Disney's Contemporary Resort
|Disney's Contemporary Resort|
|Location||Magic Kingdom Resort Area|
|Resort type||Deluxe Resort|
|Opened||October 1, 1971|
South Garden Rooms
Bay Lake Tower (Disney Vacation Club)
|Suites||Vice Presidential Suite
Disney's Contemporary Resort, originally to be named Tempo Bay Hotel and previously the Contemporary Resort Hotel, is a resort located at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, opened on October 1, 1971. It is one of two original properties located at the complex alongside Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, and is currently listed as a deluxe-priced resort. It is adjacent to the Magic Kingdom theme park, and is identified by its A-frame main building.
The Contemporary Resort is one of two resorts located on property when Walt Disney World opened in 1971. Before the construction of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, it was considered the complex's flagship resort.
The Contemporary Tower, the most prominent of the resort's four stand-alone buildings, was built as an A-frame with outer walls which slope inwards around an inner atrium. This design was a collaboration by Disney, the United States Steel Corporation, and Los Angeles architect Welton Becket. To construct the building, steel frames were erected on-site and modular pre-constructed rooms, designed by California architect Donald Wexler, were lifted into place by crane. Most of Disney's Polynesian Village Resort and the Court of Flags Resort were built the same way, except rooms were stacked instead of slid in.
On November 17, 1973, President Richard Nixon delivered his famous "I Am Not a Crook" speech in a ballroom at the Contemporary in front of reporters from the Associated Press during the 'Annual Convention of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association'.
In 2006, Disney filed plans for a project on the site of the Contemporary Resort's North Garden Wing and a construction fence was erected, encompassing the wing and part of its parking lot. In February 2007, Disney gained approval from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to begin selling Disney Vacation Club units at a property called "Kingdom Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort". Approval was granted for an initial sale of 75 units, with the Kingdom Tower ultimately containing 281 timeshare units. The approval did not, however, state when Disney Vacation Club would actually begin selling units, only that they could do so. In preparation for the future sale, Disney incorporated a condominium association for the property on January 9, 2007 that would manage the units. The project was officially unveiled on September 16, 2008. Timeshares began on September 28, 2008 to existing Disney Vacation Club members and on October 5, 2008 for new members.
In 2005, Disney began an extensive renovation of Disney's Contemporary Resort, and it was completed in 2009. In the lobby of the Contemporary Resort, the front desk and sitting area were updated to complement the new design of the hotel, and new lighting and modern furnishings were added. The Wave, a new table service restaurant, was constructed in the place of a former quick service restaurant and arcade. Guest rooms of the resort received a major update with modern design. New carpeting, beds, headboards, marble bathroom tile, flat-panel televisions and more were added. As part of the major construction at the Contemporary Resort, the north wing of the hotel was demolished to make way for a separate Disney Vacation Club resort at the Contemporary complex that opened in 2009. The Grand Canyon Concourse was updated with new tile and carpeting, along with a new arcade for resort guests. The Concourse Steakhouse was removed to make way for a new quick-service restaurant. A new gift shop was built in an open area between existing shops and opened on November 21, 2007. This is the "Fantasia Gift Shop" that was formerly located under the Monorail station, where the new arcade is currently located. Large Mickey Mouse ears flank both sides of the store.
At the same time, the Bay Lake Tower began construction. Disney's Racquet Club was demolished by January 30, 2007, while the North Wing itself was demolished between January 31 and April 6, 2007. Construction on the new building continued through 2007, without Disney officially announcing what was actually being built. The renovation project, as a whole, saw the updating of the main lobby and all guest rooms, the addition of several restaurants and gift shops, and the demolition of the hotel's north wing to make way for the Bay Lake Tower, which opened in 2009.
