Disney World Extravagance: Shopping for Lilly Pulitzer

lilly-pulitzer-store-at-disney-springs

In addition to theme park tickets, a hotel room, and food, almost a guaranteed part of the overall expenses for a Disney vacation is souvenir shopping. You will stand in too many gift shops not to bring something home, so then the million dollar questions becomes how much will you spend?

Are you going to bargain souvenir shop or shoot for the stars with a full-out princess extravagance?

There are certainly no shortage of both moderately-low to high-end gift shop merchandise available these days, but when looking for a splurge, the name Lilly Pulitzer is becoming synonymous with Disney Vacation extravagance.

Are you ready for a Lilly?!

[Read more…]

Cheaper Breakfast Than Chef Mickey’s? This is One of Our Favorites!

Chef Mickey's substitute

Updated for 2016!

Looking for a cheaper breakfast than dining at Chef Mickey’s? Finding somewhere less expensive is not all that difficult, because while a fantastic experience, Chef Mickey’s Character Breakfast is definitely not cheap. But where to go for a cheaper meal and yet still have an experience of your own? Our suggestion is to head literally just feet away to the Contempo Cafe for a great tasting breakfast at a fraction of the cost.

Over 30 Free Activities at Disney’s Contemporary Resort!

The Contemporary Resort is one of two hotels originally built at Disney World  WDW hotels on the monorail loop servicing the Magic Kingdom. The fourth floor of the main building is known as the Grand Canyon Concourse, where you will find a variety of shops and restaurants. 

The Contempo Café replaced the 1st floor Food and Fun Center many years ago, now offering a 147-seat dining area with spectacular views of the monorail the 9-story Mary Blair mural with 18,000 hand-painted tiles. 

cheap breakfast at Disney World

contepo cafe menu at Contemporary Resort

Contempo Cafe is open from 7 a.m.-10 p.m.; hot breakfast items are served until 11 a.m. Bakery items, fresh salads, hot and cold sandwiches, flatbreads and pasta entrées are served throughout the day. Grab ’n’ go items are also available starting at 6 a.m.

Menu items and prices are subject to change without notice. 

best restaurant for breakfast at Disney World resort

cheaper than a Chef Mickey's breakfast

Mickey waffle with a choice of meat and fruit toppings.

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cost of Disney World breakfast

kids breakfast at the Contemporary Resort at Disney World

The child’s breakfast platter at the Contempo Cafe in Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

 

Can a Disney Princess Afford to Stay at the Contemporary Resort at Christmas?

best places for kids to eat at Disney World

Disney french toast breakfast deal at the Contemporary Resort

where to eat at Disney World

Disney breakfast sandwich at the Contemporary Resort

Breakfast sandwich with egg and ham at the Contempt Cafe.

menu and prices for Contempo Cafe

We were really impressed with our breakfast at Contempo Cafe. While it is true that there are no Disney characters posing for pictures with your children, you can see monorails pass through the building, within view of the iconic Mary Blair mural.

A counter service meal here will cost you 1/5 what you pay at Chef Mickey’s, and you will finish in less time, if this is important to those who plan to use lots of time for roller coaster riding.

Mary Blair: Why You Should Touch the Tile Mural in Disney World’s Contemporary Resort

Are there any gift shops at the Contemporary?

Bayview Gifts has refrigerated chocolates and fudge, products for the home, ladies’ and men’s casual fashions, watches, jewelry and framed art.

Fantasia offers Disney character merchandise and clothing, trading pins, and a multitude of toys.

Fantasia Market sells a variety of newspapers and magazines, alcoholic beverages, health and beauty supplies, and refrigerated and non-perishable food items.

Have a nice breakfast, do a little shopping (window or otherwise), and then head over to the Magic Kingdom. It’s a great start to an amazing day.

cheap dining at Contemporary Resort

where to shop at Contemporary Resort

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you watching the monorails pass by, slicing into a Mickey waffle…

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

30 Free Activities at Disney’s Contemporary Resort: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Free activities at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Updated for 2016!

