Switching Resorts

by Steve Russo, staff writer
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 “You are sheeshing da bells?”

I had no idea what this cast member was asking, and judging by the quizzical look on my wife’s face, neither did she. This was in 2008 and we had just landed at Orlando International Airport and made our way to Disney’s Magical Express counter—this was back in the day when you needed to check in at the counter before being directed to a queue for your resort bus. A young female cast member was checking us in and her supervisor was looking over her shoulder and asked us that question: “You are sheeshing da bells?”

She was from Bogota, Columbia and had a very thick accent—and I admit that thick accents have always given me problems. Heck, when a toddler says something to me, I’m the guy that stares blankly at his mom waiting for a translation. “He asked if you heard that they found the Higgs Boson…” Sheesh!

What made this situation comical was that Barb and I, in unison, swiveled our heads, looked hopefully at each other, shrugged, then swiveled back to her. She must have sensed our confusion and asked again, this time loudly and with exaggerated enunciation, “You are sweetching hotels?” Ahhh… yes, we are.

That was our first experience with splitting a Walt Disney World vacation between two resorts. We had originally planned a Sunday to Friday stay at our DVC home resort, the Boardwalk Villas—staying on points. When we booked our flights, we made the decision to come in a day earlier—after all, why spend a winter Saturday in Upstate New York when you could be at Epcot instead? There was no chance to extend our stay at the Boardwalk with so little notice so we opted instead to spend one night, on cash, at Port Orleans Riverside, a resort where we had yet to stay.

After that trial, we’ve split our stays several more times and have lived to tell the tale. I know you’re scratching your head, questioning my sanity and asking “why in the world would anyone want to change hotels?” Allow me to explain.


Would you book a couple of days at the Beach Club just to use Stormalong Bay? Photo by Steve Russo.

First, you all know by now that I am a card-carrying member of the Crescent Lake Snobs (CLS). We’re a small but tight group of Disney World fanatics that have an inordinate affection for the Crescent Lake resorts—the Boardwalk and Yacht and Beach Clubs. Why? As Albert Einstein once said, “Location, location, location.” OK, maybe it wasn’t Einstein but I’m fairly certain it was someone smart and famous. At any rate, a stay at any of these resorts means you can walk to two of the four major parks at Walt Disney World: Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This means you only need to avail yourself of Disney transportation for Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom (where good sense says you should take the bus anyway).


...or briefly join the Crescent Lake Snobs? Photo by Steve Russo.

So, Steve (I hear you asking), if you love the Crescent Lake area so much, why are you splitting your stay with another resort? There are two reasons:

  • Frugality – as a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) member, I stay at DVC resorts using my points. There is a higher point cost for Friday and Saturday nights versus Sunday to Thursday. If I’m coming in on a Saturday, I might opt to spend my first night in another resort, paying cash, if I’m short on points or just need to conserve them for a future stay. Disney also charges a bit more for weekend nights when paying cash at non-DVC resorts. If you’ve booked a week at a Deluxe resort, you might opt to spend your arrival night in a Value or Moderate to save a few bucks, then move into the Deluxe on your first full day.
  • Theming – if I’m counting correctly, Walt Disney World offers 21 on-site resorts for you to choose from. Each of them is themed differently and they can be as much fun to visit as the parks themselves. You can immerse yourself in the extravagant theming of the Value resorts, gain a feel for New Orleans’ French Quarter or a Caribbean island, or bask in the turn-of-the-century Victorian splendor of the Grand Floridian. And speaking of the Animal Kingdom Lodge, where else can you take your morning coffee to your room balcony and sip while watching giraffe, zebra and wildebeest have their breakfast?


Maybe a week at the Polynesian is outside your budget but... perhaps a few days might work? Photo by Steve Russo.

I’m betting more than a few of you share my goal of staying at least one night in each Walt Disney World resort. I’m not sure I’ll ever complete this task but I’ve been gradually checking off my list for a few years now.


Would you enjoy the splendor of the Grand Floridian? Photo by Steve Russo.


Where else can you get this view with your morning coffee? Photo by Steve Russo.

