Contemporary Resort & Room 5367 Review

In my 25 trips to Disney World (since 2000) I had stayed at the Contemporary Resort only 2 times.  The first was during our first family trip in summer of 2000 and then nearly 8 years later in March 2008.  So it had been more than 11 years since I last stayed at the Contemporary.  Many changes had occurred in those 11 years, so I thought it might be interesting to talk about some of those.

Since my trip reports focus on dining, I’ll begin with the changes in the resort’s dining options.  We dined at both the character meal restaurant, Chef Mickey’s (for breakfast), and their signature restaurant, California Grill (for dinner) at the Contemporary during our stay in 2008.  Though Chef Mickey’s looks pretty much the same as it did then, California Grill went through a 7 month long renovation back in 2013.  So when we dined there in 2008, California Grill looked like this…

Image result for pictures of california grill before the 2013 remodel

But after the 2013 renovations it now looks like this…

Seating

Though I had a breakfast reservation for Chef Mickey’s on the second day of our 2019 trip, I chose to have an extra hour of sleep and cancelled it the day before.  So sadly I have no updated review, but here is the LINK to my October 2016  Chef Mickey’s breakfast review.   Chef Mickey’s also serves dinner and as of May 31, 2015 they added a daily brunch buffet (from 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.), though I’ve never experienced either of these.

As for California Grill, we had both dinner and brunch there on this 2019 trip so I’ll have updated reviews.  Sunday brunch was added to California Grill’s repertoire back in February 2016.  Though I’ve only had brunch here twice (the first was during my 2018 trip), I can easily say that it is now my favorite meal at California Grill.  But I’ll leave the details as to why it is my favorite for the reviews.

As for other dining options, 11 years ago the Concourse Steakhouse still existed (though I never dined there)…

It closed just a few months later (on May 31, 2008) to make way for the resort’s quick service restaurant, Contempo Cafe, which I’ll be reviewing soon in this trip report.

Also back in March 2008 the Food & Fun Center (combination arcade and snack bar) was closed and in the process of being transformed into another full-service restaurant (to take the place of the Concourse Steakhouse), The Wave, which opened in June 2008.  Sadly there was no time to include a visit to The Wave on this trip.  So my last meal at The Wave was dinner in October 2017 (LINK to review)  and my last (and only) breakfast there was in October 2015 (LINK to review).  The Wave also serves lunch but I’ve never been there for lunch so no reviews…a situation which I would like to someday rectify.

Now on to the rooms.  When we last stayed there in 2008 the North Garden Wing (they previously had two Garden Wing buildings) where we last stayed in 2000 had been torn down and they were in the process of building Bay Lake Tower (a Disney Vacation Club property) in its place.  Bay Lake Tower opened more than 10 years ago, on August 4, 2009.

Our standard view Garden Wing room would have looked like this back in 2008 (minus the balcony, which I don’t think the majority of the Garden Wing rooms have)…

Guest room in 2010.  Note the duvets and wall headboard.

Then in 2013 the rooms were refurbished and looked like this…

Note the different headboard and lack of duvets in this 2013 version.

And this is where I will begin my October/November 2019 review of our Room #5367, which was on the 3rd floor of the Garden Wing building.  Let’s start with some resort maps.  The first one is what they sent me along with our room assignment text…

Then this one that I found online, which gave us a more exact location for our Room #5367…

Though there are about 500 rooms (located on the 5th – 14th floors) of the main Tower building (shown on the left), the 250 rooms in the Garden Wing are far less expensive (shown on the right).  It would have been about $150 more per night for me to stay in the Tower so I elected to save $750 and stay in a standard view room in the Garden Wing.  Also, comparing the prices for a standard view room in the Contemporary’s Garden Wing to standard view rooms at the other two monorail resorts, the Contemporary was the least expensive.  When I booked my resort reservations in March 2019 for my October/November trip, I was surprised to have all three monorail resorts as available options.  For about $80 more per night I could have stayed at the Polynesian or $180 more per night would have gotten me a standard room at the Grand Floridian.  Because it was both more expensive and because I’d stayed there on my last two Disney trips, I immediately eliminated the Polynesian.  But I actually considered splurging and staying at the Grand Floridian since I’ve only stayed there once (back in 2002) when my mother was paying half of the cost.  However, with the added food expense of this trip (since my kids were along this time) I ultimately decided that the Contemporary was the more budget-friendly option…but still a very nice, deluxe Disney resort.  I must admit though that the Wilderness Lodge was also an available option (for about $50 per night less than the Contemporary), but I’ve stayed at the Wilderness Lodge many times, probably more than any other Disney resort other than the Boardwalk, as it is one of my favorites.  So that is how I came to the conclusion that the Contemporary (standard view, Garden Wing) was the best Magic Kingdom resort for this trip.  Maybe on my next solo trip I’ll splurge for a few nights at the Grand Floridian…it’s definitely on my bucket list to stay there again.

Ok, now back to the Contemporary.  We arrived on the Magical Express bus at about 12:30 at night so we walked straight through the lobby and out the door to the covered walkway which led to the Garden Wing building.  Here’s what it looked like the next day when it was light outside…

Once we reached the building’s entrance we had to scan one of our Magic Bands in order to open the door.  I’m not 100% sure on the time but I think that after 11:00 p.m. the door is locked for security reasons and you must use your Magic Band to enter.  Anyway, once inside it was just a few steps to the elevator, which took us up to the 3rd floor (the top floor of the 3-story Garden Wing building).  I’ll add here that the elevator, though similar in size (small), was much more up to Disney standards then the shabby looking ones in the Polynesian longhouses where I stayed in 2017 and 2018.

It was late, we were very tired and we were carrying our suitcases so we were quite happy that our room #5367 was located very close to the elevator once we got off on the 3rd floor (3rd door down on the right side of the hallway).

