Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs are one of the most unique Walt Disney World resorts, and a very niche Disney Vacation Club property that are a love it or hate it type of accommodations. This review features room photos, pros & cons, and covers our recent stay at the Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.
While the Treehouse Villas are not too old as a DVC property, their existence dates back decades. Debuting in 1975, the Treehouse Villas were to be part of the Lake Buena Vista mixed use community (think EPCOT 2.0) that never fully came to fruition–save for these and some other villas. They were later rolled into the failed Disney Institute concept (the predecessor of Saratoga Springs) before closing to guests, and then being used for International College Program housing.
The Treehouse Villas are bona-fide “Vacation Kingdom of the World Historic Landmarks” and we were a bit relieved that Walt Disney World opted to rebuild them in the spirit of these villas’ original incarnations, save for a smaller ground-level footprint. But for a wetlands preservation law, the Treehouse Villas likely wouldn’t exist at all, and we’d have a larger development in the style of Saratoga Springs here.
Being enthusiasts of Walt Disney World history, Sarah and I have wanted to stay at the Treehouse Villa since they debuted several years ago. Our DVC home resort is Saratoga Springs Resort, so this would be a rare case when our home resort advantage pays off, but there’s only one minor problem: there are two of us, and the Treehouse Villas sleep up to 9 guests. We’ve debated having a large herd of children to justify staying here, but haven’t gotten around to that yet.
Fortunately, some friends of ours booked the Treehouse Villas for a couple of nights. Not having 9 people in their party, they invited us to stay with their family at the Treehouse Villas, and we jumped at the opportunity. We have a lot of room photos from the Treehouse Villas (and pretty much no other photos), so I’m just going to scatter those throughout this review–I think they mostly speak for themselves, anyway.
Before we even get into our review, we want to underscore just how divisive the Treehouse Villas are among guests. If you do a little searching, you’ll find a number of “horror stories” about negative stays at the Treehouse Villas, making them sound like the worst resort at Walt Disney World.
Do a little digging, and you’ll find a common thread in these stories: transportation. The other is that these are remote and isolated, totally unlike other resorts at Walt Disney World. There are other sporadic complaints, but these are the big ones and they pop up commonly enough that anyone doing any degree of research at all is going to be aware of these issues before even booking.
To the first complaint, we’d say it’s absolutely imperative that you have a car if you’re staying at the Treehouse Villas. The water taxis that offer transportation to Disney Springs are a great option, but the internal buses to the main area of Saratoga Springs are not. (You can also walk to Saratoga Springs–it’s about 10-15 minutes.)
The bus service at the Treehouse Villas is the most inefficient in all of Walt Disney World. To my knowledge, Uber or Lyft are options only when leaving the parks, as the Treehouse Villas gate is unstaffed, so they wouldn’t be able to get through to pick you up. Like we said above, renting a car is essential.
To the second complaint, it’s worth underscoring that although these are technically part of Saratoga Springs Resort, they are worlds apart. The Treehouse Villas have much more in common with the Fort Wilderness Cabins than any other accommodations, and calling these a part of Saratoga Springs would be the equivalent of calling the Polynesian Bungalows part of the Grand Floridian.
This is in terms of distance, theme, and general atmosphere. Arguably, the Grand Floridian and Poly Bungalows have more in common with one another than Saratoga Springs Resort and the Treehouse Villas. They’re associated with one another for no reason other than lack of better options.
If you want a robust slate of amenities such as a nice pool area, food court, table service restaurant, or refillable mug stations, be prepared for having to use transportation or taking a leisurely nature walk to get to those things at Saratoga Springs. (Read our separate Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa Review for info on all of that; we don’t feel any of those things merit discussion in this review.)
If any of this loses you, that’s totally understandable. The Treehouse Villas are not for everyone. We’d go as far as to say they probably make sense for ~20% of Walt Disney World visitors (even setting aside party size). The important thing is identifying whether they’ll work for you before booking, and not trying to force it if these villas don’t seem like a good fit.
