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No matter where you stay on Walt Disney World property, you are bound to have an amazing vacation. There is a level of quality seen throughout the entirety of WDW resort, ensuring that no matter what level of accommodations you choose, your needs are met and you’ll leave wanting to return.
However, each resort has its own little quirks and perks, providing a unique stay. From dining to theming and everything in between, no two resorts at Walt Disney World are completely the same.
When staying at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, you are going to find several experiences that are outside of the norm, setting it apart from its sister resorts in the Deluxe Villas Tier. As an entirely Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resort, you’ll find the extra level of care and devotion that gives it a luxury vacation feel.
With such level of sophistication, it may seem a bit intimidating to consider booking your stay at this particular resort. After all, it’s a lot of money, and you want to make sure you make the right choice for yourself and your family.
Using these tips, you’ll become an expert in Disney’s Saratoga Springs to better navigate everything the resort has to offer.
Trust us, you’ll fall in love with this place in no time!
Know Before You Go – Planning Your Stay
1) Classic Vacation Feel
As Disney’s Saratoga Springs is based on turn of the century summers, you’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time with the colors, architecture, and decoration of the resort.
If you appreciate a quiet and peaceful atmosphere, Saratoga Springs will be the resort for you.
Don’t you worry, there’s still plenty of Disney magic!
2) Plan Ahead!
You don’t need to have every second of your vacation planned, but there are certain items you need to check off your list well before you go on your trip.
You can make your dining reservations 180 days in advance, and if you’re staying on WDW property you can make your Fast Pass reservations 60 days in advance.
Trust us, if you know you have to eat at the Turf Club or ride Flight of Passage, you want to have these dates marked on your calendar!
3) Get the App
No matter what your plans, the My Disney Experience app is a necessity.
Walt Disney World encourages guests to make reservations, plans, and buy tickets through this app.
You can also check out wait times and find particular souvenir items through the app, so make sure everyone in your party has it downloaded on their phone!
4) Room Requests
Since the resort is expansive, it might be a good idea to submit a room request when booking.
Not only can you request to be on the top floor or near an elevator, but you can also ask to be placed in a certain area within the resort.
That sort of request isn’t always able to be granted based on availability, but it’s worth trying!
5) Rent DVC Points
As Saratoga Springs is a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resort, you will get the best bang for your buck by using DVC points.
If you own DVC, you already know that the point-to-dollar ratio puts you on top in terms of cost. For non-owners, you’ll want to check out sites for renting. Even at a price of $17 or $18 a point, it will cost you less money than paying the “sticker price” for a stay at Saratoga.
6) Research Your Options
With DVC, you have several different room options available to you, so be sure to pick the one that best fits your party.
Saratoga Springs offers studios as well as one, two, and three-bedroom villas. While more space costs more money (or points), you might find that it is worth it to give your kids their own bedroom or have a full kitchen.
7) Try a Treehouse
If you are going with a larger party, especially a group with kids, try out a Treehouse Villa.
These villas are a hidden treasure on Disney property, and can sleep nine people between three bedrooms.
Each villa has their own deck space in addition to the indoor spaces, and the Treehouse Villa grounds has a separate pool and whirlpools.
It is worth noting that they are separate from the main Saratoga Springs resort area and much more like an upscale camp-cabin experience, so you want to do some research before selecting this option.
However, if that is right up your family’s alley, then it will be a unique experience that your kids will love!
8) Upgrade Your MagicBand
When staying on Walt Disney World property, your MagicBand is your key to the world (literally!). You use it to get into the parks, your resort room, for Fast Passes, and you can even link a credit card to enable charging.
While Disney is still sending basic, solid color MagicBands as part of your Disney resort stay, you can opt to upgrade your MagicBand to a fun design.
There are plenty to choose from, and some rotate from season to season, so be sure to look at all your options!
9) Bring Your Own Food
Especially if you are staying in one of the villas, plan to bring some of your own food.
Since you have a full kitchen, it makes sense to take advantage of it!
Cook a few meals in, prepare snacks for the parks, and even make your own coffee in the morning. All of these options save you money while making use of amenities for which you already paid.
10) What if I’m Flying?
You can actually bring more food than you realize in your suitcase, or even in your carry-on.
If you can find food items cheaper at home, don’t spend Florida prices for those things. Check out this TSA page to see what you can bring with you!
11) While You’re At It…
You should pack items that you can get at home, like sunscreen and water bottles, which will cost a lot more on Disney property.
Save space in your suitcase in other ways by rolling your clothes, dividing outfits into gallon Ziploc bags (release the air), or putting your belongings in packing cubes.
Don’t spend unnecessary money on easily acquired essentials.
12) Keep Bulky Items at Home
While we’re on the subject, you can leave that beach towel or puddle-jumper at home. At the resort, towels are provided to guests, and you can rent towels at the water parks for just a few dollars.
