By: Debbie Boehm
On a recent trip, we decided to try staying at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. This was a wonderful first experience at a Disney Vacation Club resort. To say that we enjoyed our stay is an understatement. Everything about this trip was wonderful.
The grounds at Saratoga Springs are just beautiful, nestled into a golf course. Our trip took place during the first week of December, so holiday decorations were up, which just added to the magic of the resort. The theming of the resort was amazing. Buildings designed to resemble stables and horses everywhere evoke Saratoga Springs in upstate New York. Disney horses were depicted in framed photos in the lobby area, in statues scattered throughout the property and even on the pillows on the sofa in our room.
The check in process could not have been easier. Disney’s Magical Express (Editor’s Note: Disney’s bus service that takes you to and from the airport) drops you off at the Lobby / Concierge / Disney Vacation Club Information Center. It is then a short walk to the door and you’re greeted by a gentleman dressed in appropriate attire. Think Saratoga, New York in the early 1900s. You hear those wonderful words “Welcome Home” (even if you are not a DVC member) and asked what can be done for you. Three different lines form around the circular bench in the center of the lobby. One line is for the concierge, one is for those guests who have done on line check in and the other for those who are checking in on site.
We had received our Magic Bands by mail so we were ready. When it was our turn to check in our Magic Bands were checked to ensure they were activated. My husband’s was fine, but mine needed to be reactivated. In just a few seconds we were on our way to our room. A quick stop at Bell Services for some help with the map and we were on our way.
This is a very large resort and includes the infamous Treehouse Villas. The other end is across the lake from Downtown Disney. Saratoga Springs is divided into five sections – Congress Park, The Paddock, The Springs, The Carousel and The Grandstand. Pools and barbecue grills are scattered throughout the resort and each section has a bus stop for transportation that takes you to the parks. In addition, there is also a boat dock where you can board watercraft to visit to Downtown Disney.
Our room was in The Grandstand section of the resort, which is adjacent to The Treehouse Villas and the edge of the resort. As we were walking over to our building my husband joked that he hoped our building wasn’t the one that was “way over there”. Well, that was indeed our building and it was perfect for us. We were on the second floor in the building which included rooms 9501 through 9836. The room was located very near the elevator, as well as a staircase and also near the first bus stop into the resort.
The room was spacious and very nicely decorated. When we entered there was a foyer area with a rack hanging on the wall where we hung our jackets and hats for the week. In addition, this is where you’ll find a connecting door to the next room, should you request connecting rooms. The placement of that door meant that noise from the adjoining room was not heard as it was not directly opposite our bed. As we progressed into the room, the bathroom was on the left. The sink was outside with good lighting and a hair dryer. There was a door to the tub and toilet area. This was a very spacious bathroom compared to some other resorts on property. Also on the same side of the room as the bathroom was a good sized closet with an in wall safe, a Pack n Play, a vacuum and extra pillows and linens.
Directly opposite the bathroom area was a kitchenette. There was a small refrigerator with a freezer compartment, a coffee maker, a toaster and a microwave. The small sink was great for cleaning out our refillable resort mug every day and there were even sponges and a dish towel! It was really nice to have a sink deeper than the bathroom sink to wash our mugs each day and a counter to place them on. In the cabinets above the sink were paper plates, plastic ware and glasses, if you were wanting to dine in your room.
In the bedroom there was a queen sized bed and a sleeper sofa, a coffee table, small table and two chairs and the armoire which housed the TV. Storage space was good with three drawers and a few open shelves. For two people it was more than enough storage.
One of the things I love is a balcony and we had a really lovely private balcony overlooking a fountain. Who wouldn’t want that? The fountain was loud enough that you couldn’t hear other people on their balconies. I enjoyed reading on that balcony each day and even left the door open when we were in our room so I could hear the water gushing outside.
Now, let’s move on to the important things – food. The Turf Club Bar and Grill is the full service restaurant which overlooks the boat dock on the Sassagoula River. We had an Advanced Dining Reservation for 6:45 pm but were hungry around 5. So, we walked to the Turf Club to see if we could be accommodated and we were seated 5 minutes after we inquired if we could be seated early.
Our server arrived very quickly to take drink orders. In addition to the printed menu there were six or seven specials available. We ordered drinks and took our time with the menu. For appetizers we chose the mussels and French onion soup. While the soup was delicious – rich and gooey with melting cheese – it couldn’t hold a candle to the mussels. The broth was so delicious that I asked for the recipe. We couldn’t get enough and soaked it all up with every last piece of bread in the basket.
Entrees were just as good. My husband ordered the Root Beer Brined Pork Chop which was accompanied by sweet potato puree and greens and I opted for the Turf Club Pasta with shrimp. The root beer brine created a sweet crust on the pork chop and was yummy. My pasta and shrimp was prepared with garlic, butter and lemon. The shrimp was perfectly pink and the sauce was just perfect. Both of us cleaned our plates.
There were no complaints about the cheesecake that we ordered for dessert with coffee. It was a relaxing dinner in a beautiful restaurant.
The Artist’s Palette is the food court for Saratoga Springs. It is located in the same building as the lobby and the Turf Club. Thank goodness they had the breakfast croissant sandwich which I have come to know and love at other resorts. The Bounty Platter is also available, along with assorted pastries and muffins. Flatbread pizzas are prepared for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Registers serve both the food court and the gift shop. At busy times the register closest to the gift shop will service the gift shop guests first.
There are tables outside on a front porch overlooking the pool. This is a lovely alternative to eating inside during busy times and I highly recommend it.
Overall, Disney Saratoga Springs is a wonderful resort. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again. It has everything you could want to add up to a wonderful Disney experience.