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Save time with these stress-free Downtown Disney parking tips

Cars parked in a parking lot - Parking Tips for Downtown Disney
Headshot of Matt Claiborne
Matt Claiborne
March 25, 2021

Downtown Disney is a lot of fun and a fantastic way to spend the day shopping and dining. But first, you have to get there! Don't let the hassle of parking intimidate you. We have tips for making parking more manageable and more affordable so you can focus on having a good time.

Tip 1 - Plan Ahead

Cars parked in a parking structure

One of the best ways to beat the parking hassle is to choose the day you visit Downtown Disney wisely. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are usually significantly quieter than the weekends. Mornings and afternoons are quieter than evenings. If you're able to go into Downtown Disney on a Tuesday for lunch, you shouldn't have issues parking or finding an open table. Things start to get busier Friday at lunchtime, and the weekends are usually jam-packed.

It's a good idea to check Downtown Disney's parking status before you depart. The Disneyland app indicates when Downtown Disney hits its capacity. If you're already on the way, check digital message boards on Disneyland Drive and Katella Avenue.

The Simba parking lot is the main lot for Downtown Disney. It opens 15 minutes before Downtown Disney opens. If Downtown Disney opens at 9:00 am, the parking lot will open at 8:45 am. If it doesn't open until 10:00 am, the parking lot will open at 9:45 am.

Tip 2 - Save Time and Money with Preferred Parking

Pixar Pal parking structure

Parking at Downtown Disney can get expensive. The first hour is $10. After that, the rate is $14 an hour, billed in 30-minute increments. If you spend $20 at a Downtown Disney Store, you will get three hours of parking for free after you've paid the initial $10 for the first hour. Dining at a table service restaurant will allow you five hours for free, after the initial $10 first hour.

You can also park in the Pixar Pals Parking Structure, which gives access to Disneyland Resort and Downtown Disney. The regular parking rate is $25 per car. Disney also offers Preferred Parking, which is closer to the elevators or escalators. Preferred Parking in the Pixar Pals Parking Structure is $40. It's a four-minute walk from Pixar Pals to Downtown Disney via the pedestrian bridge. You can access the pedestrian bridge on the second level of the Pixar Pals Parking Structure.

Tip 3 - Make Restaurant Reservations

If you have a reservation at a restaurant in Downtown Disney, you will be able to park at the Simba Lot even if the parking lot is officially full. You can use the Disneyland app to make a reservation at most of the full-service restaurants. Remember, you'll get five hours of parking validated for dining at a Downtown Disney restaurant and access to the parking lot even if it's full. Making a restaurant reservation is one of our favorite Downtown Disney parking tips to alleviate the hassle of parking at Downtown Disney.

Tip 4 - Take the ART Shuttle and Avoid the Hassle

ART Shuttle

Check out Anaheim Resort Transportation (ART). This handy shuttle has a convenient route that stops at local hotels and big tourist spots, including Disneyland.

If you're staying in one of the hotels near the Downtown Disney District, you could certainly walk. If you want to skip the hassle of parking altogether, consider taking an Uber or Lyft to the drop-off area. The drop-off areas are on Downtown Drive and Harbor Boulevard.

Parking at Downtown Disney Doesn't Have to Be a Hassle

Take the stress out of parking and focus on having a fabulous time shopping and dining by following these simple tips.

  1. Going during quiet weekdays
  2. Use preferred parking in the Pixar Pals Parking Lot
  3. Taking the ART shuttle
  4. Utilizing a rideshare
  5. Making a reservation at a Downtown Disney restaurant
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