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Contemporary Resort – Part One

Please note, this article is about the Contemporary “Hotel” only. I will not be discussing Bay Lake Tower or any of its facilities.

As a kid in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, I loved Tomorrowland over all the other lands. The ultra-modern architecture and futuristic rides fascinated me. I remember asking my dad, “Why don’t real cities build buildings like this and install monorails?” If he answered me at all, I’m sure I didn’t find his explanation satisfactory.

In May of 1971 I started working at Disneyland and in June of that year I graduated from high school. As with most of the schools in Southern California, my school took part in Grad Night celebrations at Disneyland. For two weeks each June, Disneyland welcomed graduates to all-night parties (10pm to 6am). For the price of a special ticket, parents could rest assured that their kids were celebrating safely. I took my girlfriend, Marianne.

We started out in Tomorrowland, but somehow we ended up in New Orleans Square, sitting at a quiet table and talking. It was at this moment that my love for Tomorrowland gave way to the romantic captivation of less modern surroundings. I think it was also at this moment that I realized that there was more to Disneyland than riding rides. You see, this was the very first time I slowed down and smelled the roses.


New Orleans Square - Disneyland

Jack & Marianne at Grad Night


So what does all this have to do with the Contemporary Resort – I’ll get to that in a few minutes.

In the autumn of 1971, Disney announced a deeply discounted trip to Walt Disney World for the cast members of Disneyland and the Burbank Studios. The trip would take place in early January 1972 and would include airfare, five nights at the Contemporary Tower, backstage tours (including the tunnel system under the Magic Kingdom), a Polynesian Luau, meals at several restaurants, a trip to Kennedy Space Center, and a trip to Cypress Gardens. All for the amazingly low price of $200. Even though I was only making $1.71 per hour, I had enough money in the bank to afford this trip. This was the first time I had ever traveled by myself and the first time I had ever stayed in a real hotel (rather than a motel). Although I was not impressed with the Magic Kingdom (as compared to Disneyland), I was blown away by the Contemporary.


Contemporary Resort - 1970's


The Imagineers very intentionally placed the Contemporary where they did. They wanted its ultramodern design to be a backdrop to Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom. And during the 1970’s, it fit in perfectly. But people’s concepts about the future began to change during the 1980’s. People started to realize, straight lines of concrete can be cold and unwelcoming. Although Tomorrowland has gone through a transformation to change its outward appearance, the exterior of the Contemporary has not. It still conveys the mindset of a bygone era.


Tomorrowland and the Contemporary


In the many years since my first trip, I have stayed at every Walt Disney World resort, but to this day, the Contemporary is my favorite. I’ll admit, my preference may be influenced by the fact that I stayed here on my first visit to Orlando. As we know, emotions and memories can affect our perspective. But I think this fact only plays a small part in my affection for this great hotel. I have many “logical” reasons for calling the Contemporary home.

Back to my Tomorrowland/Grad Night story…

I still love New Orleans Square over Tomorrowland, but I’ll take the Contemporary over the Grand Floridian any day. Disney has done much to transform the Contemporary over the years. Of course, the building’s exterior cannot be changed and limits motif possibilities. Let’s face it, a Tuscan décor would not work here. It is necessary to convey a “contemporary” theme throughout the resort. But “contemporary” doesn’t necessarily translate to the “cold and sterile” world of 1971 Tomorrowland. I’ll be the first to admit, there are more romantic resorts at Disney World, but the Contemporary has a lot to offer -- enough so that you should give it serious thought. Don’t let its outward appearance put you off.

Note, there has been one significant change made to the front exterior of the hotel. The trees shaped like upside-down Dixie Cups have been allowed to grow naturally. This is another example of how the Contemporary has mellowed over the years.


Dixie Cup Trees

Natural Trees


The original name for the hotel was to be Tempo Bay Resort Hotel. However, during construction, everyone kept calling it the Contemporary. Finally, it was Roy Disney who asked, “What’s wrong with calling the hotel The Contemporary Resort?” Who was going to question the boss’ wisdom and the name was officially changed.

