Enjoy the ride as we take you on a tour of Walt Disney World’s Deluxe Resorts. First Stop? Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Exactly forty years ago, when I landed on the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon, this was my view:
|The postcard that we bought in 1972.|
Two solitary Walt Disney World hotels opened for business on October 1, 1972; the Resort we called home, the Polynesian Village, and our vista, the Contemporary Resort Hotel. The wholly distinctive image of the A-frame tower, with the famous monorail entering and exiting it, was as impressive to us as Cinderella Castle. Despite this icon status, it took my family another 40 years to actually stay at the now named Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and in many ways it was worth the wait!
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
This “retro-futuristic” behemoth had an innovative look in the early 70’s, and its newly refurbished rooms are now sleeker than ever. It is one of the Disney creme de la creme, and the first of the 8 Disney Deluxe Resorts.
This Resort, which has the distinction of being the closest to the Magic Kingdom, offers a total of 655 rooms in the Tower and adjacent Garden Wing. (The South Garden Wing was demolished in 2007 to make way for Bay Lake Tower- the newest Disney Deluxe Villa.)
It’s standard rooms are large by Disney norms- 436 square feet in size (394 square feet in the Garden Wing). Only those in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (440 square feet) and Disney’s Polynesian Resort (Rapa Nui, Tahiti and Tokelau Longhouses- 476 square feet)) are more spacious. These standard rooms can accommodate 5, and are equipped with a sofa that converts to a day bed and either 2 Queen beds or 1 King bed. There is also sufficient space for a crib if needed. The views at this hotel simply can’t be beat, and along with the ease of transportation are what set it apart from all other Disney Deluxe Resorts. If you have a Theme Park view, you can watch Wishes Nighttime Spectacular and the activity on Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom from your room. With a Bay Lake view, you feel as though you are getting a private viewing of perennial The Electric Water Pageant from your balcony.
Yes, balconies are standard fare in Tower rooms, which can make your living space seem even larger. The bathrooms are modern and polished in style, but be warned; if you’ve become accustomed to having a separate sink and shower space (and once you have teenagers, this is essentially a requirement for the morning routine), you may be disappointed with the layout.
Though the toilet is set apart, the shower and dual sinks share one space.
Of course, if you require still more elbow room, Concierge (Atrium Club) and Suite accommodations are available for a substantial upcharge. The standard room rate at Disney’s Contemporary Resort starts at $315 (Garden View, Value season) and ranges to $665 (Tower- Theme Park View, Peak Season). Accessible Guest rooms are available.
As with most Disney Deluxe Resorts, you will find room amenities that you would expect at a superior hotel: alarm clock/MP3 player; flat screen cable TV; free Wi-Fi; coffee maker; mini fridge; hair dryer (and not the standard attached-to-the-wall variety); iron and board; make-up mirror; full length mirror; in-room safe; robes. Additionally on site is the Olympiad Fitness Center (complete with treadmills for you runners who do not wish to brave the elements), which also offers a spa and salon, concierge assistance for all Guests, convention center facilities, a business center, a laundry plus dry cleaning/laundry service, and valet and self-parking.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort Dining
– Room Service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
– Chef Mickey, perhaps the most beloved of all Character Dining Experiences, offers a breakfast and dinner buffet with a side of singing, marching and napkin-waving. These meals with the “Fab Five”, (Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Donald) are a “hot item”, so be sure to book your Advance Dining Reservations early!
– Equally as legendary is the Signature Dining found atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The award winning California Grill serves American food with a California focus, and complete with a legendary wine list, is decidedly fine dining. Floor to ceiling windows provide a stellar view of the Magic Kingdom and Wishes Nighttime Spectacular, and the “onstage kitchen” supplies the rest of the magic. Open for dinner exclusively.
*The California Grill will close on January 6. 2013 for a period of 6 months for an extensive renovation.
– The Wave… of American Flavors is a casual restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner on the 1st floor. (Stay tuned- Steakhouse 71 is coming!!!)
– Contempo Cafe Quick Service restaurant located next to Chef Mickey’s on the fourth floor.
Did I mention that the Magic Kingdom is in walking distance?? I believe I did, but it is certainly worth repeating! If your dogs can’t bear the thought of additional pounding, the handy monorail will whisk you to the park or the Transportation and Ticket Center for a transfer to the Epcot monorail.
The monorail is located in the Grand Canyon Concourse (as in it’s the size of the Grand Canyon), and is flanked by Disney legend Mary Blair’s 90 foot high mural made of hand-painted tile. (How else would they disguise the elevator shaft?) Buses will take you everywhere else in the World that you want to go. Motor launches ( a treat in themselves) run between the Contemporary, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, and are the perfect vehicle to get you to and from your Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue Dinner Show.
This resort features 2 pools. The larger of the two sits on the shores of Bay lake, and is complete with a 17 foot high curving slide and splash area. Cabanas are available and reservations are suggested.
The second pool “sits” near the Seven Seas Lagoon, and is quieter and a bit more removed from the action. A requisite arcade is open 24 hours a day (shudder) and has been moved to the fourth floor. The beach surrounding Bay Lake is beautiful, but swimming is not permitted. Also available at the resort is the “not to be missed” entertainment treat- Pirates Adventure Cruise. You set sail from the Contemporary dock and cruise the Seven Seas Lagoon with a crew of Never Land pirates! You may even encounter a Disney Character or two.
Perhaps Disney’s Contemporary Resort has a more sophisticated edge, and maybe that’s why my young men enjoyed it so much. It is rich with Disney history, and has Walt’s fingerprints on its conception. And we started our Walt Disney World journey together 40 years ago… Tradition!
If you would like to read more about other Disney Deluxe Resorts, hop aboard!
1st Stop~ Disney’s Contemporary Resort (You are here.)
3rd Stop~ Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
5th Stop~ Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
6th Stop~ Disney’s Boardwalk Inn