by Kimberly LaPaglia | May 11, 2017 | Contemporary Resort, Disney, Disney Restaurants, Walt Disney World, WDW Deluxe Resorts, WDW Resorts
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.
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.
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!
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.
Bay Lake Tower, a Disney Vacation Club hotel, was added to the Contemporary Resort property in 2009.
Bay Lake Tower
For Walt Disney World guests focusing on touring the Magic Kingdom, the location of Disney’s Contemporary Resort is second to none.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
With two queens plus a day bed, the standard rooms are spacious at the Contemporary with 394 square feet.
Contemporary Resort Rooms are spacious.
Standard rooms at the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Village are a bit larger.
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!
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.
Unwind at the arcade.
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!
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 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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
One of our son’s favorite toys!
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.
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 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.
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.
by Kimberly LaPaglia | Apr 19, 2017 | Disney, Disney Parks, Epcot, Walt Disney World
Ten Epcot Attractions for Younger Kids at Walt Disney World
Epcot is often viewed as a park for older kids and adults. However, there are many Epcot attractions for younger children!
In fact, if you don’t pay a visit to Epcot while the kids are younger, you’ll miss out on some spectacular attractions that may no longer appeal to your brood once they are older.
With that said, I don’t want you to rush into Epcot without a plan. Utilize FastPass+, escape the park during the busiest (and often hottest) afternoon hours, and/or take breaks when needed. Epcot requires a lot of walking. A lot.
Tired feet will appreciate taking a Friendship Boat across World Showcase Lagoon.
Even with a teen, we tend to tour Epcot on two separate days. We might tackle Future World one morning, and then World Showcase on another evening. Of course, park hoppers help to break up a tiring Epcot day. There are many options for breaking up Epcot days, including touring until the International Gateway in World Showcase and then taking a boat to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Hop on a Friendship Boat.
If you are a one park per day family, then plan for rest stops. If you aren’t returning to your hotel for a mid-day break, then be sure to sit for small respites — Epcot has some wonderful hidden areas (the park in United Kingdom is a favorite!) where you can relax.
Hyde Park is a lovely place to relax with the family.
Future World Attractions
Touring these Future World attractions first thing in the morning or later in the day (early evening is optimal!) is a good strategy for less crowded conditions. However, since these attractions are not headliners, you may be able to visit throughout the day with little to no wait, depending on the time of year that you visit. Of course, school holidays always yield longer lines.
The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion
This pavilion showcases a slow-moving ride in a “clamobile”. Join Pixar friends Marlin and Dory as you search for Nemo through vibrant ocean scenes. After, explore the 5.7 million gallon salt-water tank filled with sharks, dolphins, turtles, and more species. Don’t miss my favorite area — the manatee rehabilitation room. Love those “sea cows”!
Plan to see the first show of Turtle talk with Crush. It’s not-to-be-missed for younger kids and their parents. Children will be invited to sit on the floor in the front of the theater, so that they can peer into the undersea window and vie for a better position in which to chat with Crush. Innocent questions posed by the offspring can result in memorable laughs. This show is totally cool for your dudes and dudettes!
Coca-Cola fans (and visitors looking for a free thirst-quencher ;)) can sample products from around the globe. Kids of all ages have fun sipping these tasty and some not-so-tasty (yep, I’m referring to Italy’s Beverly) beverages. What’s your favorite?!
Take a sip!
Disney Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure
Phineas and Ferb’s pet, Perry the Platypus takes on an alter ego, Agent P, in this hands-on World Showcase adventure. Kids of all ages delight in becoming secret agents to help foil arch-nemesis, Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz. Clues are sent to a borrowed FONE (Field Operative Notification Equipment) or a family-owned smartphone that direct newly commissioned agents to one of seven World Showcase pavilions. Each location highlights a new 30-45 minute adventure. Try one, several, or all of them!
Help Agent P save the world!
