Shortly after we arrived home from our 2013 holiday to Saratoga Springs, Walt Disney World released their free dining offer again. Having now convinced my step mum that she really had been missing out by not going to Disney World, she jumped at the offer to go back again, this time including my sister, her fiancé, my stepbrother and stepsister.
After some research into the best value way to book our party of 8 Adults and 1 Child, we decided to book a Villa at one of the Disney Vacation Club Resorts (it did help that they were offering 30% off!). As we had stayed in Saratoga Springs already, we opted for Disney’s Old Key West Resort, and for splitting our party across a 2-Bedroom Villa and a Deluxe Studio.
We had initially decided on a 2 week holiday, but we had some issues trying to tie in flights which weren’t hugely expensive to match the dates we’d booked our accommodation for. In the end, we found the best compromise going – stay longer and fly premium economy for less than economy flights matching our original dates! One simple phone call to Disney and they helped us amend our booking, adding one night at the beginning of our holiday in an alternative Resort, and an extra night at the end in Old Key West, brining our stay here up to 15 nights.
After a well-rested night at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, we headed to Old Key West straight after breakfast the following morning. We had phoned and dissevered that we could check-in, pick up or MagicBands and leave our bags with the Resort’s Bell Services so we could head right on into the Theme Parks and enjoy our first day. Our room number would then be texted to us when it was ready, at which point we could head back and explore it!
At mid-afternoon, our rooms numbers were texted through and we headed back to check out our base for the next 2 weeks. The process of checking in and being able to head to the parks to wait for your room to be ready was very simple and incredibly handy; it really allowed us to make the most of our first day instead of having to wait until our room was ready for us. Once we arrived at our room, it took one quick phone call to Bell Services to let them know we were ready for our bags and they were brought round promptly.
I loved our 2-Bedroom Villa. There was plenty of space for the 6 Adults,1 Child and 1 Infant that were sharing it. The rooms were clean and very nicely furnished – they really matched the Key West theme very well. With 2 young boys with us, it was also a huge asset to have a washer and tumble drier in our room! My Step Brother & Step-Sister slept on the 2 pull-out beds in the main living area, and both said that they were surprisingly comfortable; given they are ‘sofa-beds’ I think they weren’t expecting their night’s sleep to be as good as it was.
Old Key West Resort is beautifully landscape, with some stunning views of the golf course that runs through it. However, the buildings that house the rooms and villas are very spread out; we enjoyed the walks through this lovely resort to get to the Main Building, but those who have difficultly walking longer distances may find the size of this resort more difficult to handle.The Main Resort area, where you could find the shop, restaurants, main pool and guest services, had a wonderfully atmosphere and was very relaxing for a walk around. The shop had a lot of wonderful souvenirs along with plenty of food options for those wishing to make a meal in their villa kitchen.
Old Key West is home to a quick service restaurant and table service Restaurant. Personally, I felt the Quick Service Restaurant, Good’s Food To Go, let the Resort down (though only a little). It had plenty of menu options, and its opening hours were consistent with other Resort Quick Services, but it was an outdoor counter with limited outdoor seating. While perfect on a pleasant day, I wondered about the ‘what if’ should you get a bad day. With very little seating it also made it difficult to eat around the main area – a lot of people ordering food from here tended to take it back to their villas because of this.
Olivia’s Cafe (the Table Service Restaurant), on the other hand was a wonderful resultant with exceptional staff. We were fortunate to be on the deluxe dining plan for this holiday as after trying Olivia’s once, we booked in a number of extra times for breakfast!
With a large group and packed schedule, we didn’t spend a lot of time around the Resort. We did however manage to spend an afternoon at the main pool, which seemed very popular with the other Resort guests. A particularly nice touch to have a sauna inside the feature lighthouse; a little added extra to this Resort over others!
