Home Disney Planning Tips A Less than Magical Experience at Old Key West Resort

A Less than Magical Experience at Old Key West Resort

A Less than Magical Experience at Old Key West Resort
Credit: Disney

What happens when your Disney stay is less than magical? Read on for an honest take of Disney’s Old Key West Resort.

Resort Overview

Credit: Maggie

Disney’s Old Key West resort is a deluxe resort at Walt Disney World and is the original Disney Vacation Club property. Known for its large rooms and relaxed vibe, Old Key West is a great place to stay for bigger families or for people looking for a slower pace after busy days in the parks.

Old Key West has many amenities and even has a delicious restaurant that I (Jaelyn) would go out of my way to eat at on a stay at a different resort. For more information about Old Key West, check out this review of Olivia’s Restaurant, accessible rooms at Old Key West, this review of a two bedroom villa, and my resort guide with all of the details to plan a stay.

My extended family and I stayed at Old Key West in the summer of 2019 in a two bedroom villa and had an exceptional time. We rented a car and drove to the parks every day except for days where we went to the Magic Kingdom. My family had a very magical stay and loved the relaxed atmosphere of the resort and the quiet pool located right by our room.

Most Recent Stay

Credit: Maggie

My most recent stay at Old Key West was a different story. We planned a very last minute trip and rented DVC points for the stay. I was able to get the room for one night for about the same price as one night at Pop Century.

Our room was a studio room in the “Near Hospitality House” booking category. We really did not plan to be at the resort for long at all. We simply planned to sleep in the room and then use the bus transportation the following day to arrive at the Magic Kingdom for Early Theme Park Entry for Resort Guests.

First Impressions of Old Key West: Bus Ride

Credit: Monica

After spending the day in the parks, we arrived to Old Key West late in the evening. Our luggage had been transferred from the Polynesian where we had stayed the night before. We rode the bus from Epcot back to our hotel.

Our first initial impression was that the bus system takes a LONG time to loop through Old Key West. This is a sprawling resort with several bus stops internally on its property. As we were within walking distance to the Hospitality House, or the main resort area, we were the last stop for drop off. Looping through the resort added an additional 20 or 30 minutes to our time before we could get to our room.

This is VERY different than staying at resorts on a direct line of transportation (i.e. the Polynesian) or even staying at resorts with one bus stop (Boardwalk, value resorts, etc.). After an already long day, riding the bus for another 30 minutes is not something that anyone really wants to do.

Studio Room Impressions

Credit: Susan

Once we finally arrived and picked up our luggage from bell services, we discovered that we were on the third floor of our building with no elevator. This was ok but a little challenging when balancing luggage, a stroller, and children. We entered our room which had two queen beds, a kitchenette, a small table, and a bathroom.

Credit: Jaelyn

Old Key West studios are the only studios with two complete queen beds. Many other studios have pull out couches, but many of the newly refurbished studios have murphy beds. Prior to the addition of murphy beds, I would have said that Old Key West has the advantage when it comes to sleeping configurations. Now, however, the murphy beds are just as nice as the standard queen beds and, in my opinion, this hurts Old Key West in a big way. I’d much rather stay at a studio at somewhere like the Polynesian or even Saratoga Springs with the murphy bed option.

The theming and decor honestly left a lot to be desired. If you are looking to stay in a resort that has immersive Disney theming, this is not the option for you. It was very much just a hotel room. For the same price with renting DVC and an even cheaper price when looking at the rack rates for both options, the value resorts all pack a better punch in regard to theming than Old Key West.

Credit: Marisol

The other major perk of the Old Key West resort is the size of the rooms. The studio here is the third largest on property, bested only by the Polynesian and Riviera studios. I am not sure if it was just the juxtaposition of transferring from the Polynesian to Old Key West, but the space in the Old Key West studio just seemed less functional.

