Saratoga Springs vs Old Key West

Saratoga Springs
Saratoga Springs Sunset” by Edward Russell licensed under CC BY 2.0

When it comes to picking the right Walt Disney World hotel, the options are endless. You can pick anything from the budget-friendly All-Star Resorts (like the All Star Movies or All Star Music Resort, for example) to a night of luxury at The Grand Floridian.

While the options are endless two resorts that may be on your radar but you’re not sure about what you’re looking for. Today we’ll be comparing Saratoga Springs vs Old Key West—a battle of the newer Disney Vacation Club resorts vs the first Disney Vacation Club resort.

Let’s find out which one is best for your needs.  To begin, let’s quickly break down what each resort brings to the table for guests.

Old Key West

  • Opened in 1991.
  • Its theme is “turn of the century” Key West.
  • Located in the Disney Springs Resort Area
  • Divided into five guest areas, the main guest with a large pool and activity center. 
  • Has two restaurants, a quick service location, and a pool bar. 

Saratoga Springs 

  • Opened in 2004. 
  • Its theme is 1800s upstate New York, specifically horse racing. 
  • Located in the Disney Springs Resorts area. 
  • 65-acres divided into five guest areas, the main guest house with a large pool and activity center.
  • Has two restaurants and three poolside grills. 
  • A spa. 
  • Access to the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course. 
  • Two feature pools with water slides.

Saratoga Springs vs Old Key West

Looking at the specifics of each hotel, they’re very close in what they offer as they are DVC hotels. Both hotels offer villa-style rooms, which at the most basic have a kitchenette up to full-size grand villas which have multiple rooms and bathrooms as well as a full-size kitchen. 

Location is also similar due to their location near Disney Springs, as both can be accessed by boat from Disney Springs, and both have bus services. When it comes to Saratoga Springs and Old Key West, it’s about what you may want or not want when it comes to your stay.

The biggest differences between the hotels come with their offerings to guests, as Saratoga Springs takes an edge with their full working spa called Senses. If you’re traveling with no kids, looking for a relaxing couples weekend the spa is a great option. 

There is a better dining selection that includes The Turf Bar and Grill, which includes The Turf Club Lounge. There is also The Artist’s Palette and The Paddock Grill which offer quick service options for you. 

While Saratoga Springs dominates with its offerings, Old Key West has some of the largest villa sizes for the DVC resorts. As of publication, the resort is currently undergoing a renovation, so the rooms will feel newer than they did previously. 

Like other resorts that have undergone the updates, Old Key West will get new flooring, new window coverings, updating bathrooms, updating of electronics and fixtures. The lobby will also be getting a facelift during this renovation. So the rooms will have a newer feeling when it’s done. 

Dining is a bit more sparse at Old Key West. Its main restaurant is Olivia’s and is the only sit-down restaurant the hotel has.  It also has Gurgling Suitcase Libations & Spirits which does offer lunch and dinner. The other food options are Good’s Food To Go and the Turtle Shack Poolside Snacks. 

Both hotels are what DVC refers to as Grand Villas. These rooms have three bedrooms and sleep 12 adults, so there are plenty of options for those traveling with larger parties. Both resorts offer a deluxe studio option for smaller parties that sleep, four adults. 

Pricing at Saratoga Springs begins as low as $300 to $2,737 for a grand villa. The location of the room will also affect this pricing as well as the season. So it’s something to keep in mind when booking the rooms. 

Disney's Old Key West Resort
2008 OKW (57)” by Flickr mjurn licensed under CC BY 2.0

Transportation for Both Resorts

When it comes to transportation, both hotels have similar offerings, as there is Disney bus and water transportation (though the water transportation only serves Disney Springs for both resorts). The main form of transportation to the parks is the bus, and both hotels have several stops. So if you’re planning a long day at the parks the bus option may not be the best choice. 

Both Old Key West and Saratoga Springs are divided into five guest areas, along with the stops at the main lobby making it six stops. This can take some time with guest loading and off-loading during the busy times of the day. So it is something to consider. 

Along with that is the distance from the hotels themselves to the parks. 

Here is a breakdown of miles to each park, although keep in mind that this is just an approximation. This may not reflect the actual routes taken by Disney buses, but more of a general idea. 

  • Saratoga Springs to Magic Kingdom: 6 miles 
  • Old Key West to Magic Kingdom: 5 miles 
  • Saratoga Springs to Epcot: 3 miles 
  • Old Key West to Epcot: 2.5 miles 
  • Saratoga Springs to Hollywood Studios: 3 miles 
  • Old Key West to Hollywood Studios: 4 miles 
  • Saratoga Springs to Animal Kingdom: 7 miles 
  • Old Key West to Animal Kingdom: 6 miles 

Theming of Both Resorts

Another thing both hotels have in common is the theming. Unlike an All-Star Resort, the theming at these resorts is much more subtle. In that sense, these resorts are much more “grown up,” as the All Star Resorts are very much bold, colorful and character-heavy.  

