Old Key West Resort Review
Old Key West Resort offers Deluxe Villa accommodations at Walt Disney World. In this WDW hotel review, we’ll share photos of the reimagined guest rooms, amenity info, tips for staying at Old Key West, and whether we recommend it over other resorts.
For starters, Old Key West Resort was the first Disney Vacation Club (DVC) property. At the time, it was simply known as “Disney’s Vacation Club Resort.” At the time, it was intended to be the only DVC resort. If perusing the dozen-plus resorts detailed in our lengthy Buying Guide to Disney Vacation Club, it’s easy to see how the once small-scale timeshare program expanded into something colossal.
Still, Old Key West maintains its intimate charm and feels like something from a different era of Walt Disney World. The resort features the gingerbread architecture and leisurely romance of the Conch Republic in the Florida Keys. The Victorian styling of the resort coupled with cool pastel colors and lush vegetation that has had some time to mature really gives Old Key West a great ambiance.
Check-in at Disney’s Old Key West Resort is located in the Hospitality House, which is along a dockside strip that contains the resort’s fitness center, arcade, Olivia’s Cafe table service restaurant, Conch Flats General Store, Good’s Food To Go quick service restaurant, the main pool, Gurgling Suitcase bar, and the marina.
While Old Key West Resort is a huge, sprawling resort, all of these “essential” amenities are in close proximity to one another. Aside from your guest building, this is the only other area of Old Key West that you’ll really need, unless you choose to walk the grounds, which I enjoy and recommend.
If you’re looking to avoid walking, staying close to the Hospitality House will ensure easy access to Even though the resort is spread out, it’s nice to have all these locations in one cluster.
From here, you can also take a boat to Disney Springs or catch a bus to the parks. All of these little shops reminded me of a real quaint seaside dock, which really completed the theme.
Usually when I write these reviews, I use the term “we” when referring to the opinions presented–because the opinions are those of both Sarah and me. I can’t do that with Old Key West Resort, because our opinions don’t fully align. While I enjoy the sprawling layout of the resort, Sarah thinks it’s way too large.
I enjoy the dining here and setting removed from the parks. Sarah wishes there were better restaurants, better transportation to the parks, and more offerings at the resort. A couple of things we can agree on are that the pool is awesome, the laid back atmosphere is delightful, and that the “Please Help Keep Our Town Clean – Conch Flats” trash cans are a cool touch.
I can sort of see her point with regard to theming being bland, but I disagree. The idea of a Florida Keys themed resort in Florida is a bit odd, since the themed resort will never match the authenticity of the nearby destination.
However, it’s still an idealized and fictional version of the Keys, and thinking of Old Key West in more broad terms–as simply a tropical resort set in “Conch Flats” makes its theming much more appealing to me. While I instantly associate it with the Florida Keys due to its name, I think that if it had a different name, there wouldn’t be the “issue” of it having a Florida Keys theme.
Even aside from this, I don’t think the theming is bland. The architecture is creative and accomplishes the Gingerbread style (the non-edible kind) quite well. The grounds are lush and grown in, and the area by the Hospitality House oozes with theming. I think it’s difficult to deny this. Just hearing the music in this area as I watch the sunrise or sunset puts me in that island state of mind.
I feel like I should be playing the ukulele as I sip a margarita in my lounge chair. The theming may not be as readily apparent as, say, the BoardWalk Inn, but I definitely feel like I’m “Conch Flats” when wandering around Old Key West, and given that, I feel its theming is successful. It may not have the most appealing theming to Florida locals, but I’d hazard a guess that most guests aren’t locals.
Rooms at Old Key West are largest of all Disney Vacation Club resorts. For example, the standard studio room is 390 square feet, which is comparable to most standard Deluxe Resort rooms. By contrast, a Bay Lake Tower studio is roughly 300 square feet. This difference is quite noticeable, as there’s a lot more free space in the Old Key West studio room than most other Disney Vacation Club studios.
If room size is important to you, Old Key West is definitely worth a look…
As mentioned above, Old Key West was the first Disney Vacation Club resort, opening in 1991. It has undergone several renovations over the years, with the most recent still underway but concluding by mid-2019. We have stayed at Old Key West pre-refurbishment and post-refurbishment, and there was a noticeable difference post refurbishment.
