The ultimate split-stay thread

Discussion in 'Disney Resorts' started by thisismyusername, Aug 27, 2014.

  1. thisismyusername

    thisismyusername DIS Veteran

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    During our very first on-property stay at Disney, the thought to stay in separate hotels during the same trip never would have occurred to us. But when it came time to book our second trip to Disney a year later, we were faced with the dilemma of choosing the hotel we had stayed at before (and loved), or choosing something new. After all, if you'’re of the mindset that the resort is somewhere other than just a place to sleep and shower, and it’'s part of your vacation experience, Disney makes it incredibly difficult to choose just one hotel to stay at. And that was precisely the dilemma we found ourselves in when planning our second on-property vacation, and why we chose to do a split stay.

    Since then, all of our Disney trips have been composed of split stays. We have taken a short 3-night trip with different stays each night (our monorail resort crawl), to more “normal” split stay vacations lasting a week with a resort hop in the middle. And we went kind of split-stay crazy on our last trip and booked six resorts over our two-week vacation. Our two vacations in the works right now (one this winter and one next summer) are also multi-split stays with at least three hops scheduled. At this point, I can’t foresee our family ever choosing to just stay put at one place throughout an entire vacation as my family so enjoys the adventure of Disney resort hopping, and we consider ourselves pros at doing it. :) Since there are constantly so many threads related to questions on split stays, I thought it time to make a ultimate split stay thread for those seeking advice and help planning a split stay. Enjoy! :)

    Table of contents:

    Why a split stay? (post #2)
    1. Try different resorts and pools
    2. Save money/splurge
    3. Stay strategically near parks

    How to book a split stay? (post #3)

    1. Preparing to book separate reservations and packages
    2. Booking a split stay with the DDP
    3. Scheduling ADRs and tying reservations together to maximize 180+10
    4. Scheduling FP+ reservations
    5. Customizing MBs for one trip or different resort stays
    6. Prioritizing split stay order

    Packing for and moving during a split stay (post #4)
    1. Strategies for packing
    2. Separating essentials
    3. Moving luggage at Disney during a split stay

    How to have an enjoyable split stay (post #5)
    1. Pack patience, pack lightly, and don’t pack a lot of groceries.
    2. Accept there will be period of “roomlessness.”
    3. Be organized.
    4. Be experienced.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2015
    Rileygirl, Shanti, Dreamin192 and 2 others like this.
  2. thisismyusername

    thisismyusername DIS Veteran

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    Why a split stay?

    1. Try different resorts and pools:
    If all Disney resorts were similarly-decorated Marriott-like hotels with cookie-cutter pools and amenities, likely, no one would consider a split stay. They'd pick a resort based upon the location they wanted to stay at, as well as the price of the hotel, and leave it at that. But with Disney having everything to experience from the seaside of New England to camping in the heart of America's frontier to journeying through Africa all within several miles of each other, it's often hard to pick just one resort to stay at, particularly if your family can't get to Disney more often than just once or twice a decade. Split stays allow you to experience several different vacations on one trip, with different pools and amenities and restaurants at each resort. Split stays also work well for families who can't agree where to stay, or find it overwhelming to choose just one resort.

    2. Save money/splurge:
    Tallying the final cost for a dream Disney vacation can be overwhelming, and can even give pause to those willing to spend quite a bit on accommodations for a once-in-a-lifetime trip. If a family has a firm budget of $2500 for a week's accommodations, and find themselves negotiating between staying at the deluxe hotel of their choice and dropping a day or two off of their vacation to make it work with their budget, or staying 8 days at a moderate or value hotel that they're not as eager to stay at, a split stay often manages to work as a compromise with the family getting to experience two different levels of accommodations and pricing that stays within their budget. Similarly, split stays may work better with certain promotions that have start/end dates that don't jive with the travelers' plans, or during high-season blackout periods or when availability for certain promos is not available or has sold out. Some people may even book split stays at a less expensive hotel through the weekend when the rates are higher (Friday and Saturday nights), and then move to a nicer hotel on Sunday through the weekdays. On the flip side of the coin, split stays often allow people to splurge for a few days of their vacation. For example, my family enjoys staying club level, and often find the extra cost per night to be worth it for the breakfast, drinks throughout the day, snacks and extra pampering. However, we often can't afford to stay CL throughout our entire trip, so we often combine CL stays with a split stay at one of the DVC resorts using our points since it makes the cost more manageable.

