Planning a trip to Walt Disney World can be complicated — especially when you’re trying to choose between 25 resort hotels. If you’ve narrowed down your choices to the two original Disney Vacation Club villa properties, how do you make your final selection?
Well, we’re here to walk you through the differences between Disney’s Old Key West Resort and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.
Whether room size, location, pools, and/or restaurants are most important to you, we share the information that you’ll need to make an informed decision. After all, we want you to stay at the hotel that is best for your family!
Let’s get started and look at all the details so that you can plan your Disney trip with confidence.
There’s no doubt that Disney vacations are expensive, and no one wants buyer’s remorse when it comes to what can usually be the most EXPENSIVE part of your Disney trip. We’re approaching this chaos-agent of a decision with as much logic as possible, so we’re breaking it down into five categories:
- Common Ground
Before we mention their differences, let’s take a look at what Old Key West and Saratoga Springs have in common. First, both are Deluxe Villa Resorts, so they offer many of the same perks. In addition, you’ll find that room sizes and nightly rates are very similar. These hotels can be booked by Disney Vacation Club members or cash-paying guests, and because of their immense size, rooms are often available!
Each have a large resort layout that consists of a central lobby building with outer buildings housings the actual hotel rooms. The themeing at both locations is subtle when compared to other resorts such as Animal Kingdom Lodge.
For Old Key West, that means that for the cheapest room at the cheapest time to visit, you can expect to pay around $457 per night (not accounting for any tax or current discounts), and it goes up to $3,081 per night (not accounting for any tax or current discounts) for the most expensive rooms at the most expensive time to visit.
For Saratoga Springs, that means that for the cheapest room at the cheapest time to visit, you can expect to pay around $451 per night (not accounting for any tax or current discounts), and it goes up to $3,477 per night (not accounting for any tax or current discounts) for the most expensive rooms at the most expensive time to visit.
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Old Key West and Saratoga Springs both offer villa-type accommodations with studio, 1-bedroom (sleep up to five), 2-bedroom, or 3-bedroom layouts. Furnishings are generally a little bit more on the higher end.
Speaking of spacious accommodations, the 3 Bedroom Grand Villas at various Disney Vacation Club properties can sleep up to 12 people! These rooms typically come with 3 bedrooms, 3 (or more) bathrooms, a (very large) full-sized kitchen, living area, dining area, and a balcony. These rooms are available first for DVC members to book, so they’re pretty difficult to score and pricing is not readily available to the public (unless you call Disney to book for a specific date).
At each resort, studios have two beds and a kitchenette. The one-to-three-bedroom villas have a full kitchen, as well as washer and dryer. If you’re looking for convenience, these amenities might make your trip a whole lot easier!
Both are large resorts with beautiful landscaping, but they do have some differences!
Old Key West
Opened in October 1991, Old Key West features a relaxed, beach vibe (minus the ocean). Picture yourself vacationing at a Caribbean-style guest house in small neighborhood-type structures. Exteriors are painted in soft hues reminiscent of the Florida Keys. Guests return here year after year because of the laid-back atmosphere and large rooms.
Yes, this resort offers generous square footage in each studio or villa. Studios are furnished with two queen beds. Two-bedroom villas sleep up to nine people. Rooms were last renovated in 2019.
Here, you’ll escape to a 19th century equestrian resort, although there aren’t any horses! Opened in May 2004, the quaint gardens add to the peaceful atmosphere.
Studios at this resort are smaller providing a queen bed and pull-down bed. Two bedrooms sleep up to 8 people.
However, the unique but very remote treehouse villas can accommodate up to nine guests.
What type of accommodations do you prefer? Both offer a relaxing atmosphere in large, spread-out resorts. If you need space, Old Key West wins out. If you want the most recently refurbished rooms, try Saratoga Springs as they were renovated in 2021. However, if you want the resort with the best thematic details, Old Key West wins hands down! There is a sense of Victorian community at Old Key West.
