How to Plan a Split Stay for Your Disney World Vacation
There are a number of options to consider when booking your vacation to the most magical place on earth. One of the most important (and challenging!) is which resort to call home during your vacation. One possibility to consider for your vacation to Walt Disney World is a “split stay.” This is when a guest divides their stay between two or more resorts.
Walt Disney World divides their vast variety of resorts into four categories based on price: Value Resort Hotels, Moderate Resort Hotels, Deluxe Resort Hotels, and Deluxe Villas. However, each of the resorts within these categories offer their own unique themes, locations, dining options, and concierge, as well as their own pros and cons. While relocating from one resort to another during your vacation may sound anything but relaxing, here’s some more helpful information for how to plan a split stay for your Disney World Vacation! (For information about why to consider a split stay, make sure to read part 1 here.)
Tickets for a Split Stay
When planning a split stay, it’s cheaper to purchase your park tickets for the full length of your stay even though you will have two or more resort reservations. If you plan to purchase your tickets with a resort package or room discount, no need to worry. The number of days you choose for your tickets can extend beyond the number of days you book at a Disney World Resort.
For example, let’s say I’m booking a 4-night stay at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and then 3 nights at Disney’s All-Star Movies. When booking my 4 night resort and ticket package at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, I’m going to select the number of days I want to use a park ticket, even though that extends beyond 4 nights. Then, when I go to book Disney’s All-Star Movies, I only book a room and reject the option to add tickets.
Resort Reservations for a Split Stay
A split stay can vary between two resort reservations for a single trip or even a different resort every night of your trip! It depends on you, your family, and what you’re looking for. At the time of writing, Disney can’t recognize a split stay as a single reservation. Instead, each resort you stay at will be recognized as a separate reservation.
After booking your resort reservations or packages, each of your resort reservations should appear on your linked My Disney Experience account.
Transferring Your Luggage During a Split Stay
Standard check-out time at a Disney Resort is 11 A.M. If this is an issue, you can call and request a late check-out time, although there is no guarantee that your resort may be able to accommodate you. When you’re ready to check-out, take your bags to bell services and explain you’re checking into a different resort today. Cast Members will ask for the name of your resort and your name before adding tags to your luggage that needs transferring. They then will give you a card to then give to your new resort’s bell services when you’re ready to check-in that afternoon.
Guests can check-in their resort at 3 P.M. However, if you’ve completed online check-in, you’re free skip the front desk and to head to your new resort room after 3 P.M. or whenever you return to your resort for the night. Sometimes a resort room may be ready earlier than 3 P.M.; but typically transferred baggage isn’t available until after standard check-in time or later.
If I’m trying to make rope drop on a check-out day during a split-stay, I’ll bring my bags to bell services several minutes before I plan to head to the parks. Don’t feel compelled to leave the parks to pick up your bags if its after 3 P.M. or because you’re room is ready early. You can pick them up whenever you return to your resort for the night, even if its after the fireworks or Evening Extra Magic Hours.
FastPass+ Selections for a Split Stay
Guests with a resort reservation can book FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days out from their check-in date for the length of their trip. Guests who have booked a split stay can take advantage of this benefit for their first resort reservation; however, they will have to wait until 60 days out from their next resort reservation to book FastPass+ for their next reservation. Guests with tickets alone always have the privilege of being able to book FastPass+ reservations 30 days out from the day of booking, but they will not be able to book for the length of their stay.
Dining Reservations for a Split Stay
If you’re staying at Walt Disney World Resort, you can book dining reservations for your entire stay up to 10 days beginning 180 days before your trip. You can also make dining reservations 180 days out regardless if you have a resort reservation or tickets; however, you won’t get the added benefit of booking for your entire stay on the day you’re eligible to begin booking. Guests can book online or through the My Disney Experience app as early as 6 A.M. ET. You can also call to book your dining reservations at 7 A.M. ET by calling (407) WDW-DINE.
Disney Dining Plan for a Split Stay
Unfortunately, guests can’t purchase the Disney Dining Plan unless they have a resort reservation, and unfortunately the plan won’t transfer over multiple resort reservations. Therefore, to enjoy the Disney Dining Plan for the entire length of stay, you will need to purchase the plan for each of your resort reservations. You can also opt to only use it for one of your resort reservations, if you don’t want the Dining Plan for your entire trip. Do note Disney Dining Plan credits expire at midnight on the night you check out of your resort, whether you’ve used them or not. The lesson here? Use those dining credits because they won’t roll over.
Tip: Most guests think you need park tickets to purchase the Disney Dining Plan. This is true if you’re purchasing it online, but not if you’re purchasing by phone!
Also, your Dining Plan will be released upon check-in and can be used until midnight on the day you check out. If you still have Dining Credits from the first stay by the time you check in to your second resort, you will be able to see the credits for both reservations until midnight.
Magical Express for a Split Stay
Guests can book Magical Express for a split stay either online or by phone. If you’re booking online, I recommend doing two separate reservations instead of round-trip. For example, I will complete the process Magical Express for arriving at my Disney World Resort and then book a separate reservation for my departure from my Disney World Resort.
