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View Full Version : First DVC stay at Saratoga Springs Resort



eyenjeff
01-04-2009, 12:54 PM
We are going to be staying at SSR in May, just my husband and I! NO KIDS! I am looking forward to it for many reasons the main one being we need some time alone. We both LOVE Disney and since we just bought into DVC we decided to take our first trip by ourselves.

The other part of the decsion to go by ourselves is that we won park hopper tickets and the airfare at an auction over the summer, so all we needed was a place to stay, hence buying into DVC!

So my questions are: Has anyone stayed at SSR before? Is there anything we need to know about the resort? Any special requests we should make? Someone suggested we rent a car, and use the DVC resorts to go to the parks becasue Valet parking is free at the DVC resorts. We usually take a limo to and from the airport and use Disney transportation, so maybe our money is better spent renting a car if it is only the two of us. We usually have a 2 yr old and a 10yr old along with us and the limo is just easier.

Any car rental suggestions? We do have AAA so I was going to look into their rates too.

How about services at SSR, anyone try them? A massage sounds good to me!

How is the transportation there? I have heard mixed reviews.

Any info would be great! I am going to surf the Disney sites now for deals on rental cars etc.... but I wanted to come to my friends for their advice!

Thanks in advance!

Sue Holland
01-04-2009, 02:54 PM
I've enjoyed many stays at SSR - it's a great place (as are all of the dvc resorts).

I'd take Disney's free Magical Express and skip the rental car. I certainly wouldn't drive to another dvc resort if I was going to the parks! You'll have buses to each park pick you up & drop you off right at your resort. I think there are 5 bus stops inside SSR, so you'll be near one of them.

Depending on your interests - you might want to request either Grandstand (1st bus stop & close to main area), Springs (closest to main area) or Congress Park (easy walk to Downtown Disney). I've never done the spa stuff - not interested in that. I've used the fitness center, and it has alot of equipment but they don't keep it very cool (warm air temp - but great iced water). Both Artist's Palette and Turf Club are very good.

JeffG
01-04-2009, 03:12 PM
We stayed at Saratoga Springs for 6 nights on our recent vacation. I will start off by admitting that we weren't overly happy with it (in fact, we have started the process of selling our SSR points so we can re-purchase at Bay Lake Tower), but keep in mind that reactions can be very subjective and what doesn't work well for one person/family may be just fine for another.

First and foremost, you should know that SSR is enormous. Depending on what building you get in, you could be a pretty long distance from the various amenities (pools, restaurants/gift shop, etc.) I'm not usually a big believer in the need for a rental car at WDW (in fact, I like not having to drive during a trip), but I probably would get one if we were to stay at SSR again. There isn't any useful internal transportation at SSR and a car would have been very helpful simply for getting around the resort. Obviously, that means that I wouldn't recommend using valet parking there, but you wouldn't really need it since there is lots of convenient parking right next to the various buildings.

I didn't think bus transportation was all that bad from SSR. There are 5 bus stops at the resort, so there is one reasonably close to any of the buildings. SSR is pretty far away from all of the parks, but at least the buses from there don't stop at any other resorts. We did tend to find pretty long waits (and very full buses) when riding back from the parks, particularly if it was anywhere near closing time. SSR is very close to Downtown Disney, so the bus rides to there are pretty short and there is also boat transportation, although some of the buildings are a long way from the boat dock.

Since you mentioned using limo services during past visits, you might not be completely aware of Disney's Magical Express, which you would be eligible to use if you are staying at SSR. The DME service offers free (or, technically, included) bus transportation to and from the airport. SSR is usually the first stop on the bus route, so you don't have too bad a wait before you get there. The best part of DME is that Disney will send you luggage tags that you can put on your checked bags, which flag you as a resort guest. Disney representatives will then pick your bags up from baggage claim at the airport and deliver them directly to your room at the resort. Depending on how much luggage you have, this can be a huge help.

If you wanted to use DME and still get a rental car, there is an Alamo/National rental facility on-site at WDW. There are also rental car locations at several of the non-Disney hotels near Downtown Disney. Pretty much any of the rental car companies would most likely have a shuttle that would come and pick you up at Saratoga Springs to take you to the rental car location. Depending on your circumstances, this could be preferable to renting at the airport.

-Jeff

eyenjeff
01-04-2009, 03:34 PM
We stayed at Saratoga Springs for 6 nights on our recent vacation. I will start off by admitting that we weren't overly happy with it (in fact, we have started the process of selling our SSR points so we can re-purchase at Bay Lake Tower), but keep in mind that reactions can be very subjective and what doesn't work well for one person/family may be just fine for another.

