A Walk Around Old Key West Resort

by josh on February 2, 2013

Pack your bags and prepare to be transported to Florida, we’re headed out to the Old Key West Resort and Parking Lot.

Old Key West is another resort I’m not particularly fond of.

While I can get my head around the idea of “exploring Conch Flats,” the resort just feels too condo-y to me.

It’s basically a big parking lot with 49 guest buildings strewn throughout.

On the plus side, the rooms are extremely convenient if you’re driving.

And for the money, the rooms are the largest on property.  Studios come in at 390 square feet.  1-Bedroom Villas are 942 square feet, 2-Bedrooms are 1,395 square feet, and 3-Bedrooms are a whopping 2,375 square feet.  Old Key West requires the fewest DVC points to book and is often the most heavily discounted resort.  I have not been inside a room recently, but they are supposed to be nicely furnished.

It’s also gigantic.  I think it would be basically impossible for a family to walk from buildings 49 – 56 to the main building.  I hiked from the main building to the Turtle Shack pool near building 41 and it was quite the trek.

On the plus side(?), the resort has multiple bus stops, so your walk to a stop would only be a couple of minutes.

Like the Caribbean Beach Resort, Old Key West is so large that it has an internal bus that just circles the resort all day.

I can envision staying here with a car, but it would be difficult without one.  Requesting a room in building 62, 63, or 64 would mitigate the distance to the main building.  These buildings are also the only ones with elevators.  Amusingly(?), in 1-Bedroom Villas in buildings 11 – 29, there is only one door to the only bathroom and it’s located in the master bedroom.  So if Junior has to go potty in the middle of the night, he’s coming in.  I’m not sure how successful you would be requesting a room in the desirable buildings.  Basically every website and guide book tells you they’re the best.

Food options are lackluster at Old Key West.  Good’s Food to Go is the main quick service arm of the resort.  It offers:




It’s a pretty boring menu with no indoor seating.

Gurgling Suitcase, while a great name, is itty bitty.

And is basically the resort’s only bar.  We’ll run into a smaller operation at the Turtle Shack later.

But it’s a bar at least!

And it does offer some unique drinks along with Florida Beer’s Key West Sunset Ale on draft.

I forgot that I had stopped drinking and ordered a Turtle Krawl on accident.  It was on point, meaning you could definitely tell there was rum in it.  It seemed to otherwise be nicely balanced.

Sorry this walk around is so negative!  But I don’t like Key West Sunset Ale either!  This 4.8% American Amber Ale had a metallic taste to it I thought.  There are not a lot of beers I would pass over for a Budweiser, but this is one of them.

I haven’t had much luck with Florida Beer.  Their Swamp Ape tasted like someone had mixed medicine with it.  Blame it on the 10% ABV and Florida water I guess.

The few tables outside Good’s and the Gurgling Suitcase.

The pool doesn’t seem to be particularly inspired.  I love that sand castle slide though!

And it has a sauna inside of a lighthouse!

And there’s a boat to Downtown Disney!

And there’s a golf course in back!

And you can edit the pictures to make it look pretty!

And there’s this duck in the lobby!

Okay, back to food.  Olivia’s is the resort’s table service restaurant:





I have never eaten here!  But it gets good reviews for food and service.  Pricing looks to be mostly reasonable.

The resort store is located in the main building at the front of the resort.

It offers mostly the usual, along with some resort specific merchandise:






Cute design.

Bagels and white wine. The breakfast of champions.

Here we are out front.  The store is located on the left and then Olivia’s sits past it.  Good’s, Gurgling Suitcase, and the pool are all off to the left.

“Registration” is what one might expect.

The room off the lobby would be a potentially relaxing place to spend some time.

One other positive about Old Key West is the number of recreation options.

Here inside the Community Hall, you can play pool, color, watch television, and probably do a few other things.

They also have bikes, tennis rackets, foosball, and probably other things you can rent out.

And an arcade.

The sandy playground located next to the pool is fun too.

And there’s a gym!

We’ll take a walk down to the Turtle Shack Snack Bar and Pool.

I didn’t time it, but it seemed like it took a while to get there, if that helps.

Last pretty picture, I promise.

Turtle Shack Poolside Snacks would be a convenient option if you’re staying in buildings 30 – 44.  It’s most convenient to buildings 40 – 44.  If you can’t get into a building close to the main building, you may want to request one near Turtle Shack.

On the downside, it does have limited hours.  Menu:




$5.75/Bud Light.  It could be worse.

It was around 5pm and there were two people in the vicinity.