    3. Stay strategically near parks:
    For many people who are interested in maximizing their park time, as well as maximizing their resort time, a split stay allows them to have the best of both worlds. For example, monorail resorts allow guests quick and easy access to the MK or EP, allowing them to get to rope drop much earlier than if they were staying elsewhere on property, or back to the resort for an afternoon swim or nap. Epcot resorts provide quick and easy walking or boat transportation to Epcot and HS. Seasoned travelers and planners often find they line up their touring plans to coincide with the parks near where they're staying during different segments of the trip.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2015
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  4. thisismyusername

    thisismyusername DIS Veteran

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    How to book a split stay?

    1. Preparing to book separate reservations and packages:
    One of the pitfalls of a split stay is that Disney does not and will not recognize consecutive-but-different-resort-stays as a single reservation. Each part of your stay--even if a split stay at the same resort--is under a different reservation number and may have different promotions, different dining plans, different ticket packages and different deposits and payments terms and dates. Even though you are staying on Disney property and simply moving from one resort to another, nothing attached to your room reservation (DDP, discounts) carries over from one room reservation to the next. You must really know the intricacies of how Disney handles reservations and what is required for each reservation to be prepared to book your split stay.

    The basic difference between Disney reservations is that you are either booked under a MYW package (this is a room + ticket + possibly dining package) -OR- a room only (RO) reservation, which a dining plan (but only if you have an AP) and tickets can be added onto separately.

    Split stays can both be MYW packages (but this is not recommended--we'll get to that in a moment), or they can both be RO reservations, or they can be a combination of MYW and RO reservations.

    RO reservations:
    GENERALLY speaking, if there is not a free-dining promotion and you're not interested in paying for the DDP, it is often easiest to book your reservations as RO reservations. There are generally very good discounts to be found with RO rates, and it gives you the freedom to purchase the ticket package you want, and to eat as you like.

    MYW reservations:
    Generally speaking, you do not want to book your split stays BOTH as MYW packages simply because Disney forces you to purchase a ticket package for each reservation, and with the tiered pricing on Disney tickets (first day most expensive, subsequent days becoming fractions less), you are forced to purchase TWO first-day tickets. This really depletes any savings you'd see from staying on Disney property and visiting the parks longer. Instead, what makes more sense is to make your first resort a MYW reservation and purchase a ticket package that includes tickets for the ENTIRE length of your trip, and then make your second resort a RO reservation.

    For example:

    **************************************************************************

    Length of vacation: 1/1/15 to 1/8/15 (7 nights/8 days)

    1/1/15 - 1/4/15 : Yacht Club MYW package with an 8 day ticket (yes, even though you are only staying here 3 nights, you can purchase an 8-day ticket)
    1/4/15 - 1/8/15 : Contemporary RO reservation using the remaining days on the ticket that you picked up from the YC

    **************************************************************************

    It is recommended you do a MYW package first followed by a RO reservation for simplicity: You don't need to worry about picking up tickets attached to a later-scheduled MYW package from Guest Relations early (though that can be done--but only 3 days before the MYW package begins--see the Theme Park Attractions and Strategies forum for additional information).


    2. Booking a split stay with the DDP:
    With a split stay, there are three different ways you can book the DDP (these scenarios assume you will be staying at two different hotels):

    a) If you have an AP and make RO reservations, you can add the DDP onto your reservation at each resort. (Easiest method, but don't buy an AP just to make it simple if you don't need one or want one.)

    b) You can book a MYW package WITH the DDP for your first hotel, and then book a RO reservation WITHOUT the DDP at your second hotel. Again, you will want to make the ticket package on the first MYW reservation for the entire length of your stay (both resorts combined). You will have to OOP for your food for the second half of the trip when you switch resorts.