Above you can see a photo of the old room design, and below is the now look. While I enjoyed the decor and theming prior to the refurbishment, the rooms definitely look and feel a little more modern now. Perhaps a bit too modern, as I think the laid back vacation home look really worked, and that’s pretty much gone now.
The living area itself is very large by Disney Vacation Club room standards with pastel color palette. Unfortunately, most of the hints of the Conch Republic are now gone.
On one stay, we went from Bay Lake Tower (some of the smallest DVC rooms) to Old Key West, and the size difference was quite noticeable. I wouldn’t say these make the best use of the space they have, but you can still tell that they have more floor space than all other rooms. Only the Polynesian Villas give them a run for their money.
The bathroom and kitchenette were also fairly sized and the dual sinks made getting ready in the morning easier. Overall, I think the room is fine, although it’s certainly not my favorite room on property. Too bland.
I’m generally not one to fret over the size of a room, after all, it’s just the two of us. If you have a family of 4 staying in a Studio, you might value its large size more than we did.
While this review highlights the studio accommodations at Old Key West Resort, you can see photos of the other redesigned rooms in our Photo Tour: New Rooms at Disney’s Old Key West Resort post.
As is the case with all Walt Disney World on-site hotels, Old Key West is fully integrated in the My Disney Experience system, which means that guests receive MagicBands and can make FastPass+ reservations. See our Guide to FastPass+ at Walt Disney World for more info and recommendations.
One of the other common complaints about Old Key West is that it’s huge. I won’t deny this–at one time it was going to be Disney Vacation Club (all of it!). It was built to handle a lot of guests.
However, as I’ve stated many times, I like spread out resorts, as they give me places to explore. Unfortunately, an internal bus system comes with the large size here, which can make commuting to the parks a pain (…or a zany adventure?).
The internal bus loop is inefficient and involves a lot of u-turns and stops, so it can be a long bus ride if you board at one of the earlier stops. If you enjoy inefficient transportation systems, you’re sure to love Old Key West! This is probably my biggest complaint about the resort, and one that’s easy to overlook if you don’t use the buses.
Luckily, in my opinion, there are few weaknesses. A very important strength of Old Key West is its cost. No, not the one Disney charges–that one is absurd. The cost you *can* pay if you know what you’re doing. If you’re a Disney Vacation Club member, you likely know that the point chart at Old Key West is very favorable to members. For this same reason, it’s also really favorable to non-members who rent Disney Vacation Club points!
It’s not unrealistic to expect to stay at Old Key West for less than $150/night by renting Disney Vacation Club points, which we highly recommend during the week in one of the lower seasons. In addition to that, since Old Key West is one of the larger and less popular resorts, it’s one of the first resorts (along with Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa) to receive the deepest discounts through Pin Codes and other targeted discounts (even with these, it’s still usually much cheaper to rent points).
Thanks to the great theming and excellent ambiance, room size, relative (lack of) popularity in the Disney fan community, and nightly rates, Old Key West takes the crown as my most underrated resort at Walt Disney World. This might come as some surprise considering that I ranked it #6 of 7 Disney Vacation Club resorts, but the competition is intense.
If you expanded those rankings beyond Disney Vacation Club resorts, Old Key West would do much better. Rooms at Old Key West can frequently be had for Moderate rates by following our tips for renting DVC points, and Old Key West would likely be at the top of my Moderate Resort Rankings.
Overall, I love Old Key West Resort and it’s one resort at Walt Disney World that I have a great time just wandering around. My only complaint about Old Key West is that they don’t provide you with complimentary shoulder-parrots and casks of rum. (I’m no expert on the Keys, but I’m pretty sure King Buffett mandates that in the real Keys.) Walking around the grounds with the thousands of palms always puts a smile on my face, and the Hospitality House area gives me that island state of mind. As one of the great minds of our era once sang, “changes in latitude, changes in attitude.” That song could have easily been about Disney’s Old Key West Resort, and because of that, its pricing, and its relative popularity (or lack thereof) in the fan community, it’s my pick for most underrated Walt Disney World resort-hotel.
