Old Key West is the original Disney Vacation Club resort. The theming is pretty clear, as it’s right there in the name. Old Key West is a quaint (fictional) Florida Keys community called Conch Flats. We stayed a few nights at Old Key West as part of a split stay with Pop Century where we started out at Pop and stayed there for the majority of our trip, transferring over to Old Key West for three nights to end our vacation on a ‘high note’.
Located on the Eastern portion of Disney Property, Old Key West is right between Disney Springs and Epcot, with Hollywood Studios not too far away. Fairly centralized, the resort is right in the middle of the action, while feeling secluded enough that your stay feels like a relaxing escape.
If you’re considering a deluxe resort property, here are a few of the points we found while staying at Old Key West to help you decide whether it’s the right resort for you.
Many of the other Disney World resorts we’ve stayed at make us feel like we’re not even in Florida. Animal Kingdom Lodge does an amazing job of making you feel like you’re in Africa, far from the parks, just like the Polynesian makes you feel like you’re on an island.
Old Key West doesn’t exactly do that, because there are palm trees everywhere, and the little sea shells embedded in the sidewalks. Combined with the laid-back tranquil atmosphere, it’s pretty clear that you are in Florida, but that’s exactly the point! It’s meant to feel like a Florida escape, giving you respite from the busyness of the parks.
I really felt like I could spend a few days or a week just relaxing at this resort. Eating a leisurely breakfast, walking around the grounds, spending time in the pool and hanging out in the resort room, Old Key West feels like a resort getaway, more so than the other Disney resorts we’ve stayed in.
That feeling is probably due to the fact that it was set up as a Disney Vacation Club resort where families could vacation and have a full, restful and fun experience even if they never visited the parks (though it’s hard to imagine missing out on the parks). While the experience is true for all the resorts, at Old Key West, it really does feel like the complete vacation resort atmosphere.
Although Old Key West is a Disney Vacation Club resort, anyone can stay here! Whether you’re booked as a DVC member or paying cash with a reservation booked through Disney, you will feel comfortable and welcome here.
While it’s not the largest, Old Key West is still a big, sprawling resort. I think this lends itself well to the feel of being completely removed from the rest of the world and the sense that you are living in a self-contained community, which Old Key West really is. But that can have some drawbacks too. Old Key West has about 760 villas, and they are organized along a series of roads throughout the resort.
There are five bus stops across the resort to make it more convenient for guests to get to their building section, but it takes about 15-20 minutes to ride the entire bus loop within the resort. That should give you an idea of how big this resort is and how far you may end up being from the main building, the Hospitality House.
Located near the Hospitality House you’ll find the dining options, the resort gift shop (the aptly named, Conch Flats General Store), and the main pool area, as well as the boat launch to Disney Springs.
We were located in the Miller Road section (which was clearly meant to be, given our last name is Miller) and we had a bus stop just around the corner from our room, which was very convenient. We were about a 5-minute walk to the Hospitality House, and it was a really lovely walk so we didn’t feel like this was a burden.
We stayed in a Deluxe Studio, which included two queen-sized beds, a kitchenette, and a small balcony, which looked out onto a small pond that was part of the golf course at Old Key West. There were a lot of trees around this area as well so we felt secluded and never saw or heard any golfers.
The bathroom had the bathtub/shower, toilet and sink all in one room, as opposed to many of the other rooms at Disney that have the sink and mirror located outside of the bathroom.
Disney is currently refurbishing the rooms at Old Key West, but we did not have a newly refurbished room. Our room was extremely comfortable, but did show a little wear and tear and seemed slightly dated in terms of colours and decor, so we see why they are receiving some updates. I should say, our room was still clean and comfortable and we were perfectly happy there (but I would probably be happy in any Deluxe resort at Disney).
The studios at Old Key West are the only ones with two queen beds as opposed to one queen bed and a pull-out couch found in other DVC studios. The décor and theming in the room is subtle, with light, pastel colours and the Floridian feel of the exterior of the resort is extended inside the rooms.
They also placed a little doormat outside the resort room door that said ‘Welcome Home’ on it. It was a simple thing, but it’s those simple things that we really love about Disney, because like many other we do feel at home when visiting Disney and it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy when Disney acknowledges that.
We did have a family of excitable, early risers next to us and there was a fair bit of noise carrying over into our room, but this isn’t something we have only experienced at Old Key West and honestly didn’t really bother us as we only noticed it when we were already awake.
There are three types of rooms at Old Key West. The Deluxe Studio Standard View (which we stayed in), the 1 Bedroom Villa Standard View, and the 2 Bedroom Villa Standard View. The studio is pretty much your basic hotel room, with a little balcony and a kitchenette, while the villas have more amenities with a seating area, a kitchen and a whirlpool tub.