    c) You can book TWO MYW packages with the DDP. This will require the purchase of TWO sets of tickets for each reservation, and will deplete the savings you see from staying on Disney property and visiting the parks longer (remember the tiered pricing?) If you do this because the DDP is free, or because it's just how you want to vacation, what is suggested is that you purchase the FULL set of tickets for the first hotel, and then buy the minimum number of tickets (usually 2 days) for the second hotel and then KEEP those tickets for another later visit. Remember, your ticket length is NOT tied to your DDP--it is tied to the number of nights you are staying at the hotel with a ticket package. Tickets do not expire or lose value as long as you don't use them. It is recommended you visit either the Concierge desk or Guest Relations to pick up an actual hard ticket so that it's not inadvertently tied to your Magic Band and kicks in when you switch hotels. Obviously, you should not plan to use this method unless you are absolutely certain you'll be back to Disney at some point in the future and won't lose the tickets.​

    3. Scheduling ADRs to maximize 180+10
    When staying at a Disney resort, you are given a booking advantage of being able to make reservations at 180 days before your trip up through 10 days of your trip. This is called 180+10. When making your ADRs online or on the MDE app, the computer will only recognize the first resort reservation and allow you, at the 180 day mark, to make reservations through that reservation period (up to 10 days). It will not tie any subsequent, consecutive resort reservation(s) together with that one. ADRs for those days will open on the day your next resort reservation hits 180 days out and continue throughout that reservation length up to 10 days. [This is a change for 2015. Prior to 2015, the system could be overrided by phone and by providing all reservation numbers to a CM. Numerous reports for 2015 have indicated that Disney has changed the system, now only allowing reservations to be made at 180 (+up to 10) days for each resort reservation.]

    4. Scheduling FP+ reservations
    As long as you have valid ticket media loaded into your MDE account, you will be able to make FP reservations through the length of your stay no matter how many hotels you plan to stay at 60 days from your first reservation day. Remember, your FP+ reservation is tied to your ticket media, not your room reservation. The first day of your first reservation simply opens the window to allow you to start FP+ planning when you have a valid ticket in your account.

    5. Customizing MBs for one trip or different resort stays
    Because your split stays are booked under separate reservation numbers, you will be invited to customize MBs for each resort. You can choose to do so, OR you can simply order one set of MBs (for your first resort) and skip customizing and skip confirming your address for the secondary resort. When you arrive at the secondary resort, the box (with gray bands) may be waiting for you (or it might not), but you can ask the CM to tie your existing MBs to this reservation and recycle the gray, non-customized bands waiting at the desk.

    6. Prioritizing split stay order
    Most agree that, if possible, you should try to end your vacation at the most-liked or most-looked-forward-to resort to have something to look forward to as you progress through your vacation and to ensure you end your vacation on a positive note. For example, if splitting between a value and a deluxe, many families might feel squashed and let down if moving from the Grand Floridian to ASMu. Of course, there are always exceptions and unexpected things that may happen along the way that may make your last resort a bit of a let down...

    On a similar note, some people have very firm opinions on the minimum number of nights one needs to stay before moving. For us, while I don't think we would want to do a 7 in 7 like Pete and the gang did for the Podcast, we were OK with a 3 in 3 with a short stay around the monorail resorts since they were all so close to each other and we could easily move our luggage ourselves. If asked my opinion, I think that 3 days minimum is great for a resort that I've never been to before to fully soak it in, and 2 nights, at minimum, is great for a resort I've visited before and am familiar with.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2015
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  5. thisismyusername

    thisismyusername DIS Veteran

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    Packing for and moving during a split stay

    1. Strategies for packing
    If you are an "unpack 'n relax" type of family, a split stay during a short period of time is probably not for you and would be more of a hassle than what it's worth. Packing for a split stay--particularly a multi-split stay--can be challenging, and you often have to give up the luxury of settling into a room in exchange for the adventure of staying at multiple resorts.

    If you have multiple suitcases, I find it's easiest to pack outfits together, rather than make shirt/shorts/underwear piles for each family member. Then, rather than split suitcases up by person, split the suitcases up by leg of the trip. For example, for a family of four traveling with two suitcases over a 6 day trip (three days at one resort/three days at the next), the first three days of clothes for the entire family would go in the first suitcase, and the second three days of clothes for the entire family would go in the second suitcase. I then use 1-2 carry ons for shoes, toiletries, gym clothes, swimsuits, etc. (items that will be used at both resorts). Obviously, there are many ways to do it to best suit your needs, but this is what works best for us.

