Save Money at the Disney World Resorts With a Split Stay!

Written by Chris Wood. Posted in Disney Parks, Features, Park Wise, Walt Disney World

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Published on August 08, 2012 at 9:12 pm with 16 Comments

Breaking up your Walt Disney World vacation into more than one reservation can save you money (by staying at least part of your trip at a less expensive resort) and satisfy your curiosity about other resorts at the same time. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option most guests even consider, because it seems like a lot of work. Fortunately, Disney makes it easy to move or, in some cases, stay right where you are. There’s nothing complicated about arranging a split stay, but there are a few things you’ll want to know ahead of time make it easier and more budget-friendly.

The issue with dining and tickets:

This is the biggest bugaboo with doing a split stay, so you’ll want to be careful here.  You probably know that when you buy a package and add dining, you’ll need at least a one-day ticket; if you’re looking to get free dining, it’s usually a two-day ticket. This means that if you have a reservation at Pop Century for 3 days and a reservation for the Grand Floridian for an additional 4 days and you want dining for both, you’ll need to buy tickets for both stay. Understandably, most guests find this unacceptable.

The smart thing to do is decide which part of your stay you want dining for and add the tickets to that reservation. This will need to be your first stay, since you’ll get tickets that cover all of your days you plan to stay in the parks. For example, say you’re staying for 3 nights at Pop Century and then moving over to the Grand Floridian for an additional 3 nights. You want 6 days in the parks. You’ll add 6-day tickets (and dining) to the first part of your stay. Those tickets can have as many days on them as you like; in other words, it’s not limited by the number of nights you’re staying. And since your tickets are good for up to 14 days from the first day you use them, you have a lot of flexibility in how you use them.

Get Park Wise: Okay, say you want dining for both parts of your split stay. Do the same thing above, but on your second stay, add 1 or 2 day tickets, whichever is required. Then just keep those tickets from your second stay for use on your next trip. They actually go up in value and can be upgraded in any way you like, including to annual passes.  Basically, it’s like money in the bank (with Mickey on it).

A split stay can help you get a discount during black out periods:

Here’s how a split stay can help you beat the system. Say you’re arriving at Disney World the day before Thanksgiving. You’d love to get free dining, but you can’t because your check-in date is blacked out.  Even though free dining starts up again 3 days later and you’re staying for 7 nights, this won’t help you since you need to have free dining in place the day you check in.  The solution to this is a split say.  Most likely you’ll end up buying two sets of tickets, but you can save those for the future. If you’re just looking at missing a day or two of tickets, you might consider making a trip to Universal or Sea World for the first part of your trip and saving your Disney park time for the second stay.

Get Park Wise:  This one’s really tricky, but you can sometimes combine free dining for the first part of your stay (adding tickets to this reservation for your entire trip) and then use a room discount for the second part of your stay. A room-only reservation doesn’t require tickets at all.  In this case, you’d want to stay at the least expensive resort first for the free dining and then use a room discount at the more expensive resort, since a room discount usually works better than free dining, depending on the make up of your group.

A split stay can help you experience deluxe resorts while still watching your budget.

Another advantage of a split stay is that it lets you try out resorts that might otherwise be prohibitively expensive on a long trip. Say you love Beach Club, but it’s just too pricey for a 7-night trip. In this case, try staying at a value for a few nights and then switching over. I always recommend staying at the less expensive resort first, just because it can be hard to get used to the comfort of a deluxe resort and have to move to a smaller room or a resort with fewer amenities.

It’s easy to move from room to room when you do a split stay.

Don’t let not having a car deter you from trying a split stay, since Disney will move your bags for you. Just go down to Bell Services first thing in the morning and turn in your bags (a small tip per bag is customary) and give them your information. Your bags should be at your new resort by mid-afternoon or sooner.

Get Park Wise:  Doing a split stay for the discounts but not changing resorts? Disney will almost always be able to keep you (and your group, if you’re part of a gathering) in the same rooms provided both reservations are in the same room category.  Just make sure you inform the cast member checking you in that you have two reservations and they will make note of it.

What about you? Have you ever done a split stay? What types of tips can you offer Mice Chat’s readers?


Park Wise is written by Chris Wood.

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About Chris Wood

Chris Wood is frequent Disney traveler and travel agent. She considers Walt Disney World to be her home park.

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16 Comments

Comments for Save Money at the Disney World Resorts With a Split Stay! are now closed.

  1. Great advice as always!

    • Thank you very much. I always appreciate the input!

