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Oyster Hotel Review
A time-share property with comfortable apartment-style rooms in a quieter, more peaceful, Key West-themed setting
One of Disney's oldest (and still most popular) resorts, Old Key West has found a formula that works: the comforts of home in a calm, peaceful setting that's not too far from the parks, crowds, and craziness of Disney.
Modeled after the colorful Key West from the turn of the 20th Century -- you won't find a thriving arts and gay nightclub scene here -- the entire resort feels like a pretty, suburban village set in the Florida wetlands. Pastel-colored buildings with manicured hedges wrap around cul-de-sacs, bus stops punctuate the long road that leads from one mini-compound to the next, and egrets and herons flock about the banks of a river that winds around the resort. From its southern-plantation-style balconies to its wood-planked dock to its kid-focused attitude, everything is undeniably pleasant -- even more so than at most other Disney resorts.
The hotel is part of the Disney Vacation Club time-share network, and its popularity with members means rooms are often reserved well in advance. Non-time-share owners, however, can still book a room here, though in peak season it's hard to find anything but the more lackluster Studio units (similar, in most respects, to a standard hotel room at any other Disney resort in its price range). But if you book early (or at an odd time of the year) the one-, two-, or three-bedroom villas -- each with a fully equipped kitchen, separate living room, a washer-dryer, and a Jacuzzi tub -- is an excellent option for groups or large families. The villas were renovated in 2010 and sport new linens, countertops, and decor.
Regardless the room type, when you factor in all the free features -- fitness center, sauna, tennis, recreation room, to name a few -- Old Key West is still a great option for the price. If you're on a tight budget, the Port Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside next door offer more basic, yet still comfortable, rooms for less, but both resorts are much more crowded and have fewer features.
Limited services, compared to most Orlando resorts, but the hotel does strive to create a fun, personalized experience for children
The front desk
Unlike at the more upscale Disney resorts, the service at Old Key West is a bit more sparse -- room service is limited to pizza delivery and there are no business services. You do, however, get extra, personal touches. At the front desk, for example, kids get twisted balloon toys when they check-in -- something I didn't see at other Disney properties. And at the on-site restaurant, Olivia's Cafe, I witnessed staff members gives little prizes to kids who put up artwork on the restaurant's doors. Many of the families I spoke with during my stay explained that the friendly and reliable staff was a big reason they regularly returned.
- Concierge desk mainly helps guests book an activity or get tickets to an event.
- Free buses to any Disney property; free water taxi to Downtown Disney
- Limited room service; just pizza during dinner hours
- Extended hours to access the Disney theme parks
- Guests can check in for their flights at the hotel through the Resort Airline Check-in Desk
- Free shuttle to and from Orlando International Airport; free luggage delivery (one item per person)
- Theme-park purchases can be delivered directly to the room.
In the northeast section of Walt Disney World Resort, a three-minute shuttle to Epcot Center
The resort is in the northeast section of Walt Disney World, next to Port Orleans French Quarter resort. The closest theme park is Epcot Center, a three-minute drive away via a free Disney bus (that runs to all of the various parks and Disney hotels). Any trips outside of Disney World would require a car.
This hotel is but a smidgen in the gigantic world of Disney, but it's still a sprawling property with winding roads, mini-compounds, and a river running through it. Just getting from your room to the lobby could mean a milelong trek, so it's better to wait at one of the resort's three bus stops for an intra-resort shuttle.
- Three-minute free shuttle bus to Epcot Center
- Free bus transportation to Epcot (eight minutes), Animal Kingdom (15 minutes), Hollywood Studios (10 minutes), Downtown Disney (five minutes)
- Free, 10-minute water taxi to Downtown Disney, a strip with shops, bars, and restaurants
- 20-minute drive to International Drive, a 14.5-mile road parallel to Interstate 4 that's chock-full of hotels, strip malls, outlet shops, and restaurants
- 25-minute drive to SeaWorld and Wet 'n Wild parks
- 40-minute drive to downtown Orlando, though there's not much bedsides a bit of notable dining and nightlife on Orange Avenue, and non-theme-park attractions like the Orlando Science Center and the Harry P. Leu Gardens.
- One-and-a-half hour drive to Kennedy Space Center
- 25-minute drive to the Orlando International Airport (Disney provides a free shuttle bus from the airport)
Large, apartment-style units; all except studios have fully equipped kitchens
They may not be the most stylish or technologically up-to-date rooms around, but these apartment-style units provide all the comforts of home. Pastel walls, floral bedspreads, and pink couches provide an unmistakably homey feel, and in-room amenities like a fully equipped kitchen and a washer and dryer are a great convenience, especially to families.