First and foremost, you should know that SSR is enormous. Depending on what building you get in, you could be a pretty long distance from the various amenities (pools, restaurants/gift shop, etc.) I'm not usually a big believer in the need for a rental car at WDW (in fact, I like not having to drive during a trip), but I probably would get one if we were to stay at SSR again. There isn't any useful internal transportation at SSR and a car would have been very helpful simply for getting around the resort. Obviously, that means that I wouldn't recommend using valet parking there, but you wouldn't really need it since there is lots of convenient parking right next to the various buildings.

I didn't think bus transportation was all that bad from SSR. There are 5 bus stops at the resort, so there is one reasonably close to any of the buildings. SSR is pretty far away from all of the parks, but at least the buses from there don't stop at any other resorts. We did tend to find pretty long waits (and very full buses) when riding back from the parks, particularly if it was anywhere near closing time. SSR is very close to Downtown Disney, so the bus rides to there are pretty short and there is also boat transportation, although some of the buildings are a long way from the boat dock.

Since you mentioned using limo services during past visits, you might not be completely aware of Disney's Magical Express, which you would be eligible to use if you are staying at SSR. The DME service offers free (or, technically, included) bus transportation to and from the airport. SSR is usually the first stop on the bus route, so you don't have too bad a wait before you get there. The best part of DME is that Disney will send you luggage tags that you can put on your checked bags, which flag you as a resort guest. Disney representatives will then pick your bags up from baggage claim at the airport and deliver them directly to your room at the resort. Depending on how much luggage you have, this can be a huge help.

If you wanted to use DME and still get a rental car, there is an Alamo/National rental facility on-site at WDW. There are also rental car locations at several of the non-Disney hotels near Downtown Disney. Pretty much any of the rental car companies would most likely have a shuttle that would come and pick you up at Saratoga Springs to take you to the rental car location. Depending on your circumstances, this could be preferable to renting at the airport.

-Jeff


Thanks for the info! I have heard it is a really large resort. That is why I was hoping someone had some ideas for which bldg to request. I read above some ideas..Thanks!

We dont take DME because we like to have our bags with us when we check in, we like to unpack and have our stuff when we check in the room. We try to limit the carry ons becasue we dont want to deal with trying to stow it in the overhead bins. I know we are opposite of most people! LOL! Last trip, we passed the DME line and it was huge! We just got in our Limo and off we went right to the front of the resort and they picked us up when WE wanted to go the airport, not when DME wanted us to go. We like the convenience of coming and going when we please.

The person who reccommended that we rent a car suggested using Board walk villas valet prkg when we wanted to go to Epcot, then we could have the leisurely walk over and be right in the middle of the international gateway. We hardly ever get to enjoy Epcot because our kids get bored there, so we thought we would spend alot of time there just strolling and enjoying especially since it will be the Flower and Garden festival. The other park we will spend alot of time at is MK, so we could park at WLand take the boat over.

Maybe this is all too much work and we should just take Disney transportation. We have never rented a car at Disney before. It was a suggestion from someone at Mousefest, so we decided to look into it.

I really appreciate your ideas and hope you like BLT! I saw the model of it at the Doorwayto Dreams store at Woodfield mall in Schaumburg, Il last week and I was surprisingly impressed. I originally thought it was going to be sterile and too many clean lines. I like homey. To be honest, there are still clean lines but with a homey feel. They did a really great job, and I thought this was one place we would not stay and now I really want to stay there, especially for the view. The view alone is worth the price of the admission! Good luck with selling your points and I KNOW you will enjoy BLT!

GusMan
01-04-2009, 03:36 PM
Hi Eileen, When are you going again? We may be heading out there in March.


Has anyone stayed at SSR before? Is there anything we need to know about the resort?
Mrs. GusMan and I stayed there for MouseFest as well as our October trip. It is our home resort and to be honest, we think we made the right choice for us. The resort is spread out which may be an issue for some, but it was never a problem for us. The theme of the resort may be subtle for some, but it is very nicely landscaped with a mild equine / horse racing theme. (Listen for the "Call to Post" song at the top of every hour...)


Any special requests we should make?
Personally, I would recommend staying in the Congress Park section, especially if you are without kids. Its a 5 minute walk to the main building but you have a nice pool area and you are within a 7 minute walk to DTD. Also, we never found the buses over crowded when getting on at that stop as well.


