Review: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
By Dave Shute
OVERVIEW: DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE
Note 3/5/2017: The Wilderness Lodge refurb should be complete by mid-summer 2017. See this.
Note 1/31/16: The impact of construction at the Wilderness Lodge itself will be much more extensive than implied below. See this.
Our most recent stay (our eighth here, I think) in December 2015 confirms that Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is the second best deluxe resort at Disney World for first time family visitors.
However, this site recommends that first time visitors to Walt Disney World who can afford it should stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, a deluxe resort, and that those who can’t should stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, a value resort.
Compared to other Walt Disney World owned and operated resorts, the deluxe resorts are distinguished by having (on average) the most amenities, nicest views, best dining options, best transport options, largest rooms, best service, and highest prices.
Among the deluxe resorts, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge stands out for having the most stunning kid appeal, moderate convenience, smallest rooms, and lowest prices.
(See this for much more on resort distinctions by price class–value, moderate, deluxe, etc.)
This review of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has seven pages:
- This page, a summary review
- A photo tour of a standard room at the Wilderness Lodge
- Amenities at the Wildernesses Lodge
- The main Silver Creek Springs pool at the Wilderness Lodge
- Dining at the Wilderness Lodge
- More on accommodations at the Wilderness Lodge
- The theming and history of the Wilderness Lodge
ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE WILDERNESS LODGE
Standard rooms at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge are tied with those at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge as the smallest deluxe rooms on property.
The bedroom component of these rooms is smaller than even those at the moderate resorts, being almost a foot narrower and, on the long side, 2.5 feet shorter.
(On average, Wilderness Lodge bedrooms are about 9 inches shorter than moderates, counting both the moderate’s shorter and longer sides. See this for more on comparative Disney resort room sizes.)
Most of these rooms sleep four–two each in two queens. Rooms with a queen and two bunk beds are also available. The bunk bed mattresses are 5’9″ long, and 39″ wide. (In real life they are not so blurry.) Rooms with one king bed are also available.
You can add to this capacity of four a child younger than three who sleeps in a crib. A crib fits well between the closet and TV credenza.
Partly because of these room sizes, and partly because it is not directly accessible from a theme park, the Wilderness Lodge is also the least expensive of the deluxe resorts.
THE POOLS AT THE WILDERNESS LODGE
The main Silver Creek Springs pool at the Wilderness Lodge was refurbed in 2014 and remains one of the most delightful pools at Disney World.
The second smaller pool close to the Villas has been torn out for refurbishment and is unlikely to re-open until 2017.
For more on the Silver Creek Springs pool, see this.
DINING AT DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE
The Wilderness Lodge has three principal dining venues that collectively make it about average among the Disney deluxes for dining.
- Whispering Canyon Cafe is a raucous and fun setting for family dining
- The more sophisticated and expensive Artist’s Point is perfect for couples dining
- The quick-service option, Roaring Fork, is among the best of its kind among the deluxes but can easily become over-pressed.
For more on dining at the Widescreens Lodge, see this.
KID APPEAL AND CONVENIENCE AT DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE
On this basis, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is the second-best resort for first time family visitors to Walt Disney World.
- Three of the deluxe resorts–the Wilderness Lodge itself, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Polynesian Resort, in that order–have spectacular kid appeal.
- None of the moderates do.
- All of the value resorts–Disney’s All-Star Sports, All-Star Music, and All-Star Movies, and its Pop Century Resort and Art of Animation Resort–have strong kid appeal.
The kid appeal of the Wilderness Lodge comes from its stunning re-creation of the grandeur of America’s great national park lodges–both inside…
Other wonderful elements both big and small continue the theme of the mountain west and of other western national parks, with some elements recalling the Pacific Northwest.
This is Lewis and Clark country, of great drama, history–and adventure!
The main building and lobby of the Wilderness Lodge–modeled on the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park, and featuring totem poles from Duane Pasco–set the stage. This lobby is jaw-dropping to kids, and also to most adults.
Convenience. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is much less convenient than the Polynesian Resort in carrying out the itineraries for first-time family visitors on this site.
Transport to the Magic Kingdom is by boat and by bus. The buses begin earlier, and are more reliable for scooters and wheelchairs–not all boats can take these.
Transport to the other theme parks is by bus, each of which is shared by at least one other resort.
Boat service is also available to Fort Wilderness (convenient for the Hoop Dee Doo Revue) and the Contemporary Resort (convenient for Chef Mickey’s). These boats begin much earlier than the Magic Kingdom boats, so many families seeking an early start take the boat to the Contemporary, and then walk to the Magic Kingdom.
BEST PLACES TO STAY AT THE WILDERNESS LODGE
This site suggests that first time visitors stay in standard rooms, not preferred rooms.
This is because they won’t be spending much time in their rooms.
The single exception is visitors to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, who should always pay for savanna views.
However, during the current renovations, Wilderness Lodge guests should avoid the lowest-priced views and target a Courtyard View instead, to avoid construction views and noise.
Rooms in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge are found in a connected set of six to seven story high buildings, in a “Y” (or “U”) shape.
While the current renovation strongly suggests you should pay for a Courtyard view, otherwise more so than most Disney resorts, there are no bad rooms at the Wilderness Lodge.
Those furthest from the main lobby, restaurants, and bus stops are closest to the main pool and boat dock to the Magic Kingdom, and vice-versa.
The opening of the “Y” (or “U”!) as it approaches the pool means pool noise tends not to be an issue, and noise surprisingly isn’t really as much of a problem as you’d think for the rooms that open onto the main lobby.
That said, booking a Courtyard view room and requesting an upper floor near an elevator is probably the best choice.
This lets you avoid the worst of the refurb views and noise, and shortens your walks within the building.
Any first time family visitors who can afford it, but can’t get into or can’t afford Disney’s Polynesian Resort.
Families too large to fit its 4 person rooms. See this for more on large families at Walt Disney World.
This review continues here.