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 structure'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, they're only slightly smaller than equivalent rooms at the Grand Floridian
The Contemporary’s rooms, in our opinion, are among the nicest of any Disney resort. Rooms were refurbished in early 2013, and the decor lives up to the resort’s name. Amenities include flat-panel LCD TVs, built-in closets, stylish soft goods, and comfortable beds. Wood accents in warm tones are a welcome relief from the bland beige that dominated so many hotel palettes. Orange and yellow accent pieces add just the right splash of color. The flat-panel TV is surrounded by a modern interpretation of the traditional family hearth: Two expansive curved shelves (perfect for storing small items) serve as the hearth’s mantel, while a colorful tiled display underneath simulates the fireplace. Functional, attractive, and clever, it’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. The curved shower-curtain rod 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 you’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, you’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 doesn’t move. One minor gripe: You have to scoot around one of the sinks to get in the shower. (We’re sure George Clooney has his quirks, too.)
The work area has ample surface space provided by an L-shaped, glass-topped desk; it looks high-tech, but rounded corners perfectly soften the piece. Lighting 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 you’re not exhausted.
The Contemporary’s beds are topped with 250-thread-count sheets and down-filled pillows. The air-conditioning system is a little louder than most. If you like to sleep with a bit of white noise in the background, however, you’ll be in heaven.
Dining options abound. On the first floor is The Wave . . . of American Flavors, a 220-seat “health-conscious 21st-century” restaurant. What does “health-conscious” 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 floor’s Grand Canyon Concourse, serves upscale sandwiches, salads, and flatbread pizzas throughout the day. Chef Mickey’s, also on the fourth floor, hosts a popular character buffet at breakfast and dinner. On the 15th floor, the award-winning California Grill serves contemporary American cuisine.
The pool has slides for kids, and cabanas for rent. The resort has around a half-dozen shops, too. 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 6–9 minutes.
|Hotel||Definitely (+/- since last year)|
|Disney's Contemporary Resort||86% (+25%)|
|Average for WDW hotels||76% (+0%)|
|Average for off-site hotels||57% (+0%)|
|Hotel||Definitely (+/- since last year)|
|Disney's Contemporary Resort||97% (+16%)|
|Average for WDW hotels||92% (+2%)|
|Average for off-site hotels||79% (-7%)|
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.
There's a lot of boat traffic in the lake and canal alongside the Garden Building. Nearest the lake and quietest are Rooms 6116-6123, 6216-6223, and 6316-6323. At the water's edge but noisier are Rooms 6107-6115, 6207-6215, and 6307-6315. Flanking the canal connecting Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon are Rooms 5128-5143, 5228-5251, and 5328-5351. All these have nice canal and lake views, but they'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 isn't comparable to views from the rooms previously listed, but ground-floor rooms 5110-5125 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 70—almost all of these look directly onto a parking lot.
|10-minute walk to Magic Kingdom||Long walk from parking to Garden Building|
|Great views of the Magic Kingdom or Bay Lake||Pricey theme park view has big parking lot in foreground|
|Nicest guest rooms at WDW||Sterility of theme and decor in public areas|
|Interesting A-frame architecture|
|On Magic Kingdom monorail|
|Excellent children's pool|
|Recreational options, including super games arcade|
|Restaurant selection via monorail|
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)
|Magic Kingdom||12 minutes|
|Disney's Hollywood Studios||29 minutes|
|Disney's Animal Kingdom||25 minutes|
Future as perceived by past, present generations
|Quietness of Room||B|
|Shuttle to Parks||Yes|