Magic Kingdom Is My Backyard – A Dream Stay at Disney’s Bay Lake Tower
One of the things I love most about the Disney Vacation Club Resorts is their unique themes and distinct ambiance. While it’s easy to pinpoint the themes for resorts such as Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows (a modern tropical paradise) or Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas (an African-inspired oasis with lush savannas), there are some that are harder to pinpoint.
Whenever I am asked what makes Disney’s Bay Lake Tower special, for example, I immediately mention the walking path to Magic Kingdom and its easy access to the monorail.
When a guest inquires about the theme, I reflect on its distinctly modern design with light Disney touches. While these statements are all true and great reasons to stay at Bay Lake Tower, it was difficult for me to understand why someone might choose this resort over something with a more obvious Disney feel.
Well, I recently had the opportunity to stay at Bay Lake Tower myself, and I absolutely “get it” now. When you stay at Bay Lake Tower, you are in the very heart of Walt Disney World. Space Mountain and Cinderella’s Castle are visible from the moment you step out the lobby door (and from the balcony of the rooms that have theme park views). The monorail zooms overhead as you peer up and over to Disney’s Contemporary Resort, appreciating the unique and iconic A-frame of the building. From the moment you arrive, you are truly in the magic.
Using online check-in allowed me to bypass the front desk and go straight up to my room, which was a Theme Park View Studio. I did have a little trouble getting my Magic Band to work and later had a Cast Member at the front desk reset it, but I was so excited to see my room that I used my phone as a temporary method to unlock the door. I had, of course, taken virtual tours of the room multiple times and seen countless photos, but it cannot compare to experiencing it in person for the first time. While the decor is lovely and the amenities in the room are definitely something to appreciate, I tossed my bags on the couch and immediately made a beeline for the sliding door, threw open the curtains, and stepped outside.
I’m not sure if you have ever heard the phrase “Magic Kingdom is my backyard,” but that is the best way I can think of to describe the view from my room. From my balcony, I could see Space Mountain, Cinderella Castle, and the Astro Orbiter; Magic Kingdom was right there! During the daytime, the sight was absolutely magical, but at sunset? It was downright enchanting.
I should mention that the majority of dining options for Bay Lake Tower guests will be located at the nearby Contemporary Resort. Guests can access these locations by means of the Sky Way Bridge, which conveniently connects the 5th floor at Bay Lake Tower to the Contemporary’s 4th floor; simply take the South elevators to the 5th floor, and the entrance to the bridge is just to your left. This is also the route you’ll take to get to the monorail station, which is located at the Contemporary.
Kelly and I decided to dine at Steakhouse 71 on our first night. As there was just the two of us, we were able to be seated at the bar without a reservation which was super! The bartender Bo (who was absolutely fantastic), started me off with the first of many Diet Cokes of the trip and provided helpful and engaging conversation as we made our dinner selections. If you enjoy eating plant-based or you’re looking to try something a little different, the Vegetable Wellington is an absolute work of art. With a mushroom duxelle and fire-roasted artichokes wrapped in a puff pastry, this dish is complex and so delicious. I don’t usually even like mushrooms, but the flavors were spectacular and not to be missed.
After quickly devouring our delicious dessert – I enjoyed the Apple Tart Tatin as Kelly conquered the 15-layer Chocolate Cake – and bidding adieu to Bo, the bartender, we started off back to Bay Lake Tower.
Our intention was to watch Disney’s Enchantment from my balcony, but as dinner ran a little late, we ended up enjoying the fireworks from the Sky Way Bridge that night. The bridge provides a clear view of the Magic Kingdom skyline, and we could also hear the music that accompanies the show as it is piped right in. It had been about 3 hours since I’d arrived at Bay Lake Tower, and in that time, I’d already experienced a breathtaking view from my room, a delicious meal with fantastic company, and gazed in amazement as fireworks lit up the sky above the Most Magical Place on Earth – what an amazing start to what was bound to be a fantastic trip!
The next morning I did something I had never done before; I rope-dropped at Magic Kingdom!
As Disney Resort guests have early park entry, we definitely wanted to take advantage of that. Moreover, it is so convenient to get to Magic Kingdom, and the walkway has its own security station along the way. This means you’ve already gone through security and can head right to the park gates once you arrive at Magic Kingdom. The close proximity of Bay Lake Tower to Magic Kingdom proved convenient and helpful every single day of our trip. As an example, one night, I watched Enchantment in the park, and it absolutely poured; everyone in the crowd was drenched as we splashed our way down Main Street but being able to veer off and walk back to my resort at the end of the night instead of having to board a boat, bus, or take the monorail was such a great perk.
I have been fortunate enough to go on two work trips to Disney this year, staying once at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and, of course, at Bay Lake Tower. Work trips are amazing and so fun but are also absolutely jam-packed with wonderful things to see and places to experience; as such, there is not a lot of downtime. When we do have a few moments to ourselves, I tend to head back to the room to rest and enjoy some quiet time.
As important as that rest time is, I do wish that I’d taken advantage of the great pools at both of these resorts. In particular, the Bay Cove Pool at Bay Lake Tower is exclusive for guests staying at the resort and looks absolutely refreshing. Alas, Disney time moves differently from regular time, and I’ve found I never get everything done that I wish I could; that said, I’m definitely going to prioritize some pool time on future visits.
A definite highlight of this trip was doing my very first live feed on our Facebook page, where we streamed the experience of watching Enchantment from my balcony. Guests are even able to play the music from the fireworks on their television, which really adds to the show. It was so exciting to be able to share this moment with others and see the excitement pop up in comments. My mother, who I didn’t even realize knew how to watch a Facebook live, even joined in. My mom is responsible for so many good things in my life, including my love of Disney. Watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks with her, my dad and my siblings is a core childhood memory that I will always cherish and having her join my first live feed and experience that moment with us made it all the more special.
That wasn’t the only night I watched Enchantment from my room, though. One night, I was working at my computer and lost track of time. I looked up from the screen as I heard the distinct crackling sound of fireworks and had to smile; even the view from where I was seated at the table, facing the closed sliding door of the balcony, was spectacular and so surreal.
I am so grateful for my stay at Bay Lake Tower.
As I mentioned earlier, I have also stayed at Saratoga Springs. It’s amazing to compare the experiences of these resorts and think about what made each of them unique and special. For example, while I, unfortunately, did not visit Disney Springs on my most recent visit, we did go multiple times when we stayed at Saratoga because it is so convenient to take the boat or even walk there.
Every DVC resort truly offers a different and unique experience that makes no Disney trip exactly the same, which is great fun! I love that in addition to our beloved attractions and experiences (a Disney trip just isn’t a Disney trip without a Mickey pretzel, am I right?), there’s always something new to discover at Disney.