Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa is a DVC deluxe villa hotel at Walt Disney World. In this review, we’ll share room photos, dining & amenities info, how Saratoga Springs Resort (SSR) stacks up to other Disney Vacation Club accommodations, and whether we recommend staying here. (Updated June 8, 2020.)
We’ll start with several updates. First, along with other Disney Vacation Club resorts and Deluxe Villas, Saratoga Springs Resort will reopen on June 22, 2020 after being closed for a few months. This comes a few weeks before Walt Disney World’s theme parks officially reopen, and is likely also before soft opening previews will begin.
If you’re looking for more info about this, see our Resort & Restaurant Reopening Changes & “Know Before You Go” Info post. That covers the most significant changes for the first phase of hotels and DVC properties that’ll debut in June. If you have questions about the closure, including policy changes and what we know thus far, please consult our Walt Disney World Reopening FAQ & Info, which should answer most inquiries.
Next, if you’re thinking of a stay here in the near future you should be aware that Walt Disney World is in the midst of a multi-year enhancement project at SSR, which we cover in our Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa 2-Year Overhaul & Construction Update post.
This project will last through 2021, and will completely redo the guest rooms at Saratoga Springs Resort, along with building exteriors, and potentially other amenities. We stayed in these overhauled accommodations at SSR in early 2020, and shared the experience in our Photos & Video: New Rooms at Saratoga Springs Resort post.
Between the reopening and the refurbishment, we felt a brief “reassessment” of Saratoga Springs Resort is in order. In the past, SSR was pretty far from our favorite Disney Vacation Club property, despite it being our home resort.
We discuss the reasons for that later in this post, but our view on it has changed for the foreseeable future. Suffice to say, Saratoga Springs stock is rising! Here’s why…
First, the new rooms are really nice–an unequivocal upgrade. They balance theme and style, sporting functional improvements and smart design choices. There’s also no shortage of fun Disney details, including vibrant character art and other clever touches that make SSR’s rooms “distinctly Disney.”
Note that the refurbishment is still in progress, so right now we highly recommend booking a preferred room and requesting the Congress Park section near Disney Springs. (That’s the red area in the bottom right corner of the map below.)
Speaking of Disney Springs, having that within walking distance is another huge reason that Saratoga Springs Resort’s stock is on the rise. In general, we’re big fans of the dining scene at Disney Springs–as locals, we eat a lot of meals there, and think the quality and value proposition is generally superior to many/most in-park restaurants.
In the past, guests on vacation have understandably been less inclined to leave the parks to do lunch or dinner at Disney Springs, instead only opting to dine there on their non-park day–if at all. However, that’ll likely change this year.
Walt Disney World has reduced park hours for July through October 2020 at Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios. There will be both later openings and earlier closings, with some parks closing before sunset.
With limited time in the parks, more people will probably want to make the most of that time and focus on attractions. With Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom closing at 7 pm and 6 pm, respectively, it makes sense to push off dinner until after the parks close–and Disney Springs will still be open for several hours at that point.
Basically, that’s our “sales pitch” for Saratoga Springs Resort if you’re visiting Walt Disney World this summer or fall and are debating where to stay. It’s still not our favorite resort, but it’s a better-than-expected option.
It’s also an easier option to book. In looking at the DVC booking site, there’s no shortage of availability throughout the next few months. If those rooms don’t fill soon, there will likely be some great deals on SSR. So stay tuned for that. In the meantime, here’s everything else you should know about Saratoga Springs Resort…
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa is themed to an idealized version area of upstate New York that is known for horse racing. The theme has been derided by some as being bland, but it’s also fairly accurate; the resort is surrounded by golf courses, winding waterways, and features cookie-cutter buildings all in an inviting pastel color palette. It’s like the perfectly planned community.
Depending upon your perspective, this theming could be the perfect vacation resort for you, or it could feel like a experiment in city planning taken too far. If you’ve read our Disney Vacation Club Resort Rankings and have seen that we placed Saratoga Springs Resort dead last, you might assume that our take is the latter. It’s not.
We’re actually somewhere in the middle. We agree with the criticism of Saratoga Springs Resort’s theme–it’s very generic, and feels to us like a nice timeshare resort that you might find anywhere. The equestrian layer seems tacked on as a random layer of artifice.
It feels like Disney was trying to cast a wide net with Saratoga Springs Resort’s theming so it wasn’t really off-putting to anyone, which might very well be the case since it was the largest DVC property to date when built. In the process, though, they arguably made it a bit too bland.
On the plus side, it’s more of a buyer’s market on Saratoga Springs Resort DVC points than on any other resort. As you can read in our Ultimate Disney Vacation Club Buying Guide (which we highly recommend consulting before taking the DVC plunge), Saratoga Springs is our home resort and the DVC resort we recommend buying via the resale market.
My problem is that the light layer of horse racing flourishes could be removed and replaced with some other random thing, say competitive canine frisbee, and the resort could easily be set in the quiet community of La Mirada, California (famous for its many canine frisbee World Championships), or really, Anywhere, USA.
Yes, Saratoga Springs Resort bears resemblance to Saratoga Springs, New York, but it’s such a generic look that it’s likely to bear resemblance to any number of real world places. Because of this, I feel it lacks the type of theming that Disney hotels should possess.
