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August 12, 2011

Contemporary Resort – Part Two

Yesterday I discussed the restaurants and shopping options at the Contemporary Resort. Today I'll discuss some of the recreational activities, history, and room layout and amenities.

No description of the Contemporary would be complete without mentioning the 90 foot high tile mural that towers from the fourth floor to the roof. This mosaic astonishes first time visitors and welcomes returning guests.

The original concept for the Contemporary's vast atrium was that of the Grand Canyon - thus the name, Grand Canyon Concourse. When the hotel first opened, restaurants and bars sported names like Terrace Café, Pueblo Room, Coconino Cove, and the Outer Rim (which still exists today). All of these monikers helped set the mood of the Southwest U.S. Some of you might even remember that for a few years, each balcony was painted a different shade of earth tone.


Earth Tone Balconies


When designing the Contemporary, the Imagineers knew that the elevator shafts that ran through the middle of the hotel needed to be "hidden" with something eye catching. They called upon Mary Blair for ideas. Mary had already proven her worth as a major contributor to "it's a small world" and for her mural designs at Disneyland's recently redesigned Tomorrowland.


Mary Blair Mural at Disneyland


Mary used a number of sources for her inspiration for the Contemporary mural. These included prehistoric petroglyphs, pueblo murals, Navaho ceremonial art, and sand paintings. The colors used are keyed to the earth and sky tones of the Grand Canyon as well as Native American art. When completed, over 18,000 individually hand-painted, fire-glazed ceramic tiles were created. The glazes used on the ceramics are both mineral and chemically based -- the color pink is made from gold. It took more than a year and a half to design, produce, and install the final mural.


Mary Blair Mural at the Contemporary


The Contemporary offers two pools, one for the entire "raucous" family and one for quieter moments. Let's start with the livelier of the two. This pool sports an interesting shape that meanders in and out. A fountain positioned on the pool's edge and a geyser in the middle of the water splash nearby swimmers. A waterslide adds to the excitement.


Contemporary Pool

Contemporary Pool

Contemporary Pool & Slide


The quiet pool, or Bay Pool, juts out into Bay Lake - or at least it used to. Take a look at this first picture I took in January 1972. As you can see, this original Contemporary pool is surrounded on all sides by water with a bridge connecting it to the shore. It looked like it was floating on the lake. Today, a sandy beach surrounds two sides of the pool deck. I have no idea why this change was made, but I prefer the "floating" pool. Although children are welcome to use the Bay Pool, the intent is they will be accompanied by their parents and their screams of joy be kept to a minimum.


Bay Pool - Old Shoreline

Bay Pool - New Shoreline

Bay Pool - New Shoreline


Speaking of "screams of joy," check out the Water Play Area. Here, motion detectors sense movement and water jet spring to life when your young ones run by. Waterproof speakers are imbedded in the various sculptures and add the dimension of sound to their play.


Water Play Area


In the early years, the decking surrounding the pools at the Contemporary was constructed of concrete, concrete, and more concrete. This made sense. All you had to do was look at Tomorrowland of the 1970's to see what the Imagineers thought the future would look like. Today, the pool decking is covered with pavers of multiple colors. This simple change gives the area a softened and welcoming feel.

Deck chairs and lounges are numerous and there even are a few situated on the sandy beach looking out onto Bay Lake. Private cabanas can be rented by the half day or full day. They include personalized service from a cast member, a 32" flat-screen TV with DVD player, digital music docking station, a locking drawer for personal items, a mini refrigerator, a fruit platter, and bottled water and soft drinks. For pricing and availability call (407) WDW-PLAY.


Pool Deck & Beach

Cabana


Located near the pool is the Contemporary Marina. Here you can rent Sea Raycers, Boston Whaler Montauks, and SunTracker Pontoon boats. On more than one occasion, I've purchased sandwiches and chips at the Sand Bar then toured Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon in a pontoon boat and enjoyed a leisurely and relaxing lunch. For a more exciting afternoon, you can arrange to waterski or parasail with Sammy Duvall's Watersports Centre. Note, swimming is not allowed in any of the Disney lakes and streams.


Contemporary Marina

Contemporary Marina


A great picture spot is located near the marina. Mouse ears and Mickey make a wonderful photo op. There is even a platform for you to set your camera (and synchronize the timer) so everyone in your group can get into the shot. Here is a picture of me taken in 1983. Clear plastic panels have been added to the backside of the ears in recent years as a safety measure, preventing anyone from falling backwards.

A sharp eye might also notice that this metal Mickey is very similar to one seen sitting on a rooftop as you approach the Contemporary while riding the express monorail.


Mickey Photo Op

Mickey Sitting on the Edge of a Building


There are several nighttime activities available near the marina. "Movies Under the Stars" shows a different Disney movie each evening and is presented on the lawn between the marina and Bay Lake Tower. A sandwich-board marquee in this area lists the times and movies.

You can also charter a private boat and skipper for a trip to Seven Seas Lagoon for a ringside view of the Magic Kingdom's nightly fireworks spectacular. Call (407) WDW-PLAY or see the concierge for more information.

A perennial favorite, The Electrical Water Pageant, stops by the marina at approximately 10:10 each evening.


Electrical Water Pageant

Electrical Water Pageant

Electrical Water Pageant

Electrical Water Pageant


To see a video of the entire resort, click the picture below. This video is 14 minutes in length. Sorry it's so long, but there is a lot to cover here.



