Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Contemporary Hotel, November 1971

There are a whole lot of photos of the Contemporary Hotel at Walt Disney World. It's understandable - the Orlando park was brand-new, and the A-frame hotel quickly became a familiar icon to Disney fans. Mr. X (who took the photos) must have been suitably awed by the sheer size and scope of this park, and of the hotel. I decided to share four pictures of his today.

From the side, it doesn't look quite as amazing, but it's nice that each room has a big window that looks out over the bay on one side. A parking lot view might not be the most desirable thing, but maybe you could see the Magic Kingdom in the distance? 

Here's a view from Bay Lake - notice the crane, indicating that there was more work to be done. Can guests go on the water in a boat anymore? I know that swimming is no longer allowed for various reasons. Gators? Brain-eating amoebas?

I believe that the restaurant atop the Contemporary was called the "Top of the World" back then. Maybe 15 stories felt like the top of the world in flat Florida!

These side wings (not sure what they're called) were probably very nice, but dammit, I would want to stay in the main hotel. Otherwise what's the point? It looks like the rooms on the ends of the A-frame included large balconies, which is pretty sweet. I think I see a brain-eating amoeba!

There's just something so cool about a huge A-frame hotel! Especially when it has the beautiful Grand Canyon Concourse in the middle, with the Monorail delivering guests, and whisking them off to the park. Presumably the hotel had something akin to a "Presidential Suite" or some such extra-luxurious digs for the rich and influential. Like certain bloggers, perhaps?

Oh no, we're not done with the Contemporary Hotel just yet!


Anonymous said...

The Magic Kingdom isn't as far away as these shots would suggest...In fact, it's probably a lot faster to just walk there rather than take the Monorail (but where's the fun in that?). Another interesting fact is that the Contemporary is easily seen from within the Magic Kingdom, but you don't notice it because it's by Tomorrowland and it simply blends in. I'm not sure what the Tron Lightcycle Coaster is going to do to that view...

Chuck said...

You can really see the 1970s Contemporary Resort logo (thanks, FoxxFur!) in the last two photos. The ends of that A-frame are wonderfully distinctive.

And in the first image, parked in front of the Contemporary, you can see what appears to be one of the eight General Motors TDH-5302 buses that were on Walt Disney World Transportation's roster in 1971.

K. Martinez said...

"Top of the World" refers to top of Walt Disney WORLD. Also, the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim used to have a "Top of the Park" restaurant with views of Disneyland Park and the parking lot.

The wings of the Contemporary resort were called "South Garden Wing" and "North Garden Wing". The North garden Wing was removed for the DVC Bay Lake Tower.

The parking lot view as you called it has views of the Magic Kingdom as well as the Seven Seas Lagoon, the monorail transportation system and Polynesian Village resort. Not a bad view in my opinion.

These are really great pics of the Contemporary. I like the clean look of grass and sleek design of the Tower and Wing buildings. I'm glad to hear there's more Contemporary Resort coming. Thanks, Major.

DrGoat said...

Nice pics Major. Paint that structure black or dark gray and it would fit right into the Bladerunner version of LA.

Patrick Devlin said...

I really like that last shot with its great view of the monorail beams heading into the concourse, or is that "the Canyon"? It kind of looks like the beams are offset to one side and not symmetric with the hotel centerline. Interesting.

I was going to make a car ID or two but I think I was off from the get-go...

Nanook said...

Oh Patrick, let me assist-

Rudely facing way from us is a white 1967, '68 [or perhaps 1966] Rambler. Then a black - would you believe a 1968 Chevrolet II-? Then, perhaps, a 1970 Plymouth Duster. A baby blue 1962 Ford, followed by a gold (w/black landau top) 1971 Ford. Facing us is a white, 1963 or '64 Cadillac. Finally, a gold, 1971 Chevrolet.

Happy motoring, all.

Patrick Devlin said...

Ah, thanks, Nanook. I was trying to peg that gold unit closest to us and though I could ID being made by Ford Motor Co. part of brain was saying, "Oh, it's a late 60's Galaxie" while the other part of my brain was yelling, "No! No! The tail lights are all wrong for that". Calmness has returned to my cranium.