    2. Separating essentials
    When you arrive at your second resort, if you check in early, you may have a period of roomlessness when the resort is preparing your room. If you would like to use the pool upon your early arrival, make sure to pack a separate bag of swimsuits, sunscreen, fresh clothing and underwear in case an afternoon storm chases you away from the pool before your room is ready. In some cases, I find that online check in helps speed up the process of getting our room ready--or at least preparing the staff for our early arrival. I always indicate that we'll be checking in around 9 a.m., even though we may go to a park and not show up at the resort to check in in person until later.

    3. Moving luggage at Disney during a split stay
    Disney makes moving luggage very easy. You can do so one of several ways:

    a) Car. Many people with split stays get nervous about not having a car if they plan to fly into Orlando and have a split stay planned. You do not need to reserve a car for a split stay unless you would like to. During the planning of our first split stay trip, I had received tons of advice advocating for us to rent a car, which we did, and which we never used. We have been to Disney with our own car and without a car, and we have had successful split stays with no noticeable downtime with either method.

    b) Taxi. It generally costs about $20 with tip to travel from one resort to another by taxi. If you have a larger family and a lot of luggage, the resort will flag down a van taxi for you instead.

    c) Disney Transportation. This is the most-self conscious way to travel with your luggage, but as far as I know, it's permitted and I've done it several times. I have walked from Saratoga Springs with my luggage over to DTD and then taken a bus to my Epcot resort. I have taken the monorail from one resort to the next with my luggage, as well. You could always get on a bus with your luggage to go to any park and then get off at the park and immediately grab a bus to your next resort. Just remember, you can't enter a park and not have your luggage searched, so I don't ever foresee myself leaving the Poly to wheel my luggage through Epcot to the BC, for example. :) FWIW, I would not get on any Disney transportation with anything larger than a carry on.

    d) Bell Services. By far, if you don't have a car, the easiest thing to do is to just simply give your luggage to Bell Services at the resort you're checking out of, and ask them to move it for you. It's done daily. It's a regular request. And often, they can give you an idea of what stop you'll be and about when you can expect it. From my understanding, there is one resort runner per hotel, and he/she runs luggage all day dropping and picking up. We have always dropped our luggage early (by 10 a.m.), head to a park, and then by the time we head to the new resort to check in (around 3 or so), our luggage has been there. There are exceptions, however, and I think the official stance is that you should allow up to several hours after you drop off your luggage with bell services at the original hotel to receive it at the next, so please make sure you have all necessities with you since there may be a period of time where your luggage is in transit and not accessible. You will want to tip the bellmen upon drop off and delivery of the luggage.​
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2015
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  6. thisismyusername

    thisismyusername DIS Veteran

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    How to have an enjoyable split stay

    This could also be titled, "How to recognize your family is not a good candidate for an enjoyable split stay." :) Resort hopping is very fun if you AND your traveling companions know what to expect and are ALL on board for it. Before our trips, many of my friends asked where we're going to stay, and when I rattle off a list of hotels, they often look at me as though I have six heads, at which point they then follow up with a confused, "But why?….." Thankfully, our entire family--including our kids--are on board for split stays, and they're old enough that they can all reasonably manage to help us with luggage and moving from resort to resort. If they decided that they didn't want to hop any longer, we would stop. Or if we were traveling with a less-adventurous family, we would certainly keep our butts in one place for a week. :) Here are some of my tried and true experiences for successful and happy resort hopping:

