A Look at Bay Lake Tower At Disney’s Contemporary Resort With Kelly

Bay Lake Tower
Photo: Disney

This week Kelly takes us along as she looks at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort in the Walt Disney World Resort.

When I was a child I was mystified by Disney’s Contemporary Resort. All I kept thinking was that a building that had a monorail going through it seemed to be way too technologically advanced to be real, and that I could spend all day riding the monorail through the resort.

Bay Lake Tower
Walkway connecting Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower.
Photo: Betsy Bates

When I became a Disney Vacation Club member they were in the process of building Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and I couldn’t wait to see the expansion on the Contemporary.

Bay Lake Tower
View of Bay Lake from Bay Lake Tower
Photo: Betsy Bates

I was able to do a walkthrough of a mock room at Saratoga Springs, and I loved the design aesthetic that had been chosen for this resort as soon as I walked through the door. It made me think of the exit ramp at Space Mountain and what I pictured the advertised resorts on “Mars” or “Saturn” may look like. While it was certainly close to what I envisioned, it ended up being so much more.

Bay Lake Tower Room

Once the opening date was set I booked a room and since that first visit, I have been back a few times. While Bay Lake Tower is a fairly small Disney Vacation Club Property with just over 400 rooms, the building is huge and filled with beautiful and fun Disney touches and artwork.

I find that I don’t stay at Bay Lake Tower very often, because I tend to stay away from the Magic Kingdom resort area and I prefer more on-site amenities in my resort.

Bay Lake Tower
Bay Lake Tower Pool Area from the Resort.
Photo: Betsy Bates

I recommend this resort for people who are going to spend the majority of their time at the Magic Kingdom (or Epcot as it is accessible by monorail through the TTC). This resort is also fantastic for those who can’t live without Wishes, the nighttime firework display at the Magic Kingdom. The soundtrack for the show plays in all Bay Lake Tower resort rooms as well as up on the top floor in the Top Of The World Lounge. It’s a fantastic way to end those magical days. 

My three tips for enjoying Bay Lake Tower:

Bay Lake Tower
Photo: Betsy Bates
Bay Lake Tower
Photo: Betsy Bates

Tip 1: Have an early dinner at the Wave restaurant in the Contemporary Resort before heading to Top Of The World for appetizers and drinks afterwards. My recommendations: Bay Lake Sunset (vanilla vodka, coconut rum, pineapple juice, and grenadine) with an order of soft pretzels with dips to share as you watch the fireworks from the lounge

Bay Lake Tower
Photo: Betsy Bates

Tip 2: When booking, request a room near the causeway. As there are limited amenities in Bay Lake Tower itself, it’s nice to be able to walk quickly over to the Contemporary for quick snacks and sundries

Tip 3: Try to plan an evening while staying here to just relax in the room. Community Hall has board games you can rent for free as a dvc member, so grab a game and relax and enjoy the ambiance of your room. 

Bay Lake Tower
Photo: Disney

Have you stayed at Bay Lake Tower? What are some of your favorite tips for staying at this Disney Vacation Club Resort?

 

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Million Dollar Arm: A Baseball Fan’s View

million dollar armThe crack of the bat, the sweet aroma of freshly mowed grass, the crisp baselines. These are just a few of the things that make me absolutely love our nation’s pastime, baseball. When I heard Disney was going to be releasing another baseball movie, Million Dollar Arm, but this one with Jon Hamm, I was more than a little excited. The combination of my favorite sport and one of my favorites actors set my sights on this May release. From the first time I saw the previews, I was hooked.

For those who aren’t familiar with the story, Million Dollar Arm tells the story of sports agent J.B. Bernstein and his quest to find a baseball player from the untapped market in India. With the help of an investor to back the contest, J.B. (played by Jon Hamm) travels to India to ideally find cricket players to become the next pitchers in Major League Baseball. The movie is one that explores the idea of family, what is most important in life, and do the ends justify the means. While that may sound rather heavy for a Disney film about baseball, Million Dollar Arm addresses them all in a humorous, but poignant manner.

I like the way in which J.B. bonds with the two boys he brings over from India, Rinku and Dinesh, and their translator and wannabe coach, Amit. After a few mishaps due to cultural differences, J.B. ends up taking them in. The game of baseball is the vehicle through which the story develops of the boys and their relationship with J.B. As Dinesh and Rinku have never played baseball before, don’t speak English when they arrive in America, and come from a very different lifestyle in India, you can imagine that it is not an easy journey for these young men.

