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Almost everyone who goes to Walt Disney World has been in the Contemporary Resort. That’s because the monorail runs right through the middle of it. It’s the coolest thing in the world to see the monorail disappear into the hotel and appear a few minutes later out the other end.
The Contemporary Resort – Photo by Don Sullivan
The Contemporary is a special hotel. First, it’s the tallest Disney hotel at Disney World and it’s one of the best hotels anywhere in the world because of one little thing. What’s that? It’s a little thing called LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
Yes, it’s all about Location. The Contemporary Resort is located right next to the Magic Kingdom. Yes, right next door. In fact, it’s about a 10-minute walk from the hotel to the front gate of the best theme park in the whole world. (If you happen to get a Theme Park View, you’ll have a spectacular view right into the park and you’ll think Wishes is happening right outside your window.)
Wishes from the hotel – Photo by Don Sullivan
The hotel sits between two of the best bodies of water you can imagine. On one side is Seven Seas Lagoon which is the lake in front of the Magic Kingdom. On the other side is Bay Lake (where the Tower gets its name from) that connects the Contemporary with the Wilderness area (Campground and Lodge).
Photo by Tom Bricker
The Grand Canyon Concourse
I said this is the tallest Disney hotel at Disney World and I meant it. This thing is 14 stories tall. (The rest of the Disney Hotels are just 3 or 4 stories.) The height of the hotel gives it room for one of the most impressive areas in all of Disney World. That’s the Grand Canyon Concourse.
The Concourse stretches from the ground all the way up the 14 floors of the Resort. The is where the monorail runs through the concourse. Inside this massive structure are some of the restaurants, shops, and a lot of guest rooms.
Photo by Express Monorail
On the walls of the concourse, which are 90-foot high, are tile murals created by one of Uncle Walt’s favorite artists, Mary Blair. These murals include stories of native-Floridians (or is that native-Americans?), one of which includes a 5-legged goat (because nothing is perfect even at Disney World.)
The murals are something to behold.
The Contemporary Resort has 4 restaurants including one of the most loved character meals at Disney World. Three of the restaurants are Table Service (according to the Disney Dining Plan) and the other one is Quick Service.
Chef Mickey’s – one thing the Contemporary Resort is well known for is Chef Mickey’s. It’s a great place to eat at a buffet hosted by the big mouse himself. Chef Mickey’s is open at breakfast and dinner (and during busy seasons lunch too), you’ll find Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto coming by your table to say hello. (Characters change without notice).
You can’t miss Chef Mickey’s, just look down when you arrive on the monorail.
Photo by Express Monorail
California Grill – located at the top of the Contemporary Resort is a Signature Dining Experience. California Grill is a true fine dining experience with the freshest of Florida ingredients.
The big draw with California Grill is the view. It’s the best view anywhere in Walt Disney World. From the 15th floor of the Contemporary you can see all the way to the ocean, or at least all the way around Walt Disney World.
The food is great, the view is great and the atmosphere is great. What are you waiting for?
The Wave – If you wanted to design a perfect restaurant to match the “modern” architecture of the Contemporary, you’d probably end up with The Wave. Wow does this thing fit in. When you walk into the restaurant, you walk down this big tunnel which ends in an eclectic dining experience.
Disney says this restaurant is a casual restaurant offering American-style cooking blended with world flavors. I don’t know if that really caught the essence of our visit, but I will say Mrs. Mom and I had totally different experiences.
The entrance to The Wave – Photo by rickpilot_2000
California Grill – The California Grill is a restaurant on top of the Contemporary Resort. It’s currently under refurbishment.
Contempo Cafe – a quick-service snack shop that serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night dining. It serves fast food such as bagels, cereals, sandwiches. At dinner you’ll find a little more robust menu with pastas and more.
Fantasia Gift Shop – is located right in the middle next to the monorail. You can’t miss it. It specializes in items based on the movie and Contemporary labeled nick nacks.
Photo by Jeff_B.
This resort has a vast array of guest rooms to choose from. Mostly the differences are in the view. Some rooms have a spectacular view of the Magic Kingdom.
The Disney Contemporary Hotel has 655 rooms. They are found in 2 different buildings (and no, I’m not talking about the 2 parts of the tower as different buildings). The part of the resort the monorail goes through is called the Contemporary Tower.
The rooms are some of the largest at Walt Disney World.
All the rooms at one of Disney’s Resorts come with a standard set of amenities. The standard rooms sleep 4 or 5.
- Two queen beds with a daybed or,
- One king bed and a sleeper sofa or daybed
- A flat screen cable TV (the available channels favor Disney owned channels)
- One table and 2 chairs.
- 2 telephones
- Free Wi-Fi
- An alarm clock
- Iron and ironing board
- A large electronic safe (you set the combination)
- Bathroom with a shower tub, or a roll in shower in the handicapped rooms
- AND A HAIR DRYER
- Refrigerator and coffee maker
All of the rooms at the resort come with one of 3 views –
- Magic Kingdom View – These are the top rooms in the hotel. From these rooms you have a great view of the Magic Kingdom. It’s probably the best view of the Magic Kingdom anywhere. These are the most expensive rooms in the resort.
- Bay Lake View – Bay Lake is the body of water that is behind the Contemporary. These view look to the east and overlook the water.
- Garden View – Disney labels the rooms that don’t have a special view as garden view rooms. This means you’ll probably see grass (if you’re lucky) and maybe a garden. Probably, your main view will be of a parking lot. These are the least expensive rooms in the resort.