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When the weather is HOT or you just need a break from park queues, head to your resort pool! After all, the pools have their own unique features and special theming. Feature pools at Walt Disney World hotels usually have at least one slide and also offer poolside activities. Look at the hotel’s recreation schedule for more information. Some Disney resorts are so spread out that they also offer leisure pools. These swimming spots are family-friendly with at least one whirlpool spa. Leisure pools are quieter than the more crowded and active feature pools.
Note that poolside towels are always complimentary.
Old Key West
Sandcastle is Old Key West’s feature pool near the Hospitality House. Here, a 125-ft. waterslide traverses through a large sandcastle. Guests will love the decorative dolphins that spout water into the large pool. There’s also a relaxing whirlpool spa as well as a dry sauna located inside the nearby lighthouse. Small children will enjoy the kiddie pool. Keeping with the Florida Keys atmosphere, there is also a sandy “beach”!
At this property, there are three leisure pools — Old Turtle Pond, South Point and Miller’s Road.
This resort has two featured pools — High Rock Spring Pool and The Paddock Pool.
While High Rock Spring is currently under renovation until late March 2023, the other pools remain open for your enjoyment. Once re-opened, we expect High Rock Spring to continue to offer a fun atmosphere with waterfalls, zero-depth entry, and a 128 ft. slide. You’ll find two whirlpool spas at this location. Got kids? They’ll love the Donald Duck splash area with a fun kiddie-sized slide.
The zero-depth entry Paddock Pool showcases a slide that starts at the top of a water tower and provides 146 feet of fun! Kids can splash in the aquatic play area showcasing two small waterslides. Nearby, a horseshoe-shaped whirlpool offers a nice respite.
Leisure pools with whirlpool spas can be found at the Treehouse Villas, Congress Park, and The Grandstand.
While Saratoga Springs has more pools, we prefer the Sandcastle Pool at Old Key West. It’s a beautiful place to hang-out!
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Park days can be exhausting. Whether you’re taking a whole day to enjoy your resort, or you are relaxing after a shopping excursion at Disney Springs, once you’re at your Disney World hotel, you might not want to get back on a bus or boat for nourishment. So, you’ll want to know about the best options at your Disney World resort!
Take a look at the menus and decide which resort has the food that best suits your family.
Old Key West
Olivia’s Cafe is a relaxed and casual Table Service restaurant featuring flavors inspired by the Florida Keys.
It’s open for brunch and dinner.
Good’s Food To Go is Old Key West’s Counter Service option serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is unique with its outdoor setting made for more of a “to-go” style. However, Old Key West lacks a quick service food court with indoor seating!
The Conch Chowder is a guest favorite.
Gurgling Suitcase is a charming little bar where guests can also order full entrees from Olivia’s Cafe.
We love this little oasis.
Turtle Shack Snack Bar offers sandwiches, pizza and salads to be enjoyed poolside.
Grab a bite and spend some time at the pool!
Click HERE for our Complete Guide to Eating at Disney’s Old Key West Resort!
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa is an equestrian-themed resort, with dining options that are simultaneously relaxed and refined
The Turf Club Bar and Grill features steaks and chops — along with pasta dishes — in a lovely atmosphere created with dark woods and forest greens.
You can also enjoy spending some time at the Turf Club Lounge. (May I recommend the Mint Julep?)
Backstretch Pool Bar and On the Rocks Pool Bar serve cold specialty drinks that are perfect for relaxing by the pool on a sunny day.
The Artist’s Palette is a Counter Service option serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a spot made to resemble an artist’s studio in New York. The indoor seating is welcome on hot Florida days, chilly mornings and evenings, and during rainstorms!
Fresh sandwiches, pizza, salads and more are on offer, and the bakery case always boasts some fantastic and creative cupcakes.
The Paddock Grill is located by the Paddock Pool, offering substantial eats to enjoy poolside — even for the early risers at breakfast!
Click HERE for our Complete Guide to Eating at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort!
First, we’re going to warn you — the pickings at both resorts are rather slim. However, you’re not far from Disney Springs, which has a ton of dining options. And if you are spending a lot of time out at the parks, this category might not be as important to you as others.
