Bay Lake Tower — Part Two

My “Opening Day” blog about Bay Lake Tower has generated a slew of questions. At the moment, some of them are answered within the comments section of my first blog. After I return home, I’ll publish all of the answers in a final Bay Lake Tower article.

I’m going to start this blog discussing the “Top of the World” lounge on the 16th floor of the resort.

Top of the World

For those of you who don’t remember, the restaurant/lounge that is now the California Grill at the Contemporary use to be named Top of the World. Here guests could be entertained by celebrities and in later years see a show called “Broadway at the Top” while they enjoyed a meal. The new BLT lounge pays homage to the Contemporary by reusing this name.

First, let me give you the current policy as to who may use the Top of the World. Only DVC members staying on points and staying at the Bay Lake Tower, and those staying in the room with them, may use this lounge.

I know this policy delights some and infuriates others. At the moment, Disney does not know what the actual demand for this venue will be, and until that can be ascertained, they’re taking a conservative approach and limiting access. I’m certain that this policy is in flux and we will probably see it change several times before a permanent procedure is settled upon.

Check-in for the Top of the World lounge takes place at a podium in the lobby of BLT. From there, a cast member escorts your party to a special elevator that only stops at the 16th floor. Once there, it’s just a short walk to the lounge.

Top of the World Entrance

These first few pictures are of the bar. The mural is an artist concept drawing that John Hench drew when the Disneyland monorails were in the planning stages. This mural is transparent with a solid backing that can be lowered behind it.

Top of the World Bar

Top of the World Bar

Top of the World Bar

These next pictures are of the lounge area.

Top of the World Lounge

Top of the World Lounge

Top of the World Lounge

Top of the World Lounge

Top of the World Lounge

Top of the World Lounge

Top of the World Lounge

Top of the World Lounge

Here is a picture of Mike and Brucie, two of the full-time bartenders. Both of these fine people will take good care of you when you visit.

Mike & Brucie

To each side of the lounge are large outdoor viewing areas. This is where you’ll want to be in order to get the best view of the fireworks.

Outdoor Viewing Area

Outdoor Viewing Area

Outdoor Viewing Area

Outdoor Viewing Area

Being a long day, I tuckered out at 8 p.m., and have no pyrotechnic photos for you. Until I get some, enjoy the spectacular view.

View from Top of the World

View from Top of the World


The music from the fireworks show is played both in the lounge and out on the viewing area. Take a look at the speaker covers. The music is also available in your room on TV channel 20.

Top of the World Speaker

Although I missed out on the fireworks, take a look at the full arch rainbow we saw over Bay Lake. Believe me, my photo doesn’t do it justice.


While at the Top of the World, we sampled three of the flatbreads offered. One is appropriately called a BLT – Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato. Another contained beef, mushrooms, and onions. And the third had mozzarella cheese and tomatoes. Deb and Donald both thought the BLT was the best. I preferred the beef.



The restrooms that service the lounge have the cutest sinks for children. I hope we see more of this in future locations.

Child's Sink in Restauroom

Now I’m going to move back to my room and fill you in on some details – good and bad.

Let’s start in the living room. This room is designed to sleep three. The sofa and chair both fold out into beds. I have to say, I didn’t find either very comfortable to sit on. However, I’m hoping that they just need to be “broken in,” as my main complaint was that they were “stiff.” The bar stools, on the other hand, were fine.

Living Room Sofa

There is no portable luggage rack in the unit. This could be a problem for guests sleeping and unpacking in the living room. However, there is ample drawer space underneath the TV console.

Living Room Drawers

The drapes have no sheers behind the blackout curtains. I have stayed in a tower room at the Contemporary many times. Believe me, in the late afternoon, you need sheers to defuse the harsh sunlight.


Since the DVC units are basically apartments, the kitchens come completely stocked with cooking utensils and tableware. I love how the dishes have a “modern” look.






All TVs have a connection box that allows you to hook up your camera directly. The living room TV also has a DVD player.

TV/Camera Connection

Both bathrooms have sliding doors. Neither one can be locked. Additionally, the doors do not close tightly. For instance, the bathroom off of the living quarters has a quarter inch gap running from floor to ceiling where the door meets the wall. This allows “private” sounds to easily be heard by those in the unit. This is something that Disney MUST address immediately.