Along with Polynesian Village Resort, the Contemporary Resort is one of Walt Disney World’s two original hotels. The building was constructed with modular components, meaning the rooms were built off-site and hoisted by crane into place once the hotel structure was built, although later refurbishments locked everything permanently in position.  The main 15-story tall Contemporary Tower was constructed as an A-frame; the outer walls slope inwards around an inside atrium. This design was a collaboration by the United States Steel Corporation, California architect Welton Becket, and Walt Disney himself. 

What stands out with the Contemporary Resort? It’s located right next door to the world-famous Magic Kingdom. Oh, and there is a monorail that zips through the building, like literally goes through the building. That’s two things your average hotel can’t boast about. Here’s another bit of trivia: the original name of the Contemporary was the Tempo Bay Resort Hotel.

Almost 130 FREE Walt Disney World Resort Activities!

what can I d for free at Disney World Contemporary Resort

If you stay at this resort or you “Disney Resort Hop,” which means you visit Disney Resorts as a guest for a few hours, what is there to do for FREE at the Contemporary? A lot, both inside and out.  If a free activity requires a room key, called a Key to the World card/Magic Band, we will indicate that in blue. So get ready for our guide to over 30 free activities at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Outside

1. Mickey Topiary 

Topiary gardening, where living plants are fashioned into decorative forms, has been practiced for centuries. Behind the Contemporary, just before you reach the pool and the marina areas, is a fantastic Mickey Mouse topiary, just right for a photo. If you snap one every year, you can see how fast your children are growing. 

take a photo by teh Mickey Mouse topiary at the Contemporary Resort

2. Mickey Statue

Just to the left of the Mickey topiary is a metal Mickey Mouse ears statue, and seated up top is a metal Mickey. Adventurous kids climb on it, as do older teens, while taller people usually just stand in front. If Cast Members see you on the statue, (ask me how I know,) you will be kindly asked to just to stand in front.

With a parent close by, smaller children could sit in the ears. This statue is taller than it appears in this photo.

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metal Mickey Mouse at Disney's Contemporary Resort

3. Volleyball

Enjoy a friendly beach volleyball match on the lakeside court. Complimentary volleyballs can be checked out at the Boat Nook Marina with your MagicBand/ Key to the World card.

volleyball at the contemporary resort in Orlando

4. Jogging Trails 

A jogging path loops around Bay Lake Tower and the Contemporary South Garden Wing for a just-under-1-mile run, or in my case, a brisk walk. Your feet may already be tired from walking through theme parks, but this is a fantastic way to see the entirety of both resorts from a much more up-close view than simply looking out the window from the lobby.

Contemporary Resort vacation jogging trails

5. Go Visit other Resorts

Disney has an “open resort policy” where you don’t have to be staying at the resort to go visit, which we referred to earlier as “Resort Hopping.” This would be a great time to determine what section of the property you might like to make reservations for on your next trip. You can inquire at the front desk about rates and current discounts. It’s more pricey to stay in the main A-frame building than to stay in the Garden Wing rooms. 

Hop a boat to the Magic Kingdom, and with one more boat transfer, you can be at the Polynesian Village or the Grand Floridian resorts, and a different boat takes you to Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Check the time schedule with the front desk, but the usual posted hours for these boats are 6:55 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. We have a whole series of guides for free activities at resorts close to the Contemporary, 

ride to Wilderness from Contemporary Resort

6. Wishes Viewing 

You can watch the Magic Kingdom Wishes fireworks from a balcony outside the Grand Canyon Concourse level, just in front of the Fantasia Gift Shop. Get here early for a good spot, because at night, this area is pretty busy with watchers. Once the fireworks are finished, it’s nice to sit here and watch the monorail sail quietly over your head inside the building. You’ll see two different monorails going two different directions, all leading ventrally back to the Magic Kingdom.

You can also see Wishes from the sidewalk between the Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower.  There is a nice breeze here on most nights, as well as out in front of the Contemporary Resort. The lower you are, obviously, the more trees may obstruct your view.  A better plan is to Resort Hop over to the Polynesian Resort and watch Wishes from the beach.

