Split Resort Stays At Walt Disney World
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Photo credit: Magic Guides
Are you thinking about planning a trip to Walt Disney World and are having trouble choosing which Disney resort hotel to stay at? Did you know you don’t have to choose just one? You can easily split your vacation between two or more resort hotels!
There are over 30 resort hotels to choose from on Walt Disney World property, ranging from budget-friendly value hotels with bright theming to luxurious deluxe hotels featuring sophisticated decor and fine dining. With such a wide variety of choices, it’s no surprise that it’s an incredibly tough decision for many people.
Numerous factors can go into deciding which resort to stay at, which may include:
Price and budget
Proximity to a certain park(s)
The pool or specific activities offered on-site
Overall theming of resort or rooms
On-site restaurant choices
Recommendations from family or friends
One way to make this choice a little easier and to satisfy multiple vacation wishes is to do a split stay. What this means is booking two (or more) different resort hotels and staying the first part of your vacation at one property and the second part of your vacation at another. This is also a great option if your first choice resort hotel isn’t available for the entire time for the dates you’ve chosen for your vacation. You can create your combination of resorts to tailor your vacation to your particular interests or needs.
On many of my Walt Disney World vacations with my family, we have chosen to stay at multiple resorts for the length of stay, as we have trouble picking just one hotel. On our most recent split stay last summer, we stayed at Port Orleans - Riverside so my daughters could enjoy the princess theming of the Royal Guest Room. Then we made our way over for a few nights at the Contemporary Resort, which was incredible for attending Villains After Hours at Magic Kingdom (we could walk there!). After that my family and I finished up our vacation at the Yacht Club as we planned to enjoy the Fourth of July fireworks at Epcot (Yacht Club is a short walk to Epcot).
Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside
Not only do I have personal experience with split resort stays, but I am a Disney travel planner. I have helped numerous families plan their vacations with my complimentary planning services. In addition to my expertise on split stays, I can also provide you with a wealth of Disney knowledge and personal recommendations. As your vacation planner, I will make your trip magical by booking your hotel(s), dining, FastPass+, and any other activities or experiences for you. When booking with me, I alleviate all the stress that comes with Disney travel planning and make it as easy for you as possible.
Price & Budget
If price and sticking to a budget is usually your driving factor for choosing your resort hotel, staying at a deluxe resort for your entire vacation may not be affordable. However, booking a split stay could allow you to allocate a portion of your budget to a more expensive option for just a few nights, while staying at a value for the remaining nights.
For instance, let’s say you are taking a week-long vacation to Walt Disney World; you could stay the majority of the time at a less expensive option, whether it’s a value resort or a moderate resort (depending on your budget).
Disney's Art of Animation Resort
These are your value and moderate resort options:
All-Star Movies Resort
All-Star Music Resort
All-Star Sports Resort
Pop Century Resort
Art of Animation Resort
Caribbean Beach Resort
Coronado Springs Resort
Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter
Port Orleans Resort - Riverside
The Cabins at Fort Wilderness Resort
After you finish your stay at one of the value or moderate resort hotels, you could finish your vacation with splurging on a few nights at a deluxe resort hotel that you otherwise could not afford for the whole week. Finishing your week in grand fashion at a top resort property is a perfect ending to your magical vacation at the happiest place on earth.
If it’s in your budget, I highly recommend spending more than one night at the deluxe resort hotel, like the iconic Contemporary Resort, which offers rooms with a view of Magic Kingdom and the monorail running directly through the inside of the hotel . Not only can it be inconvenient to pack up and unpack your suitcases for just a one night stay, but it’s also important to give yourself a full day to enjoy everything the deluxe hotel has to offer.
Disney's Contemporary Resort
If you enjoy having a built-in rest day or pool day on your vacation to take a break from the theme parks, you may want to schedule that day while at the deluxe resort so that you take advantage of the extra investment you are making. By doing this, you get a chance to immerse yourself in all of the resort’s amazing amenities by spending your “resort day” there.
