Disney Wilderness Lodge Deluxe Resort Review and Information

by josh on April 11, 2010

Wondering how the Wilderness Lodge stacks up against the other Disney World Deluxe Resorts? Check out The Best Disney World Deluxe Resorts for a comparison of the eight Deluxes in a variety of categories including Best Layout, Best Dining, Best Transportation, Best Location, Best Rooms, Best Pool, and Best Overall Deluxe Resort.

Address:

901 Timberline Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-1000

Direct Phone: 1- 407-824-3200, Fax: 1-407-824-3232, General Reservations: 1-407-WDISNEY (1-407-934-7639)

Resort Class: The Wilderness Lodge is a Deluxe resort, the most expensive resort type.  There are ten different room, suite, concierge class, and view configurations.  The Standard rooms are much cheaper than the other Deluxe Resorts, except for the Animal Kingdom Lodge which is similarly priced.  A Standard room with a Standard View runs $240 during Value Season, which is $45 less than the cheapest room at the Contemporary Resort and $170 less per night than the Grand Floridian’s least expensive room.  Compared to the Moderates, the Wilderness Lodge is about $90 more per night.  Unlike most of the other Deluxe resorts, the Wilderness Lodge does not offer many suites.  The largest suite, the Presidential, is only one bedroom and sleeps just four people.

Location: The Wilderness Lodge is officially a Magic Kingdom area resort that shares Bay Lake with the Contemporary Resort and Fort Wilderness Camp Ground.  While it is in close proximity to the Magic Kingdom, the Wilderness Lodge is a good 20 minutes away from Epcot and the Hollywood Studios and a solid 30 minutes or more away from the Animal Kingdom.

Size:  At 727 rooms, the Wilderness Lodge is a relatively small resort.  The main building is seven stories tall and houses the resort’s restaurants, check-in area, shops, and some of the guestrooms.  Attached to the main building are two wings that jut out opposite of each other with the pool and a large courtyard in the middle.  The majority of the guestrooms are found in these two 6-story wings.  All of the rooms are located under one roof, which means long hallways and potentially long walks if you find yourself at the end of one of the wings.  Nonetheless, it shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to get from your room to any point of interest at the resort.

Room Amenities and Quality: The Wilderness Lodge offers Standard rooms with three different views – Standard, Woods, and Courtyard.  Like the Animal Kingdom Lodge, you can also book a Standard room with one queen bed and a bunk bed.  Bunk Bed rooms are available with Woods and Courtyard views and cost about $35 more per night than rooms with two queen beds.  Bunk Bed rooms are ideal for families with two children who do not want to share a bed.  Concierge level service is also available from $410 per night.  Deluxe rooms are only available with Concierge Service and start at $540 per night.  These rooms are comparable in size to rooms at the Grand Floridian and have extra space that includes a queen-size sleeper sofa and an extra television.

Most of the Wilderness Lodge’s Standard rooms are about 340 square feet and can accommodate up to four people.  Note that the size of the rooms is only 30 feet larger than those found at the Moderate resorts and about 100 square feet smaller than Standard rooms at the Grand Floridian.  This is one reason why the resort is cheaper than the other Deluxes.  Rooms come with all of the Deluxe amenities including: two queen-size beds or one queen size bed and a set of bunk beds, small table, two chairs, ceiling fan, internet access ($10 per 24 hours), 32” LCD television, small safe, telephone, hairdryer, iron, ironing board, alarm clock, coffeemaker, refrigerator, bathroom with double sinks, shower/bathtub combo, toilet, and mirror.  All rooms have a balcony or a patio.

Wilderness Lodge rooms have a Native American theme with dark wooden furniture, rustic artwork, gorgeous wooden carved headboards, and colorful bedspreads and seat cushions.  Bathrooms feature two sinks, marble countertops, and slightly better lighting than the Polynesian or Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Bathrooms are still dark, so you may want to bring a lighted makeup mirror if you plan to apply makeup.  Although the resort completed a room refurbishment project in early 2007, rooms and fixtures are beginning to show signs of wear again, especially in the shower/bathroom area.  Significant problems are rare and if you have a problem with a shower head or damaged furniture then you should have no problem getting a replacement.  Overall, the rooms are furnished well and the only real problem with them is their small size when compared with the other Deluxe resorts.