At the Polynesian, studios have two bathroom spaces and a nice living/sleeping space. The Old Key West studio layout had a lot of “dead space” on the side of the room where a table was located. It just didn’t serve much purpose for our family.

Early Morning Bus Experience

Credit: Susan

The next morning, we dropped our luggage at Bell Services and waited at the bus stop to catch a bus to the Magic Kingdom for Early Theme Park Entry for resort guests. The park opened at 9 a.m. with an 8:30 a.m. park open for Early Theme Park Entry.

We went down to the bus stop at 7:30 a.m. The television at the bus stop did not report any next available times for a bus to any of the four parks. As we waited, a crowd started to form. We waited over a half hour with no bus in sight. Knowing our bus stop was the last stop, we started to worry that we wouldn’t be able to get on the bus because it would be full after looping all the way around the resort.

At a little after 8 a.m. with still no bus in sight and less than 30 minutes until the start of Early Theme Park Entry, I quickly booked an Uber ride. We were in our Uber by 8:10 and made it to the park, through security, and through the entry process by 8:45. This left us with really no benefit from the Early Theme Park Entry, which was disappointing because the crowds were particularly heavy on this day.

Overall Thoughts

Credit: Maggie

Prior to this trip, I would have wholeheartedly suggested Old Key West as an excellent resort for booking to any of my family and friends. However, after this experience, I do not think Old Key West is a great fit for most travel groups. I would recommend the resort for guests looking for large spaces in larger room categories (i.e. the two bedroom villas or three bedroom grand villas) or guests who are bringing their own car to property.

I would not recommend this resort to anyone looking for immersive Disney theming or for anyone hoping to utilize Disney transportation. While I will head back to Old Key West to eat at Olivia’s, I will likely not head back to the resort to stay again.

What are your thoughts about the Old Key West resort? Have you had any negative (or positive!) experiences with Disney transportation to and from your resort hotel? Continue the conversation below or on the Kenny the Pirate Facebook page. I would love to hear from you!



  1. For the reasons you didn’t like OKW we love it. It is Not All Disney All the Time. It is Key West themed. It is laid back. 2 queen sized beds a huge plus for us in studio. No elevator, it is only 2 floors max to walk up, have bell services bring your luggage up. Rent a car and get breakfast reservations at Contemporary, MK day solved.

  2. We stayed just as guests on our honeymoon back in December. We waited 30+ minutes for help with our luggage and just gave up. The room was actually pretty dirty. The staff asked what was in our luggage several times. There ended up being a sewage leak we could smell so we had to get a different room. We ended up taking an Uber instead of waiting for the transportation as well.

  3. We’ve been DVC since 1996. Old Key West is one of our favorite places when we travel as a family (8 of us). Plenty of space for all of us. And it’s also nice if you are a party of two couples. The two bedroom is excellent. That being said, the studios at OKW are less convenient because of the two queen configuration. But doing a bit of research will give you that type of info. And it sounds like you didn’t take into consideration the size and number of bus stops. Saratoga is the same with several distinct areas and bus transportation is much the same as OKW. May I suggest that if your trip is short, you look into those resorts that keep you close to the action. Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach let you walk to both EPCOT and Studios. And now with the addition of the Skyliner you have even more options for transport to those two parks. The resort monorail is an great choice if Magic Kingdom is your park of choice on a short trip. We have learned over the years that the times for bus transportation is at the mercy of traffic situations. Heavy traffic or a minor fender bender on the roads, necessitates a change in bus routes. And if you are really on a tight schedule, an Uber or a car might be what you need to opt for to ease the stressfulness.

  4. We are dvc members at Old Key West since 2019 and love it. The one bedroom villa is enormous and it’s one of the quietest and peaceful resorts at Disney. We’ve looked at the studios and would gladly stay in them, love the fact there are two actual beds rather than the sometimes uncomfortable Murphy beds. This past June we stayed in a dvc studio room at the Polynesian and we were very unimpressed, the room was cramped even for two people. Using alot of the room space to create a second ‘shower room’ seemed very unnecessary. We would rather stay in a regular room the Polynesian which we used to do years ago.

