Saratoga Springs Resort Review
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 5, 2022.)
We’ll start with several updates. First, the good news. Walt Disney World has finished the guest room and building component of the multi-year enhancement project at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. This means that every single room at the resort is now new and has a number of functional and aesthetic improvements. We’ve stayed in these overhauled accommodations at SSR, and share the experience in our Photos & Video: New Rooms at Saratoga Springs Resort post.
Along with the new rooms, a number of upgrades have been made around Saratoga Springs Resort in the last couple of years. The lobby was renovated and modernized, with seating added in this area and elsewhere in the main building. In addition to that, the Paddock pool and its slide were refurbishment. More of that is on the horizon…
Beginning October 3, 2022 and continuing through mid-December, the Congress Park leisure pool and the Treehouse Villa pools will be closed for refurbishment. During this time, the High Rock Spring Pool, Grandstand Pool and Paddock Pool will remain open during usual operating hours. Shuttle transportation between the Treehouse Villas and the High Rock Springs Pool will be available from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily.
Following that from early January 2023 through late-March 2023, High Rock Spring Pool and On the Rocks Pool Bar will be closed while the pool undergoes refurbishment. The Grandstand Pool, The Paddock Pool, and Congress Park Pool will remain open.
Those are the only closures on the horizon at Saratoga Springs Resort. Here’s hoping those projects give the property more personality and character, as has been the case with several recent refurbishments at SSR. Unlike many Walt Disney World resorts that have had their themed design and details diluted over time, Saratoga Springs has aged like a fine wine–getting less generic and more charming over time.
To that point, we feel like a “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 over the drab and dated styles they replaced. While they’re not the pinnacle of themed design, neither were the previous rooms.
These are stylistically and thematically superior to the old rooms, 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.”
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, there are plenty of times when the parks close several hours before Disney Springs, and it can be nice to do a late dinner or evening nightcap after a day in the parks.
Basically, that’s our “sales pitch” for Saratoga Springs Resort for those who have stayed or visited in the past and written it off for whatever reason. It’s still not our favorite resort, but it’s a better-than-expected option.
With that out of the way, 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.
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.
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. Here’s a video tour of the new rooms at Saratoga Springs so you can better visualize the look and layout:
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!
I think this review is well off the pace in some aspects, good in others.
Just got back from our first ever stay, This was a split with our previous favourite hotel, Boardwalk. Saratoga has now taken our top spot.
I was surprised, given reviews like this, just how immersive the theme felt. Everything from the beautiful grounds with non native planting (no palm trees), the lovely architecture, the fountains and statues really made me feel like I was in the real Saratoga. Even the racing horn on the hour I loved. Look for example at the Grandstand pool. With its racing traps, and even the pool building is modelled after a stable. I get it, I felt it.
The pools are all great- well underrated. The High Rocks pool is much nicer than Boardwalk pool IMO.
Brilliant quick serve ( no resort on Crescent lake has a decent QS), fantastic gym (Boardwalk has a great gym also).
We stayed in Grandstand (standard view) next to pool. Drink machine, pool and bar right there (still no refillable cup machine at Boardwalk pool, another irritant). Main pool, building and gym was literally 5 mins walk away. Boat to Disney Springs same. First on and off buses.
Loved having the table tennis and pool tables right next to the main pool and bathrooms.
And these standard rooms are great points.
And the rooms are furnished and decorated best on property save for Riviera.
Great to run and walk around .
I fully agree DS has the best restaurants – we boated there and walked back.
So relaxing. We are amazed to say it became genuinely our number 1 resort (and we have stayed in many as DVC members) and seems to be getting the love it deserves online at last.
Glad you like this resort. Just rented points for our May vacay. Yes it may be far from the parks, but with the money I saved, I can UBER to the parks. Plus we now have adult kids who are joining us and they can hang out at Disney Springs at night and walk “home”
We are heading to Disney Springs this week but we’re thinking of getting dropped off by Uber/Lyft at Saratoga Springs to explore the resort area and then walk over to Disney Springs. Do you know if we can get dropped off there even if we are not staying there?
