I never tire of the magic of Disney, and Walt Disney World Resorts, like Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, are a special kind of magic. Inspired by its New York namesake, the late 1800’s Saratoga Springs, famous for its spas and horses, Saratoga Springs Resort was a perfect fit for this traveling “grand” family of 4.
Located amongst the Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course and walkable to Village Lake, Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa is a Victorian-style, sprawling resort hotel. Primarily a Disney Vacation Club property, the resort also caters to those non-vacation club members (based on availability) searching for more square footage for their families.
Arrival at Orlando International Airport
From the moment you arrive at the airport, you’ve stepped onto the Disney “train,” or in this case, bus. When you book your room at select Disney resort hotels, Disney’s Magic Express (deluxe motorcoach.) is a complimentary roundtrip service, whisking you and your luggage from Orlando International Airport to your resort.
Whisk may be an overstatement; however, Disney is a well-oiled machine, and once you claim your luggage at baggage claim, follow the signs to Disney transportation. No matter where you land, it’s a short 10-minute walk.
If you prefer, tag your bags with Disney provided labels, and Disney will pick up and deliver to your room. (I’ve done the latter, and although the system does work, I usually prefer to keep my bags with me, rather than wait for delivery to my room. With my stay at the Boardwalk Inn, it took nearly an hour after checking in for my bags to arrive.)
Arrival at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
“Magically,” we were the first stop on the motorcoach. When we stayed at Disney’s Art of Animation, my grandkids and I were the last stop, and after a midnight arrival at the airport, the nearly 2-hour bus ride was exhausting. I guess that’s finally a payback for the inconvenience last YEAR.
Again smooth sailing as the driver parks the bus, and quickly unloads our luggage (pre-loaded based on resort stop). Our arrival time was around 3 pm, close to check-in. At the Carriage House (check-in area), we were surrounded by the equestrian and Victorian-theme. Other reviews mention that it’s a bit underwhelming, but my grandkids loved the old-fashioned buggy at the entrance and the race horse in the walkway.
We did have to wait about 10 minutes as there was a short line. Check in at Disney is always a process, so allow for 10-15 minutes for the receptionist to get you set up in the system (with credit card), put together a packet of info including a map. If you’ve not been to Disney lately, the Magic Band will be explained at check-in, but it’s super cool, time-saver for families, enabling all travelers to be hands and pocket free of theme park tickets, hotel room keys.
Then we were off to our room. Well sort of. Since we carried on, we opted to splash our way through the rain to our villa resort room, but we couldn’t’ find it. Our impatience resulted in a drenched family, who finally put our heads down and returned to valet to take the golf cart to our building.
Oh Wow! Our One-Bedroom Villa!
Multiple pastel-colored buildings spread across the Saratoga Springs resort property. Fortunately, ours was located near the Carriage House, main pool, and steps from Disney theme park transportation — about 2 city blocks from check-in.
Last year, we stayed at Disney’s Coronado Springs, and we squished our family of 4 into the hotel room with 2 beds and a shared bathroom. There wasn’t a lot of room to wiggle. So when we stepped into our one-bedroom villa, just 2-minute walk from the lobby located in one of the Disney Vacation Club buildings, we all breathed a sigh of relief — and a lot of excitement.
Needless to say, we were thrilled to have not only a one-bedroom villa (translation: private, shut-the-door space for the grandparents), but we also had a foyer, full kitchen, table and chairs for dining, living room, one bathroom with a tub and sink, and another bathroom with a shower and sink, the latter with a toilet/watering closet.
The grandkids were cool with sleeping on the fold out couch, and since we were up so early, they immediately snuggled in front of the TV to watch Lion King. Yeah we were ecstatic!
For this #DisneyGrandAdventure, there’s a lot to love about Saratoga Springs Resort, and for me, that starts and ends with the rooms. Nice, modern, clean with colorful exterior buildings, but inside the rooms, the layout couldn’t be more perfect for an extended family. For those who drive, parking is right up next to the guest rooms. Our building was across the street from a pool, pool bar, dining and activities.
The beauty of Disney resorts is the convenient, no driving, free access to the theme parks. From Saratoga Springs, the bus stops are located throughout the resort, convenient to all the buildings. Within a few minutes, we were at the bus stop and on our way to the theme parks. Saratoga Resort is the closest Disney resort to Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) via walkway (10-15 minute), or opt to ride the bus or water ferry.
Saratoga Springs also features two pools—plus waterslides, whirlpool spas, aqua-play areas and more! Since the main pool near the Carriage House was so close to us, we didn’t make it to the waterslide area, but this pool also had some pretty cool hot springs.
Another amenity, I wished I would have time to visit is the Spa. After all that theme park walking, you can be sure a massage would’ve been welcome!
As far as dining goes, Saratoga Springs has a table service restaurant, the Turf Club Bar and Grill, and a counter service restaurant/grocery market, Artist’s Palette. We ate breakfast and lunch at the Artist’s Palette, and both meals were tasty. Nothing fancy by any means, but the grandkids ordered their requisite Mickey Mouse waffles!
Things to do at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Another cool thing about Saratoga Resort is the myriad of activities! Roast marshmallows at a campfire, watch Movies Under the Stars, arts and craft tables at the Community Hall, ping-pong, foosball. video games at an arcade, board games, and even bike rentals. Swing your clubs at the Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course, or get hooked on fishing. And of course, there’s Walt Disney World theme parks. Hiking, biking and jogging trails surround the property. There truly is so much to do on-site.
Why We Loved Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
When traveling with my grandchildren, we always want a little extra elbow room, and Saratoga Springs’ villas do just that. We fell in love with our room, perhaps the first time in all my Disney sleeps that I would choose this resort again when traveling with our family. Mix in convenient access to all things Disney, restaurants, pool, and activities, well, we were one happy grand family.
After conversations with managers, I’m told that Saratoga Springs Resort is fairly easy to book, whether a Disney Vacation Club member (for points) or a non-member, as there is almost always availability. However, with the re-imagining of the new Disney Springs and the proximity of this resort to it, this may change.
Rates start at $327 per night. Our 1-bedroom villa at about $452/night. Book directly online with the Disney property, or compare rates and book through any of the booking engines such as Priceline or Travelocity.
Photos courtesy of Diana Rowe and Walt Disney World Resorts, the latter also provided the accommodations at Saratoga Springs. Opinions expressed are my own.