One of the best things about going on a Walt Disney World vacation is the fact that you get to plan it! As you may know, Disney World serves as its own little world, the size of San Fransisco, and has so much to see and do.
With 25+ Disney Resort hotels, four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping center, and hundreds of dining locations from Quick-Service to Table-Service, it is impossible to do everything all in one vacation. One of the hardest things to narrow down, typically, is what Disney hotel you want to stay at. Depending on your price point, desired location, and party size, Guests have the choice to pick between a Value Resort, Moderate Resort, or Deluxe Resort — but even then, there are still a variety of options.
Related: Disney World 50th to Last Until 2023 (And That’s a Good Thing)
Well, what happens if you get down to your final two and you can’t decide? Maybe Mom wants one resort, while Dad wants another, or, perhaps the whole family just wants to experience a variety of Disney World Resort hotels such as Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Grand Floridian Lodge, all in one stay?
There are so many Resort hotel combinations that you can do on a Disney vacation if you decide to do a split stay! A split stay allows Guests to adventure through different resorts, while experiencing a variety of amenities and offerings such as different pools, restaurants, and even, modes of transportation to the park.
Related: Photos Show Ongoing Construction at Disney’s Beach Club Resort
But how can you book a split stay on your Disney World vacation? Today, we will discuss how a split stay at Disney World hotels works, plan a split stay at Disney World hotels and discuss the pros and cons of a split stay at Disney World hotels.
So get ready to plan your vacation to the Most Magical Place on Earth!
What is a split stay at Disney World?
Some of you may be thinking, “what in the world is a split stay?” in terms of Disney World Resort hotels. A split stay means that when you visit Disney World, you are planning on staying at more than one hotel during your time in sunny Central Florida. There are many reasons some Guests may choose to go that route, which we will discuss, but there truly is no limit as to how many hotels can be included in a split stay. Split stays are more common than you may think, and it is something that I have done on occasion as well!
Related: Disney Resorts Look Deserted in Aerial Images
Related: What Disney Fans Think of Polynesian Resort’s New ‘Moana’ Theme
How to plan a split stay at a Disney World hotel
Now we will take a look at the best way to plan a split stay at a Disney Resort.
How should you book a split stay at a Disney World hotel?
If you are looking to book a split stay at Disney World, you have a few options. First, you must decide if this is something you are doing yourself, or if you will have a travel expert help you along the way. Booking a split stay could be difficult to coordinate at times so having a travel agent there to make sure things run smooth is always a great idea. If you would like an expert on your side, click here!
That being said, with or without a travel agent, the things you need to decide are:
- Which dates am I going on my Disney vacation?
- What hotels do I want to stay at, and for how long at each?
It is important to know these details because a split stay involved coordinating. You must ensure that both hotels you are looking at, such as Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, have the availability you are looking for.
So, let’s say you plan on visiting on July 1 through 7, you want to spend the first two days at Boardwalk, and the other five at Contemporary, you would need to ensure July 1 and 2 have availability at Boardwalk, and that days three through seven have availability at the Contemporary. So long as they have availability, you can book these, and would do to separate stays.
If you are doing this alone, I personally like to call Disney to ensure there is a note on my profile that says I am doing a split stay, just to make the luggage transition as smooth as possible.
How does a split stay at Disney World work?
When you are doing your split stay, you would check into your first Disney hotel as planned. Remember, staying on Disney property will get you access to FastPass+, the Disney Dining Plan, and more (once they return) so be sure to take advantage of those offerings when you visit Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
When you check in to your Disney hotel, be sure to remind the Cast Member that you are having a split stay. I preface this because when Guests do a split stay, they will need their luggage transferred, especially if they rode the Magical Express and are not driving their own car.
I like to warn Cast Members at the first hotel, as it makes it easier to organize that luggage pickup on your check-out day!
So, if we continue with our hypothetical July vacation, what would happen is, you would hop on the Magical Express at Orlando International Airport and head to Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, upon check-in, highlight you are on a split stay, but the rest of the process will go as planned.
Related: How Crowded is Disney World Right Now, Really?
Then, on July 3, you will have all of your bags packed, and you will call Bell Services, tell them you need your luggage transferred to a new Resort hotel and picked up, they will send someone to grab your things, and then, you are free!
One huge benefit of doing this is that you can have your luggage picked up, and then head to a park! Early morning rooms are typically not yet ready at Disney Resorts, so visiting the parks while your luggage is taken care of is a great way to pass the time.
Once your room is ready, one of two things may happen. Disney will either have the bags brought to you (this could even happen before you have entered the room), or, they will be at Bell Services in which case you could grab them yourselves, or, get a Cast Member to bring the luggage up to you.
Now, you can enjoy the next five nights at Disney’s Contemporary Resort!
What are your options for booking a split stay at a Disney World hotel?
When booking a split stay, your options are endless! As long as the availability is there, Guests can really modify and adjust their Disney vacation as much as they would like.
Personally, I would recommend that if you are doing a split stay, depending on how long you are visiting, staying at two hotels in a stay is a good amount, especially if you are in town for one week. That being said, the choice is always up to you!
Pros and cons of a split stay at Disney World
There are many reasons why Guests would want to do a split stay at Disney World, and why they would maybe rather stay away. In this section, we will discuss all of the options, benefits, and detriments of a split stay.
How can splitting a stay at Disney World helps you get around limited availability?
