1st family trip to Disney at the end of October 2012. We knew we wanted to be on the monorail with our young girls (ages 1 and 3), and we debated whether to stay at the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian, the Contemporary, or Bay Lake towers. In the end, we decided on Club Level at the Contemporary, and we were very pleased with this decision.
1) Location - With young children, convenience is very important, and Club level at the Contemporary allowed us to enjoy a casual breakfast in the lounge every morning (with some fruit loops to go) and a snack every evening while overlooking the Magic Kingdom (plus wine and beer for mom and dad). In addition, we timed it and from our hotel room door to the main entrance at the Magic Kingdom, it was 20 minutes. And that is the long way around on the monorail, meaning that you get on at the Contemporary, and then make stops at the Transportation Center, the Polynesian, the Grand Floridian, and finally the Magic Kingdom. This location on the monorail is great because being the first stop after the Magic Kingdom, there were always open spots on the monorail in the morning, and we never had a problem rolling in with our double stroller and finding seats. This also means that the Contemporary is the 1st stop at the end of the day, so it is less than 10 minutes from the Magic Kingdom to your hotel room. As much fun as the Magic Kingdom is, with the little ones, when it's time to go, it is time to go.
2) Views (see pictures) - the Views from either side of the Contemporary are fantastic. On one side, the views facing west offer a panoramic view of the Magic Kingdom, Seven Seas Lagoon, The Grand Floridian, and the Polynesian. On the other side, the expansive views of Bay lake and the pool area are quite impressive as well. On the Bay Lake side, the eclectic water show can be seen and heard (it is loud) every night around 10pm.
3) Club Level (see pictures) - We stayed on the Bay Lake side Club Level which is cheaper than the Theme Park View but offers the best of both worlds, as you can enjoy the Magic Kingdom and fireworks view from the lounge while enjoying the Bay Lake view from your room. The food options on the Club Level are good, but not spectacular. And don't expect too many food changes on a day to day basis. With a few exceptions, the food that is offered on day 1 of your vacation will be the same options that are offered on days 2, 3, and 4 as well. One note is that there are a couple commonly requested items which you have to ask for. Wine is available, but you have to ask. (beer is stocked in the fridge). Also, 'to-go' cups are available upon request for coffee or other beverages. One additional note here is that the Club level provides an open environment, and we met several other families, groups, and we were able to share ideas and experiences. Given that this was our first Disney trip, it was valuable to get the inside scoop from other visitors.
The rooms on club level are the same as standard rooms, but we did learn that they are actually slightly larger than some other standard rooms at other luxury resorts. They are still pretty basic, just a bit wider than we expected.
The staff on the club level floor is nice. There were always 2-5 staff members sitting at the desk waiting to help with directions, reservations, or offer advice. Of course, they are still Disney employees so that are obligated to give you the canned responses. For instance, we wanted to go to Chef Mickey one night, and the concierge indicated that there were no reservations, and they suggested other restaurants. We decided to try our luck at Chef Mickey anyway and after only a 15 minute wait, we were sitting at a table.
4) Check-in. This was our biggest annoyance for the trip, and I presume it is an isolated incident, but thought I needed to share here. We had an early flight, and arrived at the hotel about 12:15pm on that day of our check-in. Although check-in was not guaranteed until 3:00pm, we had called ahead and requested early check-in. Well, at 12:15pm, we were told by the concierge staff on the Club Level floor that our room was not clean/ready yet. Not a big deal, and we figured that it would be a quick 20 minutes for someone to go in a clean our room. Well, two and a half hours later and we were still munching on goldfish in the lounge waiting for our room. During this time, we could see the maids moving down the floor cleaning rooms. None of the concierge staff made any effort to contact the maids, so we waited until 2:45 for our room. With 2 small children in need of naps after a long flight, this was certainly not the high level of service that we were expecting upon arrival.
5) Pool - The pools, beach, and water play area at the Contemporary is nice. They don't have the 'wow' factor that some other Disney resort pools have, but they were actually better than we expected. There is a large free-form pool, a children's water play area, and a circular pool out by the lake. Just take the elevator down to the 1st floor, walk out the back, and you are there; very convenient. The only thing missing was a zero entry pool for the little ones. The pool at the Polynesian is a bit more dramatic (and offers zero entry), but the Contemporary pool and pool deck was larger than we expected. It was off-season and temps in the low 70's, so the pools were pretty open all day. The beach, marina, and Sand Bar Cafe are also right down by the pool, so convenient and easy access to all.
6) Food - We had breakfast every morning at the Club level lounge (bagels, pastries, oatmeal, fruit, cereal, cappuccino machine, etc), and snacks every evening (apples with caramel sauce, cookies, small desserts, etc). Beverages are available in the club level refrigerator all day (juice, milk, soft drinks, and wine/beer in the evenings). We were never around for the evening h'orderves (5-7pm), but we heard that they were good (but not great).
Also, if you are first time visitor, it's probably a good idea to get some reservations for meals. Or at least have a plan. We made the mistake of not having any reservations or a plan one night, and trying to speed around the Magic Kingdom at 630pm looking for dinner with 2 toddlers can be recipe for disaster. After dark, it can be difficult to find a restaurant with an open table and chairs. It finally got to be 7:30 and we ended up just coming back to the Café at the hotel. That is always a fall back option, but options are limited at the Contempo Café and.
7) Character Dining - It took our little ones a few days to get used to the characters, but by the end, they would run right up and give the characters a hug. The goal of the character dining is to two-fold, (1) get pictures with the characters and (2) eat a decent meal. We did 3 character meals, and all were buffet styles; Chef Mickey (at the Contemporary), Crystal Palace (at the Magic Kingdom), and 1900 Park Fare (at the Grand Floridian). Our favorite was the lunch with Winnie the Pooh and friends at the Crystal Palace. Chef Mickey was fun, and 1900 Park Fare was ok. Well, the food was probably the best at 1900 Park fare, but the dining room was basically a reception hall with no windows.
In the end, the Contemporary certainly is expensive, but the location is ideal, and I have a soft spot for the historic hotel and the monorail going through it is a unique feature that you just can't duplicate anywhere else.
Hope this helps with your planning and good luck!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Retreat to this ultra-modern Resort hotel and discover award-winning dining, white-sand beaches, spectacular views and dazzling pools. Walk to Magic Kingdom park, or catch the Resort Monorail as it breezes through the iconic A-frame Contemporary Tower. Inside, a 90-foot-tall mural by Disney Legend Mary Blair-responsible for the distinct look and feel of the "it's a small world" attraction-celebrates the Grand Canyon and the American Southwest. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Disney`s Contemporary Hotel Orlando
- Disney Contemporary Hotel
- Contemporary Disney Resort
- Disneys Contemporary Resort
- Contemporary Hotel Disney
- Contemporary Resort
- Disney Contemporary Resort
- Disneys Contemporary Hotel