Being a Disney Vacation Club Member has tons of perks! Whether it’s the simple fact that we get to make forever memories at Walt Disney World year after magical year as a family or enjoy various events planned for members while visiting, we have never had a single regret about “joining the club.” Just recently, Hubby and I took advantage of one of those pixie-dusted perks. In an effort to end our little family Disney vacation on a special note, Hubby planned a secret little “sneakaway” for the two of us. He surprised me with a trip up Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort to visit Top of the World Lounge. “What is this?,” you say? Ah – let the exploring commence!!
Disclaimer #1 All expenses for this evening were self-paid. This post was not requested, nor compensated for its publication.
TOP OF THE WORLD LOUNGE
So ~ where is this fabulous place and why is it one of Disney’s best kept secrets?
Top of the World Lounge is an exclusive area designed and designated for Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members and guests within their traveling party. The mid-modern restaurant and viewing deck sit on the 16th floor of Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort (just as California Grill does at the resort across the Skyline bridge), making it a prime location to watch the fireworks at night. The venue offers a light menu and has an elegant bar and limited seating, which tends to fill up VERY fast about an hour or so before the Magic Kingdom fireworks begin.
How does one access the Top of the World Lounge?
Ah ~ yes, the million dollar question. Well, this one is a little tricky. Some people swear by the rules and others say they can be bent from time to time. However, this is what I know as a first timer.
In order to gain access to the lounge, there must be at least one DVC member within the group and the party must be currently staying at a DVC Resort.
Well, that clears us. We were just coming off our staycation at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, so we qualified. Phew! Because this place has been on my bucket list for over a year!
At the lobby level elevator, Guests check in with the Cast Member standing there to ensure that the “rules” are followed. Once permission has been granted, Guests are then escorted into the elevator and begin the 16 floor ascension to the top of the resort. At the top, it was a quick turn to the left and then right to find the ultimate destination.
CHECK OUT THE VIEW!
As someone who likes to scout out the surroundings far in advance, we did arrive extremely early. Call me crazy – it’s okay. But, along with being able to familiarize myself with my new environment, I was also afforded the opportunity to snap some photos without having to dodge heads and body parts.
Of course, before entering the inside portion of the lounge, Hubby and I noticed that the entire area surrounding it was open air, providing ample room for Guests to find a spot before the evening display. This fascinated me and I loved the view. However, it kind of freaked Hubby out a little. Yeah ~ and I’m going to get a tongue-lashing for this one ~ my strong retired army officer is a little bit hesitant when it comes to heights. I mean, he can ride roller coasters and he has no issues with The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction. He LOVES Avatar: Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. In fact, he was qualified Airborne when he was in the military. However, when it comes to approaching a ledge? His entire body language screams apprehension. He literally repels whenever he reaches any closer than 20 feet from the edge.
Is it cruel of me to say it’s quite cute to watch?
In any case, Hubby stood back and let me do my thing. I was cautiously hesitant myself, but I still walked over there to see what I could. I mean, I needed to snap those landscape photos of the area. Right?
Check out this Facebook live video I shot at this point of our night…Can you see the pockets of rain in the distance?
Heading back inside
After my thirst for the perfect photographs was quenched (at least temporarily), we made our way inside to see what was on the menu. While inside, we had the chance to chat with the Cast Members a little and figure out a game plan for the rest of the evening. At that point, since it was very early, it was rather quiet ~ maybe one or two other Guests were there. Three Cast Members were working, one of whom was a gentleman named Ryan. Stay tuned ~ I’ll share quite a bit about him later in the post.
We took a quick look at the menu and were actually very intrigued. The selections included small plates, a few heartier options if you haven’t had dinner and some very tempting drink offerings. They even had a few dessert options, one of which had my husband salivating as soon as he saw the words “seven layer cake.”
Buuuuut ~ we weren’t ready to indulge yet. No ~ we still had some time and there was more exploring to do.
LET’S TAKE A LITTLE DETOUR
So, since we were sooo early, we descended from the “heavens” to find something else to keep us occupied for a short while. We had contemplated jumping over to Magic Kingdom (literally just a hop, skip and a jump away from the resort), but instead decided to be creative ~ and I say that with as much strength as I can muster.
What did we do?
Well, everyone loves to ride the monorail. So, Hubby thought it would be hilarious to see how long it would take to get around the entire Magic Kingdom Resort Monorail loop. Yes ~ sit in the monorail car and ride around the entire loop just to find out how long it takes to get back to the starting point.
I’m such a lucky girl to have found him. I know you’re all jealous.
Actually, I say that, but it really was an interesting adventure. Hubby gets giddy and funny when we do things like this and it does make me laugh, which just makes for a better memory of the evening together. Right? So, he actually used the stopwatch on his cellphone to record how long each stretch of the trip took ~ counting each stop as a lap.
Do you know how long it took us?
10 minutes? 20 minutes? 30 minutes?
