Resort Review: Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
These Deluxe Villas are located walking distance from the Magic Kingdom. The building of units is attached to the Contemporary resort through a pedway on the 5th floor. This gains you access to the monorail which provides an alternate route to the Magic Kingdom and a way to Epcot. There is also a boat ride to the Magic Kingdom, Wilderness Lodge Resort and Fort Wilderness Resort. This location is fabulous for its views and easy accessibility to the Magic Kingdom. You can see the fireworks at Magic Kingdom Park any night of the week without a park pass. Simply check out the seating outside the forth floor of the Contemporary Resort. It is used as a smoking area but it provides for a great view.
As mentioned above there are a number of options for transportation. There is the bus system, the monorail, a boat and a pathway to walk to the Magic Kingdom. The monorail is located at the Disney Contemporary resort. You simply take the 5th floor pedway to the fourth floor of the Contemporary Resort where the escalators are located. Take the escalators up and head to the monorail. The boats are located at the dock just past the pools of the Contemporary Resort. The pathway is at the end of the entrance to Bay Lake Towers. Lastly, the bus terminal is located just off of the Contemporary Resort lobby.
Monorail. Take the monorail from the Contemporary Resort. This will stop at the Transportation and Ticket Centre, Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian Resort and then at the Magic Kingdom. It’s a fun way to get to the Magic Kingdom but not the most efficient way. It’s a great way to get back though because the Contemporary is the first stop.
Pathway. The pathway is north of Bay Lake Tower. It is a km walk to the entrance. Great in the morning when you’re excited to get there but feels really long when you’re walking home from the park. But there are no wait times for a walk.
Bus. There is actually a bus that goes from the Contemporary Resort to the Magic Kingdom. Shocking, I know but it is an option.
Boat. The dock is located behind the Contemporary Resort. The boat stops at Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness, so be sure to pick it up the boat on it’s way back from those resorts. Otherwise you are in for a long boat ride. As it is the boat ride is approximately a 10 minute ride from dock to dock. When you are taking the boat back do not mistake the Contemporary and Wilderness boat for the boat to goes to the Grand Floridian and Polynesian resorts. The Contemporary Boat launch is directly in front of the Magic Kingdom Park entrance.
Quickest Way: Pathway
Funest Way: Monorail
Monorail. Take the monorail from the Contemporary Resort and take your first stop at the Transportation and Ticket Centre. You will have disembark from this vehicle and exit down the ramp. You then go up a separate ramp to the Epcot Monorail. The Epcot Monorail ride takes about 10 minutes with no stops. The monorail station is at the Spaceship Earth entrance to Epcot.
Bus. Head to the bus stop outside of the Contemporary Resort. Leaving from the Bay Lake Tower lobby take a left at the end of the entrance sidewalk. The bus will stop at a few other resorts. So it is not the most efficient way to get to Epcot.
Quickest Way: Monorail
Funest Way: Monorail
Bus. The only method of transportation to Hollywood Studios is the bus. So head to the bus outside of the Contemporary Resort and patiently await your arrival. Give yourself half an hour before heading to the Hollywood Studios to account for waiting for the bus and the bus stopping at numerous resorts on the way.
Only Way: Bus
Bus. The only way to get to the Animal Kingdom from Bay Lake Tower is by bus. This is a long bus drive as the Animal Kingdom is on the opposite side of the property. So give yourself an hour before you want to be at the Animal Kingdom to account for bus wait time and stops along the way.
Only Way: Bus
Bus. The only way to get to Blizzard Beach is by bus. The Animal Kingdom Theme Park bus also stops at Blizzard Beach. Give yourself an hour before you want to get to the Water Park to give yourself enough time.
Bus. The only method of transportation to Disney Springs is by Bus. This will stop at a couple resorts before heading to Disney Springs. There are two stops are Disney Springs. The first is for the Marketplace which has the Disney dominated stores, such as World of Disney, Once Upon a Toy, Disney Days of Christmas and so on. The second stop is at Town Centre which has more of the restaurants, such as Paradiso 37, Taste of America, The Boathouse, Planet Hollywood Observatory and so on.
Bus. The only way to get to Typhoon Lagoon from the Contemporary Resort is by Bus. The bus that goes to Disney Springs also goes to Typhoon Lagoon. Which means you will either be waiting a long time on the bus on the way there or on the way back because Disney Springs two stops.
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Bus. If you are looking to get to this Sports Complex on a race weekend or a competition weekend there are buses at the bus terminals but if it’s a regular day you will need to head to Disney Springs, one of the parks or the Transportation and Ticket Centre. Not ideal but unfortunately without a vehicle there is no other way to get there.
Bay Cove Pool
This pool has something for every age. There is a 148-foot-long slide, a splash pad for littles , and a little water slide for toddlers. This is a zero-depth entry pool, which is great for younger kids. Whether your little one is not comfortable with the water or not very tall, they can enjoy the water without you having to carry them.
