Contemporary Resort In Depth

If you’ve been listening to our podcast you’ll know that we’ve been in the process of going in depth with each Walt Disney World resort hotel.  You can listen to our coverage of the Contemporary Resort on Episode 89 available here.

So let’s start with the basics.

The Contemporary is one of the first two resorts on property when WDW opened in 1971. Before the construction of the Grand Floridian, it was considered the flagship resort.

The Contemporary Tower was built as an A-frame with outer walls which slope inwards around an inner atrium. The building was constructed with the steel frames being installed first and then rooms constructed offsite were fit into place by crane. 

The Contemporary is located on Bay Lake, just next door to the Magic Kingdom and is a “monorail resort”.The main draw of this resort is that the monorail runs, literally, right through it.

Onsite Dining

Table service

Chef Mickey’s – One of the most popular character meals. Characters at this meal include Mickey as “Chef Mickey”, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, and Chip and Dale. Breakfast is served buffet-style from 7:00 am to 11:30 am and offers breakfast pastries, bagels, fresh fruit, omelets, Mickey pancakes, and other basic breakfast foods. Dinner hours are 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Dinner buffet features meats like prime rib, chicken, and seafood, as well as pasta dishes and a salad bar.  Advance Dining Reservations are required.

The Wave…of American Flavors

This restaurant is something of a hidden gem in that the food is good and the place is hardly ever crowded. This restaurant focuses on fresh food that is locally grown and sustainable.  

California Grill

This is one of the best places to view the fireworks at Magic Kingdom! If you can get a reservation during the show, the music is piped in, so you can enjoy all aspects of the show.  If you can’t see the show well from your table, you can head outside to the terrace area which is even better. This award-winning restaurant is open from 5:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. and the lounge, where you can find beer, cocktails, an assortment of California wines, is open from 5:30pm – 1am. The restaurant menu offers cuisine with a Californian influence and changes seasonally. The kitchen is open so you can see all the food being prepared. The main focus of the menu is sushi, but they also offer grilled meats, poultry, seafood, and vegetarian selections. Advance Dining Reservations are required.  You’ll need to try for them at 180 days out as time slots run out quickly.

Note about the terrace:  Only restaurant guests may use the terrace.  If your dinner ends before the fireworks begin, bring your dinner receipt back to the restaurant (same day only) and you will be allowed to go to the terrace to watch the show.

Top of the World

At the very top of Bay Lake Tower is the Top of the World Lounge, which is very similar to California Grill in its location. In fact, Top of the World is a former name of California Grill. There is a viewing deck and also an indoor seating area with a full bar. They also offer a limited food menu. Only Disney Vacation Club members may use the lounge. A cast member in the lobby must verify a guest’s Vacation Club credentials before allowing the guest access to the lounge’s elevator. All Bay Lake Tower guests may visit the viewing deck until 4 pm. The lounge features views of the Magic Kingdom theme park and Bay Lake, including its surrounding resorts.

Quick Service

Contempo Cafe – This is the resort food court and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  They offer standard food court fare as well as fritattas, french toast, flatbreads, fresh fruit, and grab -n- go stuff.   Also where you’re going to refill resort refillable mugs.

Outer Rim Lounge – bar with a large selection of wines, beers, ales, and cocktails.

Sand Bar – Poolside bar offering hamburgers, hot dogs, snacks and alcoholic beverages like margaritas, and fruity pool drinks.  Notable one is the Banana Cabana – Cruzan Mango Rum, Coruba Coconut Rum, Bols Crème de Banana, Orange and Pineapple Juice and a float of Grenadine

Cove Pool Bar – Located at Bay Lake Tower- offers light apps and snacks like wraps, sushi, meat and cheese plates, fruit, and even kids meals.  Alcoholic beverages are also available.

Room Types – Main building

Standard rooms as well as suites are offered in the main building, in fact they are some of the largest rooms available on WDW property.  The bathrooms are the split bath formation like in other resorts, however, they are reversed with the shower and sink in one room and the toilet in another.

Standard rooms – 2 queen beds or one king, a daybed.  Tower rooms have a balcony or patio. The patios on the first floor rooms in the Garden wings are not private, meaning that they are basically one long patio.  This can be a problem if you’ve got less than stellar neighbors.

There are 25 suites with either Theme Park or lake views. You can get one and two bedroom suites with two queen size beds and sleeper sofas and there are eleven Club Level suites on floors 12 and 14.

Bay Lake Tower room types

Room types include Studios, One-, Two-, and Three-Bedroom Grand Villas.

Studio – Sleeps up to four.  Features queen size bed, full-size sleeper sofa, TV and DVD player, small cube refrigerator, microwave, toaster, and coffee maker.  Laundry facilities are located on the first floor off the lobby area.

One-Bedroom Villa – Sleeps five. Features Master bedroom suite with king-sized bed, Master bathroom with walk-in shower, whirlpool tub.  There is a second bathroom just off of the living room. The living room has a queen-size sleeper sofa as well as a sleeper chair, You can find a TV and DVD player in living room, and a TV in master bedroom. Full kitchen includes: coffee maker, dinnerware, glassware, silverware, cookware, microwave, toaster, stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher. Laundry area contains a stacked washer and dryer.

Two-Bedroom Villa – These rooms have an additional bedroom with a private bath, one queen-size bed, and a double sleeper sofa. The 2 Bedroom villas sleep eight adults plus one child under age three in a crib. The Master suite has a king-size bed and private bath with a whirlpool tub. There is a fully equipped kitchen, ceiling fans throughout, stacked washer and dryer, TV with DVD player in living room and TVs in each bedroom, queen-size sleeper sofa in living room and a private balcony or porch.