Let’s start my description of the Contemporary with the monorail. I know the monorail services the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian, but it is a part of the Contemporary. How can you think of the Contemporary and not think of the monorail? They’re a package. Who doesn’t rubberneck when passing through the Grand Canyon Concourse on their way from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom? And when you’re shopping or dining on the hotel’s fourth floor, it’s hard not to marvel as the monorail quietly passes by. I hope the Imagineer who first conceived the idea of having the monorail travel through the Contemporary got a big bonus.


Monorail inside the Contemporary

Grand Canyon Concourse

Monorail inside the Contemporary


And not only is the monorail cool to look at and fun to ride, it makes trips to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot especially easy when staying at the Contemporary. It also “combines” the Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian into one large resort. Want to have dinner at ‘Ohana or a spa treatment at the Grand Floridian? It’s easy when all you have to do is hop aboard the highway in the sky. (Please note, swimming pools are intended for guests staying at their own resort only.)

The Contemporary is also the only resort from which you can walk to the Magic Kingdom. It’s about a ten to fifteen minute stroll from the lobby.


Walkway to the Magic Kingdom


Another transportation option offered at the Contemporary are the small boats that ply Bay Lake. If you have tickets for the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review at Fort Wilderness Campground or dinner reservations at Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge, riding these enchanting watercraft is far superior to traveling via bus transportation offered at the other resorts.


Bay Lake Boat


Next there are the views from the Contemporary Tower. As I’ve said to many people who do not like this resort, “I’d rather be sitting on my balcony at the Contemporary looking at the Grand Floridian, than on my balcony at the Grand Floridian looking at the Contemporary.” The views of Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon are fantastic. Even the lower floors offer great vistas. And if you have a Magic Kingdom view room, you can enjoy your own private viewing of the fireworks each evening.


Polynesian

Grand Floridian

Bay Lake at Evening

Bay Lake at Morning

Fireworks


The Contemporary has six dining options. First there is The Wave. Located on the ground floor, this restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Wave opened three years ago and replaced the Concourse Steakhouse which was located on the fourth floor. Although I think Disney could have done a better job with the restaurant’s décor, I’ve always been pleased with the food and the service. On the other hand, I think the lounge/bar is extremely inviting and is a good place for an intimate drink. Reservations are suggested, but I’ve rarely had a problem when arriving without. Hours: Breakfast 7:30am to 11am. Lunch 12 noon to 2pm. Dinner 5:30pm to 10pm.


The Wave Entrance

The Wave Dining Room

The Wave Lounge


Also on the first floor is Contemporary Grounds. This coffee bar serves gourmet coffee drinks, smoothies, and assorted rolls and muffins. This is the perfect spot to grab a quick bite to eat when rushing to catch a bus to Disney's Hollywood Studios or the Animal Kingdom. Hours are 6:30am to 5pm.


Contemporary Grounds


On the Grand Canyon Concourse (fourth floor), you’ll find the Contempo Café and Chef Mickey’s. Contempo Café is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and offers grab-and-go items as well as cooked-to-order meals. Guests use touch sensitive screens to place their orders. Once everyone has made up their mind and entered their selection into the computer, you’ll receive a receipt. Before heading to the cash register with this receipt, pick up any other items you might want. Fountain drinks are ordered at the register. When paying, you’ll be given a pager to let you know when your food is ready. Then find a table and relax until beeped.


Contempo Cafe Sign

Contempo Cafe Ordering Stations

Contempo Cafe Ordering Station

Contempo Cafe Kitchen

Contempo Cafe Dining Room


I think the lunch/dinner selections at the Contempo Café are excellent. Everything is prepared to order and arrives at your table hot (or cold). Disney is striving to serve more upscale and tastier “fast food.” I think they succeed at the Contempo Café. Since this is a quick service restaurant, meals are served on paper plates. The Contempo Café is open from 6am to midnight.

One of the most popular character meals at Walt Disney World can be found at the Contemporary – Chef Mickey’s. Breakfasts and dinners book up months in advance and reservations are an absolute MUST if you want to eat here.


