Category Rank: 2
Park: "Rest of the World"
Park Rank: 4
We continue with another iconic item. The Contemporary Resort is Disney World's most famous resort, and perhaps one of the most famous resorts on Earth.
The resort is an A-frame style hotel, located within a stone's throw of the entrance to Magic Kingdom. You pass it every time on your way into the park. It was completed in 1971, and is one of the few resorts to be inspired by Walt Disney himself (and finished by his brother Roy).
It was meant to be futuristic in its decor, its design, and its functionality. The hotel itself has a distinctive modern architecture to it, looking like a space port of some sort. The decor inside also mirrors that futuristic style, though since it was designed in the early 70s, it has the vintage look of "the future" from a Jetsons-esque point of view. Plus, it is known for its modular rooms, which were designed to be taken out by a crane and replaced with an identical one, while the room underwent repairs or modifications. This isn't actually done, though, as the design of replacing entire rooms was more difficult than it was thought to be.
The inside atrium is very majestic, and includes several distinct features. For starters, there is the famous "Mary Blair mural", which spans 90 feet. Mary designed the It's a Small World ride, and the design is similar. Also inside are several future-themed shops as well as Chef Mickey. You can see all of these from any of the balconies inside, looking down into them. There is also the world-famous California Grill, up on the top level of the hotel, which provides an unbelievable view of not only Magic Kingdom, but the entire WDW. This is a hot ticket place to go eat during the nightly fireworks (or at least we've heard that, seeing as we haven't been in the restaurant before).
The most famous part of the hotel is the monorail which travels right through the resort. Like, inside it. The station for the Monorail is on the inside, and you can see the train move its way through the temporary barrier to come inside. It is a bit haunting to have a train that big travel through a big echo-y structure and not make much noise at all. The iconic scene of the Monorail traveling into the building is, by itself, enough to put the resort on this list, as it is one of the most trademark-Disney World items there is (and, the Monorail will be coming on our list pretty soon).
The resort has undergone some improvements over time. They added the Bay Lake Tower for Disney Vacation Club members, and they have updated a few of the furnishings when you walk in (I still feel like the carpet is an original 1971 design). The place is connected via waterway to Magic Kingdom and to Wilderness Lodge as well, plus it literally is within walking distance of MK.
It is not a surprise that Contemporary Resort makes it way on to the list; my guess is that it will appear on most people's lists near the top. We visit the resort on every trip, just like the Grand Floridian, as we love just a quick stop inside for memory's sake. From our past discussions, we know that it is only #2 on the list because of the resort that holds the distinction of being our very first home base.
Our next item is also iconic. It represents the first Disney thing you see when you arrive in WDW (or close to the first, depending if you stop at the EarPort).