There are two pools at the Contemporary Resort that you have access to when staying at Bay Lake Tower. The Main Pool has some fun water spurts and fountains but it is not zero entry making unsuitable for unstable swimmers or younger children. There is a 17-foot-high, curving waterslide. Fun for the tweens, teens and adults. Directly beside the marina is a quiet pool more suitable for those without children looking to relax, unwind and enjoy the sunshine.
The Bay Cove Pool is great for a family with kids of all ages. It is also quieter because you are not experiencing the congestion from the larger roomed resort. It is the one our family prefers when staying at this particular resort.
There are no sit down restaurants located at Bay Lake Tower. There is Cove Bar located beside Bay Cove Pool. It offers some handy snacks, including nachos, chips and novelty ice cream bars.
There are three restaurants located at the Contemporary Resort. So use the pedway/skyway on the fifth floor or the walkway outside to check out these great dining options.
This is a character buffet-style restaurant located on the fourth floor of the Contemporary Resort. You require a reservation ahead of time. Follow the link above for a review and details.
The Wave…of American Flavours
This table service restaurant is located on the bottom floor of the Contemporary Resort. To find it you need to get to the Contemporary Lobby. Near the escalators is the entrance at the bottom of a few steps.
I love this restaurant. It has great availability, great prices and it’s very quiet. It’s a hidden gem. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. At breakfast you have a choice of a buffet or a plated meal. For lunch and dinner there is not a wide selection but what they do offer is fabulous. Seafood appetizers and meat entrees. It was at this restaurant I realized how different each restaurant actually is on property. In the 1 table service meal category this is a cut above the rest. Check it out!
Located at the top of the Contemporary Resort you need to check in at a podium located on the third floor. You will then take a separate elevator to this 2 meal credit restaurant. Now serving brunch on Sundays and dinner every night of the week. This restaurant offers a spectacular view of the Castle and if you can line up your reservation right you can watch the fireworks from the top deck. It is an open concept. Leaving very little privacy. It’s bright and welcoming, not what you’d expect from the “best” restaurant at Walt Disney World. If you have never seen the castle from this perspective then it is breath taking. This is what you’re paying for with your meal. The view. The meal is not impressive enough for the cost. The Brown Derby in Hollywood Studios and the Cellier in Epcot outshine this restaurant. Many say this is a must do but I would skip it.
My favourite quick-service resort restaurant on property. Located beside Chef Mickey’s on the fourth floor, it is simple and delectable. This cafeteria style restaurant allows you to order, pay and wait for your meal. When your buzzer goes, go pick up your meal. This quick-service restaurant demonstrates to me you receive higher quality food at a quick-service restaurant located at a deluxe resort as opposed to a moderate or value resort. The food is flavourful and filling.
The Top of the World Lounge
Our favourite place in all of Walt Disney World. This lounge is open to Disney Vacation Club members and their guests only. This lounge opens at 5pm and is only accessible by an elevator manned on the 1st floor of Bay Lake Tower. It is at the very top of Bay Lake Tower and offers a spectacular view of the castle. During the fireworks display the music is streamed through speakers inside as well as on the balcony. The lounge offers food as well as an array of drinks.
The Wave Lounge
Open from noon until midnight. This lounge offers alcoholic beverages as well as appetizers.The Wave lounge is found beside the Wave…Flavour of America on the bottom floor of the Contemporary Resort. Entrance is found East of the check-in desk.
The Outer Rim
Open from 11:30am until 10pm look out at the view of Bay Lake with a cocktail. This Lounge does not offer anything to eat.
California Grill Lounge
Perfect for someone looking to eat at the California Grill but was unable to get a reservation. Operating the same hours as the restaurant, 5pm-10pm, you can take a chance with a first come first serve table or eat at the bar. Head to the podium on the third floor to see if there’s room for you and your party.
The Sand Bar
Located beside the Contemporary Resort’s Main Pool enjoy a quick burger and fries without having to give up your poolside lounge chair. This is a great place to grab a snack or fill up during a day at the pool.
There is no shopping in Bay Lake Tower but there are three shops located on the fourth floor of the Contemporary. On the West side is Fantasia Market, offering food, magazines, things you might need during your stay. Fantasia, located in the centre of the fourth floor offers toys: lego, stuffed animals, books and so on. Bayview Gifts has your apparel, higher end purses and jewelry. Each of these shops is very unique and offers its own array of merchandise.
Bay Lake Tower offers studios, one-bedroom villas and two-bedroom villas. We have stayed in a studio and a two-bedroom villa.
The studio is small. I would not recommend having more than two people stay in this room. There is a double bed and a pull-out couch. When this pull-out couch is being used the whole room is congested. The bathroom is your standard hotel bathroom with a contemporary style. The kitchenette is tiny. Allowing for minimal food prep. It is a beautiful room with a contemporary feel. Great for a couple sans children.
$450-$600 a night. Cost varies depending on view.
