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Old 05-14-2004, 01:16 PM   #1
Jennifer and Dave
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Saratoga Springs Open Mouse

Saratoga Springs is the Disney Vacation Club’s (DVC) newest resort, right across the water from Downtown Disney on the grounds of the former Disney Institute. Now, we have many fond memories of the old Institute, so DVC’s “Welcome Home!” slogan was especially fitting as we stepped onto the grounds. While most of the Institute’s lodgings were razed to make way for what will be a 696 guest villa facility, many of the familiar public buildings survive.

The welcome center has been redecorated, but its three-story, octagonal check-in area still felt like home.

As we followed the signs on the self-guided tour we saw how the old Institute class registration area has become a comfy lounge.

The Gathering Place lounge and Seasons restaurant have become a very attractive dining/shopping area, the Artist’s Palette. (Combining the shopping and dining areas is a recent trend at Disney resorts – it can also be seen at Pop Century.) The shop area offers a variety of resort-specific and general Disney merchandise, snack foods and beverages, and even some gourmet goods.

The dining area mixes counter and table-service -- guests place their orders at the attractive counter areas, and orders will be brought to their tables or packaged for takeout -- DVC villas are very attractive places to dine. The large room resembles a remodeled old factory building with “antique” brick walls and large wood beams and trusses, and is decorated with appealing modern paintings and hand-blown art glass.

Just beyond, a former private dining room has been converted to a cozy lounge area with a small bar, very comfortable seating, and an old-fashioned pocket billiards table.

The full-service Spa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs looks brand-new and very appealing, but it’s really a spruced-up version of the Spa at the Disney Institute.

If you loved the old spa or are looking for a great day spa experience, you can’t go too far wrong here.

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