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Showing posts with label Disney World Hotels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Disney World Hotels. Show all posts

I took a somewhat unplanned trip to Disney World at the beginning of January. After our December trip and being sad that Christian and I wouldn't be back until February, my friend jokingly said "you're welcome to join me Marathon weekend." Don't have to tempt me twice, haha! Sadly I had to leave Christian at home because he didn't want to take days off work.

We were originally staying at Pop Century Resort, old faithful, but a week before the trip we saw our dates pop up on a DVC Rental Facebook group for Disney's Old Key West Resort. We paid $865 for 4 nights by renting DVC points versus $2,043 booking directly through Disney. It ended up being cheaper than our Pop Century cost!



This resort was one of the lower on my list because it's a bit far from some of the parks and isn't in a theme I'm super excited about. But I'm glad I finally stayed here because I do want to stay at all the Disney World Resorts at some point. 


Since the resort is so big, we got to take a golf cart to our room with our luggage so we didn't have to lug it the whole way to the room. You can also request this service on your checkout day as well.  They carts are a little noisy but it was so fun! It's the little things, I guess, ha ha.



The rooms are in small buildings that house a few rooms each. We were on the second floor of our building. Be warned, there are no elevators at this resort so if you need accessibility accommodations make sure you let that be known. The ice stations are also not part of the buildings. We saw some at the various bus stops and I believe I read there are some by the pools as well.



The main form of transportation besides driving yourself or using rideshare is buses. Because the resort is so big there is an internal bus loop as well as buses to the parks. The bus stops are as follows:

  • Peninsular Road
  • Old Turtle Pond Road (this was our stop!)
  • South Point
  • Miller’s Road
  • Hospitality House / North Cove

Heading to the parks the bus stops in the above order, the same with returning from the parks. If you're coming from Disney Springs it will stop at the hospitality house first on the way back. It takes around 10-15 minutes to do the internal loop through Disney's Old Key West Resort. Once the bus leaves the resort at the Hospitality House, it takes about 10-15 minutes to arrive at Epcot or Disney's Hollywood Studios and 15-20 minutes to arrive at Magic Kingdom Park or Disney's Animal Kingdom Park.



Heading to Disney Springs? There's a boat dock by the hospitality building that will take you over to the Marketplace entrance of Disney Springs. There are also buses, but if you want a more fun ride, and have some time to kill, take the boat. It takes about 15 minutes once you're on a boat.



It is also possible to walk to Disney Springs from the resort. It is a little over a mile and a quarter (1.3 to be exact) and you'll be walking along the water. This trail, called Conch Flats Trail, will take you to the entrance near near Cirque du Soleil.


Olivia's Cafe

Olivia's is well known for their tasty breakfast, more specifically their buttermilk fried chicken. I had only ever heard good things so I was very excited for our breakfast. Unfortunately, I should have looked at photos before ordering because the breakfast version came with a huge ladle full of southern gravy on it that wasn't listed on the menu. It was listed for the "lunch" version so I assumed that meant it wasn't on breakfast. I didn't want to make a big deal so I scraped it off the best I could but was left a little unsatisfied because I lost a lot of the crispy breading. The Olivia's Breakfast Potatoes also weren't what I was expecting, I assumed a dry seasoned potato but they had a sauce. So make sure you look at photos to make sure you'll enjoy the offerings. I'll get the pancakes next time, haha!


Good's Food to Go

This was Caleb's go to spot for breakfast and late dinners. I actually didn't end up eating here at all because I wanted to save for snacks and breakfast in the park (and when we had dinner at the hotel I ate somewhere else.) Next time I'll make sure to grab something from here too. The breakfast did look very good, I just wanted my Cheshire cat tail from Magic Kingdom instead, haha! They stay open until 10pm if you need a quick bite after a long park day!

Gurgling Suitcase Libations and Spirits

This is mainly a bar but on one of our evenings I got the Savory Hushpuppies which are also available at Olivia's. I opted for no key lime mustard on mine. They were very good, I even brought a few home for Christian to try and they traveled pretty well. It was a little pricey at $14 since I also had to tip the bartender even though I just grabbed them for takeout. They are usually open until 11pm, but hours may vary.

Turtle Shack Poolside Snacks

We did not eat here on our stay but they have basic food items as well as a bar. Grab a pizza, sandwich or even a cheese board while you relax by the pool.



