The most prominent of the hotel's four stand-alone buildings is the Contemporary Tower, built as an A-frame with outer walls which slope inwards around an inner atrium. This design was a collaboration by Disney, the United States Steel Corporation, and Los Angeles, California architect Welton Becket. To construct it, steel frames were erected on site and modular pre-constructed rooms were lifted into place by crane (machine). Approximately 500 guest rooms line the outer walls of this building. Room renovation should have been a simple matter of replacing modules when refurbishment was needed; however, it was found that the modules settled and became stuck in place, rendering them irremovable. Most of Disney's Polynesian Resort was built this way also. Another resort in Orlando that was built by US Steel was the Court of Flags Resort. Court of Flags Resort also known as Delta Orlando Resort in 1972. They also had the slide-in modular units.
The Contemporary Tower houses most of the resort's key facilities, including resort registration and guest services (concierge). The main hall, named the Grand Canyon Concourse, is also located in the main Tower, and houses two restaurants and a variety of shops. The Walt Disney World Monorail runs through the inside of this building, providing a monorail station here for resort guests. Also adorning the concourse walls is an enormous mosaic designed by Mary Blair.
One three-story wing flanks the south side of the Tower, and offer an additional 250 rooms. A convention center was added to the resort and opened on November 11, 1991, with more than 90,000 square feet (more than 8,300 square meters) of convention space.
Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort
In November, 2006, Disney filed plans for a project on the site of the Contemporary Resort's North Garden Wing, and a construction fence was erected, encompassing the wing and part of its parking lot. On the North Wing site, Disney's Racquet Club was demolished by January 30, 2007. The North Wing itself was demolished between January 31, 2007 and April 6, 2007. Construction on the new building continued through 2007, with Disney announcing at a later date its newest addition to the Disney Vacation Club: Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort.
Bay Lake Tower opened in August 2009 as the newest addition to both Disney's Contemporary Resort and the Disney Vacation Club. Although not containing dedicated registration, shops or restaurants, it connects from the 5th floor to the Grand Canyon Concourse (4th floor) of the original Contemporary Tower by way of the Sky Way Bridge. There, residents of the tower register, and can use the concierge, dining, and shopping options on offer. Fantasia Market serves as a miniature marketplace for food and drink items to be consumed in the hotel room. All areas of Bay Lake Tower (including the bridge) are only accessible when in possession of a valid Bay Lake Tower room key.
Villa types available at Bay Lake Tower include studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom Grand Villas. Facilities available at Bay Lake Tower include an information desk, Community Hall, and laundry facilities on the first floor and in the villas, alongside Bay Cove Pool, Shuffleboard, and the Cove Bar (which serves basic food items alongside drinks and offers the option to order from the room service menu). At the top of the tower is the 'Top of the World Lounge', which is currently only accessible from 5 pm onwards for residents of the tower staying on DVC points (this policy is expected to fluctuate).
While rooms vary slightly, standard guest rooms contain two queen beds (or one king bed), a bed/couch, a sitting table, a credenza with a TV and a coffee maker, a small refrigerator, and a fairly large closet. Bathrooms for standard rooms at the Contemporary usually have dual sinks and vanity, a standard western toilet and a bathtub. The Guest Rooms make use of muted Browns, Reds, Purples and Greens as a part of their theming, partially inspired from current Asian interior design trends. Rooms previously made use of vivid primary colors red, yellow and blue, to match the theming of the hotel, which was said to be influenced by contemporary art from the 1960s and 1970s. As one of the original resorts on property, the Contemporary Resort sports some of the largest rooms on Disney property, matched only by Disney's Polynesian Resort which also opened in 1971.
The Contemporary Resort also offers a variety of suites, as well as two levels of concierge (sometimes referred to as "club") service on the 12th and 14th floors.
There are several restaurants in the Contemporary Resort's main building.
The California Grill
The California Grill provides a high-class and critically acclaimed dining experience featuring exotic dishes and attentive service. Located at the top (15th floor) of the Contemporary Resort's tower, the California Grill offers sweeping views of the Magic Kingdom, the Seven Seas Lagoon, Bay Lake, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, and Disney's Polynesian Resort. In addition, it offers a magnificent view of the Magic Kingdom's fireworks shows.
