Where Should You Eat at Bay Lake Tower
As Disney Vacation Club members, we know that where we stay is also where we eat. DVC resorts feature more than just phenomenal villas and amenities. They also offer world-class dining.
Today, we’ll start a new series wherein we discuss all the dining options at the various resorts. So, where should you eat at Disney’s Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort? Here are your best options…
Quick Service and Lounges
When you choose to dine at Bay Lake Tower, you’re effectively picking Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The two locations share a connecting bridge that leads to the Grand Canyon Concourse at the Contemporary.
Disney fans know all the delightful options on this floor and the ones you can reach from here. Specifically, the Contempo Café has delighted DVC members for many years thanks to its location and solid menu.
You’ll find sandwiches and wraps here, along with some limited-time menu items. Currently, the restaurant serves Chef Gina’s Lemon Grass Chicken Bánh Mì. That’s not a dish you’d expect to find on a fast food menu, is it? Also, the seasonal specialty cupcakes here justify a visit whenever you’re here.
Of course, the best part of Contempo Café is the view. The Resort Monorail stops at the Contemporary station just above the restaurant. So, you can watch the monorail go by while you eat. TripAdvisor ranks Contempo Café as one of the top 65 Quick Bites (out of 416) in Orlando, which is pretty good for Disney Quick Service.
Right beside the Contempo Café is the Outer Rim Lounge, an excellent and convenient bar. You can look at the water or enjoy the Grand Canyon Concourse people-watching here.
The only actual dining option at Bay Lake Tower itself is the Cove Bar, the pool bar at Bay Cove Pool. You’re primarily looking at a Hot Dog or Turkey BLT Wrap, though. This place is better for sipping drinks by the pool.
Similarly, you’ll find The Sand Bar, which includes covered seating under umbrellas. This place sells Hot Dogs and Cheeseburgers as well.
Of course, DVC members know where the best lounge is at this resort. You’ll want to visit the Top of the World Lounge – A Villains Lair to watch the fireworks at some point.
While there, you can snack on shareables and sip a few drinks. Depending on when you visit, you might even meet a few Disney Villains!
While the Quick Service restaurant at the Contemporary is one of my favorites, nothing can compare to the Table Service/fine dining experiences here. All three are staples of Disney dining.
California Grill (and Lounge)
While the name has changed over the years, the premise of California Grill has remained the same for generations. Disney fans take an exclusive elevator from the second floor to the top of the Contemporary.
This restaurant offers floor-to-ceiling windows that display the majesty of Magic Kingdom. In fact, a secret here is that the side room also comes with a view of EPCOT’s nighttime fireworks! We ate in this room once on an anniversary, and it was magical.
Critics adore California Grill and its California cuisine. The restaurant ranks in the top 150 of more than 2,100 fine dining establishments in Central Florida. As a pro tip, you can also order off the same menu when you eat at California Grill lounge.
Some people prefer the best meal possible while vacationing at Disney. For others, people like me, the experience matters the most. So, character meals like Chef Mickey’s resonate.
In truth, I’d argue this is the best one, as long as you’re not a foodie desperate for haute cuisine. During the meal, you meet most members of the Sensational Six, who visit your table, take pictures, and entertain your party. It’s as magical as Disney gets.
The “newest” restaurant at the Contemporary will feel familiar to DVC members. As part of its 50th-anniversary celebration, Disney replaced The Wave… of American Flavors with Steakhouse 71.
I’m happy to report that the cuisine is, if anything, better than it had been, which is no small feat. Even better, the updates highlight Walt Disney World’s history. As you enter the dining area, you’ll notice several construction photos for the Disney campus.
Alas, the updates come at the cost of the beloved Blue Room. This space where many folks loved to eat their meals is now bright and airy. It’s genial but…different.
Other Dining Options
You’d be surprised how many DVC members don’t know that you can order room service in your villa. This dining option works well on nights when you cannot snag an Advanced Dining Reservation or have plans fall through. You’ll even find daily vegan specials on the room service menu at Bay Lake Tower.
Then again, you can order pizza delivery or something like DoorDash/Uber Eats. Personally, I take a different approach. I prefer to eat on the monorail when I’m staying at one of these three monorail resorts. This approach adds options like Kona Café, ‘Ohana, Citricos, and even Victoria & Albert’s.
Finally, remember that you’re only a short walk or monorail ride away from Magic Kingdom. Some of the restaurants here will work well as breakfast/lunch/dinner options.
The one drawback with this approach is that the better Magic Kingdom restaurants tend to require a longer walk. In my opinion, places closer to the park entrance, like Tony’s Town Square and The Plaza Restaurant, aren’t on a par with what you’ll find at monorail resorts.
As you can see, you’ll enjoy a plethora of options whenever you get the munchies at Bay Lake Tower. It’s among the most centrally located DVC properties for Disney dining.