This Deluxe resort on Bay Lake is the least themed of the Disney-owned properties. The 655-room Contemporary is unique in that its A-frame design permits the Magic Kingdom monorail to pass through the structureâ€™s cavernous atrium. The only real source of color in the atrium is a 90-foot mosaic depicting Native American children and nature. The off-white central tower is augmented by a three-story Garden Building fronting Bay Lake to the south and by Bay Lake Tower, a 295-room, 15-story Disney Deluxe Villa development, to the north.
Standard rooms in the A-frame afford fantastic views of Bay Lake or the Magic Kingdom, and all have balconies. At 394 square feet each, theyâ€™re only slightly smaller than equivalent rooms at the Grand Floridian. The Contemporary completed a total renovation of its rooms in 2007.
The renovated rooms are quite stunning and, in our opinion, the nicest of any Disney resort. Perhaps for the first time since the early 1970s, the room decor lives up to the resortâ€™s name. Amenities include wall-mounted flat-screen plasma TVs, built-in closets, new soft goods, and high-speed Internet access (additional fee). Wood accents, in a warm red tone, are a welcome relief from the beige that dominated so many hotel palettes over the past decade. Orange and yellow accent pieces add just the right splash of color. The flat-screen TV is surrounded by a modern interpretation of the traditional family hearth: two expansive curved shelves (perfect for storing small items) serve as the hearthâ€™s mantel, while a colorful tiled display underneath simulates the fireplace. Functional, attractive, and clever, itâ€™s the furniture equivalent of George Clooney.
A lot of thought went into the bathroom design, too. You enter the bath through a sliding pocket door instead of a traditional hinged model. The pocket door provides plenty of room and makes it easy to move around inside. Itâ€™s such a great idea, weâ€™re surprised that other hotels havenâ€™t adopted it. The curved shower-curtain rod (also found in the Polynesianâ€™s renovated bathrooms) is inspired. Combined with the pocket door, the curtain rod makes the bathroom feel much bigger than it is. Another thoughtful touch: a small motion sensor detects when youâ€™re up and moving at night, and turns on a dimmed bathroom light to help you find your way.
Bathroom sinks have an avant-garde flat-bottom design. If you can name a single Belgian architect or you own shoes made in Scandinavia, youâ€™ll probably love them; other folks think they look like lab equipment. When brushing your teeth, spit directly over the drain; otherwise, the toothpaste glob doesnâ€™t move. One minor gripe: you have to scoot around one of the sinks to get in the shower. (Weâ€™re sure George Clooney has his quirks, too.) The work area is vastly improved, with ample surface space provided by an L-shaped, glass-topped desk; it looks high-tech, but rounded corners perfectly soften the piece. Lighting in the new rooms is superb, with top scores in the bathroom grooming, reading, and work areas. Small, stylish overhead lights are more than ample for reading in bed, assuming youâ€™re not exhausted.
The renovations belatedly extend to the bedding, upgrading the old 180-thread-count sheets for 250. Down-filled pillows replace Disneyâ€™s ubiquitous polyester-filled. Sadly, the air-conditioning system was not included in the upgrade, and itâ€™s a little noisier than most. If you like to sleep with a bit of white noise in the background, however, youâ€™ll be in heaven.
The resortâ€™s restaurants have undergone a series of changes culminating in the 2008 opening of The Wave of American Flavors, a 220-seat â€œhealth-conscious 21st-centuryâ€ restaurant on the first floor.
What does â€œhealth-consciousâ€ mean in Disney-speak? You can still get bacon for breakfast, but the coffee it comes with is certified organic and bird-friendly. The Contempo Cafe, a counter-service restaurant on the fourth floorâ€™s Grand Canyon Concourse, serves upscale sandwiches, salads, and flatbread pizzas throughout the day.
The pool has slides, and the resort has around a half-dozen shops. The Contemporary is within easy walking distance of the Magic Kingdom; monorail transportation is available to both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Other destinations can be accessed by bus or boat. Walking time to transportation loading areas from the most remote rooms is 6â€“9 minutes.
