Suppose you’re looking to have that magical on-property Disney experience on your next trip to Orlando, but you also want to feel like you’re on a relaxing getaway. In that case, Saratoga Springs Disney Resort is just what you’re looking for!
Disney World and Orlando, Florida eventually find their way onto most people’s vacation bucket lists, but the crowds of America’s most visited city can be a huge turn-off. So it was such a pleasant surprise when we turned onto Disney Vacation Club Way and drove through an entire mile of undeveloped land.
We found an enormous hotel property with lovely lakes and a massive golf course inspired by Saratoga Springs, New York, at the end of the road. If it sounds like a gorgeous slice of the most magical place on earth, it’s because it is.
What is Saratoga Springs Disney Resort?
Built in 2004, it is the largest Disney Vacation Club Resort. But since its 18 buildings are across 65 acres, even when its 1,260 rooms are full, you can’t tell. We stayed at the resort for Spring Break, and even during the holiday weekend, it didn’t feel crowded even though it was. Instead, we immediately felt like we were on a relaxing getaway even though we were across from Disney’s Epcot Theme Park.
Inspired by the city of Saratoga Springs, New York, and its love of horse racing, the attention to its theme can be found in luxe details in the room and property without being tacky or in your face.
Saratoga Springs Disney Resort includes seven dining options, from fast service restaurants and pool-side cafes to the special-occasion-worthy Turf Club Bar & Grill. In addition, guests love that they can walk or take a water taxi to neighboring Disney Springs, the 120-acre upscale shopping, entertainment, and dining complex offering even more options.
Saratoga Springs Disney Accommodations
While the resort was built almost 20 years ago, in 2021, they spent $700 million renovating and updating all the rooms. And let me tell you, they are gorgeous! Since this resort is a Disney timeshare, every unit is more than just a hotel room.
Accommodations options include studio condos, 1, 2, or 3 bedroom apartment-like suites with some larger units situated across two floors. They even have a section of stand-alone three-bedroom treehouse villas ideal for larger groups.
Like other timeshare resorts, they include kitchenettes or full kitchens, living rooms, and dining tables. However, this was the first time seeing a bathroom design with separate rooms for toilets, sinks, showers, and tubs that allow multiple people to get ready at the same time in complete privacy.
We stayed in a one-bedroom unit, and it was great for our family of 4 but can accommodate up to 5 people. The master bedroom included a comfortable king-size bed. The living room had two separate murphy beds with regular mattresses, not pull-out couches (which my older son practically refuses to sleep in.)
We cooked approximately half of our meals in the fully-stocked kitchen and did lots of laundry in the stacked in-room washer-dryer, discreetly placed in a closet. The room also includes an entryway with a small table and coat rack, which served as a perfect drop zone and extra storage space that helped keep the rest of the room tidy during our week’s stay.
On-Site Activities at Saratoga Springs Disney
One of the reasons we had a fantastic vacation was all the family-focused activities available right at the resort. While I’ve heard about the magic and the special touches Disney Vacation Club resorts have until I experienced it myself, I didn’t exactly get it. But now I do.
When the entire resort, and vacation experience, is designed around families with a staff that goes above and beyond to make your stay wonderful, it takes a lot of the “work” away that parents often do on a family trip. My older child loved all the on-site activities so much that he preferred days at Saratoga Springs Disney Resort more than Disney theme park days and begged to go back.
While we didn’t get a chance to do all of them, here’s a list of the on-site activities available.
Complimentary On-Site Saratoga Springs Disney Resort Activities
- 5 Pools with waterslides, splash pads, zero entry, and waterfalls. Leave your puddle jumpers at home, as each pool has more than enough for young children to use, gratis.
- Daily staff lead activities and entertainment at The Main Pool
- Sunrise Yoga Class
- Outdoor Disney Movies
- Nightly Campfire Smores – Unlimited marshmallows provided, so include chocolate and graham crackers in your grocery order or purchase them at the Family Activity Center
- The ping-pong table, foosball, arts & crafts, video games, DVDs, and board games are perfect for those quick passing rainstorms or breaks from the sun.