Theme and Layout: The Wilderness Lodge is modeled after the Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone National Park.  It’s one of the best themed resorts at Disney World, on the same level as the Polynesian and Animal Kingdom Lodge.  The resort’s lobby features an 82-foot tall stone fireplace, two 55-foot tall totem poles imported from the Pacific Northwest, large tepee chandeliers, timber pillars, and expansive hardwood floors.  The rest of the grounds are themed just as extravagantly with lavish gardens and plentiful wooded areas with native northwest plant and tree species.  The resort is truly a destination unto itself and is worth a visit even if you aren’t staying here.

View upgrades cost about as much at the Wilderness Lodge as they would cost at other resorts.  However, there isn’t as much of a payoff as there might be upgrading to a Magic Kingdom View at the Contemporary or Savanna View at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  At the Wilderness Lodge, an upgrade to a “Woods View” costs at least $35 extra per night.  Since trees are tall, you probably won’t be overlooking a large wooded area from your balcony.  Instead, the trees will be at eye level and it will be difficult to see much other than more trees.  “Courtyard View” rooms face the interior of the resort and most have a view of the pool.  While it is a nice view, I don’t think it’s worth spending $300+ on it over a five night vacation, since you probably won’t be able to see the Magic Kingdom fireworks or have an outstanding view of Bay Lake.  For the “best rooms” at the resort, read on to that section below.

Pool: “Silver Creek Springs” is the Wilderness Lodge’s feature pool.  Located at the back of the resort, Silver Springs is a gorgeous pool that is surrounded by dense wooded areas and Bay Lake.  One neat feature is that the water that fills the pool actually starts inside of the Wilderness Lodge’s main building and you can follow it down to the pool area where it transforms from a small stream into a full size pool.  There is also a kiddie pool attached to the main pool and two hot tubs to enjoy as well.  The Wilderness Lodge also has a quiet pool, Hidden Springs, located near the Wilderness Lodge Villas.  There is a third hot tub available there.  The feature pool can get busy, especially during summer months.

Transportation: The Wilderness Lodge usually shares bus service with Fort Wilderness and occasionally the Grand Floridian and Polynesian as well.  This can add 20-30 minutes or more to your trip, especially if you’re picking up from both Fort Wilderness and the Grand Floridian.  There is also a marina in the back of the resort with boat access to the Magic Kingdom, Contemporary Resort, and Fort Wilderness.  This is a convenient way to get to the Magic Kingdom and to the many restaurants and recreation opportunities at the Monorail Resorts and Fort Wilderness.

The times below are calculated after the bus or boat leaves for its final destination.

Hollywood Studios: about 15 minutes
Epcot: about 15 minutes
Animal Kingdom: about 15 minutes
Magic Kingdom via Bus: less than 10 minutes

Magic Kingdom via Boat: about 10 minutes

Best Rooms: The great majority of rooms at the Fort Wilderness Lodge look directly out at trees or into the middle of the resort.  Generally, higher floors are better because they offer better views and should be less noisy.  I would recommend requesting a room in one of the wings because rooms in the main building, while more convenient, also have to deal with the rowdiness of the Whispering Canyon restaurant and general noise from people in the lobby.  You also don’t want a room overlooking the loading/unloading zone where trucks drop off supplies to the resort.  Even if you do manage to be placed in a room overlooking the service area or on top of Whispering Canyon, you still shouldn’t have much of a problem with noise.

