Review: Atrium Club Level at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

We’ll take a moment to visit the Atrium Club Level Lounge on the 12th floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Our last Club Level stay was in July at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, which I review here. Next month, Erin and I are off to the Polynesian to give that a go.

Club Level at the Contemporary has one striking benefit that isn’t shared with any of the other Deluxe Resorts.

The view.

Wider: Here.

That Lounge view will be less novel if you’re already on the Theme Park View side of the Tower. Above is the sunrise from our “Standard Room” on the opposite side of the Tower, which looks out at Bay Lake.

I chose a Standard Room for a few reasons, but principally because it was the only one available when I booked. But I appreciated the scenic, relaxing view from the room.

And the ability to head over to the Lounge and enjoy the theme park view. The picture above was taken while seated on one of the Lounge’s outdoor balconies with the music for the Happily Ever After fireworks show piped in on speakers.

Otherwise, the Atrium Club Level Lounge is much smaller than what we saw at the Beach Club because there are far fewer rooms with access. This is also the lower of the two Club Levels – both in terms of location and price. The resort’s suites are on the fourteenth floor and they have their own Club Level room.

Otherwise, there’s a variety of seating options here with chairs, benches, and couches.

A small area for the kids.

TV control is up to whoever is closest to the remote. We saw everything from Pocahontas to Fox News to Monday Night Football over the course of several nights.

Like at Beach Club, Club Level is largely about the complimentary food and alcohol, but there are also a couple of cast members stationed near the Lounge that can (theoretically) help take care of reservations and help with any other issues that arise during your stay.

And you’ll come away with a box of chocolates.

Inside.

This is the breakfast setup, which is offered daily from 7am to 10:30am.

A bad picture of oatmeal to get the ball rolling. This was the only hot breakfast offering over the course of four mornings.

A wide shot of the yogurt with honey and granola mix-ins.

Fresh fruit.

Cheese.

Turkey and salami – not exactly top-of-the-line quality, but it did the job of providing a lot of protein without a lot of filler.

The smoked salmon seemed to be of decent quality.

Along with tomato, egg, capers, and red onion.

Something in the vicinity of deviled eggs on the right.

Along with croissants.

A wider shot of sliced bread, bagels, butter, and cream cheese down below.

While each of the preceding items seemed to be available each morning, the pastries did switch out from time to time. Here we have an almond pastry along with what might be a lemon muffin and chocolate croissant.

Scones and chocolate chip muffins on another morning.

Cinnamon rolls.

Corn Flakes and Fruit Loops are available, in addition to whole milk, 2% milk, 1% milk, and orange juice.

The coffee and espresso situation always makes me nervous just looking at the thing.

Breakfast drink options.

While the offerings are relatively limited, it’s nice to be able to grab a freshly baked pastry and a chocolate milk on the go, in addition to being able to pick up some more-filling items like cheese, smoked salmon, and cold cuts. It was certainly enough to get us through until lunch or a late breakfast, but you may find yourself looking for some scrambled eggs and a Mickey Waffle by morning three.

“Lite Bites,” which is offered from 11:30am through 4pm, represents the weakest offerings of the day.

So weak that I was apparently using manual focus or going a little too artsy on the gummy bears. But there are a few snacks offered – pretzels, chocolate pretzels, granola, Goldfish crackers, M&Ms, and gummy bears.

Crackers with hummus, vegetables with ranch, and chips, in addition to some mostly-inedible breadsticks.

The freshly-baked cookies are a highlight, particularly here with the ginger-molasses.

And a cookie bar.

The soft drinks that are available all day.

The 5pm to 7pm time frame is the highlight at any of Disney’s Club Level Lounges, here with “Contemporary Flavors.” Those flavors include the beer bin being stocked and the arrival of several wines.

While we’re far from the top shelf for the most part and we’re also going to have to ignore the spelling error on the Chappellet entry, these choices are pretty decent.

