Villa

Saratoga Springs Address:

1960 Broadway

Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-1000

Direct Phone: 1-407- 827-1100, Fax: 1-407- 827-1151, General Reservations: 1-407-WDISNEY (1-407-934-7639)

Saratoga Springs Resort Class: Saratoga Springs is a Deluxe Villa resort, the most expensive resort type.  There are six different room configurations with prices ranging from $305 per night for a Deluxe Studio during Value Season all the way up to $1,780 per night for a Three-Bedroom Grand Villa during Holiday Season.

How Disney Vacation Club Resorts Work: Saratoga Springs and other Disney Vacation Club “Villa” Resorts are available for anyone to book at specified cash rates, pending availability like any other resort.  There is no such thing as “second class citizens” at Disney resorts and it’s unlikely most employees will have any idea if you are a Disney Vacation Club member or not.  In fact, cash guests are often treated better than Vacation Club members because they want you to consider buying into Disney’s timeshare program.  Unlike Vacation Club Members, cash guests also receive full housekeeping service each day.

Saratoga Springs Location: Saratoga Springs is officially a Downtown Disney area resort.  Not only is Saratoga Springs in the area, but it actually sits directly opposite of Downtown Disney, separated only by the Sassagoula River.  It is the only resort with a direct walkway to Downtown Disney.  Unfortunately, if you’ve taken a Disney bus to Downtown Disney, you would know that it is quite a distance from many of the other resorts and theme parks.  Saratoga Springs is the furthest resort to the four major theme parks, on average.  Epcot is the closest theme park and it is about 15 minutes away by bus.  The Magic Kingdom is about 25 minutes away.

Saratoga Springs Size: Saratoga Springs is the largest Disney Vacation Club resort with 1,260 total rooms that make up 828 “Vacation Home Units.”  The discrepancy is due to the fact that many of the rooms are part of Two- or Three-Bedroom Villas.  This number includes the 60 independent Three-Bedroom Treehouse Villas which opened on June 1, 2009.  The Treehouse Villas are the most remote rooms at Saratoga Springs and could probably be considered their own resort if not for the fact that it would be more expensive to have an independent check-in area, feature pool, and other amenities exclusive to the Treehouse Villas.  There are two interior bus stops at the Treehouse Villas that take guests to the main building at Saratoga Springs, where they can board buses that travel to the theme parks, eat, swim, etc. just like everyone else.  There is also a walkway, but it may take 30 or more minutes to walk from the most remote Tree House Villas to the main building and feature pool.  Other than the Treehouse Villas, the rest of the rooms are housed in eighteen separate buildings that span 65 acres, causing many rooms to be a good distance away from the main building where you’ll find check-in and the restaurants.  Disney buses service five bus stops throughout the resort and each is convenient to one of the five clusters of buildings that make up the core resort.

Saratoga Springs Spa: The Spa at Saratoga Springs is the best on Disney property, offering single treatments, half-day treatments, and full-day treatments.  The spa is run by Niki Bryan Spas, the same company that operates the spa at the Grand Floridian Resort.  For a list of prices and available treatments, visit http://www.relaxedyet.com/ss_treatments.asp.

Saratoga Springs Room Amenities and Quality: Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa originally opened in May of 2004 with just 280 guest rooms in a section called “Congress Park.”  In the spring of 2005, Disney added eight additional buildings that comprised two new sections, respectively called “The Paddock” and “The Springs,” bringing the total number of rooms to 840.  Summer 2007 brought what was at the time the final phase of the resort, adding six buildings that comprise “The Carousel” and “The Grandstand” sections of the resort.  Finally, the Treehouse Villas opened on June 1st, 2009.  The resort has not undergone a serious refurbishment since the resort opened, which has caused some of the rooms in the first three sections to appear somewhat tired and dated.  It’s unlikely you will run into any serious problems, but the carpets, drapes, and furniture will be original unless a serious problem caused them to be replaced.

Saratoga Springs’ rooms are well appointed, though people comment about how the large size of the furniture makes the rooms feel smaller.  Although it is true that the furniture is a little too large for the space, Saratoga Springs’ rooms actually are smaller than comparable rooms found at other Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts.  Deluxe Studio rooms are just 355 square feet and One-Bedroom Villas are 714 Square Feet.  That puts a Deluxe Studio at just about 40 square feet larger than rooms at the Moderate Resorts and about 70 square feet smaller than Standard rooms at the Contemporary Resort.  One-Bedroom Villas at Old Key West are 942 square feet, which is more than 200 square feet larger than their counterparts at the Saratoga Springs resort.  Nonetheless, rooms are pleasantly furnished with high quality furniture.  In particular, the Treehouse Villas are beautiful, though they are decorated more like rooms in the Wilderness Lodge rather than the rest of Saratoga Springs.

At just 355 square feet, Deluxe Studio rooms at Saratoga Springs are smaller than most Standard rooms at other Deluxe resorts, save for the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge which have slightly smaller Standard rooms.  Amenities are also similar to Standard Deluxe rooms – the major difference is that Saratoga Springs’ Studios have a kitchenette that includes a microwave, refrigerator with small freezer, coffeemaker, and wet bar.  Each Studio sleeps four people on one queen-size bed and one double-size sleeper sofa, unlike Standard rooms at other resorts which have two dedicated beds. Each room also features a porch or balcony.  Other amenities include a flat-screen television, table with two chairs, hair dryer, vacuum cleaner, iron with ironing board, ceiling fan, telephone, and in-wall safe.  Bathrooms have a bathtub/shower combo and two sinks.