- Sports courts plus equipment for basketball, tennis, and shuffleboard
- Three playgrounds
On-Site Saratoga Springs Disney Activities With an Extra Cost
- Painting and Animator Classes
- Larger craft projects like Tie Dye Shirts
- Bike Rentals, including surrey bikes made for 2 or 4
- World-class Lake Buena Vista Golf Course – Host to many PGA, LPGA, and USGA tour events. This 18-hole golf course received 4 Stars from Golf Digest magazine and has a particularly challenging 7th hole. Golf club rental is available at the Club House as well.
- A full-service spa and health club (Temporary closed as part of COVID-19 measures)
Amenities and Park Privilege’s
One of the reasons why people choose to spend the extra money to stay at an on-property Disney resort or a premium Disney Vacation Club is the exclusive amenities and park access that come with it.
1. Free Park Transporation
All guests at Saratoga Springs can take Disney bus transportation to the parks. The resort has many stops throughout the property, so it’s not a long walk to the nearest bus stop from your room. Many guests save money on their overall vacation by not renting a car and using the complimentary Disney transportation instead.
2. Theme Park Parking
Disney World Theme Park parking is part of the room rate if you prefer to be on your own schedule.
3. Disney VIP Concierge
All Saratoga Springs Disney resort guests have access to the Disney customer service reps and resort concierge, who has some serious Disney magic. Did you add a person to your trip at the last minute and can’t get them a park reservation for a specific day? Watch the concierge fix all your issues!
4. Free Grocery Delivery Holds
Ordering grocery delivery? Saratoga Springs Disney resort has a special roll-in fridge and freezer for all grocery deliveries, so you can relax if you’re late by a couple of hours arriving.
5. Park Delivery
Are you shopping at the Parks? Did you make an expensive lightsaber at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and don’t want to take your chances carrying it around the park all day? Any in-park purchases can be delivered back to your resort gratis, so you don’t need to lug them around.
6. Service At A Whole New Level
Some of the Disney magic isn’t advertised but learned from word of mouth. For example, did you buy a costly balloon at the park? Your child is probably attached to it, so what happens when you’re flying home? Well, take it to the front desk, and they’ll use a tool to deflate it so that you can inflate it again back at home. Our daughter was so happy she didn’t have to leave her special Frozen balloon behind.
7. Exclusive, Extra Park Hours
While I love all the privileges Saratoga Springs Disney resort guests receive, I believe extra theme park hours are one of the most valuable. Now that Disney’s fast pass system changed, it is difficult to receive more than one “reserve and ride” a day. If you can get one at all!
But what was amazing was the extra hours (morning and night) that guests at Disney on-site premium resorts, including Saratoga Springs, receive. Guests can enter certain parks early and stay in select parks two hours longer than others. We loved the extra two evening hours in Epcot and saved the most popular Epcot rides and attractions for those exclusive hours.
For example, a ride like Frozen Ever After has a 120-minute line all day and requires an extra fee to secure a reserve and ride time. We walked straight onto the ride after the evening fireworks during these extra hours. Just swipe your Magic Band or Room Key card, and you’re in! The line was so short that a Disney cast member said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
How Much Does it Cost?
These amenities, perks, and level of service aren’t cheap. The rack rates for accommodations at Saratoga Springs Disney Resort start at $430 a night and increase based on travel demand and room size. But I have good news for you. There are various ways to secure a room reservation for less through either a timeshare rental or a timeshare exchange. And no matter where you reserve your room, you get all the same amenities and privileges.
How to Score Significant Discounts
If you happen to know one of the world’s 22 million timeshare owners, you’ll be able to stay at Saratoga Spring Disney for even less. That’s because timeshare owners can swap usage of their timeshare for a week at Saratoga Springs Resort, even during peak travel times.
Suppose you plan on reaching out to a friend or family member who is a timeshare owner. In that case, it’s essential to keep in mind that 2022 is Disney Vacation Club’s last year affiliated with the timeshare exchange company RCI. Therefore, in 2023, you can only exchange into Saratoga Springs Disney and their other timeshares via Interval International.
This post originally appeared on Savoteur.
Monica Fish helps her fellow adventurers live a financially savvy life so they can travel and explore our beautiful world no matter their budget. She writes about smart timeshare ownership, vacation tips and tricks, NYC Metro Area trips and activities, and frugal, yet rich, living at PlannerAtHeart.com.