Old Key West Photo Tour

by Brian Bennett, contributing writer

Join me for a photo tour of the Old Key West Resort!

Photo by Brian Bennett.

Old Key West Resort opened in 1992 as the Vacation Club Resort. Since then, the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) has grown to include resorts in Vero Beach, Florida, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and several Walt Disney World locations including the Boardwalk Villas, Villas at Wilderness Lodge, and the Villas at the Beach Club Resort, and Saratoga Springs Resort. Last October, Disney announced the construction of Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas, and it's rumored that two new Walt Disney Resorts are currently under construction at the Contemporary Resort and at Disneyland Resort's Grand Californian Hotel.

The Old Key West Resort was renamed from "The Disney Vacation Club Resort" to "The Disney Vacation Club at Walt Disney World Resort" in 1995 when the Vero Beach Resort opened, and then to its current title in 1996 when the Boardwalk Villas opened.

Photo by Brian Bennett.

A breezeway opens into the main guest services area of the resort. Immediately to the left in this picture is the Conch Flats General Store. Hospitality House, the resort's check-in center, is to the right. Beyond is Turtle Krawl, the boardwalk that connects many of the resort's main facilities.

The breezeway provides an inviting scene at the main guest services area of the resort. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The Hospitality House contains the front desk and guest services. The area gets quite crowded in the mid mid-afternoon, when people are busy trying to check-in. Generally, this room is much less busy.

Photo by Brian Bennett.

Next to the check-in area in Hospitality House is a little model of the Florida East Coast Railway Long Key Viaduct, which was built around 1912. This G-gauge model was built by William E. Hitchcock and honors the rail system in place early in the 20th century in South Florida.

A model of the Florida East Coast Railway Long Key Viaduct sits next to the check-in area in the Hospitality House. Photo by Brian Bennett.

At the far end of Hospitality House is Papa's Den, a relatively quiet place where you can just grab a book and sit for awhile. Note the marlin over the fireplace mantel.

The typical TV with Disney video provides a place to let the kids hang out while the parents handle check-in chores. Photo by Brian Bennett.

As comfortable as Papa's Den is, I've never seen this place very busy. Most resort guests are out using the pools or visiting the parks, I suppose. Now if we really were in Key West, I can see spending hours in a cool shaded place like this enjoying some down time.

Old Key West is themed to be Conch Flats, a well-maintained part of Key West. Here is the Conch Flats General Store. It's smaller than many resort stores at WDW, but since Old Key West Resort is a smaller resort than most (with only about 700 rooms), it's appropriate.

Typical resort ware is available at the Conch Flats General Store. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The store sells logo merchandise as well as some grossly overpriced grocery items. Even Goodings, a couple of miles to the northeast, is less pricey. However, the General Store is convenient if you just need something to tide you over for a few days.

For some reason, the Conch Flats General Store always has had a better-than-average selection of snacks and food items, even in comparison to stores at other DVC resorts. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The nautical theming of the resort is strongly evident in the general store. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Key West (the real one), became a huge money-maker for salvagers. Raising and recycling shipwrecks that happened to come to grief on the local reefs provided fortunes for several Key West residents in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Pieces from some ill-fated ship are used to decorate the entrance to Olivia's Cafe in honor of that old industry.

The entrance to Olivia's Cafe is decorated with nautical items. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Just inside at Olivia's is an interesting thing: A "Family Album" with many, many pictures of families of DVC members, which serves as a strong reminder that Old Key West is primarily a membership resort, although rooms are available on a cash basis.

The "Family Album" showcases faces of DVC members. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Desert looked good this afternoon. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Olivia's Cafe serves excellent food, although the service tends to be a bit slow. Meat, seafood, and pasta dishes are available.

Olivia's Cafe serves excellent food. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The resort has a marina, and guests can enjoy various boats on the waterways. You can, of course, rent large pontoon boats as well as several smaller craft.

