Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Horsing around - Saratoga Springs and Spa

With Bob Iger as CEO of Disney, the company has become obsessed with franchising.

Creating new princesses, building Cars Land and sticking characters into the historical rides.

I wonder if UNICEF commissioned a Stitch for the original it's a small world? (source: findingmickey.com)
Two weeks ago, the new Art of Animation Resort "value" resort was opened at WDW. The four wings of this mega resort each cover Finding Nemo, CarsThe Little Mermaid, and The Lion King.

This dumbing down leads to this:

Hmmm ....whilst we're here, where do you think the picture of my horsey friends is set? Could it be at the famous Saratoga Springs racing track in upstate New York?

Just like Disney constructing purpose so it can "franchise" the characters, let's pretend we are in Saratoga!

Saratoga Springs was first settled in 1819 and it grew as a tourism destination due to the draw of it's natural mineral springs. It soon became a spa town and several grand European-style spa hotels opened. And then in 1863 the famous racecourse opened.

So why do I suddenly care about Saratoga Springs??

Cause I'll be staying at the Disney fake copy hotel: Disney's Saratoga Springs and Spa Resort!

This resort is bundles up all the main features of the real Saratoga Springs - lots of horsey things, a day spa and it's located "out of town". Look way over there on the left - in the light blue area - No. 18. about as close to the WDW border as you can get! (BTW below blue, in orange print "To Orlando & International Drive": that is the location of the World Centre Marriott)

One of the least conveniently located resorts. Click to embiggen source: wdwinfo.com
The architectural style of the buildings is turn of the century, upscale horsey barns and country manors. There are over 1000 guest rooms all in horsey named buildings like The Paddock and The Grandstand. Their restaurant is called The Turf Club.

source: theinfomouse.com
The Spa is simply called The Spa - and is the largest in WDW (currently - there is a new spa in construction at the Grand Floridian). But alas - there are no natural springs - just a highly chlorinated jacuzzi.

see - I told you  (source: travelpod.com)
However - you can buy the famous Saratoga Mineral Water - in bottles!

For those times when Disney water is not refreshing enough
Earlier this year Disney began a soft furnishings refurb at the resort: carpet, curtains, bedspreads, upholstery etc. And guess what they did?! Yep - Franchising! However, gentle reader, let me ask you: when you think of classic Disney characters, who are the horsey ones?




Yep - that's right  - It was all started with a rabbit mouse - not a horse.

Anyway - let's take a look at a Studio room - which has enjoyed a refurb and check out the new franchised inserts

Yep - even the narrator didn't recognise the characters*

Anyway - at least you can see the insertion of the characters has been fairly minimal - unlike those Art of Animation Resorts mentioned above.

Saratoga Springs and Spa would be one of the least kiddie friendly, the least conveniently located, have the smallest rooms and have the most boring decorating. Have I sold you??

SSR&S - the nadir of DVC construction (source: yourfirstvisit.net)
Maybe I need to have a script more like this chick? (note: this video repeats itself. So you can stop halfway. But it does show more of the grounds and spa)

Only drugs can produce that level of happy delusion.

At least - it does have reasonably good quality rooms and fixtures (esp. in those newly refurbished rooms), free parking at the door to your building, every room has a nice view - no car parks or loading docks here - all water and golf course.And it comes with all the nice perks of staying onsite. (like additional hours in the parks; shopping transport service; free WDW transportation; free theme park parking; etc)

Most important of all SSR&S is very cheap! That's the reason why I am staying there. I'm doing a budget trip - just to test how it works. See how I sacrifice myself for you - again!

So I don't recommend first timers stay at SSR&S. If you are going to visit the World - stay somewhere in the centre of action, with strong theming (like the Polynesian or Wilderness Lodge) and really enjoy immersing yourself.

If you have a large group coming AND want to pay the same low price, stay at Old Key West Resort or one of the family suites at the All Star Music value resort.

I mean, why bother? You might as well just stay across the road at the non-Disney hotels.

Well - that settles it - The "Why Bother" is my new name for SSR&S.

There is an unoffical SSR&S Fan website.
In an upcoming post I'll explain the different ways you can access accommodation in Orlando - including these timeshare resorts for the most value visit, where you can experience "the wonder of Disney with a hint of nostaligic magic!" (someone got paid to write that)

*BTW - apparently the cartoon horsies are from Disney's versions of Sleeping Beauty and Tangled.

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