For some Walt Disney World guests, there’s nothing better than staying at one of its nearly two dozen hotels. Not only do they afford close proximity to the theme parks, but they fit all sorts of budgets and tastes, and include amenities like airport transfers, transportation around the resort, and extended park hours. What’s even better is that you can opt to stay at multiple resorts during your trip.
This strategy – unofficially dubbed as a “split stay” – refers to separate, consecutive hotel reservations made for one vacation. Split stays can be done for a variety of reasons, including lack of availability at a particular resort or in a room category, budgetary needs, or simply as a matter of preference. If you’re interested in one, here are some of our best tips before booking.
Disney takes care of luggage transfers.
Many resort guests choose to skip a rental car or decide against using taxis or ride-sharing services in favor of Disney World’s buses, monorails, and boats to get around. At first thought, not having a personal vehicle may feel tricky when it’s time to move between hotels, but since Disney does all of the work for you, it's not. The night before check-out of the first hotel, call or visit bell services to request a time for a bellperson to pick up any bags from your room (you must be present at the time of retrieval) for the next day.
Soon after pickup, your bags will be on their way to the bell services desk at your next destination. As a heads-up, your bags likely won’t be available at the second hotel until much later in the afternoon, so be sure to take anything with you that you’ll need throughout the day. Once you’re settled in at the new hotel, a bellperson can bring the bags to your room.
You’ll be roomless on transition day.
Be prepared to be without a room for most of the day when you check out of the first hotel and into the next. During our most recent split stay, we departed Disney’s Old Key West in the morning and went straight to Bay Lake Tower, where our new room was not yet ready. It makes sense: Most checkouts happen before noon, while check-in doesn't officially start until 3 p.m. or 4 p.m., depending on which resort category you're in. This “transition day” is a good time to hit the parks, check out Disney Springs, or take advantage of the many non-park activities.
Here’s a MagicBand (or two!).
For each Walt Disney World package booked directly through the company, you’ll be given the opportunity to choose your MagicBand before arrival. With split stays, depending on the number of hotels at which you’re staying, each person in your party will have at least two of these nifty little pieces of hardware. You don’t actually have to use more than one for each leg of your trip; you can use one for the duration of the vacation and it will pick up on any information loaded onto your My Disney Experience account. With a split stay, we suggest making sure the bands work properly by checking into your hotels in person instead of online.
Carry on as usual with your FastPass+.
Guests of Walt Disney World resorts can reserve times to visit certain attractions up to 60 days before check-in using the FastPass+ service. Regardless of having multiple check-in dates during a split stay, you won’t have to make your FastPass+ selections in segments; these can be made for the entire duration of the trip beginning 60 days prior to checking in at the first hotel, extending until check-out of your last stay. Just make sure all of your tickets are linked through My Disney Experience.
Make use of your Disney Dining Plan credits.
Booking two Disney Dining Plans for your split stay? While the rule for a single-reservation trip is that you must use all of your entitlements before midnight on your check-out date, the same does not apply to split stays: you must use all of your snack and meal credits from the first plan before checking in at the next hotel so that the reservation system will know that the second plan is ready to use. For good measure, we check out in person at the first hotel and physically check in at the second to ensure everything is in working order. If you don’t use the credits, you’ll risk losing them entirely as they don't roll over between plans.