  5. I used to be a DVC member with OKW as my home resort 10 years ago. I actually liked that it was more laid back than some of the other deluxe resorts. I wasn’t traveling with family and kids so the rooms seeming less themed really didn’t bother me. The studio was comfortable and I was hardly in my room except to sleep anyway. Back then, they had a 2 bus system. 1 bus was internal and just made a loop around the resort taking people to and from the hospitality house. From the hospitality house you would take a bus to the parks. I guess that has changed to 1 bus for each park, probably a cost cutting measure. I also liked eating a Olivia’s. I liked to come back to the resort for dinner and a rest break before heading out for evening magic hours. It usually wasn’t crowded. I never had to wait for a table and the food was good. Overall, my stays were enjoyable and event free.

  6. We stayed at Old Key West in April and it was truly magical we stayed in the deluxe villa and it was worth it! We had 2 adults and 2 kids and the space was wonderful. We had a huge tub and a private deck. Amazing!

  7. I have heard bus transportation isn’t great anywhere nowadays-but it’s gonna be way worse where there are multiple stops. I will either rent a car or Uner. Just isn’t worth it for me to be frustrated then miss extra early morning hours.

  8. How about mentioning how much more it costs to stay at the Poly. And how about mentioning that there is no dresser in a Poly studio, and you have to get down on the floor to use drawers UNDER the bed! Luxury? Not in my view.

  9. I have always loves OKW with the large rooms and sprawling spaces. We have been DVC members since 2094 and our home resort is BCV but it has been nice to experience the other resorts as well. Having stayed in a studio there once with 2 little girls, it was ok. I am spoiled
    With the access to a washer and dryer in the unit, but that was on me not the resort. We have always enjoyed our stays there. We did have one surprise when we rented a 1 bedroom and had 2 20 year old young women with us and when we got inside the unit we found out that the only access to the bathroom was through the bedroomn which would have been fine if we were traveling with small children not adults! Fortunately, we had not taken anything in and they were able to move us. It seems the door from the laundry room ti the bathroom was closed off during the last renovation!

  10. A bit surprised by this review Kenny, many of your points are not genuine complaints but more of a preference.
    Theme. Believe it or not, not everyone wants to wake up with a Disney character on their headboard, you are correct in that if you want a resort that screams “Disneyworld” stay at a value. I enjoy the laid back soothing quiet vibe.
    Transportation: Again, this is a well known that both okw and Saratoga are sprawling resorts with long bus routes. That’s why you see the golf carts all around.
    And you guys didn’t know that there aren’t elevators??

    Sorry you didn’t enjoy it, we love OKW. Lol we always request the first or second floor, after a long hot day in the parks it’s an soothing oasis

  11. OKW is a great alternative to any of the “immersive” resorts. The one bedroom unit is larger than my first apartment. The two “outer” pools are quiet and relaxing. It is a very expansive resort and yes, we always rent a car it’s simply easier to and from the airport and provides more freedom. We stayed in a studio only once for one night when our flight was canceled and we needed an extra last minute room. It is large but I agree it’s oddly laid out.

  12. My husband and I are DVC Members.
    We stayed there in 2016. We have no children but we Loved Disney World & Disney Cruise Lines. We whole heartedly disliked staying there. We had to walk up the stairs, no elevatos & I am a bit handicapped (not over weight at 5’8″ 135). It was a challenge for me. We reserved a handicapped room. When we checked in we were told it was given to another family. So my other challange was standing in the bathtub! I nearly fell! If it were not for my service animal alerting my husband, I would have hit the bottom hard!

    Love staying at The GF, BW & YC.

