This review is sponsored by by DVC Magic Resales at www.dvcmagicresales.com (they used their DVC points to book the room and in exchange will also be posting this review and reviews of the other properties). If you’re looking to buy into the Disney Vacation Club or purchase more points for less than you’d pay Disney directly, they’re a great choice. They also take excellent care of those looking to sell their contracts independently.
The Saratoga Springs review is available here should you have missed it or would like a quick refresher. Wilderness Lodge is on tap for later this month with BoardWalk Inn arriving next month.
Disney’s Old Key West Resort (OKW) is the original Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Resort, opening all the way back in 1991.
According to Disney:
Experience the romance of the Florida Keys at this tranquil community of Conch Flats—a sprawling island hamlet with shimmering waterways, swaying palm trees and manicured golf-course fairways. Delight in sun-soaked pools, casual dining and such amenities as fully equipped kitchens or kitchenettes. A peaceful tropical paradise, Disney’s Old Key West Resort is also just a boat ride away from the excitement of the Downtown Disney area.
The resort feels like a seaside community that could just as easily be situated somewhere on the southern tip of Florida.
The view above is just outside the front door to our room.
The resort map:
“Sprawling” is another key word (get it…Key…West…nevermind) as 49 individual guest buildings dot the 156-acre landscape.
The resort is actually larger than Vatican City (110 acres) and three more images are required to zoom in on each cluster of buildings and their surrounding amenities. You can download and peruse the full PDF map here: https://i2.wp.com/easywdw.com/reports13/okwmap.pdf.
Online check-in currently offers the following choices, of which you can make two:
These are the most obscure room requests I’ve seen for any resort. Looking over the map above, “Request South Point Road Area” and “Request Penninsular Road Area” make a lot more sense, but Disney doesn’t provide either map anywhere on their site or any more information about what each request means.
- A fairway view would provide a view of the golf course from the balcony or patio.
- Dual lavatory entrances is discussed in the next paragraph.
- The South Point Road Area would put you in the very back of the resort.
- The Hospitality House Area would put you closer to the main building and most amenities.
- A ground floor room would be ideal if you have someone in your party that has trouble with stairs. Only buildings 62, 63, and 64 have elevators.
- A Pack ‘n Play Playard is a foldable, portable crib and play area for infants.
- The Old Turtle Pond Road Area would put you near the back of the resort, but closer to the Turtle Shack snack stand and quiet pool/playground.
- A Canal View would offer a view of the waterway to Downtown Disney.
- Penninsular Road Area would put you somewhere in building 23-29, somewhat in the middle of the resort.
- The Miller’s Road Area would put you in the corner of the resort on a dead end.
- Near transportation would put you closer to a bus stop.
My strong recommendation is to request “Near Hospitality House,” which will put you in one of the buildings closest to the main building, boat to Downtown Disney, feature pool, and the vast majority of the other resort amenities. The second request I recommend is “Request Dual Lavatory Bathrooms,” particularly if you’re traveling with more than two people. This may seem like an odd request, but only 1-bedroom villas in buildings 30+ have bathroom entrances from anywhere other than the master bedroom. So while buildings 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 are all relatively close to Hospitality House, they only have one bathroom entrance. With one bathroom entrance, everyone has to traipse through the master bedroom in order to use the facilities, which obviously reduces privacy and may disturb those in the master bedroom at night. The second lavatory entrance is less of a concern in a 2+ bedroom, but requesting one is more likely to put you in building 62, 63, 64, which are the best because they’re newer and also have elevators, which are particularly nice on move-in and move-out days.
Guests staying in the furthest buildings easily have a 15+ minute walk to the main building, bar, restaurant, boat dock, etc:
The distance is less of a concern if you’re driving, but even if you are, I’m not sure what the downside would be to a location closer to the main building. We were in building 16, which was just about a three-minute walk to the main building, but already far enough away to feel completely removed from the popular Hospitality House area. If you call to make your reservation, consider requesting buildings 62-64 by name and remember that if you do make requests online or by fax, that your online requests will likely override your previous requests. So skip the room request section if you’ve made requests by phone or by fax.
For guests relying on Disney transportation, a room location close to the main building is more imperative than any other resort, including the also-massive Saratoga Springs. Old Key West can be horrendously inconvenient if you’re stuck far away from the main building without a car. While an internal bus circles the resort and all theme park buses stop at Hospitality House last (so you can get on any theme park bus and it will drop you off at the main building before proceeding on to its final destination), that still means a lot of waiting and bus rides to grab a snack, ask a question in person, or visit the feature pool or Community Hall.
