I have heard all of the reasons not to stay at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa:
- The resort is too big, no direct transportation (except for busses) to theme parks.
- You will walk miles to the pools.
- There is a lack of quality dining options.
- The rooms are desperately in need of an update.
Well, to keep with my life’s theme of leaping before I look, we decided to purchase a 100-point contract prior to staying there. My rationale was that with the low points price on the resale market, coupled with the reasonably low annual dues, Saratoga Springs was one of the better cost point investments into DVC. Also, since we love to try new resorts, they would be the points that we used when we were going to try resorts at the 7-month mark (most specifically Aulani). Our vacationing can be somewhat flexible, so the 7-month window doesn’t worry me as much as it would for some. My experience has been that resort availability tends to “open up” if you stay diligent with your availability browsing on the DVC booking portal.
Then a funny thing happened on the way to the Castle: We stayed there for the second half of a split stay for two nights and enjoyed our stay WAY more than I could have ever imagined. Even though our first two nights were at Disney’s Bay Lake Tower (a completely unfair comparison point), I felt that the last two nights at SSR were equally enjoyable, just in a different way.
So why did I love this resort? For a lot of the same reasons that I was told NOT to love it.
Yes, the resort is big, and yes, you could be doing a lot of walking, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The resorts grounds themselves are absolutely gorgeous, and with Saratoga Springs being a bit more spread out I found that it was easy to walk around and wander a bit (remembering that not all who wander are lost). My wife and I took a lovely 30-minute walk on a Saturday night during our stay and saw less than a dozen people on our journey. Sitting on a bench by the water, taking goofy selfies, and just being was exactly what we needed. Especially after the first two days of our split stay being at Bay Lake Tower and the hustle and bustle of all that that beautiful resort has to offer.
Yes, there is no transportation directly to any theme park (except for the buses, which can take a bit to make the rounds). This inconvenience was less impactful for us, as we always rent a car. Also, with the increased popularity of the Minnie Vans, this inconvenience can at least be worked around for a modest cost (in comparison to Disney World pricing, of course). They also offer water transportation to Disney Springs, which is usually a very nice, relaxing trip.
Yes, this location is lacking a bit in quantity of dining options, but it is directly adjacent to an area that is almost as fun as the parks are: Disney Springs. Between the shopping for all tastes and styles and a fantastic combination of quick service, sit down dining, and “Street Food,” it is undoubtedly one of my favorite places to be. This, of course, takes care of the dining option issue if The Turf Club is not your first choice. During our stay, we were able to dine at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ in Disney Springs for both dinner and brunch. While this is a popular location which can make dining reservations a challenge, one trick that we picked up was dining at the bar. There always seems to be bar stools available (even on the Saturday night when we went by without reservations). Couple Homecomin’ with the multitude of new and delicious dining options springing up every month, and you can find meals that fit almost any palette and any experience. The DB ‘Clothesline Candied Bacon’ from The Edison and the Morimoto Spare Ribs from Morimoto Asia have fast become two of my new favorites. In my humble opinion, there could be nothing better than finishing off an amazing fried chicken sandwich dinner with a Cap’n Crunch Ice Cream from Sprinkles (two scoops please!).
Lastly, yes, the rooms are desperately in need of a rehab, but that rehab has since begun. I am confident, given Walt Disney World’s previous work on our DVC resorts that they will come out beautifully. Look no further than the latest remodel at Disney’s Old Key West Resort for proof of what they will be transformed into. Catching a DVC resort prior to refurbishment is the perfect example of the “buy low” mentality. If you purchased now or currently own, you could certainly be in line for a resort on the upswing.
In the end, I felt completely justified with our Saratoga Springs DVC purchase and truly enjoyed everything that this resort had to offer. With 100 point contracts currently on the resale market in the $100-$110 a point range, there is already value in my investment. While it would not be my first choice to stay if planning to be theme park-hopping warriors each day, I feel that it is a perfect relaxing Stay-cation Location.
Please let me know your thoughts about your experience with staying at Saratoga Springs in the comments below. I would love to hear about it!