  13. OKW is my home resort and I love it. Its quieter, and the rooms are very spacious. We have never exclusively stayed in a studio there, only a 1 bedroom or a 2 bedroom, but we do lock-offs and so have experience with them and find them to be larger than an average hotel room.
    The hospitality house bus stop is only a 2 min walk from the very 1st bus stop, so your issues with that stop are easily corrected. This resort is LARGE and if you researched it at all you would have known that there is limited elevator access, but you can make a request in advance to be in the building with an elevator, or to be placed on a lower floor. Olivia’s is the restaurant on site and it’s delicious. It is a quieter resort which is lovely after a busy day at the parks. The theme is the same as it’s name, Old Key West, Florida. It has hidden Disney references everywhere, but its not the Art of Animation of you want a bunch of cartoons. If themeing is the most important thing, than book a smaller room in another hotel, but I appreciate the additional space, the good food, and the slower pace than some of the other resorts. My kids also LOVE this resort.

  14. My wife and I stayed at OKW about 5 years ago. We liked the size of the room, easy river transport to Disney Springs and the great Olivia’s. But we were totally turned off by the amount of smoking that we observed. Outside our small first floor porch there were close to 100 cigarette butts. We also saw guests smoking by the pool. We did go back after that but only to dine at Olivia’s.

  15. Just stayed at OKW over the 4th. We are DVC OKW members since 1992. So we know the ins and outs of the resort well. Let me start with check in. Rooms are available at 4 PM. We got ours around 4:15. We were at the resort at noon so yes we did hope we might get in earlier. When we entered our room, two bedroom lockout, the clorine bleach smell starting making me sick and I had to stay outside. A supervisor came by and sprayed something they said would help. It didn’t. Next step is we would have to leave the room for an hour plus so they could run an ozone machine. They said they did a deep cleaning of the room. Why bleach? Since we were not in a position to leave the room for an hour we opened all the doors and ran all the exhaust fans. This made the smell disapate, but I still felt sick for at least an hour. Not a way to start your stay.
    As for buses times on the monitors and the app were not either showing or accurate. We were using the Peninsular Rd stop which is the first one. If we missed the bus a quick walk to the Hospitality House was an option. If you stay by the Hospitality House the reverse works for both getting on and off. The one bus issue was the use of contract buses could not easily maneuver within the resort causing further delays.
    Not sure why they would used buses that can’t fit in the resort. Overall the visit was good even with crowded parks, rides down, weather closing attractions and hot temperatures. I do not feel the experience or the value was as good as the last time we went in 2019. I do hope Disney will enhance the experience in short order.

  16. We purposefully stay at the quieter resorts most of the time to get away from the “magic”. In our opinion you can easily OD on Disney and these places provide welcome respite.

  17. OKW is simply relaxing! And the quiet pools are quiet! You can walk a trail to DSS or DS if you wish or take a boat ride! As far as the busses, it’s been on DVC members’ list for years, you just need to know where to get on/off the bus and walk a little.

  18. I went to Disney and stayed at a Disney value resort. The room was nice but transportation was terrible. Many buses were truly not Disney buses but charter buses that Disney hired because Disney did not have enough employees to drive their own buses. Just like your experience we reached the bus stop and there was a bus sitting there. It was not a Disney bus but one of the charter buses where the stroller had to go under the bus type( we had a double stroller). The driver would not get out of his seat and lift the door of the cargo space for us to place the stroller. He left 7 people standing there with a half empty bus. He told us the next bus would be here shortly. 25 minutes later another bus came. We totally missed the early entry. Thanks Disney!

  19. You claim to have stayed at OKW before. If that was the case, then why didn’t you get off the bus at Peninsular Road and walk to your building? It seems like you stayed on the bus for the full loop simply to write a negative post for click bait.

    Staying on third floor? Oh well. My wife and I stayed there with triplets and managed just fine. Tired of these whiny first world problem complaints.

  20. I had always wanted to try OKW due to the relaxing atmosphere and the larger rooms. That until we went to Olivia’s for dinner and rode around on the loop in the bus. Seems it keeps going in circles and I have never had a problem with this before but got somewhat dizzy. After that we crossed OKW off our to visit list. But agree, love Olivia’s!