While we think the Contemporary is fabulous, an Eden, New York, couple couldâ€™ve used a little more peace and quiet in their newly renovated room:
We thought the Internet-connected PC was a great feature and used it quite a bit at first, until at 6:13 a.m. the first morning the computer turned itself on with a great bit of noise and fanfare alerting us that we had messages, which were basically ads for various Disney events and resort features. We turned it off only to have it wake back up with more messages 10 minutes later. I finally unplugged it from the wall. (Ugh!) The worst part of the Contemporary, though, was the blaring M-I-C-K-E-Y from Chef Mickeyâ€™s just below our roomâ€”the noise started promptly at 8 a.m. and repeated every 30 minutes. Not fun when youâ€™re on vacation and want to sleep in.
|Hotel||Definitely (+/- since 2010)|
|Disney's Contemporary Resort||86% + (25%)|
|Average for WDW hotels||74% (+3%)|
|Average for off-site hotels||79% (+10%)|
|Average for vacation homes & condos||95% (N/A)|
|Hotel||Definitely (+/- since 2010)|
|Disney's Contemporary Resort||97% + (16%)|
|Average for WDW hotels||90% (+1%)|
|Average for off-site hotels||94% (+5%)|
|Average for vacation homes & condos||100% (N/A)|
Good (and Not-So-Good) Rooms at Disney's Contemporary Resort
There are two guest-room buildings at the Contemporary: the A-frame tower and the Garden Building. Rooms in the A-frame overlook either Bay Lake and the marina and swimming complex on one side, or the parking lot with Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom in the background on the other. Except for most second- and thirdfloor rooms in the Garden Wing, each guest room has a balcony with two chairs and a table. If you stay on the Magic Kingdom side of the A-frame, ask for a room on the ninth floor or higher. The parking lot and connecting roads are less distracting there. On the Bay Lake side, the view is fine from all floors, though higher floors are preferable.
In the Garden Building, all ground-floor rooms have patios. Only end rooms on the second and third floors facing Bay Lake have full balconies; all other rooms have balconies only a foot deep. The Garden Building is a fair walk from the restaurants, shops, front desk, guest services, and monorail station in the A-frame. This isolation, however, is a plus when it comes to the scenery and tranquility offered by some guest rooms.
Thereâ€™s a lot of boat traffic in the lake and canal alongside the Garden Building. Nearest the lake and quietest are Rooms 6116â€“6123, 6216â€“6223, and 6316â€“6323. At the waterâ€™s edge but noisier are Rooms 6107â€“6115, 6207â€“6215, and 6307â€“6315. Flanking the canal connecting Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon are Rooms 5128â€“5143, 5228â€“ 5251, and 5328â€“5351. All these have nice canal and lake views, but theyâ€™re subjected to a lot of noise from passing watercraft.
The Garden Building also has rooms facing the marina, pool, and playground; these work well for families with young children. The view isnâ€™t comparable to views from the rooms previously listed, but ground-floor rooms 5110â€“5125 provide easy access to the pool.
In addition to offering some of the most scenic and tranquil guest rooms in Disney World, the Garden Building likewise contains some of the most undesirable ones. Avoid rooms ending with numbers 52 through 70â€”almost all of these look directly onto a parking lot.
|On Magic Kingdom Monorail||Sterility of theme and decor in public areas|
|10-minute walk to Magic Kingdom|
|Interesting A-frame architecture|
|Nicest guest rooms at WDW|
|Great views of the Magic Kingdom or Bay Lake|
|Excellent children's pool|
|Recreational options, including super games arcade|
|Restaurant selection via monorail|
|On-site child care|
Disney's Contemporary Resort Dining
- California Grill (Table Service)
- Chef Mickey's (Table Service)
- Contempo Cafe (Counter Service)
- Contemporary Grounds (Bar or Lounge)
- Cove Bar (Bar or Lounge)
- Outer Rim Lounge (Bar or Lounge)
- The Sand Bar (Bar or Lounge)
- The Wave...of American Flavors (Table Service)
- Top of the World Lounge (Bar or Lounge)
|Animal Kingdom||17 minutes|
|Disney's Hollywood Studios||14 minutes|
Future as perceived by past, present generations
|Quietness of Room||B|
|Shuttle to Parks||Yes|