How to Plan Your Disney Trip When You’re Staying at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Before you can plan what to do during a Disney vacation, you need to know where you’re staying. Your hotel’s location is a strong determinant in where you’ll eat and which park you’ll visit most frequently. Here’s some advice on how to plan a Disney trip when you’re staying at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
When Disney’s Contemporary Resort opened, it immediately became the first official Disney hotel ever. From day one, guests couldn’t believe the sight of a monorail driving straight through the middle of the resort. To this day, it remains a stunning architectural triumph that will make you feel like you’re a part of the Disney magic.
The Contemporary is a Magic Kingdom resort, by which I mean that it’s located closest to that park. Thanks to the monorail, you’ll enjoy ready access to Epcot, too. These two parks are among the most popular ones on the planet, and so the setup is terrific for your needs.
Fans of water parks should know that the hotel is closer to Blizzard Beach than Typhoon Lagoon, the latter of which is a full 7.1 miles away. That’s a lot by Disney campus standards, but you won’t care. Blizzard Beach features immaculate theming.
Since The Contemporary sits at the top of Disney’s resort hierarchy, you’ll love all of the amenities here. The pools, restaurants, and shops exemplify the best of Walt Disney World And, as you’re about to learn, the logistics are the gold standard.
Transportation and Logistics
I’m a monorail man. I am shamelessly obsessive about the futuristic nature of this transportation system. When I visit Orlando, I want to spend a lot of time on the trams, as these vessels remind me of my childhood.
More importantly, monorails serve an important purpose at Walt Disney World. The resort line will take you to two different parks. You’re never more than a few monorail stops away from Magic Kingdom. And a quick transfer at the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTL) allows you to head directly to Epcot, too.
The monorail isn’t your only unusual option, either. This resort hosts a boat dock, and the Ferryboats here will take you straight to Magic Kingdom! You can sail to other locations like Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campgrounds as well. The latter option is a terrific way to get to Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Tri-Circle-D Ranch.
The Contemporary features one other logistical advantage that no other resort can match. It’s physically the closest to Magic Kingdom, the most trafficked theme park on planet Earth. When you exit the lobby here, you’re about 1,000 steps away from the main entrance to the park. Depending on traffic, it’s only about a 10-minute walk. My family does this regularly.
When you stay at some resorts, you aren’t quite sure how to plan your itinerary. The Contemporary isn’t like that. You’re staying right beside Magic Kingdom and would be crazy not to take advantage of this proximity.
You’ll spend most of your time at this park, which means that you should plan your FastPasses that way. Since you’re either a short walk or a monorail ride away from the entrance, you can sneak in a few quick visits, too.
Most of the time at Disney, you must commit an hour to transportation and security. That’s not the case here. In fact, the hotel offers a security check on the fourth floor, allowing you to skip the process at Magic Kingdom. These time-saving moments add up over the duration of your trip.
Due to the monorail’s convenient location, you can also get to Epcot easily. I think of this resort as the secondary plan for my Contemporary hotel stays. In less than 20 minutes, I go from my hotel room to the entrance gate at Future World.
To a larger point, Disney takes excellent care of its Contemporary guests. Bus arrival times are available at the bus stop. Also, it’s not unusual for a cast member to stand in this area and advise guests on the best means of transportation at that moment. I’m found this advice invaluable over the years.
According to Google, the travel time to Disney’s Animal Kingdom is 10 minutes, while a bus ride to Disney’s Hollywood Studios will take 12 minutes. Disney Springs requires the longest travel time at 16 minutes, which explains why we tend to substitute the amenities at the Contemporary instead.
Things to Do at the Contemporary
As the original Magic Kingdom Resort, the Contemporary has mastered the art of hotel amenities over the years. You’ll discover some of the best restaurants and stores at Walt Disney World here. Many of them are on the fourth floor, which connects via bridge to the fifth floor of the adjoining Bay Lake Tower.
On the fourth floor, you’ll find Chef Mickey’s, arguably the most popular restaurant at any American theme park. Right beside it is the Contempo Café, one of the best Quick Service spots on the Disney campus. The best part of a meal at either one is that the monorail drives right above both places. You’ll enjoy an unprecedented view while you eat.
Speaking of which, the top floor of the hotel hosts the iconic California Grill. I’ve previously discussed its historyand heartily recommend it as a dinner choice, particularly on special occasions.
Along with your meal, you can look out at Happily Ever After from 15 stories in the air. It’s a breathtaking experience. As an aside, you don’t have to dine there around the time of the fireworks. Anyone who eats at the restaurant that day is entitled to this amenity.
The other significant restaurant here is The Wave…of American Flavors. It’s certainly the easiest one to find, as it resides just beside the lobby on the hotel’s ground floor. Orlando fans in particular rave about the quality of the cuisine here. Oddly, it’s somewhat ignored by tourists, which means that you could feasibly book a last-minute Advanced Dining Reservation here.
The stores at the hotel will have you walking out with more bags than you can carry. Bay View Gifts and the nearby Fantasia Gift Shop sell a staggering number of goods from stuffed animals to scale monorail sets to luggage. You’ll find anything that you need here, and it’ll save you a trip to the Disney Store at Disney Springs.
Overall, the Contemporary is legitimately one of the most fabulous places to stay at Walt Disney World. Your itinerary effectively plans itself, as everything that you need is a monorail ride or short walk away.