Disney's Saratoga Springs
Latest Timeshare Resort is Disney's
Largest Vacation Club to Date
With the first phase of the Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort
& Spa open and nearly sold out, general contractor Hardin
Construction Co. of Orlando continues working on phase two
of the Walt Disney World interval-ownership property. But
Disney is not stopping with the originally planned 552 units.
"The guest response to Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort
& Spa has been so overwhelming we have decided to add
a third phase," said Jim Lewis, senior vice president
and general manager of Disney Vacation Club.
Saratoga Springs is Disney's seventh interval-ownership resort
and will be its largest upon completion of all announced phases.
Phase one has 184 units. Lewis expects it will sell out this
year. Phase two will have 368 units, and phase three will
add 276 units. More than 82,000 families own Disney vacation
units, triple the number of owners from five years ago.
For this project, Walt Disney Imagineers crafted a theme
for Saratoga Springs that includes a focus on health, history
"We looked all across the country, knowing we already
had a Key West, Beach Club and Wilderness Lodge," said
Bill Hanus, senior development manager for Walt Disney Imagineering.
"We thought about an upstate New York theme, because
it's romantic, and people from the Northeast relate to it."
The Imagineers picked Saratoga Springs because of its architecture,
history, horse racing and health roots. A team traveled to
New York and took about 1,000 photographs to use as inspiration
"We created the same Victorian feel as you see up there,"
Hanus said. "We do that in terms of materials, colors
The architecture of the 48-unit buildings is inspired by
the sprawling New York country retreats popular in the 1800s.
Each building has a central tower as a focal point. Horse
motifs decorate the common areas, light fixtures and leisure
The mineral springs at the resort's New York namesake are
internationally famous for their restorative properties. To
remind Florida resort guests about that aspect of Saratoga
Springs, the Imagineers created four bodies of water that
resemble the natural bodies of water.
"We have fountains that we pipe in with water and have
the sound of water flowing. We didn't dig any springs,"
Hanus said. "These are just for appearance."
At the pool, a rock formation allows water from a man-made
spring to spill into the swimming area. Together, the resort's
aquatic features contain more than 300,000 gallons of water.
Saratoga Springs resort is located at the former site of
the Disney Institute, across a lake from Downtown Disney.
Before construction could begin on the new slab-on-grade structures,
contractors tore down the old living quarters, which were
not as efficient to operate as the new buildings. The institute's
spa, restaurant and classroom space received a facelift and
were incorporated into the Saratoga Springs resort.
"Our primary challenge has been the attain the level
of quality and attention to detail with an aggressive construction
schedule," said Pat Dean, construction manager for Hardin.
"We have been able to achieve that with a lot of pre-planning
and coordination with WDI."
Crews also relocated 30-year-old oak trees. They were kept
alive, fertilized and nurtured. As construction wrapped up,
the trees were replanted around the resort. Some of the oaks
have a 24-in.-diameter trunk.
David R. Smith, senior construction manager for Disney Imagineering,
said the tree-saving program was successful, and not one tree
Phase one included four buildings and broke ground in March
2003. The eight buildings in phase two are in various stages
of construction from foundation work to millwork and finishing.
Crews also will add a second, smaller leisure pool.
The three- and four-story buildings have spread footings
and post-tensioned flat slabs. The roofs are engineered metal
trusses. The exterior framing is engineered metal-studs, with
light-gage metal framing on the interior. Concrete board or
textured stucco covers the exterior facade.
"We picked those products because they have a good life-cycle
cost for maintenance," Smith said. "The concrete
siding lasts for many decades. The only maintenance is cleaning
The exteriors have various color schemes - blues, greens
and corals - and architectural features that give the impression
that various segments of the structures were built at different
times. Buildings may have scallop shingles, lap siding or
simulated cedar-shake shingles. The central towers also vary.
Some have brick accents, while others have copper weather
veins or carved stone details.
Buildings facing the lake received special double-pane soundproofing
windows, so fireworks, which are set off at midnight, would
not disturb the occupants. All units have energy-saving thermostats
and recirculating water-heating systems.
Phase two is scheduled for completion in September 2005.
About 800 people are working onsite.
"It's a production job," Smith said. "The
guys who do the foundations jump from building to building
Hardin is using a table-form system for the floors. It has
a five- or six-day cycle between setting the forms and stripping
and moving to the next pour. The truss and metal stud crews
"They take the building from slab-on-grade to top out
in approximately six weeks," Smith said. "It's very
Smith said obtaining enough concrete and steel has been challenging.
Consequently, Hardin schedules pours in advance, so the local
batch plants can allocate material to the project.
"We've been happy with the project to date," Dean
added. "We're on schedule."
Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort
Owner: Walt Disney World,
Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Owner's Agent: Walt Disney
Imagineering Contract Services, Celebration, Fla.
Construction Manager: Hardin
Construction Co., Orlando
Architect: Graham Gund Architects,
Architect: Glover Smith
Bode Inc. Architects & Planners, Oklahoma City
Civil Engineer: Dyer Riddle
Mills & Precourt, Orlando
Structural Engineer: Haynes
Whaley Associates, Houston