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!
Since we purchased DVC in 1995, OKW is our “home” and has the largest rooms and better value points wise. BLT was nice because it’s on monorail but seriously having kitchenette share with bathroom in the studio??? Yuck! Have stayed at Beach Club which was just ok and Saratoga is nice because I wad able to book 4 studios for a large group during food and wine and MNSVSHP. We are very happy being vacation club members as it has enabled us to take many DCL cruises and stays at WDW that we never would have done otherwise
Two words ….tree houses
I understand it was almost and Disney’s Borscht Belt Resort and Spa, a tribute to the 1960’s resorts of the Catskill Mountains region of upstate New York.
We aren’t DVC members yet but our family will outgrow any of the less expensive family suites in the next year so we are looking into resale options. Saratoga Springs is one of our top 3 choices for a home resort. The treehouse villas appeal to everyone in the family and would fit our needs well. We always drive so internal transportation isn’t an issue for us.
We’ve been to Saratoga Springs multiple times and LOVE it!! It’s quiet, graceful and beautiful. I guess it’s an individual response but We know what we like.
Actually if anyone has visited Saratoga Springs, NY you would find SSR’s theme very much reflective of those areas. There are houses on the historical register that you can definitely see their likeness at SSR. Disney goes to great lengths to go to these locations to research the resorts for themes. They did not fail at SSR, it is simply not a theme some recognize. That does not mean it is lacking. Here is a photo of one of more famous B/B and typical architecture for the area. http://www.uniongables.com/photos.htm#0_112
Thanks for sharing that link. It does bear a striking resemblance to Saratoga Springs Resort. Regardless of how accurate it is to Saratoga, NY, I still find it to be an incredibly bland and generic theme. It’s just not a distinct style that screams Saratoga Springs, NY and no other place. Many of the other hotels work well because they are readily identifiable to their audiences even without guests have intimate knowledge of the actual location. One of the main rules of the type of visual storytelling for which Disney is known is that if you have to spend time explaining what you’re trying to do, you’ve failed. I don’t think Saratoga Springs Resort passes this test, and even if it does, it still is uninteresting, thematically.
Interesting. I know you are a fan of Yacht and Beach Club, as I am too. Do you find that theme to really be any more recognizable or are just more people from the Eastern seaboard that visit Disney World than from Saratoga.
I don’t think any theme will appeal to all, which is really as it should be, we wouldn’t want everyone liking the same thing.
I personally find BLT to be the least desirable. It looks like any modern high rise in any city with a few Disney touches.
Hi Tom – thanks for the great articles. We have SSR as our home resort and are staying there a second time next week and looking forward to it. We stayed by Paddock Pool last time and loved it. The resort is very nice, not too crowded, and the two pools with slides make a great, relaxing vacation. We drive from Jersey, and then drive to the parks so don’t mind the location.
We stayed at Kidani and BLT before, they are all great and tough to rank them, they are just all very different. But we’re very happy with Saratoga and look forward to many vacations there to come.
Thanks for all the great pictures, it makes a person want to upgrade cameras and get the color filter + fisheye lenses.
My sister went to school at Skidmore, which is located in Saratoga Springs, NY. The colors are a bit brighter, but judging from your pictures (especially the interior shots) the theming is dead on. It really is a hoity-toity area with stupidly large, indulgent mansions.
Hi Tom! I just found your blog and am in love! It is great to read such great posts about everything Disney! I just signed up to receive your newsletter and am crossing my fingers extra tight (and wishing for some extra pixie dust) that my family wins your Disney ticket giveaway, as my 3 year old son asks me all the time if he can meet Mickey Mouse.
Interesting points about Saratoga Springs. I’ve never stayed there (when I did go the few times I went as a child with my parents, we stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort or the Boardwalk Inn).
I also am DVC member with Saratoga as my home resort. We have stayed at Bay Lake, Kidani Village, Pop Century, Port Orleans and of course Saratoga. It ultimately, comes down to who is in the traveling party as to where we end up reserving. If the kids are going, they would pitch a tent on the green space next to Cinderella castle.
My personal favorite is Saratoga, because it is quiet and no one is in a rush. The Artists Palette is not usually too crowded and the Turf Club is good. The Bus service can get kind slow/spotty during the day, but in the mornings/late afternoons they seem to be running at least every 15-20 min.
That being said, Bay Lake is a close number two. I can get on an elevator and five minutes later I’m at the MK or hop a monorail(s) to EPCOT. My family likes Kidani and Bay Lake. The family chose the Boardwalk for our next trip in January. 😉
Saratoga is our home resort and we really like it. So far we’ve only stayed at Kidani Village and (prior to our DVC membership) the All Star resort. While I’m all for Disney theming, my husband is more concerned with quietness and privacy (once we’re in our room) So Saratoga fits the bill perfectly. We always request a room near the Paddock because their kids water play area is perfect for us to enjoy some drinks while letting our daughters play on the “mini” water slides. Other than spending time at the pool, we’re in the parks so I don’t need it to be over the top Disney theming.
