Review of Bay Lake Tower/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.)
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.
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.
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.