Great examples of splitting between a value (or moderate) and deluxe hotel include:
Spend the first part and majority of your vacation at a resort like Pop Century (budget-friendly value resort) and book the last part of your stay at either Yacht Club or Beach Club to enjoy their amazing pool, Stormalong Bay, with it’s 200-foot waterslide and lazy river. Featuring a zero-entry, sand bottomed beach area, Stormalong Bay is arguably one of the best pools on Walt Disney World property.
Stormalong Bay at Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resort
Or stay at a moderate resort hotel, like Port Orleans Resort-French Quarter, for the first part of your week, and book the last part of your stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Not only is Animal Kingdom Lodge located on a 40+ acre wildlife preserve; but the resort also features a restaurant with a savanna view, South African wine tasting and a nighttime safari adventure! If you’re trying to stick to a mid-range budget, and would prefer to stay at a moderate resort for the first part of your trip, Animal Kingdom Lodge or Wilderness Lodge make great choices for your deluxe part of the stay as they feature options that are more budget accessible.
Animals on the savanna at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Park Proximity & Transportation
If transportation or proximity to the parks is a deciding factor in how you choose what resort hotel to stay at, there is not one resort that offers the perfect solution due to the sheer size of Walt Disney World Resort and location of all resorts and theme parks. Dividing your vacation between 2 or more resort hotels could allow you to enjoy quicker transportation to the majority of the parks by choosing your park days based on what resort you are at.
All resorts offer bus transportation to/from the theme parks (and Disney Springs and the water parks), but you will usually find the buses are not your quickest option. More often than not, waiting for buses can be time-consuming and tiresome. It can be especially taxing at the end of a long day in the Florida heat. At park closing time, particularly right after the nighttime show, large crowds of people make their way to the bus lines. Once a bus finally arrives, after what can be a significant wait, as many people as possible will be packed on, leaving many guests to have to stand for the ride back to their resort.
Avoiding the buses entirely is not an option if you are planning on visiting all four theme parks; especially since the only free Disney transportation method to get to Animal Kingdom from all resorts is the bus. But relying on bus transportation can be minimized by staying at a resort hotel that is located within walking distance to a park or one that offers alternative transportation options.
Staying at the resort hotels with the prime transportation options can be done most effectively if you have a little wiggle room in your budget to splurge (typically the resorts closer to the parks and offering unique transportation are more expensive). The other transportation options from resort hotels to theme parks, besides the bus, include monorail, water taxi, or Disney Skyliner.
Walt Disney World Monorail
The best way to take advantage of alternative transportation options, which are usually quicker, is to stay at a Magic Kingdom area resort and to visit Magic Kingdom on those days; and to stay at either a Skyliner resort or Epcot area resort for your Epcot and Hollywood Studios days.
Your Magic Kingdom area resorts include:
Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Polynesian Village Resort
Fort Wilderness Resort
Resorts offering Skyliner transportation include:
Pop Century Resort
Art of Animation Resort
Caribbean Beach Resort
Epcot area resort hotels are walkable to Epcot and Hollywood Studios and also offer water taxis. The Epcot area resorts include:
Beach Club Resort
Yacht Club Resort
If you are able to accommodate your budget to split your resort hotel stay between a Magic Kingdom area resort and a Skyliner/Epcot area resort, it can make a significant positive impact on your vacation. The less time you spend waiting on and using transportation, the more time you can relax and have fun!
Resort Hotel Experience
The resort hotel you stay at could possibly be what you remember most about your vacation. Your resort will usually be your first impression of your vacation and where you may spend the majority of your time. Staying at any Disney resort hotel is an experience within itself and dividing your stay between 2 resorts will allow you to enjoy even more of the Disney magic from the activities, to the theming, and the dining.