I’m OK with people not favoring Saratoga over the other DVC resorts, that means we’ll never have to worry about it being too crowded in the common areas 😉
It seems like you don’t care for horses very much. I do, I paint them daily and love them. I didn’t mind the theming at all. Of course, I wanted more horse stuff. 🙂 IT was definitely the quietest of all the WDW resorts we’ve stayed at and we’ve stayed at about 75% of them. Having only stayed there in the treehouses, but having roamed the grounds a bit (by car) I wil say the one thing I hated a bout it was how sprawling it was and if you didn’t have a care to get from one area to the next, you’d be very much at the mercy of Disney transportation. But you MUST try the treehouses. If we could stay there ALWAYS for the future of our visits, we would!!!! Just be sure to rent a car. CMs there too were fantastic. Iw as locked out of my treehouse w/ my5 year old, no shoes, no keys to the car and only my cell phone. They got someone to me within 5 minutes! That meant someone was actually running to cart and making haste to get to me. THANK HEAVENS! Sure, I prefer my home of AKV and I love BLT, but as you said, it still is a wonderful resort and very clean and peaceful. Not a bad “last resort”.
I’m indifferent to horses. If it were a brilliantly-executed horse themed resort, I would praise it for that. Instead, it attempts to accomplish the upstate New York theme by slapping some horses throughout an otherwise generic environment. That just strikes me as lazy theming.
…You paint horses daily?! That seems sorta cruel! 😉
Enjoyed the review! Although you had mentioned on FB that y’all don’t really enjoy this resort, your review makes sense as to why it’s not a favorite 🙂
I love this resort for its running options, and the fact that you can relax here, as its quieter and has a nice spa.
Makes sense! I can imagine that it would be a great resort for running given how spread out it is. I normally don’t mind the more spread out resorts when they offer interesting areas to explore, but all of Saratoga Springs seems more or less the same, so I typically don’t do much wandering.
Hi Tom! Great blog!
We are DVC owners heading to Disneyworld in October. Unforunately, the only available option for us is Saratoga Springs. Fingers crossed our Bay Lake waitlist comes through!
We are HUGE Magic Kingdom fans so we’re concerned about Transportation from Saratogoa. Do you find the standard transportation time to be about 30 minutes to get to Magic Kingdom?
30 minutes once you board a bus is probably about right, but that’s a guess. Total time will vary based upon when and from which stop you’re picked up, whether there are ECVs, etc.
I like Saratoga Springs. However, I’ve only stayed there a handful of times. Mostly, just like you said it was available. I rather stay at AKL because its less points and is WAY nicer than Saratoga. We drive to WDW and its a little bit of pain to park and go to the lobby and get coffee, food, etc. The last time we stayed there was about 3 years ago and it rained heavily the 3 days we were there. Lets just say we got soaked all the time parking and walking. Didn’t like it. I can imagine having to go around the whole resort in the buses picking everyone up. Ugh.
We are staying at OKW in December. Not my first choice but it was the only thing available. I’m thinking its going to be the same type of experience.
You know- I think too often we take what WDW has to offer for granted. Saratoga Springs, although not all that special from a disney “magic” point of view- still has really nice rooms, a beautiful atmosphere, and great pool areas. After getting back from disneyland last week- I realized how special it is to have so many options at WDW. If you can’t afford $400 a night in the summer to stay at one of the three disneyland hotels, then you are stuck with staying off-site near disneyland. You know how many resorts within a few miles of disneyland are as nice as saratoga springs? None. Zero. Zip. Nada. We stayed at the sheraton park anaheim, which is a very nice 4 star hotel with several restaurants, a large pool, a hot tub etc. It was almost as nice as it gets for the area. Guess what? We’d take the art of animation ANY day over the sheraton. WDW is simply as good as it gets for getting quality lodging for your $$.
The Hyatt Regency Orange County is about a mile from Disneyland and is, in my opinion, nicer than Saratoga Springs.
As for the rest of it, agree to disagree, I suppose. While I love Walt Disney World, I think its hotels offer pretty poor value for money. You are paying a premium for the location and for the Disney name. That same money will get you a nicer hotel in the real world. Now, if you’re staying in a major city, that hotel isn’t going to have the same footprint as a Walt Disney World resort-hotel, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as nice.