Overall, the villas at Old Key West were fantastic and perfect for our larger travel party. The space and convenience of a kitchen and laundry facilities was perfect for our trip on this occasion. I must admit, when comparing the two Disney Vacation Club Resorts (Old Key West & Saratoga Springs), I find that I enjoyed the accommodation of Old Key West more, but preferred the location and amenities at Saratoga Springs. However, this comparison really is splitting hairs, as the amenities at Old Key West were still great, and the Key West theme and atmosphere really is a big selling point for this Resort
Our holiday to Disney’s Old Key West Resort was the output of successfully converting Vikki’s step-mum to a Disney fanatic! When Disney had the offers out, including a 30% discount on the vacation club resorts, she let us know and the rest soon became history!
We went away this time with a large group; 8 adults, 1 child and an infant – son number 2! After some shopping about for the best value for money, we settled on a 2 bedroom villa and a studio. Our family, plus Vikki’s step-siblings, her dad and step-mum settled into the 2-bed villa, whilst we left her sister and fiancee in the studio.
Our holiday had a little further twist. Because we booked so far in advance, flights were not available to be booked. It worked out for the better, however.
When we searched for flights, the economy flights were coming in at £1000 per person! Economy flights for a £1000 on Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick to Orlando is not good value for money! We looked around, and soon discovered that if we flew out one day earlier, and returned home one day later, we could save money on the £1000 per person!
Once we settled on the dates, we called Disney and booked the first night at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and added an extra night onto our stay at Old Key West. Further, it was also possible to fly Premium Economy. Done! Oh – we also upgraded the free dining plan to the Deluxe Dining Plan. Why not go all out!
Our check-in to Disney’s Old Key West Resort was a little unconventional. As we’d spent the previous night at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, we drove down the road with our bags packed back into our cars. We could have used the internal bag transfer, but because our park tickets were to be used from, now day 2 of our holiday, we had to get our new magic bands from Old Key West.
We checked in, picked up our bands, and left our bags with concierge. As it was still morning, our room was pending. We were told to wait for a text message to our phones with our new room numbers.
Excellent – we’ll go to the parks and await the “nod” from our resort before we can use our rooms. We hit Magic Kingdom, and I got the message from Disney whilst our eldest son enjoyed the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel with his granda! We arrived later in to our resort, passing through security having picked up our parking pass at check in.
Our villa was on Miller Road, building 18. Our villa was on the ground floor, with views overlooking the 6th Hole of Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf course. We also had a bus stop a short walk (about 200yds) from our door! Near by, was the laundry room and small swimming pool.
The villa was huge – approximately 1300 sq ft! There were 2 bedrooms, obviously, and generous open plan living area. Bedroom 1, the master room had a king size bed, with en-suite. Bedroom 2 had 2 queen beds and its own en-suite. The living area had a large lounge, and dining area, with a very well equipped kitchen. The lounge had 2 sofas and a chair. One sofa pulling out into a double bed, and the chair, a single. The villa also had a utility room with a separate washer and dryer. Perfect!
Our villa was a short walk from the main resort area – though it was level and paved all the way. It’s not the most practical if you’ve limited mobility. However, the walking paths offer plenty of scope for exploring the resort.
The main resort area is built alongside the river taking you to (Downtown) Disney Springs. Alongside this, you can walk along the paths by the river, overlooking the water.
The main area is well equipped with a community house, restaurant, bar and pool area. The reception area has a comfortable seating area, with large television and little seats to keep the kids occupied!
Opposite reception is the shop, which is quite large, and offers a good variety of merchandise and foods. Adjacent the shop is Olivia’s Cafe; a restaurant that we frequented for breakfast on a couple of occasions after building a good rapport with the servers! Outside and around the corner is a small bar and the quick service restaurant. There are picnic tables overlooking the dock, where the transport boat arrives on a regular basis from (Downtown) Disney Springs.
The community house offers activities for the kids to do, as well as having cartoons on the television with a large curved sofa to lounge on! There is a basketball court nearby, and a beach volleyball court. By the beach volleyball court, is a small seating area around a fire pit. It’s a quiet area that overlooks the river, and is pleasant to escape the madness of the pool.
