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April 16, 2013

Old Key West - Disney Vacation Club - Part Two

Jack Spence Masthead


Old Key West Logo


Yesterday I discussed the basic services and recreation offered at Old Key West. Today I will be covering a one and two-bedroom unit.

The rooms at Old Key West are considerably larger than at any other Walt Disney World DVC. Considerably. In addition, the rooms have more character as the architects used angled walls rather than every corner being 90 degrees. This makes Old Key West a sought after property with those knowledgeable of these differences.

Just to give you an idea, here is a comparison of the basic room sizes between Old Key West and Saratoga Springs. You might not think it, but these differences are significant when you're actually in the rooms.

Old Key West

Studio: 390 square feet
One Bedroom: 942 square feet
Two Bedroom: 1,395 square feet
Three Bedroom: 2,375 square feet

Saratoga Springs

Studio: 355 square feet
One Bedroom: 714 square feet
Two Bedroom: 1,075 square feet
Three Bedroom: 2,113 square feet

Let's first take a look at a studio unit. Studio accommodations are similar to rooms found at one of Disney's deluxe resorts, with the addition of a small kitchenette. They are well-appointed and spacious enough to comfortably sleep four without feeling crowded. The rooms have two queen-sized beds, a nightstand, a table and two chairs, a chest of drawers, a flat screen TV, and a decent sized closet.


Studio Bedroom

Studio Bedroom

Studio Bedroom

Studio Bedroom

Studio Bedroom

Studio Bedroom

Studio Bedroom


The kitchenette is located in a hallway that separates the bedroom from the bathroom. The kitchenette is intended for light snacks and quick-preparation meals. It comes with a toaster, microwave, under-counter refrigerator, coffeemaker, and a small sink. Disposable cups, plates, and flatware are also provided.


Studio Kitchenette

Studio Kitchenette

Studio Kitchenette

Studio Kitchenette


In a second closet, guests will find a vacuum, small safe, playpen, and more hangers.


Studio Closet


The bathroom can easily accommodate two people, even though it only has one sink.
A hair dryer can be found on the wall and the countertop is big enough for an array of toiletries.


Studio Bathroom

Studio Bathroom


All studio units have a patio or balcony with two chairs and small a table. Studio units sleep four, plus one child under the age of 3 in a crib.


Studio Patio/Balcony


To see a short film of a studio unit, check out the video below.



Next I'm going to look at a two-bedroom unit. These offer a "great room" where a family can really spread out and feel at home. At all other Disney DVC's, I've never forgotten the fact that I'm in a "hotel" room. At Old Key West, I really feel like I'm staying in someone's vacation home. They are spacious beyond compare. I have friends who regularly spend Christmas in a two-bedroom unit and have parties during their stay. I've seen up to fourteen people in the kitchen/living room and not felt the least bit crowded.

In the living room you'll find a couch, love seat, chair, end table, and coffee table. The couch opens into a queen-sized sleeper and the chair into a single bed.


Two-Bedroom Living Room

Two-Bedroom Living Room

Two-Bedroom Living Room

Two-Bedroom Living Room


The living room is separated from the kitchen with an island that opens up to reveal a TV.


Island/TV

Island/TV


The kitchen is large - large enough for two cooks to both do their own thing without getting in each other's way.


Two-Bedroom Kitchen

Two-Bedroom Kitchen

Two-Bedroom Kitchen


These kitchens come fully stocked. Everything you would need to fix a complete Christmas dinner is provided (except the food). How do I know? I know because I have had a complete Christmas dinner with friends at Old Key West for the last five years. Here's what's provided: small appliances, wine glasses, mixing bowls, pots & pans, utensils, dishware, a full size refrigerator with icemaker, dishwasher, stove & oven, microwave, and a double sink with disposal.


Two-Bedroom Kitchen

Two-Bedroom Kitchen

Two-Bedroom Kitchen

Two-Bedroom Kitchen

Two-Bedroom Kitchen

Two-Bedroom Kitchen

Two-Bedroom Kitchen


Next to the kitchen is a large table that comfortably seats four. Behind it is a countertop bar with additional storage above and below.


