Caitlin’s (who runs our Instagram account) back with another great article to share here on the site!
Perhaps one of the most iconic images of Walt Disney World is the monorail sweeping across the sky atop Seven Seas Lagoon. The monorail not only serves as a transportation device, but it doubles as an attraction with breathtaking views of the Magic Kingdom and beautiful Monorail Resorts. Today, we are taking a deeper look at these resorts and all that they offer to make your Disney vacation even more magical.
To begin, let’s dig a little deeper into what it means to be a Monorail Resort. These are the three Disney resorts that sit on the loop which includes both the Magic Kingdom and Ticket and Transportation Center stops. All three are categorized as Deluxe by Disney’s standards, making them top tier resorts. These resorts are beautiful, well-themed, and include extreme convenience due to their location on the monorail loop. Keep in mind that you can also switch monorails at the Ticket and Transportation Center to board the monorail to Epcot. We will look at the resorts in order of their appearance departing from the Magic Kingdom. First is Disney’s Contemporary Resort, followed by Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and finally Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
This resort is one of the most recognizable in all of Walt Disney World’s property as it is the resort that the monorail actually runs through the middle of. That, in itself, makes The Contemporary quite magical and quite convenient. Aside from this special feature, the resort has many other wonderful things to offer. The theming, as the name suggests, is quite modern and sleek in its design. One of the resort’s hallmarks it its floor to ceiling, 90 foot tall mural painted by Disney creative mind, Mary Blair. A favorite hunt by guests is to find the 5 legged goat hidden in the mural. The story goes that Mary added the fifth leg, because she did not believe in a work of art being “perfect.” Be sure to look for it on your next visit to The Contemporary.
Let’s start with the various types of rooms available at this resort. The Contemporary offers rooms in the Main Tower, Bay Lake Tower, and the Garden Wing, which is adjacent to the Main Tower. Keep in mind that Bay Lake Tower is connected to the Main Tower by the Sky Way Bridge, meaning the monorail does not run through it. The tower is also exclusively for Disney Vacation Club members. The Contemporary offers standard rooms, deluxe rooms, 1 or 2 bedroom suites, and club level rooms. There are also rooms with views of Bay Lake or the Magic Kingdom available. These views, of course, come at a higher price. Speaking from experience, a view of the castle from your resort room is quite a magical moment. Being a Deluxe Resort, the Contemporary comes with a lofty price tag. But, we feel this inventive and sleek resort is well-worth its price.
Up next are dining locations found within Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The resort is home to three table service locations and one counter service option. There are also several lounges and snack offerings spread throughout the resort. One of our favorite table service offerings in all of Walt Disney World can be found here – Chef Mickey’s. Our family are huge fans of character dining, and this location is one of the best. Chef Mickey’s offers breakfast, brunch, and dinner. We enjoy coming out for breakfast best. The cost of the meal is significantly lower during this time of day, but the food is still top notch. If you’re really ambitious, you can make this resort your first stop of the day and hop on the monorail to make it to Magic Kingdom for the opening. When dining at Chef Mickey’s, you will also experience character interactions from Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto. Be prepared to swing your napkin to the music and have Mickey’s party song stuck in your head for the entire day. We recommend it for a fun time and a full belly. The Contemporary also offers more sophisticated dining locations with brunch or dinner at California Grill and breakfast, lunch, and dinner available at The Wave. California Grill is many guests’ favorite for its wonderful food and matching views of the lagoon and Magic Kingdom. If timed carefully, you can watch the Happily Ever After fireworks from the restaurant. The lights are dimmed and the music is piped in making for a memorable experience. Keep in mind that both Chef Mickey’s and California Grill are quite sought after dining locations. You can read our dining tips for how to snatch up a reservation. The Contemporary’s counter service location is The Contempo. We find this to be a nice, quick option for lunch or, my personal favorite, dessert. They offer a small (but mighty) bakery case filled with quite impressive dessert options.
