Nothing says, “I’m at Disney World” more than the awesome sight of that monorail sweeping dramatically through the Contemporary’s glassy Grand Canyon Concourse, which it does every few minutes on its way to and from Magic Kingdom. The hotel, one of the first two to open in 1971, is now a midcentury architectural treasure, and indicative of the revolutionary methods that Walt Disney World hoped to pioneer: The United States Steel Corporation helped design it; its modular rooms were prefabricated down the road and slotted into place by crane. The current look: modern and white with Incredibles accents following a 2021 renovation. Best rooms (422 sq. ft., among the largest standard rooms at Disney) are high up in the coveted A-framed Contemporary Tower, but there are stylish low-level Garden Rooms along Bay Lake, too, near the surprisingly blah pool, that are about $150 cheaper. Rooms on the west of the tower face Magic Kingdom itself (and an intervening parking lot)—the ninth floor has the ne plus ultra of Disney views—and every water-view room takes in the nightly parade that floats after dark.
Even if you can’t stay here, this is the best hotel to tour. Drop by via monorail to see the 90-foot-tall mosaics of children by the visionary Imagineer Mary Blair, which encapsulate the late 1960s futurist optimism out of which the resort was born.