Sarah isn’t nearly as hard on it, finding the decor tasteful and modern. I recognize that those who are not looking for a transportive theme are likely to love Saratoga Springs. Once you get past the horse racing thing, there’s little pretense. It simply looks and feels like a nice, sprawling timeshare.
Those who are used to vacation clubs elsewhere that don’t have extensive theming and backstory may like this, as after a long day of the “Disney experience” in the theme parks, they may be looking for an escape from that in their hotel.
Once you get past the theming (or if you’re a fan of it to begin with), there’s actually a lot to like about Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.
The rooms are modern and clean. The building exteriors are pretty and colorful. Although the layout is sprawling, parking is very convenient and close to guest rooms. The pools are all nice–even the quiet pools. There’s a spa on site, and plenty of other amenities.
I really like the layout and look of the rooms. Above is a look at the old guest rooms–this is what you’ll get (minus the bedspread) if you don’t book a preferred room.
As with every Walt Disney World-owned resort, all guests at Saratoga Springs receive MagicBands and can make FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance of check-in.
As far as rooms go, perhaps it’s due to the understated theming, but we’ve found Saratoga Springs Resort’s rooms to be solid. They’re not quite as large as Old Key West’s rooms, but they are laid out better, which leads to them having just about as much functional space as an Old Key West room.
Beyond that, the rooms are nice. The colors and designs work well, and the touches of theme aren’t over the top or garish.
Honestly, though, Saratoga’s rooms aren’t exactly for me (I prefer something more “thematically rich”), but if all you’re concerned with is having a room that’s nice, Saratoga Springs Resort should not be penalized.
The rooms definitely fit the bill in that regard, and we think the quality improves once you move up into the 1-bedroom and larger units. (Unfortunately, we don’t have photos of those as our stays in the larger units pre-date our blogging days!)
Another plus about Saratoga Springs Resort is that it’s one of the easier Disney Vacation Club resorts to book. Due to its size and lack of popularity, there is almost always availability at Saratoga Springs Resort only a month or so in advance when using Disney Vacation Club points.
This also makes it easy for those renting Disney Vacation Club points to book a stay at Saratoga Springs, making this Deluxe Villa Resort cost about as much as a Moderate Resort booked directly through Disney. When comparing it to a Moderate, Saratoga Springs Resort does pretty well.
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 love Artist’s Palette, and consider it to be one of Walt Disney World’s hidden gems of counter service dining (despite the bland decor).
Saratoga Springs Resort is also conveniently located to Disney Springs, and there’s a walkway and boat service to it. For us, this used to be a huge plus, as we used to request a room in Congress Park (the area closest to the Disney Springs walkway) and stumble home from Pleasure Island after spending some time at the Adventurers Club…or waddled home from Earl of Sandwich.
Saratoga Springs has once again become a big draw with Disney Springs having come into its own, and restaurants like The Boathouse and Morimoto Asia, which are among our favorite restaurants at Walt Disney World. (See our Disney Springs Table Service Restaurant Rankings for more recommendations.)
Then there’s the nightlife, which is highlighted by the Edison, which is one of our favorite bars at Walt Disney World, and Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, which is a fun and well-themed location. All of this gives Saratoga Springs a lot more appeal. As work continues and more is added to Disney Springs, this should only increase in the coming months.
The pools are a strength of Saratoga Springs Resort that don’t seem to get a ton of credit, but this is one place that the resort really excels. No, they are not as awesome as the pool at the Beach Club, but with the rock-work and gurgling play area of High Rock Spring Pool, it’s a well done and fun pool.
The quiet pools each are well-themed and pretty well done, too. The Paddock also recently got a new pool (that Disney has dubbed a “feature” pool) that is among the best secondary pools at Walt Disney World.
Besides the theming, the downsides to Saratoga Springs Resort are very similar to the downsides of Old Key West Resort. It is very large, meaning long walks from most guest rooms to the main building and pool.
There’s also internal transportation that does add a bit of time to the commute time. Despite this, in our experience transportation at Saratoga Springs has been shockingly efficient over the years.
Overall, Saratoga Springs Resort is once again improving its position in terms of our preferred DVC resorts, thanks in large part to Disney Springs, but it’s still not tops for us. It’s a place we stay when there’s no availability at any other Disney Vacation Club resort and that’s about it. I feel like Saratoga Springs is a resort I could stay anywhere in the world, and I’d rather be immersed in theming at Walt Disney World.
If you remove theme from the equation (as some people might want to do), it stacks up very favorably to other resorts at Walt Disney World. It’s likely to be a top pick for adults taking a Walt Disney World vacation solely for the sake of their kids, but want a reprieve from the “magic” when returning from the parks. Conversely, Saratoga Springs is also a good option for an adults-only or honeymoon trip if you want easy access to the exceptional dining at Disney Springs.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Are you a fan of Saratoga Springs Resort…are we ‘missing’ something about its allure? Do you agree that it lacks the charm and theme of most other Walt Disney World resort-hotels? Do you think the appeal of Saratoga Springs has improved since Disney Springs added many top-notch dining options? Any questions about SSR? Share your thoughts in the comments!