The utility closet is located off of the master bedroom. Here you’ll find an iron and ironing board, vacuum and safe. The safe allows you to enter a personal code rather than swiping a credit card.

Untility Closet


The luggage rack in the master bedroom is built into the furniture and a drawer can be found underneath. Additional drawers are located under the TV console.

Master Bedroom Luggage Rack

Master Bedroom Drawers

High speed internet access is available at the desk in the bedroom. I will check today to see if it is also available in the living quarters. Access is free to members staying on points. All others are charged $9.95 for each 24 hour period.

Internet Access

The clock radio has an iPod docking station.

iPod Docking Station

The duvet cover has Mickey stitched into the design.

Mickey Duvet Cover

The shower head also has a space-age look.

Shower Head

Okay, that’s it for today. I’ll have another installment sometime tomorrow.

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44 Replies to “Bay Lake Tower — Part Two”

  1. probably a silly question–but anyone know if the coffee maker filters in BLT are cone or flat? going for first visit in 2 weeks and can not wait. thanks much in advance!

  2. Beautiful pictures!!

    We just bought into the BLT through DVC and are excited about the full kitchen. We plan to bring some foods with us, but is there a store to buy groceries (milk, bread, etc…) in the Contemporary and if so do you know what the prices are like?

    Thank you!

    Jack’s Answer:

    Located on the fourth floor of the Contemporary (Grand Canyon Concourse) is the Fantasia Market. It sells basic food stuffs like milk, bread, and frozen foods (like pizza). I’ve never priced any of these goods, but I can assure you, they cost more than your local market.

  3. Hello ,
    Can you tell me the square footage of a one bedroom unit

    Jack’s Answer:

    I’m sorry, I really don’t know the square footage of the units. You’ll have contact a DVC representative for that information. But I stayed in a one-bedroom unit and I felt it was extremely spacious. Five people would not feel cramped at all. For more information, check out our Fact Sheet.

  4. Love your photos! Thank you. I am staying at Bay Lake Tower in a 1-Bedroom villa in April. We booked a Bay Lake view. Are there any rooms you would recommend with an almost MK view? Would love to see fireworks from balcony! Any suggestions?

  5. Wow Jack. You’re a one man know it all – in a great way! Thanks so much. Just switched our family to BLT from Grand Floridian because we wanted more room. The place looks gorgeous.

    One question – are the photos you took of a one bedroom? Are the living areas the same size in one, two and three bedrooms? Thanks!

    Jack’s Answer:

    The pictures I took were of a one bedroom unit. However, the living area of a two bedroom is almost identical. The second bedroom is about the same size as the master, however, the bathroom is more “standard” and doesn’t have the whirlpool tub.

  6. Your pictures are always gorgeous! I love the one of MK w/ the rain off in the distance, and the one of the clouds w/ the GF in the background…WOW!

    If you don’t mind me asking, what kind of camera do you have?

    Jack’s Answer:

    I use a Nikon D80 with a Nikor 18-200 zoom lens.

  7. We just wanted to say we are so excited Brucie is going to be working at the Top of the World lounge. We first met her at the Outer Rim bar at the Contemporary, and she was so great we always try to stop and see her when at Disney. We missed her at The Wave’s bar on our last trip, but look forward to seeing her when we stay at BLT in December.

  8. Thank you Jack for all the great info and pictures. My family and I are staying in a Grand Villa with a theme park view in September and just wondered whether all the grand villas were on the top floor and whether you had a view as to which might be the best room to request of those with a MK view.

    Many Thanks

    Jack’s Answer:

    My room was 7720 — with 20 representing the actual room number on a given floor. My view of the MK was excellent. Ask for something in the 20-range.

    Best of luck and have a fantastic vacation.

  9. With check in at the Contemporary then having to drag luggage over to BLT just how “Handicapped friendly” will all this be?
    I am booked for December & am traveling alone with a ECV & my luggage.. I am now worried..
    Did I make a bad choice with BLT?

    Jack’s Answer:

    This isn’t a problem. First the Contemporary Bell Services will unload your luggage and take it the BLT (and your room) for you. If you choose to do it yourself, you can drive over to the entrance of BLT and unload your luggage there. You certainly don’t want to schlep it from one building to the other by yourself.