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wishes viewing at Contemporary Resort

7. Park for Free

Parking is free while you visit the Disney resorts, with the understanding that this is for a maximum of about three hours. But this one is a little tricky, because you are not allowed to park at the Contemporary throughout the really busy times of year, which “busy” now can describe most of the year. Imagine how many people would park here if they were allowed, simply to walk over to the Magic Kingdom. 

Your best bet, if you are not visiting before or after you enjoy a meal here, is to ride the monorail over or walk over from the Magic Kingdom. You are allowed to park for free with dining reservations, but remember you are required to give your credit card number to hold your reservation. Ditching your reservation just to park for free would be counterproductive with this suggestion. 

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8. Fireside Marshmallows

Camp fires are held at resorts that offer free marshmallows and roasting sticks for resort guests. Complimentary campfire activities can be found at 14 locations at the Walt Disney World Resort; the Contemporary shares a fire pit with Bay Lake Tower, very close to the shores of Bay Lake.

marshmallow fires at Disney World

9. See a Movie Under the Stars

Come for the campfire and then stay for a movie. Take in one of the many free “Movies Under the Stars” outdoor movies at the WDW resorts following the campfires. A huge screen is blown up for nightly movies outside, although this can depend on weather.  At some resorts, you will need to bring a towel or blanket to sit on, and at others, they provide chairs. The Contemporary offers chairs and towels.

Movies and entertainment are subject to cancellation or change without notice. For movie schedules, call 407- WDW-PLAY or 407- 939-7529.

how to see outdoor movies at Disney World

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10. Night Time Water Parade 

Visit the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Ft. Wilderness, or the Contemporary Resort to catch a glimpse of the nightly water show, The Electrical Water Pageant. This water light-parade was created in 1971 for the dedication of Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Scheduled to run just that one time only, popularity has kept it playing each night for all these years. Approximate show times are:

  • Polynesian Resort, 9:00 p.m.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, 9:15 p.m
  • Wilderness Lodge, 9:30 p.m.
  • Fort Wilderness Campground, 9:45 p.m.
  • Contemporary Resort 10:00p.m.

11. Take an Outdoor Seat

This may not be the best idea from May until September when the weather is pretty hot, but there is wonderful seating outside by the marina, which feels especially nice on a cool spring or fall day with a light breeze blowing off the water. You will hear the sounds of the boat whistles echoing off Bay Lake. There are benches in the shade of trees or tables with umbrella canopies just perfect for a picnic you bring yourself.

Bathrooms and a water fountain are close by outside for your convenience.

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take a seat out by Disney's Contemporary Resort marina

12. Have a Picnic

Saving some money by providing your own meals? As we just mentioned above, there is seating by the marina with umbrellas to block the sun. It’s lovely being between two Disney Resorts, the Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower, and lots of people will pass by as they make their way to the boats headed to Wilderness Lodge/ Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and the Magic Kingdom.

You could hop a boat when you finish your meal.

where to picnic at the Contemporary Resort

13. Outdoor Viewing Deck

The outdoor viewing deck we mentioned earlier on the Grand Canyon Concourse level, with the great benches to see Wishes, also would make a nice place for a picnic. It’s hard to get much closer to a monorail unless you are climbing in one.

This is a designated smoking area, just so you are informed.

Can a Disney Princess Afford to Stay at the Contemporary Resort at Christmas?

Monorail viewing at Disney's Contemporary Resort

14. See the Christmas Tree

Will you be visiting the Contemporary Resort during the Christmas season? Don’t miss the 70-foot-tall Christmas tree at the resort’s main lobby entrance, featuring nearly 36,000 white LED lights. Kids love to stand beside this tree in amazement of how big it is, and you’ll be impressed by the size as well.

Christmas tree in front of Disney's Contemporary Resort hotel

Ready for Christmas at Disney? You May Need Some Advice…

 

Inside

Window shopping is a great “activity” at the Disney Resorts, and given your propensity to touch fabrics and metals, you could easily spend an hour in the Contemporary’s three gift shops just admiring the goods. You can always do some actual shopping, but looking is free!