The Contemporary was an opening day resort (October 1, 1971). As you may know, the Contemporary and Polynesian were built using modular construction. The rooms were constructed by the U.S. Steel Company at a manufacturing plant three miles away. An assembly line, much like those utilized for automobiles, was used and rooms were completed at the rate of approximately 15 units per day. When complete, the 9-ton rooms were trucked to the hotel site and lifted into place by a crane. The rooms measure nine feet high, fifteen feet wide, and 32 feet 7 inches long. It took approximately 1½ years to build the Contemporary Resort with construction beginning around December 1969-January 1970. The A-frame stands 184 feet high, is 220 feet wide at the base, and 468 feet in length and was designed to withstand hurricane force winds of up to 100 mph. Contrary to a popular rumor, the rooms were never designed to be removed once they were set in place. This construction method was used for economic reasons and to test new building techniques, not so the units could be swapped out for remodeling.


Rooms Under Construction

Transporting Rooms to the Hotels

Contemporary Under Construction

Lifting Rooms Into Place


The Contemporary has 655 rooms divided between the Tower and Garden Wing. It also boasts some of the largest standard rooms at Walt Disney World at 436 square feet. Standard rooms have either two queen beds or one king. In addition, standard rooms have a daybed. The rooms can accommodate up to five guests plus a child under three who uses a crib. Suites in various configurations are also available.


The basic layout of the room has not changed all that much over the years. You enter through a small hallway. The bathroom and closets are located off of this hallway and the sleeping area is straight ahead.


Standard Room Configuration


There are two closets in the hallway with frosted glass doors. Both closets have wooden coat hangers that actually come off the rack. And better than that, these hangers actually have hooks rather than those hard-to-use models where you have to negotiate a rod and ball into a device on the rod.

In one closet you'll find an ironing board, iron, a nice sized safe, and several drawers. The other closet has a luggage rack and clothes rods. Both closets have lights in them so if you need a nightlight you can leave the lights on and the doors closed. The frosted glass defuses the light and puts out a soft glow. A vanity with drawers separates the two closets and provides a great place to leave and pick up essentials as you come and go. A coffee machine is also located on this vanity.


Closet

Vanity

Safe and Drawers


The bathroom is big and nice for families. However, I had some problems with it. First, the sinks. There are two, but in trying to decorate in a "contemporary" way, the Imagineers chose large, square, flat sinks that take up almost all of the available counter space. The only area left to put your toiletries is in a small area between the sinks. This space would hardly be adequate for a family of four. In fact, it wasn't adequate for two. Also, the sinks in my room were so level that all of the water did not flow down the drain. There was always standing water in the basin. Not good after you've brushed your teeth.


Bathroom Sinks


When you first enter the bathroom there is a stylish towel rack on the wall that holds four, fluffy towels. The bathtub/shower is on the other side of the room. There is no way you can reach the towel rack from the tub. So if you're smart enough to remember to pick up a towel before getting into the shower, you must either sling it over the curtain rod or lay it on the edge of the sink. But be careful with this second choice. Chances are the sink will have standing water in it and your towel will end up getting wet.


Towel Rack


The curtain rod in the shower is nice. It curves outward at the top and this gives you more room to maneuver in a tight area.

The shower walls are all lined with brown and white marble. This looks very nice. Disney has also provided a nice marble ledge to hold your shampoo, conditioner and soap. But once again I found a problem here. This ledge is completely flat with no drain slots or ridges. Because of this, my bar of soap "glued" itself to the shelf during the night. I'm not kidding when I say that I had to pry if off the ledge the next morning.


Tub and Shower


The bathroom has a separate water closet which is always nice. In addition, the bathroom and water closet have motion sensors that activate the exhaust fans. Whenever you enter these rooms, the fans turn on automatically. This is a nice touch and the fans are quiet.


Water Closet


The bathroom also has a real hairdryer. This isn't one of those "attached-to-the-wall" models, but a genuine hairdryer that you must plug in. It can be found on the open shelf under the sinks.

The sleeping area is nicely appointed. Dark woods and light earth tones make up the design. The headboards are imaginative and are upholstered in padded material in shades of browns. The carpet is light beige and the curtains feature large horizontal stripes in more earth tones.

There are two queen-sized beds and a couch that makes into a single bed so the room can sleep five very comfortably. The two queen sized beds have five pillows each. This made me very happy as I like lots of pillows. There is also a dimmer switch for the over-head bed lights on each side of each bed. So no matter what side you sleep on, you have easy access to the lights.


Two Queen Beds


The TV's at the Contemporary are now flat, widescreen, and they're built into a nice cabinet that features a wrap-around shelf below the screen. Below the wrap-around shelf is a glass mosaic made up of yellow tiles. The mosaic is lit from behind and this also makes a wonderful night light. When I arrived, the TV remote control was sitting in the middle of a modernistic tray on the edge of the bed. It was an unusual, but interesting touch.


Television


In the corner of the room is a nice sized desk. Electrical plugs and the high speed internet access cord are conveniently located. There was also a smaller desk on wheels that would be perfect for a laptop. To one side of the desk is additional drawer space.


Desk


The couch/bed is comfortable enough to sit on and if you look closely at the fabric, you can see little Mickey heads integrated into the design.


Day Bed


Large sliding glass doors make up the back wall of the room. Here you'll find sheers and black-out curtains that actually overlap, ensuring that you can close out the sunlight. The sliding door has TWO locks, one down low, and another one that only an adult could reach. There is no way a child could open the door and wander out onto the balcony without an adult first unlocking this upper latch.


Sliding Glass Doors


The balconies at the Contemporary are decent sized. Not large, but big enough that you can maneuver without having to fight with the two chairs and end table that occupy this space. Four people can comfortably stand out here. The balconies are also reasonably shielded from the surrounding rooms.