The pool itself is a good size, with a child’s play area next to it. The lighthouse hides the steam room – not that you’d need it warmer than the Floridian climate!
At the time, the quick service restaurant being small seemed a bit of a draw back, but upon reflection it’s probably better in-keeping with the Key West theme. Another point worth noting is if you use the Disney transport, our halt on Millers Road was second-last on return from the Parks. Instead, we would depart the bus at the first stop, beside Building 26, and walked back. We’re quite mobile, so managed to get back in time to our Villa, beating the bus!
Overall it is a pleasant resort, with plenty of space. The villa afforded us a luxury of space, which made for an easy-going holiday! On the resort, the amenities follow a fairly standard set of amenities at the Deluxe level. The beach volleyball court is a nice touch, very in-keeping with the theme! Free transport to (Downtown) Disney Springs is an added bonus! Another plus, albeit minor, is the location that allows you to drive to Magic Kingdom on the Disney transport route. This takes you past the luxurious gated community, Golden Oak, and the Fort Wilderness Camp Grounds.
[/ultimate_icon_list_item][ultimate_icon_list_item icon_type=”selector” icon=”Defaults-user” icon_color=”#333333″ icon_style=”none” icon_color_bg=”#ffffff” icon_color_border=”#333333″ icon_border_size=”1″ icon_border_radius=”500″ icon_border_spacing=”50″]You may hear reviews referring to the villas here as small. However our 2 Bedroom Villa was just under 1400 sq foot and had more than enough space to accommodate 6 Adults, 1 Child and 1 Infant comfortably – even with a travel cot taking up extra space in the bedroom
[/ultimate_icon_list_item][ultimate_icon_list_item icon_type=”selector” icon=”Defaults-suitcase” icon_color=”#333333″ icon_style=”none” icon_color_bg=”#ffffff” icon_color_border=”#333333″ icon_border_size=”1″ icon_border_radius=”500″ icon_border_spacing=”50″]The 1 and 2 bedroom villas all have their own laundry room so consider packing less clothes and doing a wash during your trip – it will save on space for brining plenty of gifts and souvenirs home with you
[/ultimate_icon_list_item][ultimate_icon_list_item icon_type=”selector” icon=”Defaults-exclamation” icon_color=”#333333″ icon_style=”none” icon_color_bg=”#ffffff” icon_color_border=”#333333″ icon_border_size=”1″ icon_border_radius=”500″ icon_border_spacing=”50″]Very few buildings at Old Key West have lifts. If you feel anyone in your party can’t mange stairs, request a ground floor room, or ask for the buildings with the lifts, stating any medical need if necessary
[/ultimate_icon_list_item][ultimate_icon_list_item icon_type=”selector” icon=”Defaults-life-bouy” icon_color=”#333333″ icon_style=”none” icon_color_bg=”#ffffff” icon_color_border=”#333333″ icon_border_size=”1″ icon_border_radius=”500″ icon_border_spacing=”50″]The main pool here has a lot of poolside actives throughout the day; perfect for your kids on a rest day from the Theme Parks. However, if you are looking for somewhere more peaceful, avoid the main pool area and use one of the smaller pools dotted throughout the Resort; they tend to be a lot quieter
[/ultimate_icon_list_item][ultimate_icon_list_item icon_type=”selector” icon=”Defaults-cutlery” icon_color=”#333333″ icon_style=”none” icon_color_bg=”#ffffff” icon_color_border=”#333333″ icon_border_size=”1″ icon_border_radius=”500″ icon_border_spacing=”50″]Oliva’s Cafe serves some very tasty food and is open all day. However, it is a table service Restaurant and reservations are recommended. You can book up to 180 days in advance, however during our stay in November, we could generally manage to get a table with 1-2 days notice, provided we weren’t overly fussy about our dining time.[/ultimate_icon_list_item][/ultimate_icon_list]