If you’re looking to stay as close as possible to Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Contemporary Resort is just a froggy hop, skip and a jump away. As one of the deluxe Disney Resort hotels along the resort monorail line, the Contemporary’s prime location is a major advantage for guests who prioritize convenience above all. Because it's so close to Magic Kingdom, you may even get the bonus perk of watching the fireworks from your hotel room! (Note that fireworks are temporarily suspended until further notice, though virtual, on-demand fireworks are now available at all Walt Disney World Resort hotels!)
Beyond its optimal location, Disney's Contemporary Resort has super chic rooms, frogtastic dining options, fun recreational activities and convenient amenities. Disney hosted our most recent stay at Disney's Contemporary Resort, so we could experience the reopening procedures first-hand. In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to know before your next stay!
Overview of Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Initially considered to be named the Tempo Bay Hotel, the Contemporary is one of the two original Walt Disney World Resort hotels (the other being Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort) that opened in 1971. Taking after its name, the Contemporary’s sleek, ultramodern design allows the monorail to pass straight through the main A-frame building known as the Tower. We imagine it was toadally impressive back in the day, and it still continues to amaze guests — especially the tadpoles — today!
The front desk, concierge and bell services are located on the first floor of the main building, along with a couple of dining locations. Using the Direct-to-Room service via mobile check-in through the My Disney Experience app is highly encouraged. That way, you do not have to stop at the front desk! Instead, you’ll receive a notification with your room number when your room is ready. Check-in starts at 3 p.m. and checkout is 11 a.m.
The majority of restaurants, gift shops and access to the monorail can all be found on the fourth floor, also known as the Grand Canyon Concourse. Overall, the hotel has a minimalist design with a neutral color scheme. In sharp contrast, the 90-foot-tall, colorful mural by Mary Blair (a Disney artist who worked on designing “it’s a small world”) stands out in the Grand Canyon Concourse.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort Rooms
With a total of 655 guest rooms, Disney’s Contemporary Resort hosts the majority of guests in the Tower (the main A-frame building). One side of the Tower has views of Magic Kingdom and Seven Seas Lagoon, while the other side looks out to Bay Lake. Aside from the Tower rooms, the smaller, three-floor South Garden Wing sits behind the Tower and swimming pools. The Garden Wing’s room views include landscaping, the marina, Bay Lake or the parking lot.
When selecting a room, you’ll have to choose one of the following based on your desired view:
- Main Tower - Theme Park View (as low as $741 per night): faces Magic Kingdom and Seven Seas Lagoon
- Main Tower - Lake View (as low as $678 per night): faces Bay Lake
- Garden Wing - Garden View (as low as $490 per night): faces the gardens, marina or Bay Lake
- Garden Wing - Standard View (as low as $482 per night): faces the parking lot or has obstructed views
The standard rooms are very spacious — at about 394 square feet! Each room is furnished with two queen beds (or one king bed), a day bed, an L-shaped desk, a nightstand, armoire and a flatscreen TV. Other room amenities include a hair dryer, Wi-Fi, coffee maker, iron and ironing board, in-room safe and a mini refrigerator. We especially love the light-up panel below the TV that reminds us of a fireplace.
Enter the bathroom through a sliding door. While the toilet can be split by another sliding door, we wish the double sinks were also separate from the shower area to double up on getting ready. But the bathroom itself is very nice and spacious! Pro tip: If you have little tadpoles, you may need to hoist them up while brushing their teeth so they can spit directly over the flat-bottom sink’s drain.
Transportation at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
As we mentioned before, the Contemporary Resort is so close to Magic Kingdom that it’s quite literally steps away. You can walk directly to the park entrance if you want to get some extra hops in. The monorail is another quick and easy option! Just be aware that it makes a few quick stops at the Transportation & Ticket Center, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa if you’re traveling to Magic Kingdom. Because of the frequent stops, it’s toadally possible that it may be faster to walk depending on your speed hopping abilities! We like to walk to Magic Kingdom in the morning, but after a long day, taking the monorail is a must-do since the Contemporary is the first stop and everyone is tired!
If traveling to EPCOT, you can usually take the resort monorail line to the Transportation and Ticket Center and transfer to the EPCOT monorail line. With park hopping temporarily suspended (until Jan. 1, 2021), the EPCOT monorail line is not operating, so you’ll need to take a bus. Bus transportation is also available for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs. There is also water taxi access to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
Amenities, Recreation & Shopping at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
At this time, the biggest perks of staying on-site include the ability to book advance dining reservations for your length of stay 60 days in advance of check-in and easy access to Disney World's complimentary transportation options. Previously, added benefits to staying on-site included early FastPass+ access and Extra Magic Hours (these benefits are currently unavailable, but may return in the future). The Electrical Water Pageant sails by the shoreline of the resort, giving guests spectacular views of the nighttime water parade.
The Contemporary Resort also offers the following amenities:
- ATMs and banking services (may exchange foreign currencies at the Front Desk or Lobby Concierge)
- Bell services
- Business center
- Childcare services
- Laundry and dry cleaning services
- Mail services
- Arcade (The Game Station)
- Fitness center
- Resort airline check-in (temporarily unavailable)
- Self-parking ($25 per night)
Guests have a lot of recreational activities to choose from! Soak up the sun at one of the two swimming pools. Splash around and slide down a 17-foot-tall waterslide at the main Feature Pool, or relax at the quiet Bay Lake Pool.
Frogs of all ages and fitness levels can take advantage of complimentary lakeside yoga classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. A jogging path loops around the neighboring Bay Lake Tower and the South Garden for a nearly one-mile workout. Reserve a guided fishing excursion or rent out a boat to cruise around Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon. Play beach volleyball, or head over to the Bay Lake Tower for basketball and tennis courts. At night, come together around the campfire and roast s’mores, or watch a Disney movie under the stars.
