Greetings from Disney’s Contemporary Resort! We’re stopping by this classic Disney World Resort hotel to share with you some of our favorite eats and drinks! The Contemporary is a Deluxe Resort, which means that they’re going to be offering TONS of food options, from Signature Restaurants to Character Dining to Quick Service.
The Contemporary is also on the Monorail loop (literally — the Monorail runs THROUGH the hotel!), making it super easy to dine at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa as well as Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
And, of course, this also means it’s a quick ride (and walk!) to Magic Kingdom. Let’s take a closer look at what dining options the Contemporary has to offer!
Note that as a part of Disney World’s reopening, certain experiences might be unavailable. Check with Disney prior to your visit to see what is available.
Sitting high above Disney World (15 floors up to be precise) is California Grill, the Contemporary Resort’s Signature Restaurant.
You’re going to be paying top dollar for the food and service here. If you’re using the Disney Dining Plan, you’ll be redeeming two Table Service Credits. We think it’s a decent use of those two credits and, in fact, we included California Grill on our list of the best value Two-Credit restaurants of 2020!
One of the huge draws to California Grill is the sweeping views of Magic Kingdom. By day the views stretch on and on, and by night, you have one of the best views of the fireworks!
Even if your meal isn’t during the fireworks, you can come back and watch the fireworks from a special viewing terrace. Just bring back your receipt and you have access to the terrace!
But let’s chat about the food itself because this restaurant offers MUCH more than just a pretty view! Overall, the menu at California Grill, as the name of the restaurant and the resort implies, is going to be contemporary Californian cuisine. One of the highlights of California Grill’s menu is their hand-rolled sushi.
These are far from the priciest items on the menu, so if you’re looking for value on the Dining Plan, you’re better off ordering a more expensive item. But if you’re paying out of pocket, their Sushi Rolls are a great way to dine at a Signature Restaurant while keeping your bill relatively low!
Other highlights on the menu include wood-fired pizzas, a wide range of entrees, apps like the ah-mazing Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli (it’s been on the menu since the restaurant open in 1995!), and a huge selection of California wines.
California Grill also has an adjacent lounge where you can order from the full menu without needing a reservation! This lounge is first-come, first-serve, so you may want to plan to arrive early if you want a seat.
Note that guests who dine in the lounge will also have access to the terrace to view the fireworks! Just save your receipt to be permitted on the terrace before the show begins.
The Wave…of American Flavors
The Contemporary has a couple of additional table service restaurants that you should know about! The first is The Wave…of American Flavors. Commonly referred to as just The Wave, this restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. While lunch and dinner are decent here, The Wave really shines during breakfast.
A great HACK at The Wave is for those of you interested in the buffet. You may find that there is no omelet station at the buffet — never fear! If you select the buffet, you can still order an omelet with your server and they’ll whip one up for you at no extra cost!
Their sweet potato pancakes are another highlight that you can pick up on the buffet or a la carte! And no breakfast is complete without a mimosa! At The Wave, you can get REFILLABLE mimosas!
The best part about breakfast at The Wave is that since this is more under the radar, you can typically find a last-minute reservation!
As for lunch and dinner, we’re actually sticking with the breakfast theme for one of our favorite appetizers: Bacon and Eggs! This dish comes with crazy-good maple-lacquered Pork Belly with a “Perfect Egg” and Tillamook Smoked Cheddar Grits.
Like California Grill, The Wave also has a lounge where you can sip on some legendary cocktails. One of our favorites is the Seven Seas Lagoon Cocktail. This “fishbowl” beverage is big and strong! It features Skyy Vodka, Parrot Bay Coconut Rum, Blue Curaçao, Agave Nectar, Pineapple Juice, Fresh Lime Juice, topped with Fruit Boba, Gummy Fish, and a glow cube for good measure!
All in all, The Wave…of American Flavors is a hidden gem at The Contemporary. It’s a great breakfast option if you’re looking to fill up before heading into Magic Kingdom or a nice spot to unwind after a long day. Note that the decor at The Wave looks kind of like a 1970’s car dealership, so…there’s that. But the food is good and well-priced.
While our first two restaurants we’ve talked about are definitely more “chill,” Chef Mickey’s is anything BUT!
Chef Mickey’s is classic Disney World character dining. It’s almost like a rite of passage to dine here, and combined with the fact that you get to meet the Fab 5 (Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, and Donald), reservations can sometimes be tricky to grab.
A trip to Chef Mickey’s is all about the characters more than it is the food. The food has been GOOD, but not GREAT over the years (although we have noted that it has slowly but surely gotten better). Even with an improving menu, it’s still a loud, crowded restaurant that can make for a less than stellar experience for some.
Chef Mickey’s serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. For the most bang for your buck, try to get a reservation time for brunch, that way you’ll be able to pick from the breakfast AND lunch selections.
As far as specific food items go, you’ll have all the typical buffet selections to choose from like Mickey Waffles, bacon, and eggs for breakfast, and chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, a carving station, and more for lunch and dinner.
If you have a sweet tooth, their waffle bar and sundae bar are both fun and tasty. Kids will also love constructing their own waffle or sundae creations.
There’s no denying that Chef Mickey’s is one of the most well-known restaurants in all of Disney World. While some consider this a must-do, we’ve often left feeling a bit rushed and disappointed. With SO many guests coming through the doors, it can feel a bit hectic in here. There are other great restaurants where you can meet Mickey, and many other character buffets or plated character meals to consider that have just as good food, if not better, and many offer more chances to interact with the characters.
We’re moving on now from the traditional table service restaurants at The Contemporary and we’re checking out Contempo Cafe! This is the primary Counter Service dining location at the resort.
