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Category: Disney Resorts (page 2 of 5)

Disney’s Club Level: What is it and Do I Want it?

The iconic Grand Floridian is just one resort that offers club level service
Spend enough time in the Disney universe (you know, at the parks, on Disney message boards, in chat rooms with other Disney fans, etc.), and you’ll hear a lot of chatter about “club level” at Disney resorts. There are lots of questions – What is it? What do I get with it? Is it available at all resorts? Does it cost a lot? And, there are an equal number of comments, on both sides of the fence, so it’s hard to wrap your head around all of it.

Club level is Disney’s version of concierge. While a number of hotels offer concierge services, especially those that cater to business travelers, the service and offerings themselves often vary. Disney is no different, so while their offerings may not be as extensive as what is offered at other hotels and resorts, it is still a very nice service. Do not confuse club level at Disney with the concierge desk in the lobby at each resort; while the cast member working the concierge desk at these resorts will do their best to assist you in getting tickets for the parks, or attractions and can answer many of your questions, club level services go far beyond that.

At Disney, club level rooms are available at all the deluxe resorts: Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Yacht Club, Beach Club, Boardwalk and Animal Kingdom Lodge. At the Grand Floridian, guests even have two options for booking a club level room. They can choose to stay in Sugar Loaf, located in one of the outer buildings, or at the Royal Palm Club in the main building. The amenities are exactly the same, though some guests find the benefits of being in the main building of the Grand Floridian, with its shopping, dining and ease of access to transportation, worth the higher cost of the Royal Palm Club club level. The cost for a club level room runs approximately $100-$150 more per night, but that can vary by season. Rarely are these rooms discounted.

Club level rooms are generally located on a separate floor of each resort and have special keycard access. If you’ve ever stayed at a Walt Disney World resort and gotten into an elevator with a guest who pulled out a gold “Key to the World” card and put that into the elevator keypad, chances are they were a club level guest (it may even have been yours truly). Given their location within the resorts, many of these club level floors offer an additional cool perk -great views. For example, at the King Kamehameha Club at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, the club level lounge is two stories with floor to ceiling windows that look out across Bay Lake and towards Cinderella Castle. That means club level guests can sit in the lounge and watch the fireworks every night (the music to “Wishes” is piped in) while enjoying a snack and their favorite beverage.  Similarly, the lounge at the Innkeeper’s Club at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort allows guests to sit on the balcony and catch a view of Illuminations.

Of course, not every resort can say the same thing. Club level guests at the Beach Club can spend time in the lounge where the view from the windows is of the parking lot. That’s okay though, staying here and getting to swim in Stormalong Bay makes it totally worth it.

Part of the club level lounge at Beach Club -love the chairs for the kids!
Of course, staying club level isn’t about the view from the lounge (or the lack thereof). When you book a club level stay, several weeks before your arrival, the Itinerary Planning Office, or IPO at the resort should contact you to confirm your stay and to help you arrange things like dining reservations, child care, shows tickets, and other entertainment. If you’re celebrating something special, make sure to mention that as well, as the IPO can provide you with helpful suggestions or ideas. My suggestion is not to wait for the IPO to call you – given the amount of guests they handle, it can be easy for them to overlook you; therefore, I’d encourage you to email them with your reservation number and any requests you have.

They of course will do their best to meet any of your needs. On the day of your arrival, club level stay will be aware of when you are coming in. Assuming you arrive between the hours of 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., they will escort you up to the club level floor and handle check-in for you, no need to wait in lines. You’ll find your club level room comes with a few other benefits as well, including nightly turn down service, robes to use during your stay, additional toiletries, and a DVD player in your room. The cast members working at the desk outside the club level lounge will also have DVDs available for you to borrow should you not pack any of your own. Another nice perk? Club level guests at every resort have the opportunity to schedule the special Wildlife Discovery Excursion Tour. For $45 per person, guests will take a climate controlled vehicle through the savannah at Disney’s Animal Kingdom with a cast member who is an animal expert. The vehicle goes “off road” and doesn’t follow the same path as the typical tour, allowing you to get closer to the animals and a chance at some great photos. Additionally, because each vehicle only fits a limited number of people, you have an opportunity to ask a lot of questions, something you don’t get to do or the regular attraction.

