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Sue Holland

Photo Tour of Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort

Friday, January 11, 2002
Text and photos by Sue Holland, MousePlanet staff writer

Wilderness Lodge is one of WDW's most beautiful resorts
Wilderness Lodge is one of WDW's most beautiful resorts

While no resort is going to appeal to everyone's tastes, Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort, along with the Grand Floridian, is considered one of the most beautiful resorts at Walt Disney World by many visitors. It is one of the few resorts worth making a trip just to wander around the lobby. Whether it is your first visit or your 50th, the theming is carried to such detail few people leave unimpressed.

The Lodge's courtyard captures the atmosphere of the American Northwest
The Lodge's courtyard captures the atmosphere of the American Northwest

The Lodge was built to simulate the great lodges of the National Parks many decades ago. While other resorts are full of palm trees and pastel colors, visitors here feel like they have been transported to the American Northwest, except this lodge is cleaner and contains many hidden Mickeys.

The Lodge's spectacular lobby (photo by Brian Bennett)
The Lodge's spectacular lobby (photo by Brian Bennett)

The lobby, several stories tall, is constructed of light-colored logs. Hanging chandeliers with teepees for adornment provide lighting. Some visitors complain that the resort is too dark. Although darker than a Caribbean-themed resort, this adds to the illusion of being in the Northwest. The resort was expanded in 2000 with the addition of the Villas at Wilderness Lodge, the Disney Vacation Club portion of the resort. Just like at Boardwalk, the resort consists of both club and non-club resorts that operate separately yet share the same public areas such as lobbies and restaurants.

A Villas at Wilderness Lodge studio
A Villas at Wilderness Lodge studio

At approximately 314-square feet, the rooms in the original lodge are more similar in size to the moderate resorts than the other deluxe resorts. Ranging from 385- to 1000-square feet, the units in the Villas are similar in size to the units at Boardwalk Villas.

The studio's handy kitchenette
The studio's handy kitchenette

The studios on the Villas side are far superior to the rooms on the other side. Besides having a sleeper sofa that provides comfortable seating by day, the quality of the furnishings in my opinion seems higher and the units are more attractive. In addition, the studios feature a very handy mini-kitchen. Only units not booked by club members are available to the general public, but if you are lucky enough to have access to one, by all means grab it!

The fireplace in the Villa lobby
The fireplace in the Villa lobby

Both the original Lodge and the Villas building have lobby areas, although the only front desk is located in the Lodge. Both lobbies have fireplaces and comfortable chairs inviting visitors to sit and enjoy the atmosphere.

The Villa's Iron Spike Room
The Villa's Iron Spike Room

At the Villas they have decorated one room off the lobby with memorabilia depicting Walt Disney's love of trains - the Iron Spike Room.

Whispering Canyon Cafe
Whispering Canyon Cafe

Visible from the main lobby is the Whispering Canyon Cafe, the family-style restaurant. With excellent food and servers who enjoy playing pranks and sharing corny jokes, a meal here can be lots of fun. There are all-you-can-eat choices as well as a standard menu available for all three meals. Artist Point is the more upscale restaurant, open for dinner starting at 5:30 pm. Both restaurants feature wine and menu items from the Pacific Northwest, including Alaskan salmon, Tillamook cheese, and even buffalo.

Silver Springs Pool viewed from Bay Lake
Silver Springs Pool viewed from Bay Lake

Casual dining is available at Roaring Forks, a snack bar with surprisingly tasty food. Food can be eaten inside, outside near the pool, or taken back to your room. Refillable mugs are also available.

A chilly Lifeguard
A chilly Lifeguard

Silver Springs, the Lodge's main pool is located behind the original Lodge and begins as a spring in the lobby. The water flows under the window wall to become Silver Creek, widens as it approaches a waterfall, then becomes the pool itself. With a curving water slide, the pool is quite popular in warm weather, although the pool is also open in rather chilly weather.