Saratoga Springs is very true to its upstate New York turn of the century look, with horses dotting the facades of the buildings, gazebos with carousel motifs, and even a racehorse to welcome you at the aptly named carriage house. 

While at Old Key West the feel is very much island vibes, if you’ve been to the Florida Keys the feel is the same. Bright pastel-colored buildings, rattan furniture, and lots of woods make you feel like you just strolled off of Duval Street down one of the residential streets in Key West. “Welcome Home” is truly embodied at Old Key West. 

As for the noise level, both resorts are similar.  Outside of the occasional rowdy houseguest nearby, the hotels are pretty quiet. The resorts don’t also deal with the sound of fireworks as some others do due to their proximity to the parks. The worst you may get is people coming back to their rooms as well after enjoying a night at Disney Springs, but all-in-all these rooms are quiet. 

As for accessibility, Old Key West does not have elevators (well, except for building numbers 62, 63 and 64, which are along Miller’s Road) and you’ll need to take the stairs to your room.  So it is definitely something to keep in mind if you are traveling with someone who uses a mobility aid (or maybe you just don’t want to take your stroller up three flights of stairs after a long day at the parks). 

Saratoga Springs does have elevators, so it is a bit better in that regard. If you need any accessibility help, Disney will accommodate you and help you out, so don’t worry too much about that.

So when it comes to Saratoga Springs vs Old Key West, the decision is solely based on what you are looking for. The hotels are similar in many regards and don’t have much that puts one over the other. 

For me I’d choose Saratoga Springs, as I find the rooms are more updated, the location near Disney Springs is a plus as well as close to off-property offerings (if you’re looking to keep a stocked kitchen). Not to mention the unique experience of the Treehouse Villas, which we’ll get to in the very next section.

Saratoga Springs Treehouse Villas

The Treehouse Villas are unique to Saratoga Springs and are well hidden behind a lush forest. The only way the actual buildings are visible is from the river leading to and from the hotel. From the road that winds along the golf course, it’s just a lush wall of trees and a modest sign. 

So to start there are 60 of the villas and sit 10-feet above the ground. 

The buildings are shaped like octagons and feature three bedrooms with a full kitchen and communal living area, perfect for an adventurous family. If you ever wanted to feel like an Ewok this is the experience for you, at least until the Star Cruiser opens up in 2022

The villas were opened in 1975 and were originally used as mixed community space, before being used for the International College Program students. 

While the hotel is part of Saratoga Springs, the Treehouse Villas feel a world of their own with the forest backdrop and being close to the tops of the smaller trees on the land.

The Villas sleep up to nine adults and have two bathrooms for those staying there. The decor is rustic and leans heavily on using wood accents as well as stone tiles to give you an updated feel. The treehouses also have their pool, though visitors can take a shuttle to Saratoga Springs and use the two feature pools there as well as the smaller quiet pools if they so wish. 

Pricing for the Treehouse Villas ranges from about $900 to about $1,680 depending on the season. 

While it is a unique experience the biggest downside is park transportation. With both the treehouses and Saratoga Springs being some five-plus miles to the parks, with the treehouses you need to take a shuttle to Saratoga Springs to wait for a bus if you don’t have a car. 

That is something to consider if you’re going to be picking the treehouses, so it would be best to have a car you can use to ensure you aren’t losing time if you’ve never been to the parks. 

Old Key West Pricing

Price points for the two hotels are similar, with both hotels being DVC and what Disney refers to as “Deluxe Villas.” 

For Old Key West, room rates can range from about $300 to nearly $2,500 for a grand villa. All these prices are without taxes and fees usually tacked on, so expect to pay a bit more after all that is calculated. 

Rates also will go up depending on the time of year holiday season seeing the highest prices beginning in December until early January. Prices also go up during Spring Break and summers. 

Rooms can also be more expensive if booked last minute so that is something to keep in mind when it comes to pricing. Most of the pricing does cover your stay in those large comfortable rooms, so it’s based on your needs. A Deluxe Studio for a couple is great while a one-bedroom villa could work for a small family. 

Length of stay is also something to consider. A larger room is more beneficial for longer days especially with a full kitchen, what you pay for the room will help you save on meals in the park with the kitchen. Some of my best memories were eating pizza made in the hotel just chatting with my parents on the longer trips to Disney. 

It is something to consider when booking your room, though just getting a cheaper room is also an option since you may only use the room for sleeping and want to make sure you get as much park time as possible. 

Best Disney World Hotel?

Would I call these two the best Disney World hotel options available from the various choices you have? 

Well…yes and no. 

