Contemporary Resort & Bay Lake Tower: A Disney Resort Review
In this Contemporary Resort review we introduce you to this iconic Disney Deluxe resort. We also share a full review of Disney’s DVC property known as Bay Lake Tower. Disney’s Contemporary resort is located on the monorail loop within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom. Learn more in this review about:
- Contemporary Resort Deluxe room types
- Signature Disney and Character restaurants on site: California Grill, The Wave, Chef Mickey’s
- Amazing amenities
- and more…
Located within walking distance of Magic Kingdom and on the monorail loop makes Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower a premier Deluxe Disney Resort location.
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There are more than 40 Disney Resort Properties around the world. Throw in the Disney Cruise Line and Adventure by Disney and you could spend every family vacation at a Disney property and still have a bucket list for years to come! In this Disney Resort Review series, we connected with bloggers all over the world to bring you reviews on these amazing Disney properties. We hope you find these Disney Resort reviews helpful in planning your Disney family vacations.
Nadia from Travarela is a self proclaimed “Disney fanatic” and has visited Walt Disney World numerous times in her travels. Here is her review of the Disney Deluxe Resort known as Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Introduction: Contemporary Resort
Contemporary Resort is an iconic Disney Deluxe Resort conveniently located along the monorail track as part of the Magic Kingdom Resort area. You’ll notice it is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Magic Kingdom! Plus, if you book the right room you can even get a view of the park from your balcony! With it’s iconic A-Frame structure and modern feel, it cannot be missed!
Due to it being a Disney Deluxe Resort, the average cost for a night is on the high end, and varies from high to low season (just like the other resorts on property). The average price starts around $450 per night. The resort is fairly “small” in comparison to some of the larger Disney Resorts. The guest rooms are located in the main A-Frame tower and the Garden Wing. Since the rooms are not spread out into a huge number of buildings, it is very easy to walk around the resort and get from your room to restaurants, pools, or stores.
The rooms in both the Garden Wing and Main Tower have a contemporary (no pun intended) theme with splashes of color.
Standard Room size is 437 sq ft.
Most Contemporary Resort rooms sleep 5 guests on the 2 queen beds and day bed. The resort offers one of the largest standard rooms in all of Disney’s resort locations at 437 square feet.
There are also 1 or 2 Bedroom suites for a hefty price tag hanging around $2,100 per night.
As with most of the Disney Resorts, the rooms and hotel are overall exceptionally clean. All rooms include common amenities such as Wi-Fi, hair dryer, coffee maker, in-room safe, iron & board, etc.
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Deluxe Resort On-site amenities include:
- two swimming pools
- variety of restaurants
- childcare services
- on site laundry and dry cleaning services
- mail services
- resort concierge
- spa and fitness center
- Cabana Rentals
- business & conference center
- Airline check in
- collect your boarding pass and check in your luggage for select participating airlines right in the lobby!
- Valet and complimentary parking are also offered.
- On site arcade
**Like in all Disney resorts, if you are celebrating a special event, Disney can help with their room service celebrations options for an extra charge.
Some of the best included resort activities include campfires with marshmallows and movies under the stars! Don’t miss the slide at the main pool!
Restaurants on site
Food always deserves it’s own section, don’t you think? The Contemporary has some of the best and most often fully booked restaurants on property.
The California Grill is one of the most upscale dining experiences on Disney property. The restaurant is located at the top of the main tower, and has a large open balcony. It is easy to see why it is a premier location for Disney Fireworks viewing!
Located in the lower level of the A-frame building, is the famous Chef Mickey’s character buffet. It is a great location for meeting the Fab 5, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck, and Goofy. Make sure to book a reservation in advance as this restaurant fills up fast!
Adjacent to Chef Mickey’s is the Contemporary’s casual quick service dining known as the Contempó Cafe. This is a great little spot for a quick sandwich or pizza.
Check out Momma To Go’s Chef Mickey Review.
*Insider Tip: Since walking here from Magic Kingdom is a breeze, it can be a great place for an afternoon bite away from the crowds on a Magic Kingdom day.
The Wave is located adjacent to the hotel lobby and offers a more casual atmosphere than California Grill. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it is also a great choice for quality food in an often slightly less crowded environment than other Disney dining locations.
In addition to these great restaurants, Disney’s Contemporary Resort also offers several lounges and quick service options. My favorite bar/lounge is The Wave lounge, a contemporary lounge with a space-mountain like atmosphere. It is usually low-key and a relaxing way to take a break from the park.
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In my opinion, the Contemporary is one of the most convenient resorts to stay on property due to the variety of transportation methods offered. The monorail system literally runs through the lobby! Both Epcot and the Magic Kingdom are a monorail ride away.
In addition to the famous monorail, you also have convenient access to the ferry boat and Disney buses. There is also self-parking, valet service, and Disney’s magical express complimentary transportation from the Orlando airport.
There are lots of interesting and fun facts about Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Here are a few to take with you on your next trip:
- Nixon delivered his “I am not a crook” speech from one of the meeting rooms inside the Contemporary!
