planDisney Pocket Guide: Disney’s Contemporary Resort

February 7, 2022

Written by: Jim Smith

“Please Stand Clear of the Doors!”

Fans of Walt Disney World resort know exactly what this means – you’re riding the iconic Monorail around the Most Magical Place on Earth. The Monorail is not just another means of transportation – it represents the essence of Walt Disney’s ideas of innovation, progression, and urban planning. And it runs right through the center of Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

The Contemporary (which was originally planned to be named the Tempo Bay Hotel) is one of two original resorts that opened with Magic Kingdom in 1971, along with Disney’s Polynesian Resort. The skeleton of the unique A-frame building was constructed in place, but the individual rooms were actually built off-site, then lifted by crane and slid into place in the frame, with the intention that rooms could be replaced when needed, based on the need for updates. 

The cavernous Grand Canyon Concourse hosts the Monorail station, as well as a giant mural created by Disney Legend Mary Blair. The Pueblo Village mural wraps around all four sides of the Contemporary’s center support (which also functions as the main elevator bank). The mural stands 90 feet (or nine stories) tall, and includes over 18,000 one-foot-square tiles. This masterpiece defines the look and feel of the concourse.

Images: Design Observer

Bay Lake Tower was added to the Contemporary Resort in 2009, bringing the total number of resort rooms to over 1,000, as well as offering Disney Vacation Club opportunities. Rooms in both the Contemporary and Bay Lake Towers range from basic 4-5 person rooms to Club Level suites and villas which can sleep up to twelve guests. The planDisney PDF Pocket Guide offers many more details on the different room types.

Dining in this Deluxe Level resort is top notch. Guests can catch a glimpse of the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the fifteenth-floor California Grill. Recently opened (and hugely popular) Steakhouse 71 offers a retro-chic spin on fine dining. The family favorite Chef Mickey’s gives guests the opportunity to meet the main mouse and several of his pals while dining. Other quick-service locations are offered as well.

If you want to get in a couple of runs during your visit, walking trails wind around the Contemporary grounds. You can also run most of the way around the Seven Seas Lagoon, passing by Magic Kingdom, Grand Floridian Resort, and Polynesian Resort en route to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). Just be advised that you cannot complete the connection from the TTC to the Contemporary, so you will need to double back on your journey to get back to the resort (good for a few extra miles!). Or, you can hop on the Monorail from the TTC to the resort (just don’t expect other guests to stand too close to you).

Wanna take a quick dip? The Contemporary offers two primary swimming options – the Feature Pool and the Bay Lake Pool. The Bay Cove Pool is a third option only available to guests staying in Bay Lake Tower.  The Feature Pool offers kids (and kids-at-heart) the opportunity to splash down a 17-foot high curving water slide. The Contemporary also offers a host of other water recreation options, including the ability to rent a boat or take a guided fishing trip.

The Contemporary offers several gift shops. Two of which (Bayview Gifts and Fantasia Market), offer smaller grocery items.

Transportation options to and from the Contemporary are plentiful. Aside from the Monorail, guests can use bus transportation, boats to other resorts, or my personal favorite – the ability to walk over to Magic Kingdom. It’s a quick ten-minute stroll to the front gate!

This Deluxe-Level resort offers many plush spa experiences as well. Just check the Contemporary’s page to inquire about how you can pamper yourself.

If you don’t get to Walt Disney World very often, consider splurging and staying at the Contemporary Resort/Bay Lake Tower at least once. You deserve this top-level Disney treat.

planDisney Pocket Guides are especially helpful to guests who are considering staying at a resort they’ve never before experienced. The Pocket Guides take the form of 5-14 page PDF slides, which are easily printable and savable to smart devices. They offer efficient snapshots of the resort basics, including:

  • Transportation options
  • Room sizes
  • Food and beverage options and locations
  • Pools and recreation activities
  • Shopping
  • Tips from the planDisney panel

Check out the full list of planDisney Pocket Guide summaries here.

In addition to Disney Parks Blog, planDisney also releases Pocket Guides via their Instagram page. Following their IG is a great way to stay updated on the newest releases. We’ll continue to update this list of Pocket Guides as planDisney releases them.

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