Perhaps the best part for many club level guests is the food and drink offerings included with your stay. Each club level has a lounge where guests can partake in these offerings while enjoying comfortable seating. You’ll also find a couple of televisions in the lounge, one for the adults, and one for the kids, and usually, a newspaper or two to read. While offerings and times can change, the general schedule looks something like this at each club level lounge:
  • 6:30-7:00 a.m. Coffee and juices.
  • 7:00 – 10:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast with juice, coffee, tea, cereals, fruit, breakfast pastries and breads
  • 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Snacks and/or tea with sodas, iced tea, lemonade, coffee, tea, and snack foods like crackers, pretzels, cookies and nuts.
  • 5:00 – 7:00p.m. Appetizers with wine and beer and hot and cold appetizers from the resort’s restaurants and offerings like veggies and dip.
  • 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. Desserts and cordials with a selection of cordials and desserts from the resort’s restaurants.

Guests at the Grand Floridian’s Sugar Loaf and Royal Palm Club can also look forward to having an afternoon tea service with a variety of teas and scones available. Note that the amount of food available is generally NOT enough to make a meal out of (unless you have a very small appetite). The foods available are meant as appetizers, or a tasting, so I don’t suggest skipping the dining plan or foregoing ADRs in favor of eating in the lounge. Conversely, I have heard from some guests that eating the evening offerings, and then heading off to dinner was often too much food; this is especially true if they were on the deluxe dining plan or otherwise eating in a lot of “signature” restaurants.

So, is it worth it? “Worth” is very subjective, and means different things to different people. But whether staying club level on your next visit is right for you or not depends a lot on how you tour and how many times you’ve visited. As regular readers to the blog know, I’m local, I visit the parks a lot. I’ve had three stays as a club level guest and can honestly say I’ve enjoyed each one immensely. But my wife and I aren’t the type to spend all day in the parks anymore. We spend lots of down time at the resort enjoying the amenities, so we have time to partake in the food and beverage offerings. If you are a theme park commando, who only uses the room to sleep and shower, it would be a waste. And you certainly don’t want to feel like you HAVE to come back to the resort to eat the appetizers, snacks or desserts to try and get your money’s worth. Unless you have a larger group, or are perhaps heavy drinkers who enjoy the beers and cordials available, you’re not likely to make up that extra $150 a night in food/drink. Lots of people will just get a bunch of snacks and beverages for their room instead, and make their own “club level lounge.” Similarly, since I spend much of my time making dining and entertainment reservations for other people, I enjoy the perk of having someone from IPO do it for me. But if you’re the type who likes to make their own reservations for everything, or you have a travel agent who is going to do that for you (for free), why pay for the privilege that you won’t use? 

Your “golden ticket” Key to the World card gives you access to the club level floor

Like some many other things in a Disney vacation, ultimately, you need to decide what will be best for you. If you’re taking a trip where you’re skipping the parks, or like me, you spend lots of time at the resort, and you have the money to spend, having the added perks of club level may be just your thing. But if you think you’d rather take that extra $150 a night and put it towards something else – a romantic dinner, a fireworks cruise, a private tour, or even another trip, then club level probably isn’t right for you, and you’ll be happy with a standard, but still very nice, resort room.

Thanks to Disboards for the YC concierge photo. For more pictures and information on Yacht Club/Beach club, check out this thread on the Dis.

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Opening Dates for the New Art of Animation Suites.

Proposed Cars secion of the resort.

Thinking of booking a vacation at Disney’s Art of Animation Suites?  You can book these rooms, which will open in sections on the grounds of what was the proposed Golden Years section at the Pop Century Resort, starting on the following dates.