3-Bedroom Grand Villa – Accommodates up to twelve and are 2 levels. Includes a master bedroom suite with king-size bed, and a master bathroom with whirlpool tub. There are four bathrooms total in this villa. There are two more bedrooms, each with two queen-size beds. You can also find a queen-size sleeper sofa in living room. TV and DVD player in living room, and TV in master bedroom and both additional bedrooms. Full kitchen includes: coffee maker, dinnerware, glassware, silverware, pots and pans, microwave, toaster, stove, refrigerator, dishwasher. There is a dining room with dining table and chairs (seats 10 and can be expanded to 12). Laundry area contains a stacked washer and dryer. There are multiple balconies, one-off the kitchen, and one-off of each of the 3 bedrooms for a total of 4.

Pools

Pools are a bit lacking here at the main building, to be honest.  There is a large main pool with a 17 foot curving slide and some little sand bar type things in the middle.  The secondary pool is round and gets progressively deeper toward the middle.  No real themeing.  It’s just…a pool.

Bay Lake Tower has their own pool only for use by BLT guests.  Their pool has a 20 ft waterslide and a zero entry edge. There is a splash pad for kids.

Poolside activities remain the same as other Disney resorts, including the afternoon Disney Junior Pool Party.

Poolside cabanas are available for rent on a first come, first served basis.

Recreation

Parasailing:

  • Single Flight :
  • Regular – $95+ tax per flight (8-10 minutes at 450 feet)
  • Deluxe – $ 130+ tax per flight (10-12 minutes at 600 feet)
  • Tandem Flight:
  • Regular – $170+ tax per flight (8-10 minutes at 450 feet)
  • Deluxe – $195+ tax per flight (10-12 minutes at 600 feet)

Waterskiing/kneeboarding/wakeboarding/tubing:

  • $85 + tax: 30 minutes
  • $165 + tax: One hour
  • $185 + tax: Premium Trip includes pick up and drop off for Bay Lake Resorts.

Each boat can accommodate up to 5 guests. Children under age 18 must have an adult present to sign waivers.

Personal watercraft/waverunners:

  • $80 + tax: 30 minutes
  • $135 + tax: One hour

Non-guided excursions available from 9:00am year round.

All of the Personal Watercraft can hold up to 3 guests but must not exceed a combined weight of 400 pounds. All drivers must be age 16 or over and must present a valid state issued Driver’s License or Permit with photo ID when they check in. No exceptions. A credit card is required to be used as a damage deposit. Children under age 18 must have an adult present to sign waivers.

Fitness Center 

The Olympiad fitness center is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily and is located on the third floor. It includes all the best exercise machines, treadmills, sauna, massages, whirlpool, and tanning booths. Personal training is available by appointment only. The gym is open to all WDW guests. Membership costs are:$12 per person, per day; $20 for the Guest Length of Stay, $40 for Family Length of Stay. The tanning bed is $8 per 20 minutes (with a 20 minute maximum). DVC members can use the gym and services free of charge.

There are limited spa services like massages and facials.  One perk is that they will come and do a massage in your resort room.

There is an onsite arcade that includes video games and billiards pool.

Tennis courts – 6 clay courts with pro shop, tennis lessons are available.

Guided fishing excursions are available via the concierge desk.

Movies Under The Stars is available on select nights in the courtyard on the back side of the main Atrium building.

Transportation

Magic Kingdom: If you’re going to Magic Kingdom Park you have a couple of choices on how you want to get there. You can take the monorail, however, it may not be the quickest option since it makes stops at the Ticket & Transportation Center, the Polynesian Resort, and the Grand Floridian before it eventually gets to the Magic Kingdom. If you don’t mind the walk, you can take the footpath from Contemporary to Magic Kingdom.  It’s a short 10 minute walk.

Epcot: Take the monorail to the Ticket & Transportation Center and transfer to the Epcot monorail.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Take the Hollywood Studios bus.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Take the bus marked Animal Kingdom/Blizzard Beach.

Disney Springs Marketplace, Disney Springs West Side: Before 4 p.m., take the monorail to the Ticket & Transportation Center, and transfer to the bus marked Downtown Disney. After 4 p.m. there will be direct Disney Springs buses from the resort.

Themeing

The theme is very modern and streamlined and not aggressively Disney.  This can be a pro or a con, depending on what you’re looking for in a Disney resort.  The highlight of the resort is the stories tall Mary Blair mural.  It has a Southwestern feel and almost seems like it doesn’t belong in that resort, but it is a thing of beauty if you’re a classic Mary Blair fan.

The rooms have the standard white duvet with furnishings in the brown family, with pops of lime green throughout.

How much does it cost?

As usual, we use a fictional family of four with 2 adults and  2 kids, ages six and nine.  We chose some random dates in August, this case, August 20 through August 26.  We give them five-day base tickets, no dining plan, and no Memory Maker photo package.

Garden wing room with Garden View – $4060.76

Tower  room with Bay Lake View – $5085.70

Tower room with Theme Park View – $5375.88

Club Level room with a Standard view – $6066.64

Club Level room with a Theme Park View – $6452.56

Bay Lake Tower Deluxe Studio room with a Standard view – $4675.04

Bay Lake Tower Deluxe Studio room with a Theme Park View- $5539.04

Bay Lake Tower One Bedroom Villa with a Standard view – $5653.82

Bay Lake Tower Two Bedroom Villa with a Lake view – $7930.80

Bay Lake Tower Two Bedroom Suite with Club Level Access – $15042.96

How does the Contemporary Resort rank on your list of favorite resorts?  Let us know in the comments!

 

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