Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort: A Total Disney Experience

by Jill Clinevell Shelton, PassPorter Guest Contributor
Last modified 03-09-2011

Photo illustrating Walt Disney World - Lodging

If you enjoy Disney theming at its best, love relatively quick and scenic transportation to the Magic Kingdom, and long for laid-back pampering at a deluxe resort, Disney's Wilderness Lodge is the resort for you!

From the moment you turn onto Timberline Drive and wind your way through the tall conifers and Redwoods that line the road, you’ll know you’ve entered a magical place. The tall main gate made from bundles of huge logs welcomes you to the Wilderness Lodge and gives you a hint of what’s to come.

Wilderness Lodge Exterior Guest Rooms photo
Wilderness Lodge Exterior Guest Rooms

Here are some of the pool view rooms from the exterior.

As you top the incline, you’ll catch your first glimpse of the majestic Wilderness Lodge. Its beautiful log exterior with the many-leveled green roof looks just as you might imagine a grand lodge might appear. Cast members dressed as park rangers wait to greet you as you pull up to the massive front doors.

The sights, smells, and sounds that greet you when you step over that threshold onto the rough-hewn granite floors momentarily take your breath away. The seven-story high lobby of the Wilderness Lodge is breathtaking to behold. You feel tiny and childlike as you glance backward at the huge doors through which you just stepped and then see the enormous bundled log pillars and totem poles. The beautiful teepee light fixtures hang several stories above you and beg to be more closely examined from the floors above. You immediately notice the comforting smell of a wood fire burning in the nine-story fireplace on the opposite wall, and the background music evokes the frontier spirit.

The motto of the resort, “Don’t just stay … explore,” is just what you long to do as you make your way across the vast lobby, past the mission-style furniture placed in groupings on reproduction Native American rugs, and toward the little foot bridge near the back side of the lobby. Any children in your group will rush toward the bubbling spring and clamber to the top of the bridge to peer over and toss in a penny. You’ll notice that the spring leads right under the glass wall of the lodge to a pebble-bottomed stream, Silver Creek. If you follow the stream outside into the courtyard, you’ll notice that it leads to Silver Creek Falls, which empties into the free-form swimming pool known as Silver Creek Springs. As you meander over the wooden walkways, you’ll notice the hot and cold Silver Creek Spas and soon you’ll come upon Fire Rock Geyser, modeled after Old Faithful, which erupts every hour from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm. (Better than the real thing, in true Disney style, the geyser is even programmed with a wind gauge, which dictates the height of the spray so nearby balconies stay dry.) As you turn to look back upon the majestic sight of the Lodge with its two enormous wings and the beautiful “nature” that abounds, you’ll know you’ve chosen the most magical place to stay.

For families, the loccation of Wilderness Lodge is perfect! After a scenic five-minute stroll from the back of the lodge, over cement pathways marked with animal paw prints, and over raised wooden walkways, you arrive at the Lodge’s private dock on Bay Lake. Hop aboard a launch to the Contemporary Resort, Fort Wilderness, or the Magic Kingdom. A trip back to the Lodge for a nap or a swim is just as quick and simple. At the end of the day, as the boat is approaching the Lodge, be sure to see if you can spot the bear face built into the architecture!

As with all deluxe resorts, amenities abound for you at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. There are three restaurants, a lounge and a poolside bar to choose from. For a quick meal or snack, choose Roaring Fork Snacks. The counter-service restaurant offers many quick “pick up and go” items as well as a few made to order fast food items. (The chicken salad sandwiches are delicious after a hard day of playing in the parks!) Whispering Canyon Café is a great family-oriented restaurant with Lincoln Logs to divert folks waiting to be seated, and stick horse races are organized among the diners. (Just don’t ask for the ketchup - you’ve been warned!) Artist Point is one of Disney World’s signature fine dining restaurants, featuring cuisine of the great Northwest prepared by world-class chefs. Among other amenities, the Lodge offers an arcade, health club, boat and bike rental, bike and jogging paths, a childcare "club," playground and a mercantile.

There are fireplaces on the floors overlooking the lobby that offer cozy nooks in which to relax, read, or have quiet conversation. Take a walk to the observation deck that overlooks the pool area and Bay Lake. It is the perfect viewing spot for the Electrical Water Pageant that entertains guests of the lake-view resorts every night. By day the deck offers a view of Discovery Island, the now closed wildlife preserve.

