Walt Disney World has started work on a reimagining of the guest rooms at the Contemporary Resort. In this post, we’ll take a look at photos of the construction, which is strongly rumored to be an Incredibles-inspired IP Injection, plus other commentary on the project and other hotel overhauls at Walt Disney World. (Updated May 6, 2021.)
Right now, the only official detail from Walt Disney World is that from April through September 2021, the A-Frame Tower of Disney’s Contemporary Resort will take its guest rooms out of commission in phases for room overhauls. During that time, most dining and shopping options will remain open, which is necessary for the remaining rooms since Bay Lake Tower and the Garden Wing don’t have sufficient standalone options.
This was a relatively last-minute project, with some guests booked at Disney’s Contemporary Resort being notified that they’d be moved earlier this year. In that regard and a couple of others, this reimagining sounds similar to the Moana-Makeover of Guest Rooms at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. After first being scheduled to reopen last fall, the Poly had its reopening delayed until late July 2021 to accommodate that room overhaul and other refreshes to the resort…
It’s almost certainly a similar story with Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Prior to the closure of Walt Disney World, Imagineering mocked up Incredibles-inspired mid-century modern test rooms at the Contemporary. The idea behind that was very similar to the Moana-inspired rooms announced for Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
Rather than being overt “character rooms,” both are expected to draw inspiration from the animated films. In the case of the Poly, there’s a Pacific Ocean-inspired color palette as well as details, patterns and textures from Moana, the Disney animated film that takes place on the Polynesian island of Motunui. No concept art or photos of the new Contemporary rooms have been released, but we’re anticipating mid-century modern designs inspired by the Incredibles, plus character flourishes.
May 6, 2021 Update: Disney has announced that “The Wave… of American Flavors & The Wave Lounge at Disney’s Contemporary Resort will be unavailable this summer as we refurbish this space in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort. Reservations will be available through July 15, 2021.”
Back when rumors of an Incredibles-inspired overhaul to the Contemporary first surfaced, one of the specific rumors was the “Incredibles Steakhouse” replacing the Wave. This doesn’t seem particularly far-fetched to us. Despite being a pretty solid restaurant in our view, the Wave frequently scores low on guest satisfaction surveys, which is likely due to its bland appearance.
In the recent past, Walt Disney World has injected characters into poor performing restaurants, with Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge and Bon Voyage Breakfast at BoardWalk’s Trattoria al Forno being two prime examples. The most significant difference here is that Contemporary Resort already has Chef Mickey’s, but that’s always a hard-to-book ADR, so perhaps the resort could sustain two character meals.
It’s also entirely possible that the overhaul of the Wave won’t involve the Incredibles at all, or it’ll feature a mid-century modern aesthetic inspired by the movies. No matter what the outcome, we’re on board with this project–like so much of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the Wave could use a visual refresh and more interesting style.
As for the Incredibles-inspired room reimagining at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, work quietly started last this month. The entire west side of the A-frame is now behind construction scrims.
This is something we’ve seen recently at Wilderness Lodge, except it would appear Disney is going to take down half of the Contemporary at a time instead of going floor by floor.
The east side currently does not have any closures, and appears to be operating totally as normal. Elevators are still accessible, with cloth walls blocking access to the construction. These just went up, and we wouldn’t be surprised if they’re replaced with real walls at some point, like what we’ve seen at the Poly and Wilderness Lodge.
While we heard of some guests being relocated to other resorts, it didn’t appear that was a widespread occurrence. More likely, Contemporary’s occupancy numbers are low enough most of the time right now that it can absorb taking roughly half the A-frame guest rooms out of commission at a time. (The same is probably true at Grand Floridian, which has been running aggressive promotions to boost bookings.)
It’s worth pointing out that Walt Disney World has not yet confirmed the Contemporary overhaul is Incredibles-inspired. It’s our strong suspicion that’s the case, which is based upon the aforementioned test rooms, plus persistent rumors, and the fact that Incredibles soft goods have been spotted being added to the rooms this month.
Even though it’s not officially confirmed, we’re about 95% certain Disney’s Contemporary Resort is getting an Incredibles IP injection. A last minute change of plans is conceivable, as is Imagineering utilizing a variety of styles beyond just the Incredibles, but we’re doubtful that either are the case.
Speaking of the Incredibles test rooms, above is a look at their exterior and hallway where they’re located.
There used to be some graphic character art between the two, but that has been removed.
Contrast that to the regular rooms right next door.
There’s a noticeable difference in the carpeting, tile, wood, and accents around the door.
Speaking of carpet, no photo better encapsulates the visual hodgepodge of the Contemporary better than the above photo.
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). All presumably installed during different projects 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.
Add those to the different varieties in the hallways around the guest rooms, and you have about a dozen carpet patterns. I’m a big fan of patterns and textures, but not like this.
These are not part of a coherent aesthetic. They’re the result of Disney’s Contemporary Resort having visual clutter added over the decades, with more and more stuff (PG term) added over the years without any overarching vision. It’s actually a bit ironic that it’s called the Grand Canyon Concourse, because the layers of clutter are very much like the sedimentary rock layers in the Grand Canyon. Except ugly instead of awe-inspiring. Minor detail.
I think a lot of Walt Disney World fans view the Contemporary through the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. I’ll admit that I did for the longest time. However, I cannot imagine being a first-timer with little knowledge of or history with this resort, booking it based on the “Contemporary” name and paying $700+ per night to stay in the A-frame. To say I’d be probably be disappointed would be a colossal understatement.
While we’re not thrilled by the idea of an Incredibles IP-injection, as stated in our most recent Contemporary Resort Report, the hotel desperately needs something. Our hope was that it would follow the Disneyland Hotel formula, but we’ll take pretty much anything at this point.
The Grand Canyon Concourse looks tired, dated, and visually chaotic. It’s an ugly patchwork of eras, with its style continuing to age and clutter continually added. Ironically, it’s probably the least contemporary resort at Walt Disney World, with very little modernity in its style.
In addition to Incredibles stylization, here’s hoping this refurbishment also includes a decluttering and cleaner design for the common areas. Honestly, I think Disney’s Contemporary Resort needs an overhaul to the Grand Canyon Concourse and lobby much more than it needs a room refresh. The guest rooms aren’t great, but they’re hardly the weak point of the hotel (they’re certainly better than Grand Floridian’s rooms).
Suffering from its own version of the “Tomorrowland Problem,” this would be a good opportunity for Imagineering to overhaul the Grand Canyon Concourse in a sleek, timeless, and clean mid-century modern style. It could be punctuated by decor and art inspired by the history of Walt Disney World, and even have dining concepts fitting within a unifying aesthetic. Just imagine a character breakfast with chic styles–a contemporary twist on Breakfast à la Art with Mickey & Friends at Topolino’s Terrace!
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Excited for an Incredibles IP injection at Disney’s Contemporary Resorts? Think this reimagining could 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!