This is our last week of coverage for our second round of our ‘7 Walt Disney World Resorts in 7 Days‘ series! This round we have already visited three value resorts – Art of Animation Resort, All Star Sports Resort and All Star Music Resort, and two moderate resorts – Coronado Springs Resort and Fort Wilderness Cabins & Campground. For our final week, we are moving up even further and covering two deluxe resorts – the Polynesian and Contemporary Resorts.
The Contemporary Resort is also one of the three resorts located on the Magic Kingdom monorail loop. Just like the Polynesian Resort, the Contemporary was also one of the original resorts on Walt Disney World Resort property and opened in 1971. Here on the DIS Blog we recently featured a fantastic post all about the Contemporary Resort written by Chuck Mirarchi. I strongly recommend checking it out and really diving into the details and history of the resort. Just like all of my ‘7 Walt Disney World Resorts in 7 Days‘ blogs, this will be a basic overview of what we experienced and saw during our day at the resort.
The Contemporary Resort is one of the most iconic resorts on property and can be seen in the distance from miles away. With the addition of Bay Lake Tower in 2009, which is the Disney Vacation Club wing, the Contemporary is a huge resort that is a fantastic place to vacation on property. For me, it’s the perfect mix of nostalgic retro and some more current design. The architecture and the large amounts of concrete for example are great examples of the retro 1970s style.
The Tower, which is the main iconic building of the Contemporary , is made up of rooms that line the inclined walls of the tower. This leaves a huge open area inside of the resort that is called Grand Canyon Concourse. It’s here that you’ll find some of the resort’s most famous features, including the Mary Blair tile murals and the huge glass windows at either end of the Tower.
Below you can see one section of the Mary Blair mural on the left of the photo, and also Space Mountain off in the distance through the glass windows on the right-hand side.
Another amazing thing about the Grand Canyon Concourse is that at any given time there could be two monorails traveling right through the center of the building. The beams run straight through the Tower – one of the two is just passing through on its way through to the Magic Kingdom, and the other is making a stop before heading to the TTC and then on the Magic Kingdom.
Above you can see some of the retro design details like the geometric carpet and the lampposts that line the track of the monorail. Even some of the details in the shops in the concourse are vintage inspired. Neon pop art in the windows and a ceiling of metal prisms above BVG (Bay View Gifts) give the shop a dated, yet Contemporary feeling.
My absolute favorite thing in the Grand Canyon Concourse is the original tile mural by Mary Blair that covers the elevator bays in the dead center of the Tower. The murals depict Native Americans in Southwest America and each side of the mural displays a slightly different scene. The colorful pattern that is used as the background portrays the landscape of the Southwest and then people and animals decorate the mural.
In the photo below, you can see how large the murals really are – reaching all the way to the top of the Tower and to the highest level of guest floors.
Thankfully we had a much nicer day at the Contemporary Resort than at the Polynesian, so we spent plenty of time exploring outdoors. I really liked these blue directional signs that were posted around the resort.
Sometimes on these 7in7 tours we find things that I’ve never seen or maybe just not noticed before. This could be just an installation for Spring, but I was very impressed with this butterfly life cycle house set up along the walkway between the Tower and Bay Lake. It housed cocoons that were slowly hatching into butterflies and explained a little bit about the metamorphoses process. I think this is a really cool feature, especially if you have kids (or grown men like me) with you that can learn something from it.
Another sort of hidden area of the Contemporary Resort is the Garden Wing buildings that are just to the right of the main Tower. These are guest room buildings that are built off to the side, and actually offer beautiful grassy areas to walk around and just spend time reading or laying out on. There is a huge grassy area that is right up against the water bridge that I had no idea was there. You could easily spend some time watching the boats go by while sitting in the grass or having a picnic.
When Bay Lake Tower was built in 2009, a bridge was also added as a walkway from the main Tower over to the newer DVC wing. I think it adds a really fun design element to the resort and is really convenient when staying at Bay Lake.
Our room was actually over in Bay Lake Tower so we spent a lot of time over there as well.
Bay Lake Tower is shaped like a large horseshoe with the rooms located in the half-moon shape, and the pool and recreation areas in the hollow part of the curve. The design of this tower really reflects the design of the original Contemporary Resort but also has a much more updated feeling.
Bay Lake has its own separate pool area and it is a great place to hang out and swim. Not only does it feature a fairly large swimming pool, but there is a hot tub and a really cool water slide as well. The slide is housed in a huge cylinder of multi-colored glass blocks. Even if you don’t want to go down the slide, there is a neat walk-through that lets you see the design and cool views when the sunlight hits the glass blocks.
Bay Lake Tower has its own separate lobby and main check-in area. The design in here is beautiful, but is a lot more tropical and Florida-like than the design of the main Contemporary Resort. Huge palm trees and steel columns decorate the entryway and wooden accents and Contemporary (yet, not very comfortable or practical) chairs flank the hallways.
The rooms at Bay Lake are very comfortable and are decorated with a fun and Contemporary design. The artwork in the rooms and hallways are some of my favorite in any resort. I want most of the pieces for my apartment!
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