Hidden Springs Pool is located behind the villas building
Hidden Springs Pool is located behind the villas building

Behind the Villas is the quiet pool, called Hidden Springs Pool. Here there are no water slides or lifeguards, and it is a nice respite for those seeking a more peaceful and less crowded atmosphere.

Rear view of the villas building
Rear view of the villas building

Towels are available at each pool, and beverages can be purchased at the Trout Pass Pool Bar at the main pool.

bicycle, boat, and other rentals are available
bicycle, boat, and other rentals are available

Other recreational offerings include bicycle and boat rentals. Bay Lake is an excellent place to experience the Water Mouse rentals (mini speedboats) and they can be driven over near the Magic Kingdom as well. Bikes can be ridden along the paved path in the woods to Ft Wilderness, where there are miles of bike paths for safe riding. With exercise stations set up along the way, this path is popular with joggers as well as the occasional rollerblader.

Sturdy Branches Fitness Center
bicycle, boat, and other rentals are available

Fitness buffs can take advantage of the Sturdy Branches Health Club, which is free for DVC members and available to non-members for a nominal fee. Massages are also available, for a fee.

Parents wanting a night out without the kids can make use of the Cub's Den. This childcare facility for kids aged 4 and older (and fully potty trained) is open from 4:30 pm until midnight. The current cost is $8 per hour, with a meal included.

All DVC resorts have activities taking place each day, since so many of these guests are not likely to be in the theme parks all day every day. During November 2001 the scheduled activities included duck races, pool games, crafts, giant twister game, fireside storytelling, beach volleyball, and tours of the resort. Be sure to get the current list during check-in.

The Mercantile
The Mercantile

The Mercantile, located just around the corner from the front desk is a fairly large merchandise shop, which carries sundries, basic groceries, and a selection of Walt Disney World and DVC souvenirs. While outside, be sure to watch for the geyser to erupt. The geyser erupts every hour on the hour from 7:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., simulating Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. The geyser is located between the pool and the beach. Each night the Electrical Water Pageant passes by at 9:35 p.m., and is visible from the beach or the dock.

Transportation to the parks ranges from very good to just fair. To get to the Magic Kingdom there is a boat, but to other parks it is necessary to board a bus that then stops at the Polynesian and Grand Floridian before heading to the park. At least Wilderness Lodge guests are pretty much assured a seat - by the time the bus stops at the other resorts the seats may be gone. There is also a small boat that travels between Wilderness Lodge, Ft. Wilderness, and the Contemporary. If I just miss the boat to the Magic Kingdom, I hop on the boat to the Contemporary and walk over from there rather than wait up to 20 minutes for the next one to arrive.

The resort is beautiful, peaceful, and especially well-decorated during the holiday season. Strolling the grounds or relaxing in the lobby before or after a great meal in one of the restaurants is a very enjoyable way to spend a few hours. It is one of the few resorts that truly deserves a visit whether you are staying there or not!


Contact Sue at sue.holland@mouseplanet.com.

MORE INFO

Here are several links to content on MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide that may help you plan a trip to Disney's Wilderness Lodge and the Villas at Wilderness Lodge:

The On-Site /  Off-Site Debate

On-Site but Non-Disney Accommodations Options

WDW Resorts from A to Z

Wilderness Lodge

Villas at Wilderness Lodge


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sue has been hooked on Walt Disney World since her first visit in 1972 with her parents and younger brother. She kept returning more frequently until she moved to Florida in 1986.

After joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in 1997, she now visits almost monthly. She also spends time at the DVC's non-WDW locations, and is experienced with the Disney cruise ships.

She takes many of these trips on her own, but she's also toured WDW with large groups of people, including families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

She works as the Administrative Services Division Head for a large residential facility administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families. She currently resides in Southwest Florida with her teenage son.

Sue is one of our most prolific trip report writers. Read her trip report archive here.

You can contact Sue here.

Get the latest info about the resort at “Park Update: Walt Disney World.”

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