We did not take advantage of any pools on our trip, but there are three "leisure" pools in the Old Turtle Pond, South Point and Miller’s Road sections. There is also the feature pool, aptly called Sandcastle Pool because it has a huge sandcastle slide.

Sporting Activities

Old Key West also has Tennis and Pickleball courts, a basketball court AND a volleyball court for those wanting some fun competition during their stay.  The Lake Buena Vista golf course is also visible from the Resort grounds. More information including how to book a tee time can be found on the Disney website.


If you want to do a little fishing you can pay for a 2-hour or 4-hour excursion. According to the Disney website you can choose from Guided Bass Fishing Excursions that can accommodate up to 5 Guests, and a tournament-style NITRO® bass fishing boat for up to 3 Guests. Excursions include a guide, rod and reel, tackle and bait.


As with other Disney hotels there are various activities to take part in. Campfires with s'mores, movies under the stars and much more! Be sure to check at the lobby to see what types of fun they are hosting while you're there.

As I mentioned in my last Disney hotel post, when Christian and I ran the Wine & Dine 5K we did a split stay starting at The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (see that post here) for one night and finishing with three nights at Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. We rented Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points for this stay and paid $458.25 per night - our portion was $305.50 per night splitting with my friend. The same room booked through Disney would have been $961 per night. Wild!!


I have been looking forward to staying at the Polynesian resort for so long! The theming is inspired by the South Pacific and that vibe can be felt throughout all the buildings and grounds of the resort. Poly was one of the opening day resorts along with Disney's Contemporary Resort on October 1, 1971, so it's rich with Disney history!


We stayed in a DVC room in the Moorea building and loved it. Oddly enough, our favorite part was the bathrooms! There is one full bathroom with a tub and shower combo and one shower room with a sink and counter. This made it so much easier for our group of three to get ready in the mornings and get ready for bed at night.



Many guests stay at The Polynesian because of the convenience of the Monorail. It is the quickest way to get to Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. You can also visit any of the other Monorail Resorts (Disney's Contemporary Resort and Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) this way. 


The quickest way to get to EPCOT and Magic Kingdom is actually to walk to the Ticket & Transportation Center and catch the EPCOT or Magic Kingdom monorail from there. That way you aren't having to get on and off the monorail waiting in double the lines. We were staying in the Moorea building which is VERY close to the monorail, it took us less than 5 minutes to walk, just as fast as getting to the Ceremonial House (aka main building/lobby.)


If you're heading to EPCOT and want to start your monorail journey at the Polynesian stop you'll have to switch monorails at the Ticket and Transportation Center. Magic Kingdom is the second stop after Grand Floridian on the Resort line.  


Buses are the only way (besides rideshare or driving) to get to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. We did not utilize the buses on our trip as we spent most of our time at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. I will note that once park hopping restrictions end it will be possible to monorail to EPCOT, walk to the back of the park and then take the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios. But that would take longer than the bus so I wouldn't advice it unless you really hate buses.



If you'd really want you can take the mile and a half-ish walk from Magic Kingdom to  The Grand Floridian and then a walking path from The Grand Floridian to the Polynesian. As of November 2023 the paths between resorts were closed due to construction.



By far the most popular restaurant at the resort thanks to it's character breakfast and all you can eat dinner. After this trip we have now had breakfast and dinner here. Breakfast was super fun with Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and Pluto coming around for photos. They have all the traditional breakfast items - Mickey/Stitch waffles, sausages, spiced potatoes, eggs, fruit and biscuits. There is also a pineapple bread and Hawaiian-style ham. 

Dinner is our favorite thanks to the endless 'Ohana noodles, potstickers and more! I also enjoyed the shrimp and Chimichurri chicken. The banana bread pudding was one of Christian’s favorite bites of the trip.

Tambu Lounge – Great Ceremonial House

We had dinner here on one of our evenings because they have the famous Ohana noodles and bread pudding as well as the pot stickers. This is a great way to get some of Ohana's signature dishes without having to pay the $62 price tag. We even had a view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks from our seats. It is mainly a bar, but as mentioned above you can also get some small bites. Christian wanted to go back but I insisted we try the resorts other restaurants first, ha ha!