    1. Pack patience, pack lightly, and don't pack a lot of groceries.
    Don't plan to resort hop if you're a commando, rope-drop-to-fireworks family. You have to take some time out of your day to leave the old resort and check in at the new, and you might be antsy and annoyed if you're missing park time. I've heard exaggerations on the Dis of people moaning that it took them half a day to check out and then check in at the new resort, which I think is false. If you check out (assuming you're just leaving the hotel room in the morning and don't need to stop by the desk to settle charges) and drop your luggage with Bell Services (5 minutes if no line) to have them move it over to the new resort, and then you head to a park. When you leave the park, simply take a bus to the new resort, and if you completed online check in and all goes smoothly, it should only take you a few minutes to get everything squared away and head to your new room (10 minutes, max). You then need to wait for Bell Services to deliver your luggage (should likely be at the new hotel if you were gone for the whole day at the park) (10 minutes) and another half hour or so to get settled in the new room, which I do while the kids are taking a rest period we would normally take following a long day at the park. For us, it's minimal disruption, minimal time added to our vacation, and certainly worth it to have a new experience. If you plan to resort hop, I would also suggest packing lightly. Having fewer suitcases means fewer chances of things getting lost, easier transportability within the World, and even smaller tips you need to give to bellmen for pick ups and delivery of your luggage. If you plan to move your luggage yourself, it's just all around easier and also allows you to rent a smaller car if you're only transporting one large suitcase instead of five carry-ons. And finally, rethink tons of groceries. When we first traveled to Disney property, I bought a lot of groceries: Breakfast, drinks, wine, beer, snacks, etc. Generally speaking, I wouldn't suggest buying a lot if you plan to move. Bell Services will move your groceries, and they will keep it cold for you, and we used them for transporting groceries (three times) during our last trip, but I started to worry about how long my milk had been sitting in a July-heat-in-Florida van... Again, the fewer number of things you need to pack up and move, and then unpack again, the easier and happier your hop will be.

    2. Accept there will be period of "roomlessness."
    Even with estimating an early arrival during online check in and showing up at your new resort early, your room may not be ready until 3 p.m. (or even later). And yes, there have been times where we have spent as much time as we wanted in the park while waiting (frustrated) for the ding-ding of our phone to sound with our room alert, only to have it never arrive, or arrive a lot later than we expected. During these times, we have felt rather homeless, and have questioned--while riding out an hour thunderstorm stranded and soaked in the middle of Epcot with no where to go--if a split stay was worth it. You have to expect that and know that you'll be OK with it and it won't ruin your day or your vacation if it happens to you. Be prepared on your move day. Bring appropriate clothing for weather in the parks and have a full park day planned. Or bring swimsuits and sunscreen and a change of clothes and plan a full day at the resort pool (and cross your fingers it doesn't storm). Don't just assume your room will be ready when you check in just because you did everything right and just because you were coming from elsewhere on Disney property. With that being said, I think it's also important to note that if you have young children who nap in the afternoon, and need to be in a dark and quiet and cool room and not in a stroller at the park, you may want to rethink how well they and you can handle a tired and miserable and cranky child who doesn't have a place to sleep. :)

    3. Be organized.
    If being super organized isn't your idea of an enjoyable part of being on vacation, it's probably best to just stick to one hotel. You have to be organized with understanding the intricacies of packages and reservations, tickets and dining plans. You have to put extra thought into packing your luggage, and then how to best move it (and perhaps even how to arrange your hops so it makes the easiest logistical sense to move your luggage). You have to put extra thought into how to arrange your park days if you'd like to maximize your resort's location. For some people--that's not vacation--it's work. Decide if you're a person who enjoys that aspect of planning as much as the trip, or if you'd just prefer to unpack 'n relax and turn that organizing part of your brain off as soon as your foot steps into your room.

    4. Finally, be experienced.
    Split stays, IMO, are not for the first-time-at-Disney family with a limited number of days to explore the parks. For these families, they're busy touring the parks and figuring out the lay of the land, learning the ins and outs of getting around Disney and Disney transportation, etc. My personal opinion is that you really need to have some Disney confidence to comfortably attempt--and more importantly, enjoy--a split stay. Split stays are for seasoned and relaxed travelers: The ones who have spent their time in the park and don't mind missing the 3 p.m. parade because they're busy checking in at the new hotel. In other words, I think split stays are best when you've conquered the parks, and are now conquering the resorts.

    Enjoy the adventure!
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2015
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  7. ChgoMusicGirl

    ChgoMusicGirl Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for this! Lots of great information here. We're doing our first split stay (on the recommendation of my Disney (and split stay) veteran sister) in June of next year and I'm excited that we get to experience 2 pretty different resorts over the course of 10 days!
     
