Considering split stay--Dolphin and AKL

I am considering a split stay between Dolphin (or Swan) and AKL for a 10-night trip in mid-late Oct. 2018. I’m considering first 5 nights at Dolphin/Swan and second 5 nights at AKL. For the second portion, I’ll likely rent DVC points (assuming I can snag something at AKL). I have read through these forums (to the extent possible) but wanted to ask a few questions to clarify/confirm with anyone’s experiences. This will be both my and my little girl’s first WDW trip (just the two of us going)–we’ve been to DL/CA Adv but never to WDW with the magic bands and FP reservations and such.):

  1. If I split the stay this way, will this create an issue for the magic bands/FP reservations, as we will get the bands for the AKL stay–concerned that because it’s the second portion of the stay, that there might be some issue with linking these.
  2. For those who have split stays, do you recommend this combo? I like that I won’t have to pay full price for Dolphin (have SPG points)–just resort fee–and can use boats or walk for nearby parks. (Mid-trip packing will be unpleasant, yes.) One consideration is that we will likely do MNSSHP on Tuesday, same day as resort switch, so a little concerned about ride back from MK. (I tried to get BLT but getting a DVC rental in the affordable categories for us isn’t possible, from what we’ve been told.)

Any thoughts appreciated. Many thanks!

I would suggest SWAN over Dolphin as SWAN has QUEEN beds.

I wouldn’t worry too much about the magic bands. You don’t get magic bands at SWAN / DOLPHIN - and not sure how it works when renting DVC points - you may need to purchase the bands.

Personally I don’t think the bands are really worth it - we have done it without bands (stayed at SWAN) and didn’t feel like we were missing anything. I just had the tickets (they are plastic so didn’t worry about them getting wet or anything) and then a single CC for purchases. So I wouldn’t worry about it too much

You MAY need to have two separate reservations - but it isn’t a big issue. I would also do it in the order you have as AKL is superior to SWAN / DOLPHIN

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You will get magic bands if you rent DVC, or book direct - it’s the stay at a Disney resort that gets you them. You will also be able to make all your FPs 60 days out from the first stay, as long as you buy the tickets separately. Not sure about luggage transfer to/from Swan & Dolphin. ADRs will have 2 start dates, you cannot book for both parts at 180 days out from the first stay.

Cannot comment on Swan/ Dolphin, but would definitely recommend AKL as the second stay. Look into the differences between Jambo and Kidani. Also the sooner the better, as the 11 month mark is already gone. You will want to do this before the 7 month mark for sure, October is high season for DVC. There may not be too many owners at AKL with points to rent.


Thank you for responses thus far. One of the considerations is the complications this might cause, even though it should be easy…still have to adjust (with a 7-year-old) to two different resorts and pack/unpack multiple times. The boat transport sounds nice (to Epcot/DHS) but given the amount of walking that will already be involved, I’m not sure how much to and from these two parks we will walk. Good to know about ADR dates–did not know that.

Sounds like a great plan. I’ve stayed at Swan and/or Dolphin 3 times now and AKL once. Since it’s the two of you just go with the Dolphin (cheaper on points) and you still each get your own bed. It’s closer to the food court/cafeteria area of the hotel as well. You may be able to spend an extra 1,000 points a night (or so) to get a better room with a balcony and/or a view. That’s well worth it in my opinion as you will likely have a terrible view otherwise (unless you have a high SPG status). Will you have a car? There is a parking fee (or you have to pay for other ground transport from the airport).

From what I’ve been told (have never actually tried) they won’t transfer your luggage from/to Swan/Dolphin to a Disney resort so you might have to take your stuff to AKL yourself. Doing that on a Halloween party day would not be my first choice but wouldn’t be that bad I guess as long as you’re just going to a park that evening for the party.

You’ll have no issue with the magic bands as you’ll get them for AKL anyways … can’t charge on them at the Dolphin but that is no big deal at all.

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We always do split stays, normally universal, then seaworld then an epcot hotel (we’ve stayed in swan and enjoyed it)

We are just about to do a split stay holiday of new York, miami and Caribbean cruise which is made even harder by an overnight stay in London before we fly to new York and the different types of weather we will face

The one tip I would give for split stays is to plan ahead what you expect to where and need in the different stays and then pack cases accordingly. Ie it might be possible to pack two cases but only need to pack one and repack in the swan/dolphin and then use the other one hyou have packed at AKL so it half as stressful for you

And a bag you use between the two for toiletries etc

Swan/dolphin is a great location for HS and Epcot but if you are ever travelling from one park to the other park you will always need the boat because it’s too far to walk with a 7 year old. It’s too far for adults as well IMO after the rest of the walking you do in the parks.