Million Dollar Arm is a welcome addition to the canon of baseball films in my collection. I like the correlations to other sports related movies like Jerry Maguire, Rudy, Hoosiers, Remember the Titans and The Rookie. It isn’t so much about the destination with this movie, as most know, or at least can predict what happens, but it is more about the journey. Even my mom, who isn’t the biggest baseball fan loved this film. It is heartfelt, funny, and has a good amount of baseball references. In the end, the journey is as much J.B.’s as it is that of the boys he brought to this country. Million Dollar Arm hits all the right notes for an enjoyable family film for the baseball fan.

Have you seen Million Dollar Arm yet? Where does it fit in your ranking of baseball films? This one falls in the upper half for me. It isn’t quite up there with The Pride of the Yankees, Bull Durham, The Sandlot, Field of Dreams or A League of Their Own. I like it much better than the already likable The Rookie, one of Disney’s other forays into the baseball world. Check out this film if you’re a fan of baseball, Jon Hamm or Bollywood.

 

httpv://youtu.be/mvFm-RWxZS8

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Star Wars Weekends: June 6-8, 2014

Star Wars Weekends 2014

Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is well under way, and with so many great things happening during this special event I thought I would summarize what you will find going on!

Admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios is required for Star Wars Weekends, and availability is limited for some events so get to your destination early! Also listen for updates throughout the day as events may be cancelled at any time!

Star Wars Weekends: June 6-8, 2014

Check out the Star Wars Weekend Guide

for June 6-8, 2014 here.

Scheduled Celebrity Appearances

A highlight of Star Wars Weekends is having the chance to get an autograph from an actual Star Wars Celebrity around Echo Lake! Be warned though, this is not something everyone will be able to do so make sure you choose your celebrity wisely and get there extremely early!

Disney FASTPASS Ticket Required 
An extremely limited number of FASTPASS tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first served basis at the main entrance to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, to the right of the turnstiles. Based on demand, distribution may begin prior to Park opening. Please note: You must have a FASTPASS ticket to receive an autograph.

To receive a FASTPASS ticket:

  • Join the line of the celebrity you would most like to meet. You may not save a place in line for other party members.
  • While in line, you will receive a wristband. Your wristband along with your theme park ticket or pass will entitle you to receive one autograph FASTPASS ticket. Only one autograph FASTPASS ticket will be distributed per Guest. Each Guest must be present to receive a FASTPASS ticket. You may not get FASTPASS tickets for other members of your party.

After receiving your FASTPASS ticket, continue to wear your wristband. You will need to be wearing your wristband to get an autograph.

 

Your FASTPASS ticket will have a designated autograph return time. Until that time, you may enjoy other Star Wars Weekends activities. At your designated time, proceed to the Celebrity Autograph Location at Echo Lake to show your wristband and present your FASTPASS ticket.

 

Once FASTPASS tickets for visiting celebrities are distributed, we may distribute a limited number of “stand-by” tickets with a return time. “Stand-by” tickets do not guarantee you an autograph.

 

Please note: Receiving a FASTPASS ticket for an autograph at Star Wars Weekend will not restrict you from reserving access with FastPass+ for additional attractions, entertainment and more at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The Star Wars Weekends celebrities for June 6-8, 2014 are:

  • Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker – Star Wars: Episode IV: A New HopeStar Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes BackStarWars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi)(Darth Bane – Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
  • Ray Park (Darth Maul – Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace)
  • Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian – Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes BackStar Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi)
  • Taylor Gray (Ezra Bridger – Star Wars Rebel)

Character Meet and Greets

Wordless Wednesday Star Wars Weeekends

In addition to an awesome variety of Star Wars Characters that you can find walking throughout the Star Wars Weekends crowds, you can find special meet and greets at the following locations:

  • Meet Disney Pals as Star Wars Stars in Darth’s Mall
  • Meet the Heroes of the Clone Wars Near the Premiere Theater
  • Meet the Dark Side near Darth’s Mall
  • Meet Members of the Jedi Council near Premiere Theater
  • Meet Members of the Rebel Alliance Near Star Tours® – The Adventures Continue

Entertainment

Star Wars Weekends Stage

Throughout Star Wars Weekends there are some AMAZING opportunities to interact with characters, participate in great shows, and see fireworks that will blow your mind!

  • Stormtroopers at the Gate – Hollywood and Vine Intersection: Watch out for this duo, as their mission is to keep the ‘Rebel Scum’ in line.

  • Boba Fett Patrol: Boba Fett patrols the Star Wars Weekends Event Stage, and this is your chance to get up close and talk to the universe’s most relentless bounty hunter.

  • Stormtrooper Patrol: In addition to Boba Fett, you can find Stormtroopers patrolling and guarding the Star Wars Weekends Event Stage. They might ask you a few questions, so be cool!

  • Legends of the Force:  Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade – 11:30 am: The Legends of the Force: Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade is filled with Star Wars celebrities, characters, and lots & lots of Stormtroopers! The motorcade begins at the front of Disney’s Hollywood Studios and makes its way to the Star Wars Weekends Event Stage with an awesome welcome and photo opportunity.

