SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Contemporary Resort

by on November 15, 2014 8 Comments

Filed under: Beyond the Parks, Dining, Magic Kingdom, Saturday Six, Walt Disney World (FL)

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This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Contemporary Resort. After examining some of the value resorts on Disney property, including Pop Century and Art of Animation, it’s time to head straight to the top of the WDW resort food chain and see the benefits a deluxe resort brings to the table. First stop, The Contemporary. As a long time Disney fan, I have wanted to stay at The Contemporary since I was a little kid, but my parents always booked hotels off-site to save money. As an adult planning my own trips, I would often price out a stay at The Contemporary, only to end up choosing a cheaper alternative myself. I’m not a big fan of the cliche you only live once, but if there is one thing I have learned in life, it’s that the biggest regrets are not doing things when you have the chance, because those opportunities may not be around forever.  So whether it was philosophical reasons, or the fact that I felt the awesome Contemporary Resort Monorail Toy Accessory was taunting me, I decided to fulfill a near lifelong dream and book a stay at The Contemporary this year.

Now that it is crossed of the bucket list I can report back that…. I loved it. The stay confirmed several things I thought The Contemporary would be like, and opened my eyes to amenities I did not know much about before. Today we are going to countdown six takeaways from my experience, starting with…

# 6 – A Million Dollar View

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View from Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

 

The views from The Contemporary A-Frame building are spectacular. One side faces Bay Lake, the other faces the Magic Kingdom.  Waking up in the morning we could see Disney’s Polynesian Resort Village, the Grand Floridian, the monorail passing by, ferry boats in the lake, the Walt Disney World Railroad, and not to mention the Magic Kingdom itself, with icons such as Cinderella’s Castle and Space Mountain. I’ve stayed at on-site hotels at various theme park resorts, and hotels across the United States including Las Vegas, Boston, San Diego, Times Square, and Hawaii, but this was the most amazing view I have ever had. I was able to enjoy fireworks and the Electrical Water Pageant, two of my favorite things at WDW, from the room. I was speechless. I knew it would be good. I didn’t know it would be this good.

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Photo taken from on the bed in a room at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

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Electrical Water Pageant as seen from Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

 

# 5 – A Short Walk to the Magic Kingdom

Those who have read the SATURDAY SIX for a while know how much I love the on-site hotels at Universal, especially the Royal Pacific Resort. One of my favorite things about them is how convenient they are when it comes to traveling to the theme parks. I could be in my room at the RPR, and be at the front gate of Islands of Adventure in less than 10 minutes. The biggest surprise of my stay at The Contemporary was that I could walk to the Magic Kingdom in the same amount of time. Even better, I could walk back to the hotel. By far the most frustrating part of going to the Magic Kingdom – for me – is leaving at the end of the night and facing long lines at the monorail or ferry dock. At The Contemporary, I just walked back to the room. I’m not even sure I walked because I was so happy, I think I may have skipped back to the room. Now, there is no theming like the lush walkways at Universal, and there is also an intersection with a red light, but I timed the walk several times and, even waiting for the walk signal at the intersection, it never took longer than 12 minutes.

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Walkway from Disney’s Contemporary Resort to the Magic Kingdom.

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Walkway from Magic Kingdom to Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

 

# 4 – Chef Mickey’s

My family and I did several character meals during our stay, including breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table, but our favorite overall was Chef Mickey’s, located inside The Contemporary. The menu is not winning any Michelin stars, but what you are paying for is access to the characters and here you get the Fab Five of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald Duck, and Pluto. What stood out for us was the quality of time we got with the characters, as several of the other character meals we had felt rushed. We also loved the chef outfits they were dressed in. Brian McNichols, my co-host of the Pardon the Pixie Dust podcast, wrote a review of Chef Mickey’s with a similar experience. Another review worth reading is from Tom Bricker, of the Disney Tourist Blog.

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Chef Mickey’s,

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Chef Mickey’s, before the madness.

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A long time iconic figure of Disney, beloved by men, women, and children across the world. Also pictured, Donald Duck.

# 3 – Mary Blair Artwork

What can I say, I’m a sucker for Mary Blair artwork and her minimalist designs. One of the signature features of The Contemporary is the gigantic 90 foot  mural featuring Blair’s artwork in the Grand Canyon Concourse. I found myself looking at the mural from the ground, and then going up to several floors to get a different view. It’s absolutely stunning. I love Mary Blair’s art style, I love her use of color, and I love that this mural is made out of tiles making a  larger than life mosaic. To me, this is Disney magic, something you are not going to find anywhere else.

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Mary Blair artwork in Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

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Mary Blair’s 5 legged goat.

