The Contemporary Resort Hotel – Walt Disney World’s Resort Loop Hotels

| May 13, 2013 | 19 Replies

In the 1960’s, Walt Disney went about secretively purchasing land in Florida and acquired a little over 27,000 acres.  At its maximum, the resort expanded to 30,000+ acres and today, the Walt Disney World Resort encompasses 25,000 acres which includes four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping district, 24 resort hotels that can accommodate every budget and taste and other recreational and entertainment venues.

disney_fowler_potterPhoto: Walt Disney, Roy Disney (to Walt’s left), Card Walker and Joe Fowler (with camera)
Photo: Walt Disney Productions

As early as 1967, themed resort hotels were planned for Walt Disney World.  When the park opened in October 1971, the resort had a very different look.  Back then you either stayed at the Contemporary Resort, the Polynesian Village, or the Fort Wilderness Campground.  If Disney saw a need for additional accommodations, three others were to follow over the course of the next five years.

master_plan_wdwart

The Master Plan for Walt Disney World
Copyright: Walt Disney Productions

The other three were also to be deluxe resort properties: two of the planned resorts were to surround the Seven Seas Lagoon; Disney’s Asian Resort and Disney’s Venetian Resort and surrounding Bay Lake was to have been Disney’s Persian Resort. All three resorts would be connected to the monorail system.

Imagineering-Disney_POLYNESIAN-Construction_18Image: Courtesy of ImagineeringDisney.com

In 1964, Walt Disney puts “Project X” (later known as “The Florida Project”) into motion.  After Walt’s death in December of 1966, Roy put most of Walt’s plans for EPCOT the city on hold; however, he incorporated many of EPCOT’s ideas and companies – already on board – into the creation of the new Florida park and resort.  The birth of the Contemporary Resort Hotel came from Walt’s vision for his “Progress City,” as well as the involvement of US Steel.

Florida Project

The flagship hotel would be the most futuristic or contemporary in design – based on Walt’s vision for the high-rise multi-use structure he envisioned for the center of EPCOT.  The original structure was to be a “city” with an open-atrium building complete with shops, restaurants and a monorail running straight through the building.

The location of each of the resort hotels was chosen in relation to its Magic Kingdom counterpart.  The Contemporary Resort was placed where it is because it put the hotel on the same axis as Tomorrowland.  The Polynesian Village was built to be on the same axis as Adventureland and, originally, The Asian Resort, was put in its location to serve as an extended backdrop for Adventureland.  Today, The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa stands on that spot and reflects more of the train station and Main Street U.S.A.  This symbiotic relationship between the resort and their respective land continued the park’s storytelling objective.

THE BIRTH OF THE CONTEMPORARY RESORT HOTEL

One of US Steel’s subsidiaries, American Bridge, had been experimenting with modular construction.  They had been promoting constructing, assembling, and furnishing rooms off-site and then stacking them next to the skeleton of the building and then slot each room into the frame of the building.  This new method of room construction allowed Disney to build fifteen complete rooms per day.  The rooms were constructed on an assembly line at a 150,000-square-foot factory just a few miles north of the Contemporary Resort Hotel.   As each of the nine feet high, fifteen feet wide, thirty feet deep rooms move through each section the electrical, plumbing and mechanical fixtures are added.  Excluding the furniture, the rooms came complete with everything from air conditioning, carpeting, plumbing, lighting, mirrors and even bathroom fixtures.  Here is the promotional video of US Steel’s involvement.

contemporary resort room 1971Contemporary Resort Guest Room from 1971
Photo: The Walt Disney Company

One “fact” that is very prevalent out there is that not only were the rooms made to be easily removed, refurbished, and slotted back in, but also that they (the rooms) had settled into the structure and became stuck; thereby unable to be removed.  This is a myth.  The rooms were not meant to be removed from the frame.  When the building was constructed and the rooms were slid into the steel frame, concrete was poured and sealed the rooms to the frame.

Screen Shot 2013-03-01 at 6.21.30 PMPhoto: Disney Parks Blog

Disney’s original agreement with US Steel was that they [Disney] would retain the land these hotels were built on, but US Steel would be allowed to build and own the hotels.  Disney would then lease and run the hotels.  There were concerns over the financing for the Florida project so various mergers were BRIEFLY considered. Before Walt died, one of the first companies considered was General Electric. According to Bob Thomas “Roy faced the formidable task of financing… Bankers and financiers told Roy that such an investment was too great [$100 million] for a company the size of Walt Disney Productions. He was advised to seek a large corporation as a partner. GE was approached…” The negotiations ended shortly after Walt realized the merger would put GE execs in charge and he would become an employee, therefore he could be fired at anytime. Other mergers were contemplated, including Westinghouse, but ultimately Roy made it work without any outside involvement.  After Walt’s death, Roy was “besieged by suitors,” but one thing he (& Walt) had learned early in his career was to share ownership with no one.

