Friday, July 24, 2015

Hotel Review: Disney's Contemporary Resort

When I was a child, my family vacationed at Disney World in Florida several times. I remember riding the monorail around the lake to get to the Magic Kingdom and riding through the Contemporary Resort. I asked my mom why we didn't stay there, and she said only rich people stay there. The Contemporary Resort is one of the two original hotels at Disney World (along with the Polynesian). It has a very interesting history--watch the video of its construction on this webpage.

As a grownup and with my own family, I have visited Disney World many times and have stayed at eight of the on-site resorts. But I never thought about staying at the Contemporary until a group reunion picked this hotel for our event. Disney offered us deeply discounted rooms in the Garden Wing of the hotel (which are the rooms in the 3-story buildings near the pool/lake in the photo below). We decided to join the event and check out a new (to us) Disney resort.
Photo by Tom Bricker
We rode the Magical Express bus from the airport, which dropped us off at the lobby. As we got off the bus, a cast member with an iPad came up to us and asked if we were the Powell family. I have no idea now she knew that, since there were about 5 other families that got off the bus with us. Hmmmm.........

The entire hotel has a modern, minimalistic sleek design, and the lobby was no exception.

Our kids watched Mickey Mouse cartoons while we fixed some info on our Magic Bands.

We were assigned to room #5153, which is on the first floor of the South Garden Wing. On the photo below, the room is located near the red star. During the online check-in process, I had requested a first-floor patio room since the upper levels in the garden wing do not have balconies.

This was our room, with two queen-size beds and a sofa that converts into a twin bed.

The sofa at night:
The rooms at the Contemporary are some of the largest rooms in all of Walt Disney World (along with the rooms at the Polynesian).

Desk area:

The modern bathroom:

Hallway near the door with two closets and a refrigerator:

Outside, we had a patio with chairs:
Immediately in front of us was the parking lot. To our left was a small waterway. The monorail passed right near our room.

Back in the main A-frame tower building of the Contemporary, the 4th floor is where all the action is. There is an outdoor viewing area that has a great view of the Magic Kingdom. We watched fireworks here one night.

The monorails enter the hotel right above our heads. It's so quiet!

The 4th floor also has two gifts shops, an arcade, a quick-service restaurant and Chef Mickey's restaurant (a character buffet).
 A view of Chef Mickey's, Contempo Cafe (quick-service) and the monorail.
Photo by Disney Photo Snapper
The resort has several activities, including marshmallow roasting in the evenings:

Behind the hotel is the main pool, with two large sections and a water slide.

The resort has an organized pool party every afternoon with hula-hooping and other pool games.

This game involved diving for small toys:

There is also a "quiet" bullseye pool that goes to 5 feet in depth. This was never crowded.

So what did we think of the Contemporary Resort? Overall, we loved it! Here is a breakdown:

What we loved:

*  Location, location, location!!! We loved seeing the Magic Kingdom from the resort. It took only 12 minutes on the monorail to get to the Magic Kingdom, and about 2-3 minutes to get back. When you have young kids who are exhausted after a full day at the Magic Kingdom, the proximity of this hotel from the park is priceless.

*  Big, quiet rooms that sleep 5 people (yay for hotels that fit 5!!!)

* We could see the fireworks from our patio (through the trees)

* View of the Electric Water Pageant (light show on the lake)

* Fun, entertaining pool area

* Convenient to Epcot (via monorail transfer)

* Covered walkways from the main building to the garden wing (it rained on and off during our stay, and we didn't have to get wet)

* Did I mention we loved the location?!?!?

What we didn't love:

* The decor/atmosphere....we found the modern theme to be a bit sterile for our taste. But this is totally subjective. I prefer the festive atmosphere of the Wilderness Lodge and the Caribbean Beach.

* The bathroom sinks had no counter space (so we didn't use one of our sinks and instead used it as a counter).

* The quick-service restaurant did not have enough seats...people frequently had to stand to wait for a table.

So as you can see, not much we didn't love. We would stay here again in a heartbeat (with a discount), but without a discount we are totally happy at some of the less expensive resorts inside Disney World. I'm so glad we had the chance to experience the Contemporary Resort on this recent trip.

Have you stayed at the Contemporary Resort? What did you think?

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