15. Bayview Gifts 

Located right in front of the Contemporary escalator and across from the Fantasia Gift Shop is Bay View Gifts (BVG.) You can pick up chocolate treats like fudge and cookies, plus items for the home, picture frames, art work, and Christmas decorations. BVG also sells clothing for men, women, and children, plus watches and other assorted jewelry. Merchandise prices here vary from $8 for key chains to thousands of dollars for 14k gold jewelry.

window shop at Bay Lake Gifts at the Contemporary Resort

16. Fantasia 

You know you reached the Fantasia Gift Shop when you see either of two metal Mickey shapes situated at either end of the shop. Fantasia is definitely a shop more designed for children, carrying Disney character merchandise, Star Wars toys, and an entire wall of trading pins. You can frequently trade pins here on a board they place near the cash registers.

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Fantasia Gift Shop at Contemporary Resort

17. Fantasia Market 

Located next door to the game room on the Grand Canyon Concourse, across from Fantasia, Fantasia Market offers a variety of reading material like newspapers and magazines. For those seeking adult beverages, there is wine and beer available, plus a multitude of refrigerated items like milk, frozen dinners, and ice cream. If you want to make some meals without the luxury of a kitchen, pick up items here for sandwiches or grab canned foods. This is the gift shop to find health and beauty items.

Are you seeking DVC merchandise? This is where you will find authentic DVC shirts, jackets, key chains, plus other items that change occasionally.

Fantasia Market at Disney World's Contemporary market

18. Check Out Chef Mickey’s

Chef Mickey’s is one of Disney World’s most popular all-you-care-to-eat buffets. As monorails zips through the building, Disney Characters like Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald and Goofy mingle for photos and autographs, leading diners in songs and dancing. This would be a good time to scout out the eatery, to decide if this is where you would like to schedule dining reservations. Chef Mickey’s is more pricey than the Contempo Cafe, by almost triple or more for adults, so it’s a good idea to know what you are walking into.

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Chef Mickey's restaurant at the Contemporary Resort

19. Sit in the Outer Rim

Located just next to Chef Mickey’s, the Outer Rim offers stunning views of Bay Lake from almost floor to ceiling windows. You can enjoy specialty cocktails before—or after—dinner. A full bar menu is available, with suggested drinks including a Piña CoLAVA, Red Stag Lemonade, and a Blue “Glow-tini.”  The seating is relatively comfortable, offering excellent views of the monorail and the massive Mary Blair mural, plus you are steps away from a Disney Vacation Club kiosk, should you be curious to pick up some DVC information. Bay View Gifts is just to your right.

sit by Chef Mickey's in the lobby

20. Ride the Monorail

How often do you get to ride a monorail where you live? The answer for me is a big huge never. Riding the monorail is free, but it can be crowded at certain times, like when everyone is trying to escape the summer heat of mid-day or during holidays. The monorail is a lovely way to see the sights of the Seven Seas Lagoon from up in the air while you ride surrounded in air-conditioning.*

*Unfortunate note: sometimes the monorail can get a bit hot, depending on the season and crowd levels, which can be rough if you have claustrophobic tendencies.

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monorails go through Contemporary Resort

21. Simply Take a Seat

We just mentioned the nice seating outside by the marina. Disney’s Contemporary Resort Convention Center features state-of-the-art audio and video equipment, full catering services and 115,000 square feet of event and meeting space, which won’t affect most of you in any way. But there is seating aplenty for convention breaks on the 2nd floor, just below the Grand Canyon Concourse and above the lobby area where guest check in. 

Let me tell you from personal experience, having waited on our room to be ready here for over an hour, these couches are perfect for a short nap. There is Wifi available here as well, also for FREE!

sitting areas at Disney's Contemporary Resort

 22. Bathroom Break

I don’t normally mention resort bathrooms in particular, but on the second floor with the couches, you will find some really nice bathrooms.  Unlike the busy upstairs bathrooms underneath the monorail loading area, this 2nd floor restroom is roomy, quiet, and especially clean. Sometimes it’s nice to have a little peace and quiet! 

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nice bathrooms at Disney World Contemporary Resort23. The Mural

Disney legend Mary Blair graduated from the Chouinard Art Institute of Los Angeles.  In 1940, she went to work for Walt Disney, helping craft movies like Cinderella, Song of the South, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. Blair finished a 90-foot-high mural for the Contemporary Resort in 1971, which was completed in time for the resort’s opening.

