5 Reasons to Stay at Disney’s Old Key West Resort
One of the most exciting parts of Disney vacation planning is choosing where to stay. The Walt Disney Company has built many spectacular hotels, each of which contains pitch-perfect theming and terrific amenities. Since your resort will work as your home-base during your trip, you want to pick the right one, and that’s not easy if you’re an infrequent guest. Today, MickeyBlog is starting a recurring series that highlights the advantages of each resort. Here are five reasons to stay at Disney’s Old Key West Resort…and two reasons why you might not.
I’m a devout believer that resort location is one of the most critical aspects of deciding where to stay. When you pick the right place, you’ll have easier access to some of the best stuff at Walt Disney World. You’ll also spend less time traveling on buses or boats, both of which can be a bit aggravating when you have to ride them a lot.
Disney’s Old Key West Resort is a resort that is close to three wonderful places. When you look at it on the map, you’ll see that it’s triangulated almost equidistant to Disney Springs, Epcot, and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. That’s an entertainment district, a theme park, and a water park that are all within a few minutes of your hotel. You’re only another five minutes or so away from Disney’s Hollywood Studios, too. When you stay at this resort, you have a vast amount of entertainment options close to your hotel room.
All Disney resorts include some dining options. A few of these hotels have better restaurants than the rest, though. And Disney’s Old Key West Resort claims one of the best. Olivia’s Cafe is a meticulously themed Table Service restaurant right by the hotel lobby.
Imagineers invented a character named Olivia Farnsworth. You can read her elaborate backstory here. The purpose of this theming is to show why/how Olivia’s Café populated its menu. It’s intended to seem like a family kitchen that serves food to the neighbors…and everyone is a neighbor of Ms. Farnsworth.
To keep her friends happy and well-fed, the hostess prepares her finest island recipes. You can eat Conch Fritters or Cayo Hueso Shrimp Pasta here. But the real star is Olivia’s world-famous Southernmost Buttermilk Chicken. Before Art Smith’s Homecoming arrived, Olivia’s Café was the unquestioned chicken champion of Walt Disney World.
Olivia’s Café is a marvelous Table Service meal that rivals anything at Epcot or Disney Springs…but you don’t even have to leave your hotel to eat here!
3. The Theming
The theming of Old Key West is that you step back in time to visit Ernest Hemingway-era Key West. It’s one of the most romanticized times and places in American civilization. The island is located closer to Cuba than anywhere else, and Hemingway’s love of that country inspired much of his work.
At Old Key West, you’ll see lots of summery pastels, colors that remind you of a summer vacation at a beach. When you walk around the resort, you’ll savor the ambience. It’s a distinctive, carefully cultivated island vibe. This hotel possesses the most laid back atmosphere at Walt Disney World. When we stay here, we use our time at the hotel as a kind of pleasant escape from the chaos of a theme park. Out of all Disney resorts, we find this one the most relaxing. And that includes…
4. Relaxing Amenities
The original design of Old Key West called for a kind of timeshare style. As such, it has many of the amenities that you’d associate with timeshares. It has tennis courts onsite, and you’re near the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course, too. It’s located at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. Due to the structure of the two properties, some of the rooms overlook golf course holes. You can see from this TripAdvisor picture that the view is really good.
One of the highlights of the resort is Conch Flats Community Hall. You’ll find plenty of hobbyist activities here including shuffleboard, ping-pong, billiards, videogames, and foosball. You can also rent bikes here, including Surrey Bikes. These old-timey vehicles seat two-to-four guests, and they’re covered, making them a delightful way to bike comfortably in the Florida heat. You’ll even find basketball and volleyball courts and a jogging trail at Old Key West. It’s a wonderful place to have an active vacation on the side while you’re at Walt Disney World.
I’m a more basic Mickey Traveler, though. I prefer swimming to anything else. And I loooove the main pool at Old Key West. The property actually includes four different ones, but the others are quiet pools. The primary swimming facility is Sandcastle Pool, the most summery of all Disney pools in my opinion. This place plays island music including my beloved Jimmy Buffett, who is in heavy rotation.
This pool also features a 125-foot water slide in a structure that looks like a giant sand castle. It’s a massive pool area, with almost exactly 150,000 gallons of water. You can hang out here for hours on end, happily relishing in a beachy vacation vibe while you’re at Walt Disney World. The escapism of the setting is addictive.
5. A Little Boat Ride
This is a silly reason at face value, but it has remarkable utility once you’re at the hotel. Old Key West features boat service to and from Disney Springs. These hospitality boats depart every 20 minutes, meaning that you’re never far away from the next vessel. You can skip the bus system entirely when you choose this mode of travel. That’s not even the best part, though.
The little boat ride from Old Key West to Disney Springs features some of the most luscious scenery at Walt Disney World. You’ll get to see all the buildings and natural landscapes along the way. The true highlight is a view of the legendary Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. You’ll pass right by several of these buildings, giving you a bird’s eye view of probably the coolest suites at Walt Disney World.
The entire journey takes about 15 minutes, and it’s totally relaxing. My family’s been known to take the boat simply for the joy of it. The shopping and dining at Disney Springs is merely a serendipitous bonus.
Downsides: The Size and the Price
Every official Walt Disney World resort also has, well, downside is too strong a word. Let’s say opportunity cost. You have to give up something in order to get something.
At Old Key West, the thing that you give up is money. This resort is rightfully listed in the Deluxe Tier. As such, it’s one of the more expensive places to stay at Walt Disney World. Don’t get me wrong. You will absolutely get your money’s worth here. It’s just that vacation budgets are tricky things. You may want to spend that cash on other stuff.
My suggestion is that you speak with one of the many exceptional customer service agents at Mickey Travels. They can find you the best possible deal at Old Key West. They have plenty of experience booking rooms here, and their services are all free to you, the customer. It’s a win/win solution.
The other thing that you should keep in mind about Old Key West is the size of the complex. This place is MASSIVE, with 49 three-story buildings spread out across the area. When you stay here, you want to be as close to the hotel lobby as possible. Otherwise, you’ll have some minor logistics issues. There are multiple bus stops at the resort, meaning that the farther back you are, the longer you’ll need for each bus trip.
A pro trip is to request a room close to the “Hospitality House,” the area that hosts the hotel lobby, Olivia’s Café, and the boat dock for Disney Springs. You cannot guarantee a room here, as it’s a request, but it’ll make your life a lot easier when you get a room in one of these buildings.
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