Capt. Cook’s

This is Polynesian's quick service restaurant. We ate here a couple times. The first time I had the Aloha Pork Sandwich and Christian had Pulled Pork Nachos. Both were tasty but the bottom bun on my sandwich got a little mushy. The day we left for the airport I had the chicken tenders and Christian tried the Thai Coconut Meatballs. Sadly the meatballs weren't very flavorful.

Pineapple Lanai

A simple snack window where you can pick up some Dole Whip. We grabbed a vanilla pineapple swirl. I think occasionally they have other flavors, but our only options were pineapple, vanilla or swirl. We enjoyed our Dole Whip in the Trader Sam's Tiki Terrace area before they opened at 3.

Kona Café/Kona Island

We had breakfast at Kona Café on our second morning. I got the Big Kahuna Sampler plate so I could try a bit of everything (macadamia nut pancakes, french toast, bacon, sausage, ham and potatoes.) Everything was really good, but I did not have room for it all. Christian had the Tonga Toast which is stuffed with bananas. Kona Island is right next store and offers pastries for breakfast and sushi for lunch & dinner.

Oasis Bar & Grill / Barefoot Pool Bar

Pool bars with some light eats and drinks. Waiters will walk around to take orders or you can go up to the counter to order. We did not utilize these but did see some tasty sounding items on the Oasis Bar & Grill menu.

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto/Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace

Trader Sam's is one of the harder places to get into. On our visit we got in line at around 1:15 so we could put our names on the walk-up reservation list at 2pm. The bar doesn't open until 3 but we were in line early enough that we were one of the first groups seated. We got mocktails but if you get one of the fancier drinks it comes with a "show." One drink has your server drag themselves over to you like a zombie. Another is pulling a "pearl" cup out of Shelly the clam. By far the most popular interaction is for the Uh-Oa. I won't spoil it for you, but it's pretty intense. If you don't need the ambience and theatrics, you can head to the Tiki Terrace outside for the same drinks.



There are two pools at The Polynesian. The main pool is the Lava Pool complete with, you guessed it, a volcano slide! We sat here for a few minutes to enjoy the ambience (and children's laughter) before moving over to the Oasis Pool for a swim. The Oasis pool is a quiet pool so you won't have to worry about kids playing loudly or splashing. Both pools also have hot tubs. You can even head to a sandy beach overlooking Seven Seas Lagoon!


As with all other Disney resorts there is more to do than just eat, sleep and go in the pool! There are pool activities, s'mores campfires, movies on a big screen outside and much more. Looking for some exercise? There are jogging trails and volleyball courts too. You can even go fishing or rent pontoon boats to drive yourselves OR hire a boat for a fireworks cruise and enjoy the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the water with snacks and soda. Don't forget to watch out for the Electrical Water Pageant!

When Christian and I ran the Wine & Dine 5K at the beginning of November we did a split stay starting at The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa for one night and finishing with three nights at Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. We rented Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points for this stay and paid $458.25 per night - our portion was $305.50 per night splitting with my friend. The same room booked through Disney would have been $958 for one night. Talk about savings!


For many, the Grand Floridian is the dream resort stay on a Walt Disney World trip. It's gorgeous, upscale design makes you feel like a rich aristocrat and it's very close to Magic Kingdom Park, there's even a walking path from the hotel! 


We stayed in the DVC building which is a short walk away from the main building. It is themed to Mary Poppins and has the most adorable penguin fountain in the center.  This building felt close enough to all the action of the larger building but was quieter and felt more private. Our room even had a view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks (we paid for a standard view.) 

A quick video tour of our room:

One of the best times to visit this resort, even if you aren't staying there is the Gingerbread House and shop during the holiday season! We happened to arrive the weekend they were assembling the gingerbread house and we were able to sample some of the gingerbread for free! Once the house opens officially there is a little shop inside where you can purchase shingles, ornaments and more made out of gingerbread! On our visit we even got to see them sprinkling the powdered sugar snow on top, so much fun!



Most guests stay at The Grand Floridian because of the Monorail. It is the quickest way to get to Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. All you have to do is make your way to the lobby, go up to the second floor and walk out to the monorail! You'll go through security here so there's no need to wait in the (sometimes) crazy long lines at the front of the parks. Magic Kingdom is the first stop after Grand Floridian. If you're heading to EPCOT you'll have to switch monorails at the Ticket and Transportation Center. You can also visit any of the other Monorail Resorts (Disney's Contemporary Resort and Disney's Polynesian Village Resort) this way.