  • Nemo Suites: Opening May 31, 2012.
  • Cars suites:  August 31, 3012.
  • The Lion King Suites:  September 30, 2012.
  • The Little Mermaid rooms: Sometimes in December.

I checked the travel agent side of the Disney site today and the Little Mermaid rooms aren’t showing up yet for us to book. I’ll let you know when I hear of a more solid date.  

Suites will sleep six and have a refrigerator and microwave. The Little Mermaid rooms will sleep four and be similar and size and amenities(in other words, no fridge without paying a $10 nightly fee) to the rooms at other value resorts.  The resort will feature an 11,859-square-foot pool, the largest of any of Disney resort.

Thanks to Suzy B. for your question regarding the Little Mermaid section.

Three Words to Banish from Your Disney Vocabulary.

One thing I notice when people start planning a Disney vacation is that they seem to get caught up in the importance of the different resort categories.  If you’re new to Disney, those categories are deluxe, moderate, and value, and while you may think they have a lot to do with the defining the resort itself, their more practical use is to give you a hint at what you’ll be paying. This is because while it’s true that each category presents a certain type room and of amenities, the truth is that the labeling is just as important in aiding your perception of where you’re staying.  Call it a brilliant marketing strategy, but don’t get caught up in it.

The unfortunate result in focusing on these categories is that doing so can make you overlook a more appropriate resort and more importantly, it can make you spend too much money. I see this most often when people make the jump from the values to the moderates, where there’s an assumption that there’s a direct correlation between the increase in price and your resort experience. This just isn’t true.  Look at it objectively and decide if a larger bed, more “grown up” theming, and a slightly larger room is worth paying $50 to $100 more per night, but don’t be swayed by the term “moderate.”

So, how do you choose a resort? Well, throw out all your ideas about resort categories and choose what you love and, most importantly, what you can afford.  Don’t let snobbery cause you to make a decision that hurts you in the end, but make sure you don’t overlook important issues like theming and location.  I have guests who are hesitant to stay at the values because they think they’re “low-rent,” but value guests are some of the most travel savvy visitors on property because they didn’t get caught up in the hype.  And you might be surprised at how many of them can afford the Grand Floridian but don’t choose it because it doesn’t fit how they travel.  Finally, it’s not just budget travelers who get caught up in the name game.  Ironically, the least expensive deluxe resort on property, Animal Kingdom Lodge, is also the most well-themed, but guests sometimes blanch at staying there because it’s considered a lower level of deluxe resort.

The terms “value, moderate and deluxe” are all designed to elicit certain feelings from the buyer. All but the term “value” is intended to upsell your vacation.  Banishing these three words from your Disney vocabulary can help you make a smarter decision about where you’ll stay on your next trip. A value isn’t  “budget” or “low class” and a deluxe won’t make your trip better. So choose your resort based on what’s works for you, not on what some marketing expert is trying to sell you.

Reader Question: How Early Can You Check In?

Bay Lake Tower. Photo copyright Disney.

George left this question in the comments on yesterday’s post.  Since it’s one I hear a lot, I thought I’d post the answer here:

So if we wanted to fly in at 10am on check-in day, would they give us our park tickets before our check-in time?

The answer is yes. Check-in is sort of an amorphous concept at Disney World.  While your room may not be ready until later that day (usually 3:30 is a good bet), you can check into your resort at any time that day.  The advantage is that you could arrive at the Orlando airport at 5:00 a.m. and get to your resort an hour later and you’ll still get your tickets and your meal credits as soon as you check in, regardless of whether or not your room is ready. This allows you to enjoy a full day in the parks long before you ever set foot in your room.

When you check in you’ll be given a folder with resort and park information (maps, park hours, etc.) and asked to choose how you want to be contacted once your room is ready, either by phone or text. Since the parks are often a bit loud, I usually ask for a text.  If you have luggage or other items you don’t wish to take to the parks, just take it to bell services and they’ll hold it for you. Then your ready to go!

Holiday Resort Hopping.