Now that I have your interest, I’m sure your next question concerns the logistics of a resort change. How does this work? Easy-peasy. On the day you’re switching resorts, you simply check out of the first resort as you normally would. You then have three options for getting yourself, your loved ones and your luggage to your new resort:

  • Let Disney handle it – simply check your bags with Bell Services and inform them that you’d like them sent to your new resort. Disney will transport them free of charge and you’re free to head out to breakfast and/or a theme park. Whenever you’re in the mood, take Disney transportation to your new resort, check in and let Bell Services there know and ask them to bring your luggage to the room. From my experience, it will be a few hours before your luggage makes the trip so the theme park visit may be a good idea.
  • Taxi – if you would prefer not to trust Disney with your bags, check out and catch a taxi to bring you and your luggage to your new resort. Taxis are readily available and the cost should be in the $10 to $20 range depending on the specific resorts involved.
  • Drive – if you have access to your personal vehicle or a have a rental car, driving yourself and your luggage between resorts is the easiest and quickest way to accomplish the move.


Would you like to experience Mardi Gras at your resort? Photo by Steve Russo.

What’s the downside?

The picture is not all rosy. Switching resorts does carry a few inconveniences. Let’s be honest, very few of us relish the process of packing a suitcase. Switching resorts means you get to do it twice. I know there’s a certain satisfaction to tossing my Hanes collection into a drawer and my toothbrush onto a bathroom shelf and knowing that I’m set for a week. Switching resorts throws a wrench into that, but assuming I have a one or two day stay before the switch, a little intelligent packing can make this relatively painless.

There’s also the issue of being homeless for part of a day. We all know Disney’s check in time is 4:00 pm and you may not have a room available until then. We all have to deal with that possibility on our arrival day but now we’ve also signed up for that risk in the middle of our trip.

So what’s the verdict? Should you switch resorts or not? I can tell you that I’ve done it successfully several times now and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it with the caveats mentioned above.

Our next trip is broken in half: the first part of our stay will be at the Boardwalk Villas, my home resort and also my favorite based on the location benefits I spoke of earlier. At midweek, we’re moving to the Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village. This beautiful resort offers so much that there’s no doubt it would be my favorite—if it was built on Crescent Lake.

So we’ll spend half our vacation enjoying easy access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios and all the entertainment the Boardwalk area has to offer. There’s a lot to be said for watching Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, and  when it’s ended, strolling out through the International Gateway to arrive back at your resort in mere minutes.

The second half will focus on the two Kingdoms—Animal and Magic—because we’ll be utilizing Disney’s bus transportation (something we’d be doing from the Boardwalk as well). We’ll also spend ample time at the resort enjoying its architecture, dining options, and taking advantage of its many features including the unique savannas.

I’ll be the first to say that switching resorts is not for everyone. If your idea of a perfect vacation is unloading your luggage and kicking back for the length of your stay, you may not like the disruption. However, if you fall into the category of wanting to experience the different flavor and theming of two (or more) Walt Disney World resorts on a single trip, give it a try.

If you feel strongly one way or the other, or have had multi-resort stays, I’d love to hear about it—both pro and con. As always, thanks for reading.

Comments

  1. By DisneyGator

    When you have 3 kids like I do, the las thing you want to do is pack up and move.. again. It's bad enough bringing the camel caravan to the parks everyday. But having to switch rooms in the middle of a vacation doesn't sound great to me. But that's me.

  2. By newhdplayer

    One trip, one resort, one room.

    Once I'm there, I'm there and I ain't moving.

  3. By Drince88

    I've switched resorts a couple of times, and if the option is to never stay at a deluxe, or to split a stay so I am not blowing the whole budget on the room, then I'm going to switch resorts. We just did it this last trip and were 8 days at Carib Beach and 2 at Yacht Club. We basically didn't unpack at Yacht, and had no issues with Bell Services transporting our luggage. Originally, when we were planning it was going to be a Pop/yacht split, because Pop wasn't a participating resort with Wine & Dine transportation, and with Yacht we could just walk back to our room after the race. But we decided to go for moderate instead of Pop, in part because the last time my sister stated at a Value, we had real issues with other guests (unsupervised teens from cultures with different concepts of acceptable behavior for groups of teens, in particular). I've since stayed at values on solo trips, but she's just not ready to risk it. So for us, it's budget reasons to do a split stay.

  4. By davidgra

    We've switched resorts in the middle of a trip before. And it's absolutely no big deal. We are DVC members, so we're always staying on points, and we've never worried about higher points on weekends. We'll switch mainly because our party size changes, or because we just want to have two different experiences.

    Quite often, we bring other people along with us when we go. We'll get a two-bedroom villa for the duration of time that the other people are with us, then downsize to a one-bedroom for the remainder -- our stays tend to be in the 9- to 10-night range, and we've never had anyone stay with us for that long.