- Renowned artist Mary Blair completed the 90-ft mural inside of the lobby. If the style looks familiar to you, it’s because she played a big part in the design of “It’s a Small World”!
- The original rooms were pre-built as individual pods and inserted during construction!
- The Contemporary was one of the two original hotels that were open at the time of the grand opening of The Magic Kingdom (the other being The Polynesian).
Overall Impression of Contemporary Resort
For a Deluxe Resort, due to the transportation and proximity to the parks, you get the best bang for your buck. If you are debating Deluxe Resorts, I would say Contemporary is the way to go if you are visiting The Magic Kingdom or Epcot. As a bonus, just think you are staying in a place jam packed with Disney History! I would definitely stay at the Contemporary again if I have the funds, or if it is for a special occasion (in this case, i’d take any birthday, anniversary, or holiday as an excuse)!
Bay Lake Tower a Disney Vacation Club Property at Contemporary Resort
Disney’s Deluxe Resort properties each have their own Disney Vacation Club property located on site as well. The Contemporary Resort is home to DVC’s Bay Lake Tower.
For some perspective on what it’s like to stay at Bay Lake Tower, Jasmine from A Great Big Hunk of World shares her point of view. If you recognize that title, it’s because Jasmine takes her blog name from one of her favorite Disney movies, Lady and the Tramp.
“Exactly. Life on a leash. Look again, Pige. Look, there’s a great big hunk of world down there, with no fence around it. Where two dogs can find adventure and excitement. And beyond those distant hills, who knows what wonderful experiences? And it’s all ours for the taking. It’s all ours.”
Here’s what Jasmine had to say about the “hunk of world” known as Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
The Contemporary Resort never specifically called out to me due to it’s more subtle appearance in comparison to other Disney resorts. However, up until recently it was the only DVC resort other than Saratoga Springs and The Grand Floridian that we had yet to try, and so we thought we would give it a go during one of our annual summer trips.
The primary benefit to staying at the Contemporary Resort is its proximity to Magic Kingdom; while the monorail can be caught by guests in the main section of the resort without leaving the hotel, those staying at Bay Lake Tower have to walk a few minutes to get to it. However, the fifteen minute walk from the Contemporary Resort to the Magic Kingdom is quick and easy. It is a much better option for those who aren’t a fan of packed transportation.
Additional DVC Ammenities
The recreation options and amenities, such as courts, the arcade, boat rentals and outdoor movies can be enjoyed by both DVC and non-DVC guests. However, one of the perks of staying at Bay Lake Tower is Bay Cove Pool which is exclusive to DVC guests.
That being said, compared to the fun interactive themed pools at other DVC resorts, such as the Polynesian and the Beach Club, this pool even while being exclusive and complete with a pool bar, is pretty bland.
DVC Property Rooms
Rooms at Bay Lake Tower include
- Deluxe Studios
- 1 Bedroom Villas
- 2 Bedroom Villas
The Bay Lake Tower studios often have a queen size bed and a sleeper sofa, as opposed to the two double beds in standard Contemporary rooms.
The Bay Lake Tower studios include a kitchenette which is separated from the rest of the room and definitely made the layout feel a lot more spacious. The kitchenette itself is also a decent size, reminding me of the small kitchens you may find in urban apartments; and comes complete with a full-size sink, plenty of drawer and cabinet space if you plan on doing any snack shopping, a mini fridge, and a microwave.
The restaurants located on property for Bay Lake Tower are the same as those we covered above with the Contemporary Resort review. However, here are Jasmine’s impressions of the restaurant offerings.
“In terms of dining, Disney’s Contemporary Resort offers three main table service restaurants: California Grill, The Wave of American Flavors, and Chef Mickey’s. The one thing I have always appreciated about these three restaurants is that it gives guests at this resort their choice of casual, slightly more upscale, and upscale. Chef Mickey’s, in my opinion, has never been memorable or worth it as the food is beyond generic and there are buffets on property actually worth shelling out money for (I’m looking at you Biergarten). I have yet to have an unsatisfactory meal at California Grill, but The Wave is one of my all-time favorites. The food is delicious and provides a more high-end atmosphere without the high-end prices.”
Pros and Cons of Contemporary Resort & Bay Lake Tower
Pros:Overall, The Contemporary Resort is a great choice for foodies and those who prefer easy access to the parks. For those with younger kids, the monorail or short stroll to the Magic Kingdom make for a much easier trip back to the resort, as opposed to holding a bunch of sleepy children on an overpacked Disney bus. Bay Lake Tower is also a great option for families in terms of room offerings, as the kitchenette provides a lot of storage space for families looking to spend a little less on dining out. The exclusive pool also means slightly smaller crowds, making it easier to keep an eye on your kiddos.
Cons:If you’re looking for that Disney warmth and charm (and theming) that you get at virtually every other Disney resort, Contemporary Resort may not be your best choice. It almost seems the theme arose from a very old-school attempt to seem modern. With Room rates as from $400 per night in the resort to as high as $3700 per night during peak seasons in Bay Lake Tower, choosing the Contemporary is not the most economical of Disney resort properties.