Five Reasons to Own at Old Key West and Two Reasons Not To
When you buy into the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) program, you’ll face one immediate decision and then many other happy choices over the years. You’ll pick a Home Resort where you buy a contract, and then you’ll choose where to stay.
Among the 15 current DVC resorts, you really can’t go wrong. It’s essential to think about the pros and cons of every place, though. Here are five reasons to own at Disney’s Old Key West Resort as well as two reasons why you may pick some other DVC resort.
The Negatives of Owning at Old Key West
Many of the DVC properties at Walt Disney World are close to one or more theme parks. And by close, I mean that you can walk from the hotel or ride the monorail to one of the parks. Old Key West doesn’t have such desirable logistics.
I don’t want to mislead you. When you examine a map of the Disney campus, you’ll appreciate that the hotel is close to Epcot. For that matter, Old Key West is roughly equidistant to Disney Springs, and it’s even closer to Typhoon Lagoon. So, its location is by no means bad. It’s just that when you want to stay as close as possible to Epcot, Disney’s Boardwalk Villas and Disney’s Beach Club Villas have better proximity.
Google Maps suggests that Old Key West is seven minutes away from Magic Kingdom and six minutes from Epcot. You’re only a nine-minute drive from Disney’s Animal Kingdom as well. According to Google, the longest bus ride is from the hotel to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It should take 14 minutes even though the distance is a modest 3.3 miles due to the convoluted nature of Disney roads.
All of these travel times are reasonable. They just can’t compete with Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, which is a short walk away from the entrance to Magic Kingdom.
2. Large Campus
Old Key West is the original DVC property. It was once even named Disney’s Vacation Club Resort. I say this to remind you that the earliest version of DVC more closely mimicked the principles of 1980s timeshares. These properties had oversized rooms in buildings that came in two primary forms. They were either sky-rises or vast multi-building campuses. Old Key West falls into the latter category.
You’ll find more than 25 buildings at Old Key West. Disney has sectioned them off into areas like Turtle Pond, Miller’s Road, and Peninsula Road. The positive of this tactic is that you’ll never feel claustrophobic at the resort. To the contrary, you’ll have an almost comical amount of space everywhere that you go.
The tradeoff is that you’ll struggle to leave the resort campus. The internal bus route here has six different stops. From a practical perspective, only five will apply to your stay, as the route starts and ends at Hospitality House, the central location.
The Positives of Owning at Old Key West
1. Room Size
I actually had a shortlist of eight positives at Old Key West, a strong indication of how much I love this place. However, I feel that two pros outweigh the rest. They’re the first ones that I’ll discuss.
The room size factor circles back to Old Key West being styled after timeshares. The mantra of the entire 1980s was that bigger is better, and it spilled over into the start of the 1990s. When Disney designed its first batch of DVC hotel rooms, they went big. I’m talking Yao Ming big.
A standard studio at Old Key West is 390 square feet, one of the largest of any DVC resort. The striking aspect is that the suites are that much bigger. A one-bedroom here is 942 square feet, and it has the kind of open space that makes everything seem expansive.
Two-bedrooms are 1,395 square feet, which is bigger than many people’s current residences. Then, there’s the three-bedroom Grand Villas, which are 2,375 square feet. You’ll always have plenty of room to breathe at Old Key West. I know several longtime members who won’t stay anywhere else because the suites here have spoiled them too much.
2. Pricing/Points Value
The other huge asset of owning/staying at Old Key West is the DVC Points Chart. This hotel will help you stretch the number of points that you own. The only other resort that I feel is comparable in terms of value is Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. Not coincidentally, these two properties have the most extensive inventories. Old Key West has 761 rooms available for DVC members.
How cheap are we talking? During Adventure Season, you can spend a week here for a modest 76 points. And here’s the stunning part. The Hospitality House section has a unique booking room type at DVC. It doesn’t cost anything extra, though.
For 76 points, you can book one of the largest DVC studios for an entire week, and you can guarantee that you’ll be close to the action, too. Hospitality House rooms are close to the lobby, which is also where Olivia’s Café, the general store, and a counter service restaurant are. Plus, it’s close to the thing that’s the next reason to own/stay at Old Key West.
You may wonder how much a week’s stay costs during other seasons. No, the weekly charge of 76 points isn’t some sort of one-off discount. To the contrary, Choice Season is only 78 points, while Dream Season is 99 points for a week’s stay. For more than half the year, you may stay here for less than 100 points.
Even during Premier Season, a studio maxes out at 152 points. And those gigantic one-bedroom suites start at 157 points. They’re less than 200 points for more than half the year, too. The value at Old Key West is ridiculously strong.
3. Boat to Disney Springs
The other three positives are listed in no particular order. At Hospitality House close to the lobby, you’ll find a boat dock. This boat service has one goal: it will transport you to and from Disney Springs.
The way that the system works, you’re never more than half an hour away from Disney Springs by boat. Even better, the boat ride itself is delightful. You’ll sail past the Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs, and you’ll get to see some of the sights at Disney Springs. I’ve taken this boat ride before just for the entertainment of it. The fact that it has utility makes it all the more impressive.
The boat to Disney Springs is a part of the overall Hospitality House advantage. However, I’m separating it since not everyone will stay at Hospitality House. You can still take advantage of many of its amenities, though. Whenever you ride the bus or walk to the Hospitality House area, you’ll have access to all of its wonderful amenities. Dining at Olivia’s, in particular, is a time-honored tradition for DVC members.
4. Outdoor Sports Activities
During the heyday of timeshare resorts, marketers targeted fans of the great outdoors. They knew that older consumers love recreational activities like tennis and golf. In any city that’s a hotbed for tourism, you’ll find a slew of golf courses and tennis courts.
As a small-scale model of this concept, Old Key West follows the pattern. The resort hosts lighted tennis and beach volleyball courts on the premises. And Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course is within a mile of the hotel. You’ll even drive past parts of it during the Disney Springs boat ride. Fans of relaxing outdoors sports will be in heaven here.
Old Key West’s facilities go beyond the major options, though. You’ll also discover basketball courts, shuffleboard, several pools, and grilling areas as you explore the vast campus. You can even rent bicycles and various boats at the hotel. Whenever you’re in the mood for outdoor sports activities, you’ll feel overwhelmed with choices at Old Key West.
5. Laid-back, Adult Atmosphere
When you visit Walt Disney World, you’re going to one of the most family-friendly destinations on the planet. I don’t want to misrepresent that point by acting that Old Key West is a substitute for Las Vegas or anything.
Instead, what I see as a huge positive at this hotel is its ambiance. Due to the outdoor sports and the fact that many of the DVC members first purchased during the early 1990s, Old Key West skews older. It’s a place where Disney fans can spend their vacation at Walt Disney World while feeling like they’re away from the theme park chaos. You quickly grow accustomed to this disconnect when you stay at the hotel.
While you’ll see your fair share of children at Old Key West, you’ll also see more of the gray-haired crowd, too. The vibe isn’t quite Florida retirement home, but it’s certainly not “standing in line for The Barnstormer,” either.
I should acknowledge that parents of small children may look at this situation differently. What I’m listing as a substantial positive may cause you to evaluate other resorts. However, I can say with complete sincerity that some of the happiest children I’ve ever seen at Walt Disney World were playing at Old Key West’s main pool.