- At 376 square feet, the comfortably sized Studio can sleep up to four adults in two queen-size beds. It has a wet bar with a mini-fridge, microwave, and coffeemaker -- but not a full kitchen.
- Villas, available with one-, two-, or three-bedrooms (as well as a two-story three-bedroom Grand Villa that sleeps 12), all have a fully equipped kitchen, as well as a Jacuzzi and a washer and dryer. All villas were renovated in 2010, receiving new linens, countertops, and decor.
- Every unit has a furnished porch or balcony, many of which have beautiful views of the river.
- Every unit comes with a new flat-screen TV and a DVD player; DVDs can be rented from the Recreation Room.
- iPod docks in every room
- Bath products are H20+ Aquatics (a Disney brand), and they include shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, and bar soap
- Towel animals in every room
- Free Wi-Fi
The main pool
- The main pool has a waterslide, and it's surrounded by a Jacuzzi, a sandy deck, and a sauna housed in a cute little lighthouse.
- Free Wi-Fi
- Three lifeguards are stationed around the main pool throughout the day.
- Smaller pools are spread throughout the property, so guests don't have to trek to the main pool for a swim.
- 24-hour, brightly lit, and well-maintained fitness center with five treadmills, two stair climbers two bikes, six different weight machines, and free weights; cardio machines have individual TV screens.
- Three free tennis courts, two of them with lights for night play; no charge to borrow tennis rackets and balls from the hotel's rental kiosk.
- Free activities include beach volleyball, shuffleboard, and table tennis; equipment available from the hotel rental kiosk.
- For indoor fun, the recreation room has free air hockey, billiards, foosball, darts, and a PlayStation 3
- Two video arcades with coin-operated games
- The hotel's DVD lending library has loads of family-friendly titles for $3 each.
- Guests can rent pedal boats, pontoons, or Sea Raycers (a slow-moving, two-person boat with a single engine) for cruising around the river.
- A convenience store near the lobby sells groceries and Disney merchandise.
One of the best places to take your family in Orlando
The rec. room
Families love Old Key West -- it's one of Disney's most popular properties. Because the resort is a bit smaller and has fewer crowds (compared to other Disney resorts) it is a bit easier to keep track of your kids running about the property. In addition, there's a plethora of free activities (see Features section), multiple pools, solid, kid-focused service, and large, apartment-style guest rooms (most with kitchens).
- Large guest rooms, including three-bedroom units that sleep up to 12 people; every unit comes with a crib; the hotel doesn't have rollaway beds, but all the units, except studios, have queen-size sofabeds.
- Olivia's Cafe has kid-friendly food like burgers and fries, and every night the staff gives an award to the kid with the best artwork drawn over dinner.
- Dining plans can be a great value and a way to budget meal expenses. For rates and information on the different plans, click here.
- There's no separate kids' club, but the hotel hosts daily activities including a Wii contests and bingo; most activities are free, but some craft-making workshops can add up.
- Playgrounds are located near the pools.
- Family-friendly movie screenings are held three times a week near the main pool.
- Babysitting service can be arranged by calling Disney-approved childcare service, "Kid's Nite Out"
Very clean, like most Disney resorts
As at anywhere in Disney World, the grounds are impeccable, and the guest rooms are faultlessly maintained. However, 2010 renovations replaced carpets, furniture, and appliances in all of the villas.
Delicious Southern restaurant and a couple of snack stands
Olivia's Cafe, the hotel's sit-down restaurant
Olivia's Cafe is the only sit-down restaurant at the hotel, and it's a popular dining destination, even for guests staying off-site. Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant serves good ol' Southern dishes like buttermilk fried chicken and a pot-roast sandwich.
- For a quick bite, there are two poolside snack counters that serve sandwiches and salads.
- Room service is limited to pizza.
- For guests who want to use their kitchen, groceries are available at the on-site convenience store.
- For more dining options, hop on a free bus or water taxi to Downtown Disney or to another Disney property.
While other Disney resorts feel either too small and crowded or too grand and difficult to navigate, Old Key West's size feels just right -- 761 studios and large, kitchen-equipped condos, a great gym, and numerous pools (including a waterslide) all set in a beautiful, riverside setting, near Epcot and Downtown Disney.
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Things You Should Know About Disney's Old Key West Resort
- 1510 N Cove Rd, Lake Buena Vista, FL, 32830
Hotel Is Also Known As...
- Disney Old Key West Resort
- Disneys Old Key West Hotel
- Disneys Old Key West Resort
- Key West Disney
- Old Key West
- Old Key West Disney
- Old Key West Resort
- 2 Bedroom Villa (Lock-off)
- One Bedroom Villa
- Three Bedroom Grand Villa
- Two Bedroom Villa