You can view the mural from all four directions on the Contemporary’s Grand Canyon Concourse level. Featuring animals, birds, flowers, and American Indian children, the mural consists of 18,000 hand-painted tiles. You will find Blair’s name on the tiles just as you enter the Contempo Cafe.

Mary Blair tile mural at the Contemporary Resort

24. Hear a Concert

During the Christmas Holidays, you can hear the sounds of the season when choirs sing holiday favorites just outside of Fantasia Gift Shop. Hang out for the full concert, or just catch a tune or two as you wait for the monorail, because the songs reverberate all over the massive lobby.

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27. Attend a Church Service 

The Contemporary Resort has hosted religious services for Christmas Day in the Fantasia Ballroom. Catholic Mass was held at 8 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. and a Protestant Service at was held at 9 a.m. Our suggestion is to call Guest Services to see if they are hosting a holiday church service before you waste a trip just for this activity.

26. Lobby Cartoons

While you look at the fine detailing of the hotel lobby on the first floor, there is a television playing older Disney cartoons just for the children. If your kids are tired of walking while you resort hop and need a break, tell them to have a seat. This is also a nice child distraction area while the adults check in after a long drive or flight.

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children's lobby television at the Contemporary Resort

 27. Locate Hidden Mickeys

So this Mickey is not exactly subtle or hidden, but you get the point. Where is this? This Mickey is found on the Contempo Cafe chairs on the Grand Canyon Concourse, just outside Chef Mickey’s buffet.

If you would like to see a list of Hidden Mickeys before you arrive, use this link to visit Hidden Mickey’s.org. 

Hidden Mickeys at the Contemporary Resort

28. Gingerbread Tree

During the holidays, a 17 foot gingerbread tree is erected on the 4th floor Grand Canyon Concourse. Inspired by the art of Disney’s Mary Blair, who we just mentioned designed the large four-sided mural, the tree is created with an amazing amount of ingredients.

  • 136 lbs honey
  • 211 lbs flour
  • 101 eggs
  • 27 lbs spices
  • 15 lbs sugar syrup
  • 98 lbs icing
  • 151 lbs of chocolate

The tree features over 2,000 gingerbread shingles, with enough space to hide a reported 15 hidden Mickeys. There are gingerbread holiday treats available for purchase, and while the merchandise can vary from year to year, you may find a five-legged Rice Krispy goat, a holiday cupcake with a hidden Mickey inside, monorail sugar cookies, gingerbread shingles, a gingerbread boy, lollypops, and holiday citrus bread.

The tree took on a “Frozen” movie theme in 2014, but when the newness of the Frozen movies wears off, they may go back to the other traditional tree.

29. Gingerbread Pin Signings

By the gingerbread tree in years past, visitors have been offered opportunities to meet the Disney chefs behind some of Walt Disney World’s best holiday gingerbread creations.

Call Guest Services to see if they are hosting this event before you waste a trip just for this activity.

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Mary Blair Christmas tree Small World at the Contemporary Resort

We lost two free activities off our list since this article was published back in 2014, the butterfly garden and the giant Mickey shaped Christmas wreath. If these activities show up again, we’ll update out list.

You might need this information for your resort visit.

4600 North World Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-1000
Telephone: (407) 824-1000
Fax: (407) 824-3539

If you are interested in other free activities, this link contains all the freebie details.

The Ultimate Walt Disney World FREEbie Guide: Over 119 Free Vacation Items and Activities

Thanks for stopping by. If you ever walked around a Disney Deluxe resort and wished you were checking in, only to drive back to your Value Resort and be a bit financially relieved you saved your money, you just might be a Cheapskate Princess!

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Renting a Pool Cabana at Disney World: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Can you afford a Disney World pool cabana

Updated for 2015!

A Disney vacation isn’t all about roller coasters.  If you decide to to schedule a free day away from the parks and stand-by lines, you may find yourself planning a day by the pool. There are several resorts on the Disney Resort property that have cabanas by their pools, but we’ll use the cabanas by the Contemporary Resort as our example.