Rate Chart and room layouts:
Larger https://i2.wp.com/easywdw.com/reports13/okwrates.jpg or as the original PDF: https://i2.wp.com/easywdw.com/reports13/okwrates.pdf.
Room-wise, Old Key West enjoys two striking advantages – its studios are larger than any other on property, outside of the far-more-expensive Polynesian Village Resort (over $100 more per night for 14 more square feet). Old Key West is also cheaper than any other DVC accommodation on property, outside of much smaller, parking-lot-view rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House ($10/night less expensive).
At 942 square feet, Old Key West 1-Bedroom Villas are 100 square feet larger than the second largest 1-Bedrooms found at the Grand Floridian (a minimum of $245/night more than Old Key West). They’re also more than 200 square feet larger than 1-Bedrooms at Saratoga Springs (715 square feet), Beach Club (730 square feet), and Wilderness Lodge (730 square feet).
Upon entering the 1-bedroom villa, you’re met with the windows that line the living room ahead and the bedroom, bathroom, and laundry room down the hall on the right.
The expansive kitchen and dining area.
At first blush, the television looks to be in an awkward location inside the island, but it actually works well for those sitting on the couches. There’s a DVD player underneath.
Looking at the living room with the couches behind me.
The dining room table with four chairs and the bar behind it.
You could grab a chair from the balcony if you need a fifth.
Plenty of storage space underneath for your elderflower liqueurs and such.
The cupboards above the fridge and several others are left empty for more stuff, in addition to under-counter storage.
Kitchen amenities are standard across all properties:
A look at what that looks like:
While cooking is not everybody’s idea of a relaxing vacation, preparing a few quick meals back at the resort is an easy way to cut costs and potentially eat healthier. Just microwaving breakfast sandwiches or toasting bagels instead of hitting the resort quick service can save hundreds of dollars and thousands of calories over a week. And for the rest of us, the fridge holds a lot more beer and sparkling wine at colder temperatures than the beverage coolers in regular rooms.
Unlike Saratoga Springs’ 1-Bedroom Villas, which sleep just four, Old Key West officially sleeps five. The couch pulls out to a bed that’s queen-size in width, but about ten inches shorter in length.
With the larger size of the living room, the pulled-out-bed doesn’t dominate the room like it did at Saratoga Springs.
The chair folds out into a fifth sleeping surface.
Not the flashiest thing I’ve ever seen, but at 30″ wide and 80″ long, it’s about half the size of a queen and potentially more comfortable for a taller adult.
Looking down the hallway, the laundry room is on the right with the bedroom ahead.
Washer and dryer.
Iron and ironing board.
The master bedroom is straightforward with the king bed taking up most of the space.
The older model iHome makes another appearance on the left bedside table.
Across the way is the television, mirror, dresser, and luggage bench with additional storage underneath. One of my favorite things about the room was the door on the right that leads to the balcony or patio outside, so you don’t have to go all the way around to the living room.
The whirlpool tub is just off the bedroom with more storage and a sink/mirror combo.
The wooden blinds that separate the tub and bed areas can be opened or closed.
This area opens up to the shower, main vanity area, and toilet.
Lisa enjoyed the additional counter space and better lighting than Saratoga Springs. I liked the glass door on the shower. Usually I end up with three inches of water on the ground because I don’t quite get the curtain pulled all the way over (I swear I do and all Disney resorts have large invisible holes that let water spill out).
Some natural light too.
All rooms enjoy a patio or balcony with views of the golf course, fountains, and/or canal.
It was fun to walk the two or three minutes to the Gurgling Suitcase bar, grab a margarita, and sit watching the golfers miss easy putts. The balconies here are among the largest on property. You could add the dining room table and four more chairs out here and still have room to spare.
Rooms overlooking water and fountains.
Back to the room, artwork and assorted knickknacks help continue the theme inside.
Lamps, seashells, and such.
Overall, I don’t think it’s possible to overemphasize how much the extra space adds to the overall comfort level of the room and for many of us, our sanity levels. At 942 square feet, a 1-bedroom villa is more than 3.5 times the size of a Value room, three times the size of a Moderate room, over 2.5 times the the size of a BoardWalk Inn room, and more than twice the size of a Grand Floridian room. While this next sentence sounds like an advertisement, it’s absolutely true: With a favorable DVC resale contract, you can get this much space for less than you’d pay for a room at a Moderate.
Activities, Pools, and Things To Do
Old Key West’s 149,000 gallon feature pool is located behind the main building with the sandcastle water slide in the distance.
The working lighthouse is home to the only sauna at a Disney resort.
Splashing dolphins and bridges add a bit of whimsy.
