Five Reasons Why We Love the Contemporary Resort
The Contemporary Resort was (along with the Polynesian) the first resort to open at Walt Disney World in 1971, and to this day it remains one of our favorites. Why? There are so many reasons of course…in fact far too many to distill into one list. But even with the opening of new parks and resorts over the years, this one-of-a-kind resort remains a true classic. Even if we aren’t staying there; no trip to Walt Disney World would be complete without a visit to this unique resort; so without any further ado, we’ll share some of the reasons why the Contemporary continues to be one of our favorite Disney destinations:
1) The Monorail
What could be more “Disney” than the famous monorail? And what could be better that waking up in the morning, throwing on your favorite vacation attire, and taking the elevator down to board this transportation system of the future? (And we note it’s even more amazing to say that over 40 years after it was built!) While the monorail makes stops at the Polynesian and Grand Floridian as well, the Contemporary Resort is of course unique in that the monorail passes right through the giant A-frame structure on the Magic Kingdom side. Interestingly, the monorail was originally intended to be in a different location. Where was it going to be? The initial plan was to have the monorail travel straight through the middle of the atrium, but the engineers soon realized that that could cause the entire building to shake. That led to the decision to reposition the monorail to its current location off to the side, where the track could be firmly anchored to the ground. Regardless though, it’s still an amazing sight to behold as you see the monorail glide overhead while you’re wandering about on the Grand Concourse floor.
2) The Mural
The monorail isn’t the only wondrous sight to behold on the fourth floor. The centerpiece of the Grand Concourse is of course the giant mural that rises straight up to the ceiling. The mural was designed by legendary Disney artist Mary Blair (who also designed the look for attractions such as “it’s a small world”), and is comprised of over 18,000 tiles. The mural is filled with amazing details, but when the Contempo Cafe replaced the Concourse Steakhouse, another small detail was revealed that Guests can enjoy today; the hand-signed tile of Mary Blair herself, as well as the other artists who helped create the dazzling mural. Incidentally, the next time you’re admiring the mural, see if you can find the legendary five-legged goat!
3) The Third Floor
The fourth floor, or Grand Concourse, is where most of the “action” is…it’s where you board the monorail (or more precisely, where you’ll find the escalators leading to the boarding area), and is also home to Buena Vista Gifts and other shops, as well as Chef Mickey’s, the Contempo Cafe, and the Outer Rim. That makes for a hustling bustling area, but you may not be aware that just one floor down, you’ll find one of the most quiet and relaxing places in all of Walt Disney World. This floor is home to the many convention halls of the resort, and presuming the halls aren’t filled with conventioneers, this vast expanse of hallways and open areas is the perfect place to kick up your feet and relax. You’ll find many sitting areas scattered throughout the area, complete with sofas, chairs, and small tables. You can grab a snack from the Contempo Cafe and wander down for a nice, secluded dining respite, and if the mood strikes you, you can explore the long hallways that lead off to distant parts of the resort. Of course, if there are conventions going on, these halls may be filled with conventioneers wandering to their next meeting, but more often than not, you’ll find the area deserted and you’ll basically have it all to yourself. Which is all the more amazing considering that you’re a short walk away from one of the most popular vacation destinations in all the world. And speaking of…
4) Taking a Stroll
The Contemporary is unique in many ways; from its distinctive A-frame construction to the unparalleled views it provides of the Magic Kingdom. But one of the oft-overlooked features of this resort is that it’s the only one within walking distance to the Magic Kingdom. Walking you say? You bet! While you can take the monorail to the Most Magical Place on Earth (and you definitely need to do that for the experience alone!), you can also walk! There is a pathway that follows the monorail track leading straight to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom. While the Grand Floridian seems close enough that you could walk to the park, there is actually a canal that blocks any notion of a trail that would take you there. But from the Contemporary, you’re just a ten or fifteen minute stroll away from the park, and despite all of the busses and boats and monorails that are all making their way toward the entrance, you’ll find this path surprisingly tranquil. And at the end of the day, there’s something great about knowing you can just take a leisurely stroll back to your resort without having to wait in line for another form of transportation (that is, presuming your feet aren’t too tired!). As a bonus, you’ll get some great views of the monorail as it glides overhead!
5) The Legends
There are many myths associated with Walt Disney World (and we’ll get to that list in a future post!), but one of our favorites has to do with the Contemporary and how it was constructed. Legend says that the individual rooms were created off-site as separate modules, and were transported to the construction site and slid into the frame like building blocks. Strange, eh? Well, that part of the legend is in fact true (and the Polynesian was constructed in the same fashion). However, this led to another oft-repeated tale; that the reason for this method of construction was so that the rooms could be replaced at a later date if they needed to be remodeled. Why redo the carpets and furnishings of each individual room when you can just take out the old ones, make shiny new ones, and slide them into place? Sounds great, huh? Well, despite this story being passed off as fact by many folks over the years, this was never true. The module concept was purely a construction decision; it was never the intention to be able to slide the room modules in and out like a giant Lego set. For one, the settling of the entire structure would make that impossible, and besides, the idea is terribly impractical when you think about it. (Do you think it would actually be easier to build lots and lots of little building, haul them all the way to the resort, and painstakingly put them together? With dozens of cranes on-site in full view of Guests?). It’s a fun story to be sure, but alas that’s all it is…a story.
Well, those are just a few of the reasons why we love the Contemporary Resort, but we want to know what YOU think! Leave us a comment below and tell us why you love the Contemporary! In the meantime, we’re going to hop on the monorail since we have a FastPass for Space Mountain and we best be on our way!
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