I guess it all depends on what you want. We also love Art of Animation, and appreciate the “Disney Bubble” that it offers, but in no way do I think it’s a 4-star hotel. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t take it over a 4-star hotel in some circumstances, but I still recognize that it’s objectively not as nice.
Based upon your comments, I’m guessing you didn’t like Disneyland, but I’m still curious to hear what you thought…?
I just think because of the size and scope of the WDW resorts that I prefer them to the upscale hotels near disneyland. AoA “feels” like a vacation in a unique way, so I find it preferable to a 4 star chain hotel.
And we absolutely loved disneyland- I had high expectations and was still thoroughly impressed. Thanks for contributing to “inspiring” us to visit- Disneyland Resort deserves its accolades! For a shorter vacation, dare I say that for many reasons it’s superior to WDW.
I understand to a certain degree about the hotels being overpriced for what you get but if you get the right deal and stay at disney at the right time you can’t beat a disney hotel. Example, stayed at port orleans riverside in a garden view room for less than $175 a night, plus you get the free transportation and magic hours. I could have stayed at the hyatt for about the same plus resort fee and no free transportation like the one disney offers. This of course is staying during a non peak month and using a disney discount code. I guess its a matter of doing a little research.
I’ll be staying at saratoga in august for less than $400 for 3 nights in a studio. I dont think thats too bad of a deal. Thanks for the review though. it will help in our plans.
Tom, I’ve never stayed at Saratoga Springs but we got a tour of it when we took the DVC spiel once, and I have to agree with you. It’s very nice, but that’s about it. Also, being a native of Saratoga Springs, I can affirm that it really bears very little resemblance to the real thing, other than the horse-themed decorations I suppose.
On a side note, you always take such great pictures of the rooms! Great use of that wide angle.
Our family traveled with seven last year to DW.. We stayed at the Saratoga and it was awesome! We had a HUGE two bedroom with a really nice pull out sofa in the living room, full kitchen, two baths and a washer and dryer which was a must for all of us traveling. Everyone was really friendly we enjoyed breakfast at the Cafe. We do plan on going to DW again as a family but want to try other resorts as well.
We’ve stayed in a 1-BR unit at Saratoga, but never a 2-BR. Sounds like it was pretty nice!
The 2 bedroom is basically the 1 bedroom with an additional room. The 1 bedrooms are pretty nice across the board at the DVC resorts. Never had a complaint!
Wow, I can’t believe I even asked that. I knew that…guess I just wasn’t thinking!
The 3 bedrooms are a different story! When we bought are DVC we toured the different rooms and the 3 bedroom is amazing! Bigger than my townhouse!
What Tom said, plus one (and in this case, not “plus one”).
Also too, if you have any interest in a fitness room/gym while staying, the one adjacent to the spa is outstanding and the best I’ve seen on property. All the WDW gyms are usually like operating rooms compared to commercial gyms, as they’re cleaned about every hour even if empty, but Saratoga’s always looks and smells freshly scrubbed. The equipment is new and nothing’s ever broken. It’s never crowded so there’s never a wait for anything. There’s a decent selection of free weights and machines. I could be hallucinating, but I seem to remember both heavy and speed bags as well.
Thanks for the additional insight. Exercising does not have any place in my vacation lifestyle.
Tom’s response is hilarious.
Hi Tom! First of all, such a long time reader of your blog. I have no idea why I haven’t commented before (I’m kinda bad at that, must get better!). We stayed at Saratoga Springs in June and really did like it. Having said that, both myself and my partner have only ever stayed at two Disney resorts (Saratoga & Old Key West – but believe me I wanna tackle them all!). I really liked the amenities, bike rides, pools and restaurants at Saratoga over OKW. but the rooms in OKW are much better. Whether or not thats because we had a deluxe 2 bed villa in OKW I don’t know, but I really was pleased with Saratoga! I have to agree, the theming is a bit… meh. I couldn’t place my finger on what exactly it was other than horse racing, but even that was kinda hit or miss, but to be honest I didn’t mind that too much 🙂 I found the colourful decor and cute little buildings made up for it. I am looking forward to my next trip and next resort though, but so far out of the two I have experienced, this is my number 1 🙂
You think the rooms are much better at Old Key West? Granted, I’ve never stayed in a 2-BR at OKW, but I’m still a bit surprised. The rooms are bigger at OKW, but beyond that, I’ve never been all that impressed with them. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with them, but I just haven’t found them to be impressive.
Yes indeedy, I loved our OKW room, it had little hidden “mickey” elements everywhere that appealed very much to me 🙂 Maybe because it was a 2 bedroom villa, whereas we had a 1 bed studio at Saratoga, but the only Disney themed thing I could find in our room at Saratoga was the Fox and the Hound bedspread and horse cushions! Granted i did love that bedspread though!