Walt Disney World Split Stays 101

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Staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel can be a truly magical experience. All hotels on property offer guests a myriad of amenities like free onsite transportation, as well as unique theming and top-notch service. Walt Disney World contains over 30 hotels broken down into four categories: Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Disney Vacation Club properties. While for some it may be a simple decision to pick the category that fits their family and the hotel that speaks to their style, many guests want to experience it all! Luckily there’s a way to enjoy more than one Disney hotel on your next visit by booking a “Split Stay”.

A split stay is when you stay at two (or more) different onsite hotels during the length of your Walt Disney World vacation. This means that you can enjoy the fun and excitement of a stay at Disney’s Pop Century Resort and combine it with the luxury and relaxation of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort with minimal effort. There are no set rules for this type of stay, and guests may choose from any of the available resorts for as many nights as they wish. A split stay is a perfect way to experience the higher end of Disney’s hotels without breaking your vacation budget. We have found in our experience that if you’re staying at two different levels of hotels (i.e. Value and Deluxe) that it’s more fun to put the lower level hotel first and finish your stay at the higher end.

View of Gran Destino Tower from Three Bridges Bar and Grill

Booking a Split Stay

To reserve a splits stay, guests must make a separate reservation for each hotel they wish to stay at. If you’re wanting to book a package with tickets and other add-ons included, the best practice is to make a package reservation for only the first hotel of your stay. In this reservation, you’ll want to include your tickets for the length of your stay, and then make your second reservation a “hotel only” one, without tickets. This may not work for all guests though as Disney’s park tickets are now date-based and may not be valid for the entire stay on longer visits. If this applies to you, you’ll need to split your tickets between your reservations. Don’t forget that currently all guests wishing to visit a Walt Disney World theme park will need to make an advanced reservation in Disney’s Park Pass System as soon as a package or ticket is purchased.

Guests may add a dining plan to one or both of their reservations. Because a split stay is treated as two different stays, you can also book a dining plan for part of your stay, or change your plan between hotels. Dining plan credits expire at 11:59 pm the night of check-out, so if you’ve got any dining credits left on the first reservation, you’ll have to request those to be moved over to the second reservation when you check in to your next stay. *Please note: At this time Walt Disney World has suspended all Dining Plans at the resort until further notice.

A Walt Disney World package reservation requires a deposit of $200, and a “hotel only” reservation requires a deposit of one night’s stay. So be prepared to provide two different deposits when booking. Our best tip to handle the stress of booking your split stay is to use a Travel Planner specializing in Disney destinations like our friends at Key to the World Travel®. Their planners have experience handling split stays and can handle all of the important details to help you not worry about split stay logistics, and enjoy your visit more.

Changing Hotels

After you’ve packed up and checked out of your first hotel, you’ll need to go through the check-in process again for your next stay. This can be done through the My Disney Experience app or site’s online check-in service, or in person at the hotel’s front desk. Walt Disney World hotels all have an 11 AM check out policy and guests are technically allowed to check in to a hotel beginning at 3 PM. You are however allowed to check-in anytime before 3 PM, there is just no guarantee that your room will be ready. If that’s the case and you’re itching to get on an attraction, you can drop off your bags at Bell Services and they will hold them for you while you enjoy the parks.

Guests may transfer their luggage between hotels themselves. This can be done by use of a taxi or rideshare like Uber. There is also the option of dropping your bags at Bell Services in your first hotel and requesting they transport it to your next hotel for you. This is a convenient and free service but can take many hours for your bags to arrive at your next stay. Walt Disney World does not offer direct complimentary transportation between onsite hotels. So you won’t be able to load the family and their gear onto a Disney bus and have it take you to your next hotel (and honestly, who would want to deal with that?!).

Disney's Magical Express

Disney’s Magical Express

Walt Disney World offers complimentary bus transportation to and from Orlando International Airport and onsite hotels with their Magical Express service. This a great way to save some money on your trip and add peace of mind by letting Disney take care of the driving. If you’re planning a split stay, you’ll still be able to enjoy this perk with a few minor adjustments. Just make sure that when your Magical Express reservations are made that Disney is aware of your hotel change.

Now is the time to plan your perfect vacation! Having a travel advisor means someone there to have your back in any occurrence! There is no additional cost to you and you have peace of mind knowing that your vacation is in good hands. Contact our friends at Key to the World Travel® for a free, no-obligation quote for your next trip. Click here.