US Steel’s vision for this hotel turned it from a high-rise to an A-frame hotel.  In conjunction with US Steel and The Walt Disney Company, the design firm of Becket Associates, founded by Walt Disney’s close friend Welton Becket, came up with the architectural elements for the resort.  Marvin Davis, of the Walt Disney Company, served as a liaison for the project.  It was Marvin that made the hotel less of a shoebox feel and more accessible from the outside. The final design of the hotel would see the main building standing at 184-feet high, 468-feet long and 220-feet wide.

contemporary_matthew feigeContemporary Resort Grand Canyon Concourse Under Construction
Photo: Matthew Feige / Flickr

During construction, Disney encountered numerous obstacles that had to be resolved quickly in order to construct their A-frame hotel.  One of those obstacles was that they realized they couldn’t quickly slide the rooms into the frame.   If they put all the rooms in one side of the hotel first it would compromise the integrity of the structure and throw the hotel frame off balance.  To resolve this issue, they had to set up two cranes on either side of the A-frame and alternately slot in the rooms.   Another issue, and for some at Disney a critical one, was the monorail.

Originally, plans called for the monorail to run straight through the middle of the hotel, however the vibrations from the monorail cause the hotel shake.  The contractors told Disney that it would be impossible to run the monorail through the hotel.  Walt’s planners argued that without the monorail the hotel would resemble, “a place where the Goodyear blimp comes to mate.”   Roy realized that without the monorail; the Contemporary would be no different than any of Hyatt’s atrium hotels.  All Roy said was “build it.”  After re-engineering the hotel multiple times, engineers moved the monorail to one side of the hotel and anchor the track to the ground and not the building.

Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 1.52.46 PMCopy from the back of a pre-opening post card
Image: Walt Disney Company

In David Koenig’s book, Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World, the Contemporary Hotel was the working title that everyone referred to the hotel.  Marty Sklar always had reservations about the continual use of referring to the hotel by that name because it might “stick.”  In early 1971 the team came up with the hotel’s permanent name, the Tempo Bay Hotel.  Roy [Disney], also calling the hotel the Contemporary Hotel, saw the plans for the Tempo Bay Hotel and wanted to know what was that hotel.  When he learned the Contemporary was only the working title, he said, “I just don’t like it.  I like Contemporary.  I like names that are simple and say what they are.  The other name is phony and plastic.”  Shortly after that everything was changed again and the building bore its new name, the working title, the Contemporary Resort Hotel.

contemporary logoImage: Original Logo / The Walt Disney Company

Most stories report that that construction on most of the resort was running on or close to on time, however that was far from the reality.  Construction was a challenge in and out of the entire park.

dick-nunis-webDick Nunis
Photo: The Walt Disney Company

In the fall of 1970, only about 1 year from scheduled opening, the main contractor hired to oversee construction announced that the timeline was unrealistic and suggested that Disney change the planned opening date. Within days of that announcement, the two Joe’s – Fowler and Potter – filed the necessary paperwork to create Buena Vista Construction.  In the spring of 1971, after a visit east to check on the state of the construction, Dick Nunis was asked if he honestly believed that the resort would open on time. His response was “only if we put the entire force of the Disney company behind the effort.”  The following week he was asked if he would relocate to Florida to ensure that the park opened on time. He moved to Florida with the reassurance that if he needed ANYTHING from another department, he would get it. Over the next few months, he and his team became known as “the Nunis Raiders”.

The hotel was plagued with various setbacks and difficulties, both great and small.  Everything from workers sleeping on the job and creating phantom employees to cash additional checks to stealing.  The park eventually opened on time, but it took a few more months to finally complete the Contemporary Resort Hotel tower and garden wings.

monorail_mark_iv_contemporary_constructionThe Contemporary Resort during construction
Photo: BigFloridaCountry.com/The Walt Disney Company

According to Charles Ridgway’s biography, Spinning Disney’s World, “…the Thursday before opening there were still giant construction cranes towering over the Contemporary… which would go against all what Disney stands for as well as spoiling the view for the first guests.  So the cranes were dismantled, laid down and promptly covered with grass for the rest of the weekend.  They went back up that Monday and stayed looming and working over the hotel until the day before the Grand Opening.  In the end, the hotel was completely finished in the New Year, but enough of the rooms were completed to accommodate the Grand Opening day guests and various activities.”