One-Bedroom Villas also sleep four people and feature a bedroom with king-size bed, living room with queen size sleeper sofa, dining area with full kitchen, and one bathroom with large walk-in shower, two sinks, and two-person whirlpool-style tub.  Coming in at 714 square feet, One-Bedroom Villas are slightly larger than two Deluxe Studio rooms put together.  The kitchen includes just about everything one might need to prepare a gourmet feast, including a coffeemaker, microwave, refrigerator with freezer, toaster, stove, oven, sink, dishwasher, pots, pans, and dinnerware.  The dining area includes a wooden table and four chairs.  There is also a dedicated laundry room with full size washer and dryer.  All other Studio amenities are also included: private porch or balcony, television, hair dryer, vacuum cleaner, iron with ironing board, ceiling fan, telephone, and in-wall safe.  The master bedroom with the king-size bed also has a chair and ottoman, television, armoire, and two nightstands.

Two-Bedroom Villas come in two varieties – “lock off” and “dedicated.”  Unlike at Old Key West where each type is its own separate category, Saratoga Springs just has “Two Bedroom Villas” listed as a room category and you will need to specify which type you would prefer at the time of reservation.  Both varieties sleep up to eight people and have identical pricing and very similar amenities.  The difference is that the lock-off Villas are really a One-Bedroom Villa and Deluxe Studio room attached to each other with an internal door that can be locked and one external entrance into each “half” of the Villa.  In other words, the Deluxe Studio becomes the second bedroom and there is a second external entrance/exit to enter the Studio portion.  This affords additional privacy between the two bedrooms and an option to leave the interior door open to move freely throughout the whole Villa.  The sleeping arrangement is as follows: Master bedroom with a king-size bed, second bedroom with a queen-size bed and double-size sleeper sofa, and living room with a queen-size sleeper sofa.  Because the lock-off Villa includes the attached Studio, there is a separate kitchenette in the Studio, in addition to the full kitchen.

Dedicated Tw-Bedroom Villas have a slightly different sleeping configuration and include an additional closet and sink in place of the kitchenette and second exterior door.  The sleeping configuration in the Dedicated Two-Bedroom Villa looks like this: Master bedroom with a king-size bed and, second bedroom area with two queen-size beds, and living room with a queen-size or full-size sleeper sofa.

Either way, your Villa will have a very similar configuration and sleeping arrangement.  Both types are just over 1,000 square feet.  The other amenities are exactly the same as the One-Bedroom Villa and Deluxe Studio listed above (except for the lack of a kitchenette in the dedicated Two-Bedroom Villa), including the full kitchen and dedicated laundry room.

The Three-Bedroom Grand Villa is an impressive 2,113 square feet, which is about 200 square feet smaller than Old Key West, but should still offer enough space for those not hosting a circus.  Considering rooms at the Value resorts are 260 square feet, the Grand Villa is larger than eight Value rooms put together.  Each Grand Villa is two stories and has all of the amenities of a Two-Bedroom Villa plus a third bedroom and third bathroom.  The master bedroom has a king-size bed and bathroom with whirlpool-style tub; the second bedroom has two queen-size beds and a bathroom; the third bedroom has two queen size beds and a bathroom.  The living room also has a queen-size sleeper sofa.  All in all, the Three-Bedroom Villa is designated to sleep up to twelve people, assuming either two people per bed or additional inflatable-type mattresses.  The kitchen includes just about everything one might need to prepare a gourmet feast, including a coffeemaker, microwave, refrigerator with freezer, toaster, stove, oven, sink, dishwasher, pots, pans, and dinnerware.  There is also a dedicated laundry room with full size washer and dryer.  You will also find all of the standard amenities: private porch or balcony, flat-screen television, hair dryer, vacuum cleaner, iron with ironing board, ceiling fan, telephone, and in-wall safe.

Treehouse Villas are very different from rooms or Villas found anywhere else on Disney property.  Each Villa is raised off the ground about ten feet on beams, has eight sides, and is freestanding, meaning it isn’t attached to any other rooms or Villas.  Treehouse Villas also have the largest deck of any Villa on Disney property, including the Three-Bedroom Grand Villas.  The height of the Villas off the ground necessitates a long staircase, but some Villas have a ramp for wheelchair access.  Treehouse Villas have three bedrooms, but at 1,074 square feet, have just about the same square footage as Two-Bedroom Villas in the rest of Saratoga Springs.  The sleeping arrangement is as follows: master bedroom with queen-size bed, second bedroom with queen-size bed, third bedroom with bunk beds, one queen-size sleeper sofa in living room, and one sleeper chair in the living room.  Technically speaking, Treehouse Villas can sleep up to nine people, thanks to the addition of the sleeper chair and assuming two people per bed.  Each bedroom has its own flat-panel television and the living room has a flat-panel television and DVD player.  Like the other Villas, Treehouse Villas have a full kitchen with a coffeemaker, microwave, refrigerator with freezer, toaster, stove, oven, sink, dishwasher, pots, pans, and dinnerware.  There is also a dedicated laundry room with full size washer and dryer.  There are two bathrooms – one attached to the master bedroom and one with easy access from the living room.  All in all, Treehouse Villas are nicely appointed with granite counter tops, quality wooden furniture, natural stone flooring in the kitchen, and plenty of natural light.