Chef Mickey's Sign


Shortly after you arrive you’ll have your picture taken with a statue of Chef Mickey. This photo makes a great souvenir. Don’t hesitate to ask the photographer to use your own camera if you want a “freebee.”


Chef Mickey Photo Op


Tables at Chef Mickey’s are scattered throughout several rooms. This helps breakup the enormity of this establishment. Meals are served via a central buffet – which can get crowded at times. And of course Mickey and his friends make the rounds while you dine. Breakfast is served from 7am to 11:30am. Dinner is served from 5pm to 9:30pm. Note, this eatery is noisy – but what do you expect when you combine excited children and Disney characters in a cavernous structure like the Grand Canyon Concourse.


Chef Mickey's Dining Room

Chef Mickey's Dining Room

Chef Mickey's Buffet

Mickey Posing for a Picture


Although not an eatery, The Outer Rim must also be mentioned while talking about the Grand Canyon Concourse. This small cocktail lounge sits window side and offers wonderful views of the Contemporary’s swimming pool and Bay Lake. I love sitting here with friends, talking about our day. And remember, you do not need to order alcohol to use this facility. Soft drinks are just fine. In fact, ordering nothing is also okay. These comfortable chairs are open to everyone. The bar is open from 4:30pm to 10pm.


Outer Rim Sign

Outer Rim Seating

Outer Rim Bar


As I mentioned earlier, the Contemporary offers one of the most popular character meals on property with Chef Mickey’s. It also boasts one of the most sumptuous restaurants at Disney World. The California Grill is located on the fifteenth floor and offers outstanding food, attentive service, and magnificent views of Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom. The California Grill earned the 2004 Disney Magazine Reader's Choice Award for Best Overall Walt Disney World Resort Restaurant for Adults!

Guests check-in at a reservation desk located on the second floor. Once your table is ready, a host or hostess will secure an elevator for your ride to the top.


California Grill Check-in Desk


Note, elevators are programmed NOT to go to the 15th floor without special access provided by a cast member. At one time, guests not dining at the California Grill were allowed to use the rooftop catwalks that flank the restaurant to view the fireworks. However, their presence became annoying to diners paying a high premium to eat here. Because of this, access to the 15th floor has been restricted to patrons of the California Grill only. If you would like to watch the fireworks from the Contemporary and you’re not dining at the California Grill or have a Magic Kingdom view room, a viewing spot has been set aside for this purpose. On the north end of the fourth floor, a special viewing area is available, complete with chairs. Although not as spectacular as the view from the 15th floor, this is a good spot to watch the nightly display.


Fourth Floor Fireworks Observation Platform


The California Grill is beautiful. For me, this is another example of how the Imagineers have removed any “1970’s futuristic” feel from the hotel and replaced it with warmth and elegance. Light woods and muted tones provide a casual atmosphere while crisp tablecloths add sophistication and formality. The combination works wonderfully.


California Grill Dining Room

California Grill Dining Room

California Grill Table

California Grill Bar


The food here is prepared in an open kitchen and features California Fusion cooking. The menu changes frequently so that only the freshest produce and products are used. Some of the offerings include sushi, brick oven-baked flat breads, handmade Sonoma goat cheese ravioli, oak-fired filet of beef with Teriyaki barbeque sauce, oak-fired pork tenderloin and Valrhona chocolate cake; warm chocolate cake with molten center and house-made ice cream. An extensive wine list features numerous selections from the Golden State and several sommeliers are on staff to help you with your choice.

There is a dress code at the California Grill.

Men: Khakis, slacks, jeans, dress shorts, collared shirts. Sport coats are optional.
Ladies: Capris, skirts, dresses, jeans, dress shorts.

The California Grill is open for dinner only (5:30pm to 10pm). Reservations are necessary and can be made online or by calling (407) WDW-DINE. If you can’t secure a reservation by phone, you can always stop by the check-in desk around 5 and see if they can squeeze you in. But please understand if they say no. This is an extremely popular restaurant that fills to capacity nightly.

