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Extensive Refurb at Wilderness Lodge Gives Me Pause In Recommending It

By Dave Shute


Wilderness Lodge Refurb More Extensive Than I Had ThoughtDisney’s Wilderness Lodge will be completing a refurb in the summer of 2017.

Unitl then, for repeat visitors who had been planning the Wilderness Lodge for their next trip, I’d just put off staying there until this refurb is complete. Stay somewhere else on your bucket list, and return to the Wilderness Lodge after the lobby comes back to normal

For first-timers with their heart set on the Wilderness Lodge,

  • If you have any concerns at all, stay someplace else.  The potential to be disappointed isn’t worth it.
  • If you don’t have concerns, stay at the Lodge.  The refurb to the lobby mars it, but it does not ruin it.  I would say that the lobby retains more than 80% of its prior beauty, grandeur, and sublimity.  Since the prior level was really high, 80% of that level is really high too!


In October 2015, as part of a redo of the Disney Vacation Club offerings at the Wilderness Lodge, several amenities were taken out and extensive construction in the outer verges of the Wilderness Lodge proper began.

There’s much more on this topic here, but essentially the Wilderness Lodge lost for construction the smaller of its two pools, its beach, and some other minor amenities.

Wilderness Lodge Refurb 8 from

View from the Bay Lake side of the Villas

While views from the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge were quite marred from this work, I thought that those getting Courtyard views in the main Lodge would be largely un-affected.

Not so fast.  Earlier this month, Disney essentially closed off the half of the Wilderness Lodge on the Villas side, took the elevators serving this wing out of service, and put up construction walls out to the edge of the lobby over the check-in area and extending a bit around each corner of that wall.

Here’s a bunch of photos of the lobby (as always on this site, click them to enlarge them):

Wilderness Lodge Refurb 5 from

The unaffected side


Wall at the second floor landing of the stairs

Construction wall at the second floor landing of the stairs


Wilderness Lodge Refurb 3 from

Construction wall from the second floor–near


Construction wall from the second floor, far

Construction wall from the second floor, far


Wilderness Lodge Refurb 7 from

Construction wall going around corner, from lobby


Wilderness Lodge Refurb 6 from

Principal construction wall above check-in, from lobby

April 2016 update: the scaffolding is gone.

Moreover, scaffolding now covers much of the south (Villa-facing) side, and goes around the corner to a bit of the Courtyard side of this wing. I’d imagine that over time this scaffolding likely will extend further into the courtyard:

DSC00166 (800x533)

So what does this all mean?

First, on the positive side–

  • With about half the rooms taken out of circulation, crowds will be lower in the Roaring Fork quick service location, the wonderful main pool, and the boats and buses
  • The vast majority of what leads to the lobby’s impact remains–the grandeur and sublimity of the large space, the large decorative features of the carved columns, totem poles, teepee lights and the Grand Canyon fireplace, and most of the subtle detailing
  • For construction walls, the walls themselves aren’t bad.  Had they been on the other side of the railings, the balance of details would be much worse.
  • Many north wing rooms have better Magic Kingdom views, thanks to the scalping of a number of trees in this area preparatory to construction.

So I think the refurb is not only not a disaster, but also that the lobby is on the order of 80% as good as it used to be, or will be in the future.

On the other hand, at the same time the lobby, which is the glory of the Wilderness Lodge, is in fact not as good as it used to be, or will be in the future, other construction mars views and creates noise, and some of the amenities are gone.

Hence my recommendations:

  • For first timers who are not troubled by all this, by all means stay at the Lodge–it will still be a great experience, just not as good as it was or will be.
  • Repeat visitors should hold their visit to the Wilderness Lodge until the refurb is complete
  • First timers who are concerned should stay elsewhere.

Where else to stay depends on why you picked the Wilderness Lodge in the first place.

This refurb should be complete by mid-summer 2017.

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1 Nicole { 03.07.17 at 5:47 pm }

We are planning a trip the middle of September we’ve stayed at Animal kingdom lodge twice and LOVED it!! I’ve wanted to stay at wilderness lodge but both times they were doing construction. I booked animal kingdom again because of the construction going on. I’m thinking strongly about changing our reservations. What are your thought?

2 Dave { 03.08.17 at 10:33 am }

Nicole, I think it will be totally fine by then!

3 Dave B { 03.09.17 at 9:23 pm }

My wife 4 year old daughter and I are going the first week of May in a standard view room.We just found out that roaring fork is closed for construction. Do you know what the noise level is like while work is going on.? Also, how much does the construction interfere with the overall experience of the wilderness lodge?

4 Dave { 03.11.17 at 8:14 am }

Dave, the standard rooms don’t have much exposure to the construction issues, other than walls boarding up one side of the lobby.

5 Claire { 03.26.17 at 11:07 am }

Hi Dave,
What is the best request of room to make in order to be least affected by the construction / have the best views ?

6 Dave { 03.27.17 at 7:47 am }

Claire, when are you arriving?

7 Claire Laggan { 04.01.17 at 12:52 pm }

Dave, mid June 2017. Thanks.

8 Dave { 04.04.17 at 10:50 am }

Claire, most stuff should be done then, but a Courtyard view will be safest…

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