So you’re headed to Walt Disney World and want to stay at a hotel that’s within walking distance to the magic? The modern Contemporary Resort is perhaps best known for its proximity to the Magic Kingdom (it’s literally right next door) as well as its spectacular views of Bay Lake, but the resort also boasts an array of other amenities, from world-class dining to water sports. Here are eight pro tips that might come in handy during your stay at the Contemporary Resort.
8. Appreciate the History
The futuristic-themed A-frame tower hotel with the two garden wings is one of the Walt Disney World Resort’s two original hotels—although, back then, the hotel was being called the Tempo Bay Resort Hotel. But even more interestingly, the rooms were prefabricated—that is, they were built off-site and then hoisted into place after the hotel was built. Under the direction of the U.S. Steel Corporation with architect Welton Becket and, of course, Walt Disney, the rooms were put together at a rate of approximately 15 per day.
7. Don’t Miss the Fireworks
The Contemporary Resort is one of the absolute best places at the Walt Disney World Resort to catch the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks show, Wishes. The award-winning restaurant on the resort’s 15th floor, California Grill, offers patrons dishes inspired by the flavors of the Pacific Coast—and even though the food is delicious, many Disney guests admit coming primarily for the view. The restaurant boasts an outdoor catwalk that provides spectacular viewing of Wishes, and even pipes in the soundtrack. Couldn’t nab one of the coveted dinnertime reservations? The restaurant will allow you to come back to watch the fireworks even if you finished your meal long before the show. Open to the public, another popular fireworks viewing location is located on the fourth floor of the resort.
6. Relax by the Pool
You may not be able to swim in the sparkling Bay Lake, but you can get pretty close at the Contemporary Resort. Kids love flying down the resort’s 17-foot-high waterslide at the main pool or splashing the day away at the water playground, but adults know that the resort was also built with their relaxation in mind, with two whirlpool spas and a quiet pool complete with lounge chairs and private cabanas.
5. View the Mural
Inside the Contemporary Resort, you won’t want to miss the 90-foot-tall mural by Disney legend Mary Blair, who is credited with the unique look of the beloved “It’s a Small World” attraction at the Magic Kingdom as well as for drawing concept art for films like Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. The mural was themed to celebrate the Grand Canyon and American Southwest.
4. Enjoy the Proximity
Because it’s one of the “monorail resorts”—like the Grand Floridian and Polynesian, it’s a stop on the line that takes you directly into the Magic Kingdom (or with one quick transfer, Epcot)—you’ll never have to wait in line for the bus. And with the Contemporary being right next door to the Magic Kingdom, you can even walk up to the main gate.
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3. Take Advantage of Extra Space. Have a larger family (or just looking for a little more space)? The Contemporary offers standard rooms and suites that are considered among the largest on the entire property. Standard rooms have either two queen beds and a king bed, as well as a day bed, or there are suites in an array of price ranges and configurations. If you want a little view to go with your room, book a room in The Tower and request a view of Bay Lake or Magic Kingdom. And as one of Disney’s deluxe resorts, luxury travelers can take advantage of nearly a dozen concierge suites located on the 12th and 14th floors, which include services such as reservations specialists to make dinner or recreational appointments for you and a nightly turndown complete with a Mickey chocolate on your pillow.
2. Relax in the Butterfly Garden
Though the hustle and bustle of the Disney theme parks is just a stone’s throw away, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ample places to find some peace and quiet the Contemporary Resort. Many guests don’t know that behind the resort (near the metal Mickey structure that’s a popular spot for photo opportunities) there’s actually a peaceful butterfly garden, home to plants, flowers, and, of course, beautiful butterflies.
1. Try a New Sport
Known as the Grand Canyon Concourse, the fourth floor of the Tower is home to an array of shops and restaurants, as well as the monorail station. But you didn’t come to Florida just to shop and eat, right? For the outdoorsy Walt Disney World guest, the resort offers an array of recreational activities ranging from beach volleyball and golf to tennis and basketball. You can also rent watercraft from the Contemporary’s marina, such as Sea Racers and pontoon boats. Stop by Sammy Duvall Water Sports Centre behind the resort to arrange water sports like water skiing, tubing, and parasailing.