Since the cost of the Treehouse Villa is the same as a Two-Bedroom Villa, you will need to decide if the additional privacy afforded by a third bedroom is worth losing that amount of common space.  Treehouse Villas are also a long ways away from the Saratoga Springs building and you will likely need to rely on the internal bus that takes Treehouse guests to the main building or use a car.  Transportation to the theme parks is not offered directly from the Treehouse Villa bus stops, but the area does have its own quiet pool.

Saratoga Springs Theme and Layout: According to the Disney website, Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa is “Inspired by historic Saratoga Springs, a late-1800s New York retreat famous for its spas and horse racing, the buildings and grounds of this 65-acre Resort are truly inviting. Stroll among green rolling hills and discover gurgling fountains and placid lakes.”  While there is little doubt that the resort is beautiful, like all of Disney’s Deluxe resorts, the theme of Saratoga Springs Resort is not as extravagant as other resorts like the Wilderness Lodge or Polynesian Resort.  While I have never taken a poll, it seems like many guests don’t even realize there is a theme to the resort, which would never be said about Disney’s other resorts.  The problem is that Saratoga Springs blends in to what you might expect from a resort in Orlando.  It “fits” better than say, the Coronado Springs resort which is obviously “out of place” in a climate like Orlando’s.  Nonetheless, the Victorian theme is well.  The gentle pastel colors are aesthetically pleasing and the architecture is authentic and interesting.

Built on over 65 acres, Saratoga Springs is a large, sprawling resort.  This is somewhat surprising since the resort is relatively new and Disney is aware that people’s biggest complaint about resorts like Coronado Springs and the Caribbean Beach is the distance from many of its rooms to the main building.  Some people appreciate the privacy that the layout offers, but other people will be put off by the amount of walking necessary to reach the resort’s restaurants, check-in, and feature pool.  Luckily, there are five bus stops that transport guests to the Disney theme parks, in addition to the two internal bus stops at the Tree House Villas.  This cuts down on the time it takes for guests to walk from their room to the bus stop to about ten minutes at most.  There are also five total pools, which makes the trek to the feature pool less necessary.  From the most remote rooms at Saratoga Springs, the walk to the main building can take 15 or more minutes.

As far as kid-friendliness is concerned, the resort is not particularly appealing to kids.  The theme is often lost on them and while they will be aware that they are surrounded by beauty, it’s unlikely they will differentiate it from other parts of Orlando.  It’s a perfectly kid-friendly resort, without any pretentiousness or stuffiness, but the theme and the grounds are unlikely to inspire most children.

Saratoga Springs Pool: There are a total of five pools at Saratoga Springs, including the original 161,000 gallon feature pool located outside the main building.  One of the feature pool’s perks is it has zero depth entry, so there are no stairs to climb to get in or out.  There are also two hot tubs nearby.    The good news is that Disney is building a new feature pool where the Paddock quiet pool currently sits that is scheduled to open on June 30, 2011.  The new feature pool will have a 146 foot water slide, expanded deck, 1,200 square foot playground, and include a new quick service eatery. In addition to those pools, there are additional quiet pools near The Grandstand and Congress Park sections and an additional pool near the Treehouse Villas.  The Paddock Pool will close while it’s being turned into a new feature pool.

Saratoga Springs Transportation: Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa does not share bus service with any other resort, which saves a substantial amount of time on every bus ride.  However, Saratoga Spring is also the least convenient resort to the four major theme parks, on average.  Although Animal Kingdom Lodge is technically further away from the Magic Kingdom than Saratoga Springs is to any of the theme parks, Animal Kingdom Lodge is right next to the Animal Kingdom.  Saratoga Springs is right next to Downtown Disney, but the closest theme park is about 15 minutes away by Disney bus.  Saratoga Springs offers bus transportation to all theme and water parks and both bus and watercraft transportation to Downtown Disney.  I would recommend taking the boat to Downtown Disney because it offers a ride that is just as short as the bus and is much more scenic.  The bus stop order is: Grandstand first, Carousel second, Paddock third, Congress Park fourth and The Springs fifth, except for the Downtown Disney route where The Springs is picked up first.  Note that The Springs is the closest to the main building, but is picked up last.  While it’s unlikely that Saratoga Springs is purposefully neglected, there are more complaints about the bus service than other Deluxe resorts.  Some people report having a limited number of buses service the resort, increasing wait times to board the bus and making the buses that do arrive much more crowded.

The times below are calculated after the bus or boat leaves for its final destination.

