For those who don’t know, a split stay is when you have two different rooms or resorts you’re staying in during one vacation. It could mean you added on to your trip for one night and couldn’t get the same room or just be that you wanted to try a couple different resorts while you’re at Walt Disney World. No matter what your reasoning, split stays can be be a bit confusing if you aren’t sure what to do for them or what you need. The basic information you need is that Disney will help take care of everything for you, and if you ever have a question or aren’t sure about something, cast members are there to answer questions and help.
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You will need to check in to both resorts, whether in person or online on their specific check-in days as they are two different stays. Just like checking in and checking out, you will need to be out by 11 a.m. for your first stay, and your second room may not be ready until 4 or 5 p.m., depending on if it’s a cash room or DVC. If it’s ready earlier, great! But that doesn’t happen often in our experience.
To get your luggage from one resort to the next (or one room to the next), you can call Bell Services from your room and have them transfer your luggage. You do have to be in the room when they pick up your luggage for you. They usually have the luggage picked up between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. from the resort, and your luggage can arrive at the resort between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. If you have late check-out, you still need to get your luggage to bell services around 11 a.m. because they start sending transfers before noon usually.
If there’s something you know you’ll need in your luggage before the estimated time for the luggage to arrive, it’s best to keep it with you or have Bell Services hold it for you. The downside to this is that you’ll have to go back to the first resort to pick it up, and there is no transportation from one resort to another, so you’ll have to get to a park and then head to the second resort. When you call for your luggage from your room at the second resort, you have to stay in your room for them to drop it off to you.
A couple things to remember about your luggage: the first is that it is best not to put breakables in what you’re transferring unless you know it’s wrapped really well. We’ve had several things broken this year in our luggage. The second is that the bell services team is a tipped position. The normal tip suggestion is $1-$2 per bag depending on how heavy they are. We’ve heard that you are supposed to tip both bellman (the one who picks up your bags and the one who drops them off later), and that you’re just supposed to tip the one that drops them off. We tip both because we have so much luggage, but it’s best to make sure you have some cash to tip if you’re transferring luggage. Lastly, transferring luggage is different than Magical Express in that they do not bring your luggage to your room when it arrives. You do have to call bell services and have them bring it to you or pick it up yourself. The later you wait to do this, the longer it can take to get it to you as there is generally only one bellman on duty after 11 p.m.
Online or In-Person Check-In
Online check-in has changed some this year, so you do have to decide if you want to do online check-in or in person check-in. Online check-in requires a credit card on file, and Disney authorizes $100 on that card for charging with your magic band around Disney property. When your total spending exceeds $100, another $100 is authorized. This didn’t work for us because we were moving rooms so often, we had over $1000 held on our credit card because the refund takes up to a week, so we always do in person check-in. If you want to be able to charge with your magic band, you will need to place a credit card on file, but you can also do that when you check in.
What To Take Care of at Check-In
When you check-in in person, you should receive a map of the resort, an activities guide, and your magic band if they weren’t mailed to you. You’ll also receive your room number if it’s ready, and this is when you can place a credit card on file if you want to. If you choose not to put a card on file, you cannot charge anything to your magic band. If you’re staying in a value or moderate resort, you can also decline housekeeping for a gift card if you’d like.
There is no transportation from one Disney resort to another, so if you’re planning to transfer from your first stay to the next and not go to the parks, your options are to drive if you have your car, Uber (use code alyssas12211ue for $2 off your first three rides), Lyft, taxi or Minnie Van. Of these options, Uber is our favorite because they have great service (both from the drivers and the company), and they have a rewards program. Minnie Vans are so cute, but they cost on average about four times as much as an Uber. The plus side to Minnie Vans is that they have car seats which isn’t an option for ride shares. If you are planning to go to a park while you wait for your room to be ready, you can just get on the bus to your second resort when you’re ready to go.
The only exceptions to getting to another Disney resort are sister resorts that you can walk to (Art of Animation to Pop Century, Port Orleans Riverside to French Quarter, etc.) or a monorail resort where you can hop on the monorail to get to your next stay. Otherwise, you’ll have to take a bus to a park and then get on the bus for your next stay.