After staying at Saratoga Springs twice, we’ve decided that we would rather not go to WDW than stay there again. We like hotels, not motels. Hot outdoor concrete flooring leading directly to the door of our room is no fun. Neither the resort nor the rooms have any “Disney” to them.
Of course there’s almost always availability, and it’s not just because the place is large. It is last on most people’s lists of desired DVC resorts.
I should add that we never have a car while on vacation at WDW, making the situation at this resort even worse.
The size of the resort doesn’t bother us, like it doesn’t bother us for OKW, because we always have a car. Even so, I love not having everything on top of me. If you have a car and love seclusion, The Treehouse Villas are wonderful……but you need to have a car. If you think the bus situation is bad for SSR, the Treehouses add another bus loop on since you need to connect at SSR to get to a park. Even with that, The Treehouses are still our second favorite DVC resort after OKW, with SSR third.
We stayed a couple of nights at Saratoga Springs for first time in over 10 years, during our trip the first week of November. While we own there, it’s the last resort I look to book, and I only did so this trip because of unavailability everywhere else (hopefully that doesn’t happen again). We had a 3 Bedroom Grand Villa unit in Congress Park, situated directly across the lake from Disney Springs. As Tom mentioned in his review, Congress Park is the most desireable neighborhood, and all of the Grand Villas there have the best views on property. Our unit was in surprisingly good shape (either from amazing upkeep, or less use over the last decade – who knows?), and I was surprised by how much I had forgotten about how large (and in one place empty) the space is – it’s huge! The negative to all of the size is that there is a ton(!) of dead/empty space at the top of the landing on the second floor – a sitting room’s worth that desperately(!) needs a couch and coffee table (something, anything to fill the space in). It’s just really poor layout/design, and the problem was solved in Kidani Village – so why not spend money on some furniture and solve it here too? Otherwise, the unit is laid out efficiently and meets the needs of any party size not utilizing the pull-out couch (10 max, 12 is really pushing it). If you have 5 people like we did, the space will feel cavernous. My biggest knock against Saratoga Springs is that the exteriors of the buildings need work – the exposed hallways and exterior cladding all need maintenance and fresh paint ASAP. Our building in Congress Park was tired and faded looking on the outside in places. The interiors of the units all need the new laminated flooring as well – the carpets are starting to absorb smoke/food and whatever else has accumulated within over the years. Overall though, what was said in the review above applies – Saratoga Springs is Saratoga Springs (it’s very spread out, has nice pools, and is a great value). But thanks to Disney Springs and everything new and great about it, its stock is only rising.
As a postscript to my comment above, I remembered that the 3BR Grand Villa units in the Grand Californian at Disney Land have pool tables in the open landing space on the second levels. If not furniture (which may tempt people to push the occupancy past 12 – even with a non-sleeper sofa), this is exactly what is needed at Saratoga Springs for this area in the unit. It’s almost as if that was the plan from day 1 (as there is a pool table or two outside of the Turf Club in the main building), but budget cuts ultimately nixed the idea. At any rate, the space between remains the empty space for 14+ years and counting.
An awful experience there. Villas were dated and the pull out bed was hard as a rock. Incredibly inconvenient. Huge property with a ridiculous layout for anyone looking to capture any efficiency at Disney. Expensive category as well. A complete joke. Employees were great but can’t come close to overcoming the negatives. Stay ANYWHERE else at Disney.
This is my home resort but I have rarely stayed there because for a long time I viewed it simply as Old Key West with smaller rooms and more points in terms of cost. That said, this resort can grow on you after you have stayed there a few times:
1. It is very laid back and quiet and like Old Key West the private entrance makes it feel more like a vacation home than a hotel.
2. The resort is large but well laid out and most places are not too long of a walk from the central location with the restaurant and the main pool.
3. As the review stated, the secondary pools are great.
4. The theming is understated but better than a lot of people give it credit for. Maybe I have a greater appreciation for the horse racing them because I recently attended the Preakness Stakes where I got to watch Justify win the second of his three Triple Crown races.
5. The new policy of bi-furcating the points between Standard and Preferred now means you can stay at SSR for about the same price as staying at OKW.
