Our family trip this past July was my first time staying at Disney's Old Key West Resort. I wasn't sure what to expect, but actually really enjoyed this resort's subdued theming. While it certainly doesn't rival some of it's newer DVC competitors, there is something to be said about its classic charm. The building exteriors are painted in soft pastels and the architecture/design is reminiscent of Key West, Florida. Some may say that this resort caters to an older crowd (and they wouldn't be wrong), but I thought it was a relaxing place to return to after long and crowded park days. Also, because of the size and layout of this resort and it's rooms, it's perfect for larger parties or family groups!
Dan and I came back to the resort in the early afternoon on our Magic Kingdom day to seek a little refuge from the crowds. We decided to make an impromptu dinner reservation at our resort restaurant -- Olivia's -- to grab a bite before going back to watch the fireworks later. I was actually excited to try this eatery out, as it was one of the kitchen locations that my late uncle Vic worked in during his time as a chef with Walt Disney World. The restaurant itself is very understated in decor and feels like the time of homey establishment that would be popular among locals on a beach vacation. Since we were going back to the parks, I decided to go light and just ordered myself some Conch Fritters which ended up being the perfect amount! They had some tasty looking soups on the menu that I would've tried if it wasn't a blistering 95 degree day (next time).
On a slow evening, Dan and I dropped into the Gurgling Suitcase for a casual drink and I actually loved it! It's a TINY bar, with really only enough space for the bar itself and about two high-top tables. It also doubles as a pool bar, since it's walkable to the pool entrance, so it stayed consistently busy throughout our trip. The bartender was the sweetest older woman from Scotland and she made the drinks quickly and with ease. It was pretty much a one man show as we watched her supply drinks to the guests dining in Olivia's, the bargoers and the walk up's from the pool -- I was impressed! Dan and I both chose fun drinks from the specialty menu which 100% tasted like vacation (and cost vacation prices too). I also enjoyed people-watching the 'locals' who seemed to be creatures of the bar (and not in the gross way). They were upbeat and chatted with the bartender (and everyone else who walked through the door), making me think that they've visited this resort and bar for years. I guess that's the beauty of a DVC resort!
I absolutely loved the pool at Old Key West! We did a full pool day and ended up stopping by again later in the week for a couple hours when it was sunny. We got sunny lounge chairs both times and it was never crowded enough that we had to be on the prowl for seats near eachother. We also all took turns riding the slide and agreed that it was alot longer and faster than it looks from the outside! I was happy to see that the poolside recreation activities were back in full swing!
For those who don't know -- when the weather is nice, the recreation cast members will host poolside games like bingo or trivia and show popular Disney films at night for you to watch on the big (blow up) screen. These are some of the more relaxing, but equally memorable, parts of resort days. The joy and carefree energy radiating from the pool deck this time around was one of my favorite parts of our vacation. I got lunch at the quick service bar near the pool (the pulled pork nachos were amazing) and kept the Shirley Temple's flowing -- yes they are my favorite vacation drink.
All DVC resorts have some sort of Community Hall, which is a place where guests can rent equipment, entertainment and participate in different crafts and activities. Having visited the Saratoga Springs Resort community hall almost every year since middle school, my family has a very specific tradition for our Disney trips -- coloring. I know what you're thinking -- why would you spend time coloring while you're at Disney World? I can't explain it, but we really do LOVE to take little breaks throughout our trip and take advantage of the free coloring sheets and color-in magnets for offer in the community hall.
Alongside the coloring sheets, there is a menu of daily special craft offerings (typically these cost money and can be anything from pottery to making puzzles, etc.). These change and often fill up quickly, so definitely check out what's being offered during your stay so that you dont miss out on a fun one. The community hall is also a place where you can rent movies, play video games, check out different sporting equipment and even rent surrey bikes.
The check in area is nice and compact, so don't expect this to be the sort of lobby area that you'll want to lounge in like The Grand Floridian or Polynesian resorts. But the front desk cast are friendly and eager to chat and even have a pin board behind the counter (in addition to the one right across the walkway in the giftshop).
There is also a small DVC booth in the lobby, which is where you can ask any DVC questions you may have or schedule tours. The shop is small but has everything you'd want out of a resort giftshop. You can pick up resort-specific merchandise, some general Disney souvenirs and you even have a small selection of refrigerated goods (and wine) if you want to stock your room fridge!
Since we were visiting as a party of six, we stayed in one of the larger suites. Ours had a master bedroom, a guest bedroom and a large living room with a pullout couch and chair. It had a full kitchen, two bathrooms and a laundry room. We also had a good sized balcony overlooking the lake, but unfortunately didn't spend too much time on it due to the humidity. I thought the room was perfect! Everything was simple, yet clean and welcoming and there was plenty of space for us all to have our own little areas. All of the bathrooms came with a supply of Disney's famous H20 shower products, which I always enjoy, so there's no need to pack body wash, conditioner or shampoo (unless you want your specific brands). One thing to note is that the area we stayed in had three floors and there were no elevators. So if you need an accessible room you'll want to be clear about that when booking, to ensure a first floor accomodation.
Old Key West is in a great location and only minutes away from Disney Springs by bus. I believe there is also typically boat transportation to the Springs area, but it isn't currently running due to Covid closures. I believe it will be open again as a transportation option once the other resorts on that waterway are all fully open again (Port Orleans).
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Disney's Old Key West and think it was the perfect resort for our group and this trip!