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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 planning sites, but you will want to plan for it.
From the cost, to how to get free parking at Disneyland, we have tips you 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 oftentimes, 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.
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 2021 the rates for parking at the on-site hotels at Disneyland is as follows:
- $35/ night for self-parking
- $65/night for valet parking (Valet Parking May Not Be Available)
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 $15 more per night and in my opinion, is totally worth it.
We have stayed at all three hotels 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.
Note: Valet parking fees do not include tips. Carry some cash to tip your valet! Same for when you utilize the Disneyland hotels parking for character dining.
Disneyland Parking Info
Below are 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
- $30 for vehicles and motorcycles
- $35 for oversized vehicles (only available at Toy Story Lot)
- $40 for buses and vehicles with trailers (only available at Toy Story Lot)
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 for Downtown Disney
- $10 for first hour (Validation does not count for the first hour)
- $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 the lot is full)
- $66 max daily fee, or lost ticket charge
- Validation is available at select establishments with a minimum $20 purchase. Validation is for the time after the first hour, so even with validation, you will pay $10
What is considered “oversized” when Parking at Disneyland?
The following vehicles are considered oversized and must utilize the Toy Story Lot and pay the oversized vehicle parking cost”
- Dually trucks
- Motor homes
- Passenger vehicles with a trailer
- Recreational vehicles (RV)
- RV campers
Preferred Parking At Disneyland
Disneyland parking can mean parking pretty far out, in the back corner. That walk at the end of the night can fill brutal.
Disney offers preferred parking, where you will be parked closer to the trams/escalators/elevators. Preferred parking is only available at the Mickey and Friends parking structure.
The cost for preferred parking at Disneyland is:
- $50 per vehicle
- $20 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 charging 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.
Annual Passes with Free Parking
The new version of Annual Passes – Magic Keys – have some parking benefits for the top two tiers.
Dream Key Holders (the top key) will receive free standard parking at Mickey and Friends, Pixar Pals, or the Toy Story Lot.
Believe Key Holders (the next level down) receive 50% off standard parking at the same lots. However, they do not receive that discount on block-out days.
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.
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.
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 structures 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 checkpoints, and a pedestrian bridge that leads to Downtown Disney.
My family parked in Pixar Pals several times. 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 a backup. 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
- Close to Downtown Disney for an alternate entrance option
- Close enough to walk to parks
- Includes a pedestrian bridge leading to Downtown Disney on the 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 the elevators for those with strollers (Please do NOT take your stroller on the escalator, especially with a child in it.)
- 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
Toy Story Lot
Disney has expanded the Toy Story lot and added a security checkpoint within the parking lot, much like is at Mickey and Friends. This checkpoint is only used when the park capacity needs it. They have also added restrooms in this lot! Hooray!
Pros of Parking at Toy Story Lot
- 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 strollers to get on the shuttle
- Not within easy walking distance of the park (you will want to ride)
- 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 (the first hour not validated)
- 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
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!
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.
Want to save even more in this area? Try out SpotHero to get a discounted parking rate at these hotels.
How to get free parking at Disneyland
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 discounted or even 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 you are staying near the convention center, walk to the Toy Story Lot and use the shuttles at no cost.
Tip: On Get Away Today’s site, search “Free Parking” in the amenities
2. NEARLY 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 you nearly free parking at Disneyland! UPDATE: You will now be required to pay $10 for the first hour.
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 Napa Rose.
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.