In 1975 a unique accommodation opened at Walt Disney World, the Treehouse Villas. Nestled deep within a pine forest a short distance from the Walt Disney World Village (now Downtown Disney), these octagon-shaped suites offered a full kitchen, two upstairs bedrooms and a downstairs den which was later converted into a third bedroom. These units had a loyal following and many felt that they had “bragging rights” if they had stayed here. But over the years time took its toll and this once special place became tired and showed its age. In 2002 this property was closed to the public. For a short period of time, many of the international cast members and those on the college program called these units home. However Disney knew that this wasn’t the best use of the property and eventually decided to give this area a much needed facelift. But how do you do this without destroying the very forest that makes this place so special.
To begin with, all of the treehouses were razed down to their foundation. In an effort to be environmentally friendly, over 65% of this demolished material, including concrete and metal, was recycled. Then a unique construction process began. For the first time since the Contemporary and Polynesian Resorts were built, these houses were constructed modularly. The living area is comprised of three sections and were built in Pennsylvania and trucked down Interstate 95. The roof is comprised of two modular sections and these were built locally. The deck makes up the sixth section.
On any given morning during construction, the three sections of the basic house were brought onsite. A giant crane lifted each section up and over the trees and dropped it into place. In the afternoon, the two roof sections and the deck arrived and by 2pm the basic structure was complete.
Opening on June 1st, these new villas are now part of the Saratoga Springs, Disney Vacation Club complex. All sixty units are identical and offer a living and dining area, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms. They are perched ten feet off of the ground and sit on a pedestal and beams designed to blend into the forest. They sleep nine and offer modern luxuries like flat-screen TVs and high-speed internet connection. For you DVC members, the Treehouse Villas are considered a “two-bedroom equivalent.”
I think Disney did a great job with the décor. They captured a rustic feel yet were able to incorporate modern amenities into the design. These units are very warm and inviting. The home we visited today is located on the 17th hole of the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course.
Here are pictures of the kitchen and living area.
If you look closely, you can see hidden Mickey’s in the carpet.
The end table is also designed to be a hidden Mickey.
Following are pictures of the master bedroom and bath.
Here are pictures of the other two bedrooms and the “guest” bath. Notice the bedspread on the bunkbeds.
Every unit has its own BBQ. Also, there is no longer any living space on the ground floor.
The Imagineers decided to keep the original pool, but it had a depth of 8 feet, which by today’s standards, is a little deep. The pool was filled in and now sports a depth of 3 feet to 4 feet 11 inches. There is also a spa and restrooms in this area but no food or beverage service is available. Note, this pool does NOT have a lifeguard.
Check in for the Treehouse Villas takes place at Saratoga Springs. There is a lovely walking path between the two areas and a cast member will be happy to use an electric vehicle to transport you and your luggage if you don’t have a car.
Internal transportation is provided by a bus that makes the rounds between Saratoga Springs and the Treehouse Villas. For transportation to the theme parks there are two bus stops located among the treehouses. For transportation to Downtown Disney a new dock has been constructed on the Sassagoula River for a leisurely boat trip.
If you’re not in the mood to cook, head back over to Saratoga Springs (via bus or walkway) and try Artist’s Palette and the Turf Club Bar and Grill. No room service is available at the Treehouse Villas.
I think future occupants of the Treehouse Villas will also have bragging rights. This is a wonderful spot to spend your vacation.
According to one of my readers, there are 3 units that are ADA compliant. They have ramps instead of stairs, and have roll-in showers.
AllEars Founder Deb Wills, along with Debra Martin Koma and Jack Marshall will be spending the first 2 days at the Treehouse Villa beginning Monday. Look for more photos and updates from them next week!
The previous post in this blog was Star Wars Weekends 2009.
The next post in this blog is Bay Lake Tower.