Rooms and facilities
The Contemporary Tower houses most of the resort's key facilities, including resort registration and the guest service concierge. The main hall, named the Grand Canyon Concourse, is located in the main tower and houses restaurants and shops. 383 guest rooms line the outer walls of the Contemporary Tower. The Walt Disney World Monorail System runs through the inside of this building and a monorail station is located here for resort guests. Adorning the concourse walls is a multi-story mosaic designed by Mary Blair. One three-story wing flanks the south side of the tower and houses an additional 250 rooms. A convention center was added to the resort and opened on November 11, 1991, with more than 90,000 square feet (8,400 m2) of convention space. In October 2007, the resort received designation in the Florida Green Lodging Program.
Tower rooms are located in the original A-frame building, through which the monorail runs. The south garden rooms are detached from the A-frame as a separate wing. Some sections of the tower have views of the Magic Kingdom, others of Bay Lake. As one of the original resorts on property, the Contemporary Resort has some of the largest guest rooms in Walt Disney World, matched only by Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, which also opened in 1971. Disney announced that the entire fourteenth floor was to be converted to a health-and-wellness theme, with a private yoga studio, custom-designed menus, and concierge services, to attract health-conscious travelers. Guest rooms were to be outfitted with bamboo floors, low-allergen pillows and mattresses, exercise equipment, and massage tables. These plans were eventually scrapped and the renovation did not take place.
There are several restaurants in the Contemporary Resort's main building.
- The California Grill — A full-service dining restaurant located at the top (15th floor) of the Contemporary Resort's tower, formerly the Top of the World restaurant. The California Grill offers views of the Magic Kingdom, the Seven Seas Lagoon, Bay Lake, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, and Disney's Polynesian Resort. In addition, it offers a view of the Magic Kingdom's fireworks shows.
- Chef Mickey's — A buffet located on the Grand Canyon Concourse that features appearances from Disney characters. Chef Mickey's is open for breakfast and dinner, and offers views of the monorail entering the resort. As of May 31, 2015, they are also offering service for Brunch. Children's items include Goofy's pizza, "Mickeyroni" and cheese, and other novelties. An adult buffet includes pot roast, steak, potatoes, and more. Breakfast items include eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, Mickey shaped waffles, and more. A dessert bar is available to all.
- Contempo Cafe — A quick-service eatery serving lighter fare and snacks, located on the Grand Canyon Concourse, in the location formerly occupied by the Concourse Steakhouse. Contempo Cafe is often open late into the evening. This is the permanent replacement for the Food & Fun Center, previously located on the main lobby level, which has since been converted to The Wave restaurant.
- The Sand Bar — Located alongside the main pool. A cocktail bar serves alcoholic beverages.
- The Wave — The resort's newest dining facility, located on the main lobby level. It offers casual table-service dining featuring American cuisine. It replaced the Concourse Steakhouse, which was originally located on the Grand Canyon Concourse.
Bay Lake Tower
Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort, part of the Disney Vacation Club, is a 15-story addition that officially opened on August 4, 2009. It is located on the former location of the demolished north garden wing rooms. The tower shares design features with the original resort. The front desk, concierge, valet, bell services and transportation are shared services provided through the main resort. Bay Lake Tower has a concierge desk and an online check-in desk of their own for guests who wish to check into Bay Lake Tower directly. Its fifth floor is connected by a skyway from the main tower's fourth floor. The tower shares design features with the original resort, sharing the same modern theme. As a result of the building's shape, rooms have a wedge shape that give them a unique floor plan from other Disney Vacation Club villas. Rooms on the outside of the building have a different design from those on the inside.
Bay Lake Tower features its own pool, water feature play area, pool bar, and bocce court in the courtyard at the center of the horseshoe. The pool has a spiral waterside designed with neon light and glass brick accents to match the resort’s contemporary feel. Bay Lake Tower guests are permitted to use the Contemporary Resort’s facilities, but only those with a room in Bay Lake Tower may use its features. Access to the Bay Lake Tower pool area is key card controlled. The tower also has a Community Hall featuring games and family activities, and its own guest laundry room. The front desk, concierge, valet, bell services and transportation are shared services provided through the main resort, as Bay Lake Tower does not have a separate check-in area.