The last eatery at the Contemporary is the Sand Bar. Located next to the pool, this spot serves hamburgers, hot dogs, turkey sandwiches, Caesar salads, chicken nuggets, drinks (soft and hard) and various desserts. Hours of operation are 11am to 7pm. The bar is open from 12 noon to 7pm.


Sand Bar


The Contemporary offers several shopping options on the fourth floor. Bay View Gifts (B-V-G) sells clothing, housewares, souvenir items, artwork, jewelry, and fine candy. I find it interesting, the shop’s name implies that you can see Bay Lake from within, yet Disney has gone to great lengths to cover every window in this shop with shelving to block the view. What a shame. Bay View Gifts is open from 8:30am to 11pm.


Bay View Gifts


Next to Bay View Gifts is Fantasia. This whimsical shop is a recent addition and sells pins, Disney kitchen items, and toys. Fantasia is open from 7:30am to 11pm.


Fantasia


Also nearby is Fantasia Market. This is the spot to buy liquor, sundries, reading material, and snacks. In addition, real food items like milk, bread, and eggs are available. These needing-to-be-cooked foods are intended to be used by guests staying at the Bay Lake Tower and who wish to cook their own meals in their villa kitchens. Fantasia Market is open from 7:30am to 11pm.


Fantasia Market


Next to Fantasia Market is The Game Station. As the name indicates, this is the spot to lose yourself in electronic gaming wizardry. Hours of operation are from 8am to 11:30pm.


The Game Station


On the third floor, which can only be accessed by elevator, you’ll find the Olympiad Health Club and Contemporary Styling Salon. The Olympiad Health Club offers a full range of weight training equipment and several cardiovascular machines, including elliptical machines, treadmills, and stationary bikes. The center is open 24 hours a day and can be accessed with your room keycard. Massages are available at the center or in your room. Touch MASSAGE/HEALTH CLUB on your in-room phone for pricing and availability.


Olympiad Health Club

Olympiad Health Club


The Contemporary Styling Salon offers facials, haircuts, manicures, and other beauty services. The Salon is open from 9am to 6pm and is closed on Sunday.


Contemporary Styling Salon


That’s it for Part One. Check back tomorrow for Part Two and videos of the resort and rooms.



The previous post in this blog was Should the City of Epcot Have Been Built?.

The next post in this blog is Contemporary Resort – Part Two.

Comments (26)

Kendall:

So glad you are back!

Scott C:

Jack,

Glad to see you back posting a few things. When I was a kid, we lived in Florida and my mom took us the first year WDW was open. We stayed at the Contemporary because I think at the time the Poly was more expensive enough for us to not consider it.
This did create a love of the Contemporary for me. The monorail coming through was amazing to me. In later trips, we stayed in the South and North wings. Though we own at BLT now, at some point I want to stay in the main hotel again for the nostalgia.
Looking forward to the rest of the story.

Rebecca:

Knew you couldn't stay away from us too long! I am enjoying your guest posts. That is a rockin' suit you were sporting in the 1971 picture by the way :)

Can't wait for Part Deaux. My hubby is jonesin' to stay at the Contemporary. We love Chef Mickey's and eat there the first night of every trip in order to have some of the character meetings down. Will be eating there this December during our stay at the Poly.

Have a great week!

Jim :

Great information Jack although I have never stayed at the Contemporary I have always marveled at this building and the design with the monorail going through it. With my favorite park being Epcot I tend to stay in resorts closer to that park. In fact the only resorts I haven't stayed at are the Magic Kingdom resorts. You have certainly given me reason to make the Contemporary my next destination.

Mala:

I have always wanted to stay here but due to budget reasons we have never been able to stay at a resort higher than "moderate". I do have family that has stayed at every resort in Disney world and says this is their all time favorite.
On a side note, My FAVORITE place is Tomorrow land. It was my favorite as a child and still is today! I don't know why, but being there gives me excitement...thinking about what the world may be like in the future. I love the Carrousel of Progress and seriously- I almost cry every time I watch it (silly, I know).