During this whole process the Disney-US Steel relationship grew more and more strained.  It was a constant bother to Roy Disney.  Knowing that this could become a big problem, a few weeks before Roy’s death, he negotiated a deal with US Steel to buy their interest in the hotel and assume all remaining construction costs.

Disneys-contemporary-resort-mickeywatchContemporary Resort Entrance – The Gardens are to resemble a Mickey Mouse Watch
Photo: Brian Kendig / Wikipedia

THE CONTEMPORARY RESORT HOTEL OPENS – FINALLY

When the hotel finally did open to guests, room rates for this luxury resort ranged from $28 to $44 per night.  The original dining outlets included: Grand Canyon Terrace Cafe, Grand Canyon Terrace, Top of the World, Gulf Coast Room, El Pueblo, The Dock Inn, Monorail Club Car, The Sand Bar, and the Mesa Grande Lounge.  As for shopping: The Contemporary Man, The Contemporary Woman, Plaza Gifts & Sundries, Kingdom Jewels Ltd., The Fantasia Shop, The Spirit World, The Captain’s Chair, The American Beauty Shoppe, Bay n’ Beach, and The Olympiad spa and gym.

Screen Shot 2013-03-01 at 4.26.54 PMPhoto: Courtesy of Michael G. Smith / Copyright 2012

Walt Disney World officially was dedicated on October 1, 1971.  The opening ceremonies were broadcasted a few weeks later on October 29 as part of The Wonderful World of Disney‘s coverage.  There were a number of celebrities on the show including Glen Campbell arriving at the Contemporary Resort by boat.  After his intro there is an aerial shot of Monorail Green gliding towards the Contemporary Hotel and sailing right in to the hotel.  After the doors open up two Disney Hostesses step out and behind them is Bob Hope.  He does about eight minutes of stand-up on makeshift steps leading from the middle of the monorail platform down to the Grand Canyon Concourse.

Since the Contemporary Resort Hotel was designated as a flagship hotel for Walt Disney World it needed to provide the level of services and goods found in any deluxe hotel.  By the very nature of and the location of the Contemporary Resort and the Polynesian Village Resort hotels they needed to be fairly self-sufficient given they were basically removed from “civilization.”  Services like a drug store, liquor store, smoke shop, jewelry shop, florist shop, tennis shop, beach shop, game room, men’s and women’s hair salons, as well as separate men’s, woman’s’ and children’s clothing stores had to be provided at the resorts.  These services became loss leaders and very rarely, if ever, broke-even, let alone turned a profit.

THE CONTEMPORARY RESORT HOTEL – PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE

“Located along the Western shore of beautiful Bay Lake will be the streamlined 1,057 room ‘Contemporary’ theme resort – its main building a graceful 16-story high rise.  It will feature a spectacular open mall lobby, more like a landscaped park, stretching longer and wider than a football field… Open air shops, boutiques, cafes, restaurants and lounges will encircle the garden-like mall where the silent monorail trains pass overhead every few minutes.”

Walt Disney World Preview Edition – 1970

In the 70s, when guests entered the hotel from the ground floor, they would first pass the reception desk and then see the hotel’s convention exhibit space.  Shortly after, the exhibition space became the Fiesta Fun Center, a game room, arcade, movie theatre and 24-hour snack bar.  Years later the center’s name was change to the Food and Fun Center.  Today it is home to the Wave Restaurant.

The Gulf Coast Room, on the second floor, was one of two restaurants that required men to wear sports jackets.  The other restaurant was Top of the World.

Aside from the demolition of the north wing to make room for Bay Lake Towers and construction of a convention center, the 4th Floor or Grand Canyon Concourse Level of the Contemporary Resort Hotel has seen the most dramatic changes.  In the beginning the north end housed a souvenir shop, Plaza Gifts and Sundries, and The Spirit World.  Here guests could buy Disney merchandise, toiletries, flowers and floral arrangements, food and snacks, soft drinks, liquor and tobacco products.  Today it is known as Concourse Sundries & Spirits.