Someone suggested we rent a car, and use the DVC resorts to go to the parks because Valet parking is free at the DVC resorts.
While it is true that you get free valet at DVC resorts, I am not sure if this is the best idea if you were going to use the service in lieu of parking at a park. Besides, you would only get this perk at BWV, BC, AKL and WL, so your only real benefit would be if you were going to Epcot. I am not sure you would be saving a lot of time or gaining a lot of convenience in doing so vs. using Disney Transportation or just parking directly. (Having to get back to the resort where your car is and then still having to drive back to SSR or your next destination... etc...)


We usually take a limo to and from the airport and use Disney transportation, so maybe our money is better spent renting a car if it is only the two of us.
Another thought - If you want to consider using Disney Transportation anyway, and since you will be without kids, I would say forget the car or limo and just do DME. It has always been a great service for us, with and without kids.

I realize that some people prefer to rent a car and that cool. At the same time, you are going to have a lot more freedom (and mobility) without the kids - more than you probably realize.

Of course, if you want to treat yourselves, forget about the car, get a limo, and just use Disney Transport while there.

In any case, think about it and save the cash - and spend it on a spa treatment or maybe a special dinner at a place that you would not go with the kids. (We did the California Grill....)

Just my opinion... :)


How about services at SSR, anyone try them? A massage sounds good to me!
The only "complaint" (and its really more of an observation) is that the food court seating for Artists Palette is really not large enough to handle crowds at busier times. As for the Spa, they seem to have some nice options available but we never really got to try them. Pricing for services were moderate, but not out of line.

The Turf Club restaurant is very nice and pretty good. I had some good Tuna there that was perfectly done. Menu variety was rather good, too.

Also while you are there, check out Community Hall. Its a nice place to take the kids and also see what resort activities are going on. It will give you an idea for your next trip with the kids.


How is the transportation there? I have heard mixed reviews.
Honestly, about 85% of the time, we had to wait less than 10 mins for a bus to our desired location. It seemed like most buses were on a 10-20 min cycle.. Will you have the occasional long wait? Sure - just like anywhere else. Transportation back to the resort from the parks was consistently decent as well.


We dont take DME because we like to have our bags with us when we check in, we like to unpack and have our stuff when we check in the room.
There is a very good chance that your room will not be ready for you when you check in if you get there before 3 or 4 PM. If that is the case, DME will put your bags in your room when it is ready. You can also let bell services keep any carry-ons for you and they will bring them over when you get to your room. (Their bell services team is very quick, I might add.)

Of course, if you are planning on arriving in the evening, then I understand your preference.

One other thing about DME... it was wonderful getting my boarding passes and luggage tags first thing in the morning, delivered to my door. I just called bell services to bring my bags and I to the main building and I bypassed the line and just dropped off my luggage. A real simple process and it saved time at the airport.

ETA: I have to agree with Jeff that SSR is a resort that if you wanted to go from resort area to resort area on a regular basis, then you almost need a car to do it sanely. While there is a way to use the buses to get from place to place, within the resort, its not always easy.

eyenjeff
01-04-2009, 05:26 PM
Hey Gusman!

Thanks for responding! We are going May 14-19, my husband's bday is May 15th, so we thought we would take advantage of the bday incentives. We won 4 day park hoppers and airfare, so we will use the bday thing for one of the days and at least Jeff will get in for free, or if we decide to do a non park day, we might take the gift card. Not sure yet.

I think I am leaning towards no rental car, it really sounds like more work than it is worth. We have always used Disney transportation, and even at the value resorts where it isnt the best, we did not really have any problems. The biggest problem seems to be our room assignment and how far away we were from the bus stop. If SSR has multiple stops we should be good.

We might not even use the food court at SSR, as we will have the kitchen, and will probably eat a small breakfast at the villa and then head out.

I have been looking at prices for cars and they are more expensive than I thought and I agree we should use that money for a nice dinner maybe for Jeff's bday. I have heard nice things about the California grill, would you reccommend it for a nice dinner like that? Is that where we can watch the fireworks from MK?

Thanks for all your help!

GusMan
01-04-2009, 05:54 PM
Sounds like a nice trip - You will have a great time!
The nice part about the bus stops is that each stop is within a brief walk to all the buildings in the section. Maybe a minute or two (if that) depending on which building you are in within each section.

You mention that you are going to have the kitchen - so you are in a 1 BR, I take it? Be prepared to be spoiled. Having the whirlpool tub in the room was a spoiling point for the Mrs. (In room laundry was nice too.) The kitchen is well-equipped for most meals.