One of the big highlights of staying at Old Key West was eating breakfast at Olivia’s Café. This is the table service restaurant at the resort. We had reservations for our last morning at the resort but on a whim decided to stop by for breakfast on our first morning as well. They had plenty of availability, so we didn’t need a reservation, although we did get there before just before 8am, and noticed by the time we left it was quite a bit busier.
Crab Cake-Eggs Benedict at Olivia’s Cafe
Eggs and Hash at Olivia’s Cafe
The atmosphere is laid back and breezy. The food is home-style comfort cooking with a hint of the Keys. Ryan had their Eggs Benedict at the recommendation of a Cast Member from the park a day earlier, and that Cast Member did not steer him wrong. Instead of ham, this egg benedict has crab cakes and key lime hollandaise. I had the Eggs and Hash, which was one of the best breakfasts I’ve had anywhere. I had my eggs poached, the potato hash is covered in the key lime hollandaise and a Chimichurri sauce.
This was an extremely enjoyable, delicious and satisfying breakfast for us. The service was great, the restaurant wasn’t overly busy or noisy and it was the perfect way to start our day off. We had breakfast there on another day as well but opted for the Banana Bread French Toast. We were really looking forward to this and greatly enjoyed it, though to our surprised we preferred our meals from our first visit. The French Toast is good, but it is quite sweet.
On our check-out day, we had a quick service lunch at Good’s Food to Go. This is the resort’s quick service option, which is a walk-up window – so no formal sit-down dining area here like there is at most of the other resorts at Disney. We did have trouble finding somewhere to sit because it was raining when we ordered our food, and while they do have some outdoor seating, it didn’t provide enough cover to enjoy our food. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner here. We each had the Mango Rum BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich, which was good but not better than the pork sandwich at Flame Tree Barbeque.
The Gurgling Suitcase is a very small bar/lounge which we unfortunately did not have time to try. Just add it to the list of things to do next time. Their food menu looks appealing, with fritters, fish tacos, a burger and deep-fried pickle chips, and of course they have a drink menu as well, with a whole section dedicated to drinks that serve two people.
Aside from not having a quick service area with more indoor or covered seating, we really enjoyed the food offerings at Old Key West and would make a special trip for breakfast at Olivia’s in the future.
There are four pools at Old Key West, the main pool being the Sandcastle Pool. This is the signature pool that features a waterslide doubling as a not-so-hidden Mickey. There’s a whirlpool spa, kiddie pool and a dry sauna in the lighthouse. We didn’t make use of the sauna or whirlpool, and while the pool area isn’t the best or most grand at Disney, the slide is great and this area wasn’t busy during the time we visited.
We also had a leisure pool located close to our room building. These are your typical laid back, no real theming leisure pools, but perfect for cooling off, a quick dip or just lounging by the pool.
One thing I loved about this resort was the fact that they had Key Lime-flavoured snacks, menu items and drinks all over the place! I’m a huge fan of anything with lime in it, so this was an aspect of the resort I personally really liked.
The real question is, would we stay here again and would we recommend staying at Old Key West?
The short answer, is yes, we would absolutely stay here again. The long answer is a little more complicated. Is it our favourite resort? No, it’s not, but we liked it a lot more than we thought we would.
We loved the laid-back atmosphere – and it’s a very pretty resort. Our room was comfortable, but we would be curious to see how the update to the rooms will change the resort. That might be enough to tip the scales in favour of making it a more memorable resort.
There are a few downsides to the resort – the sprawling nature of the resort means you could be far enough away from the main building that it necessitates a bus ride there. Even though Old Key West has direct boat transportation to Disney Springs, it doesn’t have the same appeal as the close proximity to the parks found at the Magic Kingdom Resorts or any of the Epcot Resorts.
Old Key West doesn’t have its praises sung very often and it’s not often found on people’s must-do resort list (through no fault of its own). It’s a lovely resort, but it just isn’t as popular. To us, it’s missing a few more magical elements here – something that makes it stand out as a Deluxe Resort. That being said, when availability is low at other resorts, Old Key West can come through – still delivering a great experience, but maybe just missing out on some style points.
All that is to say, if you’re looking for a Deluxe Resort experience, and you aren’t concerned with being on the monorail loop or a walking distance to Epcot, Old Key West may be the resort for you. It’s a quiet, tranquil place, which can be really appealing to some guests who are looking to escape for part of their vacation. Olivia’s Café is a real highlight, but you could probably make a trek to the resort to dine there, without having to stay there.
As a side-note, I can see us checking the resort out again, once the room refurbishment has completed. That may give us a new perspective and we’d be happy to stay there again to try it out. Until then, we have some other resorts we’d like to try first.
Have you stayed at Old Key West? What did you like about your experience? Let us know in the comments below.