Just steps away from the sandy beaches of Bay Lake and two fabulous pools at the Contemporary Resort, the Cabanas for rent here are every Disney Princess’ dream. Compared to just sitting on a deck chair, there are loads of fabulous cabana services and amenities that will make you feel like you are receiving Rock Star Treatment.

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Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World

quiet pool at the Contemporary Resort at Disney Wor

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What Do You Get?

  • An exclusive tented-area just for you, family, and friends
  • Personalized service from your own Cast Member during your rental (No gratuities accepted)
  • Towels, two padded chaise lounge chairs, and two padded chaise beds, just in case you find yourself in need of a relaxing nap in the Bay Lake breeze
  • A 32-inch flat screen TV with cable
  • An iPod docking station for your favorite relaxing tunes
  • A mini-fridge stocked with complimentary bottled waters and sodas
  • A phone for calls inside the Contemporary resort complex
  • A complimentary fruit tray
  • For an additional cost, you can dine privately
  • A ceiling fan
  • Free Wifi

Pool cabana price for the Contemporary Resort in POrlando

what to do at a Disney pool? Rent a cabana

Disney World best pool

When it is available?

The Cabanas are available for half day rentals (morning from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and afternoon from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) and all day rentals run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

price for Disney World pool cabanas

rent a Disney World pool cabana

bed pool side at a Disney pool

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How much will the cabana cost?

Morning or afternoon rentals are $149 plus tax for each session, or the all day rental charge is $219 plus tax. All prices are subject to change without notice, and one person in your party must be at least 18 years of age.

The maximum amount of guests for the Cabanas are six. There is also a 24 hour cancellation policy, or the full charge will be applied, although you can cancel at any time due to inclement weather. For reservations, call (407) WDW-PLAY or (407) 939-7529.

You can also visit the marina at the Contemporary for same day reservations.

Disney pool cabana

flat screen Tv in Disney pool cabana

The Contemporary Resort’s Quiet Pool is close enough to watch the action at the pool with the slide, but far away enough not to be bothered if you are here for relaxation and to work on your tan.  The sounds of ducks, boat whistles, and happy vacationers walking  the dock all blend together into just the sounds of vacation.

So break out your designer sunglasses, that cute sun hat, your new Mickey Mouse string bikini, and unleash your inner Disney Princess at the Contemporary Cabanas. You’ll be the absolute envy of poolside vacationers throughout Walt Disney World!

Remember that walking around the resorts is free, as Disney has an open resort policy. But swimming in the pools where you are not a paying guest is not allowed except under one condition. Use this link:

A Guide To Disney World Resort Pool Hopping

lounge by the pool in a cabana at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Mickey towels at Disney pool and cabanas

rent a pool canaba at Disney World

Have you ever rented a cabana? Did you think it was worth the money? Leave us a comment and tell us about your experience!

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you lounging on a chair by the Contemporary Resort, soda in hand, the smell of coconut suntan lotion in the air…

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

What Are the Top Three Character Meals at Walt Disney World?

best Disney character meals, how to pick Disney character meals, eat the best Character Meals

Updated for 2016!

There are so many decisions that go into a Disney World vacation. Behind determining where you will actually stay, where to eat comes in a pretty close second in terms of important reservations. Character meals are often three and four times the cost of a counter service meal, so how do you know if you have picked the best one? We asked our Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans to tell us their favorite character meal. Ask yourself if you would rather get my personal opinion on a restaurant or dining opinions from hundreds of people. You want to go with the the hundreds, of course!

And our fans say the top three character meals are…

 The Top 20 Best Disney Restaurants, So Says the Fans!

Chef Mickey's Character Buffet

#1. Chef Mickey’s

Location?

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

What do you get?

You will enjoy an all-you-care-to-eat buffet while Disney characters mingle with guests for photos, autographs, songs, and dances. Soak up the expansive views of Bay Lake and behold the stunning 90-foot-high mural created by Disney Legend Mary Blair, plus you’ll spot monorails zipping through the building.

What characters will you meet?

  • Mickey Mouse
  • Minnie Mouse
  • Pluto
  • Donald Duck
  • Goofy

The Cost and Other Details

The cost is $35 to $59.99 per adult.  There are no children’s prices currently listed on the Disney website.