Balcony


If you have a room facing Bay Lake, a cup of coffee in the morning while watching the sunrise is a great way to start the day. And in the evening, it's a wonderful place to sit and relax as the building blocks out the afternoon sun. Of course, views of Seven Seas Lagoon offer vistas of the Polynesian, the Grand Floridian, the ferry boats, the Magic Kingdom, and especially, the nightly fireworks. Note, if you have a Magic Kingdom view room the afternoon sun, especially in the summer, can be brutal as its rays beat down on the building. You'll definitely need to pull the sheers until the sun sets.

To see a video of a Standard Room, click on the picture below.



The rooms in the Garden Wing are identical to the Tower rooms, with one exception, the balconies - there are none. The rooms on the first floor of the Garden Wing have an open patio with a table and two chairs. There is little to no privacy between patios. The rooms on the second and third floors have railing. It is impossible to step outside here.


Garden Room No Balcony


The Garden Wing also houses three unusual rooms. These are known as Garden Wing Deluxe Rooms and are located at the "elbow" of one of the buildings. Because of the unusual shape this bend creates, the rooms on the first, second, and third floor here are larger in size and measure 629 square feet (compared with 436). The bathroom has a tub shower and a stall shower. Although they are not considered suites, they are spacious and have a sitting room. These rooms feature a king bed and a queen sofa/sleeper. Since they are larger than a standard room, they do command a premium price, but aren't nearly as expensive as a suite. As there are only three of these rooms, they can be difficult to reserve.


Garden Wing Deluxe Rooms Exterior

Garden Wing Deluxe Rooms Exterior

Garden Wing Deluxe Room Layout

Garden Wing Deluxe Room

Garden Wing Deluxe Room

Garden Wing Deluxe Room

Garden Wing Deluxe Room

Garden Wing Deluxe Bath

Garden Wing Deluxe Bath


To see a video of this room, click the picture below.



That's my review of the Contemporary. I realize that this hotel is not for everyone, but it works just fine for me. As I said at the beginning of this piece, it's my favorite Walt Disney World resort and I consider it home.



August 11, 2011

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.



July 19, 2011

Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre

Sammy Duvall's Watersports Centre is located at the Contemporary Resort Marina. This is the spot at Walt Disney World where you can arrange to waterski, parasail, wakeboard, and a number of other activities.

Recently, Deb Wills, Deb Koma, and I were invited to experience Sammy Duvall's Watersports Centre first hand, as their guests. We arranged to meet Dave Santini (Public Relations Manager) at the dock at 7:45am at which time I would try parasailing and waterskiing. Afterwards, we would experience the "Personal Watercraft Tour", offered once a day in the morning. After introductions were made, we boarded the Gotta Fly. This boat is used for their parasailing adventures.


Gotta Fly


As the Gotta Fly headed out to the middle of Bay Lake, I was helped into my harness and life preserver. I was also given a rundown on how the entire adventure would unfold.


Jack getting ready for flight


Within a couple of minutes, the boat was in position and I was ready to go. I stepped onto a platform located at the back of the boat, the parasail was attached to my harness, and I took flight.


Leaving the Boat

Jack Parasailing

Jack Parasailing

Jack Parasailing

Jack Parasailing


I have to be honest, I'm afraid to fly. I know for certain when I board an airplane that this is the time we're going to crash and burn. The only reason I'm willing to fly is because it's the only way I can visit the other Disney parks around the world. My love of Disney trumps my fear of flying. However, I had absolutely no fear of parasailing with Sammy Duvall. I admit, I hung on tightly for the first few minutes, but in very short order, I relaxed and enjoyed the view. And what a view" If you're going to take this adventure, I would suggest familiarizing yourself with the Disney World property before you go so you'll know where to look to see the various landmarks.

To the east you'll find the hotels that line International Drive. To the south you can see Spaceship Earth at Epcot and the Swan & Dolphin. And if the weather is decent and you have a good eye, you can see Expedition Everest to the southwest. But the best views are of the Magic Kingdom, Bay Lake Tower, and the Contemporary Resort.


Magic Kingdom

Bay Lake Tower

Contemporary


My flight took me up about 600 feet. My flying time was ten to twelve minutes. Just so you know, I was taken closer to the Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower than the average guest would experience. Since we were being given a private tour early in the morning, the Sammy Duvall people were able to traverse a larger portion of Bay Lake than they can during normal operating hours.


sammyduvall100.JPG


Landing on the boat is as easy as taking off. They just reel you in and you "walk" onto the platform (with the help of a deck hand). You never get wet. In fact, there is no need to change into your bathing suit to take part in this activity. Shorts work just fine.


Returning to the Boat


This is a magnificent experience. I know many of you have "done it all" at Disney World, but unless you've parasailed, you haven't. If you like "Soarin" at Epcot, you'll love parasailing over Bay Lake. Do it!

To see a video of my experience, click on the picture below. Please note, it was raining slightly the morning I flew. I had to wipe the raindrops off of my lens several times while in flight. Also, I was using a wide-angle lens (0.45xxx) on my video camera. This gives me a much larger picture than can be obtained with the standard lens that came with the camera.



After my flight, we returned to the dock and changed watercraft. We boarded one of the ski boats and took off for a "Personal Watercraft Tour" of Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon. Pictured below is our guide, Dave Santini.


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Along the way, Dave filled us in on all sorts of Disney trivia associated with the various sights. We first sailed by the island formally known as Discovery Island. Here, we all shared rumors we've heard about its possible future uses. Next we traveled by the Fort Wilderness Dock, River Country, and the Wilderness Lodge.