We will wrap up The Contemporary with a few more details that make this resort truly special. One of the major perks of all monorail resorts is the ease in transportation, but The Contemporary has even more to offer that the other two. One of our favorite things to do when staying at The Contemporary is to take the short boat ride over to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. This resort is the next door neighbor to the Contemporary and one of our other top picks on property. At The Lodge, you’ll find beautiful theming that places you right into America’s finest national parks. It is a wonderful resort to visit and a thrilling place to dine. Whispering Canyon Café is a crowd pleaser with its upbeat ambiance and terrific service to match (Which we shared in detail in – Legendary Cast of the Disney Parks – “Sunshine” From Whispering Canyon). Another great feature of Disney’s Contemporary Resort is the walking path to the Magic Kingdom. Although not recommended in the evening after a full day at the park, the walkway can be quite a nice way to begin your day. Enjoy Orlando’s beautiful weather and take the short walk to Magic Kingdom from the Contemporary. Our last feature to highlight is its physical location on the monorail loop. When boarding the monorail from the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary will be the first stop to disembark. If you’ve ever tried to exit Magic Kingdom after the fireworks, you know what a true blessing this can be.
Overall, we consider Disney’s Contemporary Resort to be one of the best on property. Its location is terrific, theming is sleek and appealing, and dining options having something available for everyone. When considering price, this is not a wallet-friendly resort. But, as mentioned above, we truly feel that The Contemporary is worth its Deluxe Resort price tag.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Up next on the monorail loop is Disney’s Polynesian Resort. This resort makes you feel as if you’ve left Orlando and found yourself in the South Pacific. The Polynesian has one of my favorite themes on all of Disney’s property. They give you a lei at check-in – What more could a person want? When arriving at The Polynesian, you’ll instantly notice how open and “homey” this resort feels. The lobby is filled with beautiful, natural elements and unique hanging light fixtures. Its ambiance is unlike any other on property.
Let’s look first at The Polynesian’s options for room location and setup. This resort offers a variety of rooms including standard, lagoon view, pool view, theme park view, 1 or 2 bedroom suites, club level, and the new and exquisite Bora Bora bungalows. Keep in mind that The Polynesian is set up as a village, so the room locations are in a cluster around the lobby area leading out to the Seven Seas Lagoon. The bungalows are set on the water along the edge of the resort. Any room at The Polynesian can be tricky to acquire, but the bungalows are especially challenging. We recommend a authorized Disney travel planner to help with both room and dining reservations during your Disney vacation planning.
There are several, varying dining locations at this resort ranging from family style character meals to the frequented Dole whip location. Our family has been known to make a trip to The Polynesian Resort simply to visit for the iconic pineapple soft-serve. Ohana is a family-style Hawaiian themed meal serving both breakfast and dinner. If you visit during breakfast, Lilo and Stitch will also join you for great picture opportunities. Kona Café is a second table service option at The Polynesian with a lighter price attached. This dining location offers more authentic cuisine in an open air kitchen setting. We have visited both Ohana and Kona Café and recommend them both. Although, if you have a picky eater, Kona may not be your best choice. A great counter service option is Captain Cook’s, located on the ground floor of The Polynesian. This location serves all three meals and is well-known for its Tonga Toast. This yummy breakfast has its own cult following! Be sure to try out this restaurant for a more casual atmosphere and quality quick service food. Pineapple Lanai is everyone’s favorite stop for Dole Whip and is a great option to purchase it outside of the parks. If you’re looking for a special event dining location, The Polynesian has the perfect option. Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show combines spectacular food with thrilling entertainment. Kids (and adults) of all ages will love this luau, complete with hula dancers. Due to its outdoor location, the show is subject to weather delays or cancellation. The Dinner Show also has very limited seating, and it can be quite tricky to obtain a reservation. Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is a favorite among guests for its exciting adult beverages and the elaborate containers they’re served in.
