Walt Disney World has shared a sneak peek at the newly reimagined guest rooms at Contemporary Resort and other changes coming to the hotel. This post features photos of the “Incredibles Injection,” first impressions on how these compare to other refurbished rooms in WDW hotels, and more. (Updated August 20, 2021.)
Let’s start by quickly recapping what’s happening with Disney’s Contemporary Resort. This was actually the first Deluxe Resort (non-DVC) to reopen at Walt Disney World last summer, with many guests being relocated to it since their chosen hotels were closed. We did a stay around then, and shared thoughts in Contemporary Resort Report: Good Garden, Terrible Tower?
As other Deluxe Resorts came back online, Walt Disney World flipped the script and quietly began moving guests from the Contemporary to other resorts for stays early this year through Fall 2021. Then came the official announcement from Walt Disney World that the A-Frame Tower of Disney’s Contemporary Resort would take its guest rooms out of commission in phases for room overhauls. Now, we have official details about what’s being done, plus confirmation that it’s the long-rumored Incredibles Injection. Here’s the update from Walt Disney World…
Per Disney, “Imagineering is continuing to build on the optimistic spirit of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, enhancing the retro-modern aesthetic evoking Tomorrowland…with a dash of something Incredible.”
With Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary is only months away in October, all nine floors of guest rooms in the Contemporary’s tower are being completely refurbished. Here’s a first look at the new décor debuting this fall.
These guest rooms at Disney’s Contemporary Resort will feature a Monorail motif and characters from Pixar’s Incredibles films, including Jack-Jack, Frozone, and Edna Mode.
New artwork in guest rooms and along guest corridors will be incorporate the aforementioned characters in modern designs, putting the Supers’ powers on display.
In the lobby, you’ll soon see a collection of modern art pieces as well as historical, behind-the-scenes photographs of Disney’s Contemporary Resort in development and under construction.
Editorializing a bit, our hope is that Imagineering leans heavily into the history of the Vacation Kingdom of the World. Send a team to Disneyland Hotel to see how it’s done there, as that resort’s use of nostalgia is pitch-perfect and could be replicated to great success at the Contemporary.
Additionally, the Wave of American Flavors is making way for a reimagined dining experience in time for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration. While the Wave is underrated from a culinary perspective, it’s design is dull and the restaurant is unpopular, so we’re on board with whatever is being done to refresh that dining option.
Given that this is in the lobby, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this draw on Walt Disney World history, a la Steakhouse 55 at Disneyland Hotel. (Eh, it’ll probably be Incredibles-inspired, but we can dream!)
AUGUST 20, 2021 UPDATE: Walt Disney World just announced the following and released the above graphic: “We’re cooking up new experiences at Disney’s Contemporary Resort for “The World’s Most Magical Celebration!” Steakhouse 71 will be a casual dining concept that gets its name from the resort’s opening year, plus, a new dining experience is coming to California Grill.”
Once the A-Frame tower guest rooms are complete, work will begin on the rooms inside the Garden Wing out on the shore of Bay Lake.
Those are the only details shared thus far, but Walt Disney World indicates that they’ll have more to share on this project in the months to come while getting ready for “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” beginning October 1, 2021.
Now let’s offer some commentary. For those who are new to the blog, Imagineering’s spotty track record with room redesigns has been an area of acute interest for us. We do dozens of Disney hotel stays every year, and have previously reviewed and scored all of the past room redesigns. Notable posts on the subject include the following:
We’ll withhold final judgment until completing an actual stay, but our first impression of the new Incredibles-inspired rooms at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is relatively positive. Honestly, they aren’t my favorite rooms ever, but they feel like a Disney-meets-contemporary room design, which was undoubtedly the goal.
These new rooms are bright and airy, and balance an array of colors without looking overly busy. The swooping lines and stylization are clean and evoke a mid-century modern aesthetic. The integration of characters is a bit more than I’d like to see, but it’s fairly tasteful and at least some of those details are “hidden.”
