The accommodations at Old Key West are some of the very best on property for the money in my opinion. As perhaps the most budget friendly deluxe tier resorts on property, Old Key West offers deluxe studios, one, two, and three bedroom villas that are some of the largest on property. In regard to the villas, they are the largest resort rooms on property for their designated one, two, and three bedroom tiers.
Personally, I can only speak directly to the two bedroom villas because they are the only accommodations I’ve personally experienced at this property. However, I will say that the rooms truly are huge. The living room and dining area can easily fit 8+ guests without a problem, the villa featured it’s own private balcony and dining area for four, and the views of the golf course were outstanding. As a result, this is one of my top picks for a semi-budget friendly resort for larger groups. In regards to a strictly price to square footage ratio, it is only truly rivaled by Saratoga Springs (below) when referring to the villas.
One of the greatest strengths of the location is it’s proximity and boat transportation to Disney Springs. With all of the updates that have occurred at Disney Springs and the new restaurants and shops that have debuted, the benefit of easy transportation via a 15 (or so) minute pontoon boat ride could be a huge factor for many guests staying at the resort.
Old Key West was originally designed as a Disney Vacation Club Resort, and was even called the Disney Vacation Club Resort up until 1996 when it was renamed. As a result, a stay here is like entering a community and many guests (of which many are DVC members) decorate their balconies for the holidays and treat the resort as a bit of a beach vacation (partially due to the theming) surrounded by the joys of Walt Disney World.
For the price, especially when booking large groups, this is sincerely hard to beat for the money. The pool isn’t ideal, being that it is fairly small, but with the growing nature of Disney Springs I wouldn’t be surprised if this resort grows exponentially in popularity in the foreseeable future.
While these two resorts aren’t technically “Disney” properties, by all intesive purposes of this article, they really are. Disney allows Swan and Dolphin guests to book in the same window as onsite guests for fastpass+ selections, they use Disney transportation that drop off at the exact same locations as Disney resorts, and even have legitimate Disney merchandise in their gift shops. Personally, I see that as a huge part of the Disney experience. While you won’t find any Disney theming out by the pool or even really in the resort rooms themselves, the location features a character meal called Garden Grove (which isn’t all that popular) and even offers guest a short walk to Epcot and Disney’s Boardwalk Resort.
Perhaps the greatest element of The Swan and Dolphin resorts are their proximity to the parks. As some of the oldest resorts on property (recently upgraded and overhauled), these Starwood properties (under the Marriott International umbrella) secured a section of prime real estate directly backing up to Epcot and just a short boat ride away from Hollywood Studios.
As mentioned, transportation is a huge factor to this resort being vastly underrated. Just like the Boardwalk and Yacht and Beach Club, the Swan and Dolphin utilize the same boat transportation to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Additionally, while utilizing Disney busses, your route to many parks features the identical route as the aforementioned resorts.
While all of that is great, the price is really the selling factor on this particular accommodation for us. On average you’ll pay up to 20-30% less to book either of these two resorts when compared to Disney’s own deluxe tier resorts. Additionally, if anyone in your family is a teacher, nurse, or AAA member you qualify for a deep discount if they will be traveling with you.
However, there is one unfortunate factor to all of these excellent offerings and it is that the resort features paid parking and requires payment of a resort fee each night of your stay. Typically, all things included, it will add about $30 per night to the rate listed on their website or on other booking platforms. Occasionally, if you call the resort directly they will wave the fee, but it is a far from foolproof solution. Either way, this is an excellent resort that I’ve spent many vacations staying in with one of the best pool setups in all of Walt Disney World.