Getting around limited availability is a huge pro for split stays! This is something I have had to do, and it worked out great! Sometimes, depending on how far in advance you are booking your Disney vacation, and for what time of year, the resort you want to stay at may not be available for the full length of your stay.
When I was visiting during March break a few years ago, I remember trying to get Disney’s Pop Century Resort for a week, but it was not possible. However, when we looked at what days were available, we saw that six of the seven were there. Because we did not want to rearrange our flight options, we decided to stay at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort on the first night, and then, transfer to Pop Century for the last six. By splitting the stay, we were able to stay at Disney for our desired dates, even when booking a couple of months out!
How many hotels is it advisable to split your stay between?
As I mentioned earlier, the choice is entirely up to you. That being said, the day of your transfer can go seamless, but it is nice to be able to unpack, relax, and not worry about constantly moving around Disney property. Disney Resort hotels have so much to offer, that getting the time to explore each one is part of the magic.
Therefore, I recommend that if you are doing a split stay, only include one transfer per week, depending on how long you are planning on staying at Disney World.
How can changing Resort hotels at Disney World enrich the experience?
Disney World has so many different resorts, each specifically Imagineered to convey a different location, IP, and experience. With over 25 options to choose from, it is impossible to do all of them, but, you can try and get in as many as possible. When staying at Disney, Guests can choose from a variety of Resort hotel options:
After Guests have stayed at a Resort hotel for a few days, they may feel an itch to go and explore more hotels. By doing a split stay, you do not only have to hotel hop and only see the exterior, but you get to see the rooms and really take in the hotel as a whole.
Plus, depending on your location, you could have different views, the ability to see fireworks, and, even have close entrances to different parks.
If we take a look at our hypothetical July stay once again, by staying at Boardwalk, Guests can walk to EPCOT, as well as the Disney Skyliner which can take them to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Then, by jumping to Contemporary for the second half of the stay, Magic Kingdom is a five minute walk away. Not only will this save you time when visiting the parks, but it allows Guests to utilize all of the best transit options Disney provides, optimizing your Disney World vacation!
It also can be a great tool and way to stay at a Deluxe Resort which may have a higher price point, without breaking the bank. Guests can choose to spend a night or two at their dream resort, and really take in that time there, then, pop over to a Value Resort to save some money while still staying in the Disney Bubble, and having all of the Disney Parks such as the Disney Dining Plan, and FastPass+ available to them.
Seeing as much of the magic as you can is the best way to have the ultimate Disney vacation, and a split stay will get you one step closer to reaching that goal! Plus, if you like Park Hopping, this is basically the same thing, just with your bed.
Who should consider a split stay at Disney World?
Here is a list of reasons why I would consider a split stay. If you fall in this category, you should take a look at taking a split stay!
- Guests who want to explore Resort hotels
- Guests who cannot find full availability in one resort for their dates
- Guests who cannot choose between two Disney Resort hotels
- Guests who want to stay in a Deluxe Resort, but cannot afford a week
- Guests who want to optimize Disney’s modes of transportation
- Guests who appreciate Disney World Resort hotels as much as the parks
- Guests who are interested in a stay-cation
What makes it worth it to do a split stay at Disney World?
As we have discussed, splitting a stay can save you money, help you with dates, and, can give you are more unique and intricate Disney World vacation full of exploring. The biggest con about a split stay is that in the middle of your vacation, you need to pack your things and move, but if you can get past that aspect, a split stay will only add to your Disney World experience.
Booking a split stay at a Disney World hotel
What costs should you consider when booking a split stay at a Disney World hotel?
The cost to transfer your luggage and get to your other Disney World Resort could be free, if you choose. If you want to Uber, that would be an added cost, but if you choose to use the Disney busses or another mode of Disney transportation, that actual move from hotel to hotel is free!
That being said, each Disney Resort hotel, will have its own price point, and depending on your hotel, that can cause an increase or decrease. Also, if you are driving and moving between different resort categories, be aware that parking costs per day go up depending on the level of the resort you are in.
How can you make a split stay at a Disney World hotel as smooth as possible?
My advice for making the transition smooth is to alert the Cast Members ahead of time, perhaps even schedule a Bell Services Cast Member to come and get your luggage by calling the evening before, and alert them that you will be transferring to a new hotel.
The day of your transfer, you will not be able to check-in right away, so planning a park day is advisable. That way, when you are done with your park day, you can just hop on your new bus to the second resort, which will ensure you are not wasting any time bussing to a park solely to make a transfer.
Which Disney Resort hotels allow Guests to do split stays?
Because each Disney World Resort hotel booking is its own personal booking, you can book as many split stays as you want! There is not a single Disney World Resort hotel that would prohibit this at the moment.
How should you choose which Disney hotels to split a stay at?
I personally think that if you are looking at doing a split stay, the best way to decide what hotels to stay at is to see why you are deciding to stay at a split stay in the first place. If you have two resorts you would like to stay at, those two would be good options for you to look into.
If money is an issue, booking two resorts from different price point categories could be very beneficial. If location is important to you, deciding on what parks you want to be closest to will also be very important.
For help, below are some of our other Disney Resort guides:
Having a split stay can truly enhance your Disney vacation, and help you discover even more than the giant resort has to offer. If you are looking to discover the most that Disney has to offer, a spot stay accommodation is definitely the way to go!
And if you need help planning a split stay at Disney World, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friends at Academy Travel, who will be with you every step of the way when planning your magical vacation.
Do you think you would consider a split stay on your next Disney World vacation? Have you done a split stay before?