Why yes?  Well, because they’re modern and beautiful, but also great for couples. 

Why no?  Well, mostly due to the distance to the parks, which could turn you off. If this is your 100th visit it likely isn’t for you, but if it’s 1st visit? Then you’d likely want something that packs more of a punch. They do offer some good spaces if you’re traveling with family and if you need a lot of room. Another benefit of having these rooms is the kitchen, you get a full-sized kitchen in some of the larger villas, which is a great way to save money on your trip. 

Again, in the end, the choice comes in what you’re looking for in a hotel and if you want a good location to have a base for your family and even spend one or two days out of the parks this is a great way to do it. 

Now while both Old Key West and Saratoga Springs are great, the best Disney World hotel for me actually goes to the Disney’s Beach Club.

Did I just throw you a curveball?! Why the Beach Club, you might ask? Well, for one, if you enjoy swimming at pools (or just lounging around them), then Stormalong Bay at the Beach Club is a winner. This pool is one of the best on property. The pool is three acres. 

Within those three acres, you have a sand-bottom pool and you can take the plunge on a shipwreck replica slide that is 230-feet-long. Not to mention the lazy river. 

This pool to me is the coolest of the DVC resorts and just packs it all in for the kids and family. You can do a whole day at this pool and it’ll be worth it. Plus once you’re done you can jump over to Beaches and Cream and get the kitchen sink. 

Out of all the DVC resorts, this one is my favorite. I love the New England feel of the buildings and just the great turn-of-the-century feel. Plus you can walk to EPCOT, which is my favorite park. 

To me this is a great benefit as you can stroll and watch the fireworks without having to go to the park and on top of that, you can get the same benefits from Saratoga Springs and Old Key West with a great experience. 

This resort is also good for its location to other resorts like The Boardwalk Inn and the Swan and Dolphin. If you’re traveling without kids these resorts offer some more grown-up entertainment options like Jellyrolls and Atlantic Dance Hall when they reopen as well as some late-night bar options. 

The large rooms are available, as well as the club level and deluxe level villas so it’s the same experience with that punch I mentioned earlier. If you’re traveling with kids you get a great excuse to skip the park while they play at the pool so you can relax nearby. It’s also a great way to skip the water parks if you weren’t planning on visiting since Stormalong Bay is in a sense is a water park. 

Again this is a resort that does not have a huge Disney theme. Think of going on vacation to Cape Cod in Massachusetts and that’s the feel here. So be prepared for that any Disney theming will be subtle, but you’re in a great location here. Like I said you get the benefit of the villa-style rooms, but you’re within walking distance to EPCOT so there is that. 

There is also the boat to Hollywood Studios and the Monorail at EPCOT to Magic Kingdom so you have some great ways of getting around. Not to mention the newly opened skyway is another great way to get around from EPCOT to Hollywood Studios. It’s just a short walk from the hotel to the International Gateway to catch the Skyliner. 

This hotel will likely have more noise than Old Key West and Saratoga, as people return from the parks the hallways may get a bit noisier and on top of that if you didn’t go to the park you’ll have to hear the fireworks if your room is facing the lagoon or close to the International gateway so it’s something to keep in mind. 

Unlike the others, this hotel is all one building so you won’t have the significant travel time to your room with individual buildings. You can easily board a bus or a boat and just walk up to your floor with minimal travel time. Though be aware, at the end of the night buses and boats are usually packed so the time spent waiting will eat into that if you don’t drive or walk from EPCOT or the Skyliner. 

There is also a bigger selection of restaurants at the Beach Club which offers Cape May Cafe, the already mentioned Beaches and Cream, Beach Club Marketplace, Hurricane Hanna’s a pool bar, and Martha’s Vineyard that has appetizers, wine, and drinks. 

The steak house is considered a signature dining location and only serves dinner, which is perfect for a date. The Ale & Compass has a lounge, as well as the restaurant, which serves all American food with a strong New England feel so another great option for date night. 

As for pricing, it’s pretty standard for a DVC hotel room, though the suites are a bit more expensive here than at Saratoga or Old Key West. 

Rooms begin in the $400 range up to about $3,000 for a suite. These prices also can vary due to season and demand for the rooms so that is something to keep in mind. 

As mentioned before, sometimes Florida Residents and pass holders may be able to snag a deal so keep your eyes out for that. 

At the end of it, all the hotels you choose will be based on what you’re looking for. In my opinion, almost all hotels are a great choice as you get the world-class service Disney is known for, so that is a plus. You get complimentary transportation and almost all hotels have some extra activities included like being able to watch movies for free, and others with some small fees like kid’s craft activities. 

Most hotels also offer adult activities so you can enjoy those as well without the kids and of course recreation options like golf, boat rentals, and even fishing. 

Whatever you choose it’ll likely be magical and make your vacation all that better. 

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