They still gave me some weird looks as I photographed the pool.  Luckily(?) I think there had been an “accident” in the feature pool causing everyone to clear out.  Remember that one in five adults admit to peeing in the pool.  And the other four are lying.

A few picnic tables off to the side.  There are also charcoal grills guests can use.

So that’s Conch Flats.  If you’re driving and looking for a less expensive Vacation Club property, Old Key West may be for you.  It would be near the bottom of my list.  I like to be enveloped in my Disney resort, which is why I prefer others like the Coronado Springs Resort and Polynesian.  The idea here at Old Key West is that you’re in the small town of Conch Flats.  But I’m not sure there’s really much to “explore” here, like there would be in a “real” small town in Key West.  Anyway, that’s the Old Key West Resort.

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

tanya February 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Great post! Pretty pictures! Why did you stop drinking!

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magic1106 February 2, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Let’s start with the first small pic of the bar sign; I swear it said “buttcase”. Yes my eyes are not perfect and I’m old. On to the resort. We stayed here in 2010 in a 2 bdr. Loved the privacy, loved the room, loved the privacy, loved the patio, loved the privacy, loved the small pool, loved the privacy, loved our view of the river or whatever it is called, did I mention we loved the privacy….hated, hated, hated the food options. If we didn’t have a kitchen with snacks in it we would have starved the few nights we came back after park closing and nothing was open. will never stay there again

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Anonymous February 2, 2013 at 5:27 pm

I am so into this website. How else could the average person explore so much of Disney and its resorts.

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josh February 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Cut down drinking because I’m basically 500 pounds now. I don’t know why they can’t make diet scotch!

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keri February 2, 2013 at 5:46 pm

When I stayed at OKW for a week in December 2011, I found that it reminded me a lot of old-style Ft Wilderness in the early 1990s. Not a lot of food options, because you have cooking resources in your room. Pretty quiet and laid back, cozy I suppose. It’s the kind of resort you stay at when you want to linger by the water with a beer or other beverage of choice in the evening, maybe open the windows and take a nap in the afternoon in the room, but not otherwise really plan to actually be at the resort much (because, again, food options and it’s really spread out). If you drive down and bring bikes, I think it’s a nice one for that. There were never a lot of cars driving around and there are lots of paths to take.

So you know how people are like “stay at a value resort if you won’t be spending much time at the resort/in your room”? I think that if you want a bigger space and the kitchenette (or, at least, micro/fridge and 2nd sink in a studio), but won’t be spending a lot of time at the resort, OKW is a better choice. I think OKW is about 5th on my list, because I do love the quiet and privacy, and also I think the pool and dock area behind Olivia’s are really nice to hang out at to relax – especially when the strings of Christmas lights are up! (I can’t remember if they’re year-round?)

(My list of favorites: Ft wilderness; BWV; Polynesian; Contemporary; OKW. haven’t explored/stayed at Coronado Springs or AKL yet, but have never really felt inclined to. I don’t like places that don’t have balconies, even if they’re just Juliet balconies, so most of the moderates are off my list anyway. I have standards for my vacation afternoon naps that require open doors.)

Also also, I did really enjoy my meals at Olivia’s, but I think the restaurant suffers because it’s so far from anything so no one ever really goes to eat there. A warning that the flourless chocolate cake is basically a crumbly fudge, though. It is SUPER rich (and pretty good with milk for breakfast or post-parks midnight snack – good thing I had a fridge!).

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tanya February 2, 2013 at 5:58 pm

I’m sure diet scotch would be disgusting.

For what it’s worth, my friend stayed at OKW during marathon weekend and rather enjoyed it. She said her meal at Olivia’s was excellent – steak. But then she just came to run and did not visit the parks. So she thoroughly enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere and pretty much used boat transportation. So no bus experience. She had a studio and was impressed with the room size.

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Clover February 2, 2013 at 6:36 pm

“I forgot that I had stopped drinking” Yeah, that happens to me all the time. The Turtle Krawl caught my eye when I read the menu. Don’t know that it’s actually worth a visit to this resort, though. As always, your research is much appreciated.

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josh February 2, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Hmmmmmm it may be listed under a different name elsewhere. You could write the ingredients down and another Disney bartender could probably fabricate it.

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DizDragonfly February 2, 2013 at 8:00 pm

I have to say, we spent two weeks at OKW and loved every minute of it. It was incredibly relaxing and comfortable. We stayed at BLT a couple of nights on that same trip and I’ll never stay there again. I found BLT to be cold and sterile, like staying in a dark hospital. OKW was warm, inviting and felt like a home away from home. Of the six Disney resorts I’ve stayed at, it’s my #1 pick. We’re staying at two more resorts in the next few weeks, POFQ and AKV. We’ll see how OKW stacks up against them.

