For my thoughts on the re-opening of Walt Disney World, see this.


By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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Review: Disney’s Old Key West Resort

By Dave Shute

OVERVIEW: DISNEY’S OLD KEY WEST RESORT

Disney’s Old Key West Resort (a Disney Vacation Club (“DVC”) Resort) is a wonderful place for returning visitors to Walt Disney World to stay.

Old Key West is the most spacious of the DVC resorts, its One and Two Bedroom villas are the most livable of these room types among the DVC resorts, and it is typically the least expensive of the DVC resorts. Old Key West is also my personal favorite among them.

For typical first-time visitors, I don’t recommend the Disney Vacation Club resorts.

That said, these “DVC” resorts can be a great choice for first time visitors with large families, needing extra sleeping spaces, or looking for a more comfortable place to stay, or for those looking for Studios.

THE DISNEY VACATION CLUB RESORTS

You can have a spectacular visit at any Walt Disney World resort.

However, this site recommends that first time visitors to Walt Disney World avoid the Disney Vacation Club resorts, while noting that these resorts are wonderful for visits after the first.

The recommendation comes from the simple fact that the distinguishing feature of most rooms in these resorts–extra space and full kitchens–will not be of much value to first-time visitors following one of the itineraries on this site, as they won’t be used much.

An exception is the Studios in the three stand-alone DVC resorts–Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, and Riviera.  These may be good choices for some first time visitors. There’s more on Studios at Old Key West later in this review.

That said, the Disney Vacation Club resorts represent more than 10% of Walt Disney World’s total rooms, and are very appropriate for first time visitors with large families, needing extra sleeping spaces, or looking for a more comfortable place to stay–especially if you have a car, as Old Key West is pretty spread out.

Because of this, I always provide up-to-date reviews of these options. This Old Key West review is based on our seven stays at Old Key West since this site opened, most recently in the summer of 2020.  It includes eight pages:

ACCOMMODATIONS AT DISNEY’S OLD KEY WEST RESORT

Disney’s Old Key West Resort has all four of the room types common among the DVC hotels

  • Studios, which sleep four in a space similar to a regular hotel room, on two queen beds, and also offer a kitchenette with a microwave, toaster, coffeemaker, and mini-fridge.
  • One Bedroom Villas, which sleep five in a two bay space, one bay a master suite with a king bed and the second bay offering living, dining and kitchen spaces, with fold-out beds accommodating three more on a fold-out queen, and a fold-out single
  • Two Bedroom Villas, which sleep nine. Many of them essentially combine a One Bedroom Villa and a Studio–these combined units are called “lock-offs.” “Dedicated” Two Bedroom Villas have a slightly different second bedroom with two queens, and also sleep nine
  • Grand Villas, which sleep twelve in a space about twice the size of a Two Bedroom Villa

One and Two Bedroom Villas–except for a subset that I will get to–are particularly spacious and livable accommodations. Note the Old Key West One Bedroom Villa floor plan above, and compare it to the BoardWalk Villas One Bedroom floor plan below:

You’ll note in the BoardWalk a smaller overall space, smaller dining table, and smaller living room; less seating in each of these areas; and a smaller balcony. Similar cramped layouts are found in DVC options Saratoga Springs, Beach Club Villas, and Boulder Ridge Villas.  Other DVC resorts are better, but still not quite as livable as Old Key West.

One notable exception is One and Two Bedroom Villas at Old Key West in buildings numbered lower than 30.  Villas in these buildings lack a door between the laundry room and the full bath, meaning accessing the bath requires a trip through the master bedroom, making these much less livable that those in buildings 30 and higher.

More detail on accommodations at Old Key West can be found in the material that begins here.

DINING AT DISNEY’S OLD KEY WEST RESORT

Disney’s Old Key West Resort is thin on dining options–which I suppose makes sense as many spaces here have full kitchens.

The table service venue is Olivia’s, in the Hospitality House area. With crab cakes, conch preparations, and a variety of other seafood, it’s a little more interesting than you might expect.

There’s also a tiny bar and a small quick service just outside, both of which also serve the nearby main pool.  At the far end of the resort at the smaller Turtle Bay pool is another small quick service venue.

There’s more on dining at Old Key West here.