The Cali Grill was a great place for a nice dinner. The food and service were top notch! Try to get an ADR for about 30 mins before Wishes and you will be able to go out onto their deck on the top of the Contemp. and see Wishes from out there. They pipe the music in and believe me, you will see it from a whole new light. We saw the Holiday Wishes during MF and it was breathtaking! They served our first course and then waited for us to return before they served our main course. Well worth the 2 credits on the DDP.

JeffG
01-04-2009, 06:19 PM
While it is true that you get free valet at DVC resorts, I am not sure if this is the best idea if you were going to use the service in lieu of parking at a park. Besides, you would only get this perk at BWV, BC, AKL and WL, so your only real benefit would be if you were going to Epcot.

I suppose parking at WL and taking the boat to the MK is also a possibility, although I doubt that would be a time savings over parking at TTC and taking the monorail or ferryboat. Contemporary may become an option once Bay Lake Towers opens, but that would be after the dates Eileen mentioned for her trip. I kind of have a feeling there will be some restrictions (such as BLT guests only or having a dining reservation on file) on the free valet there anyway to discourage DVC members from using that for MK parking.


The only "complaint" (and its really more of an observation) is that the food court seating for Artists Palette is really not large enough to handle crowds at busier times.

That is a good point, although we didn't really find this to be a major problem with just a little patience/teamwork. I did think Artist's Palette was a nice food court and I'd consider it a definite plus.


The Turf Club restaurant is very nice and pretty good.

It is also still one of the better secrets on property and is a rare case of a table service restaurant that isn't still sometimes possible to get into without a reservation.


Honestly, about 85% of the time, we had to wait less than 10 mins for a bus to our desired location. It seemed like most buses were on a 10-20 min cycle.. Will you have the occasional long wait? Sure - just like anywhere else. Transportation back to the resort from the parks was consistently decent as well.

I agree that the wait times and travel times generally weren't too bad when going to the parks. We did find that we pretty consistently had to wait through a couple buses when returning to the resort and also often were stuck standing. Admittedly, this isn't really that different from any of the other resorts.


The biggest problem seems to be our room assignment and how far away we were from the bus stop. If SSR has multiple stops we should be good.

If you don't get a car, the one very strong bit of advise that I will give is that you shouldn't try to walk any distances within the resort at night unless you are absolutely certain that you know the way. Walking to/from the bus stop for your building shouldn't be a problem, but it is very easy to get lost for more distant walks. There is very little in the way of directional signs and the maps tend to be a bit hard to read. There are signs on the upper parts of the buildings identifying which is which, but these are not visible from all angles and are unlit, making them very difficult to see at night. It is also important to note that the names are section names rather than building names. Generally, any given name applies to at least two buildings.

The one event during our visit that probably soured us on the resort the most was getting pretty badly lost trying to find our way from the boat dock back to our room around 11:30pm on the first night of our visit. We had a similar experience trying to find our room right after checking in during a 1 night stay (the night before going on the Cruise) the previous year. If you arrive at night and are not at one of the closest buildings (probably anywhere other than The Springs), do make sure to stop at Bell Services and ask for someone to drive you to your room.

I should note that our room was in The Carousel, which is one of the most remote buildings. I do think our experience might have been better had we been at one of the more central buildings. If we ever stay at SSR again, we would probably request The Springs or The Grandstand.


BTW, I am amused to see in your last post that your husband's name is Jeff. My wife's name is Ilene. :)

-Jeff

eyenjeff
01-04-2009, 06:45 PM
Sounds like a nice trip - You will have a great time!
The nice part about the bus stops is that each stop is within a brief walk to all the buildings in the section. Maybe a minute or two (if that) depending on which building you are in within each section.

You mention that you are going to have the kitchen - so you are in a 1 BR, I take it? Be prepared to be spoiled. Having the whirlpool tub in the room was a spoiling point for the Mrs. (In room laundry was nice too.) The kitchen is well-equipped for most meals.

The Cali Grill was a great place for a nice dinner. The food and service were top notch! Try to get an ADR for about 30 mins before Wishes and you will be able to go out onto their deck on the top of the Contemp. and see Wishes from out there. They pipe the music in and believe me, you will see it from a whole new light. We saw the Holiday Wishes during MF and it was breathtaking! They served our first course and then waited for us to return before they served our main course. Well worth the 2 credits on the DDP.


That sounds awesome! I think I will surprise my husband with this one and not tell him about being able to see the fireworks. I am the planner of the two of us, and he just likes to go along for the ride. It works out well! I am a control freak! at least when it comes to Disney! Thanks for the info!!!