Melissa said...

Oh, these are gorgeous! Although the Contemporary still looks great today, there's something really special about seeing it “uncluttered” like this.

I've only gotten to do it once, but watching the Castle fireworks show from the top of the contemporary Maybe even more fun then seeing it from inside the Magic Kingdom. They pipe in the sound, it's nowhere near as crowded, and you don't have to crane your neck for anything.

If I had the money to stay at a Deluxe Resort, I'd pick the good old contemporary over the newer ones and a day of the week. Your standard room has a little more square footage, you're walking distance to the Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center, it’s not as “gimmicky” in its theme, and the Monorail station is the trump card.

Major Pepperidge said...

Stuart Powley, gosh, I just assumed (always hearing how large the parks are in Florida) that the walk would be unreasonable from the Contemporary to the Magic Kingdom. Like you said, I would want to take the Monorail because it is cool!

Chuck, I do love that logo. I’ve seen it on old matchbooks. Apparently they have a new, that is a piece of crap in my opinion. Thanks for the info on the GM buses.

K. Martinez, I get why they called it the Top of the World, honest! It’s just that 14 stories isn’t very tall by “tall building” standards. I had wondered if the parking lot view had views of the Magic Kingdom (as I said in the text), so thanks for confirming that.

DrGoat, ha ha, yes, it would be a good stand-in for the Tyrell Corp.!

Patrick Devlin, the only reason I can figure that the tracks would not be centered is because the passengers board from one side of the Grand Canyon Concourse.

Nanook, I wasn’t sure you would be able to ID cards from that later era.

Patrick Devlin, there’s something about those gold cars! Trouble is, they looked great when new, but didn’t age very well.

Melissa, I think I would prefer to watch the fireworks from atop the Contemporary, instead of being jostled by 60,000 people in the park. Definitely the way to go. Mr. X took a single photo of the inside of his room at the Contemporary (well, his bed, really), and it’s almost funny how spartan it looks by today’s standards.

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, oops, my link to the new Contemporary Resort logo must have had an error. If you care, copy and paste: https://tinyurl.com/y7tzwsju

JC Shannon said...

Great shots, I love the angles and very Florida setting. The architecture still looks good, very forward thinking for 1971. Some times stuff from the 70s looks dated, but not this baby! Thanks Major for the cool photos.

Chuck said...

Oh, wow - that new logo is...underwhelming.

Nanook said...

@ Chuck-

"Underwhelming", to say the least. It isn't awful, but compared to the original one, it pales. I don't know why the old adage of "If it ain't broken, don't fix it" so often fails to apply with large corporations. They really feel logos must be in constant flux in order to attract attention. I fail to see why - especially when the original one was essentially 'sitting in the catbird seat'.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you can still rent a variety of boats at the Contemporary marina...including water skiing and parasailing!

The end balconies you note are not guest room balconies but part of the emergency exit stairwells if I'm remembering correctly.

The "Top of the World" became California Grill in 1995. The "Top of the World" name returned to the new DVC Bay Lake Tower though it is not a full restaurant (just bar/appetizers) and is typically just for DVC guests.

JC Shannon said...

@Nanook Personally I think the logo looks like a Romulan control panel symbol. I agree, it is hideous. Why can't the powers that be just leave well enough alone

Anonymous said...

Some very innovative design in this hotel, a few bits that made it's way into other buildings, but it is still very much "of it's day".

It reminds me very much of the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco, and other buildings by the same architect, John Portman.


Melissa said...

I also love the lounge at The Wave, their mid-range table service restaurant. The light is low enough to be cozy, but not so dark you're tripping over yourself. The comfy alcoves look like something out of Star Trek (in a good way) and I highly recommend the local organic beer flight.

I've also heard good things about their breakfast buffet, but I haven't tried it myself.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago, we enjoyed our stay in one of the Garden rooms pictured here. Still well maintained. That extra square footage was great too. Took my best fireworks pictures from the rooftop. KS