Discovery Island

Fort Wilderness Shoreline

River Country

Wilderness Lodge


From the Wilderness Lodge we crossed the water bridge to the Seven Seas Lagoon. Here we sailed by the Magic Kingdom, the Grand Floridian, and the Polynesian before returning to the Contemporary dock.


Ferry Boat

Magic Kingdom

Deb Koma and Deb Wills

Grand Floridian

Polynesian


To see a video of our tour, click on the picture below.



I have to tell you, one of my favorite activities at Walt Disney World is sailing the waterways that traverse the property. Many times I have rented a pontoon boat or water sprite for an afternoon on the water. But this was the first time I'd ever gone out on Bay Lake in an honest-to-goodness speed boat - and it was a great experience. Besides having someone else do all the work, we got to go FAST. For a good portion of the trip, I sat at the bow of the boat and could feel the wind and water hitting my face. It was refreshing and FUN! In addition, Dave Santini knows a lot of Disney trivia and shares it freely. After the tour, we headed back to Bay Lake and an area set aside for waterskiing.

As a teenager, I waterskied a few times. I was never very good, but I could get up on two skis. I also skied once at Walt Disney World about fifteen years ago. So I decided to give it a try with Sammy Duvall.

Sorry, but I won't be showing you the video of my waterskiing adventure. Let's just say that after several attempts, this old body wasn't going to make it out of the water. But I will show you a picture of me skiing on Bay Lake taken fifteen years ago. LOL


Jack Waterskiing


As I was spitting out mouthfuls of water after my several failed attempts to ski, I remember the rumor that Disney does not allow guests to swim in their lakes and streams because there is a dangerous microbe living in the water. I asked Dave about this and he laughed. He told me that shallow lakes that reach a temperature of 80 degrees and above can contain this microbe, but Bay Lake is very deep. In addition, Disney monitors their waterways on a regular basis to ensure that everything is safe. Dave also told me that he swims in Bay Lake five days a week, January through December, and except for a few body twitches he's developed over the past five years (smirk, smirk), he's fine. LOL

Parasailing may be booked as a single (one guest) or tandem (two guests flying together) adventure.

Standard Single - $95 (8-10 minutes at 450 feet)
Deluxe Single - $130 (10-12 minutes at 600 feet)

Standard Double - $170 (8-10 minutes at 450 feet)
Deluxe Double - $195 (10-12 minutes at 600 feet)


Ski Boat sessions are reserved by the hour. Each hour includes up to five guests in the party, boat, driver/instructor, and all equipment. Guests have the option to combo waterski, slalom ski, wakeboard, kneeboard, and tube ride throughout the hour. The cost is $165 per hour.

Personal watercraft tours are available each day at 9am. Guests are guided around Disney's Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon, pausing along the way to view points of interests. At the conclusion of the tour, guests may "free ride" under the supervision of the guides in a buoyed off area. And if you just want to "free ride" (with supervision) for the entire hour, that's available too. The price is $135 per watercraft. Each watercraft can hold up to three people (400 pounds total). Operators must be at least 16 years old with a Photo ID.


Personal Watercraft


For more information, visit www.sammyduvall.com or call 407-939-0754.

You've all ridden the Haunted Mansion, Test Track, and Tower of Terror a dozen times. Next time you're at Walt Disney World, try something new. You'll be glad you did.

Disclosure: Sammy Duvall's Watersports Center is a paid advertiser on the Allears website and the entire experience in my blog was provided to AllEars at no cost. Did this affect my review? No. Everything about this organization is professional. I was impressed with the friendliness and efficiency of everyone I met on the Sammy Duvall team. Even though they don't work directly for Disney, they maintain the Disney spirit and enthusiasm. For example, when I was making a fool of myself attempting to waterski, Dave treated me with respect and understanding. You couldn't ask for a greater bunch of people.


January 26, 2009

Outer Rim – Contemporary Resort

It appears that the construction on the fourth floor of the Contemporary Resort is just about complete. The Outer Rim cocktail lounge has reopened and is once again a delightful place to enjoy a drink and relax after a long day in one of the parks. It's located in just about the same place it was before all of the rearrangement of venues started.


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For those of you who haven't already seen this, Chef Mickey's added a new check-in desk a number of months ago. Before being seated, families can get their picture taken in front of the large dinner plate.


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Now that the construction is complete, Chef Mickey's offers a seating area for guests while their table is being readied.

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August 28, 2008

Bay Lake Tower Observation Deck

A strange looking structure is being constructed on the top of the rumored Bay Lake Tower, Disney Vacation Club located north of the Contemporary Resort.

This is strictly a RUMOR, but I have it on good authority that this will be a private, Magic Kingdom firework viewing area for DVC members staying at this resort. If true, this feature will make this "home away from home" all the more enticing.

Bay Lake Tower Construction

Bay Lake Tower Construction

August 7, 2008

Construction Photo Updates - Walt Disney World

While I was out and about, I took a few pictures of the Bay Lake Tower under construction.

This is a rumored DVC that sits prominently next to the Contemporary Resort. It appears that the structure has reached its ultimate height as finishing touches are being added to the top of the building.


Bay Lake Tower Construction at Contemporary

Bay Lake Tower Construction at Contemporary

Bay Lake Tower Construction at Contemporary

Bay Lake Tower Construction at Contemporary


At the Contemporary, I took a few pictures of the construction going on where the Concourse Steakhouse once stood. The Tempo Grab & Go will be permanently located in a portion of this space and Chef Mickey's will expand into the remainder of this area.