Reservations are recommended, and they can be made up to 180 days prior to your visit.

Character appearances and entertainment are subject to change.

Some dining plans are accepted.

Menu items and prices are subject to change without notice.

Hours

Breakfast
7:00 AM – 11:30 AM 
Brunch
11:35 AM – 2:30 PM 
Dinner
5:00 PM – 9:30 PM 

Important Links

Use this link to check Chef Mickey’s availability. 

Use this link to see a complete menu.

Over 20 Disney Character Autograph Tips from Fans and Parents

The Crystal Palace

#2 The Crystal Palace

Location?

Main Street, U.S.A., in the Magic Kingdom

What do you get?

This restaurant is inspired by Victorian greenhouses of the late 1800s, so you’ll find lots of light, topiaries, and tropical plants

Meals are served buffet-style, starting the day off with breakfast items like French toast, made-to-order omelets, freshly baked pastries, fruit and more. For lunch and diner, meal items include carved flank steak, sirloin, oven-roasted chicken, Atlantic salmon, peel-and-eat shrimp, turkey, mashed potatoes, chicken nuggets and more. Be sure to consult the complete menu to determine when these items are served.

There is a separate buffet area for kids called “Pooh Corner.”

What characters will you meet?

Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, and Tigger.

The Cost and Other Details

This buffet starts at $15 to $35 per adult and goes up to $35 to $60 per adult. There are no children’s prices currently listed on the Disney website.

Reservations are recommended, and they can be made up to 180 days prior to your visit.

Character appearances and entertainment are subject to change.

Some dining plans are accepted.

Menu items and prices are subject to change without notice.

Hours

Breakfast
8:00 AM – 10:45 AM 
Lunch
11:30 AM – 2:45 PM 
Dinner
3:15 PM – 9:30 PM 

If you want a guaranteed lunch reservation, this is your only choice of our top three suggestions, since Chef Mickey’s only offers brunch at certain times, and ‘Ohana does not offer lunch.

Important Links

Use this link to check availability.

Use this link to see a complete menu.

If You Do This on a Disney Vacation, You May Totally Regret It Later

'Ohana Character Meal prices

#3 ‘Ohana

Location?

Disney’s Polynesian Resort

What do you get?

Feast family-style at breakfast while Disney characters sign autographs and pose for photos. You’ll enjoy games, storytelling and a Hawaiian-style feast at dinner.

What characters will you meet?

You will meet Lilo and Stitch, Pluto and Mickey but only for breakfast. There are no characters at dinner.

The Cost and Other Details

This buffet starts at $15 to $35 per adult an goes up to $35 to $60 per adult. There are no children’s prices currently listed on the Disney website.

Reservations are recommended, and they can be made up to 180 days prior to your visit.

Character appearances and entertainment are subject to change.

Some dining plans are accepted.

Menu items and prices are subject to change without notice.

Hours

Breakfast
7:30 AM – 12:00 PM 
Dinner
3:30 PM – 10:00 PM 

Important Links

Use this link to check availability.

Use this link to see a complete menu.

12 Totally Cool Ideas to Replace Your Usual Disney Character Autograph Books

Of course opinion can vary from person to person, but we felt like this was indeed a good place to start when it’s time for you to make your character meal reservations. It’s always smart to make your Advanced Dining Reservations 180 in advance so you get your first choices.

Let’s give a big word of thanks to our Cheapskate Princess fans for their answers, and now you can let us know if your favorite made our tops three character meal list.

Top 3 Disney Character Meals

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you searching for a character to hug…

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Almost 130 FREE Walt Disney World Resort Activities: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

130 Free Disney World Activities

Updated for 2017!

The Walt Disney World Resort is the most visited entertainment complex in the world. The property covers 47 square miles, offering visitors 24 unique themed resorts, four theme parks, two water parks, over 300 restaurants, a sports complex and the renovated Disney Springs shopping area. There truly is more to see and do than your average visitor has time or money to actually accomplish. With prices seeming to increase every year, some families struggle to make their Disney vacation dreams a reality. [Read more…]

Disney Vacation Must Do: Contempo Cafe at the Contemporary Resort

Disney World Contemporary Resort

Have you ever looked into prices at the Contemporary Resort? Check out these starter prices for 2017:

Prices like that are going to stretch the budget of even the best of us. I joke about how one of these days, I’ll spend the $400 for just one night at the Contemporary so I can say I actually did it. Maybe one day…but to be realistic, it probably will not happen.

