PHOTO REPORT: Atrium Club Level at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

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Recently I had family staying at Disney’s Contemporary Resort for a week, and I joined them for one night to check out the Atrium Club Level experience. I have stayed Club Level at several of the Universal hotels, including the Royal Pacific Resort and Portofino Bay, and have always enjoyed it, so it was time to see what Disney provides. I’ve priced out options at staying Club Level at the Polynesian and Animal Kingdom Lodge before, but eventually get scared off by the price and ended up booking a room at value resorts like Art of Animation or Pop Century. For this stay I booked a Club Level room with the Special Offer: Passholder Room Offer for Late Summer discount. The total was $616.79 for one night. Was it worth the cost? Let’s check it out….

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View from the shared area of the Atrium Club Level.

I was definitely impressed by the entire Contemporary experience as a whole. After arriving at the guard gate, we were directed to front of the hotel where the valets and bell service greeted us by name. Afterwards we were met by a concierge Cast Member with an iPad by the front door, and she took us straight up to the 12th floor, where the Atrium Club Level is. There are two Club Level floors at the Contemporary: the Atrium level with standard rooms on the 12th floor and the Tower level on the 14th floor, which also has guest suites.

A member of the Atrium concierge staff met us at the elevator on the 12th floor and first walked us over to the lounge area to see the view of the Magic Kingdom (see photo above). There is no denying this was stunning. I then went back with him to the desks by the elevator to start my check in procedure.

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Check in desk at the Atrium Club Level.

 

We were given a customized packet that included a map of the Contemporary, the times guide for the lounge food and drink offerings, a tip sheet on MyMagic+, the Contemporary newsletter for September, and a printed out sheet that contained all of our FastPass+ reservations. The print out of the FastPass+ reservations was pretty cool, and that sheet also would have had any on-site Advance Dining Reservations if we had made any. I’ve stayed onsite at Disney many times and have not seen this before.

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Packet of information from the Contemporary.

 

The Room.

After staying at Pop Century recently, the first thing that stood out to me walking into my room at the Contemporary was how big it seemed. The two main differences I could spot between our room on the Atrium Club Level and my family’s room on the seventh floor was that one of our pillows had a Mickey Mouse design on it and our TV had a DVD player connected to it. Other than that, the two rooms seemed exactly the same.

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Guest room on Atrium Club Level.
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Towel art.

 

The desk area was nice, if compact, and it’s hard to complain about lack of available outlets in the room, considering the hotel was built over 40 years ago, long before each guest had 15 things to plug in. I thought the rooms looked great, and they definitely had a certain asthetic value.

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Desk area in guest room on Atrium Club Level.

 

The bathrooms were spacious, and while the dual sinks looked incredible, they were not very practical. The design of the sinks made it so that water stayed in them for a while. The sinks were probably the most “kid friendly” part of the room: they enjoyed splashing around in them.

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Bathroom sinks are great if you are under 10. Over 10? Not as much. They look fantastic, though.

 

The bathrooms did have a box with a toothbrush and tube of toothpaste, along with another one containing a shower cap. This was a great touch because I invariably always forget my toothbrush at home and end up going downstairs to the lobby at midnight to ask if they have any available.

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Toothbrush, toothpaste, and shower cap. Gratis.

 

Our room was only a couple doors down from the Atrium lounge, so the view was pretty much the same: absolutely spectacular.

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View from guest room on Atrium Club Level, looking at Magic Kingdom.
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View from guest room on Atrium Club Level, looking at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.
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View from guest room on Atrium Club Level. Looking Disney’s Polynesian Resort Village.

 

The room my family had on the seventh floor was on the same side of the Contemporary as our room, but it was a couple more rooms away from the center of the building than ours. The view is still incredible, though.

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View from 6th floor guest room at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, looking at Magic Kingdom.

 

After we return from the parks that night, there were Contemporary-branded mints on our bed. That was a great surprise.

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Mints from Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

 

Besides Magic Kingdom fireworks, we also had a great view from the room of the Electrical Water Pageant. This is one of my all time favorite things at Disney.

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Electrical Water Pageant as seen from the Contemporary.
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Electrical Water Pageant as seen from the Contemporary.

