Five Reasons to Stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Are you a fan of Disney theme park history? Is Magic Kingdom your favorite Walt Disney World gate? Are you a foodie or a shopaholic? If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, I know the best place for you to stay during your Disney vacation. Here are five reasons to stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
When Walt Disney World opened to the public on October 1st, 1971, it had something that Disneyland didn’t when it debuted. The Orlando campus featured two hotels that were ready on opening day. Disneyland Hotel ran a bit late due to several worker strikes in California in 1955.
One of the two Walt Disney World resorts garnered more attention than the other. Sure, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is the more gorgeous property (and my personal favorite at Walt Disney World), but what was then known as the Contemporary Resort Hotel featured something splashier.
A monorail track ran through the middle of the A-Frame hotel. People had never seen the likes of this before, and they felt awe at the sight.
The elderly resort at Walt Disney World is famous for another historical footnote. One of the most infamous presidential speeches ever occurred at the Contemporary.
Richard Nixon famously absolved himself of wrongdoings during his “I’m not a crook” speech. Why did he do this at the Contemporary? The hotel was hosting the 1973 Annual Convention of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association at the time.
Nixon traveled to face the media at the Ballroom of the Americas, which is a strange fact for anyone who recently dined at Chef Mickey’s last year when it was hosted in that same ballroom. Yes, the place where Disney will throw a Halloween pirate party in a couple of months is the same spot where Richard Nixon’s presidency died. The Contemporary Resort has some amazing history, folks.
Maybe you’re not much of a history buff, though. Maybe you’re all about the theme parks. Assuming that’s true, you’re still going to love Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The location is the best possible spot for Magic Kingdom buffs. And since Magic Kingdom is the most popular theme park in the world, it has a large number of fans.
Each of these people either stays at the Contemporary or dreams of doing so. They do this because the hotel lobby is less than 1,500 steps away from the entrance to the Magic Kingdom. For the average person, it’s a walk of 10 minutes or less. People who don’t want to walk have another option, too.
The Contemporary is one of the so-called monorail resorts, which means that it’s located on the special Monorail Resort line. It’s a five-stop monorail loop that includes a Magic Kingdom drop-off. When you stay at this hotel, you’re never more than a few minutes away from the Magic Kingdom entrance. In fact, thanks to the new security measures taking place at the hotel’s monorail area, you’ll walk right into the park when you arrive at the entrance! How’s that for an ideal location?
When you stay at the Contemporary, you will stay at one of two main areas. One is the main tower while the other is the garden wing. The latter section has some lovely views of the hotel campus, particularly the gardens and pool area. These places are lovely, but the main tower has some absolutely breathtaking views.
When you stay in the main tower, you’ll have a series of panoramic settings as the backdrop for your hotel room. Your room may overlook the famous fourth floor promenade at the Contemporary, home to many of the places we’ll discuss in the next two sections. Alternately, you’ll enjoy views of Bay Lake and all of the other Disney amenities hosted on/near these waters.
In a perfect world, you’ll receive the best view at the Contemporary or possibly any hotel room at Walt Disney World. Some of the rooms feature Theme Park View, a Disney category that signifies something wonderful. When you splurge on a Theme Park View room, you’ll get to look at Magic Kingdom all night! Landmarks such as Cinderella Castle, the monorail, and Space Mountain are all easily visible from your room. These rooms are the ultimate in Disney vacation photo bragging rights!
Do you love shopping at Disney but hate the aggravation of carrying bags around all day? It’s a (wonderful) problem at the theme parks and Disney Springs. When you find something that you love early in the day, you’re stuck with it until you can drop it off at your hotel room.
While I should point out that hotel delivery is possible, assuming that you’re not leaving Disney in the next 24 hours, I can also suggest something better. Shopping at your hotel tidily solves the problem since you can take your new swag straight back to your hotel room! The catch is that some Disney hotels have better gear than others.
I’m here to tell you that Disney’s Contemporary has the best resort shopping on the entire campus! While some people would argue in favor of the Polynesian (which also has terrific shops) or Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (which has the most upscale stores), the Contemporary is my choice. It has a couple of wonderful places to shop, and they’re right beside each other!
Fantasia Gift Shop is a specialty stop with lots of toys for kids and their parents who never got too old for Disney gear. This place has everything from stuffed animals and collectible figurines to character costumes. It even sells miniature monorail sets, which I know for *ahem* various reasons. Okay, I have one sitting on my work desk right now.
Bayview Gifts aka BVG is the much larger store beside Fantasia Gift Shop. At BVG, you can buy virtually anything Disney-related. I’m not even joking. They have cookware, candy, books, jewelry, and specialty prints for sale. You can decorate your entire house by shopping here. They even sell Disney luggage! It’s like having a Disney Store in the same place as your hotel room.
The food at the Contemporary is so delicious that I struggle to decide which of the four major restaurants I should highlight. I’ve previously gushed about the food at California Grill, although the price tag does give me sticker shock. I once described the Contempo Café as having one of the best breakfasts at Walt Disney World. And I wrote a largely positive review of The Wave.
Amusingly, I have yet to discuss my favorite restaurant at the Contemporary and one of the best overall experiences at Walt Disney World. That’s a meal at Chef Mickey’s, THE happiest place on Earth as far as I’m concerned. It’s a place of jubilation, where the buffet menu takes a backseat to the character meetings with Disney’s big five: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, and Goofy.
So, that’s four absolutely amazing restaurants, all of which are located on the first floor, the top floor, or the fourth floor of Disney’s Contemporary. Conveniently, the fourth floor is also home to the shops I mentioned early AND the monorail, making it the hub for all guests staying at the Contemporary. Simply stated, it’s an iconic hotel rich with Disney history, and you should stay there at least once in your life.