With each resort offering different experiences from tie-dye shirt making to horseback riding, a split resort stay will give you the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of adventures. You don’t necessarily need to stay at the resort hotel to explore these options; but, it’s more convenient to enjoy the hotel activities when you’re staying on-site as it saves travel time and it also provides an overall immersive experience to the resort.
Some examples of the different activities the resort hotels can offer include:
-Fireworks viewing from the Contemporary Resort
-Fishing at Port Orleans Resort - Riverside
-Surrey bike rental at Boardwalk Inn
-Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique makeover at Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
-Horse drawn wagon rides at Fort Wilderness
Horseback riding at Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Disney's Fort Wilderness
If there is one thing that Disney does better than anyone else, it is theming! Every Disney resort hotel is themed differently and each one is incredibly immersive. The theming is so distinct, you could spend the first half of your vacation in the American Southwest by staying at Coronado Springs resort and finish your week on an East Coast boardwalk in the early 1900s by staying at Boardwalk Inn. Splitting your hotel stay will not only give you the feeling that you have 2 vacations in one, but it could allow 2 or more members of your travel party to be able to choose their favorite resort!
Not only is Disney known for its incredible theming design, but many regular Disney goers arrange their trips around the unique and award winning dining experiences. Many of the character meals and fine dining restaurants are located at the different deluxe resort hotels. Splitting your hotel stay can allow you to more easily visit these highly sought after dining locations. Divide your stay between Polynesian Village Resort and Contemporary Resort and enjoy two of the most popular dining locations on property more conveniently. From the all-you-care-to-enjoy character breakfast with Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and Pluto at ‘Ohana, to the panoramic view and seasonal culinary delights on the 15th floor at California Grill.
Dinner during sunset at California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort
How It Works
Once you are on your vacation, Disney cast members make it very easy to enjoy a split stay. On your day of check-out at your first resort hotel, you will need to take all of your luggage to Bell Services and let the cast member know you need the luggage delivered to the next resort hotel. This service is completely free (be sure to tip!) and the easiest way to have your luggage transported (of course, if you drove to Disney and have your own car, you may find it easier to take care of yourself).
If you drop your luggage off at Bell Services in the morning, then spend your day at the park, when you arrive at your new resort hotel later that day, your luggage will be ready to be picked up at Bell Services. If you arrive at your next hotel early in the afternoon, it is possible your luggage may not be there as it may not arrive until 5 p.m. The luggage delivery process is super simple, the only drawback is having to pack up all of your stuff during the middle of your vacation!
Now that you’ve decided you’d like to divide your vacation between two (or more) resorts, you’re probably wondering how booking it works. To book a split stay, you will need to make separate reservations for each resort.
If you are wanting to visit the theme parks, your first reservation will need to be a vacation package that includes your park tickets (so that they are valid for your whole vacation). If you are interested in unlimited downloads of all of the images taken by PhotoPass Photographers on your trip, Memory Maker should also be added on to this first reservation so it can be used your entire length of stay.
Your second reservation will be booked as a room-only reservation. If you’d like to add the dining plan, you can either add it to one reservation or both (if you want the dining plan for the length of stay). When booking a room-only reservation yourself online, you cannot add on a dining plan, you will need to call in and speak to a Disney cast member (or have your travel agent take care of!).
For a no obligation, FREE quote, contact Stephanie Perlick, Travel Agent from The Vacationeer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her Walt Disney World© travel center web page for more contact information. The Vacationeer is a boutique travel agency that specializes in Disney, Universal and all-inclusive resort vacations.
I have first-hand knowledge and experience with booking split stays for both myself and many Disney guests. I will be able to handle the extra logistics that are involved and make the split stay easy and worry free for you (plus answer any questions you have throughout the process). I will schedule your Magical Express (the free transportation to and from Orlando International Airport to your Disney resort hotel) to make sure you are dropped off and picked up correctly from the 2 different resorts. I can also help you choose which resorts are best for you and coordinate how the resort booking order would best work for a split stay with your chosen park schedule and dining reservations.