Article by Storybook Traveler Holly Averette
Inspired by the lodges of the American Northwest, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge celebrates the grandeur and beauty of the nation’s National Parks. The cavernous 8 story lobby with its enormous stone fireplace, transports guests to a simpler time. Towering pine trees, a babbling brook, and a geyser water feature make guests feel like they are miles away from a theme park in Florida! The resort opened in May of 1994 and has been a guest favorite ever since. In 2017, half of the resort was converted to the Villas at Copper Creek. This article will focus mainly on the Wilderness Lodge resort, though the amenities are shared between the two resorts, along with the villas at Boulder Ridge.
Arrival and check-in experience:
The entire resort is shaped much like a square “U.” The lobby and most guest services anchor the building in the center and 2 wings extended out and house the resort’s guest rooms. If you are arriving by motorcoach via an airport shuttle you will be dropped off right in front of the lobby entrance. If arriving by taxi, rideshare, or private transfer, you will stop by the security gate and confirm you are checking in before proceeding to the lobby entrance. If arriving by personal vehicle you will also need to stop by the security gate. TIP: have your ID and resort confirmation number handy to show the guard. Self parking is available for $25/night and valet is available for $33/night. Bell services will be available to assist guests with luggage upon arrival and they can hold items until your room is ready. Like other Disney resorts, there is a small kids area with kid size furniture and a TV playing Disney shows or movies to entertain little ones during the check-in process. Alternatively, you may choose to complete online check-in on the app prior to your arrival. Doing this allows you to bypass the front desk and you will receive a text or email notification with your room number when it is ready.
FUN FACT: Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn was the inspiration for the Lodge’s design.
Most guest rooms accommodate up to 4 adults plus one child under 3. Standard rooms measure just under 350 sq ft in size, which is smaller than other deluxe rooms. You will find a small table and 2 chairs in lieu of the daybed/couch found in many other deluxe resorts. All guest rooms were refurbished in 2020/2021. The new design draws inspiration from nature in a fresh, modern way. Look closely, you may spot some favorite Disney friends hiding in some of the design elements! Options for room views include standard (parking lot, rooftop, etc), courtyard, nature, and nature fireworks. There are also various suites and club level rooms available. Room amenities include a hairdryer, shampoo/conditioner/body wash, bar soap, lotion, beverage cooler, Keurig coffee maker with coffee and tea supplies, in room safe, iron and ironing board, and complimentary wi-fi. With the exception of suites, rooms will either have a king bed or 2 queen beds. Beds feature under bed storage which makes storing luggage and other items a breeze!
- Club level rooms and suites are an excellent way to make your trip even more magical! The 7th floor is home to the Old Faithful Club and most club level rooms. The lounge is staffed by a dedicated concierge team that is available to assist you throughout your stay. The lounge has several food offerings each day including breakfast that serves a variety of continental items and hot dishes, light snacks midday, appetizers in the evening, and desserts and cordials to finish off the night. Select beer and wine are available at dinner time or upon request. Coffee and tea services are available all day as are juice, water, and canned soft drinks. The food options will appeal to most palates. We love the feature dishes during the appetizer hour and the rotating cobbler options during the dessert service. The lounge overlooks the lobby and provides a unique perspective from its high vantage point. There are two small balconies off the lounge that overlook the Magic Kingdom. The view is largely obstructed by trees but you can see some of the higher fireworks and listen to the music from the show.
When it comes to their menus, many of the dining options at Wilderness Lodge draw inspiration from the American West.
- Whispering Canyon Cafe: This old west themed cafe serves up three meals a day with a side of attitude. The playful servers are full of antics and games that make your meal quite the experience! The menus feature a mix of a la carte items and all you care to enjoy skillets. Biscuits and gravy, bacon, eggs, and other traditional breakfast items round out the breakfast menu while BBQ skillets are the star for lunch and dinner.
- Storybook Dining at Artist Point: Heigh Ho! Enter the Enchanted Forest for this Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs inspired meal! You’ll enjoy visits from Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy, and the Evil Queen as you dine on options inspired by the movie. Brother’s Grimm herbed chicken, Magic Mirror’s roasted pork shank, “Poison” apple, gooseberry tart…the choice is all yours!
- Geyser Point: This waterside, open air restaurant serves lunch and dinner as well as poolside grab and go favorites. Grab a table or seat at the bar, or order your food at the to go window and eat poolside. With its incredible menu, it’s hard to believe this place is considered quick service! Grab a bison burger (also known as the BEST burger at Disney!), roasted salmon, or smoked turkey sandwich while you enjoy the stunning views of Bay Lake.
- Roaring Fork: The resort’s main quick service is open for meals and snacks throughout the day. The menu features hearty American fare such as cheddar biscuits, hash, BBQ, burgers, and chicken tenders. They also have a popular selection of cupcakes and specialty coffee drinks.
- Territory Lounge: The rustic lounge features a variety of small plates, sweets, drinks, and cocktails.
The Copper Creek Springs pool features a water slide, children’s splash play area, and hot tub. The Boulder Ridge quiet pool has a zero entry zone, hot tub, and six first come first serve cabanas. Other activities include poolside games, jogging trails, guided fishing excursions, arcade, fitness center, a nightly campfire complete with marshmallows to roast, and movies under the stars (popcorn included!). If you enjoy scavenger hunts, the Lodge has a couple of great ones, just ask the front desk! Don’t miss the chance to see the Electrical Water Pageant that floats by nightly on the Seven Seas Lagoon (check the app for the current times).
PRO TIP: The Fire Rock Geyser erupts every hour on the hour. Modeled after Old Faithful, the water can shoot up to 120 feet in the air! You can find the geyser by taking the wooden walkway behind the pool.
Pros and Cons:
- Peaceful, quiet ambiance.
- Easy boat access to Magic Kingdom. We rarely find long lines for the boats!
- Good dining with options that will appeal to most people.
- Great pool areas!
- Guests staying at deluxe resorts have access to extended evening theme park hours on select nights each week. It’s like having a private after hours event!
- Rooms generally cost less than other deluxe resorts.
- Rooms are on the smaller side for a deluxe resort and standard rooms only sleep 4 (plus one child under 3).
- A variety of large and small boats can service the lodge. Smaller boats will require you to fold your stroller for the ride to MK and those using a scooter or wheelchair must wait for the larger boats.
Admittedly, this is my all time favorite resort, so I may be a little biased in my review. I adore the craftsman feel and rustic elegance. The entire resort just feels so homey. We love the food options here and always make a point to have at least one meal at Whispering Canyon, even when we aren’t staying at the resort. The boat transportation is convenient and the ride is quite peaceful. The pool areas are great for all ages and I love the free, first come first serve, cabanas at the quiet pool. I also happen to think that the club level lounge here is one of the best on property! The staff really goes above and beyond for their guests and the food options are fantastic. If you have a chance to visit at Christmas, DO IT! This resort is absolutely beautiful during the holidays. I could spend all day sitting by the fireplace with a coffee staring at the gorgeous lobby tree!
PRO TIP: Take an evening to grab a bite at Geyser Point (have I mentioned the bison burger?) and head down by the water. You can view the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom and the music is piped into the area!
What do you think of the Wilderness Lodge? Is it your go to resort? Let me know in the comments!
Article by Storybook Traveler Holly Averette