyland is as follows:

  • $25/ night for self-parking
  • $35/night for valet parking

Now, I am going to give you my thoughts and that is… If you are going to be parking a vehicle, just do Valet Parking. It is only $10 more per night and in my opinion is totally worth it.

Disneyland Parking at the hotels
Tip: Take a picture of your Valet Parking ticket in case you lose it or it gets wet.

We stayed at Paradise Pier in March 2019, and the lot for the self-parking is pretty big. It is much easier to just utilize the Valet Parking

On-Site Parking for Character Dining

If you are not staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel, but have a character dining experience booked at one of the on-site hotels, it includes parking for a set amount of hours. When we dined at Donald’s Seaside Breakfast we had 3 hours of valet parking. The Princess Adventure Breakfast at Napa Rose in the Grand Californian includes 5 hours.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Note: Valet parking fees do not include tip. Carry some cash to tip your valet! Same for when you utilize the Disneyland hotels parking for character dining.

Disneyland Parking Info

Below is some basics about parking at Disneyland Resort. After we cover the basics I will give you tips on info to help you choose the best parking option, and…how to avoid parking costs at Disneyland!

Cost of Parking at Disneyland

No matter which lot you choose, be prepared to pay. The cost of parking at Disneyland is:
  • $25 for vehicles and motorcycles
  • $30 for oversized vehicles (only available at Toy Story Lot)
  • $35 for buses and vehicles with trailers (only available at Toy Story Lot)
Disneyland Parking Receipt

Cost of parking at Downtown Disney

The following is the cost of parking at the Downtown Disney lot (Simba Lot) without validation. We will cover all the validation info later on. Below I have listed the parking rates as they were when the parks were open. While the theme parks are closed, Downtown Disney Parking is a flat $10 per vehicle.

  • $14/hour billed in half hour increments
  • Minimum $7/half hour charge
  • Initial 15 minute “free” grace period (for quick drop offs, or turn arounds if lot is full)
  • $56 max daily fee, or lost ticket charge
  • Validation is available at select establishments

What is considered “oversized” when Parking at Disneyland?

The following vehicles are considered oversized and must utilize the the Toy Story Lot and pay the oversized vehicle parking cost”

  • Buses
  • Dually trucks
  • Motor homes
  • Passenger vehicles with a trailer
  • Recreational vehicles (RV)
  • RV campers
  • Tractor-trailers

Preferred Parking At Disneyland

Disneyland parking can mean parking pretty far out, in the back corner. Disney offers preffered parking, where you will be parked closer to the trams/escalators/elavators. Preffered parking is only available at the Mickey and Friends parking structure.

The cost for preferred parking at Disneyland is:

  • $40 per vehicle
  • $15 per vehicle to upgrade prepurchased parking

Electric Vehicle Charging at Disneyland

If you are the owner of an electric vehicle, there are a limited number of ChargePoint charing ports in the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure. You will need to have a ChargePoint card already activated when you arrive and then ask a Cast Member for directions to the charging ports.

Electric Vehicle Charging at Disneyland parking
Photo credit: Creative Commons

Annual Passes with Free Parking

The Disneyland Signature and Signature Plus annual passes include free parking at the structures and Toy Story Lot, but not at Downtown Disney or the Disneyland Resort Hotels. (Note: during the closure Disneyland has cancelled the legacy passholder program. We do not know if they will offer a pass with free parking again.)

Can You Leave and Re-Enter Disneyland Parking Without Paying Again?

Your parking fee gives you in and out access for the day. You do not have to return to the same lot, but a Mickey and Friends or Toy Story Lot parking receipt will not allow you to park at Downtown Disney or one of the Disney Hotels without charge.

If an Annual Pass was used to get free parking, you will have to present the Annual Pass along with your parking stub when you re-enter.

Disneyland Parking Lots and Structures

There are 2 main parking areas, and a short term parking area near the Downtown Disney District (with an hourly rate). If you plan on going all day, you will want to park at either the Toy Story parking lot, or the Mickey and Friends and Pixar Pals Parking structure.

When deciding where to park at Disneyland there are a lot of different factors to consider. First is where you are coming from.