These designs aren’t to my tastes, but I like the idea of bed throw pillows. If Walt Disney World is going to forever do away with bed runners (a hospitality industry trend they should not have followed, in my opinion) these should be the alternative so the rooms look a little less sterile.
Likewise, the patterned carpet directly under the beds is a solid improvement that makes the flooring less boring. We hope to see this style make its way to more resorts, as replacing carpeting with laminate floors has left something to be desired. This would appear to remedy that.
As with new room designs before it, the Incredibles rooms at Disney’s Contemporary Resort appear to have a number of “quality of stay” improvements.
From added storage space for luggage to lighting and outlets, the features have been plussed in a variety of ways. For anyone valuing function over form (or even in addition to it), these new rooms will be an unequivocal upgrade over the old ones.
Above is video of the new Incredibles-inspired rooms that Disney shared on TikTok.
These seem okay enough, but I cannot say I thought the guest rooms were previously the biggest problem point at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. To the contrary, I actually liked the “old” rooms. More than these, to be honest.
With that said, I can recognize that they were dark, a bit dated, and probably in need of a refresh. This isn’t the direction I would’ve gone, but to each their own.
As discussed at great length in our Contemporary Resort Construction Update, which features extensive photos of what the work-in-progress overhaul looks like, the biggest issue with the hotel is its atrium.
As encapsulated in the photo above, the Grand Canyon Concourse at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is an absolute visual hodgepodge. In this shot, there are 5 different styles of carpet and 4 different types of tiles (that’s not counting the deliberate pattern choices around the buffet at Chef Mickey’s).
These are not part of a coherent aesthetic. They’re the result of Disney’s Contemporary Resort having visual clutter added over the course of several years, with more and more stuff (PG term) added over the years without any cohesive vision. It has been literal decades since the Contemporary has had a top to bottom overhaul. Instead, junk has been added in a piecemeal approach over the years.
If you were to stand in the center of the hallway above Grand Canyon Concourse, you could count even more disparate styles, as the various gift shops on the other side have their own styles, as does the center of the atrium. I’m a big fan of patterns and textures, but not like this.
It all looks garish, dated, and most certainly not Contemporary. More like a dying mall from the late 1990s. If I were paying $700 per night (and up!) to stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, I’d be disappointed by this. Heck, I’m disappointed by it even when visiting, as I know this is supposed to be an iconic and historic hotel lobby/atrium. The only thing “incredible” about the Grand Canyon Concourse is how far it has fallen over the years.
Ultimately, my opinion on this project are complicated. It’s nice to see Disney’s Contemporary Resort seeing long overdue love. I’m not bothered by the character integration, which I find mostly tasteful. I don’t love or hate these rooms–I prefer the old ones while being more or less indifferent to the new designs.
With that said, I’m cognizant that these lighter, brighter, and more fun new rooms will appeal to a broader range of guests, so that’s a plus. I’m also heartened by the idea of historic photos in the lobby–we’ve long suggested that Contemporary Resort should take a page out of the Disneyland Hotel playbook and become a “love letter to Walt Disney World.”
However, it appears to me that the priorities of this project are out of whack. The guest rooms could’ve used some upgrades, no doubt. But on a list of things that needed improvement at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, they wouldn’t have cracked my top 10. The far greater problem points were in the lobby, atrium, restaurants, and retail.
At present, it sounds like only some of those issues will be addressed. If Disney’s Contemporary Resort emerges from this reimagining without a decluttered and modernized Grand Canyon Concourse, it’ll be a fail–no matter how good (or bad) the guest rooms.
What do you think of the new Incredibles-inspired rooms at Disney’s Contemporary Resort? Disappointed that nothing was announced for the Grand Canyon Concourse, or do you think we’re overstating its faults? Think this reimagining will work with the hotel theme, or is it an unnecessary character addition? Have you stayed at the Contemporary in the last few years? Do you think the resort is dated and tired, or still has a contemporary atmosphere? Think the Grand Canyon Concourse, guest rooms, or both need an overhaul? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Other thoughts or concerns? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!