The units are among the most expensive offered by Disney Vacation Club, presumably because of their proximity to the Magic Kingdom. Some of the resort's features include full-length windows with views into the Magic Kingdom or onto Bay Lake. Some bathrooms on the Magic Kingdom side include movable partitions to permit watching the park's fireworks displays from the bathtub. Toward the top of the tower, there are several two-story Grand Villas that contain large windows. Like all Vacation Club resorts, the one-bedroom, two-bedroom and grand villa units contain full kitchens. The tower contains 295 Disney Vacation Club units consisting of 148 dedicated two-bedroom units, 133 lock-off two-bedroom units (which can be booked together as a two-bedroom unit, or booked separately as either a deluxe studio unit or a one-bedroom unit), and 14 three-bedroom Grand Villa units. There are no dedicated studios or dedicated one-bedroom units in Bay Lake Tower. Each villa is assigned to one of three booking categories: Magic Kingdom View, Bay Lake View, or Standard View, with the relative cost or number of required Disney Vacation Club points assigned accordingly. Although the Magic Kingdom can be seen from some standard and Bay Lake view rooms, the premium views of the park are given the Magic Kingdom view category. Standard view rooms tend to be lower-level rooms that overlook either the parking lot or a service area. The remainder of the tower is assigned the Bay Lake View category, with views primarily of either Bay Lake or the pool.
Similar to the California Grill atop the Contemporary Resort's main tower, Bay Lake Tower is capped with the Top of the World Lounge. The name pays homage to a former name of the California Grill. The lounge includes a viewing deck and also an indoor seating area with a full bar. A limited food menu is available. Only Disney Vacation Club members using their ownership interest to book their stay may access the lounge from 6 pm until midnight. A cast member in the lobby will verify a guest's Vacation Club identification before granting access to the lounge's elevator. All Bay Lake Tower guests may visit the viewing deck until 4 pm. The lounge features views of the Magic Kingdom theme park and Bay Lake, including its surrounding resorts. It is purported that on a clear day, the Florida city of Clermont is visible from Top of the World Lounge. During fireworks at the Magic Kingdom, the soundtrack is played both inside the lounge and on the outside observation deck.
- Walt Disney World, The First Decade. Walt Disney Productions. 1982. p. 86. ASIN B000UV4K46.
- "A day at the Magic Kingdom - Part 1/3". YouTube.com. 2008-04-02. Retrieved 2015-05-05.
- "Disney's Contemporary Resort". The Disney Drawing Board. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
- "Construction of WDW Contemporary Resort by U.S. Steel". YouTube. 2007-01-31. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
- "The Contemporary Resort Hotel 1971 (U.S. Steel Commercial)". YouTube. 2008-12-27. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
- "Richard Nixon: Question-and-Answer Session at the Annual Convention of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association, Orlando, Florida". Presidency.ucsb.edu. 1973-11-17. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
- "Reedy Creek Improvement District" (PDF). Bigfloridacountry.com. Retrieved 2015-05-05.
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- Jason Garcia (September 16, 2008). "Disney's time-share kingdom grows". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on September 19, 2008. Retrieved September 16, 2008.
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- "Walt Disney World News for the week of Oct. 21". Disneyworldtrivia.com. Retrieved 2007-10-28.
- Heather McPherson (September 6, 2013). "Disney's iconic California Grill reopens Monday". orlandosentinel.com. Tribune Newspapers. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
- Jason Garcia (2009-02-03). "Disney to open Contemporary addition on August 4". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
- Complete Contemporary Resort Photo Gallery and Architectural Critique
- AllEarsNet's photos of the Contemporary Resort (includes photos of the newly refurbished rooms)
- U.S. Steel Movie clip of the Contemporary Resort Construction, compliments of BigFloridaCountry.com
- Contemporary references by BigFloridaCountry.com
- Bay Lake Tower images by BigFloridaCountry.com
- Construction video of Contemporary
- Construction video of Bay Lake tower
- Complete Bay Lake Photo Gallery and Architectural Critique