We do want to note that the Turf Club at Saratoga Springs is only open for dinner. If you plan on a vacation mainly at the resort and have no interest in Disney Springs, you may want to dine at the popular Olivia’s Cafe at Old Key West as it offers table-service for brunch and dinner.
Saratoga Springs wins out for offering a larger variety of quick service options.
Are there any transportation differences with these hotels located near Disney Springs? Both resorts offer bus transportation to the theme parks at Walt Disney World. Or hop a boat to Disney Springs!
Old Key West
If you are driving to Walt Disney World or renting a car once you get to Florida, Old Key West offers the convenience of parking right in front of your villa. And with all the walking that you’ll do on vacation, this might be the right choice for your weary feet. This is especially helpful when traveling with grandparents, young children, or anyone with mobility concerns.
If you don’t mind a stroll, Disney Springs can be reached by walking.
If you have your own vehicle and plan on using it around Walt Disney World, then Old Key West wins. Otherwise, Saratoga Springs has a slight edge due to being closer to Disney Springs.
Learn all about WDW Transportation
So, where do we think you should stay? Sorry, that decision has to be up to you. It depends on the people in your traveling party and what your plans are during your stay at Walt Disney World. If larger rooms and a better theme are important to you, opt for Old Key West.
A few more considerations: Although not currently opened, Saratoga Springs does have a spa facility. Also, Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course is located on this sprawling property. Saratoga Springs wins out for folks looking for a large fitness facility that is open 24 hours. You may also want to consider that Old Key West (except for three buildings) does not have elevators. If this is an issue for you, perhaps you should choose Saratoga Springs.
If you’re seeking relaxing and don’t feel the need to rush to the parks, then Saratoga Springs or Old Key West both provide an excellent respite from the crowds. These resorts also make a great place to call home during a trip where your focus is shopping at Disney Springs!
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Where did you decide to stay? Share with us and your fellow readers!
Tina flynn says
Been a DVC member for 20 years. Old key west is the best place to stay hands down. Stayed at Saratoga springs for a visit last year. For some reason they removed the ice makers from the refrigerators. Very annoying to try and search for the ice makers.
If I was going to book a studio hands done ,without a question it would be Saratoga Springs. The reasons 1) the room amenities. Only a tiny TV in OKW. Only a tiny repainted dresser in OKW. No couch or comfortable chair to resting in. OKW only has a tiny wood table and the same tiny wooden chairs it always has had. No nice cabinets in the kitchenrtte, just shelves. Just repainted and doesn’t match the new green color that is in the new bathroom. Even the beds were painted dark brown from the original white. It no longer has the OKW light color scheme. The
light green would of kept the OKW theme. It looks like a tired motel room . The charm of the resort outside is apparent and keeps the Key West vibe alive. Another problem is food . One sit down restaurant . 1 tiny outside bar and 1 take away stand where there is only limited seating at covered picnic tables. If it’s raining ,too cold or too hot you have to take your food to your room. There are also 2 pool bars with a limited menu and no inside eating area. But OKW had a tennis court that is seldom used and a dolphin water fountain the land these occupy could be put to better use. It is so sad that DVC doesn’t improve OKW to be better suited to stay and enjoy as a the other DVC resorts.
We recently stayed in a 2 bedroom villa at Saratoga, there were 8 of us and it was small, only 1 person could really be in the kitchen at a time, living room was only big enough to have like 4 people at a time in it, everything else was fine, I would greatly recommend don’t try to squeeze the higher end onumber of people in Saratoga villas.
Just a couple more differences. The studios at Old Key West had 2 queen size beds, but no sofa. Saratoga Springs studios have one queen size bed and pull out sofa bed. So you might want to consider quality of the sleeping options or whether or not you want/need that sofa for sitting around.
And also, in all of the DVC resorts, the 3 bedroom villas have one master bedroom (king bed) and 2 other rooms with 2 queen size beds in each EXCEPT for Old Key West. One of the bedrooms only has double beds, not queen which I take into consideration depending on how many people are coming and who is going to have to share a bed.
But overall, I prefer old Key West when I can make it work for my co-vacationers.