If you are heading south down I-5, there is a carpool lane exit for Disneyland Drive that takes you to the Mickey and Friends and Pixar Pals Parking Structure, as well as the Downtown Disney area.

If you are heading north to get to Disneyland, you will most likely be directed to the Toy Story Parking Lot.

But of course, each parking structure or lot has its pros and cons. Below I will help break down the difference in the options for you to make the decision that is best for your family.

And let’s not forget parking in Downtown Disney! Don’t worry, we will cover that too!

Mickey and Friends and Pixar Pals Parking Structures

When it comes to parking, my family prefers to utilize the Mickey and Friends or Pixar Pals Parking Structures. We have utilized the Mickey and Friends structure for years, but now we love parking at Disneyland’s Pixar Pals parking structure.

In 2019, Disneyland expanded the parking strutures by adding the Pixar Pals parking structure which is adjoined to the Mickey and Friends Parking structure. The addition of this structure adds additional parking spaces, elevators, covered security check points, and a pedestrian bridge which leads to Downtown Disney.

My family parked in Pixar Pals several times in September 2019. Both these structures have parking indicators that have been added to show if spots are available when arriving later in the day, but they are very inconsistent with if they are working or not.

The Pixar Pals and Mickey and Friends Parking Structures will sometimes share the same exit ramp, which can lead to back up. We found that  after about 8 pm the Pixar Pal structure exit ramp was open and we were able to get out easily.

The pedestrian bridge from Disneyland’s Pixar Pals Parking Structure (accessible on Level 2) is great! It was a quick 4 minute walk to the Downtown Disney security.

We also prefer this lot because a lot of times we choose to walk to Disneyland through Downtown Disney. We find it is sometimes faster, and also, at the end of the night, we don’t like to stop moving because that is when we realize how tired and sore our feet actually are.

Pros of Mickey & Friends or Pixar Pals Parking Structure:

  • Most levels are covered
  • Opens 30 minutes earlier than Toy Story Lot
  • Bathrooms
  • Close to Downtown Disney for alternate entrance option
  • Close enough to walk to parks,
  • Includes a pedestrian bridge leading to Downtown Disney on second Level of Pixar Pals Structure
  • Preferred parking available
  • Electric Vehicle Charging Available

Cons of Mickey & Friends or Pixar Pals Parking Structure:

  • Often long lines for elevator for those with strollers (Please do NOT take your stroller on the escalator, especially with a child in it.)
  • Long lines for trams at end of night often makes it better to walk back
  • Anaheim PD often closes off this parking structure for traffic reasons (you may be redirected to Toy Story Lot)
  • You can no longer leave strollers open in any row of the tram
Where to park at Disneyland Mickey and Friends Parking Structure

Toy Story Lot

The Toy Story Parking Lot at Disneyland has buses that take you to the main gates of the Disneyland Theme Parks. The buses will drop you off right at the security points on Harbor Blvd.

With the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Disney has expanded the Toy Story lot and added a security check point within the parking lot, much like is at Mickey and Friends. This check point is only used when the park capacity needs it. They have also added restrooms in this lot! Hooray!

 
Pros of the Toy Story Lot for Parking Disneyland
  • The shuttles seem to load and unload faster, shorter wait to load in both the parking lot and at parks
  • No need to utilize an elevator to get to your car if you have a stroller
  • Dropped off closer to the park entrance than the trams
  • You can walk to the Toy Story Lot from many convention center area hotels and ride to the park

Cons of the Toy Story Lot

  • Must fold stroller to get on shuttle
  • Not within easy walking distance of the park (you will want to ride)
  • Security not always available here and the security at the gate, on the Harbor Blvd side, is usually very busy 
  • No covered parking, cars can get VERY hot
  • No preferred parking options

Downtown Disney Parking

If you are doing a quick trip to Disneyland, or only visiting Downtown Disney, you may benefit from parking at the Downtown Disney Parking Lot (Simba Lot).

This parking has a high hourly rate, but may be a good option for some.

Downtown Disney Parking is located in the Simba Lot by the Paradise Pier Hotel. Follow signs for Downtown Disney parking if you wish to utilize this lot.

