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The Disney Club Level. What does that really mean? Does it mean you have access to Disney employees (cast members) who plan your trip for you and hand you your daily agenda and a hot coffee each morning as you head out to the parks? Is it an actual room that everyone hangs out in each evening while smoking Mickey candy-filled cigars and recalling the day’s top rides and events? Until recently, the Disney Club Level was still a mystery to me — the only thing I knew for sure is that it carried an even bigger room reservation price tag.
As it turns out, paying extra for a Disney Club Level room does entitle you to some extra perks and services beyond that of a standard Disney room reservation, largely in the form of food and drinks offered in the club lounge. Note that the Club Level is not available at every Disney resort, but it is available at the Deluxe Disney Resorts including:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
We stayed on the Club Level this summer at the Contemporary Resort. Our trip to the Magic Kingdom to celebrate our littlest turning three-years-old came during a hectic time, so we decided to pamper ourselves a bit and see if Disney Club Level was worth it over the cost of a standard room. I mean, in my line of work you can justify some travel expenses to yourself under the guise of “research”, so one day I called up Disney and had them upgrade our previously booked standard room at the Contemporary to a Club Level theme-park view. Let’s not talk (yet) about how much that increased the price of the trip, but it certainly ticked the final price tag up a few notches.
When we arrived to check-in at the Contemporary after a long day at Universal Studios, we were personally escorted up the elevator to the Club Level floor. I’ve never been escorted anywhere in a Disney hotel, so things were off to a good — and noticeably different — start.
On the Club Level, known as the Atrium Club at the Contemporary, there’s a large desk just after you exit the elevators where we were able to sit and complete the check-in process before being personally escorted to our room. The only place I can recall being personally escorted to my room by someone who was not helping with luggage was at the Park Hyatt Tokyo. Within 10 minutes of arrival to the world of Disney Club Level, I was a bit taken back by the level of service.
Aside from being hand-held through the check-in process, what I couldn’t wait to experience was the included food and drinks. We’ve been known to spend some money on food and drinks at Disney, so I wanted to see just how good the Disney Club Level food and drink offerings were (or weren’t).
Rewind to a month or so earlier when I had the trigger on the Club Level upgrade. The agent on the phone had told me I was in for a treat on Club Level at the Contemporary, and that I had to make myself a plate of dessert, grab some cheese and wine from the Club and retreat to my room for our own personal fireworks viewing party with the TV playing the same music as in the Magic Kingdom. We arrived around 9:00pm, so were just in time to make his suggestion a reality that first night. It was every bit as much a treat as he said it would be.
Evening Offerings at The Contemporary
I’ll start with the evening Disney Club Level offerings we enjoyed at the Contemporary, because those were the food and beverage items we liked the most. In the evenings, “Contemporary Flavors” are served from 5:00pm – 7:00pm and Cordials with Mini Desserts are served from 8:00pm – 10:00pm.
The question almost everyone will probably have about Disney Club Level is whether you can turn the included food options into dinner? The answer is likely yes — though personally I wouldn’t want to do that every day. However, if you’re spending the extra cash for Disney Club Level, it makes sense that you want to cut meal costs where it makes sense to help offset that splurge.
In the evenings, I was told that the food offerings at the Contemporary’s Atrium Club come from the hotel’s The Wave kitchen, but this will vary in each Deluxe Resort’s Club Lounge based on their on-site restaurants. In the evenings, there were sliced meats, cheese, (delicious) rolls, cold vegetables, shrimp appetizers, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly jars, a hearty beef and potatoes dish and more. The options rotated a bit each evening we were there, so you could get some variety over a multi-night stay.
There’s no question there was plenty of food to create a dinner for kids or adults in the club, but the problem is that Disney has so many great dinner experiences, you may not just want to eat in the club lounge every night. Even if you don’t eat dinner at the club lounge, you can (and should) come back a little later for dessert.
From cookies, to cakes, macarons and mini dessert cups, evening desserts were a strength of the Contemporary’s Club Lounge.
If you like an evening beverage to go along with your mini-dessert cup, the Contemporary Club Lounge offered the following included beverages: La Luca Prosecco, Francisean Chardonnay, Meiomi Pinot Noir, Chappellet Cabernet, Bud Lite, Sam Adams IPA, Yuengling and Heineken.
They also had four different spirits on hand, if that’s your preference.
Breakfast Offerings at the Contemporary
Coffee service blessedly starts bright and early at 6:30am (and lasts all day), but continental breakfast doesn’t start until 7:00am and lasts until 10:30am. This is almost too late of a start time for food in my view since some parks open as early as 7:00am on certain days.
With the exception of the warm oatmeal, Disney Club Level breakfast consisted only of cold items such as fruits, pastries, sliced meat and cheese, yogurt, bread and hard boiled eggs.
I was more than happy with yogurt, granola, fruit and maybe a croissant before heading to the parks, but breakfast isn’t very exciting in the club lounge and the options didn’t seem to rotate as frequently as dinner. Still, when time is money (and it is at Disney), being able to get your coffee and first meal of the day just steps from your hotel room is a welcome treat before heading to a park.
