While there are many conflicting reviews about SSR, we absolutely believe that Saratoga Springs Resort is good for families. We’ll discuss the layout of the resort and some of the reasons it’s one of our favorites!
Is Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort (SSR) Good for Autistic Families?
Yes, there are so many amazing things to do. Disney Vacation Club Saratoga Springs Resort (SSR) is divided into several clusters of villas that contain their own amenities: the Grandstand, the Springs, the Carousel, the Paddock, and Congress Park.
The main action occurs at the Carriage House. Fantastic restaurants, a general store, and the spa and High Rock Spring Pool are located in the Springs. There are four swimming pools total, but each is a different experience.
This resort features bus transportation to each of the other bus stops in the resort, Disney Springs, and all Walt Disney World theme parks. Beyond the bus stop, there is also a walking path and boat transportation to Disney Springs.
If you plan to spend less time in the theme parks, access to pools and Disney Springs will be tremendously important. If you take some time off from the theme parks, this is your perfect resort.
What about check-in?
Check-in time is at 4 p.m. You check-in at the Carriage house, which contains the lobby and concierge at Saratoga Springs Resort (SSR). You will be dropped off directly at the Carriage House for those who are taking the Mears passenger bus. If you drive yourself, follow the signs. Once you arrive at the Carriage House, there are greeters by the door to direct you once you arrive.
Are you curious about the Carriage House? I filmed the experience upon arrival.
You can check-in online before setting foot on Walt Disney World Resort grounds. Online check-in lets you put in room requests, attach a credit card to the room, and even select when you arrive.
Disney texts you when the room is ready. However, I never received a text. At 4 p.m., I went to the Carriage House to get our magic bands and asked if the room was ready. It was- so I caution you to check if you are approaching check-in time and have not received a text yet.
What about the villas in The Paddock?
Luckily, the Paddock Villas is in a decent location. The Paddock features a pool that competes closely with the main feature pool at Saratoga Springs Resort. The Paddock Grill is also a quick-service restaurant that has extended hours and delicious food nearby. The Paddock is close to the walkway to Disney Springs. The circled area is our room in building 61.
We stayed in a one-bedroom with a king-size bed, a full kitchen with all necessary appliances and utensils, and a fold-out sofa. There is a pack-n-play and an ironing board in the closet. The Saratoga Springs Resort villa has decor like the turn of the century Saratoga Springs, New York, focusing on horse racing.
Our son has autism, and eating in our room is heaven-sent. We love the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) because it affords us the ability to eat meals in our room with a full kitchen while staying on property to travel between places quickly. To us, the kitchen alone makes Saratoga Springs Resort suitable for autistic families.
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We love using the kitchen so much that we like to maximize our savings and cater to our children’s special diets. I always make sure I have an active subscription to Amazon Prime before going. If you’re unsure about the commitment, you can usually sign up for a free 30-day trial.
Amazon Prime allows you to send food ahead of time or order items within 48 hours or less. You also can use Amazon Prime Now which means you can get groceries within a few hours. Prime Pantry means you can order big boxes of food for cheap.
The Paddock Pool
The Saratoga Springs Resort pool in the Paddock area has a slide that resembles a water tower. The Paddock pool slide is 146-feet-long, the tallest drop of all the resorts, sending you into a zero-entry pool. When you’ve had enough fun splashing, relax in a horseshoe-shaped whirlpool spa.
If you have littles, it is sometimes nice to kick back and relax. The children’s play area at the Paddock Pool is for children under 48 inches. It features two slides, water cannons, dumping buckets and sprinklers. Here’s a video of the entire children’s play area and our little bug with autism:
The Paddock pool at SSR is on our list of the top ten best Disney World pools, and it’s incredible. The pace is here is so relaxed, and we enjoy the ability to return to our spacious room for meals and naps.
While this is not the main feature pool at SSR, we still had a blast here. The main pool was too crowded and loud for our little guy’s sensory preferences. Our children declared this pool the best pool of all time.
Can you eat or get beverages at Disney’s Paddock Pool?
The Paddock Pool features a quick service poolside restaurant called the Paddock Grill with adult and non-alcoholic beverages, including some specialty drinks. The Paddock Grill’s hours are 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
You can snag a breakfast sandwich or quiche and coffee for breakfast at the Paddock Grill. Lunch and dinner offer a salad, shrimp tacos, a chicken sandwich, or burger. If you have refillable mugs, there is a station at the Paddock Grill for you to fill them up until your heart is content.
While all Disney World restaurants accommodate our gluten-free diet, the Paddock Grill was kind and willing to specialize in foods for our picky eaters. We were able to get a variety of options. Even on the days that my gluten-free kiddo struggled to find something he wanted to eat, at least there’s always Mickey Bars!
You order at the window and are given a flag to put by your chair. The cast members will bring food out to you while you wait poolside. We felt utterly spoiled at Saratoga Springs Resort when they delivered our food. It was nice not to drag slippery children and several trays of food to our table to eat.
Can you walk to to Disney Springs from Saratoga Springs Resort?
We took the pathway from Saratoga Springs to the Disney Springs shopping area (formerly known as the Disney Marketplace or Disney Village). I always come prepared with sensory tools to make the walk less stressful, such as fidget toys and a tablet for communication.
The resort is an attractive place, with lush landscaping and hidden Mickeys galore. Walt Disney World selects fragrant flowers and foliage that feels like you’re entering a secret garden.
We stopped to see the gorgeous red Mickey Mouse head made from flowers in the lawn by the lake on our way to Disney Springs.
We discussed what to expect with my son and provided a visual schedule with pictures (PECS). Essentially it went like this: first lunch, then shopping, next treat, then pool.
He was pretty excited about the walk after establishing a schedule and expectations. We followed the pathway and made it to Disney Springs without any issues.
Disney Springs is fun because it’s more than just shopping and eating. There are a ton of photo opportunities and special memories as you wander around.
The moral of the story is go with the flow for your autistic kiddos. Sticking to a rigid schedule would have ruined our trip. There were many things that our son decided he didn’t wan to, so be flexible. Sometimes it’s best to know when to pick your battles- it’s everyone’s special vacation- not just ours!
What about the Walt Disney World resort TV channels?
We spent our evening watching Mickey Mouse and eating snacks in the fold-out bed. Our children adore watching Duffy Bear story time immediately before falling asleep.
To wrap up the evening, my husband brought us Mickey Bars. The children adore this and it has become a long-standing tradition for our crew.