Read: Disney World Resort Hopping: A Cheapskate Guide To Free Fun!

But with Disney’s “open resort policy,” the Contemporary is one of the best resorts to visit for that “Disney experience,” even if you are not spending the night. The grounds are beautiful, with the property situated between Bay Lake and The Seven Seas Lagoon, and the resort itself has a 70s Disney retro vibe. This resort opened at the same time as the Magic Kingdom in 1971, and it still has a Disney old-school feel. Which is why visiting this particular Disney resort is a fabulous idea if you are on that limited budget. Walk around for a little while, soak everything in, and grab a bite to eat.

One of my all time favorite places to grab a counter service meal is at the Contempo Cafe. Monorails will zip through the building. There is a famous Mary Blair floor to ceiling mural that was all the rage when the resort opened. This is an amazing place to have a meal with a true “Disney feel,” and the prices are not in the stratosphere like the resort rooms.

Read: Mary Blair: Why You Should Touch the Tile Mural in Disney World’s Contemporary Resort

Hot breakfasts, bakery items, fresh salads, hot and cold sandwiches, flatbreads and pasta entrées are served in the Contempo Cafe. “Grab ’n’ Go” items are also available. Have a cupcake and a chocolate milk, will travel kinda thing…

Let’s take a look at some menu prices.

Breakfast Menu

Read: Vintage Disney Photos – Take a FREE Mental Vacation Back in Time!

 

cheap meal at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Dinner and Lunch Menu


save money on meals at Disney World

 

Contemporary Resort

Food prices here are not as bad as you would think, given how much it costs to stay here. For me, that’s even more reason to grab a meal while I’m here.

The Contemporary Resort was the “flag-ship” of the Disney resorts before the Grand Floridian was built. The changes they have made through the years have added to the atmosphere rather than taken away the magic. There are three nice gift shops on one side of the mural, all within site of the monorails. Even if you can’t afford a meal at Chef Mickey’s on the other side of the mural, you’ll be able to hear the fun from your Contempo Cafe seat.

Spend some time just listening to the happy sounds of vacationers going through the building, the sound of the monorail engine as it speeds up and slows down. Watch the sun come through the 14 story windows.  Other than sitting beside the volcano rock water fall at the Polynesian Resort, there may be no better resort location to feel like you are back at Disney as a kid.

I really wanted to stay at the Contemporary when I was in elementary school. Now, knowing how much of my own money it will cost me, I’m rather content to pop in for a cafe meal and a look around.

I am really partial to the Contemporary during Christmas as well.

Read: The Disney World Resort with the Most Fabulous Christmas Decorations? The Award Goes To…

Much to my surprise, when we took a vote with our  Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans, the Contempo Cafe did not earn a place among fan favorites. So to get other people’s opinion besides mine, see where the fans suggest you go for a great resort meal.

The Top 5.5 Quick Service Disney Resort Restaurants – Chosen by Our Fans!

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Mike Ellis

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

 

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

 

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Can a Disney Princess Afford to Stay at the Contemporary Resort at Christmas?

Contemporary Resort Wreath, Contemporary Resort, Disney's Contemporary Resort, Mickey Mouse wreath

If you have ever looked at The “Holiday Season” pricing at Disney World to see if you could afford a room during the most festive time of year, then you just might be a Cheapskate Princess. Nothing wrong with making plans and checking things out to see if your budget can handle what your heart desires. Christmas is a truly magical time at Disney. “Holiday Season” runs from December 21 to December 31 of 2012. Without any sort of discount, a standard room at Disney’s All-Star Resorts will cost you $164, and the prices for this time of year go up from there. A standard room a moderate resort level Coronado Springs Resort is $249, compared to around $190 a night for a summer night on a weekday. Now, are you ready for some really heaving pricing? [Read more…]