  21. I used to think we wouldn’t get the Disney Magic if we stayed at OKW – but we stayed in a 2 BR villa in December of 2020 and LOVED the space. We were also within walking distance of the hospitality house so we didn’t have any issues with the bus (we also had a car). The resort was peaceful and serene – we ate at Olivia’s 3 of our 4 nights – and it was a wonderful respite from the hectic pace we keep in the parks. Of course the studios are set up differently than the Poly – these rooms are some of the oldest on property while the studios at the Poly were renovated into existence in what, the last decade? It is good to note the differences though I suppose. I agree with one of the other posters who said that if you are within walking distance of the main building, it would make sense to get off at the first stop and just walk rather than ride the bus for the full loop. I think the only thing that baffles me about your review is that you had a great stay there before – so I would imagine you already has some familiarity with the size and workings of the resort – I’m uncertain why some of these “issue” were surprising. Its fine if its not for you, but quite honestly, its pretty high on our list of favorite places after our stay.

  22. As suggested, use first bus stop (Peninsular) when near Hospitality House. If you see that you have just missed your desired bus you can walk across to Hospitality House to try to catch it there. OKW is best resort if you want to just chill or for family if you get the larger units. I agree the Studio is not ideal with the 2 queens and corner shape; bed-sofa would work better (like Vero). It is easier overall with a car, but not required. Olivia’s, ideally breakfast, is always a must do wherever we stay, but is difficult to get to from another resort (Uber/Lyft works).

  23. I love OKW. BUT, there is aittle trick to staying there. When your staying in The Hospitality Area, get off at the first stop and walk back to your room. Yes they do the big loop around. That’s why I get off at the first stop. There ate oy two buildings with elevators so I always ask for that building. And this always only a request. The bus system isn’t great any where. There always seem to be problems. I am not sure why. But. If your going to MK for example. Your bus picks you up and goes right to your hotel. Not a few other ones. You can always stay at a monorail property. We love staying there, and we will continue to stay there.

  24. I love OKW just as it is. Relaxing and OKW theming. There are so many good things about it that you totally missed out on.
    I’m surprised a blogger doesn’t know that the ONLY resorts that have the “immersive Disney theming” are the value resorts.
    All of your “disappointments” could have been avoided with just a little research before planning your stay.

  25. Sorry, I don’t agree with your assessment of Old Key West. Comparing a monorail resort to one that only offers bus and boat transfers is like apples and oranges. You talk about sprawling? Try Saratoga Springs ! I’m not even going to the mid-range types like Caribbean Beach. If you have stayed here in the past, you should have known the the majority of buildings do not have elevators.
    As much as I love Disney, I don’t need to be bombarded with Mickey and friends every minute. OKW is planned out just like it’s namesake and it’s got the best large rooms out there.
    The only thing I agree with you is Olivia’s is wonderful!

  26. Ya want some cheese to go with your whine? You apparently set yourself up for a fail. To start with, last time you had access to a car. This time not. No comparison. Second, you could have had bell services bring your “stuff” to the room. Of course you’d have had to tip . . . . Also, switching rooms from the Poly to Key for one night in each? Good grief! That’s a real “adventure” no matter how you try to do it, busses aside. And you knew what Key was before you got there; large and sprawling. Sorry the bus route wasn’t more accommodating but thems the breaks when you rely on Disney transport for any of the big DVC sprawlers. Sorry the room wasn’t up to your expectations but it was only for one night. Next time get a one bedroom or stay longer so you can relax. Isn’t that what a vacation is supposed to be? And you might have asked for a possible room switch when you realized yours was third floor. As I said, you set yourself up to fail and blame the resort? Especially when you obviously should know better? Please!!

  27. I have never been able to bring myself to book at Old Key West, the rooms look too bland and just plain dull.

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