If you’re still with us, thinking that perhaps the Treehouse Villas would appeal to your party, we’ll say this: the Treehouse Villas are one of our favorite accommodations at Walt Disney World. The villas were absolutely perfect for our style of trip–mostly hanging out at the villa and making the boat ride over to Disney Springs for the occasional meal.
Like Fort Wilderness, the Treehouse Villas are perfect for visitors to Walt Disney World who want an actual vacation; they’re great for decompressing, and a serene stay. (To that point, we think they are great for a split stay–do a couple of nights after you’re done with the theme parks much like you’d do a land and sea trip with the cruise after the theme parks portion of the trip.)
This is pretty much what we did during our stay at the Treehouse Villas, spending minimal time in the theme parks over the course of our stay (I think we did a total of 3 rides over the course of these 2 nights), and spending a lot of time in the actual villa and at Disney Springs.
This was peak holiday season at Disney Springs, so the Treehouse Villas provided a nice contrast to the chaos we encountered when going out for meals.
In terms of basic info, there are 60 Treehouse Villa units, each with 3-bedrooms that sleeps up to 9 guests. Many DVC members are attracted to the Treehouse Villas by virtue of this, and the fact that the point chart is very attractive as compared to Grand Villas.
For the reasons discussed above, we’d caution against this unless the style of the Treehouse Villas appeals to you.
We’d also caution against it because the Treehouse Villas are not exactly a good way of sleeping 9 guests comfortably.
There are three bedrooms; two with queen size beds and one with bunk beds, meaning that three people need to sleep in the living room and two others have to be willing and able to sleep in the bunk beds. It’s probably an ideal fit for a party of 6-7. If you’ve got 9 people, at least 3 will need to be kids.
The decor of the Treehouse Villas is in keeping with the forested surroundings. An abundance of earth tones and relatively neutral colors, plus rich woods, and other natural accents. This style isn’t for everyone, but it’s thematically on point, and we think the look is executed incredibly well.
The Treehouse Villas are imbued with a sense of rustic luxuriousness. The finishings are exceptional, with granite and marble surfaces, plus the aforementioned rich woods. As one does upon entering the room, I lifted every piece of furniture and was surprised by the weight of many items. The kitchen chairs are especially hefty and well built, and the natural style of desk chairs and various end tables is nice.
We stayed just before Christmas on a couple of unseasonably chilly nights, but I really enjoyed putting on a thick flannel shirt and heading out to the deck at night to watch the woods and boats pass along the mighty Sassagoula.
Granted, I couldn’t really see anything because it was so dark, but that’s beside the point. It was peaceful and serene, and I could hear the rustling leaves and the wake of the boats as they passed. Suffice to say, the Treehouse Villas would be the perfect place for a family ‘retreat’ during the holidays at Walt Disney World. There’s nothing overtly Christmasy about them, but between their rustic vibe and being a nice reprieve from the peak season chaos, they’re pitch-perfect this time of year.
It really didn’t feel like Walt Disney World at all, and if you’ve read our other hotel reviews, you know this is something I very much appreciate.
Others who want to be in the center of the action might feel very differently about being isolated in the middle of nature amidst a resort that’s mostly pitch dark.
Treehouse Villas can be booked on a cash basis, but the nightly cost borders on prohibitive–to the point that you’d be better off booking a Fort Wilderness Cabin or an off-site vacation home (remember, you’ll need your own car, anyway). If you’re not a Disney Vacation Club member but are itching to stay at the Treehouse Villas, we’d highly recommend checking out our Tips for Renting Disney Vacation Club Points.
Overall, the Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but the target audience is bound to absolutely love them. Disney nailed it with the style and quality of the Treehouse Villas, making them great for those who enjoy luxury as well as those who enjoy a rustic escape with minimal amenities beyond the villa. Everything is incredibly high-end, but thematically appropriate for the resort. We might just have to have 6 kids after all, if only so we have an excuse to stay at the Treehouse Villas with greater regularity.
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Have you stayed in the Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs? What did you think of the experience? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Is this a type of resort experience that appeals to you? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!