If you’re requesting a room with a view, I would recommend rooms 6004, 6006, 6008, 6010, 6012, 6014, 6016, 6018, 6020, 6022, 6024, 6026, 6028, 6030, which all have views of the evening fireworks.  Rooms with a 5 as the first digit and the same last three digits as the rooms above also have a good view of the Magic Kingdom, but they are just one floor lower (i.e. rooms 5004, 5006, 5008, etc).    Rooms 6169, 6168, 6167, 6166, 6003, 6002, 6001, 6000, 5169, 5168, 5167, 5166, 5003, 5002, 5001, 5000, 4169, 4168, 4167, 4166, 4003, 4002, 4001, 4000 all have a balcony that directly overlooks Bay Lake, making them desirable as well.  The great majority of rooms at the Wilderness Lodge don’t have a breathtaking view, but it’s always pleasant to spend some time sitting out on the balcony and enjoying the fresh air anyway.

On-Site Dining Options: The Wilderness Lodge features a decent counter service, Signature Dining restaurant, and a fun sit-down restaurant.  Roaring Fork, the counter service, features many of the items you’ve come to expect – burgers, sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and salads for lunch and dinner, as well as the usual hot and cold breakfast items.  There is a yogurt buffet where you can add your own granola and fruit which is fun for breakfast.  Roaring Fork is not particularly large and gets crowded, especially with the extra Villa guests.  My recommendation would be to eat at off-peak times or be prepared to take the food back to your room.  For breakfast, you’ll want to be there well before the 8am rush.

Whispering Canyon Cafe is a fun restaurant along the same vein as the 50s Prime Time Café at Hollywood Studios.  Your server may have several tricks up his or her sleeve during your meal.  For example, if you ask for ketchup, don’t be surprised if 30 or more bottles show up.  The atmosphere is meant to be fun, but some guests don’t appreciate the extra fanfare.  My suggestion would be to bring your sense of humor hat because the antics are meant to be fun, not bothersome.  On the Dining Plan, you can order a bottomless milkshake as your beverage which is a nice plus.  The most popular item on the menu is the all-you-care-to-eat skillet, which includes pork ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, salad, coleslaw, and warm cornbread.  At $26.99 per person it’s in line with other buffet meals.  Breakfast features its own skillet, with eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage, waffles, biscuits, and gravy for $14.99 per person.  Overall, the atmosphere is fun and I would recommend it if the skillet and a milkshake sound good.  Since it’s just a short trip from the Magic Kingdom, I would also recommend making a reservation here to give you an opportunity to see the Wilderness Lodge up close even if you aren’t staying at the resort.  The lobby and grounds are amazing and it’s a nice way to enjoy a meal and get a chance to see the resort.

Artist Point is the Wilderness Lodge’s Signature restaurant, which means it costs two credits on the Dining Plan and is a little nicer than your standard Park restaurants.  It’s also one of the least popular Signature restaurants, which makes it relatively easy to get a late or unplanned reservation.  Its unpopularity isn’t necessarily due to the quality of food or service, but Artist Point isn’t a particularly exciting or interesting restaurant, nor does it have a great view or anything else that makes it stand out from the pack.  Nonetheless, the menu features some delicious entrées, with an emphasis on Pacific Northwest flavors.  The restaurant is usually calmer than most other restaurants which makes it a good choice if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Park restaurants.  The grilled buffalo is a favorite and the side dishes are excellent and large enough to share.  Entrées are in the $30-$45 range, which is high considering the cost of the ingredients.  If you’re staying at the Wilderness and find yourself without a reservation or little energy to leave the resort, then I would recommend Artist Point if you have the wallet for it.  Otherwise, I don’t think I would put it on the top of my list unless you also wanted to check out the resort’s lobby and grounds.

Full reviews coming soon.

Best For: Those who want all of the Deluxe amenities at a slightly lower price.  People who prefer to be close to the Magic Kingdom, but far enough away to feel removed from the hustle and bustle of the Parks.

Worst For: Those who plan to spend most of their time away from the Magic Kingdom and will rely on Disney Transportation.  People expecting the same room size as the other Deluxe resorts or groups of five who want to stay in a Standard room.

