Disney’s Contemporary Resort: Closest Hotel to the Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World Monorail traveling through Disney's Contemporary Resort

Stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort for Magic Kingdom Touring

Magic Kingdom fans may want to consider staying at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, including Bay Lake Tower, during their Walt Disney World (WDW) vacation. The close proximity of the Contemporary to the Magic Kingdom (MK) adds an enticing level of convenience to your WDW trip. Walking to the Magic Kingdom is a time-saver and allows for flexibility in your MK touring plans.

Closest Hotel to the Magic Kingdom is Disney's Contemporary Resort

If you’ve been to the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, you’ve seen the nearby A-frame hotel that boasts a monorail running right through the atrium! While the unique shape and zipping monorail are what guests notice first, there are plenty more reasons to stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

History

As one of the two original resorts (Disney’s Polynesian Village can also boast this title) on opening day October 1, 1971, the Contemporary also has bragging rights for the closest lodging to the iconic park, Magic Kingdom. An engineering marvel, each room was built off-site, trucked in, and slid into place. The contemporary design was created to mesh with the views of Tomorrowland. We see you, Space Mountain!

Contemporary Resort View of Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World
Stunning view of Space Mountain!

Painted for the resort opening, Disney Legend Mary Blair’s 90 ft. high mural can be found in the atrium.

Mary Blair Mural at Disney's Contemporary Resort
Mary Blair Mural.

Bay Lake Tower, a Disney Vacation Club hotel, was added to the Contemporary Resort property in 2009.

Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort
Bay Lake Tower

Location

For Walt Disney World guests focusing on touring the Magic Kingdom, the location of Disney’s Contemporary Resort is second to none.

Walkway to Magic Kingdom from Disney's Contemporary Resort
It’s a short walk to the Magic Kingdom.

I love being able to walk into the Magic Kingdom for Extra Magic Hour in the early morning, return quickly to the resort for a mid-day break, and then get back to the MK for more evening touring.

Contemporary Resort. WDW. Walk to Magic Kingdom
Easy walk to the Magic Kingdom

But there are more perks to this location! Depending on your room location, you may be able to hear the Ferry boat’s whistle, see the monorail making part of its circular journey, watch the fireworks from your balcony, listen to the Walt Disney World Railroad whistle, and take in many other sights and sounds that are near and dear to Walt Disney World fans. We love the views of Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon!

Ferry Boat from Transportation and Ticket Center to the Magic Kingdom
Listen to the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom from your balcony room.

For more fun on the water, take the Disney boat to Fort Wilderness and/or Wilderness Lodge. We recommend dining at Trail’s End buffet at Fort Wilderness for yummy but inexpensive food. And Whispering Canyon Cafe at Wilderness Lodge is a hoot for the whole family!

If you can’t see Cinderella Castle and/or the fireworks from your room, visit the 4th Floor concourse. There’s an outdoor deck that is open to all guests. Just go out the door next to Fantasia Market.

Fourth Floor Outdoor Deck at Disney's Contemporary Resort
Great view of the Magic Kingdom.

Don’t forget to view the Electrical Water Pageant from the Contemporary’s beach. It’s a 14-barge night-time spectacle that began in 1972.

Monorail

Monorail service is offered to the Transportation and Ticket Center where guests can transfer to the Epcot monorail line. For dining and shopping at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, just hop on the monorail. If you prefer not to walk to the Magic Kingdom, the monorail also makes a stop there. However, this will take more time.

Rooms

With two queens plus a day bed, the standard rooms are spacious at the Contemporary with 394 square feet.

Disney's Contemporary Resort Room.
Contemporary Resort Rooms are spacious.

Standard rooms at the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Village are a bit larger.

Amenities

It’s extremely easy to escape the Magic Kingdom and return to the Contemporary for some down time. With two pools, a splash pad, beach hammocks, an arcade, shops, and Boat Nook marina options (sailboats, fishing, waterskiing, tubing, parasailing), taking advantage of your resort amenities should be part of your Disney vacation. Yes, you can relax at WDW!

Disney's Contemporary Resort offers the Boat Nook Marina
Boat Nook Marina

Amenities with no additional cost: Disney resort bus transportation, Disney’s Magical Express, Wi-Fi, standard parking, online check-in, resort airline check-in, fitness center, merchandise pickup, and more.

Extra cost amenities include: valet parking, laundry and dry-cleaning, spa, childcare, business center, arcade, and more.

Arcade Disney's Contemporary Resort
Unwind at the arcade.

Dining

For a special occasion or just a vacation splurge, dining atop the Contemporary at the California Grill is a memorable experience. Time your meal so that you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks while dining OR dine early and return to California Grill’s observation deck later in the evening. Early diners still get admittance to view the fireworks — just show your receipt at the 2nd floor restaurant’s check-in desk!

California Grill Dining Room at Contemporary Resort
The gorgeous dining room at California Grill.

