Contemporary Resort vs Coronado Springs: Best Disney Hotel?

Untitled” by Theme Park Tourist is licensed under CC BY 2.0

There are a ton of Disney World resort hotels to choose from.  Amongst the various offerings—be it a value, moderate, or deluxe resort—there’s no doubt that Disney’s Contemporary and Coronado Springs resorts are considered to be some of the more enjoyable resorts on Disney property.

But which one should you stay at and why?  Well, in this Disney Contemporary vs Coronado Springs battle, I give you my thoughts after having stayed at both, the pros and cons of both resorts, and overall my lasting thoughts on whether each one is worth the money.

But first, let’s discuss the concept of Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe resorts, as this context will help you better understand not only where the Contemporary and Coronado Springs fit, but also help you better determine what you can expect to get for your money.

Disney’s Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts

Let’s first begin by breaking down Disney Value Resorts.

Value Resorts

Value resorts are Disney’s most affordable option of hotels but don’t let the value line fool you. A standard room at a value resort can cost over $300.00 per night.  Value resorts have a lot of the same basic amenities as the other Disney resorts like move night under the stars, poolside games, bus transportation, counter service dining location, and a gift shop. 

Although they are value resorts, Pop Century and Art of Animation do have a secondary transportation mode. The Skyliner stops between these resorts to take guests to Hollywood Studios and Epcot.  You’ll just have to be okay with heights—think of the Skyliner as Disney’s version of a ski lift.

Moderate

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Port Orleans Resorts, and Coronado Springs are the resorts that make up the moderate level. During peak seasons, a standard room at a moderate hotel can cost over $400.00. Moderate resorts have the same features as the value resorts do and more. 

Port Orleans Resorts and Caribbean Beach Resort both have secondary transportation modes. A water taxi takes you from either Port Orleans resort to Disney Springs. These resorts also have table service dining locations in addition to the counter-service restaurant. 

Deluxe

The deluxe resorts are Disney’s most elite hotels. These hotels boast amenities such as a spa, fitness centers, concierge-level rooms, easy access to the theme parks via monorail or water taxi, multiple dining locations, and stunning architecture. 

Deluxe resorts come in a wide variety of themes. From the plains of Africa to the glory days of Florida, hotels like Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Grand Floridian transport you to another world. Prices for these resorts can get to be over 600 dollars a night during the slow season and over $1000 a night for peak times such as Christmas and New Year. 

Disney’s Contemporary Resort is deemed a deluxe Disney World resort.

Contemporary vs Coronado Springs

Now that we’ve established that the Contemporary is a Disney deluxe resort, and Coronado Springs is a Disney moderate resort, lets dive deeper into what each resort offers guests!

Contemporary

October 1st, 1971, was Disney’s opening day. Also opened on that day was the Contemporary Resort. The top of this iconic A-frame building can be seen as you drive through the Magic Kingdom toll plaza. The Contemporary is a deluxe-level resort and has so many amenities the resort is like a theme park in and of itself. 

Disney’s Contemporary Resort” by QuesterMark is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The monorail drives through this middle of the resort on its way to take guests to the Magic Kingdom. In 2009 the Contemporary became the first resort on the monorail loop to add a DVC building. Bay Lake Tower, which is attached to the main lobby by an elevated bridge, is the DVC portion of this hotel. 

The best part about the Contemporary? Location, location, location! 

This resort is steps away from the Magic Kingdom. Cinderella’s Castle is just a short walk or a monorail ride away. Many rooms at the resort have views of the Magic Kingdom. From the balconies of the rooms, you will be able to watch the nightly fireworks show. The contemporary is home to some of Disney’s most well-known restaurants as well. These restaurants include Chef Mickey’s and the California Grill. 

The Contemporary is even featured in most history textbooks! Richard Nixon gave his infamous ‘I am not a crook” speech in the Fantasia Ballroom at the Contemporary!  

Coronado Springs

Coronado Springs Resort is an American Southwest and Mexican-themed hotel located near Animal Kingdom. There are over 1000 rooms in the hotel and another 545 in the Grand Destino Tower, which opened in 2019. Coronado Springs is the first and only moderate convention hotel. Although this hotel is geared towards business people, it is great for families and couples too! 

