For our first night at Walt Disney World, we stayed at Saratoga Springs, which is our DVC home resort. Even though it is our home resort, this was actually the first time we had visited that resort, much less stayed there. In our past visits, we have generally been able to get rooms at other resorts closer to the park (Wilderness Lodge Villas and Boardwalk Villas). We are staying at Wilderness Lodge (our favorite!) again for the WDW portion of this trip too, but decided to go ahead and try out our “home” for our arrival night before the cruise.
Our feelings about Saratoga Springs were somewhat mixed. It is a nice complex overall and the room was great (typical of DVC rooms), but I think the place is overall just a bit too big and spread out for our tastes. I know that some people really tend to prefer the more spread out resorts like this, but we generally like the more compact resorts overall. They just feel a bit more comfortable to us and we like the feeling that everything is pretty quickly accessible.
One really big problem with Saratoga Springs is that the layout is fairly confusing and there is a serious lack of signs to help one navigate around. Each section of the resort has a name, but the only signs generally are up towards the top of the buildings and not on all sides. Each section also consists of multiple buildings, making it even more difficult yet to find your way around. There are maps posted at various locations (and we were given one at check-in), but they are very stylized and we found it very hard to ever really get our bearings enough to identify exactly where we were on the maps and what direction we were facing. Because of all this, we actually wandered lost for about 1/2 hour or so after we first checked in before we finally flagged down a bellman on a golf cart who ended up driving us to our building. We actually had ended up going the wrong direction out of the lobby and had pretty much ended up on the opposite site of the resort from where we were supposed to be. Once we knew the route, it wasn’t hard to find our way to and from the room, but that initial search was very frustrating.
For dinner, we decided to see if we could get into the resort’s one table service restaurant, Turf Club Bar & Grill. Despite the widely reported difficulties getting walk-up tables at WDW restaurants, we were actually able to get in with only about a 15 minute wait. We all three had cheeseburgers for dinner. They were good, although perhaps a bit more charred on the outside than I generally like. We also had the odd problem that they initially forgot the cheese on our burgers, supposedly due to a misunderstanding in the kitchen. We had ordered the burgers with cheese and bacon only and the waitress had put in the orders as “cheeseburgers with bacon only”. Apparently, the kitchen staff thought that meant no cheese. They ended up bringing us slices of cheese to add to the burgers, but I’m sure they would have been better with the cheese melted on them. Still, the dinner was overall tasty and the pricing at the restaurant is really surprisingly reasonable for WDW.
Right now, it is about 10:45pm and I’m actually on-board the Disney Wonder now, posting from the Internet Cafe. This is our second cruise (first was a 7-night cruise on our honeymoon seven years ago) and, so far, it is as much fun as we remembered. This time we are on a 4-night cruise and it is definitely a somewhat different vibe in that we have our nearly 4-year-old son with us and have also been joined by my parents and sister. So far, it does make for a fun family gathering!
Dinner tonight was in Triton’s. I had a chilled shrimp medley for the starter, beef tenderloin for the entree, and a grand marnier souflet for dessert. Everything was excellent. The shrimp was very fresh and tasty and the beef was so lean and tender that a steak knife was pretty much not needed. The soufflet was delicious as well. After I had finished my actual dessert, they brought a great big slice of birthday cake for me (today is my birthday). The cake was a berry cheesecake with a white chocolate miniature ship on top. The piece of cake was huge and was also delicious, although I was too full to eat more than a few bites. I did take it “to go” and have it in the stateroom refrigerator now. I’m sure I’ll find time to eat more of it later.
Tomorrow we are in Nassau and have already purchased an excursion to the Atlantis resort. Our son loves sea animals, so I’m sure he will really enjoy going through the aquarium there.