By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor



Review: Disney’s Contemporary Resort



By Dave Shute

OVERVIEW: DISNEY’S CONTEMPORARY RESORT

Parasailing Disney's Contemporary Resort from yourfirstvisit.net (2)
Our most recent visit in September 2015–our 7th, if I am counting correctly–confirms that Disney’s Contemporary Resort, a deluxe monorail resort, is the fourth best deluxe resort at Walt Disney World for first time family visitors.

Review - Disney's Contemporary Resort from yourfirstvisit.netYou can have a wonderful visit at any Walt Disney World resort hotel.

However, this site recommends that first time visitors to Walt Disney World who can afford it should stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, a deluxe resort, and that those who can’t should stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, a value resort.

(It also suggests that first time visitors should avoid the moderate resorts, while noting that these resorts are wonderful for visits after the first. See this for why.)

Compared to other Walt Disney World owned and operated resorts, the deluxe resorts are distinguished by having (on average) the most amenities, nicest views, best dining options, best transport options, largest rooms, best service, and highest prices.

Among the deluxe resorts, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, a monorail resort, stands out for having some kid appeal, terrific convenience, large rooms, great views from some rooms, and fun dining options.

(See this for much more on resort distinctions by price class–value, moderate, deluxe, etc.)

This review of the Contemporary has seven total pages:

ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE CONTEMPORARY RESORT

Map Disney's Contemporary Resort
Rooms in Disney’s Contemporary Resort are in two areas–the Tower and the South Garden Wing. In the map above (click it to enlarge it) the Tower is in the center, and the South Garden Wing at the lower right.

The Tower is the centerpiece of the Contemporary, with all of its services and restaurants, and the rooms with, by far, the best views–in two flavors, Magic Kingdom views and Bay Lake views.

The old North Garden Wing–a favorite of many, including my parents–was demolished, and Bay Lake Tower, a Disney Vacation Club resort with its own review here, opened in its former spot in 2010. (On the map, it’s the near-round thingy in the upper right.)

Bay Lake from my Room at Disney's Contemporary Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

South Garden Wing rooms can be a hike from the Tower and its services, and while a third have patios, none of the rest have balconies. They are, however, a good bit less expensive than Tower rooms–on the order of 70% of Bay Lake view Tower rooms (see above for the view from a Tower Bay Lake view room), and two-thirds the price of Tower Magic Kingdom view rooms.

That said, Garden Wing rooms are still more expensive than standard view Wilderness Lodge rooms, so if you are committed to a deluxe resort, but price is an issue–and you can fit into the Lodge’s 4-person rooms–I’d advise staying at the Wilderness Lodge rather than in one of the Contemporary’s South Garden Wing rooms.

Tower rooms, while more expensive, are much more centrally located.  Those staying in the Tower are in effect in Walt Disney World’s most compact and easy to navigate resort.

Magic Kingdom view Tower rooms are about 15-20% more expensive than the cheapest Bay Lake view Tower rooms.  But the views, especially of Wishes, can be really fun, so families that can afford this premium should request a Magic Kingdom view from as high a floor as possible.Floor Plan Disney's Contemporary Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Standard rooms at Disney’s Contemporary Resort are among the largest on property–smaller among the Disney-owned resort only than those at the Grand Floridian and Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

Bed Side Disney's Contemporary Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

You can add to this capacity of five a child younger than three who sleeps in a crib. A crib fits well between the closets and TV thingy.

For a photo-tour of a standard room, see this.

For more about the South Garden Wing, see this.

And for more on accommodations (including suites), see this.

DINING AT DISNEY’S CONTEMPORARY RESORT

The quick service option at the Contemporary is weak, but the three table service restaurants, the California Grill, Chef Mickey’s, and the Wave, each can be a great choice.
Chef Mickey's at Disney's Contemporary Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

  • The California Grill has great dining for adults, but sound kid appeal as well, and is a fun spot to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks show Wishes from
  • Chef Mickey’s is an expensive but fun buffet where families can meet Mickey, Minnie, and the crew
  • The first floor Wave is the easiest place at Disney World to get quality dining on short notice.