 

One last thing before we get to the lounge offerings: the room service menu for the Contemporary is surprisingly large. There were breakfast, lunch/dinner, dessert, overnight, and alcohol options. 10 pages worth! One thing that caught our eye was on the Special Occasion Amenities page. We got the Contemporary Signature Chocolate Monorail. One of our Disney icons done in white chocolate served with gourmet truffles ($45.00). This is hands-down one of the coolest things I have ever seen at any hotel. It’s hard to see in the pictures, but on the plate is a picture of the Contemporary resort that I thought was stenciled on; it turns out it was also chocolate. Absolutely amazing!

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Contemporary Signature Chocolate Monorail.
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Contemporary Signature Chocolate Monorail.

 

The Atrium Club Level Lounge

In stark contrast to the bedroom, the biggest surprise I had when seeing the lounge area was how small it was. To be fair, I am comparing it to the Club Level lounge offerings at the Universal hotels, which are much bigger. There is a slanted wall dividing two common areas. One side has all the food and drinks, along with a couple tables. The other side has a bunch of more tables, couches, and a flat screen TV.

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Next to the food counters there was a smaller table designed with children in mind, along with another flat screen TV that was constantly playing either Disney channel cartoons or the in-house Must Do Disney loop with Stacey J. There was nothing else for children.

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This TV was always playing either Disney channel cartoons, or the Disney Must Dos.

 

The Club Level concierge Cast Memers are available from 7:00AM – 10:00PM daily, and you can also communicate with them via text message. I tried the texting feature, and it worked flawlessly. The food and beverage offerings are broken down into four groupings throughout the day, with coffee selections being available the entire time. We’ll now go through some of the snack offerings…

Coffee (6:30AM – 10:00PM)

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Continental Breakfast (7:00AM – 10:30AM)

Breakfast was probably the most satisfying overall, as there were more than enough selections for everyone.

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The chocolate milk is small bottles of Nesquik.
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Where are the donuts?!!!

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I was hoping these were coffee cake muffins, but they were apple muffins.
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Cereal.
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Steel cut oatmeal.

 

Lite Bites (11:30AM – 4:00PM)

The early afternoon selections – including cookies and gummy bears – were definitely geared towards kids, which I found a little strange because nothing else on the Atrium Club Level seemed to be designed with kids in mind. I did enjoy the yogurt covered pretzels, but it would be hard to justify these options being a lunch alternative for a family.

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Cookies, goldfish, and gummy bears.
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Potato chips.
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Cookies, assorted nuts, yogurt covered pretzels, and fruit.

 

Contemporary Flavors (5:00PM – 7:00PM)

The “dinner” options were definitely a step up, with a mix of vegetables, cheese and crackers, rolls, and some cooked foods. The peanut butter and jelly sandwich option was interesting as you had small cups with a mixture of pb&j in them and slices of bread nearby. I thought it was visually interesting, but maybe it just doesn’t take all that much to impress me.

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Ranch dressing and hummus to dip the various vegetables in.
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Cheese and crackers.
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Cups of peanut butter and jelly on the left, slices of bread on the right.

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These vegetable spring rolls were very good.
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Wine selections.
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Bud Light, Heineken, Sam Adams and Yeungling are added to the fridge.

 

Cordials and Desserts (8:00PM – 10:00PM)

High marks for creativity here. While the serving sizes were pretty small, you could get as much as you wanted of anything, and all the choices were terrific. I loved the presentation of the apples slices and caramel, and you can’t go wrong with dessert shots.

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Apple slices and cups of caramel.
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Oreo mint shot.
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Chocolate-covered strawberry shot.
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Cupcakes.

 

Atrium Club Level Strengths:

The View – The Atrium Club Level has two sides: Theme Park View, and Bay Lake View. Bay Lake View basically has you overlooking the Bay Lake Tower DVC property, but Theme Park View provides true magic. It’s jaw dropping.

The Check-In Process – This was by far and away the most personal and easiest check-in procedure I have ever had at any hotel. The valets and everyone greeting us by name throughout were nice touches.

Turndown Service – Coming back from the park to find the bed made up and the chocolates by the pillows was great.

Free Parking – All Disney-owned hotels offer free parking, but this is worth pointing out to people who stay at Universal or other off-site hotels, many of which charge for parking.

Concierge Staff – This group of men and women were incredible across the board. Even the texting service worked exceptional. As a surprise for my family, I had pre-ordered some cupcakes and a cake from Babycakes NYC, and the staff kept it in a refrigerator until delivering it to our room. The cupcakes were for my girlfriend, who is vegan, and the cake was for the kids with us who were going to Cinderella’s Royal Table the next morning. They were both a big hit, and the kids were excited that Cinderella baked a cake for them.