I highly recommend dining early, then taking the monorail for drinks and shopping at the Polynesian Village and/or Grand Floridian, and for the finale — returning for the fireworks. It’s a full evening of resort fun and especially perfect for a date night. 😉

Magic Kingdom's Fireworks from California Grill's Observation Deck
Magic Kingdom Fireworks from California Grill Observation Deck

Another favorite Contemporary Resort activity for our family — Chef Mickey’s for dinner. Mickey cooks up breakfast too but we prefer the liveliness of this restaurant during the dinner hours. In the morning, we aren’t always awake enough to get into the full swing of napkin twirling! Try Chef Mickey’s on your Disney Arrival Day; you’ll get a delicious meal and some time with Mickey and his friends before you’ve even entered a Disney park.

Chef Mickey's and Contempo Cafe Disney's Contemporary Resort
Chef Mickey’s and Contempo Cafe

For quick-service dining, head to the Contempo Cafe. You’ll often find some unique cupcakes here. Our family recommends the sandwiches and flatbread pizzas.

Contempo Cafe serves up sandwiches at Disney's Contemporary Resort
Enjoy a sandwich at the Contempo Cafe.

On the lobby level, The Wave… of American Flavors serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Enjoy breakfast before heading to the Magic Kingdom!

The Wave of American Flavors Disney's Contemporary Resort
The dining room is quiet during an early morning breakfast at The Wave.

On the first floor, Contemporary Grounds showcases bakery items and coffee. Plus, several bars and lounges are scattered throughout the resort.

Shopping

The bustling 4th floor concourse is also home to Fantasia Market (snacks and sundries), Fantasia (toys and souvenirs), and Bayview Gifts (souvenirs, clothing, and more!). Bayview Gifts is also a convenient stop for a slice of fudge or a freshly baked cookie. Looking for Pandora charms (I love the Cinderella slipper, I got recently!) or a new Disney Dooney and Bourke bag? This is a great place to shop for those pricier items.

Fantasia has toys and souvenirs at Disney's Contemporary Resort
Shop at Fantasia for toys and souvenirs.

Of course, toy monorails and the Contemporary Resort playset are especially popular! This was one of our son’s favorite toys.

Disney monorail toy playset
One of our son’s favorite toys!

Cost

Sorry, we had to reach this topic, didn’t we?! How much does it cost to stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort?

Of course, the tower rooms overlooking the Magic Kingdom are the priciest option.

As of May, 2017, standard garden view rooms begin at $378 plus tax per night. And that coveted theme park view? $585 per night plus tax. Get current rates here.

Sticker shock, I know.

Budget Tips

Shake off that shock and try out these budgeting tips:

  • Try to find a Special Offer and use a discount. Disney Visa cardholders and Annual Passholders sometimes receive enticing discounts too. My favorite place to watch for Disney resort discounts is mousesavers.com.
  • Watch for seasonal pricing. Looking ahead for 2017, Friday and Saturday nights in July and August are cheaper than any other summer nights. Also price out the last week of August, September 1-21, October 15-19, 22-26, 29-November 2, November 13-16, 19-20, 26-30, and December 3-7 for lower prices. Stay away from holidays where even standard rooms begin near $500 per night.
  • Plan to stay here for a couple of nights and tour the Magic Kingdom during your brief stay. You can concentrate on the Magic Kingdom during a short visit to Walt Disney World or resort hop to a less expensive hotel during a longer visit. When we recently stayed at the Contemporary, we stayed at a moderate resort for the bulk of our trip and then transferred to the Contemporary for a two-night stay to celebrate Michael’s birthday.
Monorail at Disney's Contemporary Resort
Monorail traveling through the Contemporary Resort.

Our family avoided staying at Disney’s Contemporary Resort for many years. One reason for not considering this deluxe resort at Walt Disney World was due to the high balcony floors and open atrium. You see, I have a fear of heights and the thought of staying there with a small child made me even more uncomfortable.

I’m glad we finally gave this resort a try. For me, Disney’s Contemporary Resort is all about the location next to the Magic Kingdom.

Monorail and Walkway to Disney's Contemporary Resort
Walkway from Magic Kingdom to Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Still, I’m not a huge fan of the contemporary design and the outdoor pool area seems uninviting compared to other resort pools on property. I would stay here again for a couple of nights, especially on a quick weekend visit with plans to only visit the Magic Kingdom. Read more perks of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.

Have you stayed at Disney’s Contemporary Resort? Is it on your radar for a future visit? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Kimberly LaPaglia

Kimberly shared her passion for Disney when she was selected for the inaugural Walt Disney World Moms Panel and then as the first Disney Cruise Line panelist. As a Disney Mom, she helped countless families plan their own dream-filled journeys. Blending her love for research, travel, and writing, Kim has been an editor for Disney Food Blog for nearly 8 years. At The Castle Concierge, she blogs about travel, parenting, celebrations, and the road to empty nesting.

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