For the pools and water parks alike, Coast Guard approved life jackets are available for all ages, including infants. If you are driving and you can throw these items in on top of the pile, that’s up to you, but there’s really no need to take up space in your suitcase if you’re flying.
After all, odds are you are going to buy some souvenirs, so you’ll need the extra space!
13) Stuck in the Car? Make a Playlist!
Some of us will drive upwards of 15 total hours to get to Disney World (yes, we’re insane)!
While some of that time you might want some quiet, as you get closer you get to the resort, get your family amped up with a playlist made from your Disney favorites!
Whatever will best suit your family to help pass the time and get you ready for your vacation!
14) Disney’s Magical Express
You’ve heard us talk about this before, we are big fans of this free service. If you’re flying, it saves you stress and funds getting you to and from the airport.
In terms of your arrival, you just need to head down through the terminal towards the rental cars and you’ll see the desk for Disney’s Magical Express.
Currently, you will need to collect and checked luggage before getting on the bus, but the driver will stow it for you and retrieve it when you get to your resort. If you’re not planning on leaving Disney property during your stay, it’s really the way to go!
You do have to book Disney’s Magical Express in advance so they know to expect you, but that’s it…no extra money has to be spent!
15) Driving? Check the Map
If you’re driving yourself to Saratoga Springs, make sure you check the map ahead of time so you know which exit to take and where to find the main entrance.
There are several Disney World exits off Florida I-4, and there are a few back ways into the resort as well. If you want to end up at the main lobby of the Carriage House, make sure you know where you’re going!
Disney provides a detailed map on their website with excellent zoom features, and you can access the general property map on your My Disney Experience app.
16) Use Online Check-In
Using your My Disney Experience app, you can check-in without ever going to the Front Desk or even the resort! That will have you off starting your vacation right away, and you’ll receive a text when your room is ready.
So head to the pool, the parks, or Disney Springs, and your room will be ready when you return.
17) Get the Resort Map
Speaking of the My Disney Experience app, you can use it to access a map of your resort.
In the case of Saratoga Springs, you’re going to want to use it!
As an expansive resort area, the map will be useful in finding your way and exploring all Saratoga Springs has to offer.
18) Take a Picture of the Room
It will never look this nice again, so you should take a picture of your room before you settle in.
Take time to look for some special Disney features and hidden Mickeys!
19) In a Villa? Unpack!
While it might make sense to live out of your suitcase in a studio (although you definitely could unpack if you want), if you spring for the multi-bedroom villas there’s plenty of space for you to unpack your bags.
This is a good way to save space, as you can get all your clothes out of your suitcase then put the luggage away.
If you have kiddos running around, having as much space as possible is a must!
20) Don’t Feel Confined to Your Area
As a larger resort, Saratoga Springs has many opportunities for exploration.
Throughout the resort, there are different pool and restaurant options that go unnoticed because guests only hang out in their room’s section.
Especially if you have a down day, make time to check out everything the resort has to offer!
21) Off to the Races!
In addition to the mineral springs, Saratoga Springs, New York is known for its horseracing.
As such, Disney’s Saratoga Springs weaves different aspects of horses and racing throughout the resort.
Look for the vintage racing references and portraits of Disney horses…you could even create your own family Bingo or scavenger hunt!
22) Eat Breakfast in Your Room
Especially if you’re looking to save a few dollars, bring easy to make breakfast foods, and whip them up in your room.
If you have a studio, you’ll have a toaster, microwave, and mini-fridge, perfect for items like PopTarts and ready-made breakfast sandwiches.
In the villas, you have access to a full kitchen, so you can prep whatever you like!
23) Tune in to the WDW Today Channel
Right on the TV in your resort, check out WDW Today Channel to find the daily schedule for the entirety of Walt Disney World.
It is the first channel that pops up every time you turn on your TV, giving you the operational hours for all four parks, both water parks, and Disney Springs. You can even find the day’s weather and times for special events throughout the property!
An app version of this channel is also available, live streaming what you would see on your TV in your resort room.
Whether you want to keep on top of things throughout the day or take a piece of the magic home with you, this is a great option!
24) Artist’s Palette – One Stop Shop
Not only is The Artist’s Palette the main counter service location for Saratoga Springs, but it is also where you will find the gift shop and other essentials.
This is also where you can pick up your refillable mug, which will be good for the duration of your stay.
Make sure you swing in on the first day of your vacation and be sure to come back!
25) Choose Your Pool
After you’ve had a chance to look around the resort, find the areas that are best for your family, particularly the pool.
If you don’t want to have to walk super far or even drive to the pool, find one that is closest to your room (which may not be the one associated with your section).
If it is important to have food readily available at the pool, choose one with a bar and grill.
Traveling with small children? Check out the aquatic play area by The Paddock Pool, perfect for your kiddos.