A star feature of Coronado Springs is their Mayan Pyramid-themed swimming area and slide. Coronado Springs is a huge resort. In fact, it is so big that they have an internal bus to transport guests to and from the main building. Which resort is the better fit for your next vacation? Could it be a deluxe resort like The Contemporary vs. Coronado Springs, a moderate resort?

Rooms at The Contemporary

There are many types of rooms at the Contemporary. The Contemporary Resort has 655 rooms. These 655 rooms include the ones in the main A-from building and the garden wing located on the left side of the building. 

Bay Lake Tower, the Disney Vacation Club addition to the hotel, has 428 rooms. If the Contemporary is the resort for your trip, there are many different room options for your to choose from, including concierge-level rooms and Disney Vacation Club rooms. 

A standard room at the Contemporary is 394 square feet. These rooms are spacious! The rooms were also just refurbished and now have a slight Incredibles theme. It is just the right amount of theming and too overwhelming that it takes away from the beauty of the resort.

A standard in the main building or bay lake tower has views of Bay Lake or the Magic Kingdom. If your room is in the Garden wing the view offerings are of Bay Lake or landscape, which offers a garden view and parking lot views. 

A standard room at the Contemporary has two double beds, a flat-screen TV, a large sofa that converts into a daybed, and a mini-fridge. Disney calls their concierge services club level and, the Contemporary has club level service. During check-in, you are escorted to a private check-in area. Club-level rooms are the same as standard rooms but they come at a more expensive price point. 

Club-level guests have access to the private lounge on the 12th floor, The Atrium Lounge. The Atrium Lounge serves continental breakfasts, small appetizers, pastries, and a selection of both alcoholic and non-beverages for club-level guests.

There is an additional fee for self-parking and valet services. The approximate room rates for the Contemporary for the middle of the week are $1172.00 for a club-level room, 893.00 dollars for the main building, Magic Kingdom view, and $802.00 for a Bay Lake view in the main building. It is also $724.00 for a garden wing room.

Dining in The Contemporary

The Contemporary is home to some of Disney’s most popular restaurants. Getting reservations to eat anywhere at this hotel is very difficult and needs to be made as soon as possible. If you can’t find any reservations for any of the restaurants inside the Contemporary, you can always hop on the monorail and stop by the podiums to see if there is a wait or any cancellations. 

Chef Mickey’s

Out of almost 200 restaurants across the property, Chef Mickey’s is one of the most difficult Disney World restaurants to get a reservation for. Chef Mickeys is an all-you-can-eat, character dining experience. Located in a central location of The Contemporary Resort, this restaurant is a long-time fan favorite.

Chef Mickey’s Character Breakfast” by Matthew Freeman licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Guests don’t flock to this restaurant because of its delicious food, and they don’t flock here because this restaurant is aesthetically pleasing. 

No sir. 

Chef Mickey’s is so popular because it is one of the only places on Disney property to get a picture with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald Duck—otherwise known as the Fab 5. 

They also serve family-friendly foods. Even the pickiest of eaters is sure to find something to eat at Chef Mickeys. This restaurant was a buffet before Covid-19 but started serving meals family-style after the parks reopened during the pandemic. Items on their all-you-can-eat breakfast menu are the classic breakfast items such as Mickey Mouse waffles, sausage, bacon, and eggs. There are also specialty items like their banana bread french toast. 

The dinner menu for Chef Mickeys includes a selection of assorted bread and pastries, potato gnocchi, turkey breast, and for dessert, strawberry creme cake. These are just a few of the many options available to eat at Chef Mickeys. Prices are approximately $55.00 for adults and $42 for children. 

Chef Mickey’s is worth eating at because of the opportunity to meet the Fab 5. Since there is always someone waiting for your table this restaurant will have you in and out within an hour, so if you are looking for a more laid-back character dining experience then you will want to try Crystal Palace or Garden Grill. Other character dining experiences also offer better food than Chef Mickey’s. Chef Mickey’s can be a great choice for you and your family if you want to meet all five characters but do not want to spend the majority of your day waiting in lines to meet characters. 

Steakhouse 71

Steakhouse 71 is a brand new restaurant at the Contemporary Resort. It is housed on the first floor of the building in the former location of The Wave. The restaurant is named for the resort’s opening year, 1971. The halls of the restaurants are filled with pictures from the opening days of Disney World. These pictures add a very nostalgic feel to this dining establishment. 