Hollywood Studios by Bus: about 20 minutes

Epcot by Bus: about 15 minutes

Animal Kingdom by bus: about 20 minutes

Magic Kingdom by bus: about 25 minutes

Downtown Disney by bus: about 10 minutes

Downtown Disney by boat: about 10 minutes

Downtown Disney by walking: 10 to 30 minutes depending on your room location

Saratoga Springs Best Rooms: The best rooms are those closest to the main building and current feature pool.  Rooms 3101 through 3436 and 3501 to 3836 fit the bill.  Request a room with a water view as far away from the lobby as possible.  This will afford the best view and keep you away from the popular Broadway road that runs throughout the resort.  Rooms 3501 to 3836 will also be closer to the bus stop.  All other rooms are a sizable distance away from the main building.  The second best rooms are found in the Paddock and Congress Park sections that overlook Downtown Disney.  These rooms are also the closest to Downtown Disney, with just a short five to ten minute walk between the resort and Ghirardelli’s downtown.  Rooms 1101 through 1436 in Congress Park and 6501 to 6836 are ideal for both their proximity to Downtown Disney and distance from the noisy street.  Once the new pool is built in The Paddock (opening at the end of June 2011), rooms 5101 to 5436 and 5501 to 5836 will be more desirable because of their proximity to the new pool complex and quick service eatery.  Request a room overlooking the water that is as far away from the pool as possible.  In addition, there is a bridge that connects The Paddock to the main building that is convenient and fun to walk across.  Rooms in the Carousel section really do not have any upside, other than the fact that the rooms furthest from the road are the most private.  If you would prefer to see fewer people during your stay and either have a car or won’t be visiting the main building or pool often, The Carousel is for you.  Request a room as far away from the road as possible.  Rooms 8501 through 8836 are relatively close to the main building and near a bus stop and pool.  If your other requests can’t be met, consider requesting a room in that section as far away from the pool as possible.  This will diminish the noise and fewer people will be passing by.  As always, rooms on higher floors are always better because they offer better views and you won’t have to worry about people’s feet pounding above you.

For the Treehouse Villas, Villa 7025, 7026, 7027, 7028, 7029, 7030, and 7031 have water views, are closest to the bus stop, are relatively close to the swimming pool, and are close to the walkway that connects the Treehouse Villas to the rest of Saratoga Springs.  7002, 7003, 7004, 7006, 7007, and 7009 also have water views and are close to the second bus stop.  The only downside is that they are the furthest from the walkway connecting to Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa.  For a woods view that is as far away from other people as possible, consider 7046, 7047, 7048, 7049, 7050, and 7051.

Saratoga Springs On-Site Dining Options: Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa has one major counter service and one sit-down restaurant.  The pool complex that is scheduled to open June 30, 2011 will add an additional poolside counter service.  Artist’s Palette (not to be confused with the signature restaurant Artist’s Point at Wilderness Lodge) is the resort’s major counter service that’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Breakfast features a variety of hot entrées as well as bagels, muffins, cinnamon rolls, croissants, coffee, and the like.  Lunch and dinner leave something to be desired as far as variety is concerned.  They have a decent variety of soups, sandwiches, and salads, but it’s more of a deli than a traditional food court that you’ll find at other resorts.  They don’t have baked chicken, pizza, hamburgers, and other entrées that are common at other resorts.  If you’re in the mood for a $9 sandwich, Artist’s Palette fits the bill, but it will disappoint if you’re looking for something a little different.  If your room includes a full kitchen, consider driving to the store for food or consider a delivery purchase from Garden Grocer.

The Turf Club is the resort’s table service restaurant that is open for lunch and dinner (but not breakfast).  It’s a casual, yet refined restaurant with classier-sounding food than many other resort restaurants.  Each entrée lists a wine pairing, for example, which you won’t find at many other restaurants.  I actually enjoy meals here more than most other restaurants on Disney property; the patio dining is relaxed, service is prompt and friendly, and the food is good too.  It has a country-club atmosphere, though it isn’t at all pretentious.  Prices are also reasonable – $11.99 for a high quality burger with bacon and fries, $10.49 for a Reuben sandwich, and $15 for a rib-eye steak sandwich on ciabatta bread isn’t bad for lunch at a sit-down restaurant.  For dinner, there are several more expensive items on the menu like Grilled New York Strip for $27.99 and the Prime Rib for $22.00, but the burger is still on the menu at $11.99.  All in all, Turf Club should be an above-average meal if you don’t feel like leaving your resort to head to Downtown Disney or another theme park or resort.  The only downside is that it isn’t open for breakfast.  With Downtown Disney close by it isn’t as big of a deal, but it would be convenient for those who like to have a big breakfast before leaving Disney World to return home.  I’m not sure I would go out of my way to eat at Turf Club if I was staying elsewhere because there is nothing particularly unique about it, but don’t hesitate to give it a try if you’re in the area. One other problem you might run into with the restaurant when it is open is the fact that the menu leaves a lot to be desired for vegetarians and kids.  If you can call reservations in advance and make a special request, you’re more likely to be happy with a vegetarian meal.  As always, don’t be shy about asking for substitutions.

Saratoga Springs is Best For: Those looking for a quiet, peaceful resort with a classy atmosphere and a lot of space to walk around.  People planning to spend a considerable amount of time at Downtown Disney.  Those who have spent a lot of time at Disney in the past and plan to spend a lot of time lounging around the resort.  Groups of nine people who would like to sleep in the same Villa at a price lower than other Disney accommodations.

Saratoga Springs is Worst For: People who plan to spend the majority of their time at the major theme parks and rely on Disney transportation.  Those who would rather stay at a resort close to the action, with short transit times to the Parks.  Families on a budget who want a lot of space for their dollar.

Summary of Key Points: Saratoga Springs is the ideal resort for guests who want a peaceful, relaxing resort that is out of the way of the theme parks, but convenient to Downtown Disney.  Unfortunately, the closure of Pleasure Island at Downtown Disney has somewhat lessened the value of Saratoga Springs’ location, but it is still nice being able to walk to Downtown Disney’s many restaurants and stores.  Saratoga Springs’ theme is lacking a bit compared to other Disney Deluxe resorts like the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Polynesian Resort, but the “Saratoga Springs” theme is accurately represented.  The architecture is interesting to look at and the subdued pastel colors allow the natural beauty of the property to shine through. There is no doubt that the resort is immaculately landscaped with lush greens and serene waterways, but the resort seems like it belongs in Orlando, unlike other resorts that have a more obvious theme.  Keep in mind that Saratoga Springs is one of the most sprawling resorts on Disney property and rooms can be 15 or more minutes away from the main building which houses check-in, the store, and restaurants.  Be sure to read over the “best rooms” category to pick the right section of the resort for you and your group.