If you prefer to call Magical Express, simply explain to the Cast Member your split stay situation. They will be happy to walk you through it.
Now if your Magical Express envelope containing your time, location, and verification isn’t hanging from the doorknob of your room the night before your departure, drop by the front desk of your resort. They can make sure you get what you need if there was an issue due to the nature of your split stay.
Have you ever booked a split stay at Walt Disney World? Is this an option you would consider?
18 thoughts on “How to Plan a Split Stay for Your Disney World Vacation”
As long as your tickets begin with your first stay and extend through your second stay, and the stays do not have a break between them, fast passes can be made at day 60 of the first stay for both stays. It is not 60 days from each stay.
Thank you!! This was incredibly helpful and answered many questions that I had! I really want to try a split stay this trip since I want to stay at a Deluxe for part of the time and can’t afford it for the whole reservation.
How about transferring bags from a WDW resort to Swan or Dolphin? And vise versa.
Ron, the Swolphin is considered “on property” for the purposes of luggage transfer. You may transfer your bags to or from there using the same procedures outlined above.
Mary, I have done several split stays recently, and all I can say about the fast passes is that sometimes the computers will let you book for the entire length of stay, and sometimes they will not. I have not figured out why this happens, other than the fact that Disney IT tends to be very glitchy.
Does everyone have a favorite split stay combination that works well together?
Rachael, there were problem when they changed the system at the end of February 2019 but those issues were fixed. These days the only time the system should block you is if tickets are part of a package for your second stay, or if you are splitting a Disney Springs resort and a Disney resort. Any split stay without a gap with the correct tickets should allow booking and a phone call to Disney should fix any problems preventing it from being booked.
Caution!!! We were on a split stay in January 2020. First night All Star Sports. The next four nights at Swan. We got an email saying our FP we’re going to be canceled after day 2. I had booked All Star under my name. Used my husband’s hotel rewards plan for Swan. Even though we were linked as a family in both reservations, the computer didn’t like that I made FP reservations from the date of All Star. I had to re-link our Swan reservation to my name (again) after we checked into Swan apparently. So we didn’t lose our FP’s for rest of trip. Just be careful with whose name you book the rooms under apparently. And check to make sure your room is still linked to all members of your family when you check in at the next resort. Good luck!
To your question Angie R., there are certainly different motivations for split stays. We (family of 4) split stay to take advantage of the geographic convenience of two different hotels (as well as to experience two different resorts). For instance last year, we did 3 nights at Contemporary Resort followed by 4 nights at Yacht Club. We focused on Magic Kingdom for our CR stay, went to Epcot on our transfer day, and focused on DHS, Epcot and Animal Kingdom for our Yacht Club stay. The only time we got on a shuttle bus was for Animal Kingdom. We really enjoy split stays, and will do it again on our next visit.
I did a split stay a year ago. You got to watch your charges because I was charged for parking for the second hotel because I didn’t take magical express to the resort. I showed the front counter my magical express reservation going back to the airport and I had the parking charge taken off.
Interesting – this happened to me too! Although I was charged for valet parking for one day at the second resort. I didn’t think about maybe it was because the second resort didn’t have record of my Magical Express reservation.
That’s shady. Absence of a Magical Express reservation doesn’t indicate the presence of a car in the resort parking lot. Uber and taxis exist. They should be taken to task for that practice
Mary, the Disney Springs resorts get the same perks regarding FastPasses, I thought. So why would that affect it?
Lori, although the Disney Springs Resorts have some benefits they are not Disney owned resorts, are not “on property” and do not have the same level of benefits as the Swan/Dolphin (Disney park transportation).
One part of this post confused me with the bags transfer. If I’m staying at one property, and transferring to another, do we have to physical check out with our bags and bring them to the check in property, or will Disney transfer them for us? If the later, that makes it much easier on transfer day.
If I’m reading it correctly, Disney transfers them for you. You just have to take them to bell services at your first hotel, and pick them up at bell services at your second hotel.
This was my experience as well for a recent trip as well. We had park tickets that spanned 2 resort stays, and we were able to book FastPasses for both stays at 60 days from the arrival date for the first.
Make sure you tip the bell services for transferring and holding your luggage!
The Dining Reservations for a Split Stay section is woefully inadequate when addressing the limitations of split stays on advanced dining reservations (ADR).
The article states, “If you’re staying at Walt Disney World Resort, you can book dining reservations for your entire stay up to 10 days beginning 180 days before your trip”…true, but introduce a split stay and the 180 days plus duration of stay (up to 10 days) goes out the window. For example, if a 10 trip is planned with a split stay at two resorts in the middle (5+5), you will have two ADR windows to consider. The first will allow 180+5 days and the second starting 5 days later (2nd 180 plus the next 5 days). The Disney system sees this as two distinct reservation windows, not one that allows 180 days plus the *total* resort stay of 10 days.
Frankly, I’m surprised Touring Plans didn’t address this or even mention this. Subpar TP!