There is a lounge before entering the dining room that accepts walk-ups and offers a full menu plus signature drinks. The menu for Steakhouse 71 is very unique and has offerings like a bacon and egg appetizer. This dish is made with maple pork belly, cheese grits, and a perfect egg. Other delicious dishes offered here are an ala carte cut of New York strip steak and other cuts of meat, ala carte side dishes, vegetable wellington, and an ambrosia salad for dessert. 

California Grill

The California Grill  has some of the best food on Disney Property. This is a signature dining restaurant so, a dress code is required. Men must wear dress pants, shorts, jeans in good condition, and collared shirts. Women must wear dress pants, dress shorts, capris, jeans in good condition, blouses, skirts, and dresses. Dressing up is always encouraged.

The California Grill offers magnificent views of the Magic Kingdom and Cinderella’s Castle. This is a difficult restaurant to find reservations for because it is very popular to dine in during the fireworks because of the amazing views. They even pipe in the music for the show and dim the lights. There is a small room in the back that has views of Epcot and Bay Lake. 

Currently, The California Grill is offering a specialty and prix fixe menu for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. The cost for this special is $89.00 per adult and $39.00 per child. You have a selection of appetizers, entrees, and desserts to choose from. Some of these items are lobster and parsnip soup, an oak-fired filet of beef, and lavender sugar donuts. 

Other Great Options

The Contemporary has quite a few lounges. The Sand Bar and The Cove Bar are both pool bars. The Sand Bar is located near The Feature Pool while, The Cove Bar is over by the Bay Lake Tower pool. These locations offer small plates, burgers, sandwiches, and cocktails. The Outer Rim is the bar located in the main lobby near Chef Mickeys. 

You can enjoy a glass of wine here while looking out over Bay Lake. Bay Lake Tower has a rooftop bar called the Top of The World Lounge. It is currently being used for the 50th Anniversary Firework Cocktail Party offering appetizers, some items off of the California Grill menu, and specialty desserts. 

The quick-service dining location for the Contemporary Resort is located in the main lobby next to Chef Mickeys. The Contempo cafe can get a bit loud since it is next to one of the most popular restaurants in Disney World. They serve basic breakfast and dinner dishes but the best items are the ones in the bakery cabinet. 

This restaurant has amazing desserts my personal favorite being the Cinderella Cupcake which has a white chocolate glass slipper and a pumpkin made of fondant! The Contemporary also has 24 hours in-room dining.  

Amenities and Recreation at The Contemporary

A reason why the Contemporary Resort t is so loved is that the monorail rides through the middle of a huge atrium, and occasionally a bird or two. The monorail is a premium feature of the Contemporary Resort. Guests of the resort and Bay Lake Tower can take the monorail for a short ride to Magic Kingdom. 

To get to Epcot, just take the monorail to the Ticket and Transportation Center. From there you will transfer to the Epcot monorail. For all other theme parks, Disney Springs, and the water parks, bus transportation is located outside the main lobby. A water taxi goes back and forth from The Contemporary to Fort Wilderness and the Wilderness Lodge if you are going to dinner with Snow White or dining all you can eat bbq fare at Trails End Restaurant. 

It isn’t just because of its location that has the Contemporary staying busy. It is constantly busy because it is also a convention resort. This convention center boasts 7 ballrooms and break-down rooms. Any event is possible here from proms to weddings to presidential speeches. 

Every morning the Contemporary Resort offers complimentary morning yoga at 7:30 AM. This is a 30-minute class and is perfect for beginners. There are only 15 spots available every morning so inquire at the front desk for more information during your stay. The resort provides mats and towels for use! 

The Contemporary resort is all about staying fit while you are on vacation. In addition to morning yoga, the hotel has a full fitness center, The Olympiad. It also has a volleyball court, basketball court, tennis courts, and a jogging trail. If you feel the need to exercise for vacation, this could be the perfect resort for you. 

The Contemporary Resort has three pools. The Feature Pool is located just outside the backdoors of the main building. It has a slide and private cabanas to rent. These cabanas come with a server who will bring you food and drinks whenever you please. A quiet pool, The Bay Pool, is located just a short distance away from the feature pool.