Saratoga Springs’ rooms are nicely appointed, though the original rooms opened in 2004 and have not been refurbished.  This means carpet, fixtures, furniture, and beds will be original.  While serious problems are uncommon, the rooms are not as nice as refurbished rooms found at nearby Old Key West.  The rooms at Old Key West are also larger and cheaper than rooms at Saratoga Springs.  One unique feature of Saratoga Springs is its 60 three-bedroom Treehouse Villas that opened in 2009.  These Villas sleep nine and are as private as any place on Disney property, while still offering a convenient quiet pool, great views, and two bus stops to carry guests to Saratoga Springs’ main building.  At just over 1,000 square feet, they cost the same as a Two-Bedroom Villa and offer an additional bedroom for additional privacy.  While the Villas are technically part of Saratoga Springs, they are furnished like rooms at the Wilderness Lodge and have a similar “woodsy feeling.”  They are also so far away that it could take 30 or more minutes to walk between the Treehouse Villas and the Main building, which is why additional transportation is necessary.

Saratoga Springs has a total of five pools, though the Paddock Pool is undergoing a refurbishment and will emerge as a second feature pool (scheduled for June 30, 2011).  The quiet pools are conveniently located around the resort, making the trek to the feature pol outside the main building less necessary.  The Treehouse Villas also have a pool nearby.  While the feature pool isn’t as well-themed or as fun as the Polynesian Resort’s or Stormalong Bay, it’s highly unlikely pool hopppers will be a problem and crowding is rarely an issue.  The area is relaxing and fun, giving guests an opportunity to cool off without having to worry about getting a spot early or dealing with people who aren’t staying at the resort.  The opening of the second feature pool will likely make Saratoga Springs a more desirable resort as well.  The drawings look fantastic and the 146 foot water slide and additional quick service location are sure to be crowd pleasers.

The biggest problems with Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa are its Disney transportation and distance from all major theme parks, except for Epcot, which is relatively close.  While it’s unlikely that Saratoga Springs is purposefully neglected, more people complain about its Disney bus transportation than other Deluxe resorts.  Buses seem to take longer to arrive than other resorts.  One positive is that buses aren’t shared with any other resort, meaning all routes are direct.  This saves a considerable amount of time in transit, but it is also probably why waits for the bus to show up are longer.  Another negative is that all theme parks other than Epcot are a considerable distance away from Saratoga Springs.  See approximate wait times above.

Dining is also a mixed bag.  Artist’s Palette is decent, but it lacks much of a selection for lunch and dinner and it does get crowded at peak meal times.  If you’re in the mood for a sandwich, soup, or salad, then Artist’s Palette is unlikely to disappoint, but don’t expect pizza, hamburgers, or chicken to be on the menu.  The Turf Club is a nice, casual restaurant with excellent service and reasonable prices.  Seating on the patio is particularly pleasant.  Unfortunately, it does not serve breakfast.

Overall, Saratoga Springs is a fantastic resort if it’s what you’re looking for as a guest.  If privacy, natural beauty, and Downtown Disney are important parts of your vacation then Saratoga Springs just might be the resort for you.  If convenience, proximity to the major theme parks, and an exotic theme are more important, then you’ll likely want to look elsewhere.

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Old Key West Resort

Address:

1510 North Cove Road

Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-1000

Direct Phone: 1-407-827-7700, Fax: 1-407-827-7710, General Reservations: 1-407-WDISNEY (1-407-934-7639)

Resort Class: Old Key West is a Deluxe Villa resort, the most expensive resort type.  There are five different room configurations with prices ranging from $295 per night for a Deluxe Studio during Value Season all the way up to $1,780 per night for a three-bedroom Villa during Holiday Season.  The room categories include Deluxe Studios, One-Bedroom Villas, Two-Bedroom Lock-Off Villas, Two-Bedroom Dedicated Villas, and Three-Bedroom Grand Villas.

How Disney Vacation Club Resorts Work: Old Key West and other Disney Vacation Club “Villa” Resorts are available for anyone to book at specified dollar rates, pending availability like any other resort.  Disney Vacation Club members who are staying at the resort will be using “points” rather than cash.  There is no such thing as “second class citizens” at Disney resorts and it’s unlikely most employees will have any idea if you are a Disney Vacation Club member or not.  In fact, cash guests are often treated better than Vacation Club members because Disney wants you to consider buying into their timeshare program.  Unlike Vacation Club members, cash guests also receive full housekeeping service each day.

Location: Old Key West is officially a Downtown Disney area resort and is in close proximity to the Port Orleans French Quarter resort.  It also sits next to the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course.  All Disney transportation is via bus, except for Downtown Disney which offers both bus and boat service.  Old Key West is within 20 minutes of all major theme parks and points of interest on Disney property.

Size: Old Key West is a large, sprawling resort with a whopping 49 separate two and three-story guestroom buildings that house a total of 761 rooms  Most guestroom buildings have a mixture of Deluxe Studios, One-Bedroom Villas, Two-Bedroom Villas, and Three-Bedroom Grand Villas.  In a somewhat confusing move, guest buildings at the resort are numbered from 11 to 64 and skip one through ten.  Only buildings 62, 63, and 64 have elevators.  If you have mobility problems, you will want to request a room in one of these buildings or request a first floor room in another building.  There are five bus stops scattered throughout the resort, which decreases the amount of time it takes to walk from any room to a bus stop to about five minutes. There is a feature pool located near the main building and three quiet pools conveniently located throughout the resort as well.  Take note of the best rooms section below for a list of the quietest rooms that are also near the main building.