While it’s not a particularly hyped area, the large size of the pool deck and the plentiful number of lounge chairs make it a more pleasant experience than a lot of pools.
A whirlpool for the inclined.
A kiddie pool sits behind the pool slide.
And behind that is a sandy playground area for kids. There are volleyball nets behind that.
One of two sets of tennis courts are located nearby. The other set is on Old Turtle Pond Road.
Shuffleboard and basketball behind the feature pool.
The Old Turtle Pond Road quiet pool offers the second most amenities.
It’s bigger than the other two quiet pools.
It’s also the only pool with a playground attached.
Perhaps more importantly, it’s home to Turtle Shack Poolside Snacks:
While the snack bar is usually open from just 11am-5pm, it offers a convenient way for guests in this area to refill their mug or grab a snack without having to travel to the main building.
The grill area with picnic tables.
There are two other quiet pools, offering a potentially lower key experience. One is located in the Miller’s Road area between buildings 19 and 20.
The other is in the South Point Road area between buildings 55 and 56. All three quiet pools have bathrooms/changing areas and laundry rooms.
In addition to whirlpools.
Back to the main building, Old Key West is home to one of five Community Halls on property. It’s located just a few steps from the quick service, restaurant, pool, etc.
Like the others, it’s a large room with a variety of activities for kids, including arts and crafts, movies, board games, pool, and video games.
Ceramics. Everyone is welcome here, DVC member or not.
An example of resort activities:
OKW offers two of the smallest arcades on property, the first next to Community Hall:
And a similarly sized offering at the Turtle Pond quiet pool:
Hey, it’s something.
The perhaps poorly named R.E.S.T. Beach Exercise Room offers 24 hour access:
There’s also a well defined trail:
Just in case the 15 miles you’re going to walk around Epcot isn’t enough.
Location and Transportation
OKW is a Downtown Disney area resort just down the street from Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside.
Like those resorts and Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, watercraft transportation and buses are available to Downtown Disney.
Boats run every 20 minutes from 10am to 11:30pm.
With Disney Springs construction, boats currently drop off and pick up at the West Side dock.
Transportation to the theme parks is otherwise serviced by bus at one of five stops around the resort. Transportation is typical of other resorts with buses arriving every 15 to 20 minutes, on average. All theme park buses should stop at Hospitality House last, so guests staying far away from the main building can hop on the first bus they see for a quick ride to the front of the resort. One negative of the bus system, in addition to the multiple stops that add transportation time, is the convoluted route with a lot of dead ends and turnarounds.
For example, the Miller’s Road stop above is located on the way to a dead end, requiring the bus to loop back around. It’s certainly not a make-it-or-break-it kind of thing, but it’s not quite as pleasant as the circle buses make at other resorts with multiple stops like Caribbean Beach.
Good’s Food to Go is the resort’s main quick service.
Serving all three meals:
In terms of variety, it’s probably the weakest resort quick service on property, though it does offer the various Disney standbys. Being the first DVC resort, the company probably assumed most guests would prepare meals in their room or head elsewhere. Still, there are a few unique items like the Caribbean jerk pita, conch chowder, and key lime pie. And in reality, most people end up ordering burgers and nuggets anyway, even when more interesting items are available.
The area is also home to the main refillable mug station.
Joffrey’s coffee, hot cocoa, and tea.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the $3.99 cup of Conch Chowder, which is the same as what’s served at Olivia’s Cafe for half the money. It turns out that it’s a zesty tomato-based red chowder full of conch, celery, peppers, onions, potatoes, and other spices. It was served piping hot and was a nice afternoon snack on a cool winter afternoon.
Lisa tried the $7.49 Turkey Club Wrap, which are mostly standard issue property-wide with a mixture of deli turkey meat, lettuce, and bacon in a spinach wrap. It’ll do the trick, but it’s not particularly interesting. The avocado ranch on the side makes the wrap a little less dry, but didn’t pack the punch of flavor you would hope for.
Fortunately, the resort’s table service restaurant helps make up for it, serving all three meals beginning with breakfast from 7:30am-10:30am and then continuing with one lunch/dinner menu from 11:30am-10pm.
Olivia’s, which is usually much more popular than when this picture was taken in between lunch/dinner service, is as casual as they come.
According to Disney,
Savor hearty home cooking with a taste of the Florida Keys at this hidden gem at Disney’s Old Key West Resort.
As Breezy and Relaxed as Key West Itself, a longtime resident of Conch Flats, Olivia welcomes diners with Island-inspired dishes. This nautical-themed eatery has the friendly, familiar feel of a neighborhood institution and is a perennial favorite of many a Guest.