  10. Thank you Jack for all the great info and pictures – maybe we will do the whole DVC thing one of these days…

    Anyway, I just want to say that you picture of the sunset over the park is AWESOME!

  11. Jack,
    Wonderful pictures thank you. We will be at BLT in a couple of months. The question I have are the prices in the TOW similar to the rest of Disney or a little higher? Also if we have the DDP can it be used at the TOW?

    Jack’s Answer:

    I have a third and final blog coming out later today or tomorrow. In it is a TOW menu and you can decide for yourself about pricing.

    I don’t know if DDP can be used at TOW. Sorry. I know it can’t be used at the pool. However, Tables in Wonderland can be used at TOW.

  12. Jack, out of sheer curiosity if you are staying at BLT and aren’t on the 4th floor, what is the quickest way to get to the monorail? The walkway or just go down and use the main exits/entrances?

    Jack’s Answer:

    Okay, first you need to remember, the Skyway Bridge is located on the 5th floor of Bay Lake Tower and the 4th floor of the Contemporary.

    Since the Skyway connects directly to the south elevator lobby of BLT, it’s always easier to take the elevator from what ever floor you’re on to the 5th floor.

  13. Wonderful photos, as always. Thank you so much for all the time you put into this, and all, of your reports!!

  14. Can the refillable mugs be refilled at the bar by the pool (we will be on the deluxe dining plan) ? It would be a LOOONG walk if we had to refill them at the food court at Contemporary.

    Again thanks for the great photos, video and wonderful blogs you did. We are counting the days (9 to be exact) till we stay at BLT.

    Thanks in advance for your help.


    Jack’s Answer:

    You beat me to the punch. That’s one of the things I was going to discuss in my next BLT blog. But to answer your question, yes, they can.

  15. I just wanted to say I was blown away by your view shots. I especially love the one from the TOW outdoor viewing area, with the animal-ish shaped cloud over space mountain. Thank you for your inspiring pictures.

  16. hey jack-
    thanks for the info on BLT- staying in Nov now i’m nervous about the access to the top of the world lounge – friends and family coming also but staying at other DVC resorts – we were hoping to meet for a drink but sounds like they are being too strict on entry

  17. I have called many times to BLT And Front desk at Contemporary.I have gotten two different answers. That if you are not a DVCM and have a room key to BLT You would be allowed to the TOWL.This statement is from a call today. And from the info you gave me today states the no entry. ( I am a crazy fan of all ears:) ) This is not the the great Disney feeling after spending that amount of money for a room I was expecting. I am a third year APH and have stayed on almost every Dis Property,If you ask me it sounds pretty rude on their part. Who do I call and complain to??? I hope and pray they come to their senses before our trip in Oct. Why would I not stay at a hotel with full access for a less price??!!

    Jack’s Answer:

    I would start by calling your DVC representative. If he or she can’t help you, then ask them who can. Get names and addresses — then write letters. A snail-mail paper letter carries more weight than an email or a phone call.

  18. Hey Jack,
    You said the couch was uncomfortable to sit on. How about the mattress in the couch? How will it sleep? We are coming in September and want to stay in the master bedroom for our first stay at BLT, but we are bringing my grandparents, who will insist on us staying in the master bedroom, but I’m afraid the pull out couch will not be comfortable for them. What do you think?

    Jack’s Answer:

    I wish I could answer your question, but I never slept on the sofabed. But I can tell you that the real mattress was great.

  19. May sound like a silly question but, we are excitedly planning for out trip to BLT 10/17/09-10/26/09 and regarding the coffee maker; can i use filters and loose grounds to make my coffee? I know it sounds silly but any coffee drinker will understand. Love your blogs and pix. We’ll be staying in a studio.

    Jack’s Answer:

    Yes. You can use a paper filter and loose grounds. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I have brewed a pot or two in my time.

  20. How do you do it??? Capture the true essence of whatever you are writing about. Your pictures make me feel like I am right in the midst of the action or tagging right along with you!! As always, thanks for an informative, up to the minute account of this opening. Too much for us. However, we felt like we “stayed” through this blog. Thanks.

