Disney World Fun For Free, Part 3 of 3: Hotel Hopping




Today’s blog, our 3rd and final in the series on fun for free in Disney World, is coming to you via Blogger’s iPhone app. This is because the hotel we’re currently staying in not only doesn’t provide Internet for free, but also the Internet costs are a bit confiscatory. I won’t call them out, because they do offer free wifi if I sign up for their rewards program, though that’s something I just don’t want to do. Instead I’ll slog through typing an entire blog on a 2″ by 1″ keyboard and see how this new word suggestion feature on the iPhone really works. So if things look a little different with our blog or email you know why, and (of course) if you see a misspelling or typo, it’s the iOS word suggester and autocorrect.
Our third and final “fun for free” Disney World activity is to go hotel hopping. Disney World’s resort hotels are sights to see all by themselves, and you don’t even have to stay in them. To make hotel hopping even more fun, the Disney people give us great ways to get around between them.
We’re talking mainly about the hotels surrounding the original Magic Kingdom park. That most popular of all theme parks is connected to three of those hotels and what’s called the Ticket and Transportation center, a hub connecting you to the parking lot, connecting monorail service to Epcot, and busses waiting to wisk you off to every corner of Disney World. Naturally it’s those 3 hotels, plus one more, that we’re interested in.
Here’s what to do. Start by driving into Disney World and heading to the Magic Kingdom area. As you approach the parking lot toll booths, go to the right most booth; tell the attendant you’re headed to the Contemporary. They might ask if you’re a guest; there’s no need to lie, tell them you’re going to get a drink or that you plan to eat (you will be, if you follow our recommendations). I imagine you’d get waved on through even if you just said you wanted to go hotel hopping. Head to the Contemporary, and as you park you’ll pass through another guard shack. Here they’ll ask if you’re a guest or checking in (again, no problem if you’re not), but this time they’ll probably also ask to see your driver’s license.
The Contemporary: it’s one of Disney World’s original hotels, it’s iconic A-frame design with monorails passing through its soaring atrium, envisioned by Walt himself. Head up to the 4th level and wander around, ogling open-mouthed at the atrium. Shop at any of the souvenir shops, grab a coffee if it’s the morning, or a drink if it’s in the evening. Don’t miss the murals on both sides of the structure in the middle of the atrium where the elevators are. If it’s time for fireworks at the Magic Kingdom, you can view them just outside the north end of the atrium on the 4th floor. Once you’ve been successfully awed at the Contemporary, find the escalator to board the monorail and head to the…
Polynesian Resort: the other of the original resort hotels at the Magic Kingdom, this island-themed resort couldn’t be more different than the Contemporary. Wander around then lobby (if you’ve been there before, the jungle and water falls are, sadly, gone) before heading out to the pool area (which was being completely renovated when we visited in February). Walking all the way down to the beach on Bay Lake, you’ll find an awesome spot to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Enjoy an umbrella drink at the pool bar, or if you’re hungry, try and get a table at the Kona Cafe, our daughter’s favorite Disney World restaurant. Return to the monorail and continue to the…
Grand Floridian: this beautiful hotel was added a dozen or so years after the opening of Disney World. Intended to evoke the Victorian era hotels built in Florida by barons of industry from the Northeast, it’s historically the most expensive of all hotels to stay or dine at. We’ve always joked that we come to see how all the rich people vacation, and true to our budget and sustainable style of travel, it’s the only hotel of the four in our hotel-hopping itinerary that we’ve never stayed at. Wander around the grand lobby and atrium, checking the nooks and crannies for old pictures and bird cages and great little conversation corners. Be sure to look around the other levels. If you come at Christmas time, you might be treated to roasted chestnuts. If you’ve got time and it’s not raining, head out toward the beach for a walk before returning to the monorail. 
Return to the Contemporary, find your way outside to walk past the pool toward the lake, and take a boat to…
The Wilderness Lodge: our favorite Disney hotel, it’s a sprawling complex looking like a log cabin with another soaring atrium lobby. Inside that lobby, study the carvings on the columns and warm yourself by the fire (unless of course it’s a “90/90” Florida summer at 90 degrees and 90% humidity). For an extra-special breakfast, or BBQ lunch or dinner, try to get a table at The Whispering Canyon Cafe (remember: always ask for catsup). Head outside and wander around the pool area, styled like a natural stream and springs. Grab a drink at the pool bar and find out when (and where) the geyser goes off next. Find the beach area: with any luck, you’ll get to roast marshmallows. When you’re ready to go, hop back on a boat and return to the Contemporary.
That wraps up our Disney World hotel-hopping tour, as well as our 3-blog series on fun for free at Disney World. Sorry there’s few pictures: the iPhone Blogger app appears to have some deficiencies in this regard, so we’ll blog some of our Disney hotel pictures in a future blog. Other than taking over an hour to write this blog, typing on the iPhone and using the autocorrect and word suggestion has worked prettiest well, doner you stink?

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