One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is resort hopping. If you’re new to visiting Disney World, you might think that exploring a Disney resort is limited to guests of that resort, but everyone is welcome to come to a resort to shop, eat, or just soak up the atmosphere. And since Disney resorts are all wonderfully themed, there are plenty of details to take in and enjoy.  This is even more true during the holidays, when the resorts are decorated in keeping with the theme of that resort.

You can buy gingerbread cookies and other treats from the life-sized gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian. It’s just a quick monorail ride from the Magic Kingdom, so it’s a nice mid-day break from touring the parks.

Consider lunch at the Grand Floridian Cafe while you’re visiting this resort. The food is consistently good and often very innovative; it’s one of those hidden gems where you can frequently get a walk-up reservation.  Later, you can sit in the lobby and listen to the live orchestra or just people watch. There’s also a Christmas tree with a Victorian theme, with visits from Santa Claus himself.  If you only resort hop once during the holidays, this should be your choice.
Just a quick boat ride from the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is the most “Christmas” of all the resorts. With a massive stone fireplace and this homespun-looking yet elegant tree, you’ll feel like you’re a world away from sunny Florida.  Grab some hot chocolate and enjoy.
If you’re near Epcot or Hollywood Studios, you can walk or take a Friendship Boat over to Beach Club,  where you’ll find a large, gingerbread carousel that actually moves.
The detail on the horses is incredible.

Animal Kingdom Lodge doesn’t lend itself to a traditional holiday theme, with the usual red and green accents that we’ve all come to expect, but it’s probably my favorite. I love the surprising African touches and the use of colors such as orange and gold, that blend perfectly into the resort’s year-round theme.  


You can see the colors a little better on this smaller tree in Kidani Village.
Port Orleans French Quarter is a beautiful resort anytime of the year, but the entry is especially festive during the holidays.
Finally, one of my favorites. I love Mary Blair’s whimsical art and I don’t consider a trip to the Magic Kingdom complete without at least one visit to It’s a Small World, but did you know that Mary also designed the mural in the Grand Canyon Concourse in the Contemporary Resort? She’s the inspiration for this Christmas display in front of one side of the mural.

You can buy gingerbread here as well as other holiday treats. 
Disney begins decorating their resorts the day after Halloween. It’s a very time-consuming process so it’s not guaranteed to be finished until the week of Thanksgiving, but it’s often complete by mid-November.  Consider taking a break from the parks to enjoy these beautiful resorts. Grab a hot cocoa, do some shopping, or even have an elegant meal. They can be as much of an attraction as the parks.
Many thanks to my friend Bob Angelo for these photos. You can follow Bob’s park exploits here on Facebook.

Animal Kingdom Lodge in Pictures.

Lobby and Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Animal Kingdom Lodge is arguably the most well-themed of all the Disney resorts. The resort is divided into two sections, Kidani Village, a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) property, and the main building called Jambo House, which has a mix of regular resort rooms and DVC rooms. 

The lobby at Kidani is smaller but just as beautifully themed.

Even the path to the parking lot is beautifully landscaped at AKL.

On the way to the Jambo House parking lot.

One of my favorite things about AKL is that there are lots of quiet spaces to relax and enjoy.  The resort feels like an escape, not just like a hotel.

Firepit and seating at Jambo House, next to the savanna.
Kidani Village has a cozy fireplace. Even though it’s right off the lobby, it gives the impression of being very private.  Consider heading down there at night while the kids and your spouse sleep.  It’s a nice place to re-charge.

Fireplace and seating area in Kidani with an outdoor terrace
and view of the savanna.
It’s the little details that make this resort special.   I love coming back at night and seeing these little lanterns at the entrance of the resort.
Cheery lanterns at the entrance welcome you back at night.
Kidani Village has one restaurant, Sanaa.  Their specialty is a sort of Indian fusion cuisine.  Exotic but still accessible.  At Jambo House, you can enjoy three restaurants:  The Mara, easily one of the better quick-service locations on property; Jiko, a signature restaurant with an award-winning wine list and some of the best food on property; and Boma, a buffet that will please even the pickiest of eaters.
Desserts at Boma.