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Al February 2, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Big fan of Old Key West. DVC member and its my favorite of the resorts. You get significantly more space in your room compared to any other DVC resort. It makes a big difference if you’re travelling with a bunch of people. The onsite dining options are limited, but they’re good for what they are. Goods does the basic quick service fine, and Olivia is a good value. OKW isn’t a good option if you plan on eating a lot of meals at a resort restaurant/quick service. But if you plan on eating at the parks or are willing/want to cook, it’s great.

The Gurgling Suitcase is disappointingly small, but the Turtle Krawl is one of the best speciality drinks on property.

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Anonymous February 2, 2013 at 10:48 pm

“Last pretty picture, I promise.”

Nice pictures…too bad most of them show the chemtrails in the blue sky.

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Britkate February 3, 2013 at 3:02 am

We absolutely loved OKW. When we returned to OKW after the Hard Rock and booked back into POR I almost cried at the size of the room and the busyness of the resort and pool. We were in 52 and it was only a 10 minute walk to the main pool. We are European though obviously and dont see it as a hardship ;-) .

I really appreciate somewhere quiet after the manicness of the parks. And I really dislike sleeping in the same room as my children with nowhere to escape to. And not having a door to the bathroom. Is this weird? Do I need to see somebody about it?

And it was 40% off with free dining.

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Emma February 3, 2013 at 4:42 am

Old Key West is so pretty! Huge, but pretty.

Shame you probably won’t get round to a Animal Kingdom Villas walk around until we get there.

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Safroim February 3, 2013 at 5:14 am

We had Thanksgiving dinner at Olivia’s in 2007. It was really, really good. I’m not a big fan of eating Thanksgiving dinner out. I grew up with homemade Thanksgiving dinners. I was very pleasantly surprised. Their dinner menu looks pretty good.

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Ali February 3, 2013 at 6:13 am

Loved the duck in the lobby ;)

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melissa February 3, 2013 at 7:37 am

I have to say I love OKW too! Stayed there twice about 6 years ago and are going back to try it this summer for a new nights before YC. I really like to rent points a few nights at a different DVC each trip to break up the trip a little. I did not care for AKV due to smallness of rooms, dark decor, etc. BWV was ok but views were not so hot and room was SMALL. OKW we LOVED. Anxious to see the refurb on the rooms. That is my one complaint on DVC propertiest – they are sloooowww on the rehabs. I so love YC for everything but like to stay a 2 nights DVC prior to check in! :) Enjoyed the tour, Josh. Thanks!

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Brian Noble February 3, 2013 at 10:34 am

If you’ve never actually stayed here, it’s hard to appreciate why it is as nice as it is. Because of the way the buildings are situated, you don’t really see the parking lots from any of the units—nearly all of them instead have views of water, or the golf course, or both. On top of that, the buildings are designed so that units are staggered slightly front-to-back, which makes each (huge) balcony that much more private. Add in the lush landscaping with plenty of wildlife, and this is the only Disney resort that provides anywhere near this degree of peaceful privacy.

It’s also the only Disney resort with icemakers and blenders in every 1BR or larger villa. Booya! It is also important to point out that the Turtle Krawl is incredibly tasty, packs a nice punch, and you are welcome to bring one on the DTD ferry with you to get a head start on your evening.

But, it’s not a hotel. More than any of the other Disney resorts (save possibly SSR), it’s a timeshare. You need to be a little more self-sufficient here, but if you are, it is a wonderful place to stay.

So far, I’ve been at VWL, BWV, BCV, and OKW. Each has advantages and disadvantages. I would happily return to any one of them.

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James N February 3, 2013 at 11:18 am

That’s more like it! Only a few “pretty” pictures and plenty of pictures and talk of alcohol. There’s the pre-vacation, pre-sobriety Josh we all love!

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Ken Smith February 3, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Not only was Olivia’s the best meal out (prime rib) of 10 days of deluxe dining last September, but I like to point out that at 5:30p we were the sole patrons at this time and only three more tables came in afterwards by 7pm…this in the middle of “free dining.” I do wish Goods had not quit having the conch fritters as an available item.

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Susan Cole February 4, 2013 at 6:28 am

You tell him, Brian Nobel! Now let’s go back over to the DVC forums on the DIS boards where we’re appreciated! ;>)

SusieBea

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weepstah February 4, 2013 at 7:26 am

Josh,

I really liked the shadows in your photographs this go round. I’m not sure if you know the history of OKW but are these essentially the refurbed units that were the original Fairway Villas back in the 70′s when it was WDW Village? I stayed in one of the Townhouse Villas (I think that is what they called them) when I was a kid but never on the fairway side, much less one of the tree houses.