Pros of Downtown Disney Parking

  • Can be validated with purchases at select Downtown Disney Establishments
  • May save money over other parking for quick visits

Cons of Downtown Disney Parking

  • The Simba Lot is not as close as the old Downtown Disney Parking
  • High hourly rate if you are not validated
  • Must keep track of your ticket

Validation can help you avoid paying for parking in this lot. To find out the rules for validation, check out our how to park for free tip below.

Tips for Disneyland Parking

So the cost or location of the Disneyland Parking lots has you cringing? Not to worry! I have solutions for you including how Disneyland Parking can be FREE for you!

Cars at Disneyland

How to park closer to the gates

One tip that many people do not know about is that several of the hotels on Harbor Blvd will allow you to pay to park in their lots. The prices may often be close to or the same as Disneyland parking, but you will not have to wait to get to your car via a tram or shuttle, and instead can just simply walk across the street, leaving your kids in their stroller the entire time.

My two favorite hotels that offer this are the Anaheim Hotel for proximity and Courtyard Theme Park Entrance because they offer Valet Parking for the $25 cost.

Want to save even more in this area? Try out SpotHero to get a discounted parking rate at these hotels. If you use my link to sign up you will even get a credit to your account!

How to get free parking at Disneyland

Okay, so here are a few ways you can visit Disneyland and NOT pay for parking, even if you drove to the area.

1. Take advantage of your hotel parking! Most of the hotels in Anaheim charge a parking fee. However, booking hotels through Get Away Today can get you free parking (A perk exclusive to Get Away Today customers at some area hotels) and then you can simply walk to the parks, or if staying near the convention center, across the street to the Toy Story Lot and use the shuttles at no cost. Get Away Today also has reduced or free parking at hotels within walking distance of the park, such as Howard Johnson and Fairfield Inn.

Disneyland parking free

Tip: On Get Away Today’s site, search “Free Parking” in the amenities

2. Free Downtown Disney Parking with Validation. If you will only be at Disneyland Resort for a few hours, making a purchase at one of the Downtown Disney restaurants can get your free parking at Disneyland!

You can get 3 hours of free parking with a purchase of $20 (minimum) and validation at any Downtown Disney location.

You can receive 5 hours of free parking in Downtown Disney with validation from any table service restaraunt in Downtown Disney.

The hotels, their restaurants and shops DO NOT count, and will not validate Downtown Disney parking.

Do you have any questions about Disneyland parking that I have not answered? Leave a comment below so I can answer them for you.

Ready to book a Disneyland Vacation?

If you are ready to book your Disneyland vacation, we suggest booking through our friends at Get Away Today. They always have a great deal and can add on a lot of magical extras to your vacation. Just click the image below to book now.

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14 thoughts on “Disneyland Parking Tips – How To Park For Free And More”

  1. These are great tips, I’ve not been to Disneyland before but I would love to take my family in the next few years. Thanks for sharing and thank you for linking up with #100 Days Of Disney xx

    Reply
  2. Thanks for sharing these fab Disneyland tips. We hope to go to California at some stage and a visit to Disneyland will of course be on the cards!

    Thank you for adding this to #100DaysOfDisney, be sure to come back and add more – there’s still 80+ days left xoxo

    Reply
  3. Do you know if it is allowed to bring a portable grill and have a small cookout in the Disney picnic grounds?

    Reply
  4. You talked about parking at a near by hotel for close to the same price as parking at Disney. How do you know where will allow this? Is there a way to reserve parking spots before you arrive? I am not seeing this on the hotels you mentioned websites.

    Reply
  5. There are some really good tips in here. I would also add that people who want to have a good spot in the structure should consider some of the first rows when they enter the Mickey and Friends structure. You can snag a spot closer to the east side of the lot. It’s easier to remember where you parked if you are close to the end, and it will be an equal or shorter walk than being in one of the rows “closer to the front” but where you actually end up parking further west.
    I would also say, while this article has some absolutely fantastic pointers, at the beginning it has some rather redundant parts.
    I felt like I read what each parking structure was and it’s relation to the park four times, and in reality you should have one explanation at the start, and not have to go over them multiple times. That beginning explanation should be committed to the readers memory at that point.
    But thank you for this. Never even knew hotels would let you valet park for less than Disneyland would.

    Reply

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