  8. Tigger's ally

    Tigger's ally Segway test dummy

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    Great stuff. Our split stays are for all the above reasons! :thumbsup2
     
  9. Raistlix

    Raistlix A real Disney Dork

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    We're considering a split stay for our next 10 day trip and this thread is great! Thanks
     
  10. elaw

    elaw DIS Veteran

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    Great idea :thumbsup2 We've been diehard Splittters for over a decade now.
     
  11. excited4disney2012

    excited4disney2012 Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for the info! We have always contemplated a split stay. Thanks for laying out the pros and cons!
     
  12. TigrLvsPooh

    TigrLvsPooh DIS Veteran

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    Love a split stay! We do one almost every single time! :thumbsup2
     
  13. thisismyusername

    thisismyusername DIS Veteran

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    I'm so glad to hear this is helpful! Please feel free to add tips or questions! :) :thumbsup2
     
  14. floridagirl61

    floridagirl61 DIS Veteran

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    Great idea for a thread.

    We love split stays also.
     
  15. CaliTex

    CaliTex Will work for (Disney) food!

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    Thank you so much for this thread. Awesome info. We frequently do split stays, and one of the things that has bugged me was having to pay so much more for the tickets; not getting the longer stay price break.

    Our situation is Dec. 9-12 BC CL, 2 day basic tickets. VWL Dec. 12-16 with 4 day tickets and free dining. Is there anyway I could just purchase a 6 or 7 day ticket and still keep the free dining?

    TIA!
     
  16. gwynne

    gwynne Happily planning our next adventure

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    Add us to the list of folks who love split stays.

    Our tips-
    Since it's just the two of us, on move day we pack, go downstairs, grab a taxi and head to the next resort along with our luggage.
    We also try to do online check in with a fairly accurate arrival time at the next resort. Often our room is ready earlier than 3pm this way. No guarantees, but it seems to help.
     
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  17. thisismyusername

    thisismyusername DIS Veteran

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    Unfortunately, no. Each reservation needs a minimum 2-day ticket to get free dining. But what I would do is switch your BC CL to a RO package and change your VWL reservation to include a 6-7 day ticket. You will be able to pick up your VWL tickets early from Guest Relations since it's not more than 3 days before that reservation begins. That should definitely save you some money.

    Unless you are huge eaters, I think DDP and CL is a bit of food overkill, so that's a perfect opportunity to get some savings on the room, take advantage of the CL offerings and just fill in with light meals OOP.
     
  18. thisismyusername

    thisismyusername DIS Veteran

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    Great tip! Thanks!
     
  19. pigletgirl

    pigletgirl Mama to my Minnie Mouse lovin' girl!

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    Another "split-stayer" here too!

    We're doing 1 night at Pop Century RO reservation and then early the next day, DH will go check us in at POFQ so we can activate our tickets and dining plan. Then we'll meet up for breakfast and then head to Epcot!
     
  20. I M Fearless

    I M Fearless WDW Enthusiast

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    There are several ways you could do it:

    1.) Have the free dining on your first booking, effectively swap the resorts provided you can get the free dining for your dates and buy the first hotel as a package with 6 or 7 day tickets and then do a room only booking for your second resort.

    2.) Book Room only at the BC with no tickets. Keep VWL for the second stay and book MYW 7 day tickets to get the free dining. Check into the BC as planned. You can collect your park tickets up 3 days early from the TTC/Epcot/DHS/AK Ticket Booths. There is a thread about how to do this, you cannot pick the tickets up early from any resort.

    3.) Book the 7 day tickets with your BC stay. Book 2 day tickets at VWL to get the free dining, but do not have them linked to your magic bands. Get the VWL tickets as hard tickets and do not use them, if not used they do not expire and can be used for a future trip.
     
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  21. jenjersnap

    jenjersnap yadda yadda yadda

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    Split stay fans here! Usually, we do two resorts but this time we are doing three.

    Here is something we could discuss, perhaps: booking FP+ and split stays. The little information out there about accessing your entire trip at your first 60 day window is contradictory...some people can, other people can't. If you have had a split stay in 2014, I would love to hear about your experience. Most importantly, did you have a package for your first stay or did you link tickets from WDW or a reseller like Undercover Tourist. My theory is that the difference lies there.
     

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