Friday, January 14, 2011

Magical Blogorail: Welcome Home!

Welcome to those of you joining us from Meet the Magic.  This is the 2nd stop on our Magical Blogorail.


My favorite Walt Disney World Resort is definitely Old Key West. My parents bought into the Disney Vacation Club in 1993 and at the time, Old Key West WAS the Vacation Club. The other resorts didn’t come along until later. Even once other DVC properties became available, we still always prefer to stay at OKW.

Granted, Old Key West lacks some of the pizzazz other resorts offer. There aren’t huge waterslides, you can’t walk to Epcot or visit a rooftop bar with Magic Kingdom views, and no giraffes will pass your veranda. However, Old Key West appeals to those looking for a little more relaxed atmosphere. It is themed like Key West after all and relaxation certainly rules in the Keys. The buildings are painted in pastel shades with white gingerbread trim that occasionally includes everyone’s favorite mouse. The lush landscaping continues the tropical island vibe. Inside is the true asset of this resort. SPACE! Old Key West’s villas are substantially larger than the other DVC properties. The DVC studios/villas all include essentially the same amenities but OKW’s offer more floor space and room to spread out. My family stayed in a 2 bedroom at Saratoga Springs during part of our last trip. While this is still far larger than an average hotel room, it feels cramped in comparison to Old Key West.

I also enjoy visiting the table service restaurant at Old Key West, Olivia’s. Again, it’s nothing flashy, but I’ve always had a nice, relaxing meal here. Reservations are available and I would suggest them, just to be on the safe side, for larger groups but we’ve always been able to walk up and be seated fairly quickly. At dinner, they serve yummy coconut pineapple bread while you wait on your meal. Chris discovered a burger on this bread at lunch on our last trip. My toddler is really hard to feed on the go since she favors fresh fruit and vegetables above all else and she loves Olivia’s fruit salad and carrots/green beans. If you ask DisneyDad where he wants to go to dinner, he’ll usually say Olivia’s and I don’t just mean when we are at WDW. It’s his go-to answer for that question.

Old Key West is on the canal leading to Downtown Disney and you can take a boat to and from the shopping and dining area. I usually prefer to take a bus over and then return leisurely by boat. This proximity to Downtown Disney is also nice for joggers. The OKW grounds themselves are good for a workout or you can catch the path at the back of the property and head to Saratoga Springs and Downtown Disney. It’s interesting to see that area so quiet early in the morning.

One of Disney’s golf courses runs through the property and the buildings are situated so that the patios or balconies have pleasant views. I love when we get a villa overlooking a pond with a fountain. It’s so nice to go out and spend a few minutes on the patio/balcony listening to the water and drinking a cup of coffee in the morning. And speaking of coffee, like other DVC properties, Old Key West has a fully equipped kitchen in the villas (studios have a kitchenette.) We don’t cook much on vacation, but it’s helpful to have breakfast in the room before heading out for the day.

Living room of a Grand Villa
Over the years, we’ve stayed in all sizes of accommodations. Studios, one bedroom villas, two bedroom villas, and in 2010 the three bedroom grand villa. Each has its own advantages but of course, the grand villa outshines the rest. With two stories, three bedrooms, four full baths, a large kitchen and dining room, and a two story living room, it would be my choice for each trip if it didn’t cost so many points. We normally get a two bedroom and it’s so nice to stay in the same place each time. I know exactly where all my things should go and can get settled in quite quickly. It really feels like home away from home. I’m kinda sad that they are refurbishing the rooms. The new colors just don’t look right to me.

Aunt Suzie and Mom at the pre-wedding welcome party

With all these years of visits, there is also a sentimental component to my choice. I remember being a young teenager checking my look, complete with belt pack, in the full length mirror of the second bedroom and watching a friend mug for the camera in the entry way in his Steak N Shake hat on our high school graduation trip. I remember celebrating Christmas in the living room of an Old Key West villa during my semester of WDW College Program and giggling with three of my best college friends in a studio during our January break. I remember countless nights of wanting to throw a pillow at my brother sleeping in the next bed and taking a nap in my cozy queen bed after completing the WDW marathon. I remember Mom hosting a welcome party in the kitchen and living room for family who had arrived for our Disney wedding and having my hair and makeup done at the kitchen table by Rex. I remember taking a photo on the balcony before leaving for our honeymoon and another before leaving for dinner at Jiko for our fifth wedding anniversary. I remember sleeping on the pull-out bed on the trip when I told Mom and Dad I was expecting my first child and the look on their faces at the patio table at Olivia’s when I told them another was on the way. I remember Mom overfilling the dining area cabinet with our favorite goodies and making more sausage balls in the kitchen when we ran out of our favorite breakfast treat. I remember how delighted we were to get 2 two bedroom villas next to each other and directly across from the Hospitality House on the wedding trip and how much my in-laws enjoyed their villa. I remember having breakfast at Olivia’s with friends and family before leaving for our Disney cruise honeymoon and even remember the days when Olivia’s had Pooh and friends at a character breakfast. I remember my daughter making a huge mess of her first birthday cake at the dining table in the grand villa and biting into her first Mickey ice cream bar in the living room of the grand villa as if she did that all the time.

"Tink" and her Mickey Mouse 1st birthday cake

Old Key West is a special resort to me and my family and certainly one I would recommend to others. If you’d like a little extra breathing room at the end of the day, this just might become one of your favorites as well.

Click here for an index of DisneyDad's articles on Disney Vacation Club.

Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is A Disney Mom's Love of Disney.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

Here are our links for the week:

1st Stop - Meet the Magic
2nd Stop - Growing Up Disney
3rd Stop - A Disney Mom's Love of Disney
4th Stop - Days in the Park
5th Stop - Crystal and Bryan's Disney Blog
6th Stop - Disney Babies Blog
7th Stop - MousekeFoodie
Final Stop - Cooking with Mickey


  1. I've always wanted to rent points there!

  2. What a lot of great memories! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Those are a lot of great memories. I have never stayed here but so many people rave about it I think I may have to try it one day. It looks beautiful!

  4. We joined DVC in 1997, OKW is HOME!!!! We love OKW just like you. We have stayed at other resorts, and have bought at other resorts, but I agree, OKW is the most spacious. My daughter is only 14, but I'm so hoping we can do her wedding there :-) We did our first cruise last June and loved that too! DVC was the best investment we ever made! Just wish we didn't live so freaking far away! Good thing we can usually fly out on our own!
    thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks for that, Amy.

    Lotta great memories in there. :)

  6. amy, why do your posts always make me tear up?? you gotta stop that ;-)

    great post as usual!

  7. We've never stayed at OKW and the refurbished rooms have really captured my interest. Maybe in 2012?

  8. Always wanted to stay there


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