The “blende” is actually Chappellet’s “Mountain Cuvee” with a retail price of $35/bottle, which is much more than you’ll typically see at the Lounges.

A variety of cheeses along with dried fruits are available nightly.

Celery and Zucchini.

Vegetables underneath along with hummus and ranch.

Along with the salami that we saw at breakfast, in addition to a couple of other options.

Crackers.

Breadsticks.

The rolls with peanut butter and jelly continue to confuse me. As a child, I would have been mortified at the peanut butter touching the jelly. And as an adult, I’d prefer to get my carbs from a bottle of Sam Adams.

Or as a roll with some butter. But not everything is going to appeal to everyone.

But we really enjoyed the feature dishes that switched out nightly, here with a cold Asian noodle salad with seaweed, peppers, and a really refreshing, tangy soy sauce.

That was accompanied by a really flavorful togarashi tuna with a vibrant pink color and a tender texture, here spiced up with some hoisin, onion, and sesame seeds. Very good.

And the chicken teriyaki with vegetable fried rice was even more satisfying. I was impressed by how good everything tasted and was happy to eat enough to make a complete meal out of it.

On another night, we enjoyed a chilled shrimp cocktail with a zesty sauce and crunchy vegetables.

Alongside a refreshing roasted corn and bean salad with tomatoes and avocado.

Sliced steak with roasted potatoes.

And giant cheesy pasta shells to top everything off. Again, it was a nice, hearty meal replacement or would certainly tide you over until a late dinner.

Another night started with a Beet Salad that was probably tasty if you like beets…It was creamy and fresh and most importantly, easy to photograph in its entirety because virtually nobody was interested.

That was accompanied by a tender duck confit with a really refreshing, sweet cranberry relish.

Cheesy rolls.

Salmon and vegetables. Again, this was as good as a regular Disney restaurant offering that would probably cost between $24 and $30 as an entree. And you could eat as much as you wanted at your own pace over the course of the two hours.

And it wouldn’t be Club Level if chicken nuggets weren’t involved, although I was actually a little disappointed that it wasn’t Disney’s standard offering. There was a lot more breading involved and the chicken was dry, in addition to ketchup being the only sauce. Rough times indeed.

Tomato Bisque was offered each night as well.

Overall, I was impressed by Contemporary Flavors and while the offerings were fewer in number than my recent stay at the Beach Club, they were much more worthy of building a meal around. If you were planning on heading to dinner elsewhere, a couple of bites of this and that should be equally enjoyable.

8pm to 10pm brings out another round of goodies in the “Cordials and Mini-Desserts.”

Four options. I missed the Courvoisier that I’ve enjoyed in the past, but these mix nicely with coffee or can be enjoyed straight up.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I poured myself a couple glasses of Rosa Regale here and there as it’s $13 a glass at the likes of Be Our Guest Restaurant. A lot of “value” to be had. All of the wines and beers that were available during Contemporary Flavors were also available.

Our stay was through Halloween and a number of the little desserts were appropriately themed:










It was a pleasant nightcap to the evening and was nice and relaxing with virtually nobody else around.

Particularly with this view.

Club Level stays are obviously not inexpensive. During our 3-night visit, rack rate on a regular Tower Room with a Bay Lake View, which is the least expensive way to stay in the Tower, was $723 per night. Club Level with the same view type on the same night was $944, or $221 more. The value you derive from Club Level depends on a couple of factors, but a big one is going to be the number of people you have on the reservation, in addition to how much you take advantage of the Club Level offerings. Those that drink will get more “value” as will those that visit nightly for hot apps capped off with most of a bottle of Grand Marnier.

With four guests on the reservation, each person needs to come away with about $55 worth of value to make Club Level “worth it.” Since Erin and I visited most days for breakfast, Contemporary Flavors, and cordials, I think we did pretty well for ourselves. But if you’re planning on spending the majority of your time at the Parks, don’t drink, and have dinner reservations, then it’s probably not going to be worth the money. A bonus at the Contemporary is that Atrium Club Level does guarantee your room on the 12th floor, where you’ll find a real view advantage compared to something on the fifth or sixth floors.

