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Old 05-14-2004, 02:25 PM   #3
Dave Marx
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Re: Saratoga Springs Open Mouse

Outside, the open-air amphitheater has been converted into High Rock Spring, one of the nicest theme pools on Disney property.

The large, free-form pool includes a zero-entry area, a “pop fountain” play zone, a very appealing water slide, kiddie pool, and a large hot-tub spa.

The spa is equipped with a motorized transfer lift for wheelchair-bound guests. Locker rooms and a snack bar are immediately adjoining. Just to the east of the pool is the building that used to house the Institute’s classrooms. Several rooms have been converted into the Community Hall, a standard feature of DVC resorts.

For the most part, this space will be used for organized children’s activities, and still feels like classroom space. The building also houses DVC’s new Preview (sales) Center, which will replace the facility at Disney’s BoardWalk that handles all sales presentations at Walt Disney World. While we didn’t tour the center’s model villas, we saw the “Storybook Room” that introduces guests to the Disney Vacation Club concept. About a half-dozen alcoves house huge, multi-media display systems that put most of the exhibits at Epcot’s Future World to shame. Be forewarned, the Storybook Room looks VERY persuasive.

From there, we trekked over to visit some of the guest buildings in the resort’s Congress Park district, just across the water from Downtown Disney Marketplace.

As with DVC’s BoardWalk Villas and Beach Club Villas, the style here is a variation on Northeastern Victorian, befitting the style of Saratoga Springs in Upstate New York. These are huge buildings, each housing about 58 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom villas. The resort will have 12 of these guest buildings by the time construction is finished next year! Outside, the area is beautifully landscaped, with meandering pathways, a waterfront promenade perfect for enjoying the lights of Downtown Disney and the midnight fireworks at Pleasure Island, and a large “leisure pool” (the term “quiet pool” seems to be on its way out). The pool has “spitting frog” fountains at each of four corners, a hot tub, a beautiful children’s playground and will surely satisfy anyone who doesn’t want to walk over to the more elaborate High Rock Springs pool.

Inside, the studios, one- and two-bedroom villas are very similar to the units at Beach Club Villas, leaving aside differences of style. The décor seems “richer” and more upscale than any of the other DVC resorts, in keeping with the image of the original Saratoga Springs.

Walls are painted in quiet pastels, furniture is done in a dark, walnut finish (look for hidden Mickeys in the headboards), kitchen and bathroom countertops are granite (like Beach Club Villas), and there are lots of interesting “period” décor elements, including lamp shades that reveal horse head silhouettes when illuminated.

One new touch that captured our attention is the desk in the master bedroom – it has two power outlets (for a laptop and cell phone charger, for example) and a built-in high-speed Internet access jack!

The real show-stopper is the three-bedroom Grand Villa. These sleep 12 in very grand style indeed. They have a two-story layout, with a cathedral-ceilinged great room, kitchen, formal dining area, bath and master suite on the first level, plus two bedrooms, more baths, laundry area and a balcony overlooking the great room upstairs. Wheelchair access is no problem for the second floor guests – in addition to the interior staircase, there’s a separate entry door upstairs so folks can use the elevator.

Naturally, a visit of this sort doesn’t compare with an actual stay at the resort, when we can sample the food, enjoy the recreation facilities, and ferret-out all sorts of interesting details. We hope to do that a little later this year, and at that point we’ll release a fully-updated version of the pre-opening resort description we wrote for PassPorter Walt Disney World 2004. We can’t wait!

You don't have the same parking situation that exists at Old Key West, but it's similar. The buildings at Saratoga Springs are hotel-styled like the villas at BoardWalk, Beach Club and Wilderness Lodge (interior hallways, one main entrance) rather than motel-styled (exterior hallways, each room has its own outside door). However, the parking is just outside the entrance to each building, so it's much more convenient than at BWV, BCV and VWL. All buildings will have one side with a water view, and (naturally) there will be no parking on the water side to disturb the vista. Check the map on page 88 of this year's PassPorter WDW to see what I mean.
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