OVERVIEW: DISNEY’S SARATOGA SPRINGS RESORT & SPA FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS
Note: guests at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa are eligible for Disney World’s Early Entry program, for early access to its paid individual system for access to certain rides, and for its Extended Evening Hours.
Most room options at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa are wonderful places for returning visitors to Walt Disney World to stay–especially smaller families and those planning a lot of time at Disney Springs.
For typical first-time visitors, I don’t recommend the Disney Vacation Club resorts.
Among the Disney Vacation Club resorts for first-time visitors, Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa ranks at the bottom of the Disney Vacation Club resorts.
THE DISNEY VACATION CLUB RESORTS
You can have a spectacular visit at any Walt Disney World resort.
However, this site recommends that first time visitors to Walt Disney World avoid the Disney Vacation Club resorts, while noting that these resorts are wonderful for visits after the first.
(You can find extensive detail on the DVC resorts here.)
The recommendation comes from the simple fact that the distinguishing feature of these resorts–extra space and full kitchens–will not be of much value to first-time visitors following one of the itineraries on this site, as they won’t be used much.
However the Disney Vacation Club resorts represent more than 10% of Walt Disney World’s total rooms, and are very appropriate for first time visitors with large families, needing extra sleeping spaces, or looking for a more comfortable place to stay.
Because of this, I’m providing a series of up-to-date reviews as I revisit these resorts.
We’ve stayed at Saratoga Springs eight times, and this review is based on those stays.
DISNEY’S SARATOGA SPRINGS RESORT AND SPA
(Note: Spaces at Saratoga Springs are being refurbed, and most of this review covers not-yet refurbed rooms. For more on refurbed rooms at Saratoga Springs, see this. Moreover, this review focuses on the main Saratoga Springs resort, not the Treehouses. For the Treehouses, see this as well.)
On this basis, Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa comes at the bottom of the Disney Vacation Club resorts. (See this for resort rankings.)
This review of Saratoga Springs has eight pages:
- The overview page you are on now
- Theming and accommodations at Saratoga Springs
- Refurbed rooms at Saratoga Springs
- A three page photo tour of a Studio and a One Bedroom Villa (the two combined being a Two Bedroom Villa):
- Amenities at Saratoga Springs
- Dining at Saratoga Springs
- The Pools at Saratoga Springs
KID APPEAL AND CONVENIENCE AT DISNEY’S SARATOGA SPRINGS RESORT AND SPA
Convenience. Saratoga Springs is not as isolated as it is sometimes described to be–it’s not far from Epcot, for example, and right next door to the great dining at Disney Springs. That said, its distance, sprawling layout, and multiple bus stops make it the least convenient of the Walt Disney World resorts.
Transport to all Disney World Destinations except Disney Springs is via bus.
You can walk to Disney Springs from the Congress Park area, or take a boat there from the Springs area. Internal buses will take you to either area.
OTHER DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF SARATOGA SPRINGS RESORT AND SPA
Saratoga Springs has a number of very strong positives.
First is value for money. While rooms are small compared to many other Disney Vacation Club resort options, it is typically among the lowest cost options of all the DVC resorts. There’s an overview of accommodations at Saratoga Springs here, and a photo tour of its principal room types starts here.
A second positive of Saratoga Springs–one that it shares with Old Key West–is that because of the “single-sided” building layout that both of these resorts have, there are no bad views.
Accommodations buildings at Saratoga Springs are spread among fairways and water, giving great vistas and fine views.
Third, the resort is the closest of all of the Walt Disney World resorts to Disney Springs, and the only one from which one can walk to it. Boat service to Disney Springs is also available.
Fourth, it contains the best spa at Walt Disney World–a spa commonly ranked among the top five resort spas in the country.
Fifth, the start of Lake Buena Vista golf course is on property–handy for golfers. The image is of the Treehouse Villas across a fairway.
Finally it has a couple of great pools–the main themed pool, High Rock Spring pool, near the Springs section, and the best second-best pool at Walt Disney World, the Paddock pool in the Paddock Section. More on the pools at Saratoga Springs is here.
Saratoga Springs also has some distinctive negatives.
It is quite sprawling.
As a result, only a few buildings–specifically those in the Springs and a few in the Grandstand sections–are a quick walk to the main pool, shops, and restaurant, and many–specifically those in the Carousel, Congress Park, and Treehouses sections–are quite a hike. (See below for a map.)
Dining is thin for a resort that can fit so many people. See this for more on dining at Saratoga Springs.
Furnishings and finishes are nice but overfill the small rooms.
In particular, the living areas in the one and two-bedroom villas are so small that if the couch is unfolded for use as a bed, the rest of the room becomes near unusable. This area is also woefully small for the eight people that two bedroom villas can hold.
Other DVC options are more kid appealing, more convenient, more livable…or all three! There’s an overview of accommodations at Saratoga Springs here, and a photo tour of its principal room types starts here.
BEST AND WORST ROOMS AT DISNEY’S SARATOGA SPRINGS RESORT AND SPA
Because of its size, and the scattering of its building areas in a 200+ acre space, there is a real difference in the convenience of the buildings.
The Springs buildings are the most convenient–closest to the main pool, restaurant, and spa. The nearer buildings in the Grandstand area are your next best choice, and after that those Paddock buildings that are near the footbridge that connects them to the Springs area. See the map.
Ask for a second story or higher room in the Springs buildings, or if unavailable, the Grandstand or Paddock buildings. (Second floor or higher so that you get a balcony, rather than a patio.)
Avoid all the Carousel area–remarkably distant, and abutting a road with substantial bus traffic to Disney Springs.
Most should also avoid the Congress Park area, also distant. Congress Park does have a wonderful view of Disney Springs. For returning visitors interested in the wonderful new dining at Disney Springs, Congress Park is within the easiest walking distance of it.
The Treehouses are so far, and so different, that they would be another resort if there were not only 60 of them.
Because of this, they have their own review here.
Families seeking a bit of extra privacy or more beds, families looking for a more comfortable place to stay, families with a car (so they can overcome the inconvenience and sprawl of the resort), families interested in the spa or Downtown Disney.
This review continues here!