This is a bit of a detour, away from the Disney Discounts and deals we normally feature, but I thought this would be of interest to you none the less. Bay Lake Tower is Disney’s newest resort, located at the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World. I recently had the opportunity to stay there for 11 nights, from February 28 – March 11, 2010. Due to a mixup with booking, flights, DVC points, money and other factors, we ended up with 2 Bay Lake view studios our first night, then a standard view 2 bedroom villa for the last 10 nights.
Here are my initial views of the resort, I will update them once our vacation has ended:
What I love
The Layout – I love that the bedrooms are small, and most of the 2 bedroom villa’s space was put into the living room area. All of our awake time in the villa is spent in the living room, it sure is nice to have the extra space, the bedrooms are pretty small, but who cares when you are asleep.
The third bathroom – With 5 kids (3 boys, 2 girls), the three full bathrooms have been fantastic. Parents get their own, then one for boys, one for girls. Perfect. All large enough to be functional bathrooms, best idea DVC has had in years.
The decor - The rooms and resort are beautiful. Clean, well done, they feel very upscale. I love the sliding doors on the bathrooms. I could live here. I don’t think I could say that about any other DVC resort.
The view – As mentioned above, we have a standard view villa. Our view is actually of Bay Lake, facing North. From our balconies we can easily see the Magic Kingdom, which is wonderful at night. I am happy we did not pay for the more expensive views. Compared to other DVC resorts, this standard view blows away any other view at any other DVC resort.
What I like
The location – I am a huge fan of the Beach Club Villas, where we usually stay. I love the location there. Of our 10 nights with dining reservations, 7 of them are in the Epcot area. We have found that doing one of the other three parks during the day, then Epcot at night for diner, works best for us, so Beach Club gives us nearly instant access to our home after we are done in Epcot. The monorail is nice, but we have found it is much quicker to walk from here to the Magic Kingdom, and the monorail to Epcot takes forever, as you have to wait for 2 separate monorails. Bus service to everywhere else is adequate. Unless you are spending all your time in the Magic Kingdom, I don’t see the location as an advantage here (nor a disadvantage).
The Contemporary – I like the Contemporary as a hotel, very nice looking inside, plenty of amenities and options, not too far of a walk from the villa. I prefer the villas associated with one of the deluxe hotels, they seem to offer a better experience.
The dedicated Bay Lake Tower Pool – Nice to see Disney recognize that the villas are resorts too, and deserve their own pool. Both Bay Lake and the new Kidani at Animal Kingdom Lodge have their own pools, separate from the resort pool. The Bay Lake pool is nice, nice slide, and only accessible to Bay Lake guests, unless you walk the long way around and have someone get you into the gate. As far as pools go, it is fine, nothing to pool hop about.
What I don’t like
Dining options – I like the proximity and access to the Contemporary, but there is a severe lack of decent food options here. Of course, California Grill is great, but Chef Mickey’s isn’t my favorite, and not really a place you can eat each day. Contempo Cafe is horrible, a step below theme park food. Really a disappointment. The Wave is very good too, just wish there was a food court/quick service type place here that had decent food. The market is a disappointment as well, kind of an after thought in a corner once they built the villas.
Top of the World Lounge – The one thing Bay Lake has going for it that no other DVC resort will have ever is the proximity to the Magic Kingdom, and the view it creates from the top floor. You feel right on top of the Magic Kingdom, like you are looking down from a hot air ballon. I love the view, especially at night, just fantastic. I was very disappointed in the actual lounge, just seemed very unfriendly place, especially for kids. I think Disney really missed here, would be a great place for a nice restaurant or something special for DVC members.
The doors – Now, I mentioned above I love the decor, and the doors in particular are fantastic. The problem is that none of them lock. The only door I have found in the entire villa that locks is the master bedroom door. None of the bathroom doors, including the one off of the kitchen, lock. They are wonderful sliding doors, very cool looking, but the fact that there isn’t any way to lock them, is a bit crazy.
The studios – As mentioned above, we had 2 studios the first night of our stay. They are tiny. Good, if they are the second bedroom in a 2 bedroom villa, bad if it is your only room. Because of the way the kitchenette is laid out, the sleeping area is small, just big enough for the queen bed and the couch. They feel much smaller than the rooms at the value resorts, and are not a replacement for a room in the Contemporary. They would work well for 2 adults, but anything more than that, you will be cramped. The studios are only about 300 square feet, the rooms in the Contemporary are over 450 square feet.
Would I stay here again?
Absolutely. I have stayed at every DVC resort currently open except for Kidani and the new Grand Californian (later this year). Bay Lake is my favorite resort of them all, as far as the rooms go. Whether we stay here or not will depend on if we can get a standard view villa, which is roughly the same price as a villa at Beach Club Villas. I definitely would not pay more than Beach Club Villas to stay here, if both were available.