Screen Shot 2013-03-01 at 3.19.42 PM

On the opposite side of these shops were the Contemporary Man, the Contemporary Woman and Kingdom Jewels, Ltd., where guests could purchase men’s and woman’s clothing, beachwear, as well as watches, costume and fine jewelry.  Today the entire location is home to Bayview Gifts (BVG).  Fantasia Gifts, which stands between these two shopping areas in the middle of the Concourse used to be open lobby space with square seating areas accented by “trees” with amber, yellow and clear Plexiglas leaves.

lobby3Photo: The Walt Disney Company

On the south end of the Grand Canyon Concourse the dining areas have also seen tremendous changes. Today’s Contempo Cafe was originally the home to the Terrace Buffeteria, it was also known as the Grand Canyon Terrace, and later the Concourse Grill and then the Concourse Steakhouse.

contemporaryhotel1971Grand Canyon Concourse Restaurants
Photo: The Walt Disney Company

The current version of Chef Mickey’s saw a number of incarnations in years past including the Pueblo Room, Contemporary Café and Coconino Cove (also referred to Coconino Grove).  Before the construction of the Coconino Cove that area was part of the outside of the hotel.  Disney built out that space to make the Coconino Cove cocktail lounge.   Today it is one of the dining areas for Chef Mickey’s.

Originally on the southeast side of the Grand Canyon Concourse the empty space that was originally there eventually became the Monorail Club Car.  After recent renovations, the area is now the Outer Rim Lounge.

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 11.12.51 AMTop of the World Supper Club
Photo: The Walt Disney Company

Moving up to the 15th floor, the Top of the World (also known as the Top of the World Supper Club) was the place to see classic Vegas-style performers like Mel Torme, Phyllis Diller, Phyllis McGuire and many others; the lounge also offered dinner and dancing.  In the early 1980′s, the Top of the World premiered a show called Broadway at the Top.  Top of the World, along with Mesa Grande Lounge – later called the Top of the World Lounge – offered some of the best views of the Magic Kingdom and of the fireworks.  At this time they also served lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch – with the guest favorite “make your own” strawberry shortcake.  The Top of the World closed in 1993 and in May 1995 the California Grill Restaurant opened.

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 11.11.27 PMThe Contemporary Resort Convention Center
Photo: The Walt Disney Company

The Walt Disney World Resort continued to grow in popularity throughout the years and not just with the casual vacationers.  Many companies decided that Walt Disney World was the perfect location for company meetings; mixing business and fun in one location.  Disney decided to increase their convention and meeting space. Seeing the need to be able to continue to host larger groups and shows, in November of 1991 Disney opened a 90,000 square foot convention center on the southwest corner of the hotel property where a parking lot once stood.  They got an A for effort, but a D for style.

THE GRAND CANYON CONCOURSE MURAL

The Contemporary Resort Hotel is known for a number of things.  In addition to the A-frame structure, slotted rooms, and monorail, the resort is also known for its soaring 90-foot mural.

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 11.26.49 AM

Given Walt Disney’s fascination with the Grand Canyon, it’s no surprise that many aspects of the Grand Canyon pop up throughout the cavernous Contemporary.

Mary Blair, an animator, Imagineer and now a Disney Legend, designed the iconic mural.  Blair worked on many Disney projects from “Three Caballeros” to “Song of the South” to “Cinderella.”  Because of her use of color and the child-like way she approached her work, Walt had asked her to work on a new project they were working on for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair – it’s A Small World.   What Mary created for the Contemporary Resort was the world’s largest handmade mosaic featuring a modern southwest theme in the classic Mary Blair style.

The mural, which took more than a year and a half to design and construct, consists of more than 18,000 hand-painted tiles on the six, ninety-foot walls.   Not only were her designs used in the mural, but also her Southwest Indian children, which also included stylized birds, animals, flowers, and trees, were originally used throughout the resort, in the lobbies, and as framed prints in each of the hotel’s rooms.  The giant mural, which conceals the hotel’s elevator shafts, shows Native American Indian Children standing along the slopes of the Grand Canyon.  The scene that faces the monorail includes a goat with five legs, up near the top.  Blair did that to honor the culture of the Grand Canyon Indian tribes who felt that artwork could not be “perfect.”

