Are you ready to pay more for parking at Walt Disney World? What if it meant you got to park closer to the main entrance? Disney hopes you will answer yes. Over the next few days, Disney will test Premium Parking at the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) and EPCOT Parking Lots.
Guests who pay an extra $15 on top of the existing $20 parking fee will be parked in a special lot with a short walk to the monorail and ferry boat terminals. If you park at the Magic Kingdom, there’s still that mile-distance you have to travel to the front gates. But Premium Parking at EPCOT might save you 5 to 10 minutes walking to or from your car.
Previously at Walt Disney World, you used to be able to park close if you had a AAA Diamond Parking Pass or were a Disney Dining Experience Member (the early version of Tables in Wonderland). Both programs were discontinued. Back in the 90s at Disneyland, Premium Parking was offered and it was even included free for Premium Passholders (based on availability). That too was discontinued when they decided to build a second admission gate where the parking lot existed.
In the test, if you have parking included in your pass, you can pay the $15 upgrade charge to get the premium parking.
If you ask me $15 is a lot of money to spend to save a few steps at the end of the night. But if someone is willing to pay, I don’t see it as being that big of an issue (if it cam with a car wash or valet service I’d understand it even more). However, in the grander scheme of things at Walt Disney World, premium parking is just another piece of evidence that the resort is catering to a new class of people who are attracted more by perceptions of luxury (don’t wait in queue (Fastpass), park close (Premium Parking), get ‘free’ dining (and now everyone has to pay more so you feel like you’re getting a value), etc). None of these are actual benefits, just redistribution of resources. I am still concerned this pivot to the luxury market by Disney will come back to bite them in the future if the economy takes another turn (domestically or internationally) and they need to rely on locals and Disney fans to get them through the low points.