6. Disney Springs, Disney Springs, Disney Springs – once more people discover that Disney Springs is not Downtown Disney by a long shot I think rooms at SSR will become much more in demand. DS is now they place to eat and drink at WDW with so many great places to choose from including an amazing new wine bar, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, and the Coca-Cola store with its tasting deck.
SS is our home resort, and we really like everything about it. we are at
WDW 3-4 times a year and are making every effort to be WDW professionals. We stay at other resorts, at least once a year, but always like returning to SS for the next visit. If you have ever been to Saratoga in NY, you’ll know that the theming is pretty accurate. Indeed, one of my favorite aspects of SS is that it is certainly SS as interpreted by Disney, but it’s not overdone Disney. A perfect blend of old time Northeastren Resort and Disney. The key is that it is not overdone as are some of the locations at WDW. Diffrent strokes.
We often sleep 4 in a 1-BR villa and EVERYONE is comfortable. The bathroom arrangement seems crazy at first, but it provides access to all with privacy so there is no tramping through someone else’s BR to get there. I use it often during the night and have come to appeciate all the doorway combinations, a lot. Nothing is perfect, and the sprawl of SS means a hike (or a drive to the Carraige House, the High Rock pool, or the boat dock from Congress Park, The Paddock, or the Carousel. As I say, dimffrent strokes, but we love the place, and never regretted staying there (except the one time we had to bunk in the Carousel).
BTW, Tom, some amazing photos that you post. I have been unable to capture the colors that you do, but that’s for a diffrent conversation. Thanks for this great opportunity for the Disneyphiles and soon to be converted, to converse about “home.”
Wow, sorry for the typos. I don’t usually do these things on my tablet.
Personally, I don’t like this resort at all, though mostly I’ve stayed at places on the epcot loop or magic kingdom monorail, though I’ve stayed at budget places too.
Yes, there is a lack of decor, but that’s not a problem. Below are the problems:
Room layout of 1 bedroom villa sleeps 2, not 4. The pull-out couch is horrible.
The bathroom has the stupidest layout I ever saw with tons of wasted space.
The property is poorly laid out: buildings look alike, are all too close in color, and the property maps don’t bother to say ‘you are here.’ The walkways are circuitous and don’t go where you want to – so either you stay on the path and walk out of your way, or you walk through the bushes – something that could easily have been fixed by now.
Really a huge let-down!
We are planning a trip to WDW in July of 2018, staying at the SSR treehouse villas. I keep reading about the difficulty in using the Disney bus system from here to many Disney parks. Are there any helpful tips for bus traveling or should we rent a van. We are a family of 5 adults and 3 children ages 9, 6 and 3. Thank you. Any help is appreciated.
Patty did you get responses?
SSR is our home resort, and while we agree the theming is not the greatest, we have found many things we enjoy. First, the kids really enjoy the pools, particularly main pool, and the children’s activities. It is a good value points-wise. And Disney Springs is a huge plus. We like to ride boats there and walk back. But we also found that, surprisingly, we all really like the Cheeseburger Flatbread at Artists Palette! Never expected that to be something we would repeat order, but it’s become a food go to when we’re on property.
Overall we don’t have any regrets when we stay at SSR. It’s just a matter of enjoying what it has. Maybe we won’t hang out in the lobby like we might at Wilderness Lodge, but we still enjoy it quite a bit. We would still want to visit other resorts just for the variety, both in rooms and locations. But when at SSR we incorporate more Disney Springs activities, and don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything else. And we haven’t even been to the spa yet, so we’re looking forward to working that in as well!
We were supposed to stay at Boardwalk on rented DVC points when Irma hit, and so we cancelled and went to Disneyland instead (still waiting to hear if we can get refunded). We rebooked WDW for the week of 1/28 and tried to rent Boardwalk again, but the only place available was Saratoga Springs. We opted to book at Port Orleans even though it would be more expensive than renting points precisely because we were concerned about losing the Disney “magic.” We stayed at Paradise Pier in Disneyland against your sage advice, and I’m glad we seem to have made the right choice this time.