    Or we'll spend the first half of the trip at the Bay Lake Tower, taking advantage of the walking distance to the Magic Kingdom and monorail to Epcot, and then switch to Kidani Village, to enjoy some quiet time and a more secluded feeling.

    And sometimes we've stayed at two different resorts simply because we couldn't get all the nights we wanted at one resort. During our last trip during the Food & Wine Festival, we were unable to get the 2-bedroom villa at the Boardwalk for the entire trip, so we got the nights we could at the Boardwalk and finished up at Kidani Village. This is a disadvantage to not planning a trip early...

    We have the tremendous advantage of having a son living in Orlando, so a car is never a problem for us. We can load up his car in the morning, then wait to check in at the new resort later in the afternoon. Since we only bring enough clothes for a few days (there's a washer and dryer in the DVC villas), we never have all that much to pack up.

  5. By srusso100

    Quote Originally Posted by MousePlanet AutoPoster View Post
    Switching Resorts by Steve Russo

    Steve explains why switching resorts in the middle of a vacation may be a good thing.

    Read it here!

    Interesting responses here, on FaceBook and via email. They're not what I was expecting... all responses seem to fall in the "No way would I consider switching resorts" camp or the "We do it all the time" side. No one's been middle of the road on this.

  6. By Jimbo996

    There's nothing wrong with switching resorts, but other possibilities and benefits were not discussed. There is a whole lot more to explore these days in Orlando.

    1. Add on an outside resort. Stay near Universal or SeaWorld for a few days. It is cheaper and you can see other theme parks. You could even avoid getting that rental car if you wish to stay on-site at Universal or next door to SeaWorld.

    2. Switching from DVC to a value or moderate resort is a step down; however, a deluxe hotel in a regular hotel room is not equivlent to a DVC 1 bedroom suite or larger. Most people travel with their families. You have to decide if it is worth it to be frugal with your points when it might just be better to use up all your points to stay the full 7 days.

  7. By jformica

    Quote Originally Posted by MousePlanet AutoPoster View Post
    Switching Resorts by Steve Russo

    Steve explains why switching resorts in the middle of a vacation may be a good thing.

    Read it here!

    We switch resorts every trip. In fact, I can't imagine staying in one resort the whole time. During an annual 10 day trip we will stay in 3 resorts. We start our trip off with 2-3 nights at the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal and do everything Universal. We then check into a Disney value or moderate for 3-4 nights and do all the Disney parks. Then check out and spend 2-3 nights at a Deluxe just relaxing, sitting by the pool, going watertubing, fishing and everything resort life offers. Packing is not really an issue as we don't mind taking 20 minutes out the night before to pack and reorganize. We have 3 children and they love the different atmospheres throughout the trip.

  8. By Roberta618

    My husband and I are visiting Disney World this coming March. I have had my heart set on staying at the Contemporary for quite some time but after seeing the cost, I decided to split the trip and stay at 2 places. The first 3 nights we are at the Contemporary, the next 6 we will be at the Caribbean Beach Hotel. I This will be our second visit to the World and are looking forward to seeing more of the options. For our last visit, we stayed at the Port Orleans-Riverside, which was lovely but with so many resort choices, I want to get a better sense of the different themes and ammenities. But, travel is a lot easier when you only have 2 adults to contend with. Thanks for the great article Steve. As always, your thoughts are most appreciated and valued.

  9. By srusso100

    Quote Originally Posted by Roberta618 View Post
    My husband and I are visiting Disney World this coming March. I have had my heart set on staying at the Contemporary for quite some time but after seeing the cost, I decided to split the trip and stay at 2 places. The first 3 nights we are at the Contemporary, the next 6 we will be at the Caribbean Beach Hotel. I This will be our second visit to the World and are looking forward to seeing more of the options. For our last visit, we stayed at the Port Orleans-Riverside, which was lovely but with so many resort choices, I want to get a better sense of the different themes and ammenities. But, travel is a lot easier when you only have 2 adults to contend with. Thanks for the great article Steve. As always, your thoughts are most appreciated and valued.

    Great idea. I would offer one suggestion, and it's likely too late for your upcoming trip, I would always try to begin the vacation at the lesser resort. As lovely as the Caribbean Beach Resort is (and I love it there), it may seem like a downgrade after the Contemporary.

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