We also enjoyed most of the Theme Park View advantages without paying the extra $50/night that it would cost.

Our stay was not without its issues. For one, I don’t think I ever saw the Club Level front desk staff smile. About anything. Or anyone. Ever. Even I occasionally smile at something, even if it’s some sort of involuntary tick.

The Lounge itself was also understaffed. We had left our plates from the Contemporary Flavors portion of the evening around 7pm and returned after 8pm for Cordials to find that our dirty plates etc. were still sitting on the same table. This is not the end of the world obviously, but I think you could reasonably expect plates and empty glasses to be removed at some point over more than an hour’s time.

Here at 5:33pm, there are no forks anywhere on the buffet. Just two sizes of knives.

No glasses for the cordials.

No plates during breakfast.

Three of the four bottles of wine are empty in this picture.

Among other issues. None of those single events would have been a big deal – a group of six people can show up and clean you out of cordial glasses and prosecco. But to find no plates, no silverware, and no wine several times over a short stay, it proved to be a bit annoying considering it’s a $944/night hotel room and others would pay as much as $1295/night if they were visiting over the holidays.

This was also a stay where we returned to the room only to find it crawling with more than a hundred mosquito-like creatures. Erin “called the front desk” who said that the resort was completely booked and they didn’t have any rooms to move us into, but housekeeping would be up along with pest services. Of course, nobody ever showed up. After a half hour, she phoned again and thanks to what the operator called “pixie dust,” we were able to move to an empty room down the hall. Management was not particularly concerned with any of our problems and I would go so far as to say that Glen, the “Guest Experience Manager” for the property, embarrasses himself every time he opens his mouth in front of guests.

But other than the bug problems, incompetent management, and a periodic lack of any means of eating or drinking anything at the Lounge, it was a lovely stay.

I’ll close things out with some pictures from the Lounge’s balcony:















We’ll see how the Polynesian stacks up next month. I’m hoping for better service, though I can’t imagine the views will ever be matched.

Comments

  1. says

    Hopefully you don’t get a room like we did at the Poly. Our room took in water during the normal Floridian thunderstorms, had broken fixtures, really bad touch up paint jobs. Was a total joke, for a resort that was gutted and refurbished, less than 5 years ago.

  2. Gigi says

    We had a similar bug experience several years ago at the Boardwalk. Every time we left the room, we came back to hundreds of love bugs attached to every balcony door and curtain. The first time we called to complain, we were told they were fully booked and that we should use the vacuum cleaner in the closet to suck them up. It took several more calls and several more days before anyone addressed the issue.

  3. Tina M. says

    Thanks for the review. Those pictures from the balcony are AMAZING. Your reviews/saracasm always bring a smile to my face!

  4. CMM says

    I’ve gotten the impression over time that the only on-site hotel staff that give a damn are those at VGF. And part of that is probably because it’s such a small building.

  5. joel says

    I think I would probably take that turkey and salami along with a few croissants and make me some sandwiches to eat for lunch at the theme park. That would probably save 40.00-50.00 right there.

  6. laura says

    I stayed in a lake view garden room the weekend after your stay. We opened the sliding door very briefly to watch the electrical parade float by our room. The next morning when we woke up, there were literally HUNDREDS of bugs all over the walls and ceiling. I can’t believe we weren’t eaten alive during the night. Thankfully we were checking out that day. I felt sorry for mousekeeping. Nobody was getting checked into that room for awhile.

  7. Nina-Marie says

    i”m thinking that for nearly $1000 per night – you could be guaranteed a bug free room. To me that would be a huge problem even though I’m not particularly fastidious about bugs. Once more, than for it to be pretty much blown off to begin with is crazy I wonder if you had stayed at an All-Star for $100/night – it would have been bug free.

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