Old Concourse Steakhouse Area Under Construction at the Contemporary Resort

Old Concourse Steakhouse Area Under Construction at the Contemporary Resort

Old Concourse Steakhouse Area Under Construction at the Contemporary Resort


And finally, I drove over to Downtown Disney and snapped a few pictures of the T-Rex restaurant that looks ever closer to completion.

TRex  Restaurant Construction at Downtown Disney

TRex  Restaurant Construction at Downtown Disney

TRex  Restaurant Construction at Downtown Disney


June 8, 2008

The Wave at Disney's Contemporary Resort

The California Grill is the Contemporary Resort's signature restaurant, offering upscale dinners, sophisticated atmosphere, and spectacular views of the Magic Kingdom.

For many years, the Concourse Steakhouse, on the fourth floor of the Contemporary, was their casual dining spot, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Although I liked this restaurant, I always felt it lacked a true identity. Since it was open to the cavernous Grand Canyon Concourse, you could never achieve any intimacy here, no matter how hard you tried. So I was happy to learn that this eatery would be replaced by The Wave on the first floor of the hotel, occupying what used to be the Food and Fun Center.

Last night (June 7), The Wave opened its doors for dinner and today it opened for breakfast and lunch. My friend Donald and I were on hand today to sample lunch.

To begin with, I like the entrance. The Disney Imagineers have taken what was once dead space and created a modernistic tunnel that leads to a stylish check-in desk.


The Wave Entrance at the Contemporary

The Wave Entrance at the Contemporary


To the side and behind the check-in desk are two lounges where you can wait for your table or sample a refreshing drink. These lounges are decorated in deep blues with fabric-covered walls, plush bench seating, and black cocktail tables. The lighting is very low and the atmosphere cozy.


The Wave Check-in Area at the Contemporary


Also behind the check-in desk is a stylish bar with seating for approximately 36. Overhead "stars" twinkle. Even the cocktail glasses have "The Wave" etched into them.


Bar at The Wave in the Contemporary

Bar at The Wave in the Contemporary


One might think that with a name like "The Wave," everything would be decorated in shades of blue (like the lounge), but in trying to avoid the obvious, the designers chose a pallet of browns for the main dining room. Instead, the "wave" theme is carried out in the chair's seat backs and the ceiling's lighting.


Dining Room at The Wave in the Contemporary

Dining Room at The Wave in the Contemporary

Dining Room at The Wave in the Contemporary


I spoke to one of the managers and she told me that the restaurant's "punch list" is still being worked. There are a couple of areas that still need to be tweaked, such as they are adding sheer curtains over the windows that separate the bar from the dining room.

At the back of the restaurant is an area that can be closed off to create one large or two smaller, private dining rooms. Also, hidden from the main eating area is a sizeable buffet that can be used when booking a banquet style conference.


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At night, the overhead lights are turned down to create a more intimate dining atmosphere. Also, the salt, pepper, and sugar containers are removed from the table and presented on a "request only" basis. In addition, votive-style candles are placed on each table.


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I was never enthused about eating dinner at the Concourse Steakhouse. Even though they served very good food, I wasn't willing to pay the prices they were asking to be seated in a restaurant with so many distractions and so much noise. I don't feel that way about The Wave. With the lights turned down low and candles on the table, I think this would be a nice spot to enjoy a casual meal.

Overall, I very much liked the décor of The Wave. It has an intimate and relaxing feel about it. However, I do have one negative comment. The pillars and the overhead soffits appear to be covered in a wood-grain laminate instead of real wood. I thought this was a little tacky. I don't suppose it will be obvious at night, but during lunch, it can easily been seen.

Being our first visit, Donald and I wanted to try several items, so for appetizers, Donald ordered the Lettuce Wraps and I ordered the Avocado & Citrus Salad. We were told that the Lettuce Wrap is big enough to share, and I suppose it is, but it would be rather messy. The wraps come with sautéed lamb, bay scallops, and red bell pepper in a soy-rice wine vinegar sauce. The menu did not mention the bell peppers, which Donald hates, so he traded with me.

I'm not a big fan of lamb, but I have to admit, I really didn't notice the gamey flavor that I dislike. In fact, I would have no problem ordering this item for myself sometime. It was a little spicy and my lips were tingling when I finished.


Lettuce Wrap Appetizer at The Wave in the Contemporary


The Avocado and Citrus Salad comes with a nice variety of greens, grapefruit sections, and plenty of avocado in an orange vinaigrette. I had one bite before I traded with Donald and I was very pleased with the flavor.


Avocado and Citrus Salad Appetizer at The Wave in the Contemporary


For entrees Donald order the Spice-crusted Chicken Salad and I ordered the Italian Chef Salad. The Spice-crusted Chicken Salad is an assortment of greens, chicken, apples, and polenta croutons. I stole a bite from Donald and both of us agree, this salad is excellent! I've always touted the Colony Salad at the Liberty Tree Tavern as being the best salad at Disney World. I think it has competition.


Spice-crusted Chicken Salad Lunch Entree at The Wave in the Contemporary


I think the name "Italian Chef Salad" is a misnomer. I feel it really should be called "Italian Chef Deli Plate." There were far too few greens to call this a salad. That's not to say I didn't enjoy my meal. There was an abundance of prosciutto, cappicola, provolone, salami, and shaved parmesan, sprinkled with red wine vinaigrette - all of it very good. But if you were expecting a green salad, you'd be disappointed.


Italian Chef Salad Lunch Entree at the Wave in the Contemporary


I love the way desserts are served here. There are four selections, each costing $7.99. Within each selection are three offerings.