Her inspiration for the mural came from a broad spectrum of resources including prehistoric petroglyphs, Pueblo murals, and Navajo ceremonial art and sand paintings.  The mural and concourse colors reflect earth and sky tones found in and at the Grand Canyon, as well as those used in Indian art.  Each of the more than 18,000 individually hand painted and fire-glazed ceramic tiles were shipped from California to Florida on special air-suspension trucks.  The glazes used on the ceramics are both mineral and chemically based – the color pink, for example, is made from gold.

ALMOST IMMEDIATE REDECORATING

When the park opened, people flocked to the resort and clamored to stay at one of the only two hotels at the Magic Kingdom.  The 1000+ rooms were full all the time and since the average stay was 2 – 2.5 days, the room turnover was tremendous.  Due to the high turnover, wear-and-tear on the rooms was magnified.  As such, room refurbishment began almost immediately.

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 11.18.02 AMWalt Disney World Dinnerware
Photo: restaurantwarecollectors.com

In the fall of 1972, Disney started a continuous rehab of eight rooms at a time and by 1975, every room at the Contemporary Resort Hotel had been completely overhauled from top to bottom…only to start again.  New carpeting, drapes and color schemes were done to each room, large maps of the Magic Kingdom hung in each room and the wallpaper was replaced with vinyl wallpaper to make for easier cleaning.  To reduce “souvenir seekers” from acquiring items not sold at the resort anything that had the Walt Disney World logo, a globe-like circle with Mickey ears in the middle of a large capital D, including dishes to towels to trash cans and virtually anything that wasn’t nailed down, was removed from those items and replaced with more generic items.

THE NORTH GARDEN WINGS TAKES FLIGHT

In 2005, Disney’s Contemporary Resort began a four-year renovation project that included the updating of the main lobby, all the guest rooms and the addition of several new restaurants and gift shops.  It was also the start of planning and construction for Bay Lake Tower.

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 11.38.05 AMDemolition of the Contemporary North Wing
Photo: BigFloridaCountry.com

Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort Hotel, this gleaming C-shaped Vacation Club Resort that opened on August 4, 2009, is on land that was previously occupied by the North Garden Wing of the Contemporary Resort.

In November 2006, Disney filed plans for a project on the site of the Contemporary Resort’s North Garden Wing for the removal of the entire north wing, part of the parking lot and the Disney’s Racquet Club.  The North Wing itself was demolished starting in 2007 and construction on the new building continued throughout the year.

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 11.33.22 AM

Originally dubbed “Project Crystal” in the Disney boardrooms, Disney finally unveiled the plans in September 2008 with its official name, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.  A majority of the units were used for the Disney Vacation Club, but some of the units were set aside for regular guests.  Some of the resort’s features include full-length windows with views into the Magic Kingdom or onto Bay Lake and in select bathrooms on the Magic Kingdom side, movable partitions to permit watching the park’s fireworks displays from the bathtub, a zero-entry swimming pool, tennis and shuffleboard courts, and a cookout pavilion.  A pedestrian bridge connects Bay Lake Tower to the original A-frame tower.

On the top of Bay Lake Tower is a “resurrected” Top of the World Lounge.  The lounge, which is only accessible to Disney Vacation Club Members after 5 pm, includes a viewing deck and also an indoor seating area with a full bar and appetizers.   The Magic Kingdom fireworks display can be seen from the viewing deck with the firework’s music simultaneously piped in through speakers along the deck’s wall.

contemporary_baylaketower copy2The Contemporary Resort Hotel and Bay Lake Tower
Photo: The Walt Disney Company

Unlike the convention center, which is perceived as a total disconnect in design to the Contemporary Resort Hotel, Bay Lake Tower is a perfect complement to the resort.  Bay Lake Tower, which opened on August 4, 2009, offers 295 units including studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units with a majority either facing the Magic Kingdom or Bay Lake.

NIP/TUCK

Currently the Contemporary Resort Hotel is undergoing another remodel.  Begun in January of this year and running through late summer, the resort will see various levels of refurbishments and remodels including soft goods replacement in the Contemporary Tower and South Garden Wing guest rooms, as well as a refurbishment to the 12th floor Atrium, Club level concierge lounge.