The14th floor of the hotel is the club level. This is the concierge floor. This is the high rent district. There are several suites on this level. The services available to guests on this level include –
- Personalized front desk and concierge services
- Evening turndown service with chocolates
- Club Level Lounge – open from 7 am to 10 pm. Serves continental breakfast, midday snacks, evening wine and cheese, cordials and dessert
There are also concierge rooms on the 12th floor (there is no 13th floor), and all suite guests have access to the club level.
Motorized Water sports
The Contemporary Resort has more options for water lovers than any other Disney Resort. At the marina, you can rent Sea Raycers. Those are the cute little speedboats that you see bopping around Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. You can also rent pontoon boats or a Boston Whaler Montauk (think fishing boat).
Speaking of fishing boats, the Contemporary Resort is one of the resorts where you can pick up a Disney Fishing Excursion. For more information on Disney Fishing Excursions click here.
A Sea Raycer gliding along – Photo by Jeff_B
There are 2 pools at Contemporary. The quiet pool has circular shape with shallow sides and a deeper center. The main pool has a hidden Mickey look and includes a 17 foot tall slide and has more traffic. Near the main pool there is a water play area that has several fountains built in.
Yes, there is a pool at Bay Lake Tower, but it’s only for Bay Lake Tower guests.
The Pool at the Contemporary Resort – Photo by Joe Shlabotnik
The Contemporary Resort is surrounded by water. On one side is Seven Seas Lagoon, on the other is Bay Lake. Each body of water has a big white sand beach. The normal beach activites are here. Activities like volleyball, hot tubs and sunbathing are available, but no swimming. Swimming is not allowed in Bay Lake or Seven Seas Lagoon.
If you’d like to have a day at the beach, you can rent one of the 4 Cabanas that are located on the beach. The Cabanas include chairs, stocked mini-fridge, beach furniture, a TV and even a DVD player. You can even arrange for a beach massage.
The beaches at Disney World are really nice. They are beautiful white sand beaches with perfect white sand. You’ll feel just like you are at a one of the best beaches in Florida. Oh, yeah. You are.
World Class tennis, not anymore. Before Bay Lake Tower was constructed, the Contemporary had some really interesting tennis courts (clay). Those were replaced with 2 lighted, hardcore tennis courts. Racquets and balls are located for rent and purchase at the Boat Nook Marina or at the Community Hall at Bay Lake Tower.
Doesn’t Donald look like a fierce tennis player – Photo by coconut wireless
If you are a runner, you might want to try out the jogging trail around the Contemporary. It’s almost a mile. There are signs around the hotel that will guide you on the path.
One of the least promoted really cool things that Disney does at their hotels is the nightly entertaiment. Every night there is a movie out around the pool area. Typically, they are classic Disneymovies. It’s a great way to spend an evening with the family outside the parks. And the best part is it’s absolutely free.
All of the Disney Resorts have an arcade. The Contemporary Resort’s arcade is called The Game Stop and is typical of all of the Disney arcades. You can find video games, pool tables and more. Kids (and lots of adults) love these arcades. It’s a nice place to relax in the air conditioning.
The Game Station open from 8:00 am until 11:30 pm, refillable arcade cards are available. You can also win big prizes.
If you need some exercise (thanks but walking 500 miles a day is enough for Dad), during your vacation, check out the Olympiad Fitness Center located on the third floor. Free weights and machines are available. The center attendant is available from 6:00 am until 9:00 pm.
Getting to and from the Disney Contemporary Resort is a snap. You can walk (like you don’t walk enough already), you can drive, you can take a boat, a monorail or even a taxi. There are even buses (Luxury Motor Coaches) everywhere except the Magic Kingdom.
Photo by Express Monorail
The Contemporary Resort opened in 1971 when Walt Disney World was first introduced to the world. Walt designed it and the Polynesian Village Resort to be a special place for his guests to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Uncle Walt wanted the Contemporary to look state of the art and futuristic. In 1971 it was very eye opening. The design was nothing short of amazing for the day. Uncle Walt even invented a totally new modular concept in construction to build the Contemporary Resort (something that’s used regularly today).
On top off all of that, the monorail ran right through the middle of the hotel. Amazing.
Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog
Bay Lake Tower
The Contemporary is now really 2 hotels in one. In 2009 the Bay Lake Tower replaced the old north garden wing. The resorts are tied together by a really neat walking bridge.
Bay Lake Tower is part of the Disney Vacation Club. It’s an all suite hotel. There are studio, one, two and three bedroom suites that you can purchase an interest in or just rent them for the night.
Photo by Jeff_B.
Map to the Contemporary
So where is the Contemporary? See for yourself. It’s in just about the perfect location for a hotel. It’s the only hotel (OK, we’re not counting Bay Lake Towers because the Towers are really just an extension of the Contemporary) within walking distance of The Magic Kingdom.
View Disney’s Disney Contemporary Resort in a larger map
Address and Phone Number
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
4600 N. World Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Book Your Room Today
Are you ready? Why not get started today? All you have to do is fill out one little form and one of Dad’s friends from Destinations to Travel (don’t you just love that name?) will get in touch with you and help you get started with a Perfect Vacation. What on earth are you waiting for?
Dad’s Bottom Line
This is not Dad’s favorite hotel, (that would be the Polynesian Village Resort) but the LOCATION is something special (even if it is a bit of a walk).