“The sun is hot and that old clock is movin’ slow and so am I. Workday passes like molasses in wintertime, but it’s July. I’m gettin’ paid by the hour, and older by the minute, my boss just pushed me over the limit. I’d like to call him somethin’, I think I’ll just call it a day…”
Last summer, we stayed at Disney’s Old Key West for the first time, and let me tell you, if you’re ready to live on island time, Old Key West is the place to be! In this review, I’ll share my thoughts about the resort, the rooms, amenities, dining options, tips and whether or not I would recommend it over other resorts.
The first thing you should know is that this was the original Disney Vacation Club (DVC) property. This is really the reason it’s such a large resort. Even so, Old Key West has maintained its charm and truly feels like something from a different time of Walt Disney World. The resort features the romantic architecture and ambiance of the Conch Republic in the Florida Keys. The Victorian styling of the resort paired with beautiful pastel colors and lush vegetation really gives Old Key West a great vibe.
Check-in for the resort takes place at the Hospitality House and was super easy to find. Someone was able to help me as soon as I walked in. The check-in process was seamless and the cast member broke out a map to draw how I would get to my room. I didn’t realize how far away my room would be, and since I had taken a bus from the park, without a car I wasn’t sure how I would get there. Luckily, Disney thinks of everything, because the CM asked if I needed a ride and called someone to come pick me up and drive me to my room.
A peaceful, tropical paradise, Disney’s Old Key West Resort is themed after the Florida Keys. The serene environment and Jimmy Buffett music playing in the background will make you want to watch the Florida sunset with a margarita in your hand. The island-style buildings are colorful, with pastel hues of pink, green, blue and yellow and the palm trees that cover the property will make you think you’re in Key West, not Disney World.
To some, this theme may seem underwhelming, but if you take the time to really immerse yourself in the vibe and let yourself fall into the soothing serenity that this resort exudes – I think you’ll change your mind!
Just a short boat ride away from Disney Springs, OKW is located away from the hustle and bustle of the parks. The closest park is Epcot, but every park is about a 10-15 minute bus ride, which puts Old Key West in a desirable position if you plan on visiting multiple parks during your trip.
When comparing it to other Deluxe Resorts, some may see the location as less desirable as it doesn’t offer direct access to a park. However, there’s something special about this resort that makes it unlike any other. The pace is slower so you feel like you’re on vacation, and it’s nice to come back to such a peaceful environment after a long day. This is a great resort-only stay, and the proximity to Disney Springs is a great perk for non-park days, so you can easily hop over to do some shopping or catch a last minute dinner reservation!
As you can tell from the map above, Old Key West is a huge resort! I’ll say right off the bat – while the expansiveness of this resort is a positive in terms of available rooms, the one downside is that it can take a while for buses to get to your stop. The night I first arrived, I wanted to get off at the Hospitality House where check-in was, but I had to wait for 5 or 6 stops before we even got there. I was the last person a bus that was totally packed. Then the next day we were waiting for a bus to Animal Kingdom, and we were waiting for almost half an hour. I completely understand that sometimes these long wait periods happen, but at OKW it’s mostly because of the amount of stops these buses have to take before getting to yours.
Another awesome option you have is to take the boat to Disney Springs! It’s about a 15 minute boat ride, so if you’re interested in spending the evening there, the boat is a very relaxing way to get there.
The rooms were recently renovated and I was really impressed with them! The five of us stayed in a 1-bedroom villa, and while it was a little tight at times, it was still a very comfortable living situation compared to other rooms on property. If you like having a lot of space, I would seriously consider Old Key West because they have the largest size rooms out of all the resorts at Walt Disney World. Starting at 376 sq ft for a studio, a 1-bedroom comes in at 942 sq ft, 2-bedrooms at 1,333 sq ft, and the Grand Villa at 2,202 sq ft. Just for comparison, a studio at Beach Club Resort measure 356 sq ft, and a 1-bedroom villa is 726 sq ft. That’s a pretty big difference!
*Tip: If you’re looking to be closer to the action, make sure you choose a building close to the Hospitality House. These areas are a just a short walk away from all of the resort amenities. Other areas you’ll have a longer walk or may even need to drive there!
