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9 Things To Know About The Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World

Disney’s Contemporary Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort in central Florida opened on October 1, 1971—the same day Magic Kingdom first opened to the public. It was one of only two resort hotels operating at the time (the other was Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort). The hotel is a AAA 4-Diamond Award-winning resort with an A-frame building that has outer walls that slope inward. Guests can stay in one of more than 650 rooms at the Contemporary, and the activities and amenities are fabulous. Trying to plan your trip but not sure where to stay when you visit the parks? Let us help you decide with the things to know about staying at this beautiful Deluxe resort.

9. Location, location, location

If you’re looking for a Disney Resort hotel that’s as close to the action as possible, you won’t find a better one. That’s because Disney’s Contemporary Resort is a stone’s throw from Magic Kingdom. You can hop aboard the monorail that runs through the center atrium—one blink and you’re there. Or you can choose to walk from the Contemporary right into Magic Kingdom’s main gate. It’s that close!

8. Pools and fun in the water

Disney’s Contemporary Resort two pools located along the shore of Bay Lake. There’s a 17-foot-high winding waterslide, as well as two whirlpool spas. For the kids, there’s also a fun water playground, perfect for splashing and getting wet on those warm days in central Florida. Bay Pool is a quieter setting for all ages. The pool itself juts out over Bay Lake. There are also several private cabanas available for rent to Guests at the Contemporary.

7. Chef Mickey’s

Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Buffet is one of Disney World’s most popular character dining experiences, and the only place you’ll find it is at the Contemporary Resort. Chef Mickey’s serves breakfast, brunch and dinner on an all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet that includes just about every type of American fare possible. The food is great, but what makes this experience truly magical is that Mickey and the gang visit with Guests at their tables during their meals. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto pose with Guests for pictures, sign autographs and even stop every once-in-a-while and lead Guests in a fun song and dance. If you’re hoping to have this experience when you visit, be sure to book your dining reservation up to 180 days in advance via the My Disney Experience app or by calling (407) WDW-DINE.

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6. So many places from which to see the fireworks

Anyone at Magic Kingdom can see the nightly fireworks display from several different locations and vantage points around the park, but perhaps the best place to be during the fireworks is at the Contemporary. That’s because its close proximity to Magic Kingdom means you won’t ever miss the fun and magic of the fireworks over the park. Sit on the balcony of your resort hotel room and watch while taking it easy with friends and family. Or you can choose to watch from the fourth-floor observation deck. And for a really special experience, book a table at California Grill on the 15th floor of the Contemporary during the fireworks display. Enjoy dinner and a show!

5. California Grill

Speaking of California Grill—it’s probably one of the very best things about the Contemporary. The classy atmosphere and elegant décor of the restaurant combined with the flavors of California make for quite the experience indeed. The menu includes sushi, American favorites and seafood, as well as brick oven-fired pizzas, salmon, scallops, filet of beef and chicken. Dessert is especially magical at California Grill. Choose from options like peppermint crème brulee, carrot cheesecake, apple crostata and warm Valrhona chocolate cake. The panoramic views of Seven Seas Lagoon and Cinderella Castle only add to the magic!

4. Pixar Play Zone

The Contemporary Resort’s Pixar Play Zone is a nightly experience for kids ages 4 through 12. Mom and Dad can bring the kids to enjoy dinner and desert, and then head out to the parks for parents’ night out! There are lots of fun activities like Woody’s Round-Up, Space Ranger Training and the Piston Cup Challenge. There’s also an Incredibles Dance Party that’s, well, pretty incredible! Pixar Play Zone is a favorite hangout for Woody, Buzz and Mr. and Mrs. Incredible and chances are that your little ones will get to meet them as part of the fun! The event takes place in the evening from 6:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. The cost is $65 per child and reservations must be booked and paid for in advance. Reserve a spot for your little ones by calling (407) 824-KIDS

3. Wave of American Flavors

The Contemporary Resort is also home to Wave of American Flavors—a table-service restaurant that serves American fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At breakfast, Guests can choose from a buffet-style meal or purchase entrees a la carte from the menu. The lunch and dinner menus include items like crab cakes, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, beef tenderloin, cioppino, seared gnocchi, noodle bowls and beef short ribs. For dessert, choose from sorbet, crème brulee and the Chocolate Flight—a trio of tiny chocolate desserts. Reserve your experience by calling (407) WDW-DINE.

2. The construction of the resort

The way in which Disney’s Contemporary Resort came together is pretty intriguing. For help in designing the resort hotel, Disney collaborated with U. S. Steel and Los Angeles-based architect Welton Becket. Once the design was conceived, construction began on the hotel’s main trapezoidal tower. The 500 rooms that would be housed inside the tower were actually built at another site several miles away. This was a massive undertaking in pre-fabricated steel. The rooms were built—most of them 9 feet high, 15 feet wide and 30 feet long—and then furnished with everything from the furniture down to the television set. Then the pre-built, pre-furnished “rooms” were brought to the site of the Contemporary and hoisted up by crane. The cranes slid the rooms into spaces in the tower, much like drawers slide into a dresser, and the rooms were hung on cables from the tower’s top bracing. To this day, each room inside the A-frame structure of the Contemporary is actually suspended above the central atrium of the hotel. Don’t worry—they’re perfectly safe!

1. Richard Nixon

Did you know that a very famous event in history took place in one of the ballrooms at the Contemporary? It’s true. On November 17, 1973—17 months into the Watergate scandal—then-President Richard Nixon found himself at the Contemporary. The Disney Resort hotel was hosting the 1973 Annual Convention of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association. It was from a podium in the ballroom at the Contemporary that Nixon gave a live one-hour televised press conference and uttered the infamous words, “I’m not a crook.” It would be only 8 ½ months before he resigned from the Office of the President, facing almost certain impeachment.

About Rebekah Tyndall Burkett

Rebekah grew up in Forney, Texas and lives just outside of Dallas. She’s been a Disney superfan since childhood, experiencing the magic at Walt Disney World for the first time at the age of 11. Journeys to Neverland are at least a yearly occurrence for her, her husband and her four children (the Fab Four). When they go to the parks, they stay in Florida for three weeks at a time. Rebekah loves exploring the history of the parks, the genius behind the Magic in the person of Walt Disney, and she is intrigued by all things Disney World and Disney Imagineering. When in the parks, Rebekah and her husband Scott make the most of their time by enjoying every minute with their Fab Four, by delving deeper into Walt’s vision for the parks and into the history behind the Walt Disney World Resort, and by photographing the many different types of architecture at Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and on the World Showcase at EPCOT. When she’s not in the parks, Rebekah is excitedly setting travel dates and planning her family’s next adventure to their happy place deep within the Sunshine State. On breaks from planning her next trip, Rebekah is a writer, journalist and children’s author, penning children’s books about kids with special needs that she affectionately calls “believement-achievement” stories. Her hobbies include creative writing, paper crafting and interviewing Imagineers. She is also an advocate for Autism Awareness and for children with developmental disabilities of all kinds.