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Cupcakes from Babycakes NYC.
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A cake from Babycakes NYC.

 

While Babycakes NYC was formerly located in Downtown Disney; it is now off property but creates desserts for many locations across Walt Disney World property and can deliver items to anyone staying on-site at WDW. You contact them online by clicking here or by calling 1-407-938-9044.

Atrium Club Level Weaknesses –

Not Exactly “Kid Friendly” – The Contemporary is a great place for kids, with a fun pool and Chef Mickey’s, but there isn’t much for kids of any age in the club level rooms or the lounge. The club levels at the Universal hotels have games and toys for kids to play with, along with a TV. The Contemporary just had a TV, and the only people who could watch it for all intents and purposes were the ones at the small table in front of it.

The Bathroom Sinks and Vanity Area – This look great but are really poor in a practical sense. If you want to pour your coffee or soda out in to the sink you will also have to spend a bit of time to get it all down the drain. There is also very little space in-between the sinks to put anything.

The Beds Were “OK” at Best – In my mind the Contemporary should have a world class mattress compared to a place like Pop Century, and instead I would say they are almost exactly the same. The overall room looked fantastic, and the bed was comfortable enough, but the mattress, itself, felt cheap.

The Overall Selection of Food and Beverage in Lounge Was Minimal – The presentation was unique, and some of the items were really good, especially the desserts, but overall it’s hard to find value in the food and beverage options. While your family could definitely put together a breakfast in the morning, you are going to have to find a different place for lunch and dinner, even if you stop by the lounge for snacks. We found ourselves going down to Contempo Cafe to get food and then returning back up to the lounge to eat it in front of the gorgeous view of the Magic Kingdom.

While I would consider the lounge in general to be small, it was never packed with people at any of the times I was there. When any of the food items started to run low, the staff was quick to replace them with more.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS – I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, but everything that I loved about it you can get in a cheaper priced room and just skip the Atrium Club Level amenities. I’ll be doing an article on the overall Contemporary experience, and there are some very compelling reasons to stay here despite the insanely high price tag. The walk over to the Magic Kingdom was much shorter than I thought it would be and is about the same walking time as it is from Universal’s Royal Pacific Resort to Islands of Adventure. I probably saw the monorail come in and out of the Contemporary 40 times just in the one day I was there, and it never got old. The arcade was huge. The gift shops were tremendous. Being able to see the Magic Kingdom fireworks and the Electrical Water Pageant from the hotel was fantastic. Is it worth $615 (after tax) for one night? No, but I’m not thinking $300-$400 for a regular standard room with a theme park view is crazy anymore. The Contemporary was special, and now when I price out the Polynesian or Animal Kingdom Lodge, my chances of saying “Yes” to the price just went way up.

10 thoughts on “PHOTO REPORT: Atrium Club Level at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

  • October 1, 2014 at 10:25 am
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    Great review, Derek. The Contemporary has always, and still does, evoke a sense of nostalgia for park visitors. It’s a landmark as much as a destination, in my opinion.

    Honestly, however, I no longer desire to stay there. When I consider the nightly price tag, even with an occasional room rate discount/promotion, I’m honestly offended at the level of pillaging Disney is expecting to perform on my bank account. Couple that fact with the minimal (and I mean minimal) value you receive for your money, and it’s no longer even an enticement.

    As I read your well-written review, I can’t help but notice the fact that Disney has so conditioned us guests to the ongoing cutbacks in deliverables, amenities, etc., that the simplest of minor frills are now welcomed by us and often viewed as a gigantic offering of their good will on our behalf. Seriously, pillow mints, gummi bears and a fancy check in folder with ADR printouts? That constitutes approximately $2.15 of the $600+ room rate.

    Again, I’m offended greatly by their blind assumption that I’m a sucker and more than willing to fork over $5000 just because they’re “Disney.” It hasn’t been this way always…

    Again, great review.

    Reply
  • October 1, 2014 at 10:35 am
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    Chris really said it all, so I don’t have much to add except “Amen” to his comment! I too find the pricing so outrageous as to be affirmatively insulting. Apparently Disney thinks we’re all morons who don’t understand the value of our own currency, and how much the same money can purchase — or how much good it could do for others — elsewhere. I will never spend that much on a hotel, and I’d be ashamed of myself if I did.