A one-bedroom villa has a living space and a bedroom. The living space has a kitchenette with all your cooking needs: pans, pots, plates, cutlery, and so on. In this room there is a double size pull-out couch. Perfect for two adults, two kids, one adult and one kid or any kind of two body combination. There is also a pull-out chair. Room for one person or one child. These pull out chairs are very comfortable and quite large. Any little would have a very comfortable sleep. When all of these things are pulled-out it doesn’t leave room for anything else. But you’re only going to pull these out when it’s time to sleep anyways. There is a three-piece bathroom just off the entry. Your standard hotel bathroom. The master bedroom is luxurious. With a lookout soaker tub, separate toilet and separate stand up shower. There is a separate tv-unit in this room and an entry to the outside balcony where you will have a lake view, theme park view or standard view. There is also an entrance to the balcony off of the main living space. The main living space also has it’s own tv unit and there’s a laundry unit in a closet. These rooms are great for families with littles who nap or if you want to keep their bedtime routine. You put your kids down for a nap in the main living space and then hang out in the bedroom. You can even have a luxurious bath or enjoy a glass of wine on your private patio.
$665-$770 a night. Cost varies depending on view.
These units are large. Two bedrooms. One featuring a king-size bed, tv-unit, separate entrance to balcony, separate bathroom with a stand-up shower and soaker tub. The second features its own standard hotel bathroom. Two queen-size beds are found in this bedroom or one queen-size bed and pull-out sofa bed. The villa has a laundry unit, eat-in kitchen and living room and another bathroom. The living room has a pull-out sofa bed and pull-out lounge chair. Therefore this unit could sleep 9 comfortably. In this room’s living space when the couch is pulled out there is still ample room to eat and lounge. This villa has space, function (with it’s three bathrooms), and style. You get everything you pay for and more.
$857-$1065 a night. Cost varies depending on view.
Located off the lobby of Bay Lake Tower is the Community Hall. The Community Hall makes staying at this resort a vacation in and of itself. Here you can borrow DVDs to watch in your room, play pool, make crafts (some crafts have a cost) or work on a puzzle. There are cast members there to help you with any inquiries you have. The hours are 9am-10pm.
On Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 7am there is yoga offered under the pedway. Space is limited so be sure to be there early.
Enjoy your own space by the pool. The cabanas include: 2 padded lounge chairs, 2 padded straight-backed chairs. plush towels, LCD television with cable access, bluetooth speakers, phone for internal resort calls, ceiling fan, mini refrigerator stocker with sodas and water.
Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre
Sammy Duvall’s is located just off of the dock outside of the Contemporary Resort. You can rent your own watercraft, go parasailing, tubing, wake boarding or water skiing. This could be a really fun thing to do if you’re travelling with your older kids, friends or on a honeymoon.
Parasailing- $135 per person approx. 12 minutes in the air
Personal Watercraft- $135 per hour.
Water skiing. Tubing.-$164 per hour. up to 5 guests
The arcade is located on the 4th floor of the Contemporary Resort. It’s a fun place for tweens or teens to hang out. Also located on this floor is the Outer Rim. A very small bar. Adults can go enjoy a beverage while their kids play a few arcade games.
Located North of Bay Lake Tower. The Tennis Courts are for both the Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower. You can rent equipment at the Community Hall. The courts are on a first come first serve basis. Hours are 9am-10pm.
Volleyball nets are located on the south side of the Contemporary Resort. Head to the Community Hall for Volleyballs.
Movies Under the Stars
Every night enjoy movies in the backyard of the Contemporary Resort. Relax and enjoy a family favourite film. The movie starts after sun down which can be late for younger families so be sure to check the time before promising your little ones a night at the movies.
Directly below the pedway/skyway is a fire pit and benches. Early evening, between 5pm and 6:30pm enjoy some family time with roasted marshmallows. A nice way to end the day or start off an evening.
There is a paved running path around the resort. You can loop around the three buildings, the Contemporary Main Building, the South Garden Wing and Bay Lake Tower. You can also follow the path all the way to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom. Which is why this is one of my favourite places to run. You can start your day running by the entrance to the Magic Kingdom. You can’t see the castle but you do get a great view of the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian Resort. Also if you go early enough you can see them moving the monorails onto the rails for the day. Check out the route below.
2.5 Miles Contemporary. Bay Lake. Magic Kingdom
Just past the Bay Cove Pool you’ll find a BBQ Pavilion allowing you to BBQ your own meals. It’s very secluded and dark not making it very inviting or accessible.
Head down to the lobby and there will be a Cast Member at the Concierge desk ready and waiting to help you with any of your dinning reservations and give you park information. Get to know this person when you arrive, they can be a huge help to you. They have inside knowledge and can give you some good insights and tips to make your vacation great.
If you want to keep fit while you’re on vacation, head to the Olympiad Fitness Centre located in the Contemporary Resort. It is open 24/7.
This is a fantastic resort. I love it here and it’s my husband’s favourite resort. Being so close to the Magic Kingdom and being attached to the monorail are major positives. The vast array of restaurants allow you to eat all your meals in the same place without having to eat at the same place twice. You can also hop on the monorail and head to the Polynesian to enjoy one of their great restaurants or to the Grand Floridian. And of course there’s Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness just a boat ride away. Staying here you can sit back and enjoy a great vacation.