Now, I’ve talked to lots of people about the difference between parking in the Toy Story parking lot and taking the bus to Disneyland or parking in the Mickey and Friends parking structure and taking the tram.
The Mickey and Friends parking lot is a six story parking structure with about 10 lanes of inbound traffic. Five of the six levels provide covered parking and the oversized vehicle parking lot, the Pinocchio parking lot, is located next to the Mickey and Friends parking structure. The tram station has four loading and unloading zones for high capacity tram cars. The parking structure is relatively close to the park so it’s a 5-10 minute walk should you choose not to take the tram.
The trams carry a lot of people to and from the park but there is a downside. First thing in the morning, right after the fireworks and in the last hour of the park being opened, the lines to get on the tram are insanely long and it can take a very long time to get on one. I’ve waited 4 and 5 trams to get on and get back to my car. Then, once you get back to the parking structure, depending on where you parked, you have as much as a 10 minute walk to your car. The parking structure is huge and if you don’t get there are the right time, you end up in row 1, which sounds good but is actually the furthest row from the escalators and elevators down to the tram. Also, if you get there first thing on what the park anticipates to be a busy day, you end up in the Pinocchio parking lot and if you were going to Mickey and Friends to park in covered parking and keep your car cool in the summer, that will backfire almost every time…it has for me. On some mornings, you will make the turn onto Disneyland Drive from Ball Rd and find the ramp to enter the parking structure blocked by the Anaheim Police Department and signs directing you to other parking lots like Pumba (on the opposite side of the park) or what I believe is called the Simba parking lot ( I can’t find it on any website…even Disneyland’s but it’s a parking lot straight down Disneyland Way, past the Downtown Disney parking lot and just south of the Paradise Pier Hotel). Now, you can get past the Anaheim Police Department at the parking structure ramp if you have someone in the vehicle that is special needs.
Now, the Toy Story parking lot is a smaller parking area but it is still a good size. There are benefits to parking in Toy Story. The main one being that I have never waited more than 2 buses to get on and in the summer or winter months, the buses are cooled or heated. I’ve ridden the tram in the winter and froze my face off. Also, getting back to your car after the bus ride is not even a 5 minute walk, even if you’re parked in the farthest corner of the parking lot. Most tourists don’t know about the Toy Story parking lot so there’s usually no issue on them running out of parking or closing the lot unlike the Mickey and Friends parking structure.
When I started writing this a while back, in my mind, there was a clear winner in this battle. My first 7 or 8 trips to the park over the last year and a half, I refused to park anywhere else other than the Mickey and Friends parking structure…unless I was forced to park somewhere else. Now I’ve never parked in the Pumba lot but a friend of mine (who is also a Disneyland fanatic) recently made a trip to the park and when she made the turn onto Disneyland Way, she was redirected to the Pumba lot. They apparently direct the traffic on a small access street that actually goes around the perimeter of California Adventure and comes out on the east side of the park onto Disney Way, where the busses would come into the park. Oddly enough, the last part of this drive on the east side of the park, is the original entrance to the parking lot when it occupied the lane that is now California Adventure. I have however, parked in the Simba lot and that one is a pain. There is no transportation from the lot to the park. you have to walk through the parking lot, through the Paradise Pier Hotel parking and driveway area, into the west end of Downtown Disney between the Disneyland Hotel and the AMC theater. Then, if you’re there before the park opens, you have to walk past the Monorail station that could take you into the park if it was open and all the way through the rest of Downtown Disney. This is a long walk and the first time I had to park in this lot, we did it with a 3 year old. I swore I’d never park there again and I haven’t. There’s a trick to get into the Mickey and Friends that we’ll cover on another blog that I’m working on.
Now some people have asked me why I like the Mickey and Friends parking structure more than any other parking lot at the resort and my answer has always been the same. For the few trips we made when I was a kid, DCA didn’t exist…it was THE parking lot. 15,167 parking spots divided into 19 areas named after Disney character. That’s how you remembered where you parked. “We’re parked in Pinocchio 7”. This system is still in place in all of the Disney parking lots. But for me, the defining thing about parking in the old lot was there was a central driveway down the middle of the lot and you could ride a tram to the front gate.
So when I started coming to Disneyland again and found that what I remembered as the parking lot was gone, the Mickey and Friends parking structure gave me that experience on the tram that I remembered from my youth. To me, you weren’t at Disneyland until you got on the tram. The Toy Story parking lot transportation system was a public bus…that wasn’t magical. It felt like my car broke down and I had to ride the public bus to get to where I needed to go.
So there it is. The Mickey and Friends parking structure is better. Especially for people that remember the experience of the trams from the old parking lot. However, on my last couple of trips I have started to change my opinion slightly. The tram experience still makes takes me back to my childhood experiences…and that’s priceless. But I have been able to manage my time much better in the Toy Story lot. When I go to the park, I got for rope drop as many days as I can. If I decide to park in Mickey and Friends, I have to leave my hotel 30 minutes earlier than I would if I parked in Toy Story. The reason is you never know if you’re going to have to wait in a long line of cars to pay for parking, or get rerouted to another parking lot, walk from that new lot, wait in an insanely crowded tram depot for several trams to go by. In the Toy Story lot, you park, walk for a minute or two to the bus and it leave within a couple minutes. Much faster and no waiting. Next, when you get to the park and get to bag check, the tram side of the promenade has long lines from people coming from the resort hotels and the trams which are operating at full capacity to bring the guests into the park. The bus side has virtually no wait.
Next, if you need to go a ticket booth to upgrade to an annual pass, or get your annual pass or anything else, the tram side line at the ticket booths are crazy. The bus side, you can usually walk right up to a window.
So, here’s my final answer: park in Mickey and Friends if you want the authentic Disney experience and park in Toy Story if you’re looking for time management and speed. My heart is still with the tram but I don’t live in California and my trips are short and numbered. I have to make the most of my time.
Thanks for following. I hope you enjoyed reading. Stay connected and look out for these upcoming blogs:
- Fantasmic Fastpass
- Disneyland Tips for the Novice Park Visitor
- The Haunted Mansion 45th Anniversary – Part 2