That’s not far off as pictures of past guests adorn the lobby. While you always want to secure a reservation as soon as you know what time you want to dine, Olivia’s is usually good about seating walk-ups with short waits.
Breakfast is probably the most popular meal, offering Disney standbys with a Florida Keys twist:
You had me at mimosa.
Coffee is served in your own carafe with cream, milk, and sugar. It’s nice to have more at the ready and they usually ask if you’d like a to-go cup of coffee or whatever fountain beverage you ordered with your meal.
I ordered the $13.99 Crab Cake Eggs Benedict – Two-Poached Eggs and Two Crab Cakes on an English Muffin with Key Lime Hollandaise and Breakfast Potatoes. The eggs were perfectly poached on top of the lightly toasted English muffins with the fluffy egg whites just barely containing the runny yolk inside. The crab cakes might have been a little fishy for a breakfast dish, but they were plump with crab and little filler. I was expecting a little more lime flavor from the hollandaise, but it did offer a very subtle citrus nod. Very filling and very good.
Olivia’s breakfast potatoes are sort of a mashup between traditional, peppery pan-fried potatoes and cheesy au gratin potatoes. They were prepared just right with some bite left in the potato cubes. Excellent.
Lisa went traditional with the Waffle and Eggs – Waffles with Two Eggs-Any Style with choice of Bacon, Sausage, or Ham. The restaurant was happy to substitute fruit. The dish arrived with four baby Mickey waffles, in this case slightly overdone, but not to disastrous effect. I’m not sure what it is about eating Mickey’s face for breakfast, but there isn’t a better way to start the morning on vacation. The waffles are reliably fluffy and soak up syrup and other toppings as good as anything. Her egg whites were prepared nicely – sometimes you get runny, thin eggs, but that wasn’t the case here. The side of fruit was a little disappointing, dominated by large chunks of not-quite-ripe honeydew. The website recommends that you always go bacon.
Olivia’s serves one menu for lunch and dinner:
The menu has changed very little over the last few years, offering many of the same tried and true classics.
Both meals include a fresh baked loaf of pineapple sourdough served alongside butter. The pineapple flavor continues the tropical vibe of the restaurant and the bread has a nice firm crust with chewy bread hidden inside. It’s no Kona sweet bread, but it’s a nice start.
Longtime readers may remember Scarlett of TouringPlans’ fame, who joins us for dinner alongside her fiance and kids. She ordered the $31.49 Slow-cooked Prime Rib – 10-oz cut with Olivia’s Potatoes, Green Beans, Carrots, and Cabernet Demi-Glaze. The prime rib is typical of chain restaurants like Outback, well-seasoned and tender. One miss is that they don’t have straight horseradish, only a creamy sauce.
Her fiance (who happens to be Tom Corless of WDWNT.com) ordered the $15.49 Barbecued Chicken Sandwich – Basted with Chipotle-Barbecue Sauce topped with Grilled Pineapple Salsa on our Pineapple-Coconut Roll served with choice of French Fries, Marinated Coleslaw, or Homemade Potato Chips. The roll was oven fresh, soft, and chewy and the pineapple salsa adds some sweetness to the tangy barbecue sauce. It impressed considering the mundane description.
I ordered the $21.99 Catch of the Day – Roasted Fennel and Fingerling Potatoes in a Bacon Vinaigrette topped with Tomato Jam. In this case, it was corvina, a white, flaky, fish found off the coast of the southeastern Pacific. It was a surprisingly flavorful dish with the tomato jam complementing the naturally mild sweetness of the fish. The potatoes added some heft and the roasted fennel a bit of crunch. It at least “felt” a little healthier than some of the heavier dishes, which was nice.
Lisa ordered the $18.49 Mallory Square Cobb Salad – Romaine Lettuce with layers of Chilled Shrimp, Crab Salad, Bacon, Egg, Blue Cheese, Tomato, and Avocado with a Key-Lime Mustard Vinaigrette. The middle is a row of ten shrimp with the crab salad and tomato behind it. It’s a huge, fresh salad with a ton of toppings that two people could easily share.
If you go the sharing route, you might give the $11.49 Conch Fritters with Key Lime-Mustard and Rémoulade a shot. Yes, conch are sea snails, but they are lightly fried to perfection and dip nicely into the zesty sauces.
On a previous visit, I tried the $21.99 Shrimp and Grits:
I was not real sure what to expect from the dish. It ended up being about a half dozen smallish shrimp bathed in a sauce creamier-than-I-was-expecting with a few bites of ham and what were most likely canned mushrooms. The shrimp were prepared well – not overly chewy like is often the case and they soaked up the creamy sauce well. The grits really stood out though – much richer and cheesier than I was expecting.