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What do you think…is Old Key West actually under-appreciated, or does its large size make it a dud for you? Is there some other reason you like or dislike it? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
I was a member of Old key West for 30 years and sold it. At first, we enjoyed going to OKW, loved the property and the way we were treated by Disney staff. Over the years, the rooms showed signs of aging and had multiple problems with broken issues in the rooms upon arrival at every visit. As time went on, we were unable to obtain ANY Disney room for vacations making it quite the task to constantly call to make a reservation after waiting on hold for hours. At a certain part in my membership, I spent many years extending my points (which I paid for from year to year through RCI). During the transition to interval international, I called to see what I could do to preserve the RCI points. I was told to call back in January to extend the banked points life. When I called back in January, as instructed by Disney staff, I was told that the points had expired and no manager was willing to help me. My time share was paid off and Disney never waited for my annual dues. AND I had paid to extend these points from year to year. No one could help me after following the instructions provided by Disney staff. I sold that day. I am hoping to alleviate any aggravation for families. I am only giving one star because I cannot give less. It is bad business and a waste of your hard earned money and time.
Sounds like you don’t really know how to best use the DVC system and points then.
We are going to be staying in OKW the week of 7/18/20. We would like to stay close to a pool area, but would also like to be close to transportation. I have 2 boys, ages 10 and 12. It’s been close to 10 years since we’ve been to OKW, and I do not remember the layout very well. Thank you in advance for any tips you might be able to give me regarding where we should stay!
I’ve been back to OKW 2 more times since our first stay and it is still a favorite. For all of the reasons stated in the article plus more, it’s a resort that should get a lot of consideration for those planning a more of a resort vacation with time allocated to shopping, pools, relaxation, and dining. If you have a big party, OKW can’t be beat. That’s not to say that vacation focused on heavy park time can’t be well done at OKW, it can, you just need to plan on more bus time, or do what we do and do a mix of using Disney buses, Uber/Mears Taxis, or your own car if you drove there. I find that taking a taxi back to the resort or to the parks once in awhile makes it way more tolerable. With the low point or dollar costs to stay there, you can budget an extra $20-30 a day for this. What we really liked doing is calling for a taxi van and having it arrive at out door, and then taking it to another resort like the Yacht Club where we would get off and go on to dinner at Epcot. Another thing that is not overlooked is that the balconies are huge. It wonderful to be outside enjoying coffee, breakfast, or a bottle of wine on that patio, rain or shine. It is covered and even has a ceiling fan. You can fit 6-7 people comfortably on the patio.
Hi. Looking to go November 2019 for 14 nights and have never stayed onsite. Me and my wife love the look of OKW, but for 2 weeks we would be 1200(around 1500 dollars) cheaper at POR, which also gets good reviews. This would pay for our tickets, The bigger room and relaxing atmosphere appeals to us. We have a 3 year old (today!!) to keep us occupied.
Deep down we want OKW, but I think I need someone to tell me that it’s a no brainer to go POR given the price difference.
You missed some of the biggest advantages of Old Key West in your otherwise excellent review:
1. The private entrance (this one also applies to Saratoga Springs) – if you don’t have a car this one is no big deal, if you have a car this one is game changer. You get to park right in front of your room and carry your luggage and groceries right in. I stayed at the Beach Club once and the walk from my rental car to my room must have been half a mile. To me the private entrance also makes the resort feel more like an actual vacation home instead of a glorified hotel. That is a personal preference thing, whereas the convenience when you have a car cannot be understated.
2. The balcony – Old Key West is the only DVC resort with a useful balcony. All of the others have tiny little balcony you can barely fit on. The balcony with the one and two bedrooms and the grand villas at Old Key West is large had has a useful plastic table with four chairs and even the studios get a decent sized balcony.
3. The Grand Villas – check out the points charts. Old Key West’s grand villas are far more reasonable than any other resort. I assume DVC must have realized quickly that they were not charging enough for the grand villas and corrected the “mistake” at later resorts. A DVC employee once told me that the #1 lesson learned from Old Key West was that they made the rooms too big. The points for the grand villas was probably the #2 lesson learned.
