Old Key West Review Disney World Deluxe Villa Resort Information

by josh on October 14, 2010

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.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

linda April 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm

this resort never has failed me i have been staying at this resort since i was 2 im 21 now and my next trip i will be here :) love this place to stay it really does feel like my second home

Susan Cole September 23, 2012 at 6:17 am

Josh, you may know this by now, but none of the studios or 2-bedroom units, lock-off or not, have a sleeper sofa. They all have 2 queen beds, unlike 2 bedroom and studio units in other DVC properties.(We’re OKW owners since 1993) I’m a relatively new reader to your blog and really enjoy your sarcasm.

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