Bay Lake Tower, the Disney vacation club addition, has its own pool for guests of their side called, The Cove Pool. The Cove Pool has its own pool bar and features a pool slide. 

Bay Lake Tower

The Disney Vacation Club is Disney’s version of a timeshare service. With DVC, instead of buying one week a year, you by points that you can use to book rooms at DVC resorts in Disney World, DVC resorts off the property and, the Disney cruise line. 

You do not need to be in the Disney Vacation Club to stay Bay Lake Tower . You can pay money instead of points, to stay there. In 2009 the Contemporary Resort expanded by adding on a new building, Bay Lake Tower. 

Bay Lake Tower is the name of the Disney Vacation Club building attached to the main building of the Contemporary Resort. The two resorts are attached via a sky bridge. The sky bridge is a perfect place to catch the Magic Kingdom fireworks because it looks outright over Space Mountain and Cinderellas Castle. This building has up to 428 rooms. 

Walt Disney World – Disney’s Contemporary Resort – Bay Lake Tower” by Jared licensed under CC BY 2.0

The rooms in DVC resorts are different than the standard hotel room. The studios sleep up to four, feature a kitchenette, a queen bed, and a sleeper sofa. The studio bedrooms here are 339 square feet, making them smaller than a standard room in the Contemporary Resort. Bay Lake Tower has one and two-bedroom rooms as well that sleep up to 5 and 9 respectively. 

A great feature of these rooms is the full kitchen that has appliances like a stove and a full refrigerator as well as a washer and dryer. The three-bedroom grand villa sleeps up to twelve. The three-bedroom villa also has a full kitchen and washer and dryer. DVC is a home away from home experience which is why the rooms have full kitchens and washers and dryers. 

If you are not in the Disney Vacation Club and are paying money to stay there, the room rates are $893.00 for a studio, $1210.00 for a one-bedroom, $1797.00 for a two-bedroom, and $3420.00 for a three-bedroom grand villa. This DVC building has its own pool specifically for guests of Bay Lake Tower. The slide at the Bay Cove Pool is 17 feet high. There are also two whirlpool tubs to relax in after a long day of walking Magic Kingdom. 

Rooms at Coronado Springs

Coronado Springs is an interesting resort, because it doesn’t solely cater to individuals or families looking for a great place to stay, but it can also work for something that needs to get in a little business work during down time, too.  To that end, the rooms don’t feature a small table and chairs like most other resorts do, but instead have an extra long desk with a desk chair and a sitting chair in the corner. This is a very spacious desk area. 

There are three different sections of rooms at this resort: Casitas, Cabanas, and Ranchos (plus the new Grand Destino building). This resort boasts 1,951 rooms spread out amongst the four sections. 

Like the Contemporary, Coronado Springs has many different room options. They have a standard room that features two queen beds, a mini-fridge, a k-cup coffee maker, and an extra-long desk space. These rooms cost anywhere between $389.00 and $500.000 (price is always subject to change, of course).

Club Level at Coronado

Now, let’s start examining Coronado Springs.

Coronado Springs is the only moderate resort to offer club-level services. It is also the most affordable of all the club-level services. 

Since this is a convention resort and a lot of businesses have come to expect club level at convention hotels, Disney added a club level lounge into the new Gran Destino building. The Chronos Club has a private check-in desk. 

Throughout the day the Chronos Club serves breakfast, light fare, desserts, and a selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Club-level rooms at Coronado Springs cost about $900.00-$1800.00. 

Restaurants at Coronado Springs 

Coronado Springs Resort is not lacking in restaurants and since the resort is themed for the American Southwest and Mexico, you can expect a lot of delicious Mexican-style food if you choose to dine at this resort during your stay. 

Three Bridges Bar and Grill and The Maya Grill

Three Bridges Bar and Grill is an open-air dining establishment and lounge that sits over the lake and offers stunning sunset views. This restaurant also has views of both Magic Kingdoms and Epcot’s nightly firework show. 

Three Bridges Bar and Grill have some of the most affordable menu items across Disney property. Entree items at this restaurant cost approximately $16.00 to $20.00. Items included on the menu are braised pork tacos, roasted corn dip, and to top it all off, warm, sugary, churros. 

