BAY LAKE TOWER AT DISNEY’S CONTEMPORARY RESORT
Note: guests at Bay Lake Tower are eligible for Disney World’s Early Entry program, for early access to its paid individual system for access to certain rides, and for its Extended Evening Hours.
Most (but not all) room options at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort (a Disney Vacation Club resort) are wonderful places for returning visitors to Walt Disney World to stay.
For typical first-time visitors, I don’t recommend the Disney Vacation Club resorts. That said, these “DVC” resorts can be a great choice for first time visitors with large families, needing extra sleeping spaces, or looking for a more comfortable place to stay.
Among the Disney Vacation Club resorts, Bay Lake Tower ranks sixth overall for first-time visitors, but specifics vary a lot by room type.
THE DISNEY VACATION CLUB RESORTS
You can have a spectacular visit at any Walt Disney World resort. However, this site recommends that typical first time visitors to Walt Disney World avoid the Disney Vacation Club resorts, while noting that these resorts are wonderful for visits after the first. (You can find extensive detail on the DVC resorts here.)
The recommendation comes from the simple fact that the distinguishing feature of these resorts–extra space and full kitchens–will not be of much value to first-time visitors following one of the itineraries on this site, as they won’t be used much.
That said, the Disney Vacation Club resorts represent more than 10% of Walt Disney World’s total rooms, and are very appropriate for first time visitors with large families, needing extra sleeping spaces, or looking for a more comfortable place to stay.
Because of this, I’m providing a series of up-to-date reviews. This review is based on our three stays at Bay Lake Tower. Note that the long-time travel agent partner of this site, Kelly B., can help you book your Disney World vacation at Bay Lake Tower or anywhere else–contact her using the form at the bottom of the page.
In total, the review has 7 pages:
- The summary and overview of Bay Lake Tower you are on now
- Theming and accommodations at Bay Lake Tower
- A photo tour of a Studio at Bay Lake Tower
- A photo tour of the living/dining/kitchen area of One and Two Bedroom Villas at Bay Lake Tower
- A photo tour of the master bedroom and bath area of One and Two Bedroom Villas at Bay Lake Tower
- A photo tour of the second bedroom of a dedicated Two Bedroom Villa at Bay Lake Tower
- The beach and pool at Bay Lake Tower
BAY LAKE TOWER AT DISNEY’S CONTEMPORARY RESORT
On this basis, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort comes in sixth overall of the Disney Vacation Club resorts. (See this for resort rankings.) However, there’s a little variability here depending on room type and family size.
The top five DVC options are at the Polynesian (Studios only), the Wilderness Lodge (Boulder Ridge Villas and Copper Creek Villas) and Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jambo House Villas and Kidani Village), as these resorts have much higher kid appeal, and that’s the key component of my ranking logic.
However, you won’t find a resort more convenient to Magic Kingdom than Bay Lake Tower, and all of its One Bedroom Villas and some of its Two Bedroom Villas are quite livable.
- Studio rooms: not recommended. The bedroom space of Bay Lake Tower Studios, at about 185 square feet, is less than that at the value resorts. (See this for more on bedroom space at the Walt Disney World resorts.) A tower room at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is comparably priced and much bigger and more livable than a Bay Lake Tower studio room. If you really need the toaster and microwave you’ll find only in a DVC studio, and want to be near Magic Kingdom, try the studios at the Polynesian Villas or the Villas at the Grand Floridian instead
- One-bedroom Villas: Great livability. The layout of One Bedroom Villas at Bay Lake Tower allows for a second bath–found elsewhere in a One Bedroom only at Kidani–and a larger than usual living/dining space.
- Two-bedroom Villas. There are two types of Two-bedroom villas. One, a “lock-off,” combines a Studio with a One Bedroom Villa, via a connecting door, and has the same issues as the studio noted above. The other type, which has as its second bedroom a better two queen space, is quite livable
- Grand Villas: Stunning views from the two story living area, but a cramped living room
There’s much more on accommodations at Bay Lake Tower beginning here.
While the monorail does not run through Bay Lake Tower, families staying there will be in the Contemporary often enough to share in this kid appeal.
This convenience comes from several points:
- It’s the only resort from which one can walk to and from the Magic Kingdom–a godsend on busy days, as this permits avoiding the line for the resort monorail
- On the resort monorail, it’s the first stop when returning from the Magic Kingdom
- The Epcot monorail is the first stop from the Contemporary
OTHER DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF BAY LAKE TOWER
It has its own fun pool, nestled inside the footprint of the C-shaped building. There’s more on the pool at Bay Lake Tower here.
- It is one of only a few Disney Vacation Club resorts that can fit 5 people in a One Bedroom Villa, or 9 into a Two Bedroom although, as noted below, fitting 9 is a not-recommended tight fit in lock-off two bedrooms. (See this for more on large families, and this for more on beds and sleeping spaces at Walt Disney World resorts.)
- Its layout makes it among the most livable of DVC one bedroom villas.
- The kitchen/dining/living room area is wider and deeper than most
- This extra space has been used to add both a second full bath to One Bedroom villas, and enough living space in the living room that it can be used even if the fold-out sleeper sofa is being used.
- These kitchen/dining/living room features carry over to two bedroom villas as well.
Bay Lake Tower also has some distinctive negatives.
Most significant of these is the layout of the studio room. The larger bedroom of lock-off two-bedroom villa (which uses a studio floor plan for its larger bedrooms) also has issues.
The studio room is small in general. At about 339 square feet (rooms size vary a bit at Bay Lake Tower), it is smaller than any other deluxe room.
More of an issue, the bedroom component, at about 185 square feet, not only is far smaller than those any comparable resort, but also has so little space along the wall with the beds that it is remarkably cramped if the sofa bed is opened.
The wall with the beds is two to three feet too short for comfort.
- I measured about 12″ between the queen bed and the wall, about 16″ between the queen and the fold-out couch, and about 6″ between the couch and the balcony wall.
- These measurements should be around 15″, 30″, and 15″. With the narrow spacing, the room is remarkably tight when the fold-out couch is open.
If you are fitting just three in the room, and the third can sleep lengthwise on the couch (4′ 6″ of space is here) this is a great room.
Otherwise, tower rooms at the Contemporary are about the same price, and, at 394 square feet–with two queens and a daybed–much more livable. All you really lose is a microwave and a toaster.
Because the two bedroom lock-off villas share in their larger bedroom the layout of the Studio, this option has the same issues, ameliorated somewhat by the fact that there are other spaces here to go than the bedrooms.
BEST AND WORST ROOMS AT BAY LAKE TOWER
For those seeking a Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort Disney Vacation Club experience, it is best–by far–to reserve a Magic Kingdom view room, and to request a higher floor. The Magic Kingdom view gives much more kid appeal, and avoids noise from the pool. The higher floor improves views and reduces noise even further.
The north elevator is more convenient to most Bay Lake Tower parking, and to the walkway to and from the Magic Kingdom. The south elevator is more convenient to the skyway bridge between Bay Lake Tower and Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
See the map of Bay Lake Tower and the Contemporary Resort (as always on this site, to enlarge the image click it.)
Note that the long-time travel agent partner of this site, Kelly B., can help you book your Disney World vacation at Bay Lake Tower or anywhere else–contact her using the form below.
Families looking for a DVC Studio or Two Bedroom Villa (unless they can get a dedicated Villa), families on a budget, families looking for a particularly kid-appealing place to stay.
This review continues here.