We spent a long weekend at the Saratoga Springs Resort (SSR), part of Disney World’s Disney Vacation Club (DVC) properties. We are not DVC members, but you can either buy points to book/stay at these resorts secondhand (like Dave’s Vacation Club), through a third party site (such as Expedia), or can book directly with Disney, based on availability (this is how we booked).
We arrived via cab, from another area Orlando hotel. Pulling in, we noticed how many buildings there are and how sprawling the resort was. Upon arrival, there was a curbside attendant that guided us to the lobby to check in.
The theme of this hotel is based on Saratoga Springs, NY. We visiting there last year and, I have to say, the theme was done quite well. Outside of the lobby was a statue of a horse and jockey, along with a carriage.
Inside the lobby, the front desk was straight ahead, in a room with high ceilings. The staff, as always, was very accommodating with tons of information on the resort. After checking in, we checked out the rest of the lobby area, which includes their cafeteria style dining and a gift shop. Of course they kids had to get a pressed penny. Is it really a Disney trip if you don’t get a pressed penny!? Anyway, the area had plenty of comfortable seating and was a relaxed atmosphere.
The staff showed us where our room was on the map they provided, and we figured walking to our room would be a great way to see the resort grounds. We’ve done this at other Disney resorts. Well, we didn’t realize how huge SSR is. After walking for a while, we turned around and headed back to the area where the cab dropped us off. There are large golf carts that run continuously, bringing guests and their belongings to/from the lobby. We only had to wait a few minutes for a golf cart. The kids got a kick getting a ride on the golf cart.
We stayed in a studio, which includes a queen size bed, full-size pull out couch, kitchenette, and small patio off your room. We were located on the ground level with a great view of one of the lakes. The other room options are this resort are one, two and three bedroom villas, as well as, treehouse villas.
The room was not super large, but sufficient for our family of four. The theme continued into the room with wall hangings depicting Saratoga Springs and pillows with cartoon-like horses on them. The bathroom was very standard, the shower and toilet had a door and sink was outside of that area. We love this type of bathrooms at hotels, as it makes it much easier, when trying to get everyone ready and out the door.
The kitchenette area is useful. We stored water and drinks in the fridge. The counter area was also a great spot to store snacks. There’s a coffee maker in the room, with coffee provided, but we never used either. The sink in this area was super useful when we had little ones drinking bottles, as a sponge, dish soap, and paper towels were provided. There’s also plates and flatware provided, in case you decide to dine in your room. Other than the sink, mini-fridge, and cabinets, there’s a microwave provided. It’s not a full kitchen; the larger DVC villas have those. For us, we were there for a long weekend and a full kitchen wasn’t necessary.
The bed was comfortable. The pullout couch wasn’t bad either. I slept on it a couple of nights with my kids and had no trouble falling asleep. Now, this may have been because the couch was comfortable, but probably was because I was Disney tired and could’ve slept anywhere. When the bed is pulled out, it does take up a lot of space and makes it hard to get out the slider onto the patio.
The studios are not equipped with a washer and dryer, like the larger villas. There are various laundry areas throughout the resort that are free. Detergent can be purchased there, but if you’d like to save a little money, bring a travel size from home. Having free laundry is huge for us! Kids are always getting dirty and, in the summer, we are all sweaty.
The patio was a nice feature that we enjoyed during our mid-afternoon downtime back at the room. Because we were on the ground level, we also loved being able to use that door to get to the pool.
Overall, the room was comfortable and was exactly what we needed. The room fits up to four and I can’t imagine fitting more than four people in there, even kids. Theme was cute, room was clean, and we enjoyed our stay.
As mentioned earlier, SSR is HUGE. There are 18 buildings, housing over 1,200 guest rooms. Using the map provided by the front desk is something you’ll definitely need, at least for the first date of your visit.
The resort has five pools. So, even though the resort is huge, there will be a pool in close vicinity to your room, although some have more amenities than others. All are unique and have different aspects of the Saratoga Springs theme. Our room was a close walk to the Paddock Pool. This pool was the perfect fit for our family. It had a gradual incline, which was perfect for the kids to get in and out. There were two big water slides, a play area, and hot tub. The pools here and at all other Disney resorts aren’t heated, so be prepared for that if you’re visiting during a cooler time of year.