Dining Table

Counter


Off of the dining area is a spacious patio with another table and chairs.


Patio/Balcony


A hallway leads to the master bedroom. Off of this hall is a real laundry room. Unlike the other Disney World DVC's that offer a stackable washer and dryer in a closet, this is a real laundry room with a side by side washer and dryer. The iron and board hang on the wall in this room.


Laundry Room

Laundry Room


The master bedroom is quite luxurious. It features a king bed, chair & ottoman, two nightstands, armoire with 32 inch flat screen TV, hope chest with storage, and a ceiling fan. The master bedroom also has its own door out to the patio/balcony.


Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom


Off of the bedroom is a two-room bath. In the first room you'll find a Jacuzzi-type tub large enough for two. A pedestal sink and an attractive shelving unit complete the room.


Master Bathroom

Master Bathroom

Master Bathroom


The second room of the bath houses the toilet, a shower, and a second sink with plenty of counter space.


Master Bathroom

Master Bathroom

Master Bathroom


Those staying in the second bedroom of a two-bedroom unit will not feel short changed. It is also well appointed and comfortable. With two queen beds, a nightstand, table and two chairs, and a chest of drawers with a TV, this room is spacious and comfortable.


Second Bedroom

Second Bedroom

Second Bedroom

Second Bedroom

Second Bedroom

Second Bedroom


Off of the bedroom is a hallway which contains a small vanity area and a decent-sized closet.


Vanity

Closet


The bathroom is large and has a sink with plenty of counter space, a toilet, and a tub/shower.


Secondary Bathroom

Secondary Bathroom

Secondary Bathroom


To see a movie of a two-bedroom unit, check out the video below.



For more information on these rooms along with the one and three bedroom units, check out the AllEars Fact Sheet for Old Key West by clicking here.

I like the rooms at Old Key West. And so do many others. Because of their larger size, these rooms book fast. DVC members who call Old Key West "home" can book rooms here eleven months in advance. DVC members of other Disney properties can book rooms here seven months in advance. Remember, non-members can also rent rooms at DVC properties, but Old Key West will be more of a challenge due to the resort's high demand.

That's it for my look at Old Key West. Although it is not located next to a theme park, it still has a lot to offer. There is a comfort level found at Old Key West that is hard to beat. When the cast members welcome you home to Old Key West, you really will feel like you're at your own private retreat.



Answer to yesterday's question:

My blog about Old Key West completes my reviews of all the Disney owned and operated properties at Walt Disney World (plus the Swan and Dolphin). Now Deb Wills wants me to start at the beginning and do it all over again. Whew. When will I ever get some rest? I know, while staying at all the resorts at Walt Disney World.

It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.



April 15, 2013

Old Key West - Disney Vacation Club - Part One

Jack Spence Masthead


Today's article about Old Key West marks a mini-milestone in my blog history with AllEars. See if you can figure out what it is. The answer will be at the end of tomorrow's blog.

(This really is a MINI-milestone. Don't put too much gray matter into it.)



Old Key West Logo


Disney's Old Key West was the first Disney Vacation Club (DVC). It opened on December 20, 1991. In the beginning it was called "Disney's Vacation Club Resort" - hardly a romantic and alluring name. It was called this for several reasons. First, since it was the first vacation club, it didn't need a unique designation. But there was a more important reason for the moniker. Disney did not like the word "timeshare." They wanted the public to know that what they were offering in "vacation ownership" was different than everyone else's product. So they decided that by including the words "vacation club" in the resort's name, it would bring this point home.

On October 1, 1995, Disney's second DVC opened in Vero Beach, Florida and on March 6, 1996 their third on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. In addition, a fourth DVC was under construction at WDW which would become the Boardwalk Resort. It was now time to give the first DVC a unique identity to separate it from the rest. So in January, 1996, the name was officially changed to Disney's Old Key West Resort.