For example, the "Creamy Indulgence" includes a small serving each of Cheesecake, Coconut Panna Cotta, and Chocolate-Passion Fruit Mouse. The "Crisp & Crunchy" offers Vanilla-braised Pineapple Spears, Baklava, and Zucchini-Carrot Cake. But if you don't like one of the specific offerings, you can pick and choose from among all twelve taste treats.

I had the Creamy Indulgence and was very happy with my selection. Donald had the selection of sorbets and he said it was a refreshing way to end his meal. He especially liked the Lemon-Basil Sorbet.


Desserts at the Wave in the Contemporary


Two other new items on the menu are Coke-Zero and Sprite-Zero. As I like Coke-Zero better than Diet Coke (which is still available), I'm hoping that other restaurants will also start to offer these beverages.

Our server was Agueda. She has waited on us several times in the past at the Concourse Steakhouse. When we walked into the lobby today, she immediately recognized us and arranged for us to be seated at her table. As always, she gave us exceptional service. In addition, it is obvious that the management of The Wave has gone to great lengths to make sure their staff is current on the new offering as Agueda was very knowledgeable and was able to answer an array of questions I had for her.

I also inquired about vegetarian meals and sugar-free desserts. I was told that the Seasonal Vegetable Stew is normally finished with a pat of butter, but this could easily be omitted if requested. Likewise, the Vegetarian Sandwich can be tweaked to suit the needs of the diner.

The chef came out to talk to me about sugar-free desserts. After some consultation with others in the kitchen, he told me that the Braised Pineapple and Baklava have no sugar added to them.

I had a very good experience today and I hope to be back soon and try their dinner menu.

Reservation can be made by calling 407-WDW-DINE. The Wave is open for breakfast from 7:30am-11:00am, lunch from 12:00pm-2:00pm and dinner from 5:30pm-10:00pm. The lounge is open from 12:00 noon to 12:00 midnight.

The Menus:

Breakfast Menu
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu
Child's Menu

While I was at the Contemporary, I snapped a few pictures of the Kingdom Tower aka Bay Lake Tower , the new, rumored DVC to the north of the hotel.


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The%20Wave%2017.jpg

May 3, 2008

Contemporary Resort Update -- The Wave & Construction

I decided today to eat at the Concourse Steakhouse one last time before it closes at the end of the month. When I was handed the menu the waitress told me that for the last several weeks, and for the few remaining, the chef is testing various new appetizers, entrees, and desserts that will be featured at the Wave Restaurant when it opens in June.

Today I tried their Roasted Corn Chowder. It was delicious. The roasted kernels gave the soup a nice smoky taste and the Applewood Bacon also added a rich flavor. Served on the side was a jalapeno corn muffin which was also tasty. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to dunk the muffin or eat it by itself, so I opted for the latter. Later, a manager told me the idea was to dunk it. Maybe next time.

Corn Chowder

I also tried one of their new desserts, the Crisp and Crunchy Trio. This consists of almond-pineapple-raisin baklava, vanilla-braised pineapple slices, and zucchini-carrot cake with vanilla panna cotta. I very much enjoyed the baklava and pineapple slices, but I thought the zucchini-carrot cake was rather dry. I think if they can add some moisture to the cake, they will have a nice dessert that satisfies one's sweet tooth, but doesn't overwhelm you with sugar.


Crisp Crunchy Trio

Also new on the menu were two new entrees. First, Linguini with Florida Littleneck Clams and Rock Shrimp, fresh Thyme, and chucky Tomato Broth. And, Spice-crusted Chicken Salad with Apples and crispy Polenta Croutons. I did not try either of these items so I can't comment on them.

Reservations are now being accepted for The Wave Restaurant starting on June 30th. It is possible that a "soft" opening may commence a few weeks prior to this date. My understanding is that the new menu is mostly complete, but they are testing and fine-tuning items in the Concourse Steakhouse until then. The Wave will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I hope to be there on opening day so watch for my review.

I also snapped a few pictures of the Kingdom Tower (a suspected, yet to be announced DVC property) under construction north of the Contemporary. Other than the fact that the building continues to climb higher and higher, the only new feature of interest is the walkway that will connect the Kingdom Tower to the fourth floor of the Contemporary. It's clearly visible and seems to snake around four giant pylons and looks like it will eventually be suspended by large cables. Time will tell.


Walkway at the Contemporary

Walkway at the Contemporary

Kingdom Tower at the Contemporary

April 17, 2008

Harper's Mill, Old Time Telephone, and Kingdom Tower - Walt Disney World

I recently wrote a blog about the bird's nest hidden in Harper's Mill on Tom Sawyer Island in the Magic Kingdom. One of my readers, Chris, wrote to tell me that if you listen carefully, the creaking gears inside the mill play "Down By The Old Mill Stream." I checked it out today and sure enough, if you know what you're listening for, there's no mistaking this tune. Thanks Chris.

Harpers Mill Tom Sawyer Island

In another blog I wrote that when Arribas Brothers took over the Market House on Main Street, the old-time telephone was removed. Another reader, Shorty, wrote to tell me that the old telephone now has a new home in the Chapeau Shop on Town Square. Yea! Thanks Shorty.

Chapeau Shop Main Street USA

Telephone in Chapeau Shop

Telephone in Chapeau Shop


As I keep saying, it's these little details that make Disney special. Now, if I could just convince Disney to bring back Jennifer, the ticket seller that used to sit in the entrance area of the Main Street Cinema"

While riding the monorail to the Magic Kingdom today, I snapped a couple of pictures of the "Kingdom Tower" (the yet to be announced DVC) under construction. As you can see by the pictures, the structure is coming right along and it appears they're currently working on the twelfth floor. Also, new construction has commenced on the walkway that will connect the new resort with the fourth floor of the Contemporary.

