Tempo Bay / The Contemporary Resort


General View from Bay Lake with Space Mountain in the background
(c) The Walt Disney Company

Disney's Contemporary Resort was one of the original hotels on opening day at Walt Disney World Resort in October 1971. The connection with Walt Disney's original E.P.C.O.T is that it's an architectural and conceptual interpretation of the central urban towering hotel and an additional building both planned for the so-called domed city.

// ORIGINAL CONCEPTS


On the conceptual drawings, the urban hotel was designed as a glass tower with a transportation hub in the lower levels. The hub would have included monorails and peoplemovers.

With the city phased out of Walt Disney World in the late 60's, there was no need for the urban center hotel as a 30 stories tower which would have been constructed in the middle of nothing, just in a wildlife setting twice the size of Manhattan. But Disney at the time did not phased out all of Walt's early concepts.

Conceptual drawings by architect George Rester, 1968.
(c) The Walt Disney Company

Therefore, a building already present in early drawings was inspirational for the construction. This building is believed to have been designed originaly as a shopping complex between the city center and the green belt. On the concept art above, you can clearly see the hotel building and the huge city center behind where the cosmopolitan hotel and the enclosed shopping center were located. It was decided to keep the very basic design of the building and to turn it into the original flagship resort hotel of the Disney property.

Contemporary Resort Concept Art by George McGinnis, 1969.
(c) The Walt Disney Company

The hotel, first knowed as "Tempo Bay Hotel" was to feature a modern and futuristic look and to include a transportation hub in its lower level in the form of a monorail line going litteraly through the building.

Contemporary Resort Model
(c) Welton Becket Associates

Contemporary Resort Model
(c) Welton Becket Associates

Contemporary Resort Model
(c) Welton Becket Associates


// CONSTRUCTION AND OPENING

The most prominent of the hotel's buildings is the Contemporary Tower, built as an A-frame with outer walls which slope inwards around an inner atrium. This design was a collaboration by Disney, the United States Steel Corporation, and Los Angeles architect Welton Becket. To construct it, steel frames were erected on site and modular pre-constructed rooms were lifted into place by crane. Approximately 500 guest rooms line the outer walls of this building. Room renovation should have been a simple matter of replacing modules when refurbishment was needed; however, it was found that the modules settled and became stuck in place, rendering them irremovable. Most of Disney's Polynesian Resort was built this way also.

The Contemporary Tower houses most of the resort's key facilities, including resort registration and guest services (concierge). The main hall, named the Grand Canyon Concourse, is also located in the main Tower, and houses two restaurants and a variety of shops. The Walt Disney World Monorail System runs through the inside of this building, providing a monorail station here for resort guests. Also adorning the concourse walls is an enormous mosaic designed by Mary Blair.

Construction Photos, 1969-70
(c) United States Steel Corporation / The Walt Disney Company

Construction Photos, 1969-70
(c) United States Steel Corporation / The Walt Disney Company

Construction Photos, 1969-70
(c) United States Steel Corporation / The Walt Disney Company

Construction Photos, 1969-70
(c) United States Steel Corporation / The Walt Disney Company

Construction Photos, 1969-70
(c) United States Steel Corporation / The Walt Disney Company

Construction Photos, 1969-70
(c) United States Steel Corporation / The Walt Disney Company


Press articles on the Contemporary Resort construction
Unknown sources.

Contemporary Resort Construction & Promotional Video, 1971
(c) United States Steel Corporation / The Walt Disney Company

Contemporary Resort , "The Magic of Walt Disney World - 1971
(c) United States Steel Corporation / The Walt Disney Company

// GALLERY

(c) The Walt Disney Company

(c) The Walt Disney Company

(c) The Walt Disney Company

(c) The Walt Disney Company

(c) The Walt Disney Company