  21. Hello again Jack,I was wondering why they talked about limited access and they said nothing about it being a bar lounge.Im okay with having the lounge setup since I would be a regular.My only problem would be those parents who feel everyone else should control there kids like I expierenced at the california grill and another roof top lounge in a downtown Disney resort a few times.I have 3 children but they know proper ediquette.

    Jack’s Comment:

    I’m sorry you had a bad experience at the California Grill. It’s always a shame when something interfers with a special evening or event.

    The Top of the World is open to families. I’ve been there two nights now and have not experienced any problems. Everything has been perfect.

    I wish you better luck in the future.

  22. Thanks for the info on day 1, I look forward to reading more about BLT. I will be staying there in Oct. and am really anxious now!

  23. I’m loving this blog! The Contemporary has been our favorite resort to date because we love modern, clean architecture (even the retro-modern feel of the old tower). The new BLT looks heavenly. I love the ‘Top of the World’ lounge name and how it kicks back to the old days at the Contemporary. My grandparents vacationed at WDW when I was little and they have fond memories of seeing one of their favorite musicians perform there (and how gracious the man was when he went table to table to introduce himself to every guest). Kudos to the Disney gang on this beautiful accomplishment. I’m beyond words at seeing all these incredible pictures! Thank you so much for your report!

  24. I was just wondering if you need to be a vacation club member to stay at a standard room in Bay Lake Tower.

  25. Thank you so much for taking time to keep us informed
    hope you are enjoying your trip

    if you have time could you check out the different views or if they have a resort map with the details on it

    we have a standard 1 bedroom booked so just wondering where it will be

    Jack’s Answer:

    I looked around for a floor plan of the BLT but didn’t find one — and I just didn’t have the time to inquire over at the Contemporary. I suggest you check with your DVC representative or central reservations.

  26. Thanks for posting all of the photos! Also, the tip about staying high up as possible really helps. My very generous parents are taking us to BLT in January and managed to get MK view so we are very excited! Thanks again!

  27. Are the flat bread you sampled similar to the ones available at California Grill? They look delicious. Will be staying at BLT 8/16 through 8/23, Lake View. Will there be any lake view rooms where we can see the fireworks from the balcony?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  28. For those intersted in the “proper” nomenclature, it’s referred to as the TOW, Top of the World, not the TWL. I worked in the Contemporary from ’77 – ’84 during my 25 year career at the Mouse and I had to think about what the person that phrased it that way was talking about. The original TOW had a 16 piece big band lead by Bob Cross and featured star talent that usually performed for two weeks at a time. Broadway at the Top was the second iteration of shows presented and was just as wonderful as having the “Stars” perfrom. The current ‘cast’ refers to it as the TOW now as it was so named in the past.

    Does anyone remember the Monorail Club Car Lounge on the 4th floor of the tower? Just about as wide and as long as a typical monorail car. Wonderful little hole in the wall lounge!

    The hours for the TOW are currently 5pm – midnight, 7 days a week. Persons of all ages are welcome. Try not to sit at the bar with the kiddies though, that doesn’t quite look right. The bar at the pool is open during the day for those seeking frosty libations.

    225 rooms checked in on opening day. It’s supposed to be at 100% occupancy this weekend. The view from the “TOP” is not to be missed with open air and air conditioned viewing of the fireworks and the parks/hotels/surroundings.

  29. According to, *anyone* staying in a room reserved by a DVC member with points (e.g., people who rent points) may also access the Top of the World Lounge – not just DVC members and people in the room with them.

    “Access to the lounge and deck is available only to Disney Vacation Club Members who are staying at Bay Lake Tower using their Membership, guests staying in the room with that Member, and guests who are staying in a room reserved by a DVC Member with Vacation Points.”

    Jack’s Answer:

    The policy for the Top of the World lounge changed several times before opening. We were difinately told that the member MUST be staying in the room in order for their guest to gain access. Guests of members staying on member points, without a member also staying there, are not granted access at this time. But as I said in my blog, this policy is bound to be ammended as time progresses.

  30. When you say, “Check-in for the Top of the World lounge takes place at a podium in the lobby of BLT…”

    What exactly did “check-in” entail? What did they ask for? KTTW card + Blue Member Card, or was KTTW with “DVC Member” on it enough?