We had a very nice surprise waiting for us inside the room…

You may recall from my trip report introduction that our 5  night stay at the Contemporary was divided into two consecutive reservations, the first for 3 nights and then a second reservation for 2 nights.  After a second Welcome platter (nearly identical to this one) and card appeared on the day that our second reservation began (even though we did not change rooms), I have to assume that this is something they are currently doing for all of their guests.  Very nice touch!

Anyway the most unique item on this platter was the monorail made of white chocolate…

We did though really enjoy the chocolate-covered strawberries (my son had the dark chocolate one and I had the white chocolate), as the strawberries were ripe and sweet.  I also liked the caramel apple macaron.

Now on to the room.  We went ahead and took some photos before messing things up too much, however it was pretty dark (even with the lights on) in there so the room photos are not great.

Our room had two queen-size beds with the same all-white bedding that it seems all of the Disney resorts have changed to.  Gone for the most part from the Disney hotel beds are the decorative bed runners and pillows that they once had.  Personally I liked these (thought they added character to the room) but they were probably difficult to keep clean/sanitary.

 

Along the wall (to the left) was a desk/table (which also served as a night stand table).  It started to the side of the bed and wrapped around, so that it covered most of the length of that wall.  There was a chair, a lamp, electrical outlet, and a large mirror on the wall above it.  I used this area throughout our stay to do my hair, makeup, etc. because there was very little counter space in the bathroom.

The night stand between the beds held the phone, a stylish lamp, and a very conveniently located USB port and electrical outlet station…

Also, our room could accommodate 5 with the pull-out sofa bed/futon…

Oh, look…a decorative pillow!  We used it only to lay out our suitcases.

Next to the futon was the cabinet which held a fairly large flat screen tv…

The closet area at the Contemporary is identical to that of the Polynesian rooms I’ve stayed in in 2017 and 2018.  Two small closet cabinets…

The safe cabinet, ironing board and iron took up most of the space of one these cabinets…

On top of the cabinet between the two closets was the beverage station.  Here you could find an ice bucket, glasses, two coffee mugs, and some disposable cups.  Also provided were a  Keurig single serve coffee maker along with an assortment of K cups (Joffrey’s french roast regular and decaf coffee plus Twinings English Breakfast and Green teas).  They also provided packets of sugar, sugar substitute and Coffeemate creamer…

Even though we had refillable mugs, I took advantage of this in-room coffee maker on most mornings of our stay.   The Contempo Cafe (the Contemporary’s quick service restaurant where your mugs can be filled) didn’t open until 7:00 a.m. and on three of our 5 mornings we were already at the parks by 7:00 (due to Extra, Extra Magic Hours being in effect through Nov. 2).  Thankfully the Keurig conveniently and adequately fulfilled my need for early morning coffee.

Now on to the bathroom, which again was similar to those at the Polynesian.  Two sinks inside the bathroom, rather than outside the bathroom in a separate area like in many Disney hotels…

Unlike the Polynesian though there was just a tiny bit of counter space in between the two sinks.  This area was pretty much filled by the tray of complimentary toiletries (H20+ Body Lotion, mouthwash, shower cap, and vanity kit).  There was a shelf underneath the sinks (where a hairdryer was stored) where you could put your things though.

One other note regarding the square, flat sinks. I don’t like them. They take up more valuable counter space than regular sinks plus they don’t drain well.

As for the rest of the bathroom,I have no complaints regarding the tub/shower.   The shower head worked well, the water pressure and temperature were fine, and it was well-stocked with complimentary H20+ soaps…

Like at the Polynesian, the towel rack was not located nearby. However, unlike the Polynesian, there was a towel hook on the wall within reach of the shower so all was good.  

You may have noticed the lack of a toilet in my bathroom photos.  That’s because it is in a separate room with a pocket door for privacy.

This room had only the toilet and was only accessible by going through the bathroom.  It was a rather large space for only a toilet, as the room extended the length of the bathroom wall (which held the towel rack on the other side).  For me this was not really a positive or negative, just a different bathroom configuration than any of the other Disney resorts at which I’ve stayed.  

And that just leaves our room view.  Being a standard view room (the least expensive option) we were expecting a view of the parking lot.

Which is what we got, except that some well-placed trees helped to hide the parking lot behind them.  Also of note is that there were no room balconies on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Garden wing, at least as far as I could see on this side of the building.  On the 1st floor (ground level) I could see that the rooms had a patio area though with a couple of chairs.

Something about our view that I wasn’t expecting though is that the monorail track was very close by…

And where there is a monorail track there is usually a monorail…

Though the monorail could be easily seen from our room, it could not be heard.  So I guess I would call this a positive distraction from an otherwise lackluster view.

My overall opinion of the Contemporary Resort is generally positive.  For various reasons I would probably now recommend staying there in the Garden Wing over the more expensive Polynesian Village Resort.  The rooms are similar in size and configuration but in my opinion the Contemporary rooms have a more “updated” look and feel to them.  The hallways and elevators of the Garden Wing definitely seem in better shape than those of the two Polynesian longhouses where I’ve recently stayed.  While both resorts are on the Magic Kingdom monorail line, you have the option of walking (it’s an easy 10 minute walk) to Magic Kingdom from the Contemporary and then taking the monorail to return to the resort if you are too tired to walk back.  Also it’s the monorail’s  first stop after Magic Kingdom as opposed to the 3rd stop for the Polynesian, which can be a nice advantage if you are on a crowded,  standing room only monorail.  But speaking of the monorail, if the convenience of being on the Magic Kingdom monorail line is not something that you are willing to pay extra for then I would recommend the Wilderness Lodge. It’s still my overall favorite of the Magic Kingdom resorts.