Limited on-site dining; just one sit-down restaurant
Often, few larger units available to non-time-share owners
Limited room service; just pizza delivery for dinner
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.
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.
Limited services, compared to most Orlando resorts, but the hotel does strive to create a fun, personalized experience for children
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.
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.
One of the best places to take your family in Orlando
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.
Delicious Southern restaurant and a couple of snack stands
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.
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