Disney Resort Split Stays:  Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em?

Credit: Disney

Split stays are a great way to experience multiple resorts on your next Walt Disney World vacation.  There are many reasons why a family might opt for a split stay vacation.  Sometimes deciding between all of the fantastic resorts is hard.  Or, perhaps you’re motivated to check out as many resorts as possible, but resort hopping for meals or shopping doesn’t give you enough of a feel for each one. Another common reason for a split stay is to splurge for a few nights at a Deluxe Resort, while still keeping the overall cost of the trip within your budget by choosing a less expensive resort for the remainder of the trip.  There are some logistics to consider related to booking a vacation package when deciding if a split stay is right for you, so be sure to check out Planning a Split Stay at Disney World Hotels for those particulars. My goal today is TO help you consider whether the split stay concept is one your family wants to try!

The Pros of a Split Stay

Make a Splurge More Affordable

Grand Floridian
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Do you have champagne dreams but a boxed wine budget? Consider staying at your dream Deluxe Resort for just a few nights on your trip, and keep the budget in check by selecting a more affordable resort for the remainder of your Disney trip. If this is your rationale for trying a split stay, consider spending time at a value resort or moderate resort before stepping up to Deluxe accommodations. You’ll probably enjoy your stay more if you go from Pop Century to the Grand Floridian, whereas moving from a deluxe villa at Disney’s Riviera Resort to All-Star Movies might feel like too much of a downgrade.

Related: Walt Disney World Deluxe Resorts: 7 Reasons You Must Stay At One

Disney Transfers Your Luggage

Credit: PlanDisney Panel

Folks are sometimes surprised to find that changing resorts is really fairly simple. If you don’t have a car with you (or even if you do), you can take advantage of Disney’s complimentary luggage transfer service. On the morning of your check-out from the first resort, simply call Bell Services and let them know that you’d like them to come get your bags. They will count and tag all of your belongings, and several hours later the bags will magically appear at your next resort. Don’t forget to tip your friendly Bell Services Cast Member, and remember that it might take them a little while to get to your room for your bags if many guests are leaving at the same time.

Related: Disney World Bell Services Is Making a Split Stay Change

Try Out More Resorts Quickly

Disney’s Pop Century Resort has no shortage on theming!

We are huge fans of split stays. For us, it was the most efficient way to try out every resort after we became DVC (Disney Vacation Club) members. Split stays allowed us to try two resorts on every trip, which helped us more quickly sample the Disney magic at each resort and find our favorites. Whether you’re considering DVC or not, families who plan to visit Walt Disney World frequently would benefit from finding which resorts work best for them sooner than later.

Take Advantage of the Best Each Resort Has to Offer

There are pros and cons of every Disney resort hotel. Value resorts are most budget-friendly but still rank high for theming and fun. Deluxe resorts offer more plush amenities and most are very conveniently located to one or more parks and offer more transportation options. Moderate resorts are, of course, somewhere in the middle in terms of price, amenities, and convenience.

The Disney Skyliner is a ride in itself!

If you love convenience on your vacation, you might choose a resort that has great access to the parks. Pop Century, for example, has access to the Disney Skyliner, which provides very convenient access to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. You may decide to spend time at a different resort for the rest of your trip with some other major advantage after exhausting your time at the parks you were close to. You might choose to finish your trip at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which has something that no other Disney resort has: animals!

The Cons of a Split Stay

Thus far I’ve aimed to make changing resorts seem quite appealing, but I would be remiss if I did not mention the perceived “cons” of doing a split stay at Disney. Here are a few that you’ll want to keep in mind.

Having to Pack up Mid-Trip Can Be a Pain

If your travelling party packs minimally, lives out of suitcases, or is generally pretty organized, packing up is only mildly irritating. If you have young (or not so young) children, a disorganized mate, or a person who has unpacked items into every nook and cranny of the resort hotel room, then there is a chance that packing up mid-trip might make you want to scream. This is a case where you need to know your group. Is checking out a second resort worth having to pack up twice? That’s something only you can judge. In our case, we’ve had some pretty frenzied pack-up mornings. The excitement of arriving at the new resort later in the day, however, erased the trauma.

You’re Without a Room for Your Switch Day

Pool Saratoga Spring
Pool at Saratoga Springs Resort

On the day that you switch resorts, you’ll be without a room for the period between check out of your first resort and your check-in to your second (or third or fourth) resort. You’ll want to take this into consideration when planning your trip itinerary. Remember that you are still welcome to use resort amenities during this time, including the pool.

Dining Reservations- You’ll Have to “Split” Them, too.

One nice perk of staying onsite at a Walt Disney World Resort is that you can make dining reservations 60 days before you travel for the length of your stay. This makes snagging hard-to-get reservations easier, since you may be booking at 64 days out, for instance. The split stay puts a damper on this benefit, since you technically have two reservations and therefore will have two “60 days out” windows. You used to be able to ask Disney to link your reservations to avoid this, but currently that is not the case.

Tips for a Smooth Split Stay

Pack Up the Night Before

Try to minimize how much you need to pack on the morning of your transfer. This will lead to a smoother experience for you, especially if you are trying to get to a park for rope drop, or to a coveted breakfast reservation. The time it takes to throw the “last minute items” into your bags should not be underestimated.

Plan your Switch Day Carefully

Credit: Disney

If you’re a rope dropper who likes to get to the parks before they open, you may want to pick a park that opens a bit later for your room switch day. Unless your family lives for waking up at the crack of dawn, you probably don’t want to attempt to get to Disney’s Animal Kingdom for an 8 am opening on your switch day. We’ve found that room switch days are great for visiting EPCOT, which typically opens later. Other great activities for room switch day are pool time (at either your first or second resort), having a breakfast at your resort and taking it easy, or heading out to enjoy Disney Springs for lunch before the crowds arrive.

Concentrate Your Park Touring Around the Where You’re Staying

When we plan a split stay, we always segment our trip and focus on what we can do in that area of Walt Disney World property. I’m a big fan of dining where you stay so you don’t spend more time on Disney transportation than in the parks or enjoying meals. For example, if you’re spending time in a Boardwalk Villa, you may want to focus on visiting the two parks in close proximity on those days: Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. You can utilize the Skyliner, Friendship Boats, or your own two feet to access both of those parks from the Boardwalk. Likewise, you can focus your dining reservations in this area. Trattoria al Forno, Beaches and Cream, Il Mulino, and EPCOT’s entire World Showcase full of restaurants are all great choices in this Crescent Lake area! If you’ll be staying anywhere along the monorail loop, plan to visit the Magic Kingdom during that time and take full advantage of the proximity.

Have you tried a split stay? If so, did you love it or hate it? Let us know what your ideal split stay trip would look like!

About Meredith Smisek

Meredith Smisek is a kid at heart who works as an elementary school counselor. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, son, and corgi. Meredith is a DVC member who loves music, podcasts, crafting, and "talking Disney" with anyone and everyone.

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