Vero Beach DVC

Hilton Head DVC

Boardwalk DVC

Old Key West DVC


Old Key West is located off of a small road that connects Bonnet Creek Parkway with Buena Vista Drive. For many years, this road was called Community Way, but it too received a name change. After the opening of Saratoga Springs in 2004, the road was renamed Disney Vacation Club Way.

Folks enter Old Key West on Peninsular Road. Like all Disney resorts, they are greeted by a guard who will acknowledge them with a friending "Welcome home."


Guard Shack

Street Sign


The first stop at Old Key West is Hospitality House located at Conch Flats (Conch rhymes with honk). Conch Flats is where guests will find most of the resort's facilities. Underneath the porte-cochère guests can arrange luggage handling with Bell Services.


Porte-cochère

Porte-cochère

Bell Services


Next to the porte-cochère is one of the resort's bus stops for transportation to the parks. More on this later.


Bus Stop

Bus Stop


The lobby and check-in can be found off of a charming breezeway.


Breezeway

Lobby Entrance


The lobby is very inviting. The floor uses dark woods that have been polished to a luster. A beautiful inlay can be found in the center of the room. The check-in desk is made up of lighter toned woods. The ceiling planks are white-washed. On the back wall, a watercolor featuring the architecture of Key West can be found. All of this combines to create a sophisticated yet welcoming atmosphere.


Old Key West Lobby

Old Key West Lobby

Old Key West Lobby

Old Key West Lobby


To help speed up the check-in process, Disney resorts have begun stationing one or two cast members out front of the check-in desks. In hand they carry an electronic tablet that is connected to the central reservation system. These helpful individuals have access to everything their behind-the-desk counterparts have. In essence, they can also check you into your room. Remember, the official check-in time for DVC units is 4pm.


Cast Member Assisted Check-in


Off of the lobby is one of my favorite spots in all of Walt Disney World. This sitting room is extremely comfortable and inviting. A fireplace, bookshelves, bric-a-brac, and overstuffed furniture combine to create a relaxing retreat. If ever the parks become too much for you, find a good book or magazine and snuggle up in this lovely lounge. A television can be found in the corner of the room, tuned to Disney cartoons for the little ones.


OKW Lobby Lounge

OKW Lobby Lounge

OKW Lobby Lounge

OKW Lobby Lounge


Across from the check-in lobby is Conch Flats General Store. Designed to resemble an old-time general store, the type that might be found on the island of Key West, this spot offers "cargo and provisions" for your stay. Open from 7am to 11pm, Conch Flats General Store sells a small selection of Disney souvenirs, magazines, DVC-branded merchandise, and foodstuff for your unit's kitchen.


Conch Flats General Store

Conch Flats General Store

Conch Flats General Store

Conch Flats General Store

Conch Flats General Store


Prior to your stay, DVC members may order "provisions" by faxing a Disney grocery list to the resort. After arrival, your items will be delivered to your room. There is a nominal fee for this service. For more information, check out the Vacation Planning module on the DVC Member Website.

Next to Conch Flats General Store is Olivia's, the resort's restaurant. The atmosphere here is relaxed and comfortable. In the main dining room, a row of booths line one wall, while wood-topped wrought-iron tables and painted wooden chairs make up the rest of the seating. Nautical and Key West memorabilia adorn the walls and an attention-grabbing fan turns overhead.

The backstory for Olivia's is rather simple. Olivia was a local resident of the island and a good cook. Friends and neighbors kept dropping by at mealtime for a bite to eat. Eventually, Olivia decided to hang a shingle out by the door and turn her generosity into a profit.


Olivia's

Olivia's

Olivia's

Olivia's


In the early years of the resort, it was the custom for members to present Olivia's with a framed photograph of their family. One by one, these pictures were added to the walls of the restaurant, eventually covering every square inch of space. However, when the dining room needed a fresh coat of paint a few years ago, most of these were removed and retired. Today, only the restaurant's lobby and secondary dining room sport these smiling faces.


Olivia's

Olivia's

Olivia's


Besides the two indoor dining rooms, Olivia's also offers outside seating. When the weather is nice, this is delightful place for a meal.


