Expanding on a classic. In 2009 Walt Disney World added to one of its original hotels with the opening of Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Bay Lake Tower is the first major hotel expansion to the Magic Kingdom monorail loop since the opening of the Grand Floridian Resort in 1988. For the first time, Disney Vacation Club members would have a resort within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom and with access to the monorail. The doors are closing “Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas!” so let’s jump on the monorail for our DVC Duo resort review of Bay Lake Tower.
Bay Lake Tower blasts you into the future, while reminding you of the past. Designed as a vision of the future, or at least the future we thought we’d see in the 1980’s. A future where cars would fly with clean lines and bright colors. Designed to have a similar look as it’s big brother, Bay Lake Tower “looks” like a smaller version of the Contemporary Resort from a distance.
With 428 rooms Bay Lake Tower is a single building with a skyway connecting the resort to the Contemporary Resort’s main level. It has a separate lobby area from the Contemporary Resort that exudes elegance with it’s chrome finishes and smooth Space-Age lines. The tower has a range of room types that vary in size and amenities, as well as views. Guests have the option of a theme park view (Magic Kingdom), Lake View, or Standard View. Below are the room options for both views:
- Deluxe Studio – Similar to your normal hotel room with two queen sized beds and a bathroom. Sleeps 4 people.
- 1 Bedroom Villa – Similar to 1 bedroom apartment, as these rooms have a kitchen, laundry facilities, living room and large master bedroom with a jacuzzi tub. One bathroom with a standup shower and second bathroom.The living room couch can convert into a pull out queen bed and a pull out chair that convert into a twin bed. Sleeps 5 people.
- 2 Bedroom Villa – The 2 bedroom villa is made up of a deluxe studio and 1 bedroom villa. The only difference is the addition of a walk-in closet in the deluxe studio portion where the entrance would normally be located. Sleeps 9 people.
- 3 Bedroom Villa – A two story “house” that has the same facilities as the 1 and 2 bedroom villas with the following additions: a larger dining room, 4 bathrooms, and 3 bedrooms (1 king bed, 4 queen beds in each bedroom). The couch in the living room converts to a queen bed, as well the couch on the second floor converts into a queen soft. The second floor “living room” has views overlooking the downstairs living room and out the two story windows. Sleeps 12 people according to Disney, but you could sleep 14 if you maximize your sleeping arrangements (you’re in the stand up shower, Uncle Fred!)
Passholder Insights: Please be aware that the 3 bedroom villas only offer theme park and lake views. There is no option for a standard view.
We’ve stayed in all the room types at various resorts. In our opinion, what makes Bay Lake Tower different than Saratoga Springs Resort and Old Key West Resort is the addition of another bathroom in the 1 bedroom and above rooms. The extra bathroom is always a welcome addition, especially if you’re traveling with multiple families or friends.
Arriving at Bay Lake Tower
When arriving at Bay Lake you could be dropped off at two different areas, depending on how you arrive. If you take the Magical Express you’ll be dropped off at the Contemporary resort and will need to make the short walk to Bay Lake Tower, about 2 to 3 minutes. If you arrive via Taxi or rideshare, let the driver know you’re going to Bay Lake Tower and they’ll drop you off at the front.
Whether you arrive in front of Contemporary or Bay Lake Tower, you’ll be greeted by bell services for any bags you would like to have brought to your room. Depending on the time of day (before check in time) we would recommend having bell services hold your bags so you can enjoy the magic. Of course, you could always take advantage of the Magical Express Luggage service and save yourself the hassle of luggage like we do!
The lobby area for Bay Lake Tower is minimalist, with just the right amount of cast members to help you check in. Towards the back of the lobby is a great sitting area with beautiful view of Bay Lake – the perfect place to rest and recharge.
The Pools and Recreation
Off the back of the lobby you’ll find the main pool for Bay Lake Tower, Bay Cove Pool. Boasting a 148-foot-long water slide guests can either enter the pool via the waterslide or the zero-depth entry. We choose the waterslide, we like to make a entrance! Surrounded by bubbling geysers, the pool overlooks Bay Lake and has a poolside bar (Cove Bar) to grab your refreshing beverage of choice.
Passholder Insight: This pool is exclusive for guests staying at Bay Lake Tower or Disney Vacation Club Members. Please note if you’re staying at the Contemporary Resort, you may not have access to this pool.
Guests staying at Bay Lake Tower are also able to use to the two pools at the Contemporary Resort. The main pool has a 17 foot-high, 131 foot-long water slide. While the second pool is perfect for a leisure swim. If you’re looking for a truly relaxing experience you can rent one of the private cabanas around the second pool at the Contemporary Resort.
Next to the main pool at the Contemporary Resort you’ll find the marina where you can rent boats to head out on Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon. Additionally, you’ll find the Walt Disney World boat transportation to the Wilderness Lodge.
Bay Lake Tower shares it’s main area with the Contemporary Resort which is called the Concourse Level. This is where you’ll find the multiple gift shops, restaurants, lounges, and where you’ll pick-up the monorail to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. If you have any packages delivered from the parks to your room, you’ll pick up them in the gift shops on this level. This is accessible via the skybridge connecting the two resorts.
Time to Eat!
Bay Lake Tower and Contemporary Resort have some of the DVC Duo’s favorite food spots. The offerings range from quick serve to signature restaurants. For a quick bite you can check out the Contempo Cafe, a DVC Duo favorite for breakfast. We enjoy splitting the bounty platter – eggs and a Mickey-shaped waffle, now you’re talking!
The resort offers a variety of sit down restaurants. Below is a breakdown of the options:
- The Wave – Located in the lobby of the Contemporary Resort offers an elevated seasonal American menu. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Wave is a single meal credit if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan. For a full review of the restaurant check out our DVC Duo restaurant review.
- Chef Mickey’s – Located on the Concourse Level is a magical place to swing your napkins above your head and high-five the Fab Five. Open for breakfast, brunch, and dinner and a single meal credit if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, Chef Mickey’s is a great character dining option with solid American food. We would recommend making an advanced dining reservation for this one.
- California Grill – Located on top of the Contemporary Resort is Disney’s Flagship Signature Restaurant. It is Californian inspired with unbelievable views of the Magic Kingdom. Open for dinner and two meal credits on the Disney Dining Plan, the California Grill is a fabulous place for a memorable Disney dining experience. Expect a full DVC Duo dining review to come.
Beyond the restaurant, Bay Lake Tower and Contemporary Resort have one of the DVC Duo’s favorite places for an adult time out, The Outer Rim lounge. The other major lounge is on top of Bay Lake Tower, the Top of the World lounge. A great place to both enjoy a drink and watch the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom.
Passholder Insight: The Top of the World lounge is only available to Disney Vacation Club members and guests staying on their reservation. Additionally the lounge does have blackout dates for all guests. You can find the dates here.
Looking to break a sweat before heading into the park? Bay Lake Tower shares a gym with the Contemporary Resort and is one of our favorite gyms on Disney Property. It has everything you’re looking for in a hotel gym without the frills. One thing to note is the odd ceiling height as this is located on the Conference level of the Contemporary Resort.
Overall, we enjoyed our stay at Bay Lake Tower. It is great location if you’re looking to spend a lot of time in Magic Kingdom. There is nothing like being able to walk to the park or view the fireworks from the Top of the World lounge. For us, we prefer other locations that allow us more flexibility in getting from park to park without relying on Disney Transportation – that is, unless you get creative. The rooms are unique and the views of Magic Kingdom are magical, and we would definitely recommend staying at Bay Lake Tower if you’re looking for the classic Disney experience. We’ll see you at the Outer Rim for a cocktail!