Rooms are decorated in browns, deep reds, oranges, and yellows with an subtle African theme.
King-sized bed in a DVC one-bedroom.
The bathrooms in one, two and three-bedroom DVC units have massive tubs and walk-in showers.
The design in the tile shows characters from The Lion King
Bathroom sink, with a small room for the toilet on the right.
Both Jambo House and Kidani Village have beautiful pools.

The pool at Kidani has a water play area that’s so large, it’s zoned as a water park.
Entrance to the water play area with lots of fun surprises.
You don’t need to be a guest to visit this resort.  Take the Animal Kingdom Lodge from any of the parks or Downtown Disney and feel free to explore.  Make sure you check out the savanna–it’s open to visitors as well.

Update on the Grand Floridian DVC.

Interior of the Wedding Pavilion.

Disney hasn’t formally announced it yet*, but it’s looking increasingly like the Grand Floridian is set to become Disney’s newest Disney Vacation Club property, a move that will delight many and make more than few brides, and their moms, a little nervous due to the proximity of the Wedding Pavilion.  If you’d like to view the expanded plans, which show a larger building than previously planned jutting out slightly further into the Seven Seas Lagoon, you can see them here at Epcot Explorer.  I would be thrilled to own DVC at the Grand Floridian (sadly, unlikely) and I think the new building should give some great options to guests.

The big issue right now is construction, particularly any construction that might interrupt a bride and groom’s big day.  As you can see from the plans, Disney’s Wedding Pavilion is right next to the new site. While the only construction that we’ve seen seems to be a parking lot expansion adjacent to the Grand Floridian Spa, this email from a Disney bride and reader named Hannah** seems to indicate that the actual construction phase will be beginning soon:

We’re getting married at the WP in December and were told the side windows in the pavilion will be changed to stained glass to block the construction. This doesn’t bother me because I like the look of the stained glass windows in Francks and they’ll be similar, but I know some brides are worried about it not being light enough in there. Our planner also said that the site will be landscaped so that guests won’t be able to see it. I asked about noise and she told me they wouldn’t be doing construction during the weddings–not so sure I believe that. Just thought you’d want to know what I was told.

I did  a little searching and found out that the windows will be going in on July 17 and 18, so we can probably assume that the real construction, at least the landscaping designed to hide the construction, will take place shortly thereafter.  Rumor has it that the route for Cinderella’s coach will change as well.  If you’re doing beach pictures, you can still do those on the Polynesian side of the Wedding Pavilion. No word on the fate of that handy walking path from the Polynesian to the  Grand Floridian.

*Let’s not forget that Bay Lake Tower was well underway before Disney formally announced that it would become a DVC property.

**Many thanks for your email, Hannah. I always appreciate a good tip.

Fantasyland Expansion and Other Updates.

I just finished a conference call with the some Pixie agents and  Disney tonight.  Our Disney representative had some interesting news about some big changes going on at Disney World. Some of this has already been reported all over the web, but it’s nice to get an official confirmation.  Here’s a brief run-down.

Common area in the new health and wellness floor at the Contemporary.


  • The Art of Animation Suites will open in phases, starting in May 2012.
  • You’ll be able to book the new health and wellness suites at the Contemporary Resort starting in November. There’s not a set opening date, but expect them to be open at Thanksgiving, at the latest.  Rumor has it you can start booking right after July 4.
  • The suites will hold up to six people.
  • Our Rep didn’t know the exact prices of the wellness suites, but he said to expect them to start at around $800 per night.
  • There’s a very strong rumor that the refurbished rooms at Port Orleans will only sleep four guests because the queen-sized beds won’t accomodate a trundle.   I’m trying to get confirmation on this, but it’s been hard to get anything solid.