Lunchtime Offerings at the Contemporary
The Club Lounge at Disney’s Contemporary serves Lite Bites from 11:30am to 4:00pm, but don’t get excited about this at all unless your palate is similar to that of my eight-year-old. These lite bites are Skittles, pretzels and Goldfish-level snacks. Kids will like them, but this is in no way a lunch replacement opportunity.
On the plus side, you can visit the Club Level refrigerator throughout the day for Fanta, lemonade, apple juice, Coke, Sprite and Diet Coke. There were auspiciously no bottled waters in the fridge, though apparently they are available upon request.
Disney Club Level Service and Extras
Our favorite aspect of Disney’s Club Level at the Contemporary may very well have been a cast member named David. If you’ve ever stayed on the Club Level at the Contemporary, you will know him as the man with the on-point Mickey Mouse vocal impression. He can do several Disney impressions, and was beyond entertaining for our girls. He was fun, gracious, knowledgable and a real treat to see each evening of our stay.
While David was fantastic, we didn’t have the best luck with service from some of our actual Club Level requests of other cast members. We tried to set up a Minnie Van to the airport via the Club Level (to review it), and after over 30 minutes of trying, ultimately they weren’t able to make that happen. I also inquired about the program to purchase extra FastPass reservations on Club Level and they weren’t 100% clear or knowledgable on that program either. On the flip side, we were also able to get a late check-out at noon thanks to working with the Club Level status after “the computer” denied our initial request to leave one hour later than scheduled. I highly doubt that request would have been honored if we were not on Club Level and had staff advocating on our behalf with housekeeping.
The staff on the Club Level were all kind and professional, but on my limited Disney-related inquiries, their batting average was a little lower than I would have expected. That said, they were all very sweet to my girls and a joy to see at the beginning or end of a long Disney day.
Bottom Line: Is Disney Club Level Worth It?
While it will vary a bit at each resort, the Disney Club Level evening food and beverage offerings are good, the breakfast offerings are workable and there are some true standouts on the staff. So, is Disney Club Level worth it? The answer will lie in what “worth it” means to you while at Disney. If “worth it” means enjoying as much convenience and magic as possible while at Disney World, then it may very well be worth it. If it means you’re spending more in one area to save in another, then the answer is… “it depends.”
For a randomly selected date in late August, the Contemporary is selling its base-level Garden View Rooms for $353+ per night while a standard room on the Club Level is $623+ with theme-park view rooms running about another $50 per night above that price. Our July dates were similarly priced. I’ve seen the price differential between Club Level rooms and standard rooms to be a bit less at some other resorts, such as Animal Kingdom, but Club Level will often be at least a $200+ per night upcharge over an entry-level room.
Will your family save at least $200 – $250+ in food and beverage costs per day by having Club Level access? Potentially, but only if your family typically enjoys a few beverage and pricier meals per day and is happy to shift their drinks, breakfast and dinners to Club Level and away from the other options. However, if you’re usually spending $200+ per day on meals and drinks at Disney, you’re probably enjoying at least one character or themed meal for day. Meals in Club Level are not a replacement for true experiences like ‘Ohana, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Be Our Guest or Chef MIckey’s, so even if you’re saving some money on the cost of food, that may be coming at the expense of some pretty cool Disney experiences.
However, you’ll probably save at least some money by enjoying what the Club Level has to offer, so it’s fair to factor that into the equation — just be realistic with your estimates. We still ate at the Polynesian, Chef Mickey’s and had breakfast included with our Early Morning Magic package during our Club Level stay at the Contemporary. While we enjoyed the included food and drinks at our fingertips, it didn’t replace all of our Disney meals by any stretch, and it will never replace lunch since the mid-day offerings are very sparse.
Obviously, the less you pay for Disney Club Level, the greater its value, so let’s look at some ways to reduce the cost a bit. As with other Disney Resort rooms, you can use Chase Ultimate Reward points earned from cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve to book rooms with Club Level access by using this work-around. You can also book your Club Level rooms directly with Disney, pay with your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, and then use the points from those cards at a rate of 1 cent per point to cover the charges.
Another good idea for a four-night stay would be to book via the Citi Concierge and pay with your Citi Prestige Card to get the 4th night of your Disney Club Level stay for free (other than taxes or fees).
Staying on Disney’s Club Level does make you eligible to purchase three extra FastPass+ reservations at a cost of $50 per person, per day on stays of three nights or longer (everyone in the room must purchase that package). You can book these FastPass+ rides 90 days in advance without park or ride restrictions. This would virtually guarantee yourself prime time access to Avatar Flight of Passage, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Slink Dog Dash, Frozen Ever After or whatever rides interest you most. That’s a ton of extra money on top of an already very expensive hotel stay, but it’s a way to guarantee yourself more top-tier rides without purchasing a VIP tour.
Disney World is expensive, and at a stay on Disney’s Club Level adds even more to your final bill. Club Level isn’t at all necessary for a great family trip to Disney World, but if you have the budget for the splurge and want the best that Disney has to offer, you may want to consider the Club Level for your next trip to Disney. I don’t anticipate all of our future Disney stays to happen on the Club Level, but it also wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all if we make it up there again at some point.
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