The Monorail passes right next to Contempo Cafe, making this an ultra-convenient pit stop for some food before hitting the parks! There’s not a whole lot of flash to Contempo Cafe. It can be loud at times due to its location in the middle of the Grand Canyon Concourse (the big open middle part) of the Contemporary’s main building (it’s also right next to Chef Mickey’s). It also lacks any discernable theming, so don’t expect much beyond grabbing some food here.
Speaking of food, there are a variety of selections here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For a counter service location, Contempo Cafe is top-notch!
For lunch and dinner, their Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup Combo knocks it out of the park. The French Dip is another sandwich selection that we have loved over the years!
We’re always checking in on Contempo Cafe because they are also known for serving up some seriously spectacular specialty cupcakes! Our Contempo Cafe Cupcake Hall of Fame includes the Churro Cupcake…
…which is Cinnamon Cake with Cinnamon Icing and a Vanilla Pudding Center. Oh, and obviously a mini churro as a garnish!
We’re also obsessed with their Monorail Cupcake! This treat is a vanilla cake topped with cookies and cream frosting, a chocolate shell, candy pearls, and an Oreo. And we can’t forget about that adorable white chocolate monorail!
A third cupcake that we found simply stunning is the Dulce de Leche cupcake! This beauty is yellow cake topped with salted caramel buttercream, candy crisps, a chocolate swirl, and a large salted caramel truffle chocolate.
And lest we forget our FAVORITE treat here — the Peanut Butter Pie. If you’ve read the site for a while, you know we’re suckers for peanut butter and this thing has YET to disappoint us! It’s a thick scoop of peanut butter cream cheese on top of a vanilla cream tart! This. Thing. Is. Delicious. Seriously, if you love PB too, it’s worth a hop off the monorail to grab even if you’re not staying here!
Whether you’re running in for a cupcake or taking a few moments to eat a full meal, you could soon find yourself recommending Contempo Cafe to all your friends!
Our last few stops at Disney’s Contemporary Resorts are going to be more or less centered on beverages. While The Contemporary has some great food spots, we wanted to make sure we gave a shout out to all the DRINK spots, too! Let’s start with Outer Rim.
Outer Rim currently only serves beverages. In the past that you used to be able to grab a bite to eat here, but when we checked their official menu, the food items were removed.
While the Outer Rim is a good spot in the resort to sip on a tasty cocktail, you won’t find a ton of unique offerings here. Their “standout” drinks like the Blue Glowtini, Pina CoLAVA, and Moscow Mule are bar staples across Disney World Resort, and you’ll find Outer Rim’s generic “Disney Bar Menu” in TONS of other places.
Though their menu is typically limited, Outer Rim is a reliable watering hole to stop by to cap off your long day at Disney World.
Moving on now to a necessary beverage of a different sort… coffee! When you’re running around the theme parks for days at a time without stopping, caffeine is going to be your best friend. So stop by Contemporary Grounds first thing in the morning for a delicious latte!
At Contemporary Grounds, you’ll have plenty of coffees, lattes, and cappuccinos to choose from. There’s also a decent variety of baked goods to munch on with your morning fuel!
Contemporary Grounds is also home to one of our FAVORITE food accessories, Latte Art!
You can choose from a wide selection of fun graphics to have printed on the foam of your drink for just 50 cents!
We can’t think of anything better right now than grabbing some latte art and then strolling over to Magic Kingdom from The Contemporary!
The Sand Bar
Before we hop over to Bay Lake Tower, we’re heading outside to visit The Sand Bar, the main poolside bar at The Contemporary.
This nautical-themed counter service dining location is going to be your go-to destination for a bite to eat or something to sip on while you lounge by the pool! There aren’t too many surprises here when it comes to their menu. Expect to find burgers, hot dogs, salad, and all the typical tropical alcoholic drink options you would expect to find at a poolside bar.
You can also escape the heat at The Sand Bar! This bar offers both outdoor and indoor dining experiences.
Cove Pool Bar
Head over to the connected Bay Lake Tower pool to find the Cove Bar. Note that only DVC members or guests of Bay Lake Tower can access this pool. Similar to The Sand Bar, the food options are limited and their drink menu features your basic poolside staples.
Top of the World Lounge at Bay Lake Tower
For our last stop on our tour around The Contemporary, we’re actually hopping over to Bay Lake Tower and to the Top of the World Lounge!
Bay Lake Tower is The Contemporary’s newest addition for Disney Vacation Club rooms and villas. But you can totally stay here even if you aren’t a DVC Member! But what you CAN’T do unless you’re a DVC Member is visit Top of the World Lounge. That’s right, you either need to be a DVC Member or be the guest of a Member to enter!
If you’re ever able to visit, we totally recommend you do so! Top of the World is quite the exquisite lounge as far as Disney World lounges go. They have the standard lounge menu to order from, with a few specialty selections. The Bay Lake Sunset was a lovely refreshing drink that we would order again!
They also have small bites like soft pretzels and cheese plates to munch on.
Overall, although access to the lounge is limited, it’s one of our favorite Disney World lounges! If you time your visit just right, you can get a spectacular view of the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks as well!
We hope this foodie trip around Disney’s Contemporary Resort gave you an idea of what to expect next time you want to dine there! As a Deluxe Resort, we would expect a wide variety to choose from, and the Contemporary doesn’t disappoint! While some dining locations are worth checking out more than others, the location of The Contemporary in proximity to Magic Kingdom makes their restaurants and lounges among the most convenient choices around!
What’s your favorite thing to eat at Disney’s Contemporary Resort? Let us know in the comments!