Thursday, August 21, 2014

Contemporary Resort Review

To see more pictures of this resort, click here!

There are many sophisticated resorts in the world, but how many of them have a magical monorail running through them transporting you to the Magic Kingdom? Disney's Contemporary Resort is where you can find modern elegance with a sprinkling of pixie dust, and an abundance of the classic Disney service, quality, and storytelling.

If you've never been to Walt Disney World, or simply aren't sure which one is the Contemporary Resort, I can almost guarantee you can recognize it. As a kid, this was always "the hotel that the monorail goes through" to me. As one of the two original resorts, the A-frame body of the tower is a classic icon representing WDW resorts. It is a wonderful place to stay, visit, shop, play, and eat (I prefer all of the above!).

LOCATION and TRANSPORTATION

The first thing you'll notice, besides the distinguishable shape of this resort, is its location. While it's impossible to pick the best feature of the Contemporary, the proximity to the Magic Kingdom may be at the top of the list. When you walk out of the lobby, you are literally steps away from the park entrance. An easy 5 minute walk puts you right in the middle of the magic! You can also take the monorail mentioned above. On your way to the Magic Kingdom, you'll pass through the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Village Resort (which is currently being re-imagined and refurbished), as well as the Ticket and Transportation Center, making the Magic Kingdom your 4th stop. Leaving the park, the Contemporary is your first stop back. It's a wonderful feeling to head back after a long, magical day, knowing that your bed is just moments away! Epcot is also accessible by monorail; just head one stop to the TTC, and transfer to the Epcot line. If your plans take you to Fort Wilderness campground or Wilderness Lodge, you'll take a quick and relaxing boat ride on Bay Lake to each of these. All other guest areas are accessible by bus.



The centerpiece of this resort is the 90 foot tall mural in the center of the 4th floor Grand Canyon Concourse. Disney fans might recognize the artistic style of animator and Disney legend Mary Blair, who may be best known to guests for her contributions to the design of "It's a Small World," as well as several animation classics (including Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, and Peter Pan). The mural is original to the resort, and has been there since 1971! You have to experience this work of art in person to appreciate the grandeur. Each of the tiles was hand painted over the course of a year and a half. There are murals on all four sides of the walls that surround the central elevators. If you look closely, you can spot a five legged goat, supposedly put there as a reminder that nothing can be perfect. 



ROOMS and AMENITIES 

At over 400 square feet, guest rooms are spacious and comfortably sleep up to 5 guests (plus one child under 3 in a portable crib). Standard rooms have 2 queen beds and a daybed, or one king bed and a daybed; a variety of suites are available as well. Inside the room you'll find a table with chairs, a TV on a beautiful, glowing stand, a full bathroom with two sinks and a separate door for the toilet, plenty of closet space in the entry hallway, refrigerator, and all the basics you would expect (coffee maker, hair dryer, ironing board, nightstand, phone). The layout and use of space in the rooms is fantastic- but that's not even the greatest highlight. The decor is stunning: you'll find wonderful modern colors, beautiful lighting, and a fantastically warm and inviting ambiance. The rooms were refurbished in 2013, and are more "contemporary" than ever before.

A variety of locations and views are available. The least expensive rooms are in the Garden Wing, located just south of the main building, near the pool. The majority of the rooms are located in the main building, called the Tower. You can book either a Bay Lake view or Theme Park view; both are fabulous!! A Theme Park View will give you a broad, breathtaking view of the Magic Kingdom, as well as the Seven Seas Lagoon. Bay Lake view rooms are wonderful as well; during the day you can take in all the activity of the marina and water craft on Bay Lake, and at night you can watch the Electric Water Pageant as it passes by. Club level rooms and suites are available as well, and a wonderful way to be a bit indulgent on your magical vacation.


DINING and SHOPPING

Disney's Contemporary Resort is home to a variety of wonderful dining experiences. 


Quick Service:

The Contempo Cafe is located on the 4th floor Grand Canyon Concourse, right next to Chef Mickey's. This restaurant serves quick service breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast includes waffles, eggs, french toast, and pastries, while lunch and dinner includes a wide range of hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, pasta, flatbreads, and salads. 

Table Service:

You'll find three great table service options at this resort: casual, character, and fine dining.

Chef Mickeys is a character buffet located on the 4th floor Grand Canyon Concourse. This is a very popular restaurant for three reasons: the characters, the atmosphere, and the food. Breakfast and dinner are served here, with a large buffet and wide selection to fit every taste. The atmosphere is so much fun; energetic music plays against the  colorful, vibrant decor, while the monorail passes by just overhead. You definitely get the "Disney feel" when eating here! Of course, having Mickey and friends stop by your table for pictures and autographs definitely helps with that as well!


"The Wave... of American Flavors" is a table service restaurant located on the main floor, next to the lobby. Dining here, you can enjoy modern casual American cuisine, with a focus on healthy options and fresh, local ingredients. The whimsical decor and lighting create a fun backdrop to a wonderful meal! I consider this restaurant a hidden gem; all three meals are served at this location, and it is often easier to secure a reservation here than other locations. You might even have luck walking up without a reservation (although they're always recommended!)

California Grill is a signature restaurant located on the 15th floor of the resort. Recently refurbished, it features stunning views of the Magic Kingdom and Seven Seas Lagoon. The view is rivaled only by the delicious menu and wine selection. Reservations are absolutely a must, as tables fill up quickly. The restaurant can only be accessed by a private elevator after checking in on the third floor. For an extra special experience, you can try to time your reservations to coincide with Wishes fireworks; however, if you eat earlier in the day, you may return with your receipt to enjoy the show from the observation deck later that night. As a fine-dining location, California Grill does enforce a dress code, so be sure to check the policy before your reservation!

RECREATION

When you're not out enjoying the parks, you'll find a variety of fun things to do right at the resort!

Guests of the Contemporary can enjoy two pools; the larger theme pool with slide is just outside the resort, while the smaller quiet pool is located just beyond, along Bay Lake. Both pools have gorgeous views of the hotel and the lake. During the day, you can relax and enjoy the boat and watercraft activity going by. At night, the Electrical Water Pageant passes by. A fun futuristic splash area is available for the young kids to play in as well!

Cabanas are also available for rental. These are situated around the quiet pool near Bay Lake, and include a TV, padded chairs, and mini refrigerator.

The marina features a variety of watercraft available for rent, such as pontoons and sea raycers. For those a bit more adventurous, you can try out tubing, skiing, or even parasailing! Guided catch-and-release fishing excursions take place on both Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon (reservations are available starting 180 days in advance).

A few specialty cruises are available as well. You can book a private fireworks cruise, which takes you around Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon, ending with your own private viewing of Wishes.

The Pirate and Pals Fireworks Voyage is another fun option that the entire family can enjoy! You'll meet inside the Contemporary Resort for snacks and a photo opportunity with Captain Hook and Smee. Then, Patch the Pirate leads you out to your 'ship', where you'll set sail on a voyage filled with stories, sing-a-longs, and jokes! Before you head back for the night, you'll view Wishes from the Seven Seas Lagoon.

Whether you stay here for a week, or just stop by to enjoy the food and atmosphere, you should definitely make Disney's Contemporary Resort a must-do on your next visit!

Carissa

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