Room Amenities and Quality: Old Key West is currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment that should be completed sometime in early 2011.  Be sure to request a refurbished room if your stay is before March 2011, both at the time of booking and with the resort directly several days before your check-in date.  The refurbishment began in the rooms furthest from the main building.  Just about everything in the rooms will be replaced or updated, including the carpet, drapes, bedding, televisions, cabinets, ceiling fans, and lamps.  Granite countertops have been added to Villas with one or more bedrooms, as well as refinished wood floors and new paint.  The single biggest complaint about Old Key West prior to the refurbishment was that the resort rooms were “tired” and in serious need of an upgrade.  Since the resort was originally built in 1991, this was a fair critique.  Now that the rooms have been refurbished and upgraded, Old Key West’s accommodations stand up well against the competition from the other Deluxe or Deluxe Villa resorts including the Contemporary Resort and Grand Floridian.

Deluxe Studio rooms are similar to the Standard rooms found at other Deluxe resorts, both in size and amenities.  Studio rooms are about 390 square feet, which is comparable to rooms at the Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Boardwalk Inn, smaller than the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and Contemporary Resort and larger than rooms at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge.  Moderate resort rooms are 314 square feet, or about 75 feet smaller.  The major difference is that Old Key West Studio rooms have a kitchenette that includes a microwave, refrigerator with small freezer, and wet bar.  Each Studio sleeps four people on two queen-size beds and features a private porch or balcony.  Other amenities include a flat-screen television, table with two chairs, hair dryer, vacuum cleaner, iron with ironing board, ceiling fan, telephone, and in-wall safe.

One-Bedroom Villas also sleep four people and feature a bedroom with king-size bed, living room with queen size sleeper sofa, dining area with full kitchen, and one bathroom with large shower, two sinks, closet, and two-person whirlpool-style tub.  Coming in at nearly 950 square feet, One-Bedroom Villas are substantially larger than any two Standard rooms on Disney property and almost four times larger than Value resort rooms (which measure 260 square feet each).  The kitchen includes just about everything one might need to prepare a gourmet feast, including a coffeemaker, microwave, refrigerator with freezer, toaster, stove, oven, sink, dishwasher, pots, pans, and dinnerware.  The dining area includes a wooden table and four chairs.  There is also a dedicated laundry room with full size washer and dryer.  All other Studio amenities are also included: private porch or balcony, flat-screen television, hair dryer, vacuum cleaner, iron with ironing board, ceiling fan, telephone, and in-wall safe.  The master bedroom with the king-size bed also has a chair and ottoman, television, armoire, and two nightstands.  It is important to note that One-Bedroom Villas in buildings 11 through 29 have only one entrance to the bathroom, which is located inside the master bedroom.  Buildings 30 through 64 have an additional entrance to the bathroom through the laundry room.  While this might not be such a big deal during the day, it can be annoying if someone sleeping on the sleeper sofa needs to use the bathroom during the night.

Two-Bedroom Villas come in two varieties – “lock off” and “dedicated.”  Both varieties sleep up to eight people and have identical pricing and very similar amenities.  The difference is that the lock-off Villas are really a One-Bedroom Villa and Deluxe Studio room attached to each other with an internal door that can be locked and one external entrance into each “half” of the Villa.  In other words, the Deluxe Studio becomes the second bedroom and there is a second external entrance/exit to enter the Studio portion.  This affords additional privacy between the two bedrooms and an option to leave the interior door open to move freely throughout the whole Villa.  The sleeping arrangement is as follows: Master bedroom with a king-size bed and whirlpool-style tub, second bedroom with a queen-size bed and double-size sleeper sofa or two queen-size beds, and living room with a queen-size or full-size sleeper sofa.  Because the lock-off Villa includes the attached Studio, there is a separate kitchenette in the studio, in addition to the full kitchen.

Dedicated Tw-Bedroom Villas have a slightly different sleeping configuration and include an additional closet and sink in place of the kitchenette and second exterior door.  The sleeping configuration in the Dedicated Two-Bedroom Villa looks like this: Master bedroom with a king-size bed and whirlpool-style tub, second bedroom area with a queen-size bed and double-size sleeper sofa or two queen-size beds, and living room with a queen-size or full-size sleeper sofa.

Either way, your Villa will have a very similar configuration and sleeping arrangement.  Both types are also about 1,395 square feet.  Each Two-Bedroom Villa also has up to three private balconies or patios.  The other amenities are exactly the same as the One-Bedroom Villa and Deluxe Studio listed above (except for the kitchenette in the dedicated Two-Bedroom Villa), including the full kitchen and dedicated laundry room.

The Three-Bedroom Grand Villa is an impressive 2,380 square feet, which is about 250 feet larger than the median house size in the United States.  Each Grand Villa is two stories and has all of the amenities of a Two-Bedroom Villa plus a third bedroom and third bathroom.  The master bedroom has a king-size bed and bathroom with whirlpool-style tub; the second bedroom has two queen-size beds and a bathroom; the third bedroom has two full size beds and a bathroom.  The living room also has a queen-size sleeper sofa.  All in all, the Three-Bedroom Villa is designated to sleep up to twelve people, assuming either two people per bed or additional inflatable-type mattresses.  The kitchen includes just about everything one might need to prepare a gourmet feast, including a coffeemaker, microwave, refrigerator with freezer, toaster, stove, oven, sink, dishwasher, pots, pans, and dinnerware.  There is also a dedicated laundry room with full size washer and dryer.  You will also find all of the standard amenities: private porch or balcony, flat-screen television, hair dryer, vacuum cleaner, iron with ironing board, ceiling fan, telephone, and in-wall safe.  The Three-Bedroom Grand Villa is one of the most impressive places to stay on Disney property.  There are 27 Grand Villas at the Old Key West Resort and they are highly sought after by Disney Vacation Club members.

