What started out as the “Beach, Baseball, and Disneyland” trip report has become the “Haunted Parking Garage” trip report. And before we start the report, we’re going to have to talk about this parking garage at Disneyland and what Disney needs to do to fix it.
To start off, this was our first trip staying off-site since DCA opened, eliminating the parking lot. The individual hotel free shuttles have been replaced with a fee-based shuttle that serves several hotels in the area. It seems that there is still an East Shuttle area near Harbor Blvd. so if you’re staying off-site at a good-neighbor hotel, you’ll want to pay for the shuttle service so that you can go back and forth from your hotel/motel to Disneyland easily. But whatever you do, avoid that parking garage.
We arrived before park opening and CMs were doing their usual orchestrating of where to park. Now this may not be too bad in an open parking area, but in a parking garage it’s aggravating and claustrophobic. We park in parking garages regularly in Las Vegas, but nobody tells us where to park. When you arrive in the morning at Disney parks, the CMs tell you where to park. So even if you’re early, you may end up parking at the far end of the garage because they park you in order instead of roping off the back end of the garage for later arrivals. Then you have to walk for what seems like forever to get to the escalator at the far end near the trams.
There is absolutely no setting of theme or atmosphere in this ugly, creepy, claustrophobic parking garage. How can you feel excited about arriving at Disneyland in such dank surroundings? After walking this huge distance, we chose not to get in line for the tram, but chose to walk the short pathway to Downtown Disney, to enjoy the flora, soak up some fun atmosphere, and to be on our own schedule. Besides, it was faster to walk and we weren’t alone in making that choice.
There are several things that Disney could do to improve the situation at the parking garage. Here are 3 things they could add to the garage that would greatly enhance the guest experience as soon as they’re on Disney property:
- Technology. The Las Vegas and Portland airports (to name 2) both have technology in their parking garages that show which parking spaces are available. A green light above the space shows it’s empty, and a red light shows the space is occupied. Plus there are lit numbers at the end of each row indicating how many spaces are available. Disney should adopt this. This allows Disney to know how full the garage is, and points guests to where the open spaces are, eliminating the need to be shoveled into wherever Disney CMs want you to park.
- Moving walkway. Like many airport parking garages, Disney could add a moving walkway to move their guests from one end of the giant garage (holds 10,000 cars) to the other.
- Theming. In the Las Vegas airport baggage claim area, there are video screens and audio recordings with Las Vegas personalities. Disney could add these screens or audio recordings at the very least. Mickey and friends could greet guests, offer tips, and advertise “big doings” in the park, including where to eat, shop, or otherwise spend extra money.
After that horrid experience, we vowed to never step foot in that garage again, even though it’s free for Annual Passholders. Imagining we might find ourselves being Disneyland locals again, we wondered what do locals do? Surely they don’t go through that experience just to drop in on Downtown Disney for a couple of hours. No, of course not. There is short-term parking near Downtown Disney where the first 3 hours are free. You can get an additional 2 hours if you eat at a restaurant that validates. After that you pay $2 for every 20 minutes or $6 per hour. It also pays to drop in on Disneyland during the less busy times, before all parking lots are full. Attendance this summer is already reaching maximum capacity even on Mondays. Guess the Birthday promotion is working…
Maybe Disney is already working on this. Who knows? But we had to get this out of the way before we could start the report from the beginning.