First, we are DVC members. I think that is always important to point out because we have already "paid" for our accommodations. I believe reviews are different based on whether you are outright paying for this hotel stay or whether you are a DVC member and have already paid for it upfront.
With that being said, we were very excited to stay at Bay Lake. The rooms are beautiful, clean, and large with comfy beds. We have a family of five (all three children are 8 and under) and fit perfectly in a 1 bedroom villa. We booked our room for a Lakeview and luckily ended up with a half Lakeview/half Parkview. We could see the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom from our balcony each night. We were on the 3rd floor, so we couldn't see the castle, but we still could see the fireworks.
TIP#1: To be perfectly honest, I would not pay the extra (or use the extra points) for the Magic Kingdom view because you can go up to the Observation Deck for the show (which isn't really that long) and watch it all there for FREE.
Bay Lake also has lots of other activities going on for the kids and the pool is much better than the one at the Contemporary (although the slide was closed for refurbishment the week we were there which our kids were not happy about. lol). But, you may use either pool. They have nightly campfires, games by the pool. activities at their own community hall.
As far as convenience, Bay Lake is by far best in comparison to other resorts we have stayed at. You have the walkway to the Magic Kingdom (or the monorail).....
TIP#1: If you don't mind the walk, take the walkway TO the MK, because they make 3 stops on the monorail going to the MK. On the way home though - when you are tired anyway, take the monorail....Contemporary is the first stop.
You also can take the monorail to EPCOT. We did not have any major problems with waiting for busses at all.
The access by covered walkway to the Contemporary was so nice. There you have Chef Mickey's and shops and a market (which is nice to fill up your kitchen with cereal and milk for the kids breakfasts). There is a beauty salon and barber shop on the third floor at the Contemporary as well. The quick service dining at the Contempo Café was great at the Contemporary, too. My husband got the Mahi Mahi sandwich two different times we ate in there because it was so good.
The staff was completely All-Out Disney here. Excellent customer service and always telling us to have a "Magical" day. Or asking the kids if they had a fun day upon our return. My husband played golf and the staff was wonderful to help plan his travels to and from the Disney golf courses.
TIP#3: If you golf, you will have to pick up the cab from the Contemporary, so be prepared to carry your clubs over there. Although, I am sure you could have someone do it for you if you want to pay for it.
All in all, Bay Lake met all of my expectations and then some. In the past, we have stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, Boardwalk Villas, Saratoga Springs, Port Orleans, and even the campgrounds. Bay Lake is one of my top picks due to the convenience alone. My husband's favorites are Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge for the ambiance (which are beautiful), not for the convenience and apparently ambiance ranks higher with him. It's close for me, but the convenience gave Bay Lake the top spot in my book! Hope this helps! Enjoy!!!!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.