Kingdom Tower

Kingdom Tower

December 1, 2007

New Contemporay Gift Shop - Fantasia Shop

Note to my readers: I've got company coming for a couple weeks so will be taking a break from blogging. I will return the week of December 10th.

The new Fantasia Shop on the fourth floor (Grand Canyon Concourse) of the Contemporary Resort has opened!

The Fantasia shop fills the center floor space between Bay View Gifts and the Arcade. The shop has a modern yet whimsical look. It's very attractive and fits well with the new décor Disney is using throughout the resort. The Fantasia Shop sells toys and other children's items. For the most part, it's the same merchandise that used to line the shelves when shops were located under the monorail tracks - the new home of the Arcade.

Fantasia Shop Contemporary Resort

Fantasia Shop Contemporary Resort

Fantasia Shop Contemporary Resort

Fantasia Shop Contemporary Resort

Fantasia Shop Contemporary Resort

Fantasia Shop Contemporary Resort

Fantasia Shop Contemporary Resort

Fantasia Shop Contemporary Resort

Fantasia Shop Contemporary Resort

If you'd like to see the construction progress, here are links to previous blogs with photo updates:

From Fellow Blogger, Linda Mac - November 11, 2007

October 19, 2007

September 13, 1007

August 22, 2007

November 12, 2007

Updates Around Walt Disney World

The day after Halloween, Disney went to work decorating for Christmas. The transformation takes weeks as Santa's Helpers move from park to park and resort to resort, stringing garland and decorating trees. I visited the Magic Kingdom and Main Street is all decked out. Once again, the big Christmas tree is temporarily located in the Hub. If tradition holds, after the annual Christmas Day television show is filmed (several weeks before Christmas), the tree will be moved to Town Square.

Christmas Decorations in the Magic Kingdom


Christmas Decorations in the Magic Kingdom

Christmas Decorations in the Magic Kingdom

MK%20Christmas%20Tree.jpg


Haunted Mansion Tip:
I had read this on another Disney webpage, but wanted to check it out for myself before I wrote about it. As you may have read, the Haunted Mansion underwent a wonderful refurbishment. Enhancements were made throughout the attraction. One small, almost completely unnoticeable enhancement is in the stretch room. If you linger behind the crowd as they are exiting this room, pay attention to the gargoyles. They speak and chatter and laugh. It's difficult to hear, you need to pay attention, but they are definitely making noise. This is a VERY minor effect. Only a true Disneyphile would even care. But if you're like me and want to experience everything, then don't rush out of the Stretch Room. Linger.


For the past several years, Disney has offered for sale miniature Magic Kingdom buildings so that guests can create their own Christmas Village back home. Past years included several Main Street buildings and Cinderella Castle. This year the Haunted Mansion was introduced. The piece measures 10" x 8" x 6" and sells for $60. Currently, I have only seen this item for sale at the Christmas Shops in the Magic Kingdom and Downtown Disney.


Haunted%20Mansion.jpg



When the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique opened in Cinderella Castle, the Art of Disney shop was displaced. Currently, the Main Street Cinema is being refurbished. When it reopens on November 21st, it will be the new home of the

Main Street Cinema to become Art of Disney Shop

Main Street Cinema to become Art of Disney Shop


As construction continues on the rumored DVC north of the Contemporary Resort, a second floor is clearly visible. In addition, the foundation for the bridge/walkway between the fourth floor (Grand Canyon Concourse) of the Contemporary and the new DVC is noticeable.

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New drinking fountains have started appearing in and around the TTC.

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Those of you who choose not to use Disney to ship your packages home need to know that the Lake Buena Vista Post Office has moved. It is now located in the Shoppes at Vista Center. The address is: 8536 Palm Parkway, Orlando, FL. Phone: 407-248-1153. Hours: M-F 9:00am - 4:00pm, Sat 9:00am - 12:00pm, Closed Sundays and Holidays.

Post%20Office%201.jpg

October 19, 2007

Contemporary Resort

Construction continues on the new shop being built on the Grand Canyon Concourse of the Contemporary Resort. The layout and shape of the facility is easy to make out as most of the walls/shelves are in place. I asked a Cast Member when the project is scheduled to be completed and she told me that Disney hopes to open the shop the day after Thanksgiving.

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Contemporary%20Shop%201.jpg

Contemporary%20Shop%202.jpg

Another change to the area is the elevator that takes guest from the fourth floor to the monorail loading area. The structure has been re-colored from a deep purple to light beige. Also, the new tile floor appears to be completely installed.

New%20Monorail%20Elevator.jpg


The yet to be announced construction project north of the Contemporary is continuing to make progress. More pylons have been installed and a "second" floor is clearly visible in one section. Also, a second crane was added to the project site a couple of weeks ago.

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Contemporary%20Construction%202.jpg

Contemporary%20Construction%203.jpg

September 13, 2007

Contemporary Resort Updates

Jack Spence Reports....

The Food & Fun Center on the first floor of the Contemporary Resort has been completely closed.

Contemporary old Food and Fun Center

Contemporary Old Food and Fun Center

A new, temporary, counter service restaurant is now open on the fourth floor of the resort. This new eatery is called the Tempo Grab And Go. Much to my delight, this short-term establishment looks more permanent than temporary so resort guests won't feel like they're being short-changed when paying deluxe prices.


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A new shop on the fourth floor is also taking shape as actual structures are now visible. In addition, the new floor tile in this area is coming along and looks quite nice.

