Tag Archives: Bay Lake Tower

Review of Bay Lake Tower (and The Contemporary Resort)

Review of Bay Lake Tower/Contemporary Resort-

Bay Lake Tower and Contemporary Resort
Bay Lake Tower and Contemporary Resort

Overall my favorite property is Bay Lake Tower (with Beach Club Villas a close second). The Bay Lake Tower is a 16-story property built in 2000. ( It is considered a Magic Kingdom resort because of its proximity to the Magic Kingdom park.) Up until recently it was the newest DVC (Disney Vacation Club) property. Now the Grand Floridian Villas and this year the Polynesian Villas are open. (These two are also Magic Kingdom resorts.)

The shop "BVG" or Bay View Gifts
The shop “BVG” or Bay View Gifts

We have stayed at the Grand Floridian a couple of times. It is the prettiest property we have stayed at and the most luxurious with very upscale furnishings and accessories. I will do a review of this property another time, but today my focus is on the Bay Lake Tower. With the above comments about the luxurious nature of the Grand Floridian Villas you may be wondering how it wouldn’t be deemed my favorite. The biggest reason is the number of points it takes to stay there vs. the Bay Lake Tower. If you aren’t familiar with the point system of the Disney Vacation Club this can be confusing. Think of more points meaning more money. You can stay on a cash basis as well and it is more expensive at the Villas at the Grand Floridian. There are other things that make Bay Lake Tower “better” for us. Ease of getting a reservation, inexpensive food choices and proximity to those food choices, proximity to Magic Kingdom, more gift shops, etc.

The Fantasia gift shop
The Fantasia gift shop

Now after this digression, my review of Bay Lake Tower. As I stated, it is a 16-story high rise with a modern feel inside and out. It is on the monorail system and connected to the Contemporary Resort via a covered walkway. The rooms come with a Magic Kingdom view, a lake view (view of Bay Lake), or a standard view. Most of the rooms have a lake view so this is always what we have had. Most of the lake view rooms face the pool at the Bay Lake Tower and I enjoy it because we see huge clumps of bamboo, several species of palm trees and the Bay Lake. The rooms are decorated with contemporary furnishings and accessories, but still have a Disney theme with Mickey heads on the coverlet and modern Mickey pictures over the bed. The rooms come in studios, 1-bedroom villas, 2-bedroom villas and the largest a 3-bedroom villa. We always stay in the studio to conserve points. The studios come with a queen bed and a queen pull-out sofa (which doesn’t have the bar down the middle so it sleeps comfortably.) The studio is the only room that doesn’t come with washer and dryer, but there is a laundry room on the ground floor that is free for guests to use. There is a small kitchenette with microwave, small fridge, sink, and plenty of storage. It comes stocked with paper plates and bowls as well as plastic cutlery.

Now to the perks of staying at Bay Lake Tower. I think the food choices are the best of the places we have stayed. They have a character dining experience called Chef Mickey’s which we haven’t tried. They have two pricier dining options: California Grill, and the Wave. We haven’t tried these either. We opt for the Contempo Cafe. The choices are wide, the prices reasonable, and there are many healthy options to choose from.

There are three gift shoppes to choose from. My favorite is called BVG and has a wide variety of merchandise that is always fun to walk through and to buy from. They have clothing, Christmas ornaments, jewelry, pictures, picture frames, purses, home decor, kitchen accessories and even treats like cookies and cupcakes in a glass case. There is another shop across the hall called Fantasia which has a lot of toys, stuffed animals, books and a large selection of Disney pins. The third shop is called the Fantasia Market which has a small selection of food and drinks. This selection beats anywhere we have stayed thus far.

I love being able to walk from the Bay Lake Towers to the Magic Kingdom. It is much more expedient than having to wait for the monorail. I like the monorail but many times we haven’t been able to fit on the first monorail and have to wait for the second one. Plus, you have to make three stops before arriving at the Magic Kingdom. I at first protested because of fatigue from walking so much already at the parks, but I have found the walk actually invigorating the last couple of visits.

