Choosing which resort you want to stay at during your Walt Disney World vacation can be a difficult decision. With all of the different themes and perks, it can feel overwhelming to narrow it down to just one. How can you decide between the Polynesian Resort and its proximity to the Magic Kingdom and the Beach Club and its enormous pool and proximity to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios?
Who says you have to pick just one hotel?
Split stays between two or more Walt Disney World hotels are easier than you might think. Disney makes it very easy to move between its resorts. However, planning a split stay may only make sense under specific conditions.
Planning a split stay is easy. Make sure you mention that you’re doing a split stay when making your Walt Disney World reservation. You’ll also need to make sure your check-out day at your first hotel is the same day as the check-in day for your new hotel. If you’re taking the Disney Magical Express, you’ll need to let them know both of your hotel confirmation numbers so they know where to drop you off and pick you up.
For example, let’s use a real example of a split stay we enjoyed at Walt Disney World. Our first resort was the Yacht Club for a conference we were attending and our second resort was Animal Kingdom Lodge. We made sure to mention this change when booking our transportation on the Disney Magical Express, connecting the arrival leg to our first hotel reservation and the return leg to our second hotel reservation. We were told the switch would be easy and that we should mention it when we arrived.
Upon arrival at the Yacht Club, we mentioned that on our check-out day we were resort hopping. The kind folks at the front desk said that was no problem and that we could return with our bags on check-out day and they’d move our bags for us to our next resort. Talk about service!
On the day of our resort switch, we spent the day at the theme parks before returning back in the afternoon to our second resort. We stopped by the front desk, spoke with bell services and were on our way to our room with all of our luggage.
We were shocked by just how easy the resort hop was, making us much more likely to consider a split stay in the future. However, we do believe that split stays only make sense in a specific scenarios.
Positives of Split Stays at Walt Disney World
Why are split stays an attractive option for Disney World guests? Why would you want to move during your trip?
Explore new resorts
The various resorts at Walt Disney World offer unique themes, activities and benefits that can be a joy to experience. Whether it’s watching the animals outside your balcony at Animal Kingdom Lodge or taking a nighttime stroll around the Boardwalk, the resorts all offer something a little different.
2 trips in 1
A Disney World trip can take on a completely different feel depending on where you’re staying. The atmosphere at Port Orleans: Riverside is very different than the one at the Contemporary Resort.
We have personally been surprised by just how different switching hotels can make a trip feel even when you’re still on Walt Disney World property. Going from the retro scene at Pop Century to the outdoors vibe of Wilderness Lodge is a drastic shift. It’s almost as if you’ve ended one vacation and started another.
Location, Location, Location
We try to pick where we stay at Walt Disney World based on the activities we hope to accomplish. When we wanted to get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to secure a boarding pass for Rise of the Resistance (here’s 5 tips on how to accomplish that), we stayed nearby so we could walk over. The same can be said when our days were centered around the Magic Kingdom. It may be advantageous to move resorts if your trip is split up in a way where it makes sense to be closer to a specific theme park.
With careful planning you can stay close to the theme parks and cut down on your travel time.
Negatives of Split Stays at Walt Disney World
Depending on your group and your plans, switching hotels might not be the best idea.
Packing a suitcase isn’t the most enjoyable activity in the world. It’s especially painful when you could be out having fun around Walt Disney World. Alas, it’s a necessary evil if you’re planning a split stay as you’ll need to pack up all your bags in order to move to your second resort.
Depending on the size of your group, getting everyone packed up and ready to move can be an unpleasant task you may want to avoid entirely until it’s time to return home.
No “home” location
There’s something to be said about settling into your resort over the course of your vacation. It always feels good when you’ve mastered the resort’s layout and you know where everything is located. Things start to feel like home and you begin to develop a sense of loyalty as your stay progresses.
That feeling isn’t quite the same when you split things up at multiple resorts. There may not be enough time for you to get all settled in before you’re off to the next resort.
It takes time
The physical process of moving from one resort to another is easy thanks to Disney being more than willing to move your bags. But, the planning and packing that may go into a split stay takes time. Time you could be spending doing literally anything else.
We wouldn’t go as far as to say switching hotels was time consuming, but we would say it takes more work than if you just stay at the same resort (obviously).
Would we do a split stay again?
Personally, we would do another split stay at Walt Disney World if we were planning on staying for six or more consecutive nights. Splitting things up on our shorter trips just doesn’t make much sense when you weigh all the pros and cons. We’d rather settle into one resort for a few nights and spend as much time in the parks as possible.
We think a split stay is great for groups who are flexible with their itineraries and are spending a significant amount of time at Walt Disney World. The idea makes more and more sense the longer you stay. Split stays are quite common for international travelers who may spend two or more weeks staying at various resorts.
However, we don’t recommend split stays for short trips, large groups or families with small children. Switching resorts can add an unnecessary hurdle (and possibly some headaches) for a family or a large group that is looking to keep things as simple as possible.