Escaping to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Wilderness Lodge Lobby
Wilderness Lodge Lobby

When someone asks me what I love most about Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, I almost always answer with the way it transports me to a different time and place. Part of what vacation is to me is that escapism.

I live here in Florida and to me, the Wilderness Lodge is the Walt Disney World resort that most makes me feel like I am in a completely different place. Maybe it is partially because I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest and this may just be a respectable facsimile of the real thing, but I’d never know any better. To me, this resort epitomizes that portion of the country. It speaks of adventure in its cavernous lobby, dramatic background music, and lush non-tropical surroundings.

I heard someone say a while back that the resorts around the Magic Kingdom were loosely themed around lands of the park. The Grand Floridian correlates to the Victorian stylings of Main Street USA, the Polynesian is modeled after the tropical themes of Adventureland, the Contemporary reflects the clean modern lines of Tomorrowland, and Fort Wilderness and the Wilderness Lodge exude the rustic spirit of Frontierland. One can absolutely see the parallels between the western feel of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (the wildest ride in the WILDERNESS!!!) and the Wilderness Lodge. From the rockwork, to the animals carved into the lodge pole pine beams in the lobby to the elements of railroad in the decor, it isn’t hard to see that the Wilderness Lodge was designed with Frontierland in mind.

Part of what makes this resort so fantastic, is the feeling of being surrounded by nature and wilderness. There is a babbling brook, the Silver Spring, that starts in the lobby and trips over rocks and even small waterfalls until it empties onto the shores of Bay Lake. A geyser spouts off hot water and steam several times throughout the day, lending the resort the feel of a National Park. Pine trees are prevalent throughout the resort, and animals, or at least representations of them, can be seen from before you even enter the lobby. Topiaries of birds and buffalo greet guests before they pull up to the magnificent entrance to the resort of the Wilderness Lodge. Wildflowers bloom and grasses grow in a way that feels very natural to the landscape and not overly manicured by the fabulous horticultural team at Disney.

Wilderness Lodge exterior at night
Wilderness Lodge exterior at night

There are so many great spots to just relax and enjoy the scenery at this resort. It always makes me way to just pull up a rocking chair and read a book, whether by the pool, out on the upper level balcony off the lobby, or in one of the hidden nooks hidden above the entrance to the lobby. I find myself slowing down to enjoy this resort more than others.  The resort lends itself to a pace where you can amble along the shore of the lake to discover the path to Fort Wilderness. If you want, of course, you have many recreation activities at your disposal from boating to biking, spa services, fitness center, and the Magic Kingdom is just a short 5-10 minute boat ride away.

I can remember the first time I stayed at the Wilderness Lodge the week before Christmas in 2008. It was the first time I ever stayed club level and it was amazing. Although this is not my favorite overall resort, at Christmas it wins for me, hands down. I don’t know if it is the fireplace, or the absolutely perfect background music, or the incredible 7 story tall Christmas tree in the atrium lobby, but it all adds up to what Christmas looks, smells, sounds and feels like in my book. This is the resort I must visit at some point during the Christmas season above all others at Walt Disney World. Maybe this is partially why I have such a great connection to this resort, due to the first stay being so magical. I almost always stay in a Courtyard view room and have lucked out with views of Bay Lake each time. I’ve even before fortunate enough to be able to lay in bed to watch the Electrical Water Pageant cruise by at night and open the doors to my balcony to enjoy the show.

Wilderness Lodge room
Wilderness Lodge room

The accommodations are some of the most affordable in the Deluxe resort category at Walt Disney World, and that may have something to do with why I have stayed here more than any other resort, other than Pop Century. I have stayed at least once a year since 2008, and don’t see that changing any time soon. I adore the peacefulness I feel when I set foot in the lobby. I look up at the totems and remember hearing their stories from Ranger Joe several times. If you haven’t met the Rangers at the resort, make sure to take time out to take the Wilderness Lodge tour, which is given at least once a week typically around 10am. The animals carved into the poles representing the different levels of elevation they would be found at in the mountains are beautiful. Similarly, the effort that went into creating the amazing fireplace cannot go unnoticed. The rockwork (some real and some faux) is stunning! Layers of rock are stacked on top of each other representing different strata of the Grand Canyon.

If you get an opportunity to stay here, I highly recommend the Wilderness Lodge. If not, please at least take the time to explore the resort. Take a few hours and come early or stay late after a reservation for a lively meal at Whispering Canyon Cafe, or a nice quiet dinner at Artist Point, the resort’s signature dining restaurant. Or even just come to enjoy a night cap at the Territory Lounge, but please come. Examine the Native American artifacts like the recreated headdress in the lobby, the display cases on the upper level by hopping on the elevator to the 3 – 6th floors, or find those hidden seating areas above the entrance. There are so many places to explore, including one of my all time favorites, the Carolwood Pacific Room in the Villas. You can read more about some of my favorite Quiet Places to Relax here. I just stayed at the Wilderness Lodge again for the sixth time last week, and I have another reservation coming up in November when friends are in town to visit. I cannot stress enough what a fantastic resort this is and that everyone should stay here at some point. Have you stayed at the Wilderness Lodge? What did you think?

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Author: Betsy

Scorpio. Passionate about movies, music, sports, Disney and my friends who are more like my family. Fiercely loyal and competitive. My thoughts are my own.

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