Ever fancied two WDW vacations rolled into one? But you only have one DVC home resort membership plan! Surely, you’re thinking ‘of course but how?’ With precise planning, you can stay at two DVC resorts, ‘what a feeling’. We were fortunate enough to experience a split stay at Bay Lake Tower and Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL is our home resort).
Outside Bay Lake Tower (Left) and Animal Kingdom Lodge (Right)
In this article, I will explain the process of planning this split stay at WDW using 2 DVC resorts, which will have you asking and answering the question ‘To split stay or not to split stay’.
Why would you split stay?
Imagine that dark feeling leaving your DVC hotel, saying byes, feeling Disney Blues, but wait, an hour later experience that ‘Welcome Home’ all over again.
Sad leaving Bay Lake Tower but then… at Animal Kingdom Lodge!
Not only that, you can experience a completely different themed DVC hotel. First, take an African adventure at Animal Kingdom Lodge onto that Hawaiian Aloha at Polynesian. Furthermore, you can tailor your theme park days around the DVC hotels e.g. stay at Boardwalk Villas for close access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios and then stay at Wilderness Lodge for close access to Magic Kingdom.
Maybe you’re working on the DVC bucket list, and ticking off each resort as you stay in them?
Excited, thought so, but how, how, how, well….
How to plan and book a Split Stay
Research what time of year and what DVC resort/rooms to stay in: Use a DVC points calculator like the one below. Times of year, resort and rooms will have an impact on DVC points used and room availability. Consider creating different scenarios or a “Top 5” list budgeted in line with your DVC points, example below.
11 months to go (to the start of your vacation): Start booking time at your home resort for the FULL duration of your vacation. If your vacation is greater than 7 nights, then book first 7 nights online, and then contact DVC directly each day thereafter to extend your initial booking (ensures your vacation is fully booked).
Between 7 – 11 months to go: Check the resort availability on DVC website using Resort Availability Tool (example below). Perform weekly checks and then move to daily checks when you are 2 weeks before 7 months to go. Check the availability against your ideal selection i.e. “Top 5” – please note if there are Partial Availability / No Availability appearing you may have to ‘tweak’ your list.
7 months to go: Contact DVC directly and inform them to amend your booking to include other stays (mentioning your hotel requirements). You should receive e-mail confirmation in the usual manner outlining the new hotel accommodation. If your “Top 5 list” has No Availability/Partial Availability you can ask to be on the waiting list or request if there are other hotels that have full availability.
Assuming you have your hotels booked and are happy, then it’s over to planning those specific days for that Dream Holiday. If you are flying in/out of Orlando International Airport (MCO) you can instruct Disney’s Magical Express to drop you off at your first hotel and pick you up at your second hotel.
DVC Tips & Advice
For DVC Members, please note other items to be aware of that can have an impact to your overall vacation:
Dining Plan — Currently you can only book a dining plan based on one booking so split stays result in two bookings. Although, this brings more flexibility around your budget/dining needs – i.e. book quick service with first stay and second stay table service plan. We opted for no dining plan with first stay and quick service for second stay.
Checking In/Out – Check-Out: 11:00, Check-In: 16:00 (4pm). Moving from one DVC hotel to another and 5 hours between Check In/Out can be time out of theme parks or tiresome. Although, take this time for an adventure. Tour either of your resort hotels, relax by the resort pools, go to a theme park for lunch, or do a few rides until you are ready to check in. We decided to have a late check-out, visit a Theme Park for lunch and then arrive at our new resort (AKL) at 4pm.
Transportation – Moving from one DVC resort to the next could be another time-delaying factor. Although if you are driving then all WDW resorts are within a 5-10 minute drive. If you’re not driving then remember you are able to either hire a Taxi, Uber or use the WDW transportation system, however I would suggest the following:
On the morning of Check Out, contact Bell Services who will come and collect your luggage and transport them to your next hotel resort, complimentary. We did this without any delay to our vacation.
Housekeeping – As per DVC housekeeping information below, your stay may limit the service you could potentially receive, e.g. 3-night stay at two DVC resorts each will mean no service provided. However, you will have a fresh new room to enter on your second stay. Tailor your room stays in accordance with your vacation days, e.g.10-night vacation can be split into two 5-night stays meaning you get two full cleaning services provided.
DVC Resort Availability – You may not get your chosen ‘dream’ split stay vacation. Please try and be as flexible as you can, you may even find a 1-night stay at your dream DVC resort! Hopefully you will be fortunate but if not, I’m sure your home resort will still bring that Disney Magic.
Our magical time experienced during our split stay with Talking Mickey
Our split stay was magical, and our next trip I will be using the above planning tool again to find other DVC resorts to stay and experience that split stay feeling. Have I tempted you too? I thought so, and Good Luck!