4. Storage Space – not a huge advantage unless you are bringing a lot of stuff (like my parents do because they rarely eat out). My mom has observed that the kitchens at Old Key West have a lot more storage space than the kitchens in the other resorts. That may not be a big deal for most people but it is for some folks like my parents.
I’ve read all your reviews before but am re-reading this one as I just booked a 2br villa for our summer vacation. We are a family of 7 with kids from 4-13. We are used to small spaces as our house is around 1200sq ft so two connecting value rooms is tight but not unbearable. This had been our plan until I saw the current deal which is only slightly more than what we were going to be spending and less than it would cost with rented points. Would it be my first choice resort with all else being equal? No. But for our family size our options are connecting rooms, tent camping, or 2br villa if we want to stay on site. When things like a washer and dryer, full kitchen (I have a child with food allergies), and separate adult bedroom are factored into the $525 per nice price, it’s a great Disney value. My older kids will appreciate the size because it’s more to explore and we drive to Disney so we’ll have our own car for transportation.
Just returned from a week at Disney and our stay at Old Key West Resort. Once again, Disney never disappoints and always provides experiences and memories that we always cherish on every vacation. This stay was our first at OKW and was chosen based on room size as we had a family of 10 and needed lots of room this trip. The 2 bedroom suite was perfect for our needs…we requested a top floor close to the hospitality house area and were granted our requests. The rooms were large and gave everyone plenty of space to enjoy our week, it’s an older property and of course shows signs of some wear and tear but we never felt like the room was dirty, amenities broken or beds or furniture that were uncomfortable. The overall theme of OKW is well done, the large, expansive feel of the resort, coupled with the lush landscaping and golf course surround makes it truly feel like a real Key West theme. The main pool had been closed for all of January and February and just reopened the last 2 days of our stay and boy what a nice refreshing update, they hosted a grand reopening on our last day of our stay with Disney characters, activities and fanfare! The smaller pools were ok, but it was nice to have the big pool reopen while we were there! The boat over to Disney Springs was fantastic and a great option at night, the bus service at OKW was never an issue for us but we also had a rental car and loved the fact you could park your car up close to your room and also enjoy easy commutes to most of the parks by car from Old Key West. If I had to list one main problem with OKW it would be the severe lack of dining options and restaurant choices at this resort…even Olivia’s needs a drastic makeover…I get the fact they expect people to bring their own groceries and utilize the full kitchens in the rooms but the dining at Old Key West is simply not up to par compared to many of the other deluxe resorts. Staff was friendly, overall atmosphere at Old Key West was laidback and comfortable and we really enjoyed our stay overall, it was exactly what we wanted for this trip for the family of 10! I would recommend OKW for any large group looking for the largest rooms and suites on the Disney property…just make sure you make your dining reservations at all the other fantastic resorts during your stay!
The haunted mansion is cleaner than this place!!!!!! Filthy Filthy room complained about first room (gas stations bathrooms are cleaner) for starter’s Kitchen dirty . Showed to a new room equally filthy . Manager very condescending stating that they have upgraded me from a studio to a suite I don’t care if it’s filthy I’m not staying. I clean my house I’m not going to pay 270.00 to stay in flith. There housekeeping staff can learn from port orleans Riverside there is a 5 star experience rooms always clean.
You’re just trying to say a bunch of “clever “things like with the haunted mansion and the gas station…. any hotel includes any Disney hotel can have issues. I just got back from standing in a renovated Boardwalk 2 br Villa they literally forgot to clean. It was completely filthy unmade bed toiletries and on flush toilets food everywhere. They sent us an email saying it was ready at 3 PM and when we got there at 8 PM it was a complete disaster. however, I didn’t judge the whole resort for ever but I guess because I’ve stayed there before and it’s usually very nice. I have stayed in the OKW 18 times. Last time I was there was 2014 and every single time I’ve been there it has been a beautifully clean. You really can’t judge something by one stay.