26) Eat Lunch Poolside
If you’ve chosen to hang out at a pool with food options, you should take advantage of them! There’s nothing quite so relaxing as eating your lunch out in the sun, overlooking the gorgeous blue water, without having to leave to go back to your room.
The On the Rocks pool bar can grab you a delicious lunch from The Artist’s Palette, while the Backstretch Pool Bar has awesome sandwich and wrap options.
At The Paddock Grill, you can even start the day with breakfast at the pool, or chow down on a delicious burger.
27) Heading to Disney Springs? Skip the Bus.
Saratoga Springs has a couple of different transportation options to get you to Disney Springs, including water taxis and walking paths.
Why wait for the bus when you can get there in the time it would take the bus to arrive?
If you are staying in The Springs, Congress Park, or the lower section of The Paddock you will enjoy a ten-minute walk, while the upper parts of the resort have a boat dock.
28) Oh, and Go to Disney Springs!
While we’re at it, we want to remind you to actually hit the Springs while you’re in Disney!
It’s so much more than just a shopping outlet, you could spend a whole day at Disney Springs and not see everything it has to offer.
With several new restaurants, shops, and the recent overhaul of The World of Disney store, you’re going to want to check it out!
29) Ride in an Amphicar
Over at Disney Springs, you’ll find vintage cars that can drive, er, sail in the water!
For $125 per car (seating 3-4 people), you can take a captain-guided tour of Lake Buena Vista in these one of a kind watercraft.
You’ll get a spectacular view of Saratoga Springs as you motor past, so be sure to take plenty of pictures!
30) Indulge in the Spa
While many of the resorts have a spa, Saratoga Springs boasts one of the best on property.
Extensive treatment options, including ones for children, all reflect back on the idea of the natural remedies of the mineral springs in New York.
If you enjoy treating yourself to some pampering, definitely plan to do so during your stay!
31) Where’s the Gym?
If you are someone that wants to keep up with their fitness routine while on vacation, Saratoga Springs has a 24-hour fitness center available right next to the spa facilities.
If you want to use the gym at a time when the spa isn’t open, just make sure you are wearing your MagicBand and you’ll be able to scan it to enter.
32) Is This Our Stop?
Throughout Saratoga Springs, there are different Disney bus stops to service the resort sections. While that is awesome, you want to be sure to check which one is closest to your room.
Especially if you’re taking the busses back from the parks, make sure you know which stop is yours to prevent unnecessary walking.
Trust us, you’ve walked enough after a park day!
33) Take a Taxi
No, not a cab, a water taxi.
Disney boat transportation, while not the fastest way to travel, is a fun experience and a great option if you’re not in a hurry.
Not only can you use the water taxis to get to Disney Springs, but you can also use the boats to travel to some of the other resorts in the area, like Port Orleans and Old Key West.
Fabulous beignets are just a quick sail away!
The Treehouse Villas also have a water taxi stop, but that is much more reliable when leaving the resort area versus returning.
34) Create a Masterpiece
Unique to Saratoga Springs, you can participate in a Disney-themed paint night!
Every Thursday in the Community Hall, guests 12 and older can pay a small fee to create a personal Disney masterpiece to take home.
You should make a reservation as space is limited, but all you need to do is check-in with the Front Desk and they can make the reservation for you.
35) Begin Your Day with Yoga
If you are into yoga, take advantage of Saratoga Springs’ sunrise yoga class to start your day. Mondays and Wednesdays at 7:00am, you can take part in an easy yoga routine by the Congress Park pool, overlooking Lake Buena Vista and Disney Springs.
A major advantage to this class is you can do it bright and early, and then be off to your park day with your exercise already completed!
36) Plan for a Rainy Day
Let’s face it, it’s Florida. If you’re there in the summer, it’s going to rain.
Especially if you are there with kids, it’s important to have back up activities for a day at the resort.
37) Nighttime Fun
Many of the resorts plan small events in the evenings for their guests, and Saratoga Springs is no exception.
Enjoy roasting marshmallows as a family over a campfire, then settle down on a blanket for a family-friendly Disney movie out under the stars. Your kids are growing up fast, take some time for family bonding.
The full schedule of these activities is available at the Front Desk, so be sure to check them out!
38) Ride a Surrey Bike
Several of the resorts, including Saratoga Springs, has surrey bikes available to rent to its guests.
Surrey bikes are a great option for families, as they allow the whole family to ride together without worrying about leaving little ones behind. Besides, how often can you all ride one bike together?
39) Have a Cookout
If you really enjoy cooking for yourself or want to save the money, you can plan to have a cookout at one of the outdoor grills at the resort.
Over by The Grandstand and Congress Park pool areas you can find the BBQ grills ready and waiting for you!
You will need to bring your own grilling materials and clean up after yourself, but you can have your own fun fire-cooked meal before taking a dip in the pool.