Steve Smith:

I keep reading about the "sterility" of the Contemporary Resort. Perhaps some may make comparisons to the tropical lushness of the Polynesian, the rustic majesty of the Wilderness Lodge, or the Victorian charm of the Grand Floridian to bolster their argument. They are more than welcome to their preferences, but personally I think the terraced, truncated A-frame structure still looks cool, 1971 or 2011. Besides, why should you have to settle for just one when all four are available, not to mention the diverse styles of the many other resorts scattered around the "World". Variety is the spice . . .

p.s. Welcome back!

dusty:

have had a massage here on 2 occasions . enjoyed it . going to have to try cali grill.my last meal @ vic & alberts was not up to their standards.

Jenny Sperandeo:

Hi Jack! This too was the first resort I stayed at on property, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. There's nothing I don't love about it! I still remember watchimg the water parade from our room back when I was a kid. I love The Wave, Chef Mickeys, the shopping, grounds, and pool areas. I look forward to part 2.

Collette Beuther:

We had a wonderful meal at California Grill a few years ago! It was a very special evening, and I was impressed that the chefs and servers know you are going to want to go out on the catwalk for the fireworks, so they plan your courses accordingly. You just get up and go out when the show starts, and the next course is piping hot and ready to come out to you when you get back to your table. The music is played on the catwalk, and it's all even more romantic on a full moon night!

Thanks for sharing your stories and information with us again, Jack.

Adam August:

The Contemporary was never No. 1 on our list of favorite resorts to stay, but over the years, a variety of conventions and competitions keep us coming back, as recently as a few months ago, and it's always been a fun place to visit. The 'Outer Rim' is a favorite hangout between sessions.

I do think the Contemporary has aged more gracefully and adapted, with redecoration and updates, better than its 1971 companion, the Polynesian. To us the Poly has always seemed stuck in that 1950s-Southern Calif.-Las Vegas style mode and its public areas are small and crowded compared to the 'Tempo.

Kait:

Welcome back again :) We absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE California Grill (I have an unhealthy obsession with Yellowfin Tuna Three Ways...) We successfully made reservations for our trip in November! (5:40 reservation, 8pm Wishes--hope our timing works out the way I want...) For our last trip we had a table near the windows facing Seven Seas Lagoon and had a great view Polynesian & Grand Floridian. After seeing Wishes from the roof (which is a completely different experience than seeing while in the park) we went to the roof landing on the other side of the restaurant and saw the Electrical Water Pageant--great experience. Looking forward to the second part of the blog--we may have to do some exploring while we're there!

Kait


PS -> I've been sharing your blogs with everyone going with me in November--it's a great preview for them and re-reading your entries is as close as I can get to being in Walt Disney World while I'm still in NY! Love your writing!!

Jim:

Jack,

Another great blog. I can't remember exactly what year it was that I went as a child, but it was not too long after WDW opened. I do remember vividly wanting to stay at the resort that the monorail went through. In all my trips back as an adult, I've stayed at all levels of Disney resorts, but never managed to make it there. Maybe some day.

I am curious what your take is on the noise, especially staying in a Tower room that overlooks the Concourse. Given how loud the Concourse itself can get, I'm curious what your take is on how that affects the room noise, if at all.

Jack's Answer:

The Grand Canyon Concourse can be very noisy during breakfast and dinner. However, you would never know it once you're in your room and the door is closed. I have stayed in the tower rooms many times on many levels. The rooms are quite soundproof. Noise simply is not a concern.

Connie:

Hi Jack

The Contemporary has always been my favorite. But the pool is least themed. However the view from MK view rooms and ability to walk from hotel to MK are fantastic; not to mention just walking out of your hotel room and either walk up stairs to monorail or walking. It is also sooo cool that a monorail is right outside your door and view of the castle out your window. Awesome! But my next trip staying at Beach Club. Hope I don't miss Contemporary too much. lol

Tom K:

Jack, the dress code at all of the signature restaurants has been eased. People are now allowed to wear "theme park casual". T-shirts are allowed as long as they are not vulagar, ripped or a tank top. Shorts can not be ripped either.

