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-By Darlin’ Diva

Building 38 Old Key WestIf you’re looking for a sprawling, lushly landscaped, easy-going, friendly place to stay, Disney’s Old Key West Resort may be the place for you.  The original Disney Vacation Club property, Old Key West is completely unlike any other Disney resort.  Having recently stayed there for the first time (May 2014), I’d like to give you an overview and tips on who would best enjoy this tropical paradise (in my opinion) and tips for making the most of a stay there.

Disney’s Old Key West opened in 1991 and boasts some of the largest Disney Vacation Club resort rooms on Walt Disney World property.  Considered a Downtown Disney-area resort, its well-maintained guest buildings (updated in 2010) offer visitors a choice of studio (390 sq. ft./sleeps up to 4), one bedroom (942 sq. ft./sleeps up to 5) or two bedroom (1395 sq. ft./sleeps up to 9) villas.  Inspired by the charm and laid-back friendliness of Key West, this resort offers a quiet, spacious retreat from the hustle and bustle of the parks.  If you love being in the middle of the action, this may not be the place for you – at Old Key West, you can actually forget you’re at Walt Disney World!

Hospitality House at Old Key WestFans of Old Key West enjoy the feeling of being in the fictitious Florida resort town of Conch Flats.  The pastel colored, ginger-bread trimmed buildings, huge trees and flowering shrubs, ample, close parking and variety of on-site amenities and activities make this a great place for visitors who don’t care to spend every vacation moment in the parks.  With four pools, a general store, game room, and restaurant options ranging from quick snacks or drinks to table service dining – the resort feels like what it was designed to represent – a vacation destination all on its own.

This resort boasts a LOT of activities!  Guests will find virtually something for everyone!  Want to swim?  Choose the main pool with a water slide and fun play area or one of the three quiet pools situated throughout the resort.  Play tennis, go fishing, roast marshmallows at the evening campfire, watch movies under the stars, play volleyball, foosball, basketball or arcade games.  Workout in the fitness center or go for a jog.  Rent a bicycle and explore.  Have little ones?  They can certainly burn off any excess energy at one of the three playgrounds located near three of the four pools.

Duval Street Burger at Olivia's CafeA bit about Dining and Refreshments:

Olivia’s Café is very good.  The service and menu selection were both great at this airy and charming table service restaurant at the Hospitality House.  We had a late dinner there, but breakfast and lunch are also served.  I had the conch chowder (delicious – more Manhattan-chowder-ish than New England style) and the Duval Street Burger (amazing burger covered in shrimp and toppings), my husband and daughter had the Shrimp and Grits (both liked it very much) and our son ordered a plain burger, cooked to order (also loved it).  Other selections include steak, pasta, chicken, ribs, scallops, salmon, and more.  Our server, Moe, was friendly and helpful without hovering or making us feel rushed in any way.

The Gurgling Suitcase.  Three of the four in our party had the opportunity to stop in for an afternoon libation at this little, yet friendly and welcoming watering hole.  It was clear immediately that the staff tries to get to know the guests – many of the patrons were on a first name basis with the bartenders.  Located near the main pool (at the Hospitality House), this little pub is a fun place to stop for refreshment!

Good’s Food to Go.  This is the quick-service dining option at Old Key West – one we didn’t get to try.  Like the Gurgling Suitcase, it’s near the pool at the Hospitality House.  It appeared to offer pretty standard fare for snacks, burgers, sandwiches, etc.  If you’ve got the refillable resort mug, this is the place to go for a fill-up.

Good's at Old Key WestThere is Conch Flats General Store.  If you need basic food items, microwavable meals, snacks, etc. this is the place.  We needed some zip-lock baggies for packing to go home and found them here.

Like any Walt Disney World accommodations, there are pros and cons to staying at Old Key West.  Here are a few tips that may help you decide if this resort is one you’d like to try…

This resort is best for your family if:

  • You want a relaxed, out-of-the way, quiet resort
  • You have your own car and plan to drive yourself to the parks
  • You like to spend time relaxing away from the parks
  • You don’t mind long-ish commutes when using Disney bus transportation
  • You’ll be staying for a long visit and want someplace that feels like home versus a hotel

Tips for making the most of a stay at Old Key West:

  • Request a building near the Hospitality House – it’ll cost you more, but will be worth it!
  • Be prepared for long travel times if using Disney Transportation (depends on where you’re going and time of day, but if you’ve ever stayed where you could walk to a park or ride the Monorail, this will be slower and possibly frustrating)
  • Bring (or have shipped in advance) snacks, breakfast bars, bottled water, etc.  If you end up staying quite a distance from the Hospitality House, you’ll want the convenience of having your own refreshments handy.
  • Take the time to enjoy the beautiful grounds and various activities.  This is a resort best appreciated by non-commando-style visitors.  If you’ll be in the parks most of the time – choose somewhere else to stay that is either less expensive or more conveniently located to the parks.

Need more info?  Check out all the details for Old Key West at Walt Disney World’s site here.

Have you enjoyed a stay at Old Key West?  What are your pros and cons for this resort?

Until next time…Darlin’ Diva