Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort…a place where the rustic charm of the National Parks’ old grand lodges meets deluxe accommodations and modern amenities. Inspired by Yellowstone’s 1904 Old Faithful Inn, this resort has been attracting guests since 1994 with its towering pines, warm, woodsy interiors, and overall prime location. Guests can’t get enough of the breathtaking, towering 8-floor lobby constructed of solid Lodgepole Pine and have so much to discover with the authentic, towering totem poles and Northwestern Native American representations found throughout. There are several places to sink into a plush, leather chair and cozy up to a burning fireplace or if exploring is your thing you will love their scenic nature trails. Incredible dining, whimsical pools, and an invigorating spa also await you! There is plenty to capture the heart of any guest at this home-away-from-home Disney resort. An unparalleled sensory experience, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge beckons that untamed, wild heart of yours to experience its rustic wonder. Here are 10 benefits to staying at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort!
This resort sits on the shores of Bay Lake and is a short boat ride away from Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, and, of course, Magic Kingdom. From the beach you can be treated to the charming Electrical Water Pageant which runs nightly. Though viewing the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks show isn’t ideal from this beach because of the direction the beach faces (and the obstructing pine trees), you can still get a pretty decent view from the front of the resort (and if you’re lucky, an upper floor room that faces Magic Kingdom). Have no fear, though; simply take a complimentary boat ferry to the Contemporary and head up to the fireworks viewing deck on the fourth floor for an out-of-this-world view of the show.
Because this resort is connected to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground via a nature trail, renting a bike at the Teton Boat and Bike Rental will give you the opportunity to explore all that Fort Wilderness also has to offer (petting zoo, horse-drawn wagon rides, Chip n’ Dale Campfire Sing-a-long, etc.).
This resort is a hop, skip and jump away from the Magic Kingdom. Oh-so-close to the most magical place on earth, it’ll take you no time to arrive to this theme park via a boat ferry, which arrives every 10 minutes or so, and is one of the shortest boat rides on Disney property. The complimentary buses will also take you to the other Disney Parks, as well as Downtown Disney, and run frequently, transporting you to your ultimate destination quite breezily.
There are few places at Disney that’ll provide you this many opportunities to get into that deep state of super satisfying relaxation. Even though you are incredibly close to the Magic Kingdom and other resorts, you feel as if you are in an entirely different world here. There is a very private, very secluded feel made possible, in part, by the surrounding woods and tall pines. As mentioned previously, this resort has cozy fireplaces throughout the grounds, equipped with some of the most comfortable leather chairs you’ve ever settled into. The ambiance of the resort is warm, dim, and inviting, practically begging you to kick up your feet and forget about the outside world. There is a quiet, sandy beach with plenty of lounge chairs for you to relax in (perhaps sip a cocktail in) and enjoy some Florida sun. Also located inside the Wilderness Lodge Villas is the Sturdy Branches Health Club where you’ll find spa services available (as well as a wonderful fitness center). Indulgent treatments like facials and massages found here will no doubt send you to your happy place and is a great way to really make a lasting impression on your dream vacation.
7. Cookie Decorating Hour
The Wilderness Lodge has this really neat activity that not all Disney Resorts offer. It’s a FREE cookie decorating hour available to kids and kids-at-heart. It’s called Magic Cookie Corner and it’s held at Roaring Fork (the quick-service dining spot). Upon arriving, you’ll receive a basic sugar cookie, icing and sprinkles. Have at it, and then scarf down that beautiful creation of yours (after discreetly posting your masterpiece to social media, of course). And no joke, those sugar cookies are flippin’ fantastic! Check with the front desk for the days and times this activity takes place.
6. The Magic Cookie Bar
Have you ever had a sweet treat so incredibly delicious, that you are constantly comparing all other sweet treats to it forever and always? The Magic Cookie Bar—not to be confused with the above-mentioned “Magic Cookie Corner”—is a quick-service goodie found at The Roaring Fork and will be one of the tastiest, yummiest, close-your-eyes-and-drift-away-delicious “cookies” you’ll ever have. This decadent dessert is a square bar chocked full of chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, condensed milk, coconut, and nuts. The graham cracker base gives off a buttery, brown-sugary crunch, really rounding out the flavors. Because there is A LOT going on with this cookie, each and every bite is oh-so-rich, but that has never stopped me from single-handedly eating the entire thing in one sitting. This is the epitome of a must-eat Disney treat, and you can find it here at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge!
