Saratoga Spring Resort and Spa, opened in 2004 and located in the Disney Springs area of the resort, is predominantly a DVC (Disney Vacation Club) property which offers rooms and villas to non DVC members. Alongside it’s neighbour, Disney’s Old Key West, both resorts are regarded by some as a “cheaper” alternative to other Deluxe Disney hotels on property. There is however, more to Saratoga Springs than being a part of the Disney Vacation Club, and having stayed there with our family many times since 2010, we feel it is a excellent choice for families with older children and teenagers to base themselves for their Disney holiday. For more information, follow this link to look at this beautiful resort more closely –
So, what sells Disney’s Saratoga Springs to us as a family with tweens and teens?
The Close Proximity to Disney Springs – This is a big, big reason for saying yes, yes, to Saratoga Springs. Check out what Disney Springs has to offer here – you won’t be disappointed! https://www.disneysprings.com/. Over the past few years, Disney Springs has gone through what can only be described as a “Disney Renaissance”, the area has been completely reborn, our tribe have on the whole been very impressed with the transformation this area has been through, and generally speaking as a result of this, the resorts closest to the Springs Area are starting to become more and more popular with guests staying on site. The new and exciting buzz and ambience of Disney Springs has and will become a real draw to hotels like Saratoga Springs, as you can simply walk across to the Springs from the hotel, or get the bus from outside your resort stop – or you can also get the boat across from behind the Carriage House (Main building at the resort), near the entrance to the Lake Buena Vista Golf Club. So, it really is that easy to get over to the Springs when you stay at Saratoga, and even a 10-15 minute walk from the resort over to the shops, restaurants and attractions the Springs has to offer is just about doable for us Brits, even in the 100 degree heat! It’s actually quite a nice, quiet walk, we saw golfers teeing off for their games when we walked across, and even saw where Minnie keeps her vans parked up! When we first visited Walt Disney World in 2009, Disney Springs was known more familiarly as Downtown Disney, and as we were staying at Port Orleans, Riverside we used the boat a few times to take us down the Sassagoula River (going down the Bayou!) to visit the area to see what it had to offer. Generally speaking, we were quite disappointed. Yes, when the kids were smaller it was great to visit T-Rex and Rainforest Cafe (which are still popular choices for dinner at Disney Springs), and we loved House of Blues’ music, atmosphere and food choices (it’s still a Tribe family favourite!) and the Earl of Sandwich for it’s, well, great sandwiches! But in terms of having a great shopping experience, we felt for us that the quality of shops was quite thin on the ground, and of course having little ones, we didn’t really have the opportunity (or energy!) to sample the drinking establishments late on into the night. Boy, has that now changed! Too long to post now, that’s a whole other blog post, but suffice to say that Disney Springs has now become a small town all of it’s very own, and the dining experiences and shops in particular have gone up a whole other level…..and then some. Polite Pig, DeLuxe Burger, The Boathouse, Morimoto Asia, The Edison are just a few of the amazing foodie places you can enjoy, and the shops too are current, stylish and, to name a few, Pandora, Sephora, Zara, Anthropologie, Kate Spade, Trophy Room will keep your teens browsing happily to their little hearts content, just be aware that your bank account might take a bit of a dent if you spend too long there!!!
Saratoga Springs, unlike other hotels on property is not massively themed – Saratoga Springs resort is open, quiet and peaceful at pretty much all times of the day. Unlike other resorts where theming is more obvious and “in your face”, Saratoga Springs has beautiful and extensive grounds, and “themed” in the Upstate 1800’s of Saratoga, New York, which is nonetheless very elegant and can give you and your tribe a reprieve from the hustle and bustle, fast and furious experience you can get in the parks. Whilst some people can be more critical of those resorts which are not heavy on the Disney theming, Saratoga Springs can be a welcome respite from being a part of the Disney machine. Sometimes, even Disney can be a little overwhelming! We think having downtime during the day is a really good idea, even with older children who still get tired and suffer from the intense heat, and what better way to really wind down than to go back to a resort which although is still clearly a Disney hotel (you can still spot Hidden Mickey’s all over the resort, including your room!) has peace, quiet, tranquillity and the type of atmosphere which is quietly friendly and calming. One of the things we love so much about staying at Saratoga is that you still feel the Disney magic, and receive the Disney service, but at the same time can walk around the resort, and feel chilled and totally escape from it all. Top Tip – Go to the Artists Palette when you’ve come home from the park, and get one of their amazing Pina Colada cupcakes (on a snack credit) – great to have with a cup of tea whilst sitting on your balcony – bliss.