The 1-bedroom villa’s are very spacious. When you first walk in, you see the living room which has a pull out couch and a pull out lounge chair. Both of these options were very comfortable, you feel like you’re sleeping on a regular bed. What’s nice about this living room is the amount of seating – the whole family can settle in at night to watch Must-Do Disney with Stacey (Disney fans know what I’m talking about lol)!
Beyond that is the kitchen and seating area, which is fairly large and well equipped so if you were staying for a couple of days, you could choose to cook and eat your own meals in the room. Another thing we liked about the room was that during the day a lot of natural light shined through the room. I had to get pictures before the hurricane that is my family came in, so unfortunately these don’t show you what it looks like during the day!
The bedroom was absolutely beautiful! The room renovations were most noticeable in here. It felt very deluxe compared to what it used to be. The bed was comfortable and there was plenty of storage for us to stow our clothes and luggage. The bathroom was actually one of my favorite areas in the villa. I’m just so in love with that picture of Mickey and Minnie holding hands on the beach. I want it in my own apartment!
The bathroom is actually much larger than you can see in the picture. To the right of the sink is a door which leads to the second half of the bathroom where the toilet and shower are. There’s also another sink in that half, so it made getting ready easier for all of us. Attached to that half of the bathroom is also a small laundry room with a washer and dryer, which would be incredibly convenient for longer stays or people with young kids.
There’s a gorgeous seating area outside that’s perfect to enjoy your coffee in the morning, or some drinks at night after a busy day at the parks. Another benefit that’s important to factor in is the cost. While Old Key West is considered a Deluxe resort, the prices for rooms here can be significantly less than most of the other Deluxe resorts on property, and could even be better compared to Moderate resort prices at times. We absolutely loved staying in this room, but next time will definitely look at getting a 2-bedroom for the five of us.
The restaurant on property is called Olivia’s Cafe, which is a table service establishment that serves southern food with a Caribbean twist! We’d never been before and were excited to finally try it out for brunch. The vibe in the cafe was very much on brand for an island vacation. The cast members there were incredibly kind and personable, and the menu had us basically salivating right from the jump!
I ordered the Banana Bread French Toast and it tasted even more delicious than it sounds. In fact, everything we ordered was absolutely delicious! We also got the pancakes, and they arrived in the shape of Mickey Mouse. I loved eating at Olivia’s, and am very much looking forward to trying it for lunch or dinner in the future.
While OKW is a sprawling resort, all of its amenities are relatively close to one another which is very convenient. Like I mentioned before, the Hospitality House is where you check in, and it’s attached to a dockside strip that houses the fitness center, Olivia’s Cafe, an arcade, Good’s Food To-Go quick service restaurant, the main pool, the Gurgling Suitcase bar, the marina and Conch Flats General Store.
At the General Store, you’ll be able to buy groceries that you can bring back to your room, as well as purchase some fun souvenirs! Their grocery selection is limited, but you can find snacks, milk, cereal, bread, water, soda – most of the types of things you’d eat on vacation. After arriving that first night, I realized we had this huge kitchen setup, but no food or drinks (besides wine obviously, lol), so I did a quick run over to Conch Flats and picked up everything we’d need for the weekend.
Old Key West has a variety of activities that guests can do without ever leaving the resort. From tennis, volleyball, shuffleboard, basketball and playgrounds – there’s something for everyone! At Community Hall you can rent DVDs, bikes, board games, pontoon boats, and water bikes. There are also 4 pools on property – the main one that’s located near the Hospitality House, one on Turtle Pond Road, and two leisure/quiet pools. In addition, there are usually some fun weekly activities planned like competitions, wine tastings, face painting and sand castle building.
What would a relaxing vacation resort be without a golf course? While I don’t personally golf, my dad loves to, so he fell in love with Old Key West once he realized the resort sat on the country club-esque Lake Buena Vista course, he was already planning our next stay in his head!
Overall, Old Key West is a great resort! The amenities are solid, the rooms are large and newly renovated, the grounds are pretty and the environment is one of the most relaxing at Disney World. It’s unique in that there’s truly something there for everyone in your party – whether young or old. It’s a place where generations of families can come together and enjoy the Disney magic together at this charming home away from home.
Have you stayed at Disney’s Old Key West? What did you think?
Read my review of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort here.