Treats, Toys, and/or Snacks in World Showcase
Look for unique treats, toys, and/or snacks in the World Showcase pavilions. On one Epcot trip, we had our son choose a different candy from each each country — a definite highlight of his vacation. Visit the shops, bakeries, ice cream shops, food stands, and restaurants for a smorgasbord of tasty edibles.
Candy in Epcot’s Japan.
Journey into Imagination
Another slow-moving ride that is perfect for guests of all ages! Dr. Nigel Channing’s sensory labs will delight your senses as you travel through this imaginative journey. Set your imagination free with the mischievous purple dragon named Figment. And, hold your nose in the Smell Lab! There’s a small interactive exhibit, ImageWorks – The “What If” Labs, that follows the ride.
Jump on squares to create different sounds at ImageWorks
Kidcot Fun Stops
Mickey Mouse travels the world with his teddy bear, Duffy. During your adventure around the globe, take a breather while watching the kids join in artistic fun at any of the eleven Kidcot Fun Stops.
Kidcot stations are fun stops in Epcot.
A Cast Member will provide a free cardboard Duffy the Disney Bear for your child to decorate and adorn with a commemorative stamp at each station. Ask the Cast Member about their home country. It’s especially fun to have them write your child’s name in their native language. By the time your World Showcase tour is over, Duffy will be completely decorated for a take home souvenir!
Take a break at Kidcot Fun Stops.
One of the most popular performances to watch with kids is in France. Gravity defying acrobats –Serveur Amusant™ — delight young minds with their balancing acts.
French acrobats amuse young audiences.
Disney characters can be found throughout Epcot. A quick look at the Times Guide (an informational sheet that you can pick up when entering the park) or on your My Disney Experience app will give you the daily schedule for character greetings. Stop by Epcot Character Spot in Future World or seek out Disney friends throughout World Showcase.
Visit characters throughout World Showcase. Don’t forget your autograph book!
World Showcase Diversions
Don’t miss the little things. These unexpected diversions can really add to your youngster’s visit to Epcot.
Watch the train in Epcot’s Germany
Check out the Koi Pond.
World Showcase Attractions
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
Young kids love the mystery of Mexico’s pyramid and the twilit Festival Marketplace inside adds to the adventure. Kids like posing for a picture wearing a sombrero, trying out the maracas, and spotting the volcano on the way to Gran Fiesta Tour.
Try a sombrero in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion.
The calm and silly boat ride is inspired by The Three Caballeros, a Disney film that debuted in 1944. What kids enjoy is helping to find Donald Duck. He’s disappeared! So, José Carioca (a Brazilian parrot) and Panchito (a Mexian charro rooster) need your help to find him.
Head inside the pyramid in Epcot’s Mexico.
Frozen Ever After
Travel through Arendelle with Queen Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, and other Frozen friends! A “summer snow day” is the perfect time to visit the frozen willow forest, Troll Valley, and North Mountain aboard a gently gliding boat. Along the way, you’ll hear favorite Frozen songs in this attraction at the Norway pavilion in Epcot.
Don’t leave Norway without stopping by Royal Sommerhus to meet Anna and Elsa.
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
A memorable fireworks show brings guests together around World Showcase Lagoon at the end of an Epcot evening. Earth’s birth, the history of humanity, and joyful hope for the future are all celebrated in this fiery display. If your little one is unsure of loud noises, visit a nearby shop where the sound will be diminished.
If your child is afraid of loud noises, try watching IllumiNations from inside a shop.
Extra Epcot Tips
Plan a vacation during the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival as the topiary arrangements add an extra layer of free fun to your family’s itinerary.
Check out the floral exhibits at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Never underestimate the allure of the Disney monorail. Take the kids for a ride on the monorail before leaving Walt Disney World!
Consider the Disney Monorail a must-do attraction!
Epcot should definitely be on your touring agenda. These attractions and others like Spaceship Earth will entertain the whole family.
What do your kids enjoy in Epcot?