When you book a split stay, many people just say, “Just go to the parks while you wait for your room to be ready,” but the problem with that statement is that guests forget the time it takes to move rooms. You have to be up early enough to pack everything up and be out of your room by 11 a.m. When you call for a bellman to get your luggage, you usually wait 10-30 minutes for them to get there, and you have to be there when they pick up your luggage. Then you go to get on a bus to go to the parks which means waiting for the bus to arrive and then getting to the park. You spend time in the parks for the day and head back to the resort. Then you call bell services again to get your luggage and wait for it to arrive (this usually takes 20-40 minutes to arrive), and then you can get ready for bed. And this is all assuming you did online check-in and not in-person check-in.
Split stays can take a lot of time from your day and just add more planning and work than there needs to be on vacation. While we know things happen to where a split stay is necessary, we don’t recommend them for a normal trip to Walt Disney World. Enjoy being at your resort in the same room and coming back every night and just going to bed. It makes for a more relaxing and enjoyable trip without extra planning and steps in the schedule.
We are driving so we will have our own vehicle. The resort wasn’t available for the day we want to check in. I was thinking of staying at an economy resort the first night. Is it too much hassle just to pack up and drive from economy resort to the park and then to 2nd resort. I would probably pack the first nights stuff in one bag. And pack the 5 nights items in additional bags so I wouldn’t be carrying much luggage the first nights stay.
It will take some time, but if you pack accordingly, it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. Having your own vehicle helps. If you can do online checkin, that can help you go straight to your room when you arrive at your resort to avoid waiting in lines after a day in the park.
We love split stays, we do them every time we go so that we can stay at more resorts. We drive, so we have our own car and move our own luggage, so that helps with the time.
Getting to experience different resorts is a lot of fun! And having a car is definitely a huge help when moving rooms – especially if you are trying to fit a park on the room change day.
You don’t actually have to wait in your room for Bell services to get your bags for transfer. You can take them directly down to bell services then you don’t have to wait for them.
This is true. We wrote this with the assumption most guests have a lot of luggage and can’t take it all themselves. 🙂 But yes, you can take it yourself if you don’t have a lot of stuff.
Thanks for this. We are doing a split-stay in March because we added a few days onto the beginning of our vacation. We will probably just do a resort day, and hang at the first one until close to when our room *should* be ready, then grab our luggage from Bell Services and head to the second resort using Lyft (or Minnie Vans if we’re really needing the cute factor!) On one trip, we met a family that thought they could get on a Disney bus with their luggage and on another, a couple thought they could “catch a ride on the Magical Express.” So I’m glad you did this article to help folks avoid those kinds of errors!
Sounds great! It really is something that isn’t talked about much, so we wanted to share experiences to help others. It’s possible to do, but you just have to know what to expect and what to do. 🙂
Ok I read this because we are doing a split stay and I wanted your scoop. Thank you! We are there for 10 days 5 at AOA and 5 at Poly. So what I learned from your post is to take our luggage in hand to the bell services at AOA on check out day (mid vacation for us), enjoy the park, online check in after 4pm, and not expect bellmen to have the luggage delivered to the new room because that doesnt happen?…I think that’s correct? So we just need to pick the luggage up from bell services or call once we are in the room at 4pm to have it delivered? I think I followed that correctly? I wonder why they dont pre-deliver your luggage once you have a room number like they do say from the magic express bus while you’re enjoying the park? Thanks for the info!!
Yes, you are correct on all that. 🙂 It sounds like you’re set for your split stay, so it should be smooth sailing. Good luck!
Is the bellman step required, or can we just drop off and pick up luggage at the front desk?
It’s not required to use the bellman, and you can definitely take your own luggage to the bell services desk and pick it up there. However, it’s important to note that not all resorts will allow you to take a cart for your luggage. Some of them require a bellman to come with the cart. 🙂
This is so helpful as my family and I was thinking of a split stay for our 2020 trip to get the experience! We. Think. Not. lol thank you so much for the wonderful info.
You’re welcome! It definitely can be done, but it often takes more time than guests realize which takes away from the vacation. And that’s never fun. lol