Old Key West Resort includes a marina. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The Disney folks run a regular transport service—formerly called the Trumbo Ferry—that takes passengers down the Trumbo Canal (thus the old name), which connects up to the Sassagoula River (which is run past the Port Orleans Resorts) and down beyond the old tree house villas to Saratoga Springs Resort. After making a stop there, the ferry continues on to Downtown Disney located on Buena Vista Lagoon.

The Trumbo Ferry transports guests from the resort to various places. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Take a close look. The ferry (in light blue and yellow) is docked relative to the rest of the marina on the far left in the next picture.

Old Key West Resort includes a marina. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The resort also includes Turtle Krawl. Olivia's Cafe is to the left, the marina (out of the picture), to the right. The Gurgling Suitcase and Goods Food To Go are roughly centered in the picture.

Old Key West Resort includes "Turtle Krawl," a walkway with eateries. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The Gurgling Suitcase is the resort's walk-up bar. This is very much in style with the local bars at Key West, down south. I don't think there is a bar with a more colorful name in all of Walt Disney World.

The Gurgling Suitcase is a bar at the Old Key West Resort. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Compared to Olivia's Cafe, Good's Food to Go is a much simpler counter service venue serving sandwiches and snacks. It's busiest during the early afternoon with the pool crowd.

Good's Food To Go provides counter service. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Continuing down Turtle Krawl is the Electric Eel game room, Community Hall (a multipurpose room often holding DVC member events), the resort's exercise room, "Hank's" rental center, tennis and shuffleboard courts, and beach volleyball are also available for resort guests.

The Turtle Krawl includes the Electric Eel game room. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The Turtle Krawl includes a community hall. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Guests can rent bicycles at the Old Key West Resort. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The resort's fitness center is located at the Turtle Krawl. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The resort's tennis courts are accessed from the Turtle Krawl. Photo by Brian Bennett.

On the other side of Turtle Krawl, across from Olivia's, Good's, and the Suitcase is the main pool area. It's not a strongly themed pool, like some at WDW, but it's a good size and well-maintained. I'd say it's less fancy than Doubloon Lagoon at Port Orleans and far less extravagant than Stormalong Bay at the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts. Just in the last couple of years the new sandcastle slide has been built, which in my opinion makes this an even better pool than the ones at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and the Contemporary Resort.

The main pool area also has a small kiddie pool and a playground area with a lot of sand for the little ones to enjoy. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The main pool at the Old Key West Resort is nicer than some. Photo by Brian Bennett.

A new sand castle slide provides a new feature to the pool. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The slide includes a not-so-hidden Mickey. Photo by Brian Bennett.

In addition to the Hospitality House and Turtle Krawl area, there are more features to this extended resort.

The resort's lighthouse provides a great sauna bath and some great atmosphere at night when the light is slowly spinning.

Photo by Brian Bennett.

Building 23 has a a typical building exterior.

Photo by Brian Bennett.

Scattered around the resort, in addition to the main pool, are three "quiet" pools. This one, in between buildings 41 and 42, is unique because it also has Turtle Shack Snack Shop adjacent to it. The quiet pool by buildings 55 and 56 has a nice view of the Trumbo Canal, and the quiet pool on Millers Road, between buildings 19 and 20 is probably the least busy of the bunch.

One of three quiet pools at the resort. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The Turtle Shack is a little snack shop, providing a nice perk for the folks staying along Old Turtle Pond Road.

The Turtle Shack provides snacks for guests. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Each of the pool areas have buildings with laundry services, and so on.

A typical example of a laundry room near the pool area. Photo by Brian Bennett.

For many of the units, parking is just a few steps away. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Here's the South Point Pool...

Photo by Brian Bennett.

...and the view of the Trumbo Canal just beyond it.

Photo by Brian Bennett.

Returning to Old Key West was bittersweet. My wife and I had been Disney Vacation Club members based at Old Key West for many years, but sold off that membership in 2003 when we moved down to Central Florida. Walking and driving around the resort brought back some wonderful memories.

Someday, we just might buy back in.