Several other free-standing buildings form the whole of this resort, but the steel A-line frame of Contemporary Tower is the heart of the hotel. From the eye-catching metal, glass, and concrete structure to the monorail running straight through the central atrium, Disney’s Contemporary Resort is instantly identifiable.
Not that the Contemporary doesn’t provide resort guests with the comfort and amenities expected of a Disney deluxe resort. The resort features multiple pools, several restaurants, a health club, and tennis courts for guests to enjoy.
The feel of the Contemporary Resort has evolved over the years, although the design has remained the same. Originally conceived as an ultra-modern, even futuristic, location, the decades since its creation have painted it with a nostalgic brush. Architecture and interior decoration that once seemed cutting edge now evoke a colorful and Jetsons-like vision of the future from years past.
As distinctive as the resort’s appearance may be, the way in which the Contemporary Resort was built is equally fascinating. The bare steel frame of Contemporary Tower was erected first, and individual pre-fabricated hotel rooms were later lowered into place by a crane. The resort was one of two hotels completed by 1971, when Disney World first opened to the public. The other was Disney’s Polynesian Resort.
The resort is located in the Magic Kingdom Resort Area, between Bay Lake and the Magic Kingdom theme park. Originally, Disney envisioned guests being able to walk directly from the Contemporary Resort into the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland – its thematic sibling. Although that idea was eventually abandoned, the resort is still in easy walking distance of Disney World’s most popular theme park.
In addition to Contemporary Tower, the resort contains three other buildings: the South Garden Rooms, the Convention Center, and the Bay Lake Tower. Standard guest rooms are located in the Tower and the South Garden, while Disney Vacation Club rooms are in the newer Bay Lake building.
The soaring atrium of Disney’s Contemporary Resort is impressive.
Guests at the Contemporary have 24-hour a day access to the Olympiad Fitness Center, which offers spa and salon services in addition to a full range of fitness equipment. Spa services require and appointment and include a surcharge. A personal trainer is also available by appointment.
The Contemporary has two pools for resort guests, the largest of which includes a 17-ft slide. The other is a round pool with a deep center and shallow “beaches” all around the edge. The resort also features a wading pool for children, and two hot tubs perfect for cooler nights, rare as those may be!
If you are too exhausted to move after a day of theme park exploring, the Contemporary offers 24-hour room service every day of the week. Refrigerators, microwaves, and coffee makers are also available in each room.
Other services include concierge assistance to help guests secure park passes, show tickets, and dining reservations, and arrange other details of their visit. The concierge desk is located in the main lobby of Contemporary Tower, and an experienced attendant is present from seven in the morning until ten at night every day. Wireless internet is available in each room, and guests may also use the business center in the Convention Center building for access to computers.
Parents looking to steal a few hours away from their kids for an adult dinner or other activity can take advantage of in-room babysitting thanks to a partnership between Disney and Kid’s Nite Out. Kid’s Nite Out can also provide parents with assistance during daytime theme park visits.
The Contemporary Resort has quite a wide selection of dining options, and all of them are suitable for family dining with menu options that will appeal to picky young eaters. There are also a number of bars and lounges for adults grabbing a moment to themselves.
For a quick meal, the Contempo Café is a fun stop for standard American cuisine. While the food is predictable, the café has a few touches that provide a distinct experience in keeping with the feel of the Contemporary Resort. To begin with, the monorail whirs by the café every few minutes. Secondly, diners make their selections on touch-screen kiosks for a bit of extra technological fun. Contemporary Grounds is also a quick-stop place for a caffeinated or alcoholic beverage.
The Wave…of American Flavors
A step up from the Contempo Café is the trendy Wave…of American Flavors. Blue and gold lighting, and funky shapes throughout the design give this restaurant a stylish and modern feel. The menu ranges from classic American selections to more adventurous and seasonal dishes. From the picky eater who never wants to be adventurous, to the picky eater who only wants to be adventurous, The Wave should satisfy everyone.
The most upscale and exiting dining experience at the Contemporary can be found at the not very excitingly named California Grill. The name may be boring, but the views and the food are quite the opposite. Treat yourself to award-winning California Fusion cuisine, paired with a wide selection of California wines. The location on the top floor of the resort offers stunning views of the Seven Seas Lagoon or the Magic Kingdom, and even includes a outside platform for enjoying the nightly firework spectacular.
At the California Grill Lounge, the Cove Bar, the Sand Bar, or the Outer Rim guests can indulge in cocktails or other beverages at a full service bar, appetizers, desserts, and snacks. These lounges feature casual settings, most of which overlook the lake or a resort pool.
Chef Mickey’s Café
Last but by no means least on the slate of Contemporary dining options is Chef Mickey’s Café. The cuisine, once again, is standard American fare served up buffet-style. What makes this restaurant special is the chance to enjoy the Disney character dining experience. Meeting their favorite Disney characters is high on the wish list of many young Disney World guests, and character dining is a great way to make this happen. While you sit at your table enjoying your food, Mickey Mouse and a host of his friends will visit each and every table for pictures, autographs, and other fun.
Contemporary Pros and Cons
Without a doubt, the location of the Contemporary Resort is the biggest reason for this hotel’s popularity. No other resort offers such easy access to the Magic Kingdom – which is just a short monorail ride away, and Epcot – just a longer monorail ride away.
The monorail sails right through the center of Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Some guests say that the overall luxury of this resort is not quite up to the standard of other Disney deluxe resorts. The overall emphasis on convenience makes it popular with conventions, and detracts slightly from the family atmosphere and escapism factor. Chef Mickey’s can also be loud during breakfast and dinner, and rooms in proximity to the café may not be best for guests looking to retire early or sleep in.
Choose The Contemporary Because…
It’s a great deluxe resort option for people with kids in tow. The colorful and futuristic design will entertain small fry, and access to the Magic Kingdom could not be more convenient. In addition, it hosts one of the most popular character dining experiences in all of Disney World.