Service is as friendly and casual as it gets. They do a nice job making you feel like you’re a regular, even if it’s your first visit. While Good’s Food to Go may leave something to be desired with its limited menu and lack of indoor seating, Olivia’s does serve relatively inexpensive hamburgers and sandwiches from 11:30am. I doubt you’ll go hungry.
Oh, I almost forgot the classic Key Lime Tart with Mango and Raspberry Sauce – $5.49. It’s bigger and denser than it may look. Lisa and I both had our fill and half still sat on the plate. The Pie lives up to the hype with a thick graham cracker crust encasing the sweet-yet-tart filling. The airy meringue on top was a treat too. Try to save room for one of these suckers. My estimation is one can be shared among numerous people
Gurgling Suitcase Libations and Spirits, by far the best name of any bar on property and probably anywhere in the world, is a hole in the wall located in between the restaurant and quick service:
The Turtle Krawl and Sultry Seahorse are unique to the bar and perhaps more importantly, there are no pre-made drinks here.
The Key West Sunset Ale is a relatively unique beer on draft.
The Sultry Seahorse – Disaronno Originale, Creme de Banana, Pineapple Juice, Orange Juice, and a Float of Cherry Brandy – $9.25 is fruity and strong.
The $9.25 Turtle Krawl – Coconut Rum, Spiced Rum, and White Rum with Pineapple, Orange, and Key Lime Juices is the resort’s signature cocktail, loaded with rum and hangover. It’s nice and fruity and usually very strong, perfect for the boat ride over to Downtown Disney.
The $11.25 Frozen Mango Margarita – Patron Silver Tequila blended with Mango Puree and topped with Passion Fruit-Mango Foam is freshly blended. It’s not particularly strong, so if you like your frozen margarita to taste more like fruit than cheap tequila, it might be a good choice. It’s also extremely cold and takes forever to drink, which may or may not be a good thing.
There’s always the $7.75 Bloody Mary.
Or the classic Long Island.
While on the small side, you don’t have to worry about people waiting for their reservation at Olivia’s invading like you do at most other resort bars. Pull up a stool or take it to go – either way, it’s among the friendliest and most proficient on property.
A few room service options:
Sometimes you just want to pay $13.27 to have someone deliver a can of Fat Tire to the room.
Conch Flats General Store is the…you guessed it…resort store, offering merchandise, food, and beverages.
In case you’re wondering what everything costs (a PDF link follows):
As an easier-to-read PDF: https://i2.wp.com/easywdw.com/reports13/okwprices.pdf
Order forms for the other DVC resorts are linked in post 5 here on the forums. It’ll give you a good idea about what’s available. With the $10 delivery charge on top of Disney prices, most people will probably want to pick up a couple items themselves or look at one of the grocery delivery services.
The resort offers a variety of resort-specific merchandise:
Like most other resorts, the logo is subtle enough that you can proudly display your home resort back home without opening yourself up to jokes about visiting Disney for the bajillionth time.
Other Areas of Interest
As you exit Magical Express or the bus that drops off at Hospitality House, this is the walkway you’ll see with Bell Services on the right. Check-in/Concierge is ahead on the right with the resort store on the left. Up ahead, the boat dock to Downtown Disney is just off to the right and the restaurant, quick service, bar, community hall, gym, feature pool, etc. are all down on the left.
The check-in process is reliably quick. The Concierge desk is there to answer questions, handle dining and FastPass+ reservations, etc.
The room adjacent offers some space to relax.
The television in the corner helps entertain kids.
Arriving back at the resort via the boat at night, this may help with the layout of the main building area.
A pretty fairway view as the sun sets.
Old Key West is the perfect resort for you if you’re looking for Deluxe-level amenities with some of the largest rooms on property for relatively low prices. Its location with boat access to Downtown Disney is only becoming more desirable with its transformation into Disney Springs and the upscale shopping and dining establishments that it will bring. While the quick service is bare bones, Olivia’s friendly service and relatively inexpensive hamburgers and sandwiches help make up for it. The sprawl of the resort can be tamed with a couple of smart requests prior to check-in. While OKW is not your typical hotel experience, the setup lends itself well to those that prefer a quieter, more private experience. Instead of being awakened at 7:15am by the sounds of kids running up and down the hallways at All-Star Sports, we were able to sleep in and carry our coffee mugs to our balcony overlooking the golf course on our own time. The resort may not be what you’re looking for, but it’s hard not to consider the space and amenities for the money.
Contact Rachel Thompson at www.dvcmagicresales.com for more information on selling or purchasing a DVC contract for Old Key West or any other Disney Vacation Club property. With 10 years experience on the resale market, you will be in good hands.