Hello I just wanted to let the wonderful staff at old key west resort know that my wife and I had the most wonderful time of our lives the week of November 14th through the 18th which we celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary on the 16th . Thank you so much for the wonderful gifts you had sent to our room and a special thanks to Vicky a super visor over by the Olivia resteraunt whom my best friend and I chatted with each morning while having our coffee who also had a wonderful gift sent to our room. Thank you all for a memorable experience ! We will never forget. Mr. & Mrs. Robert Langevin of Springfield Ma. 🙂
This page is not affiliated with Disney in any way, so those folks who helped you will probably never see your kind words. You can always send Disney an email directly to tell them:
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My family rented points from a friend of ours and stayed in a 2-bedroom unit (building 35). The unit was huge and we really liked it a lot. The resort is beautiful. We were a short walk to a pool and the Turtle Shack which served beer, soda,, hot dogs, ice cream and other snacks. It was about a 15 minute walk to the main pool and it wasn’t worth it. We enjoyed our quiet pool much better as we had no “kiddie games” in progress such as at the main pool, and we could always get a table, umbrella or chaise lounge. Our quiet pool was the only one with the snack bar and this was very nice as we had those refillable mugs which would have been useless if we were not here or near the main pool. We waited 18 minutes for the bus to Epcot. This was our longest wait (yes I timed all the waits). It is also worth noting that the last stop for every bus is the one at the main building (lobby and pool). This means you can get on the first bus you see, no matter where it is going, and ride it to the lobby or main pool. The downside is that you still have to walk back to your building though. OKW will always be a favorite and is an excellent option for a large family or group. It’s very nice.
Do Not Stay at Old Key West. It is one of the dirtiest hotels I have ever been to. Telling you that this room was dirty does not even come close to the filth that surrounded us. Cobwebs on every inch of every wall (not just the corners) cascading to and from the light fixtures. An intricate design in every single chain link of the light fixtures as well.
I arrived at dusk and didn’t see all of this until I pulled the curtains closed and dust fell from the pleats all over my face. On closer inspection, after putting the lights on (which, btw, there is absolutely NOT enough lighting in this resort) there were huge dust balls (like the “dust mice” that your grandmother used to tell you were under her bed) in between all of the pleats. Had no one before me ever closed these curtains at night? It only got worse from here when I found crumbs on the counter and in and around the toaster. Some sort of sticky substance was dripping down the front of the bed-table. The bathroom window, which is up about 8 feet high, was covered with 100’s of gnats and bugs and close to 1/2″ of dust on the sill. The ceiling fan had the same amount of dust, as well as the fire extinguisher that was in the filthy paint-chipping-all-over everything closet. The dirt was bad enough, but to think that the Fire Extinguisher had not been properly updated was really scary.
When I called the front desk to complain, I was told, “I will have someone get back to you right away”. After a 30 minute wait and no return call, I called again and insisted that I be taken care of immediately and they accommodated me by changing my room. I wanted to go see the new room before moving everything and I was told that they could not do that because they had to check me out of this room (building #16) and check me into the new room before I would be allowed in. Sounds silly, right?
So now, it’s almost 10pm at night and I ask for a bellhop to come and assist me with the luggage that I had already dragged into the room (2nd level-no elevator). This bellhop, while helpful at first, couldn’t wait to leave because of the “impending storm” that was coming. At the first drop of rain, he took off to leave me to unload my car alone, as my daughter had to stay in the room with my infant granddaughter. I might as well have jumped in the pool, as I was totally soaked to the bone when I was through. The storm was horrible, but worse was the lesson I learned that I should not have tipped him so well and so quickly.
This 2nd room was much cleaner (building #38), but did not have the view that I asked for and was not near the hospitality house. Also, we were placed right on the back part of the highway, and did not sleep a wink. Okay, don’t complain, right? Well, we could not even go outside and use the little balcony because of the hornets nest that was looming above.
When I checked out, not even a “How was your stay?” as is customary at all hotels.
I would not recommend this hotel to anyone. I’ve had cleaner rooms and better stays in the moderate and value resorts throughout WDW. Let me add that I have been coming to WDW for over 20+ years…so I am fully aware of what I should and should not be expecting.