The Great Disney Saratoga Springs Pool Hop Challenge: Part Two

The Great Saratoga Springs Pool Hop Challenge: Part 2
The Great Disney Saratoga Springs Pool Hop Challenge:
Five Pools in Under 30 Minutes

Last year I documented our favorite pastime when visiting Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa at Walt Disney World Resort, something that I named: The Great Saratoga Springs Pool Hop Challenge. As a quick recap, Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa is 65 acres and has five separate and distinct pools spread across its massive area.

Mike Belobradic's Disney Saratoga Springs Pool Hop Challenge

The graphic that I created for the inaugural running of the inaugural Great Saratoga Springs Pool Hop Challenge on August 24, 2017.


This summer (2018) we did a second running of the GSSPHC and I’m pleased to report that we smashed our previous time in a convincing manner.

Our old record was 33:39, that’s 33 minutes and 39 seconds. We thought that that was pretty good… until this summer. Using everything that we learned from the first time around, in 2018 we managed to do the Great Saratoga Springs Pool Hop Challenge in a much faster time of 21:16 — that’s 21 minutes and 16 seconds.

GSSPHP 2018 - Pool #1: Treehouse Villas Pool

Pool #1 was the Treehouse Villas Pool. The challenge began at 11:26 a.m.


Take the Saratoga Springs Pool Hop Challenge!

How did we do it?

Well, there were a few key changes that we incorporated into our challenge this time around that made a huge difference. I’ll share those with you now so that you can see if you can beat the new best time of 21:16, set on August 25, 2018.

GSSPHP 2018 - Pool #2: Grandstand Pool

The Grandstand Pool was the second stop for our 2018 record-setting run. We hit this pool at 11:32 a.m.


First of all, we wore quick change clothing. Best of all is to wear clothing that you don’t have to change at all. No cover ups and so on. Every second counts where you’re going into and out of the water.

Along those lines, this time around we didn’t bother using towels at all. It takes way too much time to get towels at each pool (this was a big time lag for us last year). So we just jumped in, spent our one minute in each pool, then got out and jumped on our bikes.

The third big time saver has to do with footwear. When you rent bikes, you’re not allowed to ride them in bare feet or flip flops. But it takes too long slip shoes off and on at each pool (plus they’ll get soaked). So the tip here is to wear water shoes. That way they count as good footwear for riding the bikes and you can leave them on throughout the race without jeopardizing any time.

Finally, probably the biggest thing we did that made the most difference was to choose a better route. Last year we wanted to end up at the High Rock Spring Pool, but that results in a route that is not as direct as it could be. So this time around we decided to do an end-to-end run. We started at the Treehouse Villas Pool and ended at the Congress Park Pool.

GSSPHP 2018 - Pool #3: High Rock Spring Pool

Our third pool was the High Rock Spring Pool. This is the slowest area of the race because it is right by the main check in area and there tends to be a lot of guest that you must navigate around on your bikes. We reached this pool at 11:36 a.m.


As a recap, the six rules of the Great Saratoga Springs Pool Hop Challenge are as follows:

  1. Time Starts when you enter the water of your first pool.
  2. Time stops when you complete one minute in the water of your fifth and final pool.
  3. Time does not stop or suspend at any time throughout the challenge.
  4. There is no prescribed order of pools: start and finish wherever you like.
  5. Motorized vehicles are not allowed for an official race time (you can’t drive your car or a scooter between pools).
  6. Take a photo before you enter each pool. A single shot of one family member is fine. The time stamp on the image also helps to track your time.
GSSPHP 2018 - Pool #4: Paddock Pool

By the time we reached the Paddock Pool at 11:41 a.m., we knew that we were going to smash the previous record. We thought we might have a shot at breaking the 20-minute mark.


The Time to Beat

Our new time to beat is 21 minutes and 16 seconds to go to all five pools and spend at least one minute in the water. Too keep time, have one member of your group wear a waterproof watch with a stop watch function to time the event. Take a photo before you jump in to each pool. It’s not only good for capturing the event, but the time stamps on the photos will tell you exactly when you entered each pool.

GSSPHP 2018 - Pool #5: Congress Park Pool

By the time we reached our home pool in Congress Park at 11:47 a.m., we knew we have crushed our previous time. We didn’t break the 20-minute mark, but that gives us something to aim for next time around.


Tips for Your Own Great Saratoga Springs Pool Hop Challenge

Here are a few tips that we learned during the creation of the first Great Saratoga Springs Pool Hop Challenge.

a) Rent bikes
It is much more efficient (and fun) than trying to run around to each pool.

b) Do a dry run
Chart your course and do a dry run on your bikes first so that you can pick the best order of pools and route for your family. You also want to know where you’re going so that you don’t waste time looking at maps when the race is on.

c) Wear quick change clothing
You can save time by wearing shirts and shoes that are easy to slip in and out of at each pool. Travel light and plan ahead.

We were staying at Congress Park neighborhood of Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, so we wanted to start at that pool and my daughter wanted to end at High Rock Springs pool. You may be able to beat our time with a better order of pools.

Planning a Walt Disney World Deluxe Vacation?

Be sure to read my Guide to Planning A Walt Disney World Vacation and my post on the Five Golden Rules of Walt Disney World Vacation Planning.

Mike Belobradic: The Finer Side of Disney Travel
Luxury Travel Blogger – Deluxe Disney Travel Specialist
The Finer Side of Travel