Mommy Frog’s note: Some amenities and recreational activities may not be currently available.
If you frogot to pick up a pair of Mickey ears at the parks, don’t fret! There are several gift shops for any last-minute needs. Head to the Grand Canyon Concourse for Bayview Gifts, Fantasia and Fantasia Market.
Dining at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney's Contemporary offers a wide variety of dining options, ranging from pool bars to signature dining. Note that currently, temperature checks will be required before being seated at any of the table-service restaurants. Face coverings must be worn while entering and exiting all restaurants. Masks may be removed once seated, but if leaving the table for any reason (i.e., a restroom run or exiting), they must be put back on.
Take a private elevator ride from the second floor to the Contemporary’s award-winning rooftop restaurant that boasts panoramic views of Seven Seas Lagoon and Magic Kingdom. Its outdoor area provides one of the best places to watch the Happily Ever After nighttime spectacular when it's available. As for its signature dining, California Grill is open for dinner only. (Its Sunday Brunch at the Top feast is temporarily unavailable.) Experience the flavors of Californian cuisine, which includes seasonal menu items such as Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli and Oak-fired Filet of Beef. Opt for artisanal oven-fired pizza, hand-rolled sushi or a gourmet entree to pair with your selection of over 300 different wines.
Chef Mickey’s normally offers a breakfast character dining experience with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald Duck and Goofy. Since Disney World’s reopening, Chef Mickey’s has opened back up without the characters and turned its breakfast buffet into an all-you-care-to-eat, family-style meal. So while you can't currently meet Mickey inside the restaurant, you can still get your fill of Mickey waffles! If you'll be visiting on or after Dec. 16, Mickey and friends will be back greeting guests from a safe distance, along with all-new breakfast offerings including Mickey’s “Celebration” Pancake.
The Wave … of American Flavors
Located next to the front desk, The Wave … of American Flavors takes pride in its casual elegance and new American cuisine that sources local and regional organic ingredients. This table-service restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and there is a separate lounge area where guests of legal age can enjoy New World wines and craft beers. Currently, there is also a mobile ordering option that allows you to pick up food to go.
As the hotel’s main quick-service restaurant, Contempo Cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, including handy grab-and-go options. To start off your day, you’ve got the choice of typical breakfast foods, such as scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and Mickey waffles, as well as a breakfast tofu bowl and steel-cut oatmeal for plant-based options. Lunch and dinner have similar menus (though dinner has a few additional meal choices) that consist of specialty salads, sandwiches and flatbreads. While you eat, it’s fun to watch the monorail trains pass by overhead!
Outer Rim Lounge (Temporarily Unavailable)
Sip on a refreshing adult beverage while admiring scenic views of Bay Lake at Outer Rim. The lounge is next to Chef Mickey’s and Contempo Cafe and has a full bar menu. Come for the drinks ... stay for the large cushioned chairs and overhead TVs.
The Sand Bar
Swimming can work up an appetite, so this poolside bar provides frog-favorite grub such as cheeseburgers, hot dogs and nachos. Tadpoles can chill out with smoothie selections, while momma and poppa frogs can unwind with a cocktail, wine or beer.
If you just want a quick cup of gourmet Joe and a pastry, stop by this coffee bar in the main lobby before a fun-filled day at the parks.
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Bay Lake Tower is a standalone Disney Vacation Club Resort that shares the same theming as the Contemporary Resort. Because of its close proximity, Bay Lake Tower guests can take full advantage of the Contemporary’s dining options and easy monorail access. In fact, the Sky Way Bridge connects the fifth floor south elevator lobby of Bay Lake Tower to the fourth floor concourse of the Contemporary.
The 295-room Bay Lake Tower offers multi-bedroom Disney Deluxe Villas that feature full-sized kitchens, living and dining areas, private bedrooms and a washer and dryer set — perfect for families or extended stays. For shorter vacations or smaller parties, the Deluxe Studio option includes a kitchenette and a sleeper sofa.
Bay Lake Tower has its own feature pool, poolside bar and a rooftop lounge that’s exclusive for Disney Vacation Club members staying at the hotel.
What to Consider Before Staying at Disney's Contemporary Resort
Currently, there are a bunch of health and safety measures implemented due to COVID-19. We have an entire separate post about what it's like staying a Disney Resort hotel during this time, as well as a video that Tad shot during our most recent visit, which was hosted by Disney.
The Contemporary's location is a major draw for most guests, especially if you're planning multiple days at Magic Kingdom. It may be a great option if you have young tadpoles who still use a stroller or get tired easily. You don't have to fold the stroller while you're on the monorail, or you can opt to use the walkway between Magic Kingdom and the resort. If the tadpoles get tired at the park during the day, you can easily hop back to the resort for a power nap without losing much time.
On the flip side, you do pay the price for convenience. The Contemporary Resort is a Disney Deluxe resort, and rates are certainly more expensive than if you were to stay at a Disney Moderate or Value resort. (If you book through us, we can save you some green!) Also, if you're really into Disney theming, you may want to consider another hotel. While it has a futuristic design, the Contemporary's overall theming is more subtle, which can be seen most clearly by its simple feature pool (you can see our very favorite Disney World Resort hotel pools here). If you would rather take in a piece of Disney World history during your stay, then the Contemporary fits the bill!
The character dining experience at Chef Mickey's and spectacular views of Magic Kingdom's fireworks are also major reasons why we love the Contemporary. If these are must-dos for you, you may want to wait until you can get the full experience.
Have you ever stayed at Disney's Contemporary Resort? If so, share what your experience was like with us! If not, what are you most looking forward to — the location, views, restaurants or all of the above?