Olivia's Outdoor Seating

Olivia's Outdoor Seating


I like Olivia's very much. I eat here so often that many of the cast members know me by name and treat me like family. However, I've watched these same cast members interact with other guests and I realize that I'm not being treated any differently than anyone else - everyone is made to feel at home here.

I do have one negative comment about Olivia's. The noise level can get a bit loud when the restaurant fills up. This is because the flooring is tile and there is very little fabric to absorb the sound.

Here are the current hours:

Breakfast: 7:30am to 11am
Lunch: 11:30am to 5pm
Dinner: 5pm to 10pm

Note, lunch and dinner service use the same menu. To see what is offered at Olivia's, click here.

Beyond Olivia's is a promenade that runs the length of Conch Flats. Located along this walkway is where you'll find most of the resort's recreation facilities and services.


OKW Promenade

OKW Promenade


The first stop we come to is D.V.C. Ferry. This is where you can catch a water-taxi to Downtown Disney. The hours are 10am to 11pm and the boats run every 20 minutes. The boat makes no other stops along the way. Note, if you're thinking of taking the ferry as an excursion ride only, you may be required to disembark and reload if a line has formed at Downtown Disney.


D.V.C. Ferry

D.V.C. Ferry


Next to Olivia's is Gurgling Suitcase. This hole-in-the-wall spot serves hard and soft drinks along with a limited menu from Olivia's.

Although the name of this establishment might seem rather strange, it actually harkens back to the days of Prohibition. As Key West is just a stone's throw away from Cuba, rum was often smuggled into the United States through the Florida Keys in false-bottom luggage - thus, "Gurgling Suitcase."

The hours of this establishment are 11:30am to midnight.


Gurgling Suitcase

Gurgling Suitcase

Gurgling Suitcase


"On the way or coming back, Good's is best for meals or a snack."

This is the motto for Good's Food To Go, the quick-service establishment that satisfies the appetites of those poolside. There are also several picnic tables nearby for guests wishing to eat in a more "dignified" manner than reclining in a lounge chair. As you would expect, burgers, hotdogs, and the like are for sale here.

Good's is open for breakfast between 7am and 11:30am. Lunch and dinner is served between 11:30am to 10pm.

To see the complete menu, click here.


Goods

Table


As we proceed along the promenade we come to Electric Eel Gameroom. As the name implies, this is the spot for electronic game wizardry. Although a somewhat small facility, there is still a lot of fun to be had here.


Electric Eel Gameroom

Electric Eel Gameroom

Electric Eel Gameroom


R.E.S.T. is the acronym Old Key West uses to help guests remember what is offered at Conch Flats. It stands for Recreation, Exercise, Swimming, and Tennis. To that end, Hank's Rent 'N Return can help you out with the recreation end of things. This is the place to rent a bicycle, surrey bike, pontoon boat, and a Sea Racer. Shuffleboard, tennis, volleyball, and basketball equipment can also be secured here. All of the courts are conveniently located nearby. This is also the spot to rent DVDs to play in your room.


Hank's Rent 'N Return

Hank's Rent 'N Return

Tennis

Shuffleboard

Volleyball

Surrey Bikes

Ping Pong


Next to Hank's Rent 'N Return is Conch Flats Community Hall. Most DVC resorts have a Community Hall and they all offer similar diversions. Games, videos, and arts & crafts are available for the younger set. Pool (or other "table" games) is on hand for the older kids. Be sure to check the Community Hall schedule to see what activities are on hand each day.


Community Hall

Community Hall

Community Hall

Community Hall


The "Exercise" portion of R.E.S.T. can be taken care of in the Exercise Room. A number of cardio-workout machines are available as well as a limited number of weight training options. For jogging trail information, check with the Concierge Desk in the lobby of Hospitality House.


Exercise Room

Exercise Room

Exercise Room


In the shadow of a towering lighthouse is the resort's main pool. The theme here is "fun at the beach" as the pool's slide is hidden inside a giant castle of "sand." The nearby playground continues this theme with more sand structures and giant beach toys such as a plastic bucket and shovel.