For anyone who is interested in the past of the whole Lake Buena Vista area, I can’t recommend the Passport to Dreams Old and New blog enough.

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Brian February 4, 2013 at 7:47 am

@weepstah: I believe Saratoga Springs Resort is located where the Fairway Villas used to be. Old Key West was originally called “Disney Vacation Club” before there were any other DVC resorts.

We love OKW. It’s big but we always have a car. The breakfast we had at Olivia’s was excellent. We haven’t had dinner there yet.

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jpilet February 4, 2013 at 10:42 am

I guess this was great timing for me. I’m staying at OKW for the first time in 6 days. Good review, and as always, good extra info bnoble. Always fun to see tgm peeps everywhere.

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James February 4, 2013 at 10:55 am

I love OKW, i guess it’s because i always use the car to get anywhere onsite as i never use the buses.

Also i have never gone to toilet in any pool ever. Is it really that common? Just seems lazy and uncaring to me.

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Michelle February 4, 2013 at 2:36 pm

We have stayed here many times. I love OKW because of the size and the peace and quiet. Totally depends on what you want out of your resort stay. We stayed at WL this past weekend and AKL the w/e before that and there is no comparison in room size or relaxation, but we weren’t going for that.. And yes, having a car and knowing your way around really helps at OKW. The food and service have always been good for us at Olivias. You are making me want to go stay at OKW.

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IspeakWhale February 4, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Another vote for Olivia’s! I have dined at many restaurants and Olivia’s is never a disappointment. If you enjoy shopping or dining at DTD the boat from OKW is such a nice way to travel. Earl of Sandwich is a family favorite and it’s nice to be able to take a leisurely boat ride to grab a quick sandwich…much nicer than the buses!

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Brandie February 4, 2013 at 4:08 pm

We love OKW. I’d rather stay there than at our home resort, SSR.
We were just there over the holidays. Our balcony had a view of the fireworks from Illuminations. Even if we aren’t staying at OKW, we usually have a meal at Olivia’s. We’ll hop over to the pool to get away from the crowds at SSR’s pools.
The counter service offerings, as was mentioned, are less than inspiring. Since we always have a car, we venture over to POFQ and eat at Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory (where we can use our TiW) for many of our counter service meals.

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wileycoyote February 4, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Britkate, same as, had 10 nights with 40% off and free ddp. What a great deal and such a fab place. So relaxing and not “in your face” theming. So much space in the 2br for 5 of us. We loved it, sadly cant really justify the expense compared to offsite villa now the offers have been downdialled. Never mind, it was good while it lasted. Big thumbs up for OKW all round

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Brian Noble February 5, 2013 at 5:03 am

Re: Olivia’s

This is my go-to place when I have to get away from All. These. People. The food is consistently good, the prices reasonable (for Disney, anyway), and there is almost never a wait to get in. It’s also got the perfect vibe when you just need to chill out—it’s very casual, it’s not loud, and it doesn’t have a shtick. I’ve even stopped by a few times on trips when I was staying somewhere else. That really requires a car, but I’m a big car advocate for a lot of reasons; this is just one of them.

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Rebecca February 5, 2013 at 7:16 am

Where do I find a touring/ride strategy for each park?

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Melissa February 5, 2013 at 11:55 am

We are staying there for the first time in June for a party of 7. Can anyone tell me what the coffee makers are like? I want to make sure we bring the right stuff for my dad and husband otherwise it could be a long day. We asked to be placed by the hospitality house any other suggestions for us?

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Dana February 5, 2013 at 8:21 pm

I totally dig what looked like genuine Tervis cups in the store. If they are at all the resorts, I might have actually found a Disney “collectible” I can get into.

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Brandie February 6, 2013 at 7:27 am

Melissa, the coffee makers are the drip kind, not the pod kind. Does that help?

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Melissa February 6, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Brandi: Thanks that helps bunches

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Caroline February 6, 2013 at 7:47 pm

We are staying here for the first time in a couple of weeks. I have enjoyed reading everyone’s reviews. We are looking forward to the large room, kitchen and washer/dryer.

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Scrump February 6, 2013 at 8:41 pm

I don’t have anything to add to the conversation except to say that I also totally thought that said “Gurgling Buttcase”.

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AD July 6, 2013 at 7:31 pm

We noticed that the lobby smelled really nice when we visited… anyone else notice that?

That’s all.

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