Aesha:

Can I say that I was so very surprised when I came to the site and saw a post by my favorite blogger, no one other than Jack. I am so very happy to see you back and posting even if it is just this one post. I hope to see many more from you. I miss you Jack. Thanks for this blog.

Pam:

Hey Jack!

I feel like a new/old friend talking to you recently! I know you said you were doing this blog and to check it out- thank you! Makes me more and more excited to come and stay there this December, just ashame we leave right before the December to Remember! Thanks for the great in sight into The Contemporary. Going to go read part 2 now!

Steve:

Hey Jack, love the article. Especially since I have a stay at the Contemp. coming up. I've been up to the Cali. Grille observation deck a few times and the 4th floor deck many times, I never thought to see if there is a deck down by Chef Mickeys overlooking the Garden Wing. Sounds like you're the man who would know. Thanks, Steve.

Jack's Answer:

Nope. There is not platform on the Chef Mickey side of the Contemporary. Sorry.

Gene:

Great to have you back, Jack! Just a "contrasting point of view" on the subject of noise in the Grand Canyon Concourse: We stayed in the Tower several floors above Chef Mickey's last year and I regret to inform you I heard the "Mickey Mouse Club" theme over and over again in our room's foyer and bath suite. (Not so much in the bedroom area; I don't think it would wake you up in the morning) Unless you had the shower running (or maybe the TV or radio blaring) you most certainly heard every line of that venerable ditty. I think to this day I hear "M-I-C...K-E-Y...M-O-U-S-E!" every time I shave. Jim may want to request a room on the opposite side of the building. That said, I've always loved the Contemporary, and shared your childhood fascination with futurism (still do, but I appreciate Main Street USA a great deal more now than back then). Absolutely love your blogs-keep 'em coming!

Jack's Comment:

Thanks for sharing your experience. I appreciate your contrasting point of view. It’s interesting to note, I was on the 6th floor – right above the monorail – second room from the end near Chef Mickey. I never heard a thing from Chef Mickey. However, I could ever so slightly feel the monorail as it ran beneath me. Maybe the noise travels to the higher floors.

Dan Diehm:

Hooray - Jack is back!!!

And now I can continue my spell checking for you. ;)

"As with most of the schools in Southern California, my school took part in Grand Night celebrations at Disneyland. "

I think you meant "Grad" night, not "Grand" night.

Great Article - So glad you are back!

Dan

Lori:

Thanks Jack! Your article brings back great memories for me as well! In August 1972, my family went to WDW for the first time and we stayed at the Contemporary. I was 8 years old at the time, and being from California we had stayed many times at the Disneyland Hotel, but this was nothing like I had ever seen--for all the reasons you mention! For years after that (until the opening of the GF--sorry, that is my new favorite if I absolutely have to rank them), we stayed at the Contemporary. It will always hold a special place in my heart--

On a side note--not long ago, we found my mom's hotel bill from that trip in a scrapbook. Tower room, facing Magic Kindom--$35 per night. To put that into perspective, we stayed outside the WDW property for one night on that trip and that hotel room was $15. So it was definitely deluxe by 1972 standards as well.

Michael MacDonald:

Great coverage on one of my favorite resorts as well. We go to Disney World every six months (mostly to camp) but always end up spending time in the Contemporary. Our favorite spot is The Outer Rim. This is a very comfortable lounge area with great views and great drinks. Our waitress always asks "double tall double strong for only $2 more" (which we always do!).
The other area we like so much is the 4th floor outside fireworks viewing area. We actually go up a few flights of stairs using the right-side outside stairwell and then have an awesome view of everything exploding in the sky!
So much to do and see and so much excitement everytime we go. I can hardly wait for our next trip in November!

Nathaniel Powe:

Hey Jack,

You are without a doubt my favorite blogger! I can feel your enthusiasm for Disney in everything that you write. Thanks again for a wonderful blog.

I have never had the oportunity to stay at the Contemporary Resort but I have wanted to every since I was a kid! I guess I'll have to slurge and stay there soon God willing!

have you written any Disny books? If not you should and I would buy everyone of them!