Fantasyland Expansion: 

  • The first part of the expansion will open up in the fall of 2012.  This will involve The Little Mermaid attraction as well as Belle’s cottage, Gaston’s Tavern (quick service) and the Be Our Guest restaurant (table service).
  • The Be Our Guest restaurant is NOT slated to be a character meal at this time.  Update:  Per The Disney Blog, Lumiere will appear on a cart like Remy at Chefs de France in Epcot. There may be photo opportunities as well.
  • The new princess meet and greet will open in Snow White’s Scary Adventure in the Fall of 2013. It will be called the Princess Storybook Hall.
  • The Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride, which will be located in the middle of the new Fantasyland expansion, will open in LATE 2013. This will be the last of the major additions to the expansion.

Please check out the latest Fantasyland expansion pictures and a brief update here.

Booking a Base Package vs. a Room-Only Reservation or a Regular Package.

Even on a dreary day, still a happy sight.

Most people think there are only two options for booking a Disney vacation, a room-only booking or a package, but there’s one option you might want to try:  A base package.   A base package is essentially a room-only reservation, but unlike a room-only reservation, you’ll only pay a $200 deposit when you book.   A base package is booked with the assumption that the guest will add tickets and dining later, but it’s not mandatory. 

Who does a base package work for?

1.  Guests who are booking an expensive room-only reservation. Why pay a $500 deposit when you can pay a more comfortable $200? Even if you have the money on hand, it’s nice to keep it a while longer.

2. Guests who plan on adding dining and tickets in the event that free dining is announced.  If you already have a package, its easier to convert it to free dining and add your tickets. If you have a room-only reservation, you’ll need to cancel that and re-book a package, which means you can’t transfer the money from the room-only reservation to the package; you’ll receive a refund for that. With the base package, you won’t need to do all of that, you’ll just change to free dining, add your tickets, and be on your merry way, provided there’s availability.

How does it work?

All the same rules that apply to a regular package apply to a base package as well. You’ll receive a full refund if you cancel 45-days prior to travel. You’ll also have to pay for your trip in full at the 45-day mark.  If you cancel after the 45-day mark, you’re out your $200 deposit, nothing more. As noted above, you are not obligated to buy tickets or dining.

One more huge advantage:

If you cancel a room-only reservation within five days of travel, you’ll lose night’s deposit.  For a value or a moderate room, that’s probably under $200 depending on the time of the year. But if you’ve booked a deluxe room or villa, you could be out hundreds of dollars; many villas rent for $800 or more a night.  A base package means you’ll only lose $200.

One final thing.  Make sure you ask for this option if it looks like it will work for you.  Disney doesn’t always offer it because it’s fairly uncommon.

Trying at Split Stay at Disney World.

The pool at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

Next trip, consider doing what many seasoned Disney World guests do: A split stay. A split stay is exactly what it sounds like, staying at more than one resort during a single trip. It’s a great way to save money (by staying at both a value and a deluxe) or to get to know what a resort has to offer, but there are a few rules you’ll need to follow to make it work.

Who does it work best for?

Split stays work best for guests who don’t mind packing up their things and moving mid-vacation. If you have very young children, you may want to reconsider a split stay. It’s a great choice for a guest who wants to give a new resort a try, but isn’t sure if they’re going to like it. If you’re the type of guest who always stays in the same resort, it’s an easy way to change things up a bit without losing out on your favorite resort entirely.

Can I book a split stay at the same resort to take advantage of two different discounts?

Yes. If you’re travelling when one discount ends and another begins and the first discount doesn’t carry over (or isn’t as good as the second one that comes out), you can do a split stay at the same resort and use two different discounts. The only problem is that sometimes you won’t get the same room and you’ll have to move. This usually happens when the discount code only covers a preferred room.

Can I still use the dining plan?

Yes, but keep in mind that the dining plan can only be added as a package. All packages that have the dining plan must also have a one-day ticket (at a minimum) added to them for each person on the reservation. If you want the dining plan for only one of your reservations, it’s really no problem. But if you want the dining plan for your entire trip, you’ll have to add tickets to both reservations.