Theme and Layout: Many of Disney’s Deluxe resorts are themed after architecture found in faraway places.  Old Key West is not necessarily one of those resorts, though Key West Florida is about 390 miles away from Orlando.  According to Disney, Old Key West “conjures up the leisurely romance of the Florida Keys” and the architecture is inspired from buildings in Old Town, Key West that date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Buildings are painted in gentle pastels and plentiful palm trees surround the property.  Perhaps more so than any of Disney’s other resorts, Old Key West feels removed from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks.  It is also rarely visited by people from other resorts, which makes it feel more private and exclusive than the Monorail Deluxes or Epcot area resorts.  While it is not extremely convenient to any of the four major theme parks, Old Key West is close enough that transportation times will rarely be an issue.  Lake Buena Vista Golf Course sits next to Old Key West on one side and a tropical waterway leads to Downtown Disney on the other.  Coupled with dense foliage and well-maintained landscaping, Old Key West is a fantastic resort choice for those who want to feel like they’ve left Disney World while still being in close proximity to everything Disney has to offer.

Old Key West’s layout is designed to make guests feel like they’re part of their own small neighborhood.  There are 49 independent buildings with guest rooms, far more than any other resort.  This spread out design causes many of the rooms to be far away from the Hospitality House, where you’ll find registration, restaurants, the lounge, store, arcade, and other resort amenities.  The main pool is equally far away from many rooms.  This is both good and bad depending on your perspective, but it makes requesting a room that fits your needs more important.  Luckily, the five bus stops are well positioned throughout the resort, making walks to Disney transportation short.  There are also convenient parking lots outside each of the buildings, which makes Old Key West one of the most convenient if you have a car because you’ll be able to pull right up to your Villa.  Building 64 is the only building without a dedicated parking lot.  Because there are only five room categories and no view upgrades or preferred building upgrades, you will need to make your room placement request when you book the room and follow up directly with the resort a few days before your check-in date.  Best rooms are covered later in this article.

Old Key West is perfectly kid-friendly, though there is nothing overtly “Disney” about it.  Most kids prefer the large statues of the Disney characters at the Value resorts, but many kids also appreciate the lush surroundings and tranquil atmosphere of Old Key West.  I would consider the theme “kid-neutral,” meaning it doesn’t greatly add or subtract to most kids’ Disney experience.

Pool: Old Key West has three quiet pools and one feature pool.  The 149,600 gallon feature pool isn’t huge, but it’s perfectly large enough to meet demand, especially considering it’s far away from about half the resort and many guests prefer to swim in their respective quiet pools.  In addition, the chances of running into a “pool hopper” from another resort are slim.  Old Key West added a sandcastle slide in 2005 that is a lot of fun and the feature pool also has a smaller kiddie pool, hot tub, sauna, and nearby playground.  As an added bonus, lifeguards at the feature pool host games throughout the afternoon.  The second best pool at Old Key West is the Turtle Pond pool that’s near the Turtle Shack Snack Bar, which offers sandwiches, pizzas, hot dogs, ice cream, and other assorted snacks.  The Turtle Pond pool is closest to buildings 41 and 42 and also close to buildings 40, 43, and 44.

Transportation: Old Key West does not share bus service with any other resort, which saves a substantial amount of time on every bus ride.  Old Key West offers bus transportation to all theme and water parks and both bus and watercraft transportation to Downtown Disney.  I would recommend taking the boat to Downtown Disney because it offers a ride that is just as short as the bus and is much more scenic.

The times below are calculated after the bus or boat leaves for its final destination.

Hollywood Studios by Bus: about 20 minutes

Epcot by Bus: about 15 minutes

Animal Kingdom by bus: about 20 minutes

Magic Kingdom by bus: about 20 minutes

Downtown Disney by bus: about 15 minutes

Downtown Disney by boat: about 10 minutes

Best Rooms: There are a mixture of Deluxe Studio, One-Bedroom, Two-Bedroom, and Three-Bedroom Villas in most buildings.  The best buildings are 62 and 63 because of their proximity to the main building, elevator access, convenient parking, distance from major roads, and the One-Bedroom Villas have a second door to the bathroom.  Building 64 is also excellent for the same reasons, but it does not have a parking lot right outside of it.  This may be an added bonus for those relying on Disney transportation because noise from people entering their cars early in the morning won’t be an issue.  Buildings 11, 12, 13, 14, and 16 are also recommended for their close proximity to the main building and distance from major roads.  If you are looking for privacy and quiet, request buildings 45, 46, 53, 54, 55, or 56.  These buildings are also very close to a quiet pool and bus stop.  Buildings 23 through 35 wind their way around the interior of the resort and offer views of the river and golf course, while still being a good distance away from the main roads and noise.  There is nothing wrong with any of them.  I would avoid buildings 19, 20, 21, 22, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 49, and 50 if possible because they border the busy Bonnet Creek Parkway, do not offer notable views, and aren’t particularly convenient to any points of interest.  Even so, it is unlikely road noise will be particularly bothersome.  Remember that buildings 30 through 64 have an additional door to the bathroom in the laundry room in One-Bedroom Villas.   The third floor of any building is ideal because it affords the best possible view and there won’t be any noise from people walking around above the room.  With the hardwood floors, it can get noisy if people are wearing shoes indoors.