5. The Carolwood Pacific Room
The next time you find yourself at this resort, make certain you stop by the Carolwood Pacific Room found nestled inside the Villas building. Here you can spend some serious leisure time playing chess, reading a book by the fireplace, watching television, or taking in some wonderful Disney history. Most people know that Walt Disney himself had a fascination with steam trains, even building his very own live steam backyard railroad at his California home called the Carolwood Pacific Railroad. Two of these train cars were donated by his daughter to the Wilderness Lodge and can be found in this room. While these are certainly the centerpiece of the room, there are many other tributes to Walt Disney and his love of trains all around this peaceful spot, including a small replica of Walt’s Lilly Belle, as well as photos displaying the train in action.
4. True Wildlife Spotting
Sure, you can see exotic animals at Animal Kingdom Lodge any day of the week, but there is something enchanting about coming upon a deer in its natural habitat. I don’t think there has ever been a time when I haven’t seen deer just outside this resort near the surrounding forest, and am usually lucky to spot more than one. Also roaming around these lush forests are rabbits, armadillos, ducks, geese, and peacocks (as well as the occasional possum and—yikes!—skunk).
3. Beach Area
During one of my week-long vacations at this resort, there was a day or two that I was feeling sluggish and under the weather. I didn’t want to spend all day cooped up in the hotel room so I ventured out to the beach area to relax under the sun’s rays and capture some much needed Vitamin D. I was in complete shock at just how empty the beach was; in fact, when I first arrived I was the only one there! Rows upon rows of empty lounge chairs beckoned me and I sunk into one with a cold drink and a newly-fading headache. I figure most people prefer the pools because you can actually enjoy the water whereas at the beach you are restricted to just the sand (no swimming in the lake!), but it is awfully serene just sitting on the shores of the lake and taking a breather. This is a great location for those that just need a break from the hustle and bustle of the day. Nearby, you will find boat rentals and have MANY options for spending some time zipping around Bay Lake.
After being closed for much of last year due to refurbishment, the Silver Creek Springs Pool is back open with a new fence and a kiddie splash pad/play area. Like the new(ish) splash/play areas that were added to the Grand Floridian and Saratoga Springs, this enticing kiddie zone features a large bucket of continuously filling water that occasionally unloads a tidal wave on the entire play fort. Just outside the now-fenced in pool area is the Trout Pass Pool Bar, a great place to sip a cocktail and watch the nearby Fire Rock Geyser erupt. If you want a slightly less crowded place to catch some rays, there is a “leisure pool”—Hidden Springs Pool— located just outside of the Wilderness Lodge Villas. There are hot tubs/whirlpools at both pool locations.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is the home of two incredibly popular restaurants—Whispering Canyon Café and Artist Point. Whispering Canyon Café is a truly unique experience, one that will have you smiling throughout your meal with all the nearby shenanigans going on. If you are looking for a quiet, low-key meal this is NOT the place to go, folks! It’s rowdy, it’s loud—the servers are instigators with hilarious antics up their sleeve and are determined to make sure you have a good ol’ time! You’ll find fine frontier comfort food here, bottomless milkshakes, and all the ketchup you can possibly imagine. It’s a fun environment, one that kids will certainly love! If you want to enjoy the food, but would rather watch the hubbub from afar without having to participate, they have a new “coaster” you can place at the end of your table which indicates just that. Artist Point is a signature, fine-dining restaurant with fantastic food. The stunning waterfront views make this restaurant a hit and the delicious meals make for a memorable dinner. This menu celebrates the culinary heritage of the Pacific Northwest, and you’ll find items like salmon and buffalo on the menu. This menu is always full of fresh, seasonal fare. Advanced dining reservations can be made up to 180 days for either restaurant and are HIGHLY recommended.
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