Yes, we are going to get the one bedroom becasue we are using developer points that have to be used or lost, so we might as well get the one bedroom and we will still have points left over.

I really like the idea of that tub too! I cant wait! Sounds like an awesome way to end the day especially a long one with alot of walking!

eyenjeff
01-04-2009, 07:10 PM
BTW, I am amused to see in your last post that your husband's name is Jeff. My wife's name is Ilene. :)

-Jeff


Hey, thanks for the repsonses! I will definitely keep them in mind for our trip!

LOL! What a small world! My best friend has a sister Eileen and her husband's name is Geoff ( he spells is different), and they had a baby girl a month before our baby girl was born, I was just hoping they werent going to pick our name, which they didnt. I really wasnt worried, as we picked an ethnic name of Brigid, and I knew they wouldnt pick it but it was fun to wait and see. When we get together, it is fun to hear, EIleen or Jeff and see us all answer!!

:~D

Toocherie
01-04-2009, 07:20 PM
I am an SSR owner and stayed there for a week in November. We were in the Paddocks, which since we were "adults only" I really enjoyed. It was near a bus stop, bus service was great, and it was a direct route across the bridge to the restaurants. Turf Club was great--we ate there twice for dinner and once for lunch. It was delicious--best meals of the trip.

On renting a car/valet parking: I thought we were only supposed to use the valet parking service when we were actually visting the resort? Like if you have dinner reservations at the resort? Not to use it as alternative park parking? Am I wrong? (maybe confused with something else?)

eyenjeff
01-04-2009, 07:35 PM
I am an SSR owner and stayed there for a week in November. We were in the Paddocks, which since we were "adults only" I really enjoyed. It was near a bus stop, bus service was great, and it was a direct route across the bridge to the restaurants. Turf Club was great--we ate there twice for dinner and once for lunch. It was delicious--best meals of the trip.

On renting a car/valet parking: I thought we were only supposed to use the valet parking service when we were actually visting the resort? Like if you have dinner reservations at the resort? Not to use it as alternative park parking? Am I wrong? (maybe confused with something else?)

That could be possibly true, as we are new members, I was just going on advice I had gotten from another DVC owner at Mousefest. I think we will stick with Disney transportation and skip the rental. Sounds like more work than it is worth. Thanks for responding!!

GusMan
01-05-2009, 04:52 AM
On renting a car/valet parking: I thought we were only supposed to use the valet parking service when we were actually visting the resort? Like if you have dinner reservations at the resort? Not to use it as alternative park parking? Am I wrong? (maybe confused with something else?)
Technically, its not supposed to be used as alternative parking. Supposedly, visits like that are supposed to be limited to about three hours. (Good enough for a nice dinner and some visiting of the resort area.) However, depending on who you ask, how it is enforced is another story.

crazydad123
01-05-2009, 09:20 AM
My wife and I were at SSR for 10 days in October (see our trip report "Sue & Kelly's 30th Anniversary Trip") and really enjoyed our stay at Congress Park. We had a studio on the fourth floor, and it was VERY quiet with a nice view of DTD. Easy walk to DTD or to the main buildings.
You can self-park close to your building, but I would agree with others that unless you are going off-property, you really don't need a car. We have found the Magic Express and Disney Transportation to be quite suitable, as long as you make the time and plan ahead. If you are in a rush, you're almost guaranteed to have problems.
The comment on getting lost is accurate. SSR is huge and you can get turned around easily. Keep the paper map they provide with you for your first few walks and you'll be fine. One of the problems with the posted maps is that they are from different angles, which is confusing to figure out.
Have a great trip!

eyenjeff
01-05-2009, 11:54 AM
Thanks so much for the advice! I am directionally challenged already so we will keep our walks to the simple! We are looking forward to our trip and will probably be requestiing the same bldg you were in. Sounds like it has been reccommended alot.

Mrs. GusMan
01-21-2009, 05:42 AM
One thing to remember while you are there, there is a cast member at the springs bus stop monitoring bus service. If you are waiting more than 20 minutes for a bus, hop the next bus and get off at the springs where you can ask the ETA for the next bus to your destination.

Or more simply, let the next bus driver know how long you are waiting and for which bus and he can mention it to the cast member at the springs and you are certainly going to see that bus show up real soon. It worked for us.

Also, in France, you can get a free make up lesson or hand massage. Look in your "Perks" magazine for the details. I'm gonna take Goofygirl for her first make up lesson in March. When I find my book I will pm you the phone number. Its just something special for you while you have no kids down there! ENJOY!