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Valet Parking at WDW
As of October 30, 2012, the valet parking fee at Walt Disney World resort hotels is $15. Once paid, however, you can use valet parking for the entire day at any resort that offers it without paying the fee again -- show the day's valet receipt at the next resort to avoid being charged again.
by Rodney Grill
All Disney deluxe resorts offer valet parking. To use this service, gain entrance to the resort by telling the guard the reason why you are there. Most people will visit a resort either to dine in one of its restaurants or to preview it for a future stay. Once you have entered the resort, drive up to the motor court area (usually noted as resort check-in) and lower your window. When a parking attendant CM approaches you, explain that you want to valet park. Most of the time, you will be asked to leave the car right where it is sitting with the keys in the ignition and engine running. Sometimes, if it's busy, you might be directed to leave your car at the curb until they have an attendant to take it to the lot. In either case, the attendant will ask you for your name and write it on a small numbered envelope that will be used to hold your keys once the car is parked in the lot. He will tear off a stub from the envelope and give it to you as your receipt. This is very similar to the process you go through when leaving film with a developer.
Disney charges $15 per day to valet park, which you will pay to the valet captain when you return to retrieve your car. It is also customary to tip the attendant one or two dollars. Some people advise that you should tip an attendant when leaving your car and again when it is returned to you. Others advise that you should only tip the attendant when your car is returned to you.
The argument for tipping twice is that the two services may be performed by two different attendants. There are two arguments for tipping only upon return. One is that you only tip when the car has been returned in good condition. The other argument is that most of the time the attendant is taking a drop-off to the lot and driving back in a return, so as long as customers tip on the return, he is getting paid for the trip.
I generally do not tip when leaving the car unless the attendant is especially helpful, such as assisting other passengers in getting out of the car or if it is raining outside. If the attendant helps you unload any luggage from the car, it is customary to tip for that service according to how much work is performed. Special requests might also be a reason to tip on drop-off. For example, you might ask that your car be left nearby because you won't be gone long. Also, if your car has any strange features that might cause the attendant any extra work, then a tip would also be in order.
When you are ready to retrieve your car, find the valet captain who will be located at a counter somewhere in the motor court area. You will be asked for your receipt and your name. The captain will find the envelope containing your keys and also take care of the charge. If you are staying at a Disney resort, you can charge it to your room. Otherwise, you will need to pay the valet captain. Keep in mind that this fee is for using Disney's parking area and does not go to the attendant who parks your car.
The captain will dispatch an attendant to get your car. This is where I generally notice whether the attendant has to walk to the lot or if he drives a dropped-off car to the lot. When the attendant returns with your car, he will generally pull up to the motor court and stand next to the open driver's door waiting for you to claim your vehicle. This is when you will tip him. Personally, I will tip $1 if the attendant drove a drop-off to the lot or $2 if he had to walk. If it is raining and he had to walk, I generally tip even more.
Now a few tips. If your key ring is very large or has a lot of keys on it, then you should not leave all that with the attendant. It's actually best if you leave only the key to the car. When we go to WDW in our own car (as opposed to flying and renting a car), I take both my regular key ring plus my spare car key. I actually keep my key ring in my suitcase and use the spare. That way, I don't get stuck if I lose my keys and it makes it much easier for the valet parking attendants to handle. Besides that, it's actually not good for your car's ignition switch to be burdened with the heavy weight of a bunch of keys.
Another tip is that once you pay the fee for valet parking, you can now use the service at any other deluxe resort for the rest of that day with no additional charge except tipping the attendants. You will generally be given a colored hang tag that will identify to the attendant that you have paid that day. Make sure you have the CM note that when leaving your car on subsequent visits. If you are staying at a Disney deluxe resort and have used valet parking, they will simply charge it to your room bill if you give them your room number when you drop-off the car. Also, when you get ready to leave, you can call the valet and have your car waiting for you by the time you get to the motor court.
Finally, if you are driving a rental, be sure to remember the make, model and color. Once I stood around waiting for "my" car when all along then attendant was waiting in the court with the rental that I was driving.
Editor's Notes and Tips
Effective Sunday, October 11, 2009, Disney Vacation Club Members no longer receive free valet parking.
Your handicapped tag from your home state will get you free valet parking at any Disney resort.
Tables in Wonderland members receive complimentary valet parking when dining at a participating restaurant. Simply show your membership card to the valet when you drop off your car.
WDW Swan and Dolphin -- Valet parking at these resorts is $20 + tax.
NOTE: Valet parking at these resorts is NOT reciprocal with Disney resorts offering valet parking. (In other words, WDW Swan and Dolphin will not honor Disney resort parking hang tags and vice versa.)
If you are staying at the resort where you have valet parked, about 10 minutes before you are ready to leave the room call the Valet and ask to have your car brought to the front.
This article was written by Rodney Grill and originally posted to the rec.arts.disney.parks Usenet newsgroup (RADP). It is used here with permission. The original article has also been updated as changes have occurred.