The Walk Disney series will provide a description and review of activities that can be done while walking the grounds at Walt Disney World resorts. You can find maps of all the resort jogging trails in Krissy Murphy’s excellent article from last year.
A great jogging trail provides you with sensory details that encourage you to move forward and rewards you for your hard work. The beautifully crafted jogging trail at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa does just that.
While the jogging trails map of Saratoga Springs indicates that there are two jogging trails, there exists only one main trail that can be halved. When looking at the map, the longer version includes a trip around the Congress Park area. The map shows that the larger version of the trail is 1 mile, but my GPS enabled pedometer app measured it at 1.5 miles total. The shorter version was both .75 miles on the map and in actuality. A busy street, Broadway, cuts through the trail and will cause exercisers to cross it at least two times on a single trip around the longer version of the trail.
My wife, Kelly, and I began at the Springs-Carriage House corner and started walking clockwise around the jogging trail. The serene views of the pond immediately came into view, and once we got just a few feet past the Carriage House walkway, there was nary a person in sight. The paths were wide enough for a solo jogger to comfortably run past two walkers going the other way, but on our mid-afternoon walk, that issue never arose.
When we came to the beautiful bridge that divides the lake, the jogging trail indicated that we make a left to go around the lake, thus extending our walk. The bridge looked inviting, but we wanted to stick to the designated plan.
Small details started to reveal themselves as we walked. The different buildings’ courtyards housed sculptures, beautiful greeneries, and intricate stonework. I wanted to keep going and see more.
We could hear the loud festivities at the Paddock pool area as we walked around the lake, which isn’t unusual for mid-afternoon. Early morning runners can probably expect a quiet run through the Paddock area.
The extended jogging trail required us to cross the street where the Paddock and Springs areas corner. The shorter trail brings you right back around to the beginning, but as we were feeling adventurous, we crossed Broadway to do the complete trail. Crossing the street is by far the worst part of this experience; it’s a busy bus area, and the street itself hasn’t been taken care of well (I tripped in a pothole!). The next brief stretch borders the Congress Park parking lot, so it’s crowded, hot, and therefore not ideal for runners. Don’t worry, though, because the upcoming reward makes this tough part of the journey worth it.
As we turned the corner out of the Congress Park parking lot, to our surprise, we entered a wooded trail. The woods were lovely; they provided a wonderful, peaceful contrast to the parking lot area we just had to walk past. We started to hear a familiar, appropriate tune as we walked through the windy path, “Just around the Riverbend,” which made us giggle and realize that Disney civilization wasn’t too far ahead.
The woods opened to a sweeping view of Downtown Disney. It was fun to people-watch as we walked, as we got to see hordes of people navigate through the Disney Springs refurb walls. The new walkway to Downtown Disney will provide more adventurous walkers or early morning joggers an opportunity to explore the Downtown Disney area as well.
Halfway around the Congress Park area were benches with a perfect panoramic view of Downtown Disney and its current state of construction. The Congress Park pool area was directly behind us, as well as a really cool fountain. For a leisurely walk like ours, we found this to be a good place to stop and relax for a bit. As we continued our walk through the Congress Park area, Kelly noticed that there were winding, intersecting walking paths between the buildings that could add to a long walk at the resort.
Before we exited the Congress Park area, I saw my favorite detail of the grounds: the statues of the four seasons. They are situated in one of the courtyards here, and they are worth the trip even if you aren’t going for a long walk.
We returned the way we came, circling the big pond and heading back up towards Broadway. As Broadway passes in front of DVC preview center and leads directly to the Carriage House, the sidewalk becomes much busier. A jogger may wish to end his or her run before hitting this main thoroughfare, or turn around and double-back. The walking and vehicular traffic will make running difficult here.
We made it back to our starting point with the app stating that we walked 1.5 miles. Even in the extreme heat, our leisurely walk was fun because of the element of discovery that the Imagineers built into these grounds. There are both layered details and majestic views that reward persistent exercisers and encourage them to complete the journey.