    Reply
    • October 2, 2014 at 6:11 am
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      But if guests keep paying the price then Disney have no incentive to drop it. Someone somewhere has done the maths and they are making money on these rooms at that price with enough occupancy.

      Reply
  • October 1, 2014 at 2:10 pm
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    Thanks for this post. Having been fortunate enough to club level at the PoIy (magical free upgrade) I have been curious as to the club level experience at Cont. And I respectfully somewhat disagree with the two previous comments up to a point — especially as I stack up the things that are included in the cost…parking, transportation, food and beverages (morning, noon, night, snack, alcohol), an on-demand concierge (basically since they are responsive to text), the view (which you pay more for at any hotel anywhere), all of the customer service touch points and personal itinerary. These are all first class amenities not seen anywhere else on property with the exception of the GF…I would imagine. Trust me when I say that the club lounge is a pretty cool thing to have at your disposal…that is included in the price. Would I stay here a week? Not a chance (I love my retirement account as much as the next guy) but will I take my wife here for a night or two to celebrate a birthday or for our anniversary? Absolutely.

    Reply
  • October 1, 2014 at 6:50 pm
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    I’m usually aghast of the hotel rates of deluxe resorts, but as someone who’s been traveling regularly to NYC this fall, I can tell you that Disney’s prices are in line with other high end (4+ star) resorts in desirable locations. The good thing with Disney is that there are at least still decent-sized rooms available throughout the year for less than $300/nt. (AKL, WL, and the moderates and values). I can’t say the same thing for Manhattan.

    Reply
  • October 1, 2014 at 10:41 pm
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    I’m really looking forward to working on an upcoming SATURDAY SIX on the Contemporary as there were a lot of things I really liked. I just don’t think there is enough even at $100 a night to justify Club Level over a standard Magic Kingdom View room. To be fair, I am comparing it to my experiences at other Club Levels at Universal where the lounge has much more food options, dedicated children’s areas, and free computer use. Contemporary Club Level had no computers and you had to go to the business center (on level four I believe) and that closed at 5PM. I expected that the Club Level experience at the Contemporary would blow away one at say, the Royal Pacific Resort, but instead the opposite was true with only the view being better.

    That said. What a view…

    Reply
  • October 1, 2014 at 11:02 pm
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    Great review Derek, Len should double your pay! We stay club level for convenience. Having breakfast in the lounge is a huge bonus for my family of 4. We can quickly eat and then get on with our day in the parks. Throw in the bonus snacks, the pre-dinner appetizers, the FREE beer and all the Grand Marnier you care to drink during the cordials and desserts??? But the best reason of all is the cast members making you feel like royalty. I’ve had incredibe experiences at the poly and the yacht club [this past august] and i’d never stay anyplace but club level. For 8 nights this august, we paid 462.00 per night, with all the extras thrown in it was a tremendous value. Time is money at WDW, the extra cost is totally worth it for my family!

    Reply
    • October 1, 2014 at 11:06 pm
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      Scott, that’s most articulate, well thought out, and intelligent response I have seen on any one of my blogs, well at least the first line. Seriously tough, I have to agree 100% that the staff of the Contemporary was aces from top to bottom with the concierge staff being exceptional. They answered my texts even days after I had checked out.

      Reply
      • October 1, 2014 at 11:17 pm
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        Was that view really good? It looked like mostly parking lot to me. At Yacht Club, we overlooked the path that leads from the resort out to the light house on Crescent Lake. You could also see Storm Along Bay, I thought that was a really great view. Plus the bikini clad women walking all over didn’t hurt either. Tell your sidekick Brian to hurry up with his next Disney Booze Book!!! Keep up all the great work-

        Reply
        • October 1, 2014 at 11:24 pm
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          The view was that good. The picture should have one of those “Objects in picture are larger than they appear.” Plus the three pictures in a row don’t convey what its like to look across and see the Poly, Grand Flo, and MK. Fireworks at night? Water pageant? Seeing the Monorail, the boats, and the MK train go by? I’d be hard pressed to believe any view beats this.

          You’ll be glad to know Brian and the TouringPlans team just finished an in-depth research trip to update his e-Book. Plenty of exciting news soon on that end.

          Reply

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