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 12.04.08 PMThe Contemporary Resort Previously Planned Health & Wellness Suites
Photo: The Walt Disney Company

In April 2011, Disney originally announced that it was transforming some of their concierge level rooms and suites into “Health and Wellness Suites.”  In an April 25, 2011 Disney Parks Blog posting, Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager, said, “Beginning this fall, guests looking for some rest and relaxation can indulge in new health and wellness suites, which will debut at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. These suites will feature bamboo flooring, 100-percent cotton linens, non-allergenic wrapped mattresses – as well as great views of Magic Kingdom Park and Bay Lake. Bathrooms on this floor also will be equipped with rainwater showers and tea tree oils.  Guests staying in these suites also can enjoy the benefit of having cardio equipment right in their room. And they’ll have daily access to seasonal and organic fresh foods at the concierge lounge, and can enjoy yoga sessions and spa treatments at the resort’s renovated wellness studio.”

Less than eight months later, Disney abruptly dropped the “Health and Wellness Suites” concept.   “We look at new ideas and concepts all of the time,” said company spokesman Bryan Malenius.  “It’s not unusual for changes to be made on major construction projects such as the Contemporary suite renovations.” The 14th floor rooms and suites are currently receiving the long anticipated hard and soft goods renovations.  Many of the “Health and Wellness Suites” designs and concepts are expected to be incorporated into the 14th floor renovations including the bamboo floors and low-allergen mattresses, but will no longer contain the private exercise equipment.

The Olympiad Fitness Center and guest parking lot has also seen some refurbishment and now through the end of September, the guest elevators will undergo an enhancement.  Other schedule refurbishments, through the end of May 2013, include the replacement of the 2nd floor lobby wall coverings and the entrance and exit roads will be repaired.

california grill_oldThe Former California Grill
Photo: The Walt Disney Company

The biggest change will be seen at the California Grill restaurant.  The restaurant, which is currently undergoing a complete remodel, was originally expected to reopen late this summer, however Disney is now saying it will now be early fall 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 12.41.06 PMProposed Remodel of The California Grill
Photo: The Walt Disney Company

The entire restaurant, front- and back-of-the-house, will get a face-lift.  The main dining room and the two private dining rooms, designed by the San Francisco restaurant design firm the Puccini Group, will undergo a complete renovation.

Gone will be the dark woods and multi-colored accents and in its place will be a cleaner and sophisticated look in soft grays and camel with burnt orange and fuchsia accents.  The open aired show kitchen will remain, but “it will be completely different and updated,” said Executive Chef Brian Piasecki.

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 1.03.57 PMCalifornia Grill Executive Chef Brian Piasecki
Photo: The Walt Disney Company

Piasecki said the restaurant will feature a little science and technology to the kitchen including a new sous vide cooking system as well as a custom cast-iron planchas exclusively for cooking fish.  The planchas will feature dual temperature zones so fish can be seared on one side, and then slid to the lower temperature side to finish cooking.

According to the Disney Park Blog, “The new kitchen also expands the sushi area with a classic look, including a glass case to showcase the beautiful seafood. A fun new feature is a 12-course “omakase” menu, which essentially leaves the selection up to the chef, with a chance to show off a little and showcase some unusual presentations you won’t taste otherwise.”

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 1.09.21 PMCalifornia Grill New Entree – Pan Seared Halibut with Roasted Beets Three-Way
Photo: The Walt Disney Company

Although sushi chef Yoshie is retiring, the new sushi chefs will continue with the California Grill’s popular sushi menu.  New dishes include Sea Urchin Nigiri with mamanori (soybean paper), salmon roe and freshly grated wasabi root.

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 1.07.34 PMCalifornia Grill New Dish – Three-meat Meatballs with Meyer-lemon-scented chimichurri, marinated picholine olives and orzo
Photo: The Walt Disney Company

Chef Brian Piasecki is working on new menu items, as well as updating old favorites.  The  grilled pork with goat cheese polenta will now become pork two ways with the addition of braised lacquered pork belly with country applesauce.   The new menu will reflect a light, crisp, contemporary cooking.  Some of the new menu items will include three-meat meatballs, from their wood fired oven, with house-made harissa accompanied by a Meyer-lemon-scented chimichurri, marinated picholine olives and orzo.  Chef Piasecki will also be sourcing as many local ingredients including Cape Canaveral prawns.  “They will be alive when they arrive at the kitchen door,” says Chef Piasecki.  The prawns will be served with oven-roasted tomatoes, charred lemon and a handful of peppery baby arugula.  Also new on the menu will be a pan-seared halibut with beets roasted three ways on a bed of parsnip “silk” and a rich macadamia nut vinaigrette.

The Disney Blog also reports that the chef is “…playing around with house-made charcuterie – prosciutto, sausage, rillettes, butter and mousse, all made with duck and served with house-made pickles, chutneys and an earthy whole-grain mustard.”

