By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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Theming and Accommodations at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

By Dave Shute

For the first page of this review of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, click here.


Entry Disney's Wilderness Lodge from

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge opened in 1994. A major refurb and redo that ended in 2017 shifted half of its old rooms into Disney Vacation Club rooms, and added many amenities.

It is officially described on Walt Disney World’s website as

“…inspired by the Great American Northwest National Park lodges from the turn of the 20th century…an architecturally grand Disney Deluxe Resort hotel honoring American craftsmanship and artistry, and celebrating the majesty of the unspoiled wilderness.

“The theme of being in harmony with nature winds through the lodge—inside and out. Authentic decor and genuine artifacts pay homage to ancient Native American cultures and the pioneering spirit of early American explorers.

“From its stunning 7-story lobby, built from 85 loads of Lodgepole Pine, to its 82-foot-tall lobby fireplace, the Resort is as beautiful as it is impressive. Its 727 Guest rooms offer themes of wildlife, nature and Native American designs, and include Honeymoon Suites featuring marble whirlpool tubs.

“On the Resort grounds, look for the bubbling spring that flows into a creek, tumbles over a sparkling waterfall and empties into the swimming pool. Catch the eruption of Fire Rock Geyser, fashioned after Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful, with its plume of water jetting 120 feet into the air.”

The description of the Wilderness Lodge as being “inspired by the great American Northwest,” though presented by Disney itself, and widely repeated in guidebooks and the internet, is a bit of a crock.

The Wilderness Lodge does have elements from the American Northwest–Washington and Oregon–ranging from the stunning totem poles in the main lobby to the menu provenance of its signature restaurant, Artist Point.

And it also celebrates other remarkable western areas, such as the Grand Canyon in the southwest.

That said, the Wilderness Lodge is in fact largely inspired by, and is in homage to, the Mountain West–the basic architecture, the look of the lobby, and the “Fire Rock Geyser” area are all based on Yellowstone, which is not part of America’s Northwest by a long shot.

Yellowstone is principally in Wyoming, but also in Montana and Idaho.  This area is best described as the “Mountain West,” not the Northwest.

Native American Art Disney's Wilderness Lodge from (683x1024)

The second most significant influence on Wilderness Lodge theming after Yellowstone is the art and artifacts of Native Americans.

Native American Art at Disney's Wilderness Lodge from (683x1024)

Tribes represented in the Lodge cross the country from the southwest (the Navajo and Apache) to the northwest to the great plains to the southeast (Cherokee.)

The third most significant influence is the Grand Canyon in general, and in particular Mary Colter’s masterwork Bright Angel Lodge there, from which the lobby fireplace was adapted and expanded (to 82 feet!!).

(I have always thought that Colter’s work at the Grand Canyon made her the first Imagineer…years before Walt Disney ever thought of the term!)

Painting Disney's Wilderness Lodge from (670x1024)

Additional theme influences include the great vernacular styles associated with westward expansion and its later re-interpretations–ranging from Frank Lloyd Wright to Thomas Molesworth to the Mission style.

The simplest, but still largely accurate, description of the Wilderness Lodge’s theme would be that it honors the mountain west; a longer but more accurate description would be that it is based on the great National Park Lodges of the early 1900s, and honors the Native Americans who first lived in this land, as well as later explorers and their descendants–hunters, trappers, guides, woodsmen, cowboys, etc.

The Wilderness Lodge was designed by Peter Dominick, who also designed the next-most stunning Disney resort, the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

In an obituary of Dominick (he died in 2009), it was noted that Dominick “understood the building traditions of the Rocky Mountain West…his specialty was wonderful buildings that celebrated the landscape he loved.”


Upstream at Disney's Wilderness Lodge from

Rooms here were refurbed in 2021. I’ll have updated photos and floor plans shortly.

All Disney deluxe resorts have standard rooms; concierge rooms, which Disney calls “club” rooms; and suites. (See this for more on suites at Walt Disney World.)  The Wilderness Lodge has, in addition to these, club-level “deluxe rooms.”