Upon check-in at the Wilderness Lodge, ask about being the Flag Family one morning of your stay. During this popular daily ceremony, one family is picked to meet a cast member and climb to the roof of the Lodge. The family then assists in raising the flags that fly high atop the Lodge. There is time for a look around at the spectacular view of the other parks and some of the area resorts. At the conclusion, the family is given a certificate to commemorate this special and magical event.

Tip: Ask About Being a Flag Family
When staying at the Wilderness Lodge you can request to be a "flag family." What this means is you get to go to the roof of the Lodge on your specified morning and raise all of the flags. One of the rangers accompanies your family to the roof level. There is a parapet around the roof so it is safe. You start with the American flag then the various other flags. When you are done you can spend some time up there. The views are tremendous. When you come back down you may even get to stop at the club level of the Lodge for the continental breakfast. You may also receive a certificate! - tip contributed by Tom
related tip

related tip Save This Tip

Don’t let your time at the Wilderness Lodge slip away without taking a guided tour of the Lodge, offered most mornings, or searching for Hidden Mickeys. The cast members at the front desk have copies of a Hidden Mickey scavenger hunt.

There are so many compelling reasons to visit Wilderness Lodge. It is majestic yet comfortable and cozy all at the same time. Once you visit, you’ll long for those comforting yet exhilarating sights, sounds, and smells that greet you when you arrive at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge!

Wilderness Lodge Resort photo
Wilderness Lodge Resort

A view of the Lodge from the dock

About the Author:
Jill is a former schoolteacher and a stay-at-home mom of two little Disney princesses. She and her family love learning about Disney secrets and history and are currently planning their next trip to the World, a Grand Gathering, for later this year.

Recent Walt Disney World Articles:

How Disney Trips Helped Me Overcome My Fear of Flying

How Disney Trips Helped Me Overcome My Fear of Flying

A Disney Parks Planning Article

The Star Wars Launch Bay at Hollywood Studios

The Star Wars Launch Bay at Hollywood Studios

A Walt Disney World Attraction Review

Premium Events at the Magic Kingdom

Premium Events at the Magic Kingdom

A Walt Disney World Event Review

Walt Disney World in a Wheelchair

Walt Disney World in a Wheelchair

A Walt Disney World Special Needs Article

Visiting Walt Disney World While Pregnant

7 Essential Lessons for Pregnant Moms at Disney World

A Walt Disney World Planning Article

More Related Links:
Disney's Wilderness Lodge: A Resort Review
Top 10 Reasons to Stay at the Disneyland Hotel

Top 10 Reasons to Stay at the Disneyland Hotel

A Disneyland Resort Review

Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando

Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando

A Universal Orlando Resort Review

Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows

Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows

A Walt Disney World Resort Review

Disney's Old Key West Resort and Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa

Disney's Old Key West Resort and Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa

A Walt Disney World Resort Comparison

Reader Comments:

Many have suggested the Wilderness Lodge and I see that people love it. It would be within our budget to upgrade here. PLEASE tell me more about it. I want to know if we would really like it, maybe I need to get over the rustic look of it?? I'm not a camper type person so does this mean it's not for me? Help!!??! We have two toddlers and thinking closer to MK may be easier.

     JAJ on May 4, 2009 @ 9:43 pm
It is close and convenient to get to MK and it is pure nature.

     cajunlace on May 4, 2009 @ 9:52 pm
I love, love, love Wilderness Lodge. I finally got to stay there last year. It is really is pure nature...don't let the "rustic" theme put you off -- it is a fabulous resort. AND to top it off, we were upgraded to concierge level!!!

     tio marco on May 4, 2009 @ 11:55 pm
If you don't think the Wilderness Lodge theming is for you....it may not be. Make sure you take the time to look at pictures of both resorts in the PassPorter Photo Archive to see what you think.

Personally, I really like the Wilderness Lodge for the warmth the theming exudes. The rooms are very comfortable with nice big TVs and balconies that look over lovely wooded areas (or the courtyard). I like that the resort is all in one building and that you don't have to go outside to get a bite to eat or to get to the pool area.

