Amazing Benefits to Disney Resort Hopping
A friend recently asked me a series of questions about resort hopping at Walt Disney World. He hadn’t been able to find the answers online and figured he would ask this obsessive Disney fan the answers. While I was answering, I realized that it’s the type of information that everyone should have, but is relatively scarce on Disney sites. So, here is everything you need to know about Disney resort hopping.
What Is Resort Hopping?
Resort hopping is what people call the concept of staying at different Walt Disney World resorts during the same trip. This thought might not have occurred to you, but it has its advantages, as we’ll discuss in a moment. The resort hopping is remarkably simple, too.
From Disney’s perspective, there’s little difference between a guest checking out of one resort to stay at another as opposed to a guest checking in for the first time. The main change is that your luggage is already at a resort, and so it will require another transfer. Beyond that, whether you previously checked into a Disney resort has no bearing on what you do next. So, resort hopping is simple.
One day, you check into a Disney resort. On a different day, you check out of that hotel and check into a different one. You will be responsible for your transportation between locations, of course, but Disney’s free buses, boats, and monorails should satisfy your travel needs.
What Are the Advantages of Resort Hopping?
I understand that on first blush, the idea of resort hopping sounds insane. Who would add to the stress of vacation travel by doubling down on the hotel check-in process? Well, anyone who has visited Walt Disney World in recent years knows how easy it is to get into your room these days.
Disney authorizes your Magic Bands before shipping them to you. So, you can unlock your hotel door with it, saving you the time of talking to anyone in the lobby. Disney’s even introduced new technology that enables you to use your cellphone to get in your room. So, the frustration of check-in is a lost aggravation of a previous era of travel.
With resort hopping, all you get are advantages. The main one is proximity. When you spend a few nights at several different resorts, you can book close to each of your favorite theme parks. Do you want to hang out at Pandora – The World of Avatar? Spend the night at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, or Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort! Are you an Epcot fan? Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Disney’s Beach Club Resort have a special walkway to the International Gateway entrance!
You should now have an idea about the benefits of resort hopping. Rather than crisscrossing the Disney campus whenever you want to visit a different park, you can simply stay at a resort close to the one you prefer!
It saves a lot of time and aggravation, especially if you take a hit-and-run approach to your theme park tactics. You can attack a park aggressively for a few hours and then return to the comfort of your hotel for a while. You’re not traveling much since your resort is close to the park.
Anecdotally, we have chosen to resort hop during most of our Walt Disney World vacations. We’ve stayed at three and sometimes four resorts during an extended stay. Our strategy is simple. When we plan to spend a lot of time at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we choose a close property like Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort or the BoardWalk Inn. For Magic Kingdom trips, we pick something on the monorail or Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
Finally, we sometimes like to schedule shopping days during long trips. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa is perfect for this since it provides a walkway directly to Disney Springs. So much of Walt Disney World is connected if you just know where to look, and resort hopping allows you to explore a lot of the best kept secrets on the Disney campus.
Relatedly, when you resort hop, you get to spend time at several different Disney resorts. Each of them features a special theme that’s emphasized across the campus. You’ll feel like you’re in the heart of New Orleans when you book a room at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter.
At Disney’s Old Key West Resort, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time to the age of Ernest Hemingway. And Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort somehow combines the logistics of a monorail hotel with the vibe of an island getaway. Thanks to resort hopping, you can experience all of these resorts ON THE SAME TRIP!
How Does Resort Hopping Work?
Resort hopping works the same as any other hotel stay when you’re at the first resort. You check in on your first day and then do all the fun things that make a Disney stay so magical. Once your stay at the current hotel is ending, you’ll need to transfer your belongings to the next resort. That may sound complicated, but it’s really not. Here’s what’s involved.
When you’re ready to switch hotels, you will call down to Bell Services. They’ll take care of your luggage transfer. You should do this about 20-30 minutes before you’re ready to send your luggage, as the bellhop won’t immediately come up to your room. They have other customers, after all.
Once the bellhop takes possession of your luggage, they will tag it and send it along to the correct resort. Should you not have time to wait on the bellhop (or prefer not to do so), simply take your bags down to Bell Services. Explain where your belongings will go, and they’ll take care of it.
When you arrive at the new resort, your luggage won’t be ready yet. Disney generally processes the luggage transfers around the middle of the afternoon. We’ve found that we usually get our bags retrieved in the 3-4 p.m. range. The one caveat is that we’re without most of our luggage during this transfer period. It’s not a big deal to us, but it does lead me to an important pro tip.
One of the secrets to resort hopping is that you should have a primary piece of luggage. Store all of your essentials in it. As you unpack at new hotels, avoid the temptation of dumping out all of your stuff and spreading out in the resort. That’s more time that you’ll spend packing up again later. As long as you don’t do this, a resort hopper’s vacation is no different than anyone else’s except that it’s more satisfying since you’re seeing and doing more rather than wasting time on transportation.
Circling back to the luggage transfer, you’re in control of the process at the new resort. You’ll call Bell Services and ask them to bring up your bags when you’re ready for them. Again, they can’t do this until they have your luggage, but it’s a simple step from there. Roughly 20 minutes later, a bellhop will knock on your door and deliver your bags to you at your new resort. Presuming that you’re doing other stuff in the background, the entire process is so seamless that you might forget about it.
Are There Any Hidden Fees to Resort Hopping?
Disney doesn’t charge its guests a set fee to transfer bags. The one issue that isn’t highlighted involves the subject of tipping. While nobody is ever required to tip at Walt Disney World, it’s a common courtesy, especially with bellhops.
I’ve had prolonged discussions with the people working in these jobs, and it’s been enlightening. For starters, the bellhops at Disney resorts aren’t necessarily cast members. Some of them work for third-party services. Disney pays the company for this service in the agreement, but the bellhops oftentimes rely on tips.
In my experience, tipping is one of the touchiest subjects at Walt Disney World, possibly THE touchiest. I’m just relaying information here, and so you can utilize that information as you see fit. Bellhops have told me that the average tip is $5 per bag. If you have two pieces of luggage, a $10 tip is customary.
You should understand that you must pay this fee twice per resort hop. You’ll pay the bellhop who picks up your belongings and then the bellhop who drops them off at your next hotel room. So, that’s a $20 “hidden fee” of sorts, more if you don’t travel light. Other than that, the service is free.
For my family, resort hopping has allowed us to decide our favorite resorts at Walt Disney World. Since we’ve stayed at almost all of them by this point, we know what’s good. If a resort doesn’t quite fit our style, that’s okay. We know that we’ll be moving along to the next one in a couple of days! For us, resort hopping is a way of life that enriches our vacations. If you’re curious to try it, speak to an agent at MickeyTravels to find the best ways to resort hop during your next Disney trip.