Buses are the only way (besides rideshare or driving) to get to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. The bus station is easy to find and there are a couple benches if you get there early enough. We did not utilize the normal buses on this trip as we spent our day there at Magic Kingdom and the 5K. I will note that once park hopping restrictions end it will be possible to monorail to EPCOT, walk to the back of the park and then take the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios. But that would take longer than the bus so I wouldn't advice it unless you really hate buses.



If you'd rather avoid lines and crowds there is also a walking path from The Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom. Sadly it was under construction during our visit so we couldn't test it out. I believe it is tabout three quarters of a mile long, so not horrible considering you would still have to walk and stand in lines to get to other forms of Disney transportation at the end of the evening.


Grand Floridian Café

Christian and I dined here for breakfast in May 2022 with his Mom. We figured it was a perfect Mother's Day activity so she could feel special. The food here is very simple, easy breakfast food so it will please most in your party. I had the waffle and it came with an amazing orange butter - SO GOOD.

Enchanted Rose

I was hoping to visit this lounge on our trip but we tried to pack in so many other things we ended up skipping it. The lounge opens at 3 and we didn't feel like leaving a park at such a random time to make it there for opening/less crowds. Hopefully we'll make some time for it on our next trip because I want to try their Warm Marinated Olives.

Gasparilla Island Grill

We stopped in at Gasparilla Island Grill for a late lunch on our September trip. I had the Pepperoni Flatbread which was just okay. Christian had the Blackened Chicken Sandwich. This is the Grand Floridian's quick service restaurant so it's basically grab and go items, nothing super fancy. They will have themed desserts based on the season which are fun.

Beaches Pool Bar & Grill

Christian and I quickly stopped here on our arrival day to grab a quick chicken tender lunch before heading off to the runDisney Expo. We can't comment on the drinks, but the chicken tenders and dipping sauces were great. Our server was also wonderful and we had some laughs due to wind blowing everything around the bar. We would definitely stop here again.

1900 Park Fare 

Not reopened as of November 2023

I ate at 1900 Park Fare back in October 2018 on my 30th birthday trip. My friend Kristen and I went for the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast with Mary Poppins, Pooh, Tigger, Alice in Wonderland and The Mad Hatter! They have everything from Mickey waffles and fresh fruit to eggs, french toast, cinnamon rolls and so much more! See my full post on it for more details. I hope it makes a triumphant return soon!



Cítricos was our first dinner on this most recent trip. I was really looking forward to it but we were personally a little underwhelmed with what we got for the price. The theming of the restaurant is subtle nods to Mary Poppins which I LOVED. We were also obsessed with the bread service and salted butter and asked for more - one of the breads had bacon and olives in it. I had the sustainable fish with chorizo risotto. It was good, just not $48 good. Christian felt the same about his $52 short ribs; good but not mind-blowing. We also had a Zero-Proof  Old Fashioned Orange Soda Float which was fun!



We have not eaten here yet, but Narcoossee's is definitely on my list of "fancy" restaurants to try. Christian and I usually do one upscale restaurant per trip for our budget's sake so we skipped it this past trip in favor of Cítricos.


Garden View Tea Room

Not reopened as of November 2023

This is a traditional tea room that serves up a fun afternoon tea! I have not tried it yet but would like to in the future. I believe they used to do morning and afternoon teas and even a tea with a Disney Princess for all the little ones!

Victoria & Albert’s

This is our dream dining experience. I have been trying to get us reservations here for every one of our past few trips. So far, no luck. Maybe for our Valentine's trip in February?! Send me all the good vibes.



Since we were only here for an overnight we skipped out on the pool even though we brought our bathing suits this trip.  The Grand Floridian has two pools - the Beach Pool and Courtyard Pool.  There is also an Alice in Wonderland Water Play Area for kids to cool down in.


When staying at The Grand Floridian guests can take part in numerous activities. There's an arcade, boat rentals, campfires complete with s'mores, pool games and more! For $49 per half-hour you and up to 9 other people can rent a pontoon boat to ride around Seven Seas Lagoon. 


There are also fireworks cruises you can book to view the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the water. Each cruise ($449+) includes the services of a captain and assorted snacks and soft drinks. Festive banners and balloons are also included in the cost and can be requested at the time of booking. One day I'd love to do this with a group of friends.

Some more photos around the resort.

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