Lighthouse

Main Swimming Pool

Sand Castle Slide

Sand Castle Playground

Plastic Bucket

Plastic Shovel


Inside the lighthouse is a sauna. To my knowledge, no other pool at Disney offers this amenity poolside.


Poolside Sauna

Poolside Sauna


Adjacent to the pool is a children's playground with slides and other energy-burning apparatuses. Further down a path is a lovely fire pit and benches.


Children's Slides

Fire Pit and Benches


Old Key West is large. Although there are sidewalks throughout the resort, the distance from your room to Conch Flats may be more than you'd like to traverse on foot. To help you out, Disney offers an internal bus that continually circles the various sections of Old Key West, pausing at each of the bus stops. These same stops are where you'll catch a bus for the theme parks.


Bus Stop


Old Key West wraps around the Buena Vista Golf course, affording many of the units a wonderful view of the greens. This layout necessitated that the various buildings be positioned along a number of "spur" roads rather than laying the property out in a circular pattern. This means that the buses must navigate in and out and around when traveling from one bus stop to the next. I am prone to motion sickness. For me, the bus ride through Old Key West is a little tough on my tummy. If you also suffer from motion sickness, I thought you'd like to know and plan accordingly.

Besides the main swimming pool, there are three other pools scattered around the resort. All of them are nice, but none have any particular theming.


Secondary Pools

Secondary Pools

Secondary Pools


The pool located between buildings 41 and 42 offers food and beverage service at Turtle Shack Snack Bar. This spot is operated seasonally, weather permitting.


Turtle Shack Snack Bar


One, two, and three bedroom units at Old Key West have their own washer and dryer. Studio units do not. For them, laundry facilities can be found near all four swimming pools.


Laundry Room

Laundry Room


That's it for the facilities and amenities offered at Old Key West. To see a film of the overall resort, check out the video below. Check back tomorrow when I'll discuss a studio and two-bedroom unit.




October 20, 2007

Bus Transportation

Yesterday (10/19/07), I ate lunch at Olivia's at Old Key West. After I ate, I needed to run a quick errand at Epcot. Since I live in Orlando, I usually drive to all my Disney World locations, but today I decided to take the bus. The weather was pleasant and I thought it would be a nice change of pace.

Disney Bus


After the bus arrived and I took my seat, I noticed that the music being played was "Legacy," an Epcot background piece that everyone's heard but doesn't know its name. After a few moments, the song ended and "One Little Spark" from the Imagination Pavilion began to play. I started to wonder if all of the music was now themed to the bus's destination.

A moment later, a recorded voice (Matt Hanson ) could be heard. It welcomed everyone aboard and provided us with some tips about our upcoming visit to Epcot. At the same time, the speech was displayed on an electronic message board for all to read. The recording was loud enough to be heard but not overpowering.

When his remarks were finished, the music switched back on and continued to play another selection from Epcot. Shortly before arriving, Matt Hanson could again be heard, informing us that we were about to reach our destination and to please gather up our belongings.

Unfortunately, my return bus had not been fitted out with this new system and I had to listen to a bus driver's inaudible comments as he didn't have a clue of how to properly use a microphone.

Since I don't ride the buses often, this new system may be old news to many of you. But for me it was a pleasant surprise and I'm looking forward to the rest of the fleet being retrofitted.

Now onto the downside of bus transportation" When you catch a bus at the Hospitality House (check-in) of Old Key West, you are at the last bus stop in the resort. From here, you go directly to you destination. On the return trip, Hospitality House the last stop.

Turtle Pond Bus Depot at Old Key West


Unlike other Disney resorts that have multiple bus stops, Old Key West has a very convoluted layout. The bus must make numerous twists and turns as it snakes its way through the resort. So much so that by the time I returned to Hospitality House I was actually starting to get motion sickness.

The other large resorts, like Port Orleans and the Caribbean Beach are laid out in a more circular pattern. The bus just makes one large circle to reach all of the bus stops.

Because of this, I would seriously think twice before staying at Old Key West if I didn't have my own car.

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About Old Key West

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in the Old Key West category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Grand Floridian Resort is the previous category.

Polynesian is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.