Senses Spa – A place to escape the teens and tweens if you fancy a bit of pampering and some time out for yourself. Or take the teens with you, and they can also enjoy the pampering with you too!!! Saratoga Springs’s motto is Health, History and Horses. Wellbeing and health is one of the many priorities for guests staying there, and it is really evident with the incredible Senses Spa. There are only 2 spa’s across the whole of Disney property, and alongside the Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel and Spa, Disney has also built a Senses Spa at Saratoga Springs. These spa’s are well recognised amongst American guests as offering some of best spa facilities across the United States. The staff are friendly, the spa is themed similarly to the resort itself by reminiscing about New York’s ancient mineral springs, and offers a haven of relaxation and therapeutic elixirs to soothe your weary limbs after all the walking around the parks! A variety of facials, massages, body wraps, manicures, pedicures and packages designed to give the ultimate experience are all available for you to book and enjoy. Even young children between the ages of 4-12 can enjoy their own spa treatment! But if this wasn’t enough, and you really felt the need to do even more exercise after being in the parks (and why not, we say!), Saratoga Springs also offers a 24 hour Gym and Fitness Centre for guests staying on property. You can use all facilities to your hearts content, and so if you are someone who likes to use the gym, and doesn’t want to compromise your fitness routine, at Saratoga Springs you will not need to. It is all there waiting for you! Don’t be surprised also if you find little messages on your room//villa phone when you return after a morning spent walking around the Magic Kingdom – it will probably be the recreation team inviting you to a “Yoga party.” Yes, when we first heard these little messages last year, we genuinely thought we were being invited to a “Yoghurt party”!!! How wrong were we! Early morning Yoga is offered for your recreation and wellbeing throughout the week, and is certainly a very relaxing way of starting your day at Walt Disney World, before the madness begins! All you need to do is make a phone call to reception to book yourself (and your tribe) onto the day you wish to yoga.
Pool areas – Saratoga Springs is a massive resort, and is divided into several areas where you can request to stay – The Paddock, The Grandstand, Congress Park, The Springs, The Treehouse Villas. We have stayed at The Paddock and Congress Park a couple of times, and in fact Congress Park is now a preferred location to stay due to Disney Springs being literally a 5 minute walk away. Having said that, The Paddock was where we stayed this summer, and we absolutely loved our location, we had great views of the resort, we were close to The Paddock pool, and still within a reasonable walk to the Artists Palette and the Disney Springs. Getting back to the pools, the High Rocks Pool is the largest pool area in the resort, situated near the Carriage House (main building) and Artists Palette. This pool is the main pool at Saratoga Springs, which also features a couple of water slides for younger children, a jacuzzi-style hot tub pool and small area for little ones. This pool can get busy, particularly as it is near many of the other facilities, and also offers a refillable drinks station and the On The Rocks pool bar, serving snacks, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. It is however a place you can and will happily spend a morning or afternoon whiling the hours away while your little ones enjoy the delights of the pool. Every evening, the High Rocks pool also offers the “Movie Under the Stars” which is a different Disney film played every night, so if you fancy getting a hot chocolate (or something stronger!) and sitting on a lounger watching your favourite Disney film, then this pool is the one for you. Our tribe now enjoy the smaller, more intimate pools that Saratoga Springs offers, as they are generally quieter, have still got the safety of a lifeguard watching over them, and is closer to our hotel room, so not much walking involved there! The Paddock pool this year was perfect for us, as the tribe were able to go to the pool by themselves, when we would join them later, and were happy and confident enough to get chairs, towels, and a nice spot to read their books, have a splash about and enjoy the pool without many other people occupying it. We think that with teens particularly, the quiet pools are just more relaxing and are more convenient without compromising on fun and great family time together.
We think that Saratoga Springs has perhaps in the past been overlooked by families and those Disney guests who wouldn’t like the idea that it isn’t as well themed as a resort like Animal Kingdom Lodge or Carribean Beach. We think that this is a shame, but it’s also never stopped us from loving staying there. In fact, now is probably the best time to start booking a holiday there if you haven’t stayed there before. It is a little haven of calm and beauty near a transformed Disney Springs which arguably has some of the best dining experiences on property. For families with older children, this will be a big consideration as you move away from the Chef Mickey/Character dining restaurants we loved to visit when our children were younger, and look to have more “grown up” dining experiences. Everything you need and want in terms of shopping, drinking, dining and general frivolity is pretty much on the doorstep. So give Saratoga Springs a go, it’s the most relaxing holiday, somewhat ironic in Walt Disney World, that we’ve ever had.