For those in the know and by that we mean people who own there, Old Key West is one of the best hidden gems of Walt Disney World. It’s relatively tucked away location makes it a haven for those seeking fun away from the hustle and bustle of other resorts.
Before we get into the positives of the resort, let’s look at it’s negatives:
- The counter service and refill mug station is tiny and has no inside seating.
- The room blocks don’t have lifts, we felt very sorry for bell services carrying our Owner’s Lockers up 2 flights of stairs and then again when we changed room because of a fault in the air con that needed fully replacing.
- It’s age was starting to show although it’s recent refurbishment has rectified most of this, apart from some very old air con units (the reason we moved rooms above).
But really that’s about it, 3 things….none of which are a real reason not to stay there. Most resorts have problems and maintenance try to fix them (that’s why they’re employed) but when they can’t they resolve the issue brilliantly. This leads to the first positive- customer service.
Many of the cast members working at Old Key West have done so for many years, they hold the traditional Disney values that guests are key. You get a real sense that they feel they represent the resort and the resort represents them. On so many occasions we have had amazing cast members help us with different things and talk to you as though you were life-long friends, taking an interest in what you’re doing each day and are not just another customer to serve. Walking around the cast members in each department greet you with a cheery hello or how’s your day? The presence of such wonderful and caring cast members leads onto the next great feature of this resort, it just feels like home.
There is a wonderful sense of a small town at Old Key West, from the building layout and drives to the other guests and the facilities spread through the resort. Unlike some other resorts, the guests here always seem relaxed and happy, even when things aren’t as magical. We personally love the buildings, being able to park right outside your building makes it really feel like home (it helps when carrying shopping that you don’t have to walk for 15 minutes from the car). The rooms are huge and are really well set out, having the 2 beds in a studio is a definite plus for our family.
The facilities at the resort are fantastic, the main pool is massive and has lots of fun entertainment during the day (the recreation department are all superb) and the other smaller quiet pools are spread well through the resort. The community hall isn’t huge but big enough for the people who wish to use it. Inside there is a great mix of free activities and also paid for ones; our kids love the pool table and light box. Across the property there are 2 sets of tennis courts and you can borrow rackets and tennis balls from the community hall (although this isn’t quite as convenient if you wish to use the court away from hospitality house). There is also shuffleboard and basketball you can borrow equipment for too. In the early evening they run the campfire with marshmallows and once again the cast members are always happy to have a good chat.
Getting around the resort and to the parks is really easy, all the buses do a loop around the resort and finish at Hospitality House before leaving so if you need to head there, you can hop on any bus. There is often an internal shuttle that keeps looping too, especially first thing in the morning. If you are heading to Disney Springs, there is a lovely boat ride (weather permitting) that uses the same waterways as nearby French Quarter and goes alongside the golf course and Saratoga’s treehouse villas. The only tip for using the boat is to have insect repellant, especially in the dusky early evening.
Finally, Old Key West holds possibly the best kept food secret on Disney property -Olivia’s. This restaurant has some of the best servers around, again many who have been there for a very long time. The restaurant itself feels cosy and supports the community feel with framed pictures of families of people who own (or have owned) there in the past. The food they serve is fantastic, especially there weekend breakfast and is the only place on Disney property we usually eat in a sit down restaurant. They also have actual tea pots with cups and saucers for those Brit’s who like a proper cup of tea with their breakfast! Not only is the food great but it is great value too with items such as the fruit and pastry platter that our daughter loves being classed as a side dish (see header photo!).
As you can tell we love it here and Old Key West is the epitome of what DVC is all about and when you arrive at security and are greeted with “Welcome Home”, you know you really are!