Forevermore, the Contemporary has the best access to great dining at other hotels of any Disney resort, being just a monorail ride away from the options at the Polynesian and Grand Floridian, and a boat ride away from the options at the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness.

For more on dining at the Contemporary Resort, see this.

THE POOLS AT DISNEY’S CONTEMPORARY RESORT

There are two pools at the Contemporary, right next to each other. Entirely adequate but essentially unthemed and uninteresting, they are the weakest pools among the Disney World deluxe resorts.

Pool Disney's Contemporary Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

For more on the pools at the Contemporary Resort, see this.

CONVENIENCE AND KID APPEAL AT DISNEY’S CONTEMPORARY RESORT

Resorts are ranked on this site for first time visitors based first on their kid appeal, and then on their convenience.

On this basis, Disney’s Contemporary Resort is the fourth-best deluxe resort for first time family visitors to Walt Disney World.

Kid Appeal.

Monorails at Disney's Contemporay Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

The moderate kid appeal of the Contemporary Resort comes from the sight of the monorail running right through its central atriumthe Grand Canyon Concourse.

Disney's Contemporary Resort from yourfirstvisit.net (2)
Once the excitement of seeing the monorail fades, the architecture of the resort reveals itself to be rather brutal and un-interesting.

Convenience. Disney’s Contemporary Resort is the second most convenient of all the Walt Disney World resorts after the Polynesian in carrying out the itineraries for first-time family visitors on this site.

It is unique among the Walt Disney World resorts in having a walking path to the Magic Kingdom.

Walkway to Magic Kingdom at Disney's Contemporary Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

The option of being able to get to or return from the Magic Kingdom in five to ten minutes without having to wait in line for a transport vehicle can be really valuable, especially right after fireworks or parades, or on peak attendance days when the park might be closed.

The Contemporary is also on the resort monorail loop.  The Magic Kingdom is the fourth stop heading in, and the Contemporary is the first stop coming back.

Access to Epcot is from taking the monorail to the Ticket and Transportation Center–the first stop–and from there taking the Epcot monorail.

Transport to the other theme parks is by bus, each of which is shared by at least one other resort.

Boat service is available to Fort Wilderness (convenient for the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue) and to the Wilderness Lodge (convenient for Whispering Canyon).

BEST PLACES TO STAY AT DISNEY’S CONTEMPORARY RESORT

This site suggests that first time visitors stay in standard rooms, not preferred rooms.

This is because they won’t be spending much time in their rooms.

The single exception is visitors to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, who should always pay for savanna views.

Wishes from Tower Theme Park View Room Disney's Contemporary Resort from yourfirstvisit.net (3)
The Contemporary almost qualifies as an exception–I do strongly recommend Magic Kingdom view rooms in the Tower. See the view of Wishes above from such a room.

When you reserve, you pick Garden Wing vs. Tower, and if you pick the Tower, Bay Lake vs Magic Kingdom (officially “Theme Park”) view.

Disney's Contemporary Resort Online Check-in from yourfirstvisit.net

At on-line check in, you can also pick, from among other options, an “Odd Room Number.” If you have a Magic  Kingdom view, you can see Wishes from the queen beds in odd-numbered rooms, and from the couches in even numbered-rooms. Since most will wish to see Wishes from the balcony, anyway, this does not much matter.

In the Tower, higher floors always have better views. In the Garden Wing, there are no balconies, just patios.

BEST FOR:

Any first time family visitors who can afford it, but can’t get into or don’t want to stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

WORST FOR:

Families seeking the highest degree of kid appeal. Families too large to fit its 5 person rooms. See this for more on large families at Walt Disney World.

PHOTO TOUR OF A CONTEMPORARY RESORT ROOM

This review continues here.

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My response to questions and comments will be on the same page as the original comment, likely within 24-36 hours . . . I reserve the right to edit and delete comments as I choose . . . All rights reserved. Copyright 2008-2017 . . . Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by me--even the ones in focus--except for half a dozen from my niecelets . . . This site is entirely unofficial and not authorized by any organizations written about in it . . . All references to Disney and other copyrighted characters, trademarks, marks, etc., are made solely for editorial purposes. The author makes no commercial claim to their use . . . Nobody's perfect, so follow any advice here at your own risk.