As with all Disney resorts, life vests are available for any little ones that cannot swim yet. They usually have a wide variety of sizes on hand; however, during the busy season, the vests can go quickly.
The Paddock Grill is located right next to the pool, offering some great breakfast, lunch, and snack options, as well as specialty cocktails and beers. I was surprised at how much was offered.
Also located in the same building as the Paddock Grill are bathrooms and laundry.
There are other restaurants on SSR property. Because of our limited stay, we did not get to try out The Turf Club Bar & Grill, Turf Club Lounge, Chip n Dale Cafe, The Artist’s Palette, or the other pool bar/quick services.
If you’re planning on relaxing at the resort one evening, on select days, campfires are offered at certain spots on the resort. Another option for a quiet night would be enjoying free movies under the stars. You can get the details at the front desk. The movies are a great opportunity to slow down during a busy vacation.
Another feature at this resort are the in room DVD players. At first you may think, “why?” Well, the cool part about this is you can borrow any of the DVDs on hand at Community Hall. Also available at community hall are arts and crafts classes, foos ball tables, ping pong, etc. Great activities for a rainy down day!
There are paths along the lakes, which make the sometimes long walks around enjoyable. If you’re someone who likes to walk or jog daily, there are running paths. Of course, if you’re visiting in the summer, plan on doing those runs early in the morning, before the heat of the day.
As with all Disney resorts, bus transportation is provided to the four parks and Disney Springs. There are five bus stops in the resort. They are laid out so you won’t have to walk too far to get to the closest one. We were lucky to have one right behind our building.
We have stayed at many Disney resorts, from value to deluxe, and this resort had the worst bus service. I’m not sure if was because it was a busy time of year, but the time in between buses were long. On more than one occasion, we ran to flag down the bus before they pulled away because we knew it was going to be at least 45 minutes to an hour before the next (hopefully empty) bus came. Our bus stop was the fourth of the five, so most of the time, the buses were full prior to getting to us.
On our last day, we decided to catch the bus at the first stop of the resort, because we had full buses come to our stop since we were the fourth stop in the resort route the day before and because we were heading to Magic Kingdom (pro-tip: Magic Kingdom buses are always the most full). Well, that did not make it easier. We still had to wait and when a bus did show up, it was full. A handful of buses came by, all of which were for different parks or were not in service. Luckily, there was a cast member present that was keeping tabs on all of this and had a walky-talky to bring in a backup bus. If the cast member wasn’t there, who knows how long we would have waited. Even with her there, we still waited close to an hour.
If you’re planning on taking a bus to one of the parks or Disney Springs, be sure to budget extra time. The My Disney Experience app now gives you the option of checking bus arrival times and there are flat screens at each bus stop with this information. However, they haven’t perfected this yet and we found times to be off.
One awesome mode of transportation offered for SSR guests is a water taxi to Disney Springs (this is only to Disney Springs, not any of the parks). We highly recommend taking this to/from Disney Springs, as opposed to the bus. There is one spot for the main resort where the water taxi does pick up and drop offs and a separate one for the tree house villas. The boats run approximately every 20 minutes. The ride from start to finish is about 15 minutes and drops you off right in the heart of Disney Springs. It’s a relaxing and beautiful ride. This mode of travel is weather permitting, so be sure to check if it’s running.
Another way to get to Disney Springs is walk, via the pedestrian path. Truth be told, we did not do the walk. This was basically because of the length of our stay. If we were there longer, chances are we would’ve given it a try. This is another great option to get around.
Our stay at SSR was a great one. We enjoyed the hotel and it’s amenities. The best parts of the resort were the boat to Disney Springs, free laundry (this is the same for all DVC properties), and the Paddock pool. Our least favorite parts were the lack of bus services and the long waits. Also, the size of the resort can be a bit of a pain at times when you’re tired and need to get from one side to the other. We were very thankful for the golf cart at check-in and wished they were around when we were checking out.
Overall, it was a nice experience and we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and theme. Next time, we will stay longer to check out the other pools, campfires, and restaurants.