NewShop1.jpg

NewShop2.jpg

NewTile.jpg

On the first floor, artist renderings now display what the redesigned check-in area will look like.

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ContemporaryLobby2.jpg


Construction continues on the rumored DVC just to the north of the Contemporary. The building is definitely taking on a horse-shoe shape that matches artist renderings that circulated on the internet for a short time.


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August 22, 2007

Contemporary Resort Updates 8/22/2007

I visited the Contemporary Resort on 8/22/07. Construction abounds.

First, the lobby is undergoing a complete makeover. When you enter the building from the main entrance, the first thing you'll notice is the statue of Mickey has been removed. I have no idea if this is temporary or permanent. Only time will tell. Also, half of the check-in desk has been boarded off as construction begins on the remodel.

Contemporary%20Lobby.jpg


Additionally, the concierge desk has replaced what use to be the "Contemporary Grounds." If you remember, this was the small coffee and pastry shop just off of the check-in desks.

New-Temporary%20Concierge%20Desk.jpg


The Food & Fun Center is still located on the first floor, but a cast member told me that the move upstairs should be completed within a couple of weeks.

There are a number of changes occurring on the 4th floor of the Contemporary Resort (the Grand Canyon Concourse). The biggest change is the addition of a new shop. It's being placed in the open space between Bay View Gifts and the Arcade. I have attached two artist renderings and it looks like it's going to be very attractive - a vast improvement over the temporary shops that once filled this space.

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New%20Contemporary%20Store%204.jpg


The next noticeable change is the replacement of the tile floors. The rough, dark brown tiles are being replaced by a smooth, lighter tile that is reminiscent of stylized bamboo. This is another nice upgrade. Also gone are the planters that once surrounded the elevators. Nothing has replaced these yet.

New%20Tile%20Floor.jpg


Directly across from the entrance to the Concourse Steakhouse is another construction site where the temporary fast food restaurant (the Tempo Grab & Go) will eventually be located. This area is walled off so I can't give you any details.

Grab%20%26%20Go%20Site.jpg

Construction continues where the North Wing once stood. Pylons and concrete walls have sprouted and the outline of a building is beginning to become apparent. This is the rumored site of a new Disney Vacation Club.

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I ate lunch at the Concourse Steakhouse. As always, the service and the food were top-notch. However, the noise from the jack hammers breaking up the tile floors was more than a bit disturbing. Guests might want to think twice before eating lunch here for the next couple of weeks.

August 2, 2007

Contemporary Resort Updates 8/2/2007

AllEars® Team member Jack Spence visited the Contemporary Resort recently.

According to reports, the Food and Fun Center was supposed to close this past weekend. I ate lunch at Concourse Steakhouse Tuesday, 7/31, so I could take pictures of the Tempo Grab and Go (temporary replacement) next to the Outer Rim. It isn't there yet. In fact, the Fun and Food Center is still open. We asked our server when it would open and all she knew was "very soon."

I noticed a couple other "construction" projects going on at the resort.

Actual construction has begun where the North Wing once stood at the Contemporary Resort. This is the possible site of the rumored new Disney Vacation Club resort.

Construction at Contemporary Resort

All of the public doors into the Contemporary Resort are being remodeled. The revolving doors are being replaced with sliding doors with an "airlock" room inbetween.

Contemporary%20Doors.jpg

June 24, 2007

Updates around the World

All Ears® Team member Jack Spence was roaming the parks recently, and sent in these photos.

First, an updated view of the space that once was occupied by the North Garden Wing of the Contemporary.

Contemporary Resort
Larger Version Here.

Next the Haunted Mansion entrance, closed for rehab!

Haunted Mansion entrance
Larger Version Here.

Finally, a new figurine for sale at the Watch Shop on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.


Pirate Figurine
Larger Version Here.

June 22, 2007

Updates around the World 6/22/2007

AllEars Team Member Jack Spence files this report:

Toy Story Mania Construction
Here's a photo of the latest construction on Toy Story Mania at the Disney-MGM Studios. The attraction was officially announced at the January Press Event in Walt Disney World. This ride will also be opening in Disneyland's California Adventure next year as well.

Over in Animal Kingdom..... A CD of "Finding Nemo, The Musical" is now for sale at the Animal Kingdom for $12.98. This is a very nice recording of the entire show.

Construction on Yak and Yeti restaurant continues. To fit in with Anandapur, the fictional village that is home to Expedition Everest, the restaurant will be themed as a rural village in the Himalayan foothills. The pan-Asian establishment will house both a table service restaurant that seats 300 and a quick-service eatery that can hold 200 customers. The restaurant was announced in February 2006, and is set to open October 8, 2007. Yak and Yeti Construction

The "Leave A Legacy" purchasing area at Epcot is now all boarded up as is the "Leave A Legacy" display under Spaceship Earth. Speaking of Spaceship Earth the new rehab dates are July 9th through November 13th.

Below are a couple photos of the new Arcade on the 4th floor of the Contemporary. The operating hours are 8:00am to 11:30pm. Lots of other changes coming at the Comtemporary too. Big changes are coming to the dining options at the Contemporary Resort. The Food and Fun Center will close in July to be converted to a new table service restaurant. Beginning July 30, 2007, a temporary quick service restaurant called Tempo Grab and Go will operate near the Outer Rim lounge on the 4th Floor. It will be open through August 14, 2008. The new table service location will be called The Wave, and is tentatively set to open in late March or April 2008. Once The Wave opens, the Concourse Steakhouse will close and a new, permanent quick service restaurant will be constructed in that space, set to debut in mid-August 2008.


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About Contemporary

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in the Contemporary category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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