When it comes to guests resort preferences at Disney World there are really only two types of people. There are those who’s main goal is to spend as much time in the parks as possible. This leaves them free to book the cheapest hotel possible since it’ll be used as a “crash pad” just for sleeping and showering. Then, there are those who plan to spend time at the resort and use the available amenities. I seem to drift in and out of those two categories depending on the trip. During my Fall 2015 trip I had the privilege of taking my three younger siblings to Disney World for their first time and I wanted the trip to be memorable. What better way to help add to the memories than stay at a Deluxe Villa resort for their first trip! So I booked a lake view studio at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort (that full name really is a mouthful!). Hit the jump for details on the resort, it’s amenities and our time spent enjoying the resort.
Bay Lake Tower is nestled along Bay Lake (What a surprise there) between the Contemporary & the Magic Kingdom. It is considered to be its own resort because it is a Disney Vacation Club property. This means that most of the guests are DVC members but you can still book normally through Disney’s site if you’re not a member. The resort has it’s own pool & fitness center but does not have any restaurants or stores. There is a lounge on the very top floor which is usually reserved for DVC memebers only. The shops & restaurants are housed in the Contemporary where all Bay Lake guests are allowed to use any of the Contemporary’s amenities. This does not work the other way around though as Contemporary Guests are not allowed to use the Bay Lake pool & are not even allowed in the building since it is “controlled” with MagicBand locks. I did notice that the doors on the Sky Bridge never seemed to lock and would open automatically. I was wearing my MagicBand anytime we used the Sky Bridge so it’s possible the door unlocked because of the band, but I highly doubt that.
Along these same lines, the Magical Express will drop guests off at the Contemporary lobby where they can check in before heading next door to Bay Lake. If you’re driving or not using the Magical Express you can check in with the concierge in the Bay Lake lobby. My experience with the Bay Lake staff could not be better. There was an issue with towels during our stay, but the Bay Lake concierge staff did their best to fix the issue.
We stayed using rented DVC points (that will be covered in a separate post later) so we were considered to be full DVC members during our stay. House keeping (or Mousekeeping) is different for DVC members staying in a DVC resort. If you book a stay at a DVC resort using points you don’t get daily housekeeping. Your housekeeping schedule is set based on the number of nights you’re staying. For our particular stay we would get one full clean & one “trash & towel service” cleaning. Disney claims that DVC members feel more “at home” and I guess the reasoning is that you don’t have daily housekeeping and home so you wouldn’t at a DVC property. This meant that we would not get clean towels everyday. Since there were four of us in the room & having clean towels is one of my must haves when traveling I decided to purchase the “towel package” for an extra $6 per day. I guess most DVC members don’t purchase the towel package because the first day we didn’t get any new towels. I called down to housekeeping & they brought some for us that evening. The second day was the same thing. This time I went down to the concierge who ensured the towel package was noted on my reservation & called housekeeping to ensure they were aware of this. He also had towels sent up while I was speaking with him so I wouldn’t have to wait. One thing I wasn’t aware of was that housekeeping does not take your dirty towels except when scheduled even if you have the daily towel package. So by the time our scheduled cleaning came we had a huge pile of towels. The concierge said that we could put them in the laundry bag and leave them outside our room & they will be picked up. Apparently they have a different staff bring the towels and the true housekeepers don’t enter the room unless scheduled.
The whole situation was very frustrating. The last thing you want to do on vacation is deal with making sure you have clean towels! However, the staff at Bay Lake helped out and ensured that we were taken care of. I wish that housekeeping would have setup the towel package correctly to begin with. Having issues at your resort really can burst the “Disney Bubble” very quickly!
Location & Transportation
Bay Lake & the Contemporary are the two best located resorts in all of Disney World. Bay Lake Tower is about a five minute walk from Magic Kingdom. Since the Contemporary is on the Monorail Beam this means that getting around Seven Seas Lagoon & getting to/from Magic Kingdom & Epcot is a breeze! You simply can not beat it’s location! I loved leaving Magic Kingdom at closing time & seeing a huge line for the monorail or busses and knowing that I can just walk five minutes and be “home”. You will have to use busses to get to Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom. Again, Bay Lake does not have it’s own bus stop so these are located at the Contemporary.
One pet peeve I have with the busses is that they are shared with other deluxe resorts. If you’re paying a lot of money (and you usually are) to stay at a Deluxe resort then I would expect a dedicated bus line! Even some moderate & value resorts have a dedicated bus line! We shared the bus with the Wilderness Lodge. Sometimes the bus would fill up at the Contemporary and they would be forced to wait for the next one. This just seems unacceptable to me at the price point for a Deluxe room. If Disney offered monorail or boat transportation to Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom then this wouldn’t be an issue. However, since the bus is the only option it really should be dedicated. Even if that means having another bus on the road and making half full trips to/from the parks. Disney please take note!
We stayed in a Lake View Deluxe Studio on the 15th floor. The elevator lobby looked out to the Magic Kingdom & there was not a single time I didn’t stop to look out that window! The room was nice, but a bit on the small side. Bay Lake has some of the smallest studio rooms out of all the DVC resorts. We utilized the sleeper couch, the bed & I brought an air mattress. Even though Disney says the room can hold 4 adults I think the sleeping arrangements would be a bit too tight which is why I brought the air mattress. With these arrangements everyone was comfortable. The balcony overlooked the pool & Bay Lake. It was really nice to sit out there and drink coffee at the start of each day! Since Bay Lake is a DVC property all rooms have a kitchen or kitchenette in our case. We also had one bathroom with a shower/tub. The bigger rooms would have a true kitchen & more than one bathroom. We utilized the kitchen area as a “get ready” area if the bathroom was in use. Having a full size fridge & sink to wash our mugs was a great amenity. The decor in the room was nice & felt modern & refreshed. Both Bay Lake & the Contemporary are often criticized for their “lack of theming” but they are supposed to be modern themed hotels! Just because there are no giant character statues out front doesn’t mean these hotels have no theme. I actually liked the artwork in Bay Lake so much that I found a smaller version for my home!
Would I stay here again? ABSOLUTELY. In fact my next trip after staying at BLT just wasn’t the same. Every time I’d head to the Magic Kingdom I’d look out the window at BLT and wish I was staying there. Staying at a Deluxe beam resort sorta ruins all other WDW resorts for you. I mean, you just can’t beat walking five minutes and being at the Magic Kingdom. I was worried that since it’s so close to MK it wouldn’t have that relaxing feeling that other resorts have since they’re sort of isolated. However, this wasn’t the case at all. Whenever we’d head back to the room I felt like it was far away from the hustle and bustle of the parks. Plus waking up to the lake view was something I don’t get back at home!
If you are a DVC member or wish to splurge (& believe me it will be a big splurge) then I highly recommend you check out Bay Lake Tower. Some DVC members criticize it as being over priced, and it’s true, you are paying a premium for BLT simply because of it’s location. To me, this is absolutely worth it.
Have you stayed at Bay Lake Tower before? Would you stay there again? Is there a go to resort for your trips & which resort would you like me to review next?? Leave your comments below or as always, feel free to reach out on Twitter or Facebook!
Review disclosure: All reviews on Behind Magic are my sole opinion. I will never accept compensation in return for a review. I paid for my stay at BLT. If I do not pay for the product or service being review this will be disclosed and will not effect my opinions in the review.