  2. I did this years ago on my first trip to WDW in 1978. Not because of any lower rate but becuase we wanted to stay at both the Contempoary and the Polynesian (only 2 major resorts back then). There is the hassel of packing up, but even back then Disney moved our bags over.

    • Good to know. Thanks. I wish I had stayed there back then. That would have been fantastic.

      • It was great. At the time I worked seasonal at Disneyland so I got free admission to the Magic Kingdom (only park at the time) and they allowed us to stroll down below in the “Ultidors”. The only other resort back then (beside Poly and Cont.) was the Golf Resort. We had the dining plan which was all of about $20 per day back then and I think the rooms were around $60 per night. Our Cont. room overlooked Seven Seas Lagoon and MK, as did our Poly room. Wonderful.
        I’ve been there 8 time total, including the opening of Epcot. The last was in 2005 and we stayed in one of the vacation homes at Key West resort (had a family by then!). -KEN

      • Awesome. I hope you can get back soon. There’s a lot going on there (although, I don’t know if the Fantasyland Expansion can beat out Cars Land).

  3. I can see the benefit, although no real cost savings since you’re spliting the trip between a lower cost and a higher cost accommodations and getting dining when that is already an expensive and optional way to dine. You’re paying for the hassle is moving between 2 places when you’re mostly at the parks. If the hassle is worth it, there’s no dispute. It just seems so unnecessary.

    • StevenW. I did it in June at 3 different resorts just so I could experience them. It wasn’t bad, but we had a car. I think it would be a lot harder with kids though. This was a grown up trip (well, as grown up as we get).

      Thanks for your comment–I always appreciate it.

  4. Ive done it twice. Both times traveling solo and without dining plan (Not worth it for me)

    Advantage is that you get to experience more resorts. It is super easy to transfer. Disney does everything.

    Disadvantage is that the trip seems to go by quicker because you feel less settled.

  5. I have another way to solve the expensive hotel room stay dilemma. I own a timeshare at another company that allowed me to trade with Disney’s DVC. Disney only offers some resorts, but most of the major ones are offered like Animal Kingdom, Boardwalk, and Bay Lake. I consider the accommodations to be a step above Moderate for standard suites although Penthouse suites are Luxury and beyond.

    Thus, you should consider timeshares if you love to visit Disney on an annual basis. I hesitate on recommending DVC itself since they expire, which mean their perceived value diminishes over time to zero.

    • I really loathe the fact that DVC expires. It doesn’t really seem to make any sense when you compare how other timeshares work. Having said that, I would love to buy DVC. I’ve been lucky to rent DVC points many times and it works out pretty well, but it’s scary renting from someone you don’t know.

      Thanks for your input.

      Take care.

      • I’m a DVC sucker. We’ve bought in twice. Once at a WDW resort and at Aulani. I have my concerns about some things, but overall, I love it.

        And we split our stays all the time. Often splitting between DVC rooms or suites and regular hotel rooms. It adds an element of fun to longer vacations.

      • I am buying this September. I can’t wait. We’re doing resale. My husband is dubious but I think he feels like it’s better than moving to Orlando!

        It was awesome meeting you and Norm, by the way. You guys are the best.

  6. I have done this and it works out quite easily. I stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and paid the up charge for the rooms overlooking the animals and transferred to the Contemporary resort so I could be closer to the Transportation Ticket Center. The whole experience was very effortless. There was a bit of confusion as to why I wanted to transfer hotels from the cast members yet when I explained the logic of it, they thought I was rather clever.

    I strongly recommend breaking up your stay. The next time I will try to see if I can find someone who will let me “borrow” some of their vacation points and stay at one of the vacation club rooms. Being in Hawai`i my clock was six hours off of Walt Disney World. Midnight was six PM for me and I was ready for dinner when most all of the restaurants were closing. With a Vacation Villa, I figure I can eat breakfast and dinner in my room and the buy the big meal at lunch time prices. (which is really breakfast for me.)

    • Kamerun, thanks for sharing your experience. Do you ever rent DVC points. I do it all the time and it’s a huge money saver. I tend to use http://mouseowners.com for rentals. If you want more info, just send me a message.

      Thanks!

  7. [...] Save Money at the Disney World Resorts With a Split Stay! Breaking up your Walt Disney World vacation into more than one reservation can save you money (by staying at least part of your trip at a less expensive resort) and satisfy your curiosity about other resorts at the same time. Unfortunately, this isn't … Read more on MiceChat [...]