  • DJ Lobot Dance Party – 7:00 pm: Dance to the tunes that DJ Lobot is spinning in front of the Star Wars Weekends Event Stage.
  • Symphony in the Stars – 9:30 pm: If you haven’t seen fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you are missing out! This year Hyperspace Hoopla (I am crying as I type this) has been replaced with this spectacular fireworks show, and if you have ‘Glow with the Show’ ears you are going to want to bring them along!

  • Padawan Mind Challenge – 1:00 pm, 2:15 pm, 4:15 pm, and 6:30 pm: Younglings ages 4-11 will enjoy the Padawan Mind Challenge where your intergalactic hosts ask some fun and interactive Star Wars trivia challenges with a few surprises.

  • Jedi Training Academy – 8:45 am, 9:20 am, 10:05 am, 11:00 am, 12:30 pm, 1:00 pm, 1:30 pm, 2:00 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:00 pm, 3:30 pm, 4:00 pm, 4:30 pm, 5:00 pm, 5:30 pm, 6:30 pm, 7:00 pm, and 7:30 pm: Kids under 12 can hone their lightsaber skills at the Jedi Training Academy with extra opportunities than normal during Star Wars Weekends. 

Celebrity Presentations

Star Wars Weeekends

During Star Wars Weekends, the Premiere Theater plays home to some exceptional experiences that include the celebrities visiting the celebration for the weekend.

Make sure that you check to see if there are any FastPass+ available for the following shows!

Some of the scheduled presentations include:

  • Behind the Force – Star Wars:  Rebels – 1:45 pm
    Ashley Eckstein, who is the voice behind Ahsoka Tano, and special guests give a behind-the-scenes “sneak peek” of the upcoming TV show Star Wars: Rebels.

  • Stars of the Saga – 3:30 pm
    James Arnold Taylor, the Star Wars Weekends 2014 host, and special guests share 30 minutes look into the fascinating lives and movie-making adventures with some of the stars from the Star Wars saga. It’s a talk-show format that is full of fun and surprises!

  • Stormtrooper Pre-Show
    Make sure you head to the Premiere Theater15 minutes prior to Stars of the Saga for a unique and immersive pre-show featuring several Imperial Stormtroopers on a special assignment. I always make sure to get to the Theater early to catch this!!!

  • Visit to the Maul starring Ray Park – 5:15
    Learn film and martial arts techniques from the actor who brought Darth Maul to life – the man, the Sith, the legend…Ray Park.  In this unique presentation, the martial arts master performs impressive demonstrations as he reveals his journey to action-star fame.
  • Obi-Wan and Beyond starring James Arnold Taylor – 7:00 pm
    James Arnold Taylor, from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, gives us a glimpse into the world of voice acting. James performs over 200 popular and iconic characters, and Zoe LOVES this show!

Special Food and Beverage Options

What would a special event at Walt Disney World be without special food and beverage offerings???

httpv://youtu.be/DRiz6NSEFwk

Star Wars Weekends have some pretty awesome ones this year that are only available during event weekends!

  • Darth Vader Cupcake: Available at Sunset Ranch Market, ABC Commissary, Backlot Express, Studio Catering Company, Pizza Planet Arcade and Darth’s Mall

  • Yoda Cupcake: Available at Backlot Express, Starring Rolls and Darth’s Mall

  • Darth Vader Souvenir Popcorn Bucket with Caramel or Regular Popcorn: Available at Popcorn Carts and Darth’s Mall

  • Stormtrooper Souvenir Mug with Fountain Beverage: Available at Sunset Ranch Market, ABC Commissary, Backlot Express, Studio Catering Company, Pizza Planet Arcade

  • Admiral Ackbar’s Snackbar in Darth’s Mall featuring a variety of snacks and refreshments.

Throughout Disney’s Hollywood Studios you will find additional food, beverage, and alcoholic beverage locations have been added. 

Merchandise

Star Wars Weekends 2014 Darth's Mall

Star Wars Weekends event merchandise can be found in Darth’s Mall sponsored by HP which will be located between Toy Story Mania and the Studios Backlot Tour this year.

Again, be prepared for some crazy lines!!! But the treasures inside are worth the wait!

Once inside you will find limited edition pins, specialty gift cards, artwork, collectibles, and commemorative apparel for the entire family!

In addition to Star Wars Weekends logo’ed items, you will also find the Her Universe line of apparel by Ashley Eckstein.

Star Wars Weekends 2014

I know that we are all stoked about Star Wars Weekends, and can’t wait to share all of the fun! So make sure you are following our adventures on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!

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