Here’s what you’ll do. Say you’re visiting for ten nights. You’ll be spending five nights at Pop and then moving to the Beach Club for an additional five nights. You’ve decided you want the dining plan for both stays.  You’ll purchase a 10-day admission for your stay at Pop; this is the most economical way to buy your tickets because they’re the most expensive on the front end, that is, the first three days. Then you’ll add a one-day ticket for each person on the reservation at Beach Club. You won’t use that ticket. Instead, you’ll keep it and use it in the future, upgrading to a multi-day ticket or an annual pass. This ticket will never expire and will only gain in value. Make sure the front desk does not add it to your room key. Ask to have it separate and put it someplace safe.

Remember, if you’re an annual pass holder, you can add the dining plan without adding tickets, provided you’re not trying to get free dining. 

What about tickets?

You can do what I discussed in the section above or you can just add tickets to any part of your stay. Say you don’t want the dining plan for your stay at Pop, so you’re just doing a room-only reservation, but you do want the dining plan for your stay at Beach Club. You’ll just add your ten-day tickets to your Beach Club stay and then when you arrive for the first part of your vacation at Pop, go to Guest Relations in any park and ask for your tickets early. You’ll have your ten-day ticket for the entire stay.  One warning:  This may only be available for three extra days, so check ahead of time to see if you’ll be allowed to do it for longer stays.  I’ve heard conflicting reports.

Remember, this only works if you don’t need the dining plan for that part of your stay.  Otherwise, you’ll have to add that pesky one-day ticket.

What are the advantages of a split stay?

Besides getting to explore more than one resort, one advantage of a split stay is that you can save a little bit of money on one part of your trip and go all out on the other. It’s a great way to afford a more luxurious resort while not breaking the bank or having to shorten your stay. A few nights at a value early in your trip can make a more expensive room seem much more affordable. I especially like this idea for those checking in late. Why pay for a deluxe room when you’re just going to drop your luggage and go to sleep? Finally, this plan allows you to try out different dining plans, so you could do deluxe for one part of your trip and the base/plus plan for the other.

Or you could do what some really savvy guests do and try out the Platinum dining plan for just one night. The platinum plan, at around $260 per person, is a plan that gives you virtually unlimited access to Disney perks during your stay. In theory, you could check in in the morning and do it all: Unlimited behind the scenes tours, spa treatments, fine dining, Cirque du Soliel, even take advantage of the unlimited use of the child activity centers. And since your meal plan is good until midnight the day you check out, you can do all this for around 36 hours! Considering what you get, this plan, while exhausting, sounds like a lot of fun for the money.

Finally, another advantage of a split stay is that you can tailor where you stay around the parks you plan to visit. Say you plan on spending a couple of days at the Food and Wine Festival and you want to be within walking distance of Epcot. You could stay at Beach Club. But you’re also traveling with kids and you really like the idea of being on the monorail so you ‘ll have easy access to the Magic Kingdom. So maybe your second stay is at the Contemporary. This type of arrangement allows you to have easy access to both parks and the cost isn’t really going to be that different than if you stayed at one resort.  The only downside is a change in resort rooms mid-trip.

What about my stuff!?

Easy peasy. Bring it to Bell Services at your resort and they’ll send it on to your room. Don’t forget to leave a tip when you drop off your luggage.

How should I split it up?

Go posh on the second part of your trip, if possible. I love all of Disney’s resorts, but it can be a letdown to go from a deluxe to a value in one trip. If you’re staying at a Disney Vacation Club villa, do that second, no matter where you’re staying first. The reason? Laundry. If you’re staying in a one-bedroom villa or larger, you’ll have a full-sized washer/dryer in your room. That will come in handy after a few days visiting the World. Finally, villas offer you more space. If you’re traveling with kids, you’ll probably appreciate that space more during the second part of your trip.

What will my reservation look like?

You’ll have separate reservation numbers for each stay and you’ll pay your deposit accordingly. Each package will require a $200 deposit. Each room-only reservation will require a one-night deposit; if the deposit is too steep, consider doing a “base” package which requires only a $200 deposit.

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