On-Site Dining Options: If there is an area where Old Key West is lacking, it’s in on-site dining options.  Old Key West is a relatively small resort as far as number of rooms are concerned and it doesn’t get a lot of traffic from people not staying at the resort.  For those reasons, Disney doesn’t offer as many choices as you’ll find at the Deluxe Monorail Resorts or Epcot area resorts.  Good’s Food To Go, the resort’s counter service, has a limited menu of hamburgers, sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and a few soups.  There are also the standard desserts and beverages.  For breakfast, the two hot choices are a croissant sandwich with eggs, bacon and cheese or a breakfast platter with eggs, bacon, and potatoes.  Muffins and bagels are also offered.  Good’s Food To Go is usually understaffed in the morning, making lines longer than anyone wants to wait and the people working there have never been particularly pleasant.  Seating is also at a minimum.  It’s a decent option for the desperate during off-hours, but it’s not ideal for breakfast or popular dining times.  I would recommend waiting to get to the Park to eat or making other arrangements.  If you have a car, consider driving to a supermarket for breakfast items.  Without a car, consider making a grocery delivery purchase through Garden Grocer or pack something from home.

Olivia’s Café is the resort’s table service restaurant. It’s perfectly decent, but certainly not a restaurant worth going out of your way to visit.  The standard dinner menu applies – pasta, chicken, steak, prime rib, mahi mahi, and salad.  All cooked one way.  Lunch is the usual sandwiches and salads.  Meals are relaxed and service is usually friendly, if not slow.  Of course, you have to order the Key Lime Tart for dessert.  If you need a convenient or unplanned meal back at the resort, Olivia’s Café is unlikely to disappoint if your expectations are fairly low and standard (read: overpriced) Disney restaurant pricing doesn’t bother you.

Best For: Those looking for the most square footage for their dollar on Disney property.  Larger families who would prefer a Villa with one external door over separate or adjoining rooms.  Couples wanting a private and leisurely resort away from the crowds and furor of the theme parks.  People who want to be near all four major theme parks and will take advantage of the boat ride to Downtown Disney.

Worst For: Those looking for an overtly Disney or exotically themed resort.  People who plan to eat several meals at restaurants on-site.  Those on a budget.  Groups that include someone with mobility issues.

Summary of Key Points: Of all of the Disney-owned resorts, Old Key West is probably the least hyped.  Most Disney vacationers probably have no idea it even exists because it’s rarely passed by in person and it doesn’t have a large online presence, on the Disney website or otherwise.  Part of this is probably due to poor marketing.  Naming your pizzeria “Old Pizza” wouldn’t be very smart.  Neither would naming your shoe store, “Old Feet.”  Luckily, the recent refurbishment to Old Key West has transformed it into anything but an old resort.  The biggest complaint used to be the tired rooms and aging furnishings.  Those problems are long gone and the resort is even more beautiful than when it first opened in 1991.  This is a leisurely Deluxe resort that doesn’t see the foot traffic of the Polynesian or Boardwalk Inn.  If you’re looking for a more private respite from the theme parks, look no further than Old Key West.

Old Key West boasts the largest Villas on Disney property.  All One-Bedroom and larger Villas have a full kitchen and dedicated laundry room, allowing guests to save money by preparing their own meals and washing clothes rather than checking a second bag on a flight.  In fact, the Three-Bedroom Villa offers more space than the median house in the United States.  Compared to the 260 square feet rooms you’ll find at the Value resorts, 2,300+ square feet will seem like a palace fit for a king.  Even the One-Bedroom Villas are more than twice the size of any two Standard rooms on property.

The resort’s layout has its advantages and disadvantages.  The 49 independent guestroom buildings offer privacy, but necessitate a large footprint, making many of the rooms a good distance from the main building.  Luckily, there are five bus stops conveniently located throughout the resort and four pools, guaranteeing that guests won’t be more than five minutes away from a bus stop or a swim.  The pastel color palette of the various buildings is gentle and tasteful, creating an atmosphere that is authentic Key West at the turn of the 20th century.  Everything about the resort emits a feeling of leisure and relaxation.

The resort isn’t extremely convenient to any one Park in particular, but it’s rare for a bus ride to take more than 20 minutes to any destination.  The boat ride to Downtown Disney is as convenient as it is scenic and it’s a more fun way to travel than by bus.  Old Key West really only has two major disadvantages, the first being a lack of an elevator in all but three buildings.  This makes it difficult for the mobility-impaired to climb the stairs, so you’ll want to make sure you note your floor preference when you make your reservation.  You’ll also want to have a look at the best rooms section for an idea about which building to request.  The second major disadvantage is its lack of dining options.  While Olivia’s is decent, if not overpriced like most Disney table service restaurants, Good’s Food to Go is seriously lacking in service, selection, and food quality.  It will suffice for a quick meal, but it’s not a counter service you will be looking forward to visiting each morning.

I would highly recommend Old Key West to anyone looking for a relaxing resort on Disney property that feels as though it’s removed from the hustle of the theme parks.  Don’t look past it merely because it has “Old” in the name or because of its unfamiliarity.  People don’t often talk about it because they don’t want you to book their favorite room.

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