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 Resortpost.
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.
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.
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.
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!