March 9, 2008

The Best Hotel EVER!

We were in Building 49.

Now, according to the Unofficial guidebook, Building 49 was one to be avoided. Looking at the map it really is only a hop, skip, and a jump to the main road, Buena Vista Drive. They must've figured there would be a lot of road noise. Mais no. Not for us. I never heard any noise from the road at all. I couldn't even see the road and only knew it was there because I saw it on the map.

After checking in, we curved through the resort until the road dead-ended in a cul-de-sac. Looking for our building.....there it is on the right.....where to park.....gee, I guess we'll take this spot right in front of our room!

Could it get any better?! This mere parking spot is Magic Moment #6 because everyday except the last day we were able to park in the same spot right in front of our room.

This is quite a bonus at a Disney World resort. Most of the hotels have a main parking lot and you have to walk quite a distance to your room. Something I wouldn't relish while hauling luggage or tired kids after a full day of Disney fun. But Old Key West (OKW) is laid out like an apartment complex with two- and three-story buildings dotting the property. Parking is right in front of your building.

Magic Moment #7. We opened the door and our hotel was everything we expected. It looked exactly like it did in the pictures. The boys found some hidden Mickeys. It felt great to finally be here.

We unpacked, taking advantage of ample closets and drawer space, and stowed our luggage out of sight in the entry closet not to be disturbed until the end of the week.

MawMaw and the boys had two queen-sized beds, two closets, their own TV armoire, and their own bathroom with an extra vanity area.

This was a great arrangement. MawMaw bunked with FM#3 so she had plenty of room to stretch out. There were four drawers in the armoire so they each got one. The boys shared the closet in the bedroom while MawMaw took the one right off the bathroom. And she had the extra vanity all to herself, except for an occasional tooth brusher.

This was our kitchen. It came complete with anything we needed to prepare a meal. Housekeeping came daily and would even load and run the dishwasher. They'd also leave a fresh supply of coffee which we enjoyed every morning - especially MawMaw!

The island was Snack Central, the perfect place for sodas and MawMaw's chocolate chip and sugar cookies. We munched on them everyday when we got back and they somehow lasted until the very last day when we finished them off.

These pictures were taken on our last day so you can see we definitely made ourselves at home.

Sorry for the dark photos. They looked fine when I took them. I guess my vision was tainted by my love for OKW!

The dining area which opened up to the balcony was home to breakfast, an occasional dinner, and a wicked game of Pirates Dice!

This two-bedroom villa sleeps 8 people with two of those on the sleeper sofa. The living area was where we'd plop down at the end of the day, watch TV, and scarf down the cookies.

A couple of evenings I relaxed on that love seat while MawMaw rubbed my feet. Only a mom would do that. Prior to our trip I had some sort of tendon problem or bone spur, but after all the walking I did at WDW, I haven't had any trouble with it!

This is one part of the master part.

Although the boys enjoyed the jacuzzi tub, too. You can glimpse our master bedroom through the shuttered opening. CB's bathroom area was next door with the shower and vanity. Remember the stop at Walgreen's in Tallahassee for shower soap? It wasn't really necessary. Disney supplied us with chunky round bars of hand soap, big round bars of bath soap, along with body wash, shampoo, and conditioner from a line called H2O Plus.

I used some of it, but also hauled some home. They sold full-sized bottles in the gift shop, Conch Flats General Store, and I recently found it at Ulta here in town! When I smell it, it takes me right back there to Building 49.

In what I like to call The Master Wing we had a closet, our own TV armoire, and access to the balcony. Off the hallway and bathroom was a full-sized laundry room complete with a little box of Tide sitting on the washing machine. We did laundry a couple of times during the week and Mousekeeping replenished the detergent. Knowing we'd be able to do laundry saved me from packing a ton of clothes.

This place was truly like coming home at the end of each day. We could come through the door, grab a snack, chill out on the couch and watch TV - much like we do at home. For those who wanted to take a nap, we each had our own private bedroom.

Magic Moment #8. We could even feed the ducks if we wanted.

March 6, 2008

Welcome Home!

Although it was pouring rain, I could see that Disney had changed a lot since CB and I visited 16 years ago (sans niƱos). In particular, I noticed the roads were lined with trees and lush tropical plants - something I didn't notice before. I'm sure they serve to hide the inner machinations of life in The World, but they're also really nice to look at! (Even though at the time they were being pelted by torrential rain!)

Following the map, we made our way from the new west entrance to Buena Vista Drive, turned left at the lighthouse onto Bonnet Creek Parkway, and right onto Vacation Club Way. We rounded a turn in the road and came upon a driveway opposite a heavily wooded area and tucked into the midst of lush plants and tall trees.

There it was -- Disney's Old Key West Resort.

We had to stop and tell the guard our name to which he replied, "Welcome home!" and lifted the arm on the gate. Like they had been waiting for us!

Old Key West is Walt Disney World's first Vacation Club resort which makes it at least 15 years old. It's laid out like an apartment complex with separate buildings with outside entry and close parking, and although it spans 156 acres, the trees and plants make it seem very cozy and secluded.

We headed for the Hospitality House to check-in. There was a lot of activity here as CB pulled up along the curb. We decided I'd run in and get us checked in while everyone else avoided the rain and stayed in the car.

Although I had to stand in line a while, I took the opportunity to enjoy the homey-ness of the place and the shear fact that we were finally here! The check-in and concierge area was small, not huge and cavernous, but warm and welcoming.

In hindsight, I should've ran back out to the car and had everyone come in. MawMaw and the kids could've relaxed and watched TV in Papa's Den, Old Key West's lounge off of their check-in area.

Next time, for sure!

Magic Moment #4. When I approached the front desk I explained our Annual Pass situation. The friendly check-in girl said, "No problem. I'll just give you your discount and you can show me the pass later."

Bless her heart!

Next, the friendly front desk girl gave us our free parking pass to put in the window, our door keys (aka Keys to the World) that also allowed us to charge purchases to our room, our Disney packet full of maps and fun stuff.

Magic Moment #5. Next, she pulled out the resort map and traced the route to our room. "You have a first floor room with a balcony and a view of the pond."

Did you HEAR that?! The room request I made weeks ago had been granted!

What good news to weary travelers. I could've wept right then and there! In fact, it still makes me a bit weepy just thinking about it. Year of a Million Dreams? Absolutely! I told her she just made the two-day trip worth it. I couldn't wait to get back to the car to tell everyone!

This is the view from our first floor balcony.