THE POOLS AT DISNEY’S OLD KEY WEST RESORT

Disney’s Old Key West Resort has five pools.

The feature pool is the Sandcastle Pool, just outside the Hospitality House, with the usual pool slide, games, and nearby bar and snack bar.

Four smaller pools provide closer options to the rest of the sprawling resort.  None is distinguished except for being within walking distance, except for the Turtle Bay pool, with its snack bar.

There’s more on the pools at Disney’s Old Key West Resort here.

KID APPEAL AND CONVENIENCE AT DISNEY’S OLD KEY WEST RESORT

Disney's Old Key West Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Resorts are ranked on this site for first time visitors based first on their kid appeal, and then on their convenience.

On this basis, Disney’s Old Key West Resort comes in near the bottom of the Disney Vacation Club resorts. (See this for resort rankings.)

Disney’s Old Key West Resort Kid Appeal.

Pool Disney's Old Key West Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

While quite charming to adults, Old Key West has no real kid appeal compared to spectacularly-appealing alternatives like the Polynesian, Boulder Ridge and Copper Creek at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and the Jambo House Villas at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Disney’s Old Key West Resort Convenience.

Bus Stop Disney's Old Key West Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Old Key West is not as isolated as it is sometimes described to be–it’s not far from Epcot, for example.

That said, its distance, sprawling layout–with many services far from most rooms–and five bus stops make it among the least convenient of the Walt Disney World resorts.

BEST AND WORST PLACES TO STAY AT DISNEY’S OLD KEY WEST RESORT

Fairway Disney's Old Key West Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

A  positive of Disney’s Old Key West Resort–one that it share with Saratoga Springs–is that because of the “single-sided” building layout that both of these resorts have, there are no bad views.  Views at Old Key West can be of water, trees, or golf courses–but not, except for some Studio windows that can be ignored–of parking lots or the backs of buildings.

However, Disney’s Old Key West Resort also has some distinctive negatives that affect the best places to stay.

It is large and sprawling. As a result, only a few buildings–specifically 11-16, 23-26, and 62-63–are a quick walk to the main pool, shops, and restaurant, and many–specifically buildings 30 through 56–are quite a hike. (See below for a map.)

Only three of its 49 three-story buildings have elevators–Buildings 62, 63, and 64.

For One-Bedroom villas, only buildings numbered 30 and above have an entrance to the (only) bath from both the master bedroom and also from the kitchen/dining/living area.

In buildings numbered lower than 30, one has to enter the master bedroom of a One-Bedroom villa to get to the bath.  Since one of the key benefits of the One-Bedroom Villas compared to regular rooms is separation and privacy, this is a big deal for many.

Map Disney's Old Key West Resort

Buildings 62, 63 and 64 are the best buildings at Old Key West. (See the resort map above; click it to enlarge it.) Request a third floor room (better views, quieter) in one of these buildings.

These three are the only buildings at the resort that have each of an elevator, both master bedroom and living room access to the bath in the One-Bedroom villas, and a very short walk to the main pool, shopping, and dining area of the resort.

Buildings 62, 63 and 64 are, in fact, the only buildings that have more than one of these three features! Building 62 is my favorite among these.

All of the other buildings that have the extra door to the bath (30-56) have no elevators, and are distant–often very distant.  30, 31, 45 and 46 are the closest of these.  If you don’t care about elevators and don’t mind a bit of distance, request a second floor room in one of these four buildings. (The second floor because it’s high enough to guarantee a balcony rather than a deck, but avoids the extra stairs to the third floor.)

The other buildings that are a short walk to the main pool and such (11-16 and 23-26) have no elevators and no second door to the bath.  These buildings are great if you do not care about the door or elevator.  Of these, 11-14 are the closest to the main area.  Building 12 is my personal favorite. Request a second floor room (same reasons as above).

Avoid buildings 19-22, 38, 39, 41, 42, and 49-51, because of the traffic noises they can face.

Kelly, the long-term travel partner of this site, can book your Disney vacation in Disney’s Old Key West Resort or anywhere else!  Contact her using the form below:

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THEMING AND ACCOMMODATIONS AT DISNEY’S OLD KEY WEST RESORT

This review continues here!

 

MATERIAL IN THIS REVIEW OF DISNEY’S OLD KEY WEST RESORT

 

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