All the Disney deluxes except the Yacht Club also have one or more Disney Vacation Club offerings on property, offering even more room types. These Vacation Club rooms can be booked by anyone just like any other Disney World room–you don’t have to be a member of the Club to do so. I have separate detailed reviews of the two at the Wilderness Lodge, Boulder Ridge and Copper Creek, elsewhere on this site, but will also comment a bit on them below.

Rooms in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge are in a connected set of six and seven story high buildings, in a “Y” shape. On the map, the Wilderness Lodge is the green-roofed building at the top center.  Standard rooms are in the wing at the left; accommodations on the right wing of the main Lodge are part of the Copper Creek Villas. The red-roofed area below and to the right is the Boulder Ridge Villas.

At Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, standard and club/ concierge rooms sleep four, in two queen beds. The floor plan above is for a two-queen standard or club room.

There’s a photo tour of one of these rooms here.

A few standard rooms with a king, sleeping two, are also available.

Standard rooms are sold with “standard” and “courtyard” views.

Courtyard views look into the center of the Y–to the waterfall, pool, or Bay Lake. Standard views–less expensive–look to something else…e.g. a parking lot.

However, a number of standard view rooms on the northwest side of the Lodge look across the new Cascade Cabins and a few trees towards the Magic Kingdom.

All but the lowest or most unlucky of these rooms have a limited but fun view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. This image from July 2017 shows folk watching the Happily Ever After fireworks show from their balconies.

Some shots taken from the third floor of this wing of the Magic Kingdom fireworks:

Though these standard rooms are tied with the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s rooms as the smallest standard deluxe rooms on property, the space rarely feels cramped; it just has no more space than it absolutely needs.

Club rooms–which the rest of the world calls concierge rooms–all on the key-access 7th floor of the northwest side of the Lodge, have the same layout as standard rooms but have various services and amenities added on, as well as a substantial extra cost.

Here’s the club lounge from across the lobby.

The outside balcony half-wall in many of these rooms (as well as other top-floor rooms in other areas of the Lodge) is solid, not railed–limiting views except for standing adults.  Some of these rooms also have sloped ceilings.

Club rooms are not worth the extra cost for most first time family visitors. However, they may be well worth it for families intending to spend more time at the Wilderness Lodge than implied by this site’s itineraries. has a great discussion of the value of concierge rooms here. Though focused on the Polynesian, it applies to any deluxe resort.

Deluxe rooms (which used to be called “junior suites”) are suite-like club rooms, although they are found on many floors, not just the 7th.  They sleep 6–four in two queens in the bedroom, and two in a fold-out couch in the sitting room. (See floor plan at right.)  For an ancient review of these rooms, click here.

Suites sleeping 2 to 4 people are available for families seeking a particularly comfortable visit–see this for more on suites at Walt Disney World.  The Yosemite Vice Presidential suite, with 885 square feet, sleeps 4–two in the bedroom in a king, and 2 in a queen sleeper sofa in the parlor. The Yellowstone Presidential Suite has the same sleeping arrangements in 1000 square feet.

There are also many more room types in Copper Creek Villas and Boulder Ridge Villas, sleeping from four to twelve, many with full kitchens. Among them, “Studios” are most comparable to Wilderness Lodge standard rooms. Copper Creek Studios sleep four, and Boulder Ridge Studios sleep five.

(To each of the capacity figures above, you can add one more kid under 3 at time of check in who sleeps in a crib.)

The Wilderness Lodge inspires devotion among its fans–of which I am one.

Families who have stayed at it once will have difficulty understanding why they should ever go to a different Walt Disney World resort hotel.

The Wilderness Lodge’s strengths for first time visitors are its unsurpassed kid appeal and its reasonable prices.

The Wilderness Lodge’s principal negatives compared to other deluxes are its small rooms and relative inconvenience for parks other than the Magic Kingdom.

…and speaking of the rooms:


This review continues here.





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