Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bay Lake Towers - Walt Disney World Resort

Pin It For our visit to Disney World, we stayed at Bay Lake Towers. The tower is linked to the Contemporary (literally - there is a bridge that has amazing views of the Magic Kingdom and you can make out Epcot and Hollywood Studios opposite the lagoon!) and finding information on it wasn't easy.

I'm here for you.

First of all, this is one of the more expensive options at Disney, but you'll see why. It was important to us that we have a space separate from the girls. We were hoping they would nap (hahahhahahah!), my husband had to do some work and make a few calls without kids in the background or later at night, and we spent all day, every day, with our girls. I'm used to this, so when my husband suggested a division, even if it was just for sleep, I was on board.


First, these rooms are huge. Bigger than NYC apartments.

Not only do they include a full kitchen complete with pots, pans, place settings, coffee maker, dishwasher and two eating areas (yeah.) but they have a washer and dryer. With laundry detergent. I thought that would be nice for emergencies, but ended up using it incase our flight was cancelled or we were stranded. I came home with half a load of dirty laundry. Half a load. Do you know how good that feels? Bonus: I used their machines to wash the princess dresses that had lost a battle to ice cream cones. All that glitter that is not in my house. We were on the Disney Dining Plan (more on that later) so we didn't use the kitchen to its full potential. Next time, I'd choose this room over the dining plan any day. Since we wouldn't go for all the character meals like we did this time, I'd use a grocery delivery service and pack lunches for the park and make easy dinners when we didn't eat out. 

The view:

Pay the extra few dollars for the Magic Kingdom view. It is my understanding that you can see the water light show from lagoon view rooms, but look at that. Look. At. That. 

Our room had a balcony (I think they all do) and we sat outside at night and watched the fireworks and drank wine while our kids slept. The night we had a sitter, she watched fireworks with the girls before turning off their lights and reading in the big chair in our room instead of sitting in the dark, awkwardly, while our kids tried to talk to her. 

There were two bathrooms: a standard one for the kids, and a giant one for us. Because we are paying. Knowing this tub was a thing, I brought a packet of bath salts and had myself a luxury bath. Yes. This is important. The shower also had a rain head, which was nice. But that tub. 

We are next to the Contemporary, but not in it. The Contemporary is cool. It also is highly criticized for being loud. It does have one of the most popular restaurants and a monorail right in the middle. There is a 24-hour quick service bar that has amazing desserts to cash your snack credits in on, a beverage bar for those using the refillable mugs (coffee and Coca-Cola all the time!) and a few really neat shops. One shop carries food, home goods for the kitchens in the Bay Lake Tower suites, and, what really just made Husby's day, The Wall Street Journal. (There were other papers, a great variety in various languages, but he only cares about THE paper.) This means that all that is an inch away while having more space and peace, plus some added bonuses. Bay Lake Towers has its own pool area (with a water slide!) and a kid club area all its own. The kid club space has DVDs to borrow and outdoor movies with s'mores, but we never got that far. The resort channel that plays classic Mickey cartoons was enough for my kids. I would have liked to do the Mickey Mouse tie-dye shirt project if we had a down day, but not this trip. (We went into this trip saying we'd do this once and do it big. Now I see why people do it every few years and do it... less. However, I don't know how people afford to go every year. Adopt me. I'm a great nanny. Anyway, I'm lobbying for 10/18 for a return. We have another 5th coming up, just 2.5 years away! And I don't Florida in the summer.)

The Contemporary and Bay Lake Towers are on the monorail, has a bus station (like all resorts), and you can walk to the Magic Kingdom. The bell hop will tell you it takes about 10 minutes to walk there, but the sidewalk is built for that exact connection and even my tired toddler walked it in less than 10. I'd say when the kids were in the stroller and we were fresh, it took maybe 5 minutes. Not only does this mean that you don't need to take transportation there (the monorail runs away from the Magic Kingdom through the Contemporary, so it would take 25 minutes to take the train to the kingdom, and maybe 5 to come back to the hotel) but you can also walk there to catch a bus to any other resort. Know that the buses only run 45 minutes before any park opens. We had 8am reservations at Animal Kingdom Lodge and thought we would take the bus. Magic Kingdom opened at 9am that morning. Fail. 


The price. It is not cheap. However, if you plan on using the kitchen or can splurge, this might be right for you. Like I mentioned, with two young kids, having a dividable space made sense. We weren't using this room just to crash, and renting two rooms next to each other would have cost more.

Bay Lake Towers is excluded from special events, such as free dining and discounted stays. You are going to pay full price regardless of the time of year. 

The theming is muted. This could be a pro or con depending on your view. You will still get some Disney prints on the walls and the soap bottles still have a tiny picture of Tink on them, but don't expect housecleaning to fold your towels into Mickeys or Dumbos or anything that isn't a towel on a rack. 

The housecleaning is not quite what you get at a standard hotel every day. It is what you get in a suite or townhouse. The first two days they made the bed and refreshed the linens. On the third day, they ran the dishwasher, cleaned up the counters, scrubbed everything down, ran the vacuum, all the stuff you typically find in a standard housekeeping clean. Unless you stay on the club level, there is no turn down. This wasn't really an issue for us except for the glitter. There was glitter everywhere from the dresses and the fairy godmothers. One morning our toddler destroyed a granola bar and although we picked up the pieces, I would have liked a vacuum that day. However, it also meant they didn't fold up the hide-away beds every morning, which was a pro for us. It all depends on your expectations.

All said and done, I loved this room. We loved this room. I'd love to try one of the themed rooms in a different hotel, but as for location and luxury of space, you can't beat Bay Lake Towers. The only hesitation we would have about staying here again would be the lack of promotions available to guests at this resort. But we'll make that decision when the time comes!

This is really something to wake up to. And say goodnight to. And look out the window at 2am because you can't believe where you are to. And pass as you walk the skybridge because your kids get up at 5:45am super excited to be at Disney and someone needs to go fill the mugs to. 

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