     HiddenMickey on May 5, 2009 @ 8:19 am
It's compact layout makes it feel cozy.
Ranger Stan.
The lobby is beautiful.
The pool is nice.
The boatride to MK.
The list can go on and on....bottom line, you'll love the Wilderness Lodge.

     wendybell on May 5, 2009 @ 9:25 am
-best themed of all WDW resorts
-gorgeous lobby
-WCC, Artist Point
-walking the grounds is so relaxing
--woods view fabulous
-boat ride to MK is very cool

     jimmymac on May 5, 2009 @ 9:29 am
I am not a camper either. Never spent the night in a tent and I have no desire to do so! With that being said, when I can finally afford to stay at a deluxe, WL is the one for me!!! I've had a tour of it (travel agent thing), and had 2 meals there. The theming is fantastic. Think of it as a luxury wood cabin, only better with all the amenities of the deluxe resorts!!! I can't wait for my kids to stay there either. The pool looks awesome, they can play on the beach, the lobby alone is amazing, and free tour will be great. It does help to appreciate the theming and decor if you've ever been out west for a vacation. You totally forget that you're in Florida and feel like you're in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. I don't think you'd be disappointed. Plus, MK is just a short boat ride away!!!

     disney_duke on May 5, 2009 @ 10:25 am
I like the rustic, cozy charm the Wilderness Lodge offers. The rockers in the lobby, in front of that magnificent fireplace are so welcoming after a long day in the park. The pool is great, esp. with the geyser in view. We love the boat ride to MK, and the bus stops are surrounded by beautiful landscaping. The staff is always wonderful, helpful and friendly. We like that it is one building, and that we can walk in the front door into the lobby and head straight to our room. If I remember correctly, the rooms have the flat screen LG TVs in them. The view from our room looked out towards the Villas pool, but we could see the lake and the Water parade at night. We also like WCC, its great fun with the kids.

     njsmama on May 5, 2009 @ 11:03 am
I think Wilderness Lodge is the most heavily themed of all the resorts. It's absolutely gorgeous and although, may look rustic from far, it's FANCY rustic. I love any kind of rustic and I love natural, such as all the timber they used in this resort. But it's not poor-style bayou rustic like the POR riverside (I love that too!). Believe me, I love all of the moderates, but this resort really puts them to shame. There are many subtle differences that can't just be explained between Deluxe and Moderate. I think you're making the right choice especially with two toddlers. It's an easy and exciting boat ride to the MK! The kids will love the theming even if you don't - or it's not your style. My DD was only 2 when we went there, now at 4 and being to WDW 8 times - she still gasps in surprise when we look at the resort pictures of WL and says "Mommy, that was a nice place!"

I think you'll be impressed and happy if you stay at WL. And if you still leave not liking it, at least you stayed Deluxe!

     Mary_Maas on May 5, 2009 @ 11:26 am
I could go on and on about how much I love WL. I love the ferry ride to MK. I love the peaceful surroundings of nature there. It is a comfortable, laid back resort but still with all the amenities. I'm not a camping person either, but I wouldn't want to stay anywhere else. (Although I would like to try the GF one time!) Enjoy!

     MelC on May 5, 2009 @ 11:47 am
Wilderness Lodge Photos Have a look, it's beautiful! We live in the Pacific NorthWest, so I thought I wouldn't enjoy it so much, but I :love: it. It's beautiful, nothing like camping!!
Love Ranger Stan too, he's a gem! Get the Tour of the Lodge with him!
Sign up to be a flag family
Nice pool & hot tubs.
Beach with marina
Walking trails
beautiful landscaping & theming.
Can watch Electric Water Parade from dock or beach.
Boat to MK, or FW and CR
Very nice rooms with private balcony.
Everything in one building.

We also love CBR, I don't think there is a wrong choice. Have a look at all the photos, there are resort photos on this site too, you may even find some of mine!
Have fun deciding.

     Sue M. on May 5, 2009 @ 6:55 pm
I am glad that this topic was brought up. We are booked for WL in September because my DDs want to stay there and I can't work up any enthusiasm. But I trust all of you opinions and vow to keep an open mind. Thanks.

     MMMD on May 6, 2009 @ 9:28 am
We are staying at WL too. I am looking forward to it. I also considered the BC for the pool but I did not want to pay the extra $ for BC.

     bcuinohio on May 6, 2009 @ 8:27 pm
We're staying at WL in October. Our first time staying deluxe. We actually picked it partly to "recelebrate" one of our most fantastic vacations last year to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

     RoonieRooToo on May 6, 2009 @ 8:43 pm
We adore WL. Here's our fan site for it: Overview | Disney's Wilderness Lodge Fan Site and a special link to our image galleries: Image galleries | Disney's Wilderness Lodge Fan Site

     bali on May 8, 2009 @ 6:06 pm
We really enjoyed our stay at the WL. The rooms are very nice -plenty of room for us, great balcony, roomy bathroom and sink area, enclosed closet. The lobby is WOW, check out the "secret" fireplace area on the 4th floor above the lobby. The pool is fun, the theming is gorgeous! We found the transportation to be very good -the boat to MK (or other resorts) was fantastic, we never waited long for a bus and there was never a "crush" of people to get on a bus. I could go on and on... It is a great resort. You will never once feel like you're camping or "roughing it".