The Maya Grill is a table service dining location that serves food with a southwestern American flare. Items such as nachos, burritos, fajitas, and tacos make up the menu of the Maya Grill. The Maya Grill also serves two different tequila flights plus a wide variety of margaritas. 

Rix Sports Bar and Grill, Dahlia Lounge, and Barcelona Lounge

This lounge, located off the main lobby of the resort, has appetizers and specialty drinks. The Rix Sports Bar and Grill has a DJ and percussion band on select nights for those who are looking for a more adult, Disney experience. 

The Rix Sports Bar serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For breakfast, they offer a continental platter with breakfast pastries and coffee or brooch French toast with peppered bacon. Nightly appetizers and entrees feature items such as a giant pretzel (not Mickey-shaped) with queso and chicken sandwiches.

The Dahlia Lounge is a rooftop bar that serves specialty cocktails and appetizers. The Barcelona Lounge is open daily as an espresso bar as well as serving signature gin cocktails and other bar items. 

El Mercado de Coronado and Cafe Rix

El Mercado de Coronado and Cafe Rix are the counter service dining locations in Coronado Springs. The Cafe Rix features grab-and-go items like bakery pastries, cold drinks, and chips. 

The El Mercado de Coronado is a typical counter service restaurant and is themed after a Mexican open-air market. The restaurant is very spacious and laid back. It doesn’t have the same rushed feel that other quick-service locations across property share. 

Amenities and Recreation at Coronado Springs

For a moderate resort, Coronado offers many amenities offered only at deluxe resorts. Club-level rooms are usually only available at deluxe resorts, like the Contemporary, but since Coronado Springs is aimed toward businesses, they have the same amenities their convention guests have come to expect from other convention-style hotels. 

Walking out of the back doors of the main lobby, you will be greeted by a 22-acre lake and topiaries of the Three Caballeros. Coronado Springs has four different pools. The main pool is located near the Dig Site area in the middle of the resort grounds. The pool, The Lost City of Cibola Pool, is one of the most popular pools on property. This pool features a Mayan Pyramid with a slide directly next to it. A large whirlpool tub, the largest on the property, is also available. There is a spa located near the pool that offers hair and nail salon services. 

The three other pools are each located near the outer buildings of the resort. The Casitas, Ranchos, and Cabana buildings each have their own smaller, quiet pool. Quiet pools are a great option for couples or anyone traveling without children who do not want to hear the hottest top-charting Disney hits and children screaming down the slide as you try and relax. 

Over at the Dig Site, guests can play in the Iguana Arcade, or play with the ping pong or corn hole games available near the pool bar. The siestas pool bar is open from 9:00 AM to 11:00 PM daily. The Siestas Pool Bar serves specialty cocktails, like margaritas, and small plates as well as hot food, which is unique to moderate resorts. A playground is available for little ones that have a fun iguana slide and a jungle gym. A fitness center is located in the new Gran Testino tower. Coronado Springs is the only moderate resort to have a fitness center.

Coronado Springs has four bus stops, one is located near each of the three-room sections as well as a stop by the main building. There is also an internal bus for those staying at the resort to take them to the main building since the resort grounds are so expansive.

Disney’s Contemporary or Coronado Springs?

Yes, the Contemporary Resort and Coronado Springs are both convention resorts, but the similarities end there. 

The Contemporary, which has a modern theme, is very different than the Southwest theme of Coronado Springs. The restaurants all offer different food options, as well as having completely opposite room themes. The Contemporary Resort has a higher price point than Coronado Springs, but is a lot closer to the magic than Coronado Springs. 

Admittedly, it’s kind of a tough call.

In my opinion, when choosing the best hotel for your vacation, when you’re deciding between The Contemporary vs. Coronado Springs, think of what your family’s wants and needs are on vacation so you can make an informed decision that will ensure the most magical vacation for you and your family.

Make a true list.  Do you most care about resort amenities?  Does food variety matter most?  Does proximity to certain local attractions mean the most?  Do you care about things like pools and spas and lounges and bars?

I think once you make this list, and you take a look at some of the things I’ve outlined in this article above, it’ll start to make your choice feel a bit easier to make.

This was a guest post written by Molly M.

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