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.
You can find Chris at Everything Walt Disney World.
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