Summary of Key Points: Along with the Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Wilderness Lodge is one of the more “Moderate” Deluxes.  The room size, at 344 square feet, is only about 30 feet larger than the Moderates and about 100 feet smaller than the Deluxes on the monorail system (Polynesian, Contemporary, Grand Floridian).  At about $90 more per night than the Moderates or $170 less per night than the Grand Floridian, the prices reflect its more Moderate status.  Also like the Moderates, Standard rooms at the Wilderness Lodge only sleep four people, compared to five at most other Deluxes.  The other major complaint is its shared bus service with Fort Wilderness, Grand Floridian, and Polynesian.  While Fort Wilderness isn’t too far out of the way, the Grand Floridian is at least a ten minute drive and usually in the opposite direction of the bus’s final destination.  This can add a significant amount of time when traveling to the Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios via bus.  Finally, the resort’s counter service does not have adequate seating, especially during peak meal times.  You can pretty much forget about getting a table if you arrive at 8am for breakfast.

Luckily, the Wilderness Lodge has many positive traits that far outweigh the negatives.  First, the resort is beautiful.  From the grounds, to the lobby, to the pool, to the rooms, everything about the Wilderness Lodge is themed perfectly and the stellar attention to detail makes guests actually feel like they’ve left Florida and entered a wooden lodge in the Pacific Northwest.  There are a number of different locations around the resort to relax including the beach area, poolside, and in various nooks around the resort.  The Wilderness Lodge is convenient to the Magic Kingdom and offers a free scenic boat ride to the Fort Wilderness, Contemporary Resort, and the Magic Kingdom.  This makes it easy to travel to the Contemporary and transfer to the other Monorail resorts or Magic Kingdom.  Silver Springs, the resort’s feature pool, is a pleasant area and the quiet pool is rarely busy for those who prefer more space to swim.

The views from most rooms at the Wilderness Lodge are nothing to write home about.  Unlike the Monorail Resorts or the Animal Kingdom Lodge where there are magnificent views of the lake, Magic Kingdom, or wildlife savannas, most Wilderness Lodge rooms look out directly at trees or only have a side-view of Bay Lake.  While this shouldn’t be a make it or break it problem, it’s worth noting that you probably won’t have a view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks from your balcony or look out over Bay Lake directly.  For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend upgrading to a better view unless you can guarantee one of the “best rooms” listed above.

Overall, I would recommend the Wilderness Lodge to anyone who likes the architecture, theme, and plans to spend a considerable amount of time at the resort and the Magic Kingdom.  If the theme is of little importance, then you might consider a Garden Wing room at the Contemporary for about $45 more per night.  Garden Wing rooms are much larger, sleep five people, and have better furnishings and amenities than Wilderness Lodge rooms.  The Contemporary is also more convenient and has better transportation options.  If theme is important, then the Wilderness Lodge wins hands down.  Even if you’re not staying at the Wilderness Lodge, I would try to catch a boat ride over to check out the lobby and grounds and have lunch or dinner at one of the two sit-down restaurants.

Overall Rank on The Best Disney World Deluxe Resorts: 4th out of 8

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Melanie Byers February 6, 2011 at 6:34 pm

We stayed at Wilderness Lodge for a week in January 2011. It was a great choice, with features to attract everyone in the family. Our college athlete son ran the trails and used the fitness center daily. Our 6-year-old daughter loved the pool and would have swum daily had it not been so cold that week. My husband and I loved the rustic ambience and the convenient boat access to the Magic Kingdom. We were also tickled that the furnishings in the lobby and other public areas were Stickley Mission, made near our home in Central New York.

During our stay the main hot tubs and the geyser were under repair. To counter that we had lower off-season crowds.

I would gladly stay at Wilderness Lodge again, if only to see the geyser in action.

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Katie February 14, 2012 at 8:34 pm

I’m curious if you know if any of the “recommended” rooms are bunk bed rooms.

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