"The Disney Fanatic"

Joshua:

"You see, this was the very first time I slowed down and smelled the roses."

-That's a very romantic way of putting it. ;-)


Joshua:

Also, when "first-timers" ask me of my opinion of the CR, and if it's a "good place" to stay, I tell them upfront that there is NO way that I can judge the hotel objectively.

One access of my memory banks, and I'm instantly 8 years old, again. To say I was *astounded" by the place is putting it mildly. We were lucky enough to stay in the tower on the MK side, (quite the introduction to the facility !) I'm sure my eyes were like saucers and my jaw was dragging on the ground for our entire stay. One of my favorite memories, oddly, was standing at the base of the elevator that led to the fourth floor and the monorail station. There was a sign above the elevator that read, "This way to the Magic Kingdom Park". The thought that there was an elevator available that could lead you to the Magic Kingdom was way too much for my young mind to handle. It was pure "magic".

Also, remember back in the mid-70's, the CR had a vague Mexican feel to it. (I've never quite understood this...) There were wandering Mariachi bands playing up and down the hallways and in the atrium, and at least a couple of the concourse restaurants had Mexican-themed entrees on the menu. (Huevos Ranchero's ? I'd never heard of such an exotic entree for breakfast at the time !)

Over the years, this concept sort of faded away, but I'll never forget opening the door of our 7th room floor and having a grinning, Mariachi band standing right outside in the hallway.

One of my earliest, and perhaps most bizarre recollections of the "early days" at the CR.

Peter Ciarcia:

It was February 1973. Our Eastern flight from Hartford to Atlanta then to McCoy Jetport was canceled due to weather. We were crazy, I was 14 and supposed to set the example. I did, I was the craziest of the 4 kids. My father, the great finagler, got us onto a flight, and we were off. We arrived at McCoy with no bags (they arrived the next day), but we didn't care. We were almost there. The drive seemed endless and no one could pronounce Kissimmee correctly, then the sign Walt Disney World. The cheers started. Then the road dipped under the connecter between Bay Lake and 7 Sea Lagoon. There it was, brightly lit against the night sky - The Contemporary. The cheers fell silent, we were speechless in the presence of such a wonder. We had watched every TV show and special, gotten every flyer and brochure we could find, but nothing prepared us for that first magical instant followed by 7 days filled with magical instants, followed by years of magical instants. The Wave was the game room filled with pool tables, ping pong and pin ball machines. No computer games then. I remember when Space Invaders arrived. The line to play was as long as any e-ticket ride.
So many joyous memories flood my thoughts, like watching the light show pass by our room at the end of the South Garden Wing. I could go on for pages. But I will just say thank you for this wonderful trip back.

Rhonda Daigle:

First trip to Contemp in 1978. The place seemed empty compared to now. In 1989, pregnant, went back and stayed at The Disney Inn. My daughter was 5 and we had reservations at the Top of the World restaurant at the Comtemporary. Dressed her in a outfit I made that made her look like little Bo Peep. EVERYONE on the way there had to comment on those blonde locks and her outfit. My husband wore a suit and tie(rare), I dressed my best. They had a big band playing. Steaks were on the menu. It was one of the most magical nights I've ever had on my many trips to WDW. Went back to the California Grill a few years ago. We're from south Louisiana where the food is simple but GOOD! When we got the menu, I was disappointed. Didn't know what half the stuff on the Lunch menu was. We didn't stay. If it ain't broke, don't fix it! I want the Top of the World back. I've never stayed at the Comtemporary for lodging because of the noise factor I'd heard about. Glad you addressed this in your blog. I'm in love with the Poly, but there too, depending on where your room is, those drums can be nerveracking. Planning a trip in May of 2011 and will consider the Contemp after reading your blog. Love the changes made! Had reservations for the first night opening of the Wave, but it was our last day there and were just to pooped to go. Making it a priority this coming trip though. Thanks again and write more, more, more. Planning is the most important part of the trip!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 11, 2011 5:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Should the City of Epcot Have Been Built?.

The next post in this blog is Contemporary Resort – Part Two.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.