It took us 26:53.79 minutes! But – we’re fairly confident this was not the norm. For some reason, there was a fairly long delay when we were stopped at the Transportation and Ticket Center. We have no idea what the hold up was, but we’re certain it affected the length of time.
For sure, this is not a precise science. Hubby calls it “Disney Science,” but…..okay…we’ll just leave it as that.
RETURNING TO THE LOUNGE
We made our way back up to Top of the World Lounge around 7:30 PM. It was still light outside, it was still not crowded and we had our choice of seating arrangements. We selected a high table very close to the glass, so that we had a great view once the fireworks began, though I still had every intention of heading outside to watch.
As we nestled into our chairs, we had the fabulous opportunity to meet and chat with Ryan, a very hospitable and full-of-personality Cast Member who spent a great deal of time with us that evening.
Ryan gave us the lowdown on how to make our time there memorable. He talked to us about the best bang for our buck food-wise, shared his top choices for drinks and even told us a magical story that highlighted a newlywed couple whose cake was destroyed and one amazing CM who had it replaced for them. Hubby and I both loved hearing his stories about living in Atlanta and his father being in the 82nd (it’s the Army connection). It was exactly the kind of conversation in which we had hoped to engage and made us feel like we were truly “home.”
TIME TO GRAB A DRINK AND A BITE
When it came to choosing a poison, Ryan listened to my specific “likes” and recommended an exclusive to me that was created by the bartender on site, Mike. It’s called the Bay Lake Sunset and it was everything Ryan said it would be.
Believe it or not, Hubby stuck with soda that night.
We also decided that it was time to feed the beast inside ~ just a little. When we asked Ryan what would be the best bang for our buck, he said the soft pretzel breadsticks were the top choice, which came with two fresh sticks and a bowl of an Orlando Brewing Company Brown Ale Cheese Fondue.
People ~ yes….just yes. This was soooo good. The pretzel was fresh and piping hot (we actually had to let it cool down) and the fondue was perfection! There was so much flavor there, which was exactly what we were craving at the moment.
Oh, don’t worry. Hubby had a plan ~ we weren’t done yet. He was getting that seven layer cake…but it just wasn’t time yet.
While we enjoyed the pretzels and drinks, we simply just watched the sky. It was gorgeous. The perfect way to pass the time together.
THE CROWDS BEGIN TO ROLL IN
As is customary, around 8:15 PM, the crowds did start filing into the lounge. The fireworks were set to start at 9:15 PM that night, so I was really glad we showed up as early as we did. We truly did have a great seat and we loved the personal attention we had been receiving from Ryan. In fact, earlier in the evening, he had given us a “reserved” placard to place on our table should we choose to go watch the fireworks in the fresh air. (I know anyone can get it, but it just made us feel special ~ if but for a moment).
Just prior to the festivities, we finally placed that order for the seven layer cake. I know it took great strength for Hubby to wait that long, but his thought was that we could enjoy it right before we made our “attempt” to go outside.
And THAT we did!! Let me tell you ~ that piece of cake was so decadent and rich, it was difficult to for the TWO of us to finish…..but we did. Who are we kidding? My husband wasn’t going to let a morsel of that cake escape him.
TIME FOR THE SHOW
The lights went down and the music began to pipe in through the speakers. Oh, my goodness ~ I love that music. Don’t you? I could sing this song all day long and never tire of it. We started off by watching from our seats and, despite the sizable crowd on the deck in front of us, we still had a decent view. However, my heart wasn’t having it. I needed to get outside.
Hubby was a trooper and made a valiant attempt to walk out to the deck with me. He chose to stand about ten feet away while I found a pocket near the wall, but he was able to manage…..for about five minutes. Was it the height? Nope. It was the gentleman in front of him who had his daughter wiggling around on his shoulders…that – close – to – the – edge. It made him a little uneasy, so he had to go back into the lounge. I remained out for another five minutes, but didn’t want to watch the fireworks without him by my side, so I went back in soon after.
It’s all good – all good. We had a beautiful view from our seats and I could hear the music ~ that is what was important to me….aside from watching the fireworks with Hubby.
OUR HAPPILY EVER AFTER
Once the last firework was blasted into the air and the inspirational music came to an end, we sighed for a moment and then prepped ourselves for the trek home. It had been a wonderful evening chatting with Ryan, savoring delicious good eats and relaxing while watching my favorite fireworks display in the “World.” This was a bucket list item crossed off and thanks to no one else except Hubby ~ who surprised me in an effort to make me smile.
Awwww – c’mon now. You all want to give a little sappy sigh with that, you know it.
Top of the World Lounge is a private getaway where Disney Vacation Club members can relax, unwind and enjoy the Magic Kingdom fireworks in a comfortable mid-modern atmosphere with a posh bar and spacious deck for viewing. Are you a Disney Vacation Club member? If not, take the time to explore the magical possibilities and begin to make even more forever magical memories at Walt Disney World Resort & Parks (and beyond!). (click here for more details)
Thanks to Ryan for all the recommendations, chit chat and for making us feel “welcome.”
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