Q: What Is A Split Stay at Walt Disney World and How Does It Work?
With dozens of fantastic resorts at Walt Disney World, sometimes the hardest part of planning a Disney vacation is deciding where to stay. With each resort offering unique theming, food choices, amenities, central pools and price points, it is no wonder guests may be considering staying at more than one resort during their upcoming visit.
This is what is referred to as a Split Stay, meaning that you would book at least two different resorts during the same vacation. For example guests staying for 7 nights may want to enjoy the luxury of the Grand Floridian but budgets may only allow a three-night stay. After that, you may choose to save money by staying at a moderate resort for the remaining 4 nights.
So how are split stays booked? In order to book a split stay at Walt Disney World, guests would need to make a separate reservation for each resort. For room-only bookings, a deposit of one night’s stay for each room would be due at the time of booking. For Disney vacation packages a deposit of $200 would be required for each room upon booking. Also, whether you are booking directly with Disney or through a travel agent, you will need to make sure that the check-out date at one resort coincides with the check-in date at the second resort.
How do I book my park tickets? If you’ve visited Disney before, you’ll know that when it comes to booking tickets, the more days you book, the cheaper the tickets are. For instance, the difference in cost between a 2 & 3-day ticket is a $90.00 whereas the difference between a 3 & 4-day ticket is only $60. Those looking to maximize their budget would do well to attach the tickets for the entire stay to the first reservation as tickets can be used up to 14 days from activation. You would then make your second reservation a room-only booking. This means that you benefit from the lower ticket rates for a 7-day ticket as opposed to receiving less of a discount booking a 3-day ticket and then a 4-day ticket. But, there are some instances when guests are better off booking 2 ticket packages which I will outline below.
What if I decide to get the Disney Dining Plan? In the past, in order to qualify for a dining plan (even if it was non-discounted) guests had to have tickets added to both reservations in the split stay. However, Disney’s policy changed a couple of years ago allowing guests to book the dining plan on both stays. This means that guests are able to have dining for the duration of their stay and still take advantage of the cheaper ticket prices. Unlike tickets though, the Dining Plan is linked to the number of days at each resort. Therefore, it is not possible to book the Dining Plan at the first hotel and have it extend to the second. The dining plans must be added to each reservation.
What about promotions like Free Dining? When it comes to Disney’s Free Dining offer the policy is slightly different. You must have tickets attached to BOTH packages to get free dining at both resorts. This means that you wouldn’t be able to save on buying one set of park tickets and have them run the length of your stay. You would need to book two separate resort packages each with dining and tickets. For those opting to book dining for only one of their stays, guests do have the option of applying a room discount (if available) to the second stay so that you are still saving across both packages.
How does booking a split stay effect dining and Fastpass booking windows? When it comes to making advanced dining reservations at the 180-day mark, it can be a bit trial and error. Technically, if you added the (non-promotional) dining plan to both reservations (with one reservation holding the tickets and the other just dining) you may be able to make your dining reservations for your entire stay 180 days from when you are due to check in to your first hotel. However, if you needed to split your reservation up (because of the Free Dining promotion for instance), with tickets added to both, you’ll need to book dining reservations 180 days from the day you are staying at the first resort, then you would need to wait until 180 days from the second resort check-in to make the second round of reservations. My suggestion is to go into dining was a plan to book during the 180 mark from of your first stay and again for your second stay and if you can book them all at once you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
In terms of Fastpasses, if the tickets are attached to the first booking and extend the length of stay, you can make Fastpass reservations for the entire stay at 60 days. If you split up the tickets and have them added to each reservation you would book Fastpasses for the first and second halves of your package separately.
What happens to my luggage? There is a bit more of a “living-out-of-a-suitcase” feel to booking a split stay since midway through your vacation you have to be packed up and ready to move. However, Disney does try to make this as easy as possible on resort guests. On the day of check-out, you can bring your bag to Bell Services and they’ll arrange to have the bags transferred to your new resort while you hit the parks. Upon check-in at the new resort, you would need to speak to Bell Services again to collect your luggage. Guests should also note that it may take several hours for your bags to show up at your next resort, so if you’re heading there directly make sure you bring a change of clothes, swimsuits or anything else you may need immediately.
Can I still use Disney’s Magical Express? Visitors on a split stay can still take advantage of Disney’s Magical Express airport to resort shuttle service. At the time that you book Magical Express, you simply need to let Disney know that you will be arriving into and departing from separate resorts.
Do I need two MagicBands? Two magic bands will be issued to you because you have essentially booked in two separate holidays. However, My Disney Experience makes it possible to select which MagicBands are activated and which ones you won’t be using. Either set of bands will contain all the information you need for your vacation so it isn’t necessary to bring them both. However, I usually advise clients to bring both sets as a back-up just in case you lose one. Guests also can opt out of a double set of MagicBands via My Disney Experience for those that don’t want to amass a collection.
Split stays are a fantastic way to enjoy even more of the amazing hospitality that Disney is so renowned for. However, it will make managing your booking slightly more complicated. If you are a first time visitor and want to book a split stay, you may want to consider working with an Authorized Disney Vacation planner who can focus on all the little details for you. Read below to find out how you can get your FREE quote and start planning your Split Stay today!
Find articles like this helpful? Then why not consider booking with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner? As an agent with MickeyTravels, I’ll be on hand to help you with everything from finding your perfect package to nabbing those hard-to-get dining and Fastpass reservations. Best of all, my services are absolutely FREE. Get in touch at 1.800.801.4025, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow along on Facebook.
Image copyright Disney.
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