40) Order Pizza
Disney’s Saratoga Springs is one of the resorts that offers what Disney calls “In-Room Dining,” which is different from Disney’s typical room service.
You can order a meal for your whole family (rather than separate meals) straight to your room!
If you’re staying for a week and you aren’t using the Disney Dining Plan, this is a great cost-effective option to feed your whole family at once.
If you are your kiddos are tuckered out, have a quiet night in with pizza and TV before getting rest for your adventure the next day.
41) Short Trip? Use Your Own Transportation.
While it is super convenient to take Disney transportation, it can be time-consuming.
If you aren’t going that far from the resort, like Disney Springs, Typhoon Lagoon, or even Epcot, it might be faster and more effective to use your own transportation.
If you drove your own vehicle, take your own car and arrive in half the time. Otherwise, take advantage of rideshare options like Lyft or the Minnie Vans.
42) Rest and Relax
There’s a misconception that Disney vacations have to be go, go, go. While park days are amazing and fun, you need some downtime too.
Saratoga Springs is a perfect resort for a relaxation day, as the quiet and quaint atmosphere lends itself to a pool or spa day.
With plenty of food options spread out throughout the resort, there’s no reason that you can’t have a lazy day.
If you have energetic kids, plant yourself in the shade and let them wear out on the playground, in the pool, or on the basketball court.
43) Use Mobile Order
Skip the line and order your counter service meals on your app!
This is a great chance to plan ahead, especially if you have small children you need to wrangle, so you can quickly grab your food and be off on your day. Fast, convenient, and easy!
44) Snag a Signature Cupcake
The Artist’s Palette has three delicious specialty cupcakes: the Milk & Cookies Cupcake, the Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcake, and the Bullseye Cupcake.
The Milk & Cookies features some of the delicious edible cookie dough that is so popular on Disney property, while the other two show off iconic Disney images.
No doubt though, all three are spectacular!
45) Need a Light Dinner? Turf Club Lounge has got it Covered!
While it doesn’t have the full fare of the Turf Club Bar and Grill, the Turf Club Lounge has delicious options and an array of specialty drinks particular to this lounge.
If you aren’t up to a large meal, this is an excellent option in a beautiful and relaxing setting.
46) Check out Lake Buena Vista Golf Course
There aren’t many resorts with a golf course right next store, so if you enjoy a round of golf you should take advantage of Lake Buena Vista Golf Course.
A serene, professional-level course, Lake Buena Vista is one of the best amenities at Saratoga Springs.
With the clubhouse right on resort property, you can walk right from your room and off to your tee time!
47) Get a Sitter!
Let’s face it, not everyone wants to travel with the in-laws or pay for a vacation-long baby-sitter.
Lucky for you, Saratoga Springs is one of the Disney resorts that has in-room baby-sitting available!
If you want to have a special evening out without your kiddos, you can reserve a one-to-one childcare provider through Kid’s Nite Out. Prices vary from $20-$29, and the service covers children from six months to twelve years of age.
The fees do increase after 9:00pm, so you’ll have to plan for an early evening, but it’s a great chance to have some adult time while on your vacation.
48) Special Occasion? Try the Turf Club Bar and Grill.
Themed like an old-school horse club, high-class American cuisine is the perfect option if you’re looking for a special dinner.
From classic American favorites like barbecue ribs and buffalo chicken dip to more unique fare such as seared duck and carrot gnocchi, you’ll have a delicious meal you’ll be sure to remember!
We’ll See You Real Soon – Time to Head Home
49) Eat Before You Leave
There’s certainly a temptation to get up and moving on your departure day, especially if you have a flight to catch. However, if you plan ahead, there will be enough time for you to have a meal before you head out, and we suggest that you do.
Heading away from Walt Disney World on an empty stomach not only will make your departure harder, but will most likely make your whole party miserable (especially the kids).
The Artist’s Palette is open at 7:00am, but if that’s not early enough for you, grab some meals the day before and heat them up in your room before you leave.
50) Utilize Airline Check-in
Many of the Disney resorts have the ability to check you in for your flight, including your luggage, before you even leave the resort.
As Saratoga Springs is one of those resorts, we suggest you take advantage of this opportunity!
The Airline Desk is right outside the main lobby of the Carriage House by the bus stop, so if you’re using Disney’s Magical Express you’ll definitely want to stop there first.
Your entire party does need to be present to use this service.
Have you stayed at Disney’s Saratoga Springs? Share some of your own tips and insights in the comments!
Written by Grace Hoyos, Staff Writer
Grace is a life-long lover of all things Disney, particularly the parks at Walt Disney World. She is also an avid Disney Cruise Line enthusiast who regularly dreams of the white sands of Castaway Cay. Grace loves the fact that her Disney trips give her time to spend with her family, enjoy incredible food, and try new experiences.