The boat journeys between the two parks are a great way to recharge batteries and you will enjoy the sit down etc

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So the Swan / Dolphin is at a great spot for some other fun things and other resorts that are fun to eat at. Yes - even though we walk a lot - you will want to take the boat to HS and EPCOT.

Regarding packing / unpacking. As long as you keep things organized - it isn’t a big issue to move from one resort to another - although I haven’t done from a “non” disney to Disney resort. I know from Disney to Disney - they take care of moving the bags for you - not sure what would be needed from Swan / Dolphin to AKL

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An answer to your packing/unpacking issue is packing cubes. I have recently found these to be a huge help. Check out ebags. They have a video on them. You can pop the cubes in the dresser at the first hotel and then pop them back into your case and off to your second stay. Super easy. Also nice if you get searched at tsa. No unmentionables falling out😜


Thanks for the tip on cubes for packing

I’ve just seen them and they look great and I’ve ordered a load of them to be delivered tomorrow just in time for our trip

They are going to be so useful for us


They are wonderful! My mom always made fun of me for using packing cubes. Until she went on a trip with me in October and I made her pack in them since we were sharing a suitcase. She’s become a convert and asked to borrow them for her last trip with my dad!


Sweet mercy those are awesome!! I do my own version of that but those are great. My wife and I are both complete “A type” - she is a Closet Designer (no she isn’t ashamed - she actually designs closets) and I am a Project Manager - so by nature we are VERY organized - I am surprised we haven’t purchased something like those yet!!!

Have a great trip.

So another thing my mom used to do was save “older” underwear (am I allowed to type that here). And then as you wear them for their “final voyage” you throw them out and you have more room in your suitcase. I had nightmares of her old “danties” spewn about various vacation locals


The cubes I bought have 208 reviews and everyone who reviewed them gave 5 stars!!

They look amazing

My wife is very hard to change habits with but she saw them and wanted them immediately. I was amazed!

I’ve bought four sets of four different colours. One for each member of the family.

Being honest when they arrive I might even do my own packing this year as they look fun! Even I can roll clothes up!


All excellent suggestions and ideas–love the cubes! Glad to see the positive thoughts on the Dolphin/Swan. We won’t use a car so the resort fee is a little annoying but we’ll avoid the parking fee at least. Is the Illuminations show visible only inside Epcot or can this be seen from outside? (Sorry if that’s a naive questions–first timer here.)

You do get (pretty good) internet and bottles of water - I just wish they would add it to the original cost of the room. I do suggest SWAN over Dolphin due to the beds (QUEEN) and it is a touch closer for walking - but all is good.

If you can - I HIGHLY suggest a balcony. We loved having one. I enjoyed coffee out there and then also just watching the hustle and bustle


One more question: Is there any major difference in terms of distance/transport/other factors between the Dolphin/Swan and the BWI or BCV? I don’t think I will be able to get a DVC rental for the BWI or the BCV for Oct. (first five nights) but I’m thinking I might try for that first, with Dolphin as my back-up. I see the amenity differences between the BCV and BWI but curious about transport and anything else I might be overlooking in terms of those two vs. Dolphin. Thanks again–all replies have been so helpful.

I’d agree about not taking walking from Epcot to DHS or DHS to Epcot, but walking between Swolphin and Epcot is like 7 minutes. I don’t think I’d use the boat unless completely exhausted, even with a 7 yr old - although that age would be pretty close, I get it. It’s a really short walk tho. The boats are fun…except when you have to wait a while.

Also, OP - if you guys like ice cream, you need to make it a point to get to Ample Hills on the Boardwalk asap after you get to Dolphin. I say this because if I stay at an Epcot area resort, Ample Hills is pretty high up on my list of “non Dole Whip” sweet treats in all of wdw, and I’m not even a huge fan of ice cream. You’ll be able to walk to Ample Hills in the blink of an eye when you’re at the Dolphin, and the Boardwalk is a nice little area to visit for a break.


So the cool thing is we used transportation to the other hotels. Coming back from Epcot - a bus to Beach Club was ready to go - so we hoped on that and came home. Coming back from MK - the same thing - got on a bus “ready to go” to Boardwalk and then walked back to our resort.

So if anything - you have MORE bus options.

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Tigger613 has a VERY good tip, here. the resorts are VERY close to each other. Another reason staying Epcot area is so cool. Busses, restaurants - all pretty much a very short walk. (Except for CBR, which, imo, should not be called Epcot area - it’s the only one that is not on the walking path.)


Yes that’s a great tip re buses back to your hotel or boardwalk. Never thought of that. I don’t think it makes much difference where you stay if you are using boat transportation to the parks as they all have pick up points outside. Even if you are walking they are all pretty close to each other etc. Yacht club, boardwalk and beach club all closest to epcot. Dolphin and swan closest to HS. But all close to each other.


You can’t see illuminations from outside Epcot as far as I know

Even inside you have to make an effort to get a decent view tbh

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