A view inside one of the rooms
A view inside one of the rooms

Another big perk for us is being able to check out two movies at a time from the Community Hall on the first floor. They have the best selection of movies I have seen by far at any of the resorts. There are four booklets filled with movies that are alphabetized and categorized according to ratings. They carry all 54 full-length animated Disney movies as well as live action Disney movies and some non-Disney movies. They have both well-known and more obscure movies.

Bay Lake Tower like all of the resorts have pools, hot tubs, bocci ball, ping-pong, tennis, movie nights, and roasted marshmallows every night. There is a dock where you can rent boats for parasailing or for cruising the lake. You can also rent jet skis at the same location. There is a pirate excursion that we have never taken part in but it does set sail from the Contemporary.

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Running at the Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower

If you refer to my earlier post, ranking the trails at the deluxe and DVC resorts, you will see that I have the Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower near the bottom. It is really not a bad place to run, though. We own DVC points at the Bay Lake Tower and stay there more than any other resort due to its location next to Magic Kingdom. I never have a problem getting good runs there.

There are two paths from which to choose or you can combine the two. The first option is to follow the path from Contemporary that leads to and beyond the Magic Kingdom. The second is following the dumbbell shaped loop at the resorts. Maps are available at guest services in the lobby.

The Magic Kingdom path is a flat, 1.25 mile out and back. It starts on the path between the Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower, follows under the monorail in front of Tomorrowland to the entry to the park, then along the Seven Seas Lagoon till it dead ends at a canal. If you are doing a leisurely run or walk and do not care about slowing down or stopping, then it is a good route. If you are hoping to keep a constant pace, then you have to run very early. About an hour before the parks open, the path gets very busy. The congestion decreases after the park opens, but is still significant for the entire day. Once you pass the entry to Magic Kingdom, it is usually clear. There is also no shade along the entire path. The views are nice though. Space Mountain, Astro-Orbiter, Cinderella Castle, and the Train Station are clearly seen along the way. There are also good views of the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and Contemporary resorts. The main area of caution, other than running over other people, is crossing the road across from Space Mountain.

The resort loop is 0.9 miles and is also flat. There are markers to help guide you. The path is rarely crowded. There are a few places that require caution, though. There is a supply loading area at the far end of Bay Lake Tower that you cross. You also cross the drop off area in front of Bay Lake Tower and have to watch for cars. Passing between the South Garden Wing and the Contemporary Tower is very tight and quite busy with people passing from one to the other. If you do not pay close attention, you can crash into someone. The scenery is not bad. The landscaping at the back of Bay Lake Tower, with tall bamboo shoots is attractive. The outer side of the South Garden Wing offers nice views of the canal and of Bay Lake, with boats and birds. You have a great look at the resort, the pool and the metal Mickey head behind the Contemporary Tower. You can access a water fountain by the restrooms of the Bay Lake Tower Pool, just a few steps off the path. Unfortunately, there is little shade along the entirety of this route either.

Pros: Great resort access to Magic Kingdom.
Nice views of Magic Kingdom and of Bay Lake.

Cons: Little to no shade.
The Magic Kingdom path is very crowded at all but very early times.
You have to pay attention for cars and others at several places.

Overall: Not bad. Best for early morning as you can run both routes and will not need shade. I recommend that you not listen music on either route as you really need to pay attention for safety.

Bonus: With a little extra time and effort, there are two other great options available from the resort. If you do not mind riding the monorail while wearing running garb and being sweaty (at least two of the trains smell like zoo animals anyway), then you can ride it to either the Grand Floridian or Polynesian and back and give those trails a try. (It has been done before.) There is also a ferry boat the also crosses over to Wilderness Lodge, where you can run its trail. The ferry is very slow, though.

Pongo