The Polynesian has several additional amenities that make the resort special. Lilo’s Playhouse is a unique childcare experience for children ages 3-12. Parents can drop off their children during the hours of 4:30-midnight. Children can build with blocks, make a craft, play in a pretend kitchen, and more under the supervision of CPR certified cast members. The cost is $55 and includes dinner and snacks. Aquatic adventures at The Polynesian are quite special. The pool contains a volcano, waterfall, and 142 foot-long waterslide. This resort includes a walkway to the Ticket and Transportation Center on the right side of the resort and one to The Grand Floridian on the opposite side. There is also boat transportation to the Magic Kingdom if you prefer this over the monorail.
The Polynesian is an excellent choice for a fun and friendly atmosphere, multiple room options, and innovative dining locations. This resort is great for a dining stop or to book your week-long vacation. Don’t forget to pack your Hawaiian shirt!
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Our final stop on the monorail loop is The Grand Floridian. This exquisite resort is elaborately decorated in Victorian theming complete with live music in the lobby. The Floridian experience includes a full-service spa, signature dining, and sophisticated boutiques.
Like the other two monorail resorts, The Grand Floridian offers a multitude of room options. Your room may be in the Main Building or one of the Outer Buildings. Similar to the Polynesian, your views may be of the Garden, Lagoon, or Theme Park. 1 and 2 bedroom suites are also available along with club level rooms. The Grand Floridian is known for its magnificent suite rooms with castle views, perfect for viewing Happily Ever After.
Dining at the Grand Floridian is unlike any other. The resort has arguably the best dining across Disney’s property. Citricos offers Signature dining with Mediterranean-style cuisine. Keep in mind that this location is only open for dinner and guests must adhere to a dress code. Another fine dining location is Narcoossee’s. This steak and seafood restaurant boasts beautiful views of Seven Seas Lagoon and offers both brunch and dinner. 1900 Park Fair offers a variety of character meals including the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast, Wonderland Tea Party, and Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner. The Grand Floridian Café is a more relaxed table service location offering all three meals. If you have a special event to celebrate, The Grand Floridian has a few dining offerings that are unlike any other. The Garden View Tea Room serves a traditional, Victorian style tea for adults or little princesses. Dining plans are not accepted at this location. The cream of crop of Disney dining is Victoria & Albert’s. This award winning location has extremely limited seating in its private dining room. This ten course meal will leave guests with an experience they will never forget. It even made our Luxury Experiences At Walt Disney World You Should Try At Least Once
The Grand Floridian has many additional amenities that ensure guests from all resorts will stop in for a visit. One of these is its many shopping opportunities. Basin White is a specialty bath and spa shop located near the entrance to the monorail. Another unique store is Summer Lace, a boutique for women carrying Vineyard Vines, Lilly Pulitzer, and many more luxury brands. The Floridian is known across property for its lavish spa – Senses. The spa offers a multitude of facials, massages, body therapy, and nail services. This resort has a fabulous pool that includes cabana rentals, waterslides, and a sandy beach on the edge of Seven Seas Lagoon.
The Floridian is the ultimate Disney resort fit for a princess. Its upscale and classy feel makes for a special encounter, simply by entering the lobby. This resort comes with a very high room rate and accompanying dining costs. But, if your wallet can handle it, The Grand Floridian is a great choice to make wonderful memories at Walt Disney World.
That is our roundup of the three monorail resorts. The Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian are all excellent choices for your Disney home away from home. Each has its own benefits and unique style. We hope that this overview gives you a closer look at what the monorail resorts have to offer. Their view of the lagoon and convenience of transportation are hard to beat. Don’t forget to stand clear of the doors!
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A few short years ago, I was sitting in a college apartment trying to figure out what was "next" and came up with this idea to share my accumulated knowledge of the Disney Parks and Resorts with others. The end goal was to help others make the most of their Disney experience and it's been quite the journey!