     HollyH on May 9, 2009 @ 8:00 am
I would never describe the Wilderness Lodge as "rustic" - I don't do rustic! :noway: We are just back from 4 nights at the WL and as always, loved every minute. The lobby is stunning, the pool is just gorgeous, the boat transportation is a relaxing alternative to bus transportation to the Magic Kingdom, Whispering Canyon Cafe and Artist Point are great dining options, etc, etc. The rooms are comfortable but they are my one complaint, if you will, albeit a minor one - the rooms are a little dark for my taste but they are so warm and comfortable that this is nothing but a minor taste issue. smiley for :yes:

     Belle* on May 9, 2009 @ 8:42 am
This is a great community! Thanks for all the responses, we just changed our resort reservations from CBR to WL!

     JAJ on May 9, 2009 @ 12:54 pm
Ok, you'll probably want to slap me, but I just don't love the WL at all, sorry! :crazy: It reminds me way too much of Great Wolf Lodge! I know that WL at WDW came first, but we go to GWL up here every year, so to spend the dime to stay at WL makes no sense, and to get the bang for your buck, I'd rather spend that money to stay some place nicer, better decorated, more centrally located, and with better theming and a MUCH nicer pool - like Beach Club, or even better yet, save some major dime and stay at CBR smiley for ;). The one thing we really loved about WL was Whispering Canyon when we visited. Now, we havent stayed there, but we don't plan to either. It's just not the calibre of hotel I would expect for Deluxe accomodations. :(

     Buffalogirl18 on May 9, 2009 @ 12:59 pm
We stayed there in 07 for the first time. It was our first time upgrading from Mod. to Deluxe and we loved it!!!! We loved to boat ride to MK or to Contemp. to catch the monorail to go to Epcot. We loved the rooms - having a balcony, bigger beds, nicer closet, etc. We loved having it enclosed so we could get all around the resort without getting wet in the rain. Loved the food court, WCC and the lobby. We watched the elec. water pagent from the beach and could see some of the MK fireworks too. The pool was great also and we love the waterfall and geyser! Enjoy!

     Tricia Davids on May 9, 2009 @ 1:11 pm
I love the lobby, it's nice and compact (for ANY of the resorts!), the transportation to MK is great...for the others...eh...

the geyser is fun for the little ones, the pool is just the right size, the hot tub, ah...

I enjoy Artist's Point and DD still enjoys telling others about the waitress humiliating mom by having the entire restaraunt at Whispering Canyon make airplane noises as she fed me the remaider of my broccoli. Isn't that what family vacations are about?

     buckysmom on May 9, 2009 @ 2:52 pm
We stayed there in 2004 and loved everything about it!!! The theming was fabulous. When we first stepped into the lobby, we were just amazed...those tall log totem poles were amazing. This resort was modeled after many famous luxurious log resorts out west. The cast members here were tops...so friendly, prompt and helpful. This year, we're trying AKL, and I hope it measures up to WL.

     twinsljo on May 11, 2009 @ 12:13 pm
blankView all 22 comments in forum thread

So what do you think? Click here to share your comments, feedback, and experiences on this article and topic!

(Note: You must be a member of our PassPorter Message Board Community to leave comments. Join today for free!)

Updated 03-09-2011 - Article #591 

Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter, PassPorter News, published for more than 50,000 opt-in subscribers worldwide. As an added bonus for subscribing, you will receive a 20% discount coupon for the PassPorter Store -- no catch! We respect your privacy and never sell or rent our subscriber list.

Copyright 1998-2016
by PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.

PassPorter ~ 1998-2016 ~ 18 Years of Making Dreams Come True!
Publishers of bestselling travel guidebooks and proud recipients of 13 national book awards
Questions? Check our Site Map and visit our Help Desk to learn how to contact us online and by e-mail.
Please feel free to link to this page so that other vacationers can find it.

PassPorter in the News