My family loves to stay at the Wilderness Lodge because it is so close to the Magic Kingdom yet you feel like you are a world away from a theme park. The natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest landscape (in central Florida) along with the architecture of the Lodge (based on actual National Parks lodges) takes you out of the theme park environment and into a relaxing natural oasis. Here are 7 reasons I think you’ll love staying at the Wilderness Lodge:
7. Bay Lake
The Wilderness Lodge is nestled on the shores of Bay Lake which is not only beautiful, but presents many opportunities if you are staying at the Lodge. If you have a room that has a view of Bay Lake (many of the Courtyard View Rooms do) you can wake up each morning to a very tranquil setting from your private balcony. I love getting up early and sitting on my balcony with my breakfast and watching the resort come alive as the boats start running to the theme parks and families begin heading out for their day of fun. I also love watching the ducks and rabbits playing in the landscape. You may have the option to rent boats to take out on Bay Lake (as long as construction is not taking place closing the marina). This is a great fun way to spend some time exploring on your own. At night you can watch the Electrical Water Pageant on the lake. This “parade” is somewhat kitschy but so much fun at the same time . . .you definitely want to catch it at least once if you are staying here.
6. Bunk Beds
Wilderness Lodge is a great option for families because you can reserve a room with bunk beds! How much fun is that—staying in a wilderness/national park setting in bunk beds? This is especially nice if you are a family with a boy and a girl who would rather not share a queen bed. The bunk bed rooms have various view options and have a queen bed in addition to the bunks. Because they are narrower than a queen it also frees up a little more floor space in the room. My kids loved staying in the bunk bed rooms, we had to rotate who was on the top bunk midway through our trip.
5. The Geyser
As part of the authentic National Park/Yellowstone theming the Wilderness Lodge has its very own geyser that erupts on a schedule. It is a pretty cool sight to be at the pool or on your balcony and watch it shoot up into the air (& hear it too). I’ve read that they have sensors on it to adjust the height depending on the wind to minimize getting guests wet with the spray. This is just another one of those Disney details that makes the resort experience feel more immersive and authentic.
At Wilderness Lodge you have some great dining options. Of course you don’t have to be staying there to dine at the restaurants on site, but it definitely makes it convenient. If you are looking for family friendly fun Whispering Canyon is a great place to eat. This table service restaurant is very interactive (unless you don’t want it to be) and serves up “cowboy” specialties like ribs. Requesting ketchup or asking for one too many refills on your drink can result in some funny antics from your server and fellow diners. And don’t forget about the wooden pony races. If a more refined dining experience is what you are looking for you should choose Artist Point. This signature dining destination serves up food indicative of the Pacific Northwest with excellent service and beautiful surroundings. Reservations are recommended for both of these options (407-WDW-DINE or Disneyworld.com). If you want good food without a reservation you can visit the quick service location Roaring Forks, they offer some delicious options—especially the Mickey Waffle breakfast choices. The Territory Lounge also provides some nice options without a reservation.
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3. Pools & Splash Pad
Wilderness Lodge has a great feature pool that is part of the storyline of the entire resort. It all starts in the lobby of the resort with the little bubbling thermal feature, flows out from the inside all the way to the Silver Springs pool. While it is not flashy like the pools at the Polynesian or Yacht and Beach Club, it is still a great place to cool off and have fun. My boys give the slide high marks, and there are always lots of great poolside games and activities offered by the recreation staff. Located next to the pool is a great splash pad themed to match the resort that little ones can enjoy. If you prefer a quieter pool break the pool over by the Disney Vacation Club Villas is a great option.
One of the things I love the best about the Wilderness Lodge is its location and ease of transportation to the Magic Kingdom. While there is a bus option to the park (especially useful when inclement weather shuts down the boat), I much prefer to take the boat over. It is a leisurely ride over Bay Lake to Seven Seas Lagoon, and I think it is even better coming back to help you relax after a long day in the parks—think of it like a commute from your home in the country to your job in the city. Boat transportation is also available via a separate route to the Contemporary and the Fort Wilderness Campground in case you have dining reservations. Here’s a tip: sometimes it is faster to take a very early morning boat to the Contemporary and walk to the Magic Kingdom from there.
1. The Lobby
Hands down the best thing about the Wilderness Lodge. You walk in the second set of doors and it literally takes your breath away. The soaring atrium, the totem poles, the timber construction and the fireplace—it all works together to transport you to another time and place. It is even more majestic at Christmastime with the gigantic tree and garland adorning the balconies overlooking the lobby. If you have the opportunity to take a tour of the Wilderness Lodge I highly recommend it. You can check at the Concierge desk on the main floor to find out times and availability. The tour will teach you all about the design elements that were chosen, the construction methods, how the architecture reflects that of the actual National Park Lodges from the early 20th century, and how Native American influences are used throughout. There are so many things I love about the lobby, you really need to take some time to explore on your own as well. You can find nooks and crannies where you can sit and relax, read a book, or catch up with your family. In addition to the large fireplace with the stonework that mimics the layers of rock you can find a smaller fireplace on an upper floor that makes a nice little intimate setting. There is a balcony with rocking chairs that looks out over Bay Lake—a great place to watch the Electrical Water Pageant. And throughout the main floor of the lobby and the balconies on upper floors you will find artifacts from Native American tribes and the old west that help authenticate your surroundings. And don’t forget to look up and take in the light fixtures that look like teepees and all of the details on the totem poles. It is simply amazing.
Is the Wilderness Lodge one of your favorite resorts? Why do you love to stay there?