Chef Mickey's, on the Grand Canyon Concourse, is a buffet which features appearances from Disney characters. Open for breakfast and dinner. Chef Mickey's offers a view of the monorail entering the resort and constant character appearances. There are children's items including Goofy's pizza, Mickeyroni and cheese, and other novelties. There is also an adult buffet which includes pot roast, steak, potatoes etc. Dessert bars are available to all. The characters may vary, but include Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, and Chip 'n Dale.
The WaveThe Wave is situated on the lobby level in the location previously occupied by the Food and Fun Center. It focuses on feature items prepared with a healthy slant. It replaced the Concourse Steakhouse as a second full-service restaurant in 2008.
This new quick service location replaced the Food and Fun Center and is located on the Grand Canyon Concourse in the location previously occupied by the Concourse Steakhouse, in a bid to make it more accessible to guests using the main level of the resort. In a theme for the new Contemporary restaurant portfolio, Contempo Cafe offers a range of snacks, drinks and meals made with fresh, healthy ingredients. The fare is more upscale than that previously available at the Food and Fun Center while remaining down-to-earth for quick service dining.
The Sand Bar
The Sand Bar, located just alongside the main pool, offers a variety of outdoor treats from burgers to ice cream sandwiches. There is also a cocktail bar that serves a vast array of alcoholic beverages. The food menu at the Sand Bar's grill is simple and complements the available items at the nearby Contempo Cafe.
Entertainment and activities
The Contemporary Resort offers two pools and a private beach on Bay Lake. A marina offers several water activities, such as boat rentals, personal watercraft rides, fishing tours and rentals.
The Magic Kingdom's nightly fireworks show "Wishes" is visible from the Contemporary Resort, with the show's soundtrack played over speakers in various locations from which the fireworks can be seen. The Electrical Water Pageant also passes the Contemporary Resort nightly at around 10:05 p.m., pending any inclement weather or other technical conditions.
During 2005-06, Disney completed a renovation of all guest rooms and many public areas throughout the resort. The decor has changed little through the resort's history and has been replaced with more modern decor and furnishings.
New guest rooms
Using muted colors, updated furnishings and linens, guest rooms of the resort received a more modern appearance consistent with the resort's theme. New beds were installed with white duvets and sheets, and a suede headboard that runs the height of the room. A clear glass desk workspace was added to rooms, along with a light-green futon-style day bed. Carpet and wall colors now incorporate a soft "chocolate" brown color, while the new entertainment is framed by dark wood. This entertainment center includes a 32" HDTV LCD, however, the rooms still receive analog video signals, so HD video is unavailable to these televisions. Bathrooms have new Kohler "flat sinks", new mirrors and new wallpaper, and white and brown marble tile floors. A computer with unlimited Internet access is located on the glass desk. All rooms have mini-refrigerators, and they are stocked daily for suites & rooms on the 14th floor (concierge level with mostly suites and four regular size rooms).
Restaurants have also been subject to speculation on pending renovations, with the Orlando Sentinel reporting that all of the restaurants at the resort will be entirely reworked. California Grill and Chef Mickey's are both rumored to receive design updates to compliment the rest of the resort refurbishment, while the Concourse Steakhouse and Food & Fun Center will be completely demolished and will move locations, putting the steakhouse on the lobby level, and have a new name. Food & Fun Center and arcade will be on the Grand Canyon Concourse fourth floor. A new restaurant called "The Wave" will replace the Concourse Steakhouse, and has been confirmed to open in June 2008 on the lobby level. It will feature an "aquatic entrance," a walkway leading to the front of the house podium. The menu will be a fusion of Southeast Asian, Mediterranean, North American, and Western European cuisine.
New Grand Canyon Concourse Gift ShopThe open space between the shopping areas of the Grand Canyon Concourse now has a new gift shop which opened on November 21, 2007. The carpet and tile on the Concourse level have also been replaced.
In the lobby of the Contemporary Resort, the front desk has been upgraded, and lobby area updated to complement the new guest rooms.
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