The Contemporary Resort is in the deluxe category.
The Contemporary is located in the Magic Kingdom resort area. It’s one of the two original hotels built at Walt Disney World, the Polynesian is the other. A standout iconic building with its distinctive A Frame design and the Monorail going right through the centre of the hotel, it still manages to be contemporary despite being built in 1971.
The Contemporary is conveniently located within walking distance of Magic Kingdom, 10 to 15 mins walk, and it’s the first stop on the monorail from MK. The TTC is one stop from the hotel allowing for easy access to Epcot. A boat also travels to and from the Contemporary and MK and to Wilderness Lodge Resort. The Monorail also links it with the Polynesian and Grand Floridian resorts. Busses travel from the Contemporary to all other parks and to Disney Springs.
The Contemporary Resort is actually made up of three buildings, the A Frame Tower, the Garden Building and Bay Lake Tower. Bay Lake Tower is a DVC exclusive resort. The hotel has 655 rooms.
The A Frame building is certainly a statement. The huge atrium is dominated by the Monorail, which travels right through it, and an enormous mural by Mary Blair. The atrium creates a Cathedral like space which is both impressive and noisy. The Contemporary is probably the most Marmite of all the Disney Resorts. For those who don’t like the heavy theming that other resorts feature this is a great place to stay. For me one of the great selling points of the Disney properties is their larger than life theming, after all you’re paying top dollar, regardless of the category, and personally I think that’s part of the ‘added value’. But if you don’t have kids in tow or you want easy access to the MK and Epcot, which the contemporary delivers, this hotel might be for you. In addition if you are planning on splashing out on a MK resort view this is probably the best hotel to do it in. The balconies are spacious and this resort really delivers when it comes to enjoying the nightly fireworks from the comfort of your room. Turn the lights down and turn on the musical accompaniment provided through the TV and you’re in for a treat. One thing to bear in mind though, the view at night is much better than during the day. In daylight hours you see MK closer than any other hotel but you also see the highway and parking lot in front of the hotel too, something to be aware of. Request the 9th floor or higher to optimise the theme park view.
The Garden Building is located to the right of the main A Frame, it’s close to the pools but a walk away from the main building and all its facilities, the monorail in particular. There isn’t anything wrong with this building, but I would recommend requesting the A Frame building, which after all is probably the reason you chose the Contemporary in the first place. The Garden Building is a lot quieter as it doesn’t suffer from the noise and bustle, from dawn till dusk, from Chef Mickey’s. This Building also has some of the best lake views on property, it’s right on the water’s edge. Balconies are very small, not enough to sit out on and some floors don’t have balconies at all.
Dining options at the Contemporary are varied and very popular.
The most popular by far of the character dining venues (excepting Cinderella’s table which has fewer seats so sells out quickly) is Chef Mickey’s, located in the Atrium. It’s a buffet ‘all you can eat’ option and ADR’s get snapped up quickly. It’s so popular because you can see the ‘big four’ there, Mickey, Minney, Donald and Goofy. It’s a noisy, fun, casual dining experience, your kids will love it, you may not.
Also within the Atrium, but down a corridor and in a quieter location, is The Waves restaurant, this dining venue showcases organic, locally sourced and American ingredients in its high quality menu. Try a leisurely breakfast/brunch here on a non park day and you won’t be disappointed.
One of my very favourite restaurants is also located here in the Contemporary. California Grill is on the top of the building with panoramic views across Bay Lake and the Magic Kingdom. With views like that you wouldn’t expect them to try hard on making the food good. But they do. Our meal there was the best we had at Disney World. OK, on the dining plan it’s two table service credits as it’s a signature venue, but it was soooo worth it. In addition to great food it also has an observation deck where you can view the fireworks from, which means you don’t need to have a window seat in the restaurant to enjoy the fireworks. I actually think it’s nicer, on a balmy evening, to stand on the deck in the fresh air and enjoy the spectacular fireworks display, they play the music in time with the fireworks. I can highly recommend it, especially if the MNSSHP is on! We got talking to some other diners from different parts of the USA whilst we waited which was great, that wouldn’t have happened if we had still been at our table. If you finish your meal earlier than the show starts and you want to kill some time you can leave, if keep your receipt, they will let you re-enter later to access the observation deck for the fireworks.
The resort also has a quick service option, Contempo Cafe, and two bars, The Outer Rim Lounge and a pool bar, the Sand Bar.
Two pools are featured at the resort, three if you include the Bay Lake Tower but we won’t as this is exclusively for DVC guests. There is a main pool, The Feature Pool, with kids area, water slide and hot tub. The other option is the imaginatively named Small Pool, which is a quiet pool.
As usual with Deluxe resorts it has shopping, launderette, arcade and a kids club (extra charge).
Pixiesuesi top tips;
Walk back from the MK after Wishes, whilst everyone else queues for the Monorail or the bus, you can stroll smugly back your hotel within 10 minutes.
California Grill, yes it’s expensive but it’s a dining experience you’ll only get at Disney World.
Take the kids to the arcade, it’s great.
Splash out on a theme park view, especially if your children are small. You won’t mind your nights spent in the room baby sitting if you can watch the fireworks from your balcony as a result.