I recently spent a couple of days at Walt Disney World in Orlando, staying at Disney's retro-modern Contemporary Resort. For families, this 40-year-old Magic Kingdom stalwart doesn't quite have the cachet of the newer Animal Kingdom Lodge or faux-frontier Wilderness Lodge, but I was impressed with the 655-room property's simple comfort and convenience. Built in 1971, the landmark A-frame design still exudes a futuristic grace that takes you back to old Uncle Walt's original out-there vision for his Florida wonderland. The Contemporary Resort is within sight of Walt Disney World's iconic Cinderella Castle, meaning you can be hitting the rides within minutes, plus gain a privileged, no-crowds view of the nightly fireworks that erupt over Downtown Disney each night. The monorail stops right inside the hotel on the first floor, whizzing guests to the Magic Kingdom as well as Epcot. Another nice feature in the Contemporary Resort's favor is its perch on the shore of Bay Lake, which you can explore by small rental motorboats as well as during water-skiing and paragliding sessions offered through Sammy Duvall's Watersports Centre, Disney's on-site concessionaire. (Most notably, check out the exotic birdlife on the lake's central islands, hosting an array of exotic species which were released to live in the wild here after being originally imported during the development of the Animal Kingdom.) Given its role hosting Disney's convention center, the resort does feel a little more buttoned-up than other themed accommodations at places like the Polynesian Resort or Adirondacks-style Saratoga Springs, though I must say I quite enjoyed that the volume was turned down low after a day of being immersed in the whole Disney magic thing. Nightly rates for the Contemporary Resort start at $300, with children under 18 staying at no additional charge in Deluxe Resort rooms when with parents.
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