A BIT OF CONTEMPORARY TRIVIA

Many presidents have visited both Disneyland and/or Walt Disney World, but none has had more of a connection than Richard Nixon.  Vice-President Nixon and his family were at Disneyland to cut the ribbon to dedicate the monorail, he visited Epcot prior to its opening, but what can be considered his most famous – and notorious visit – came on November 17, 1973, during the height of the Watergate crisis, when President Nixon spoke in front of 400 Associated Press managing editors during their annual conference in one of the meeting rooms on the second floor at the Contemporary Resort.

During his speech, Nixon said, “Let me just say this, and I want to say this to the television audience: I made my mistakes, but in all of my years of public life, I have never profited, never profited from public service–I have earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice. And I think, too, that I could say that in my years of public life, that I welcome this kind of examination, because people have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I am not a crook. I have earned everything I have got.”

Regardless of how many changes occur at The Contemporary Resort Hotel, the iconic structure and gliding monorail through the middle of it always takes you back to your first visit and will keep this resort as popular as ever.

References:
Walt Disney World
 Resort website
Walt Disney World Preview Edition, 1970
Widen Your World
Walt Dated World
Wikipedia
Allears.net
Wdwhistory.com
The Disney Blog
The American Presidency Project

 



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Category: Dining, Disney World, Disney World Dining, Events, Florida Events, News, Photos, Photos / Video

  • J.T. Landry

    Sensational blog post. Since my childhood in the 80s, I’ve been more fascinated with the Contemporary than any other resort on property. In ’89, my family ate a really nice restaurant in the Contemporary – I can’t remember if it was up top where Cali Grill is now or if it was on the Concourse, but I can’t remember the name! Would it be the Concourse Steakhouse?

    • http://twitter.com/DisneyJournal The Disney Journal

      It’s my favorite resort as well. If you were on the 4th floor it probably was the Concourse Steakhouse.

  • http://twitter.com/CyranoDIS Reid Hutchison

    Excellent blog…. more please

    • http://twitter.com/DisneyJournal The Disney Journal

      Thank you. Happy to accommodate the request.

  • Keira Martins

    Truly an amazing blog post. It was nice reading it.

    Extended stay accommodations in nyc

    • http://twitter.com/DisneyJournal The Disney Journal

      Thank you very much. Glad you enjoyed it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/triumphofscience Shane Waldrop

    Good grief man. You should do a “complete history of” every resort!

    • http://twitter.com/DisneyJournal The Disney Journal

      Thanks. I am currently working on another resort hotel story.

  • http://www.hotelurbano.com.br/ Luizze Oliveira

    I read your article. You share such nice description about the contemporary resort hotel. Due to this type of information we get lots of knowledge about hotels benefits and facility which very helpful to tourist.

    • http://twitter.com/DisneyJournal The Disney Journal

      Thank you for your comment. I am glad that the story was informative and helpful to you. I think it’s nice to not only know about what a Disney resort has to offer, but also its history. I think it makes you appreciate each resort even more.

  • http://www.reducedhotelrates.com/how-can-you-get-the-best-prices-for-hotels-and-tour-packages/ aileenarter

    I am really very impressed by the way you have explained each and every details about The Contemporary Resort Hotel. Through this article people will come to know about the history about this great hotel. Thanks for sharing.

    • The Disney Journal

      Hi – thank you for your comment about the story. I am glad you like it. Yes, all of these hotels have great stories that have yet to be told.

  • cmc08

    Thanks for the brilliant article. Living over in Ireland, I don’t get to experience Disney as much as I would like but reading about the history of WDW is something that provides endless fascination for me. It would be brilliant if something similar was done for the other resorts! hint hint! :-) Thanks again.

    • The Disney Journal

      Thanks! I am glad you enjoyed the article. As a matter of fact, I am working on the history of The Polynesian (Village) Resort right now. It should be up shortly.

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  • http://www.emaxhotelmarketing.com/ Hotel Website Designing

    Nice article….

    • The Disney Journal

      Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it.

      • http://www.emaxhotelmarketing.com/ Hotel Website Designing

        My pleasure

  • andrew russell

    Why won’t they sell contemporary resort specific merchandise there – e.g., shirts, mugs, magnets, souvenirs specific to the Contemporary Resort? If I’m going to spend the deluxe cost, I want more than a generic tee shirt….