    Jack’s Answer:

    All I was required to show the cast member at check-in was my room key. Your key indicates wheater or not you’re a member. I am not a member, but since I was staying in a room with a member, my room card says “DVC Member.” If a member had made the reservation for me but was NOT staying in the room with me, my key would say something like “non-member” and I would not have been granted access.

    No reservations are required or accepted for the Top of the World lounge. However, there is a maximum capacity and you could be turned away if it has been reached. This will probably only be a problem right before the fireworks start.

  31. Jack — Thanks for the great pictures ! I know I need to make a trip to the 16th floor when we are there at least to take some great pictures if nothing else. Great information too.

  32. The Top of the World lounge looks fantastic! Question for you…we are DVC members staying on a cash ressie at the end of the month (used all our points for SSR ressie later in the trip, but extended a few nights in the beginning to stay at BLT!). Will we be able to use the Top of the World lounge? We are keeping our fingers crossed!!

    Great blog and awesome pictures! Thanks!

    Jack’s Answer:

    Current policy states that you MUST be staying on points to use the lounge. But like I said, This could change. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you too.

  33. Thanks for a great report. I am also a BLT owner and my first visits are on Aug. 27th in a one bedroom lake view and in Sept. with a one bedroom Magic Kingdom view.

    I also wanted to comment on the new age music that has been mentioned in previous posts. The album “Natural States” by David Lanz and Paul Speer has the song “Behind the Waterfall”. Also, the music playing on the train in the Magic Kingdom as it passes Space Mountain is called “Down to the Moon” by Andreas Vollenweider (a new age harpist). If you like that kind of music then I can also recommend David Arkenstone “Citizen ot Time”.

  34. Jack,
    Thanks for taking the time out of your vacation to report to all of us here who wish they were where you are right now.
    We had a tour of BLT during our “Vacation as You Wish” presentation.
    It is breathtaking to say the least.
    Hopefully one day I can stay there! Don’t own there, wish I did, economy is bad now……..
    but I can wish, isn’t that what DISNEY is all about.
    Again, thanks Jack!

  35. Thank you very much for all the information, especially the tip about asking for a high floor.
    The lounge area looks great! Is it only open during the fireworks?

    Jack’s Answer:

    The Top of the World is open from 5pm until midnight — last call at 11:45.



  37. Love the photos and info!!!! We check into a two bedroom villa on 8-16. Can hardly wait since seeing all BLT has to offer! Thanks again for the wonderful tour!

  38. Hello
    Thank you for your wonderful reporting. You are by far my favorite.

    We are family members of DVC members and will be staying on points. Will we be able to acess the TWL? Do you make a reservation for TWL when you check in, for a certian night? Is there a playground?

    Thank you so much for considering answering my questions.

    Jack’s Answer:

    Current policy states that unless the member is staying in the room with you, you cannot access the Top of the World lounge. When you check-in, a cast member checks your room key and will be able to determine if you’re eligible to go up. Sorry.

  39. The photo of the sunset with the castle, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and the Astro Orbiter in the foreground is breathtaking. Looks the views from the tower are quite something! Enjoy your time at the tower!

  40. Love the pictures Jack! One question, the master bath shower looks like there is a shower head in the ceiling, like a “rainfall” type shower. Are there two shower heads or is the ceiling unit a light fixture? Just curious. Have a fabulous stay!

    Jack’s Answer:

    You’re right! That is an overhead showerhead. I wouldn’t have noticed if you hadn’t pointed it out to me. Thanks.

  41. Awesome photos!!!! Thanks for the wonderful tour. We’re staying in a one bedroom the 21-25. Should we make any special requests?

    Jack’s Answer:

    The only think I can suggest is to request a floor as high as possible. But of course, everyone is doing the same thing. The earlier you check-in, the better your chances.

  42. Fabulous reporting as usual!!

    I love the pint sized sink in that bathroom. My 4 year old son loves when we go to the family restrooms in nearby mall that have little sinks and little pottys so he can be independent. I agree I wish I saw more of these.

    That does bring me to my question, since TOW lounge is a lounge/bar are there are specific rules about children being there during certain times or anything like that? Mine boys are 2 and 4 so we’d probably want to go see it but would likely opt for the firework view in our room instead at this point.

    Jack’s Answer:

    Families are welcome at the Top of the World. The only restriction is that children should be discouraged from sitting at the bar.