 

# 2 – The Wave/California Grill

The Contemporary has not one, but two restaurants worth going out of your way to eat at. The first restaurant, The Wave…of American Flavors, has one of the most visually unique lounges WDW, and offers a menu based around organic and sustainable food. I came away very impressed, to the point where The Wave is going to become my new go-to place for a quick lunch and drinks when I spend a day at the Magic Kingdom. The second restaurant, California Grill, is one of the signature dining experiences on property. One of my favorite restaurants at WDW is ‘Ohana, and I love that when the Magic Kingdom has a nighttime fireworks show, the lights in the restaurant will dim and guests have an opportunity to see the Magic Kingdom. One of the things I discovered at California Grill is that they have an even better view. Overall one of the most beautiful restaurants I have eaten in, a good menu, and tremendous service.

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The Wave.

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California Grill.

 

# 1 – There’s a Monorail Going THROUGH the Building!

Staying at The Contemporary I saw the monorail coming through the building at least 50 times. Maybe 150. It may have even been 500 times as I lost count, but here’s the thing: it never got old. In fact, with almost child-like wonder, I was drawn to looking at the monorail each and every time it passed by. For all its faults, I consider the Disney monorail system to be one of the most special things on property.  I think it separates Disney from every other theme park, and is just as cool and unique today as it was 40 years ago. When I was a kid coming to Disney World, we would take the monorail from the TTC and, when passing through The Contemporary, I would always say, “Wouldn’t it be great to stay here?”

Well, now I can say I finally did stay “here” and it was great.

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“I’ve sold monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook, and, by gum, it put them on the map!” – Lyle Lanley

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HONORABLE MENTION: The Contemporary Signature Monorail Dessert

I love outrageous snacks, and one of the most unique foods I have seen on Disney property is The Contemporary Signature Chocolate Monorail, available exclusively at the hotel. Disney’s description in the room service menu: One of our Disney icons done in white chocolate served with gourmet truffles ($45.00). This was absolutely amazing and The Contemporary Resort logo on the plate was also done in chocolate.

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Remember, calories don’t count on vacation!

 

DOUBLE SECRET HONORABLE MENTION: Largest Bank of Pressed Penny Machines on Property

As a fan of pressed coins, seeing this bank of machines at The Contemporary saw my heart grow three sizes. I expect by the time you read this article, each and every one of these machines will be selling only Frozen related designs.

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Pressed coin machines at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

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So there you have it: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Contemporary Resort.  We’ll see you next weekend for the latest edition of the SATURDAY SIX, where we are going to get head back over to the Universal Orlando Resort. If you had fun, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the Pardon the Pixie Dust podcast.

Special thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover for his invaluable assistance with this article. Despite wearing a NY Yankees cap, I promise deep down he’s a good guy.

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Posted on November 15, 2014

8 Responses to “SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Contemporary Resort”

  • I’m going to stay at Value resort. One day i will visit MK and at the end of the day i will like to have dinner at Contempo Cafe. MY questions is if i can leave my car at the parking hotel since the morning all day long??
    thanks and best regards

    • It depends, but I would not count on it. It is likely that the guard will direct you to park at the Ticket and Transportation Center and take the Monorail. If you have a reservation at one of the Contemporary’s sit down reservation the guard will let you park, but unlikely they would let you park at 8am for a 7pm reservation.

      • Right, sometimes it depends on the security guard that day or if any event is taking place at The Contemporary. When I was there a Christian conference was taking place in the convention center and there were signs put out saying you had to have a reservation with The Contemporary to be able to park. It never hurts to ask, and I can recommend the Contempo Café as I was pleasantly surprised by their offerings. The only negative was the lack of seating space comparing to other quick service venues at WDW resorts, but to be fair they split the large space with Chef Mickey’s and the Outer Rim lounge.

  • thanks…. and by the way what is the best option to leave the car and go to dinner at the Contempo cafe trying to be fast and keep the crowd off whishes

  • It’s also worth mentioning that the Contemporary has a really great arcade. Maybe that’s not for everyone but we find it’s terrific for a rainy afternoon visit, and is easily accessed from the other Magic Kingdom resorts. Plus it’s on the same floor as two giftshops, Contempto Cafe and Chef Mickeys, so you can stop there before/after character dining (so I can shop while others play 🙂

  • Thanks for the info Derek. We are considering staying at the Contemporary during our next visit. I have always wanted to stay there since I was young too. I always thought it would be really loud though. How much noise do you hear while you are in your room?

  • Derek, your columns are always thorough, heartfelt and hilarious! Thank you.