It was long ago established that Walt Disney World’s holiday headquarters and core of Christmas cheer is Wilderness Lodge. Even though we love Main Street in Magic Kingdom (especially during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party), Echo Lake, and now Living with the Land, nothing can top the transportive tranquility of Wilderness Lodge.
I could sit in a rocking chair nestled by a fireplace, overlooking the lobby Christmas tree while the soothing background music envelopes me for hours. Maybe even days. There’s no place in Walt Disney World I’d rather be than Wilderness Lodge at Christmas-time. It’s simply the best. There shouldn’t be any dispute over that, especially as we conclusively established as much (via highly scientific evidence!) in last year’s Wilderness Lodge: WDW’s Best Place at Christmas post.
Sometimes, you find something so perfect you cannot imagine it being improved upon. Take the KFC Double Down, which got rid of that pesky bread and replaced it with glorious fried chicken. Couldn’t possibly get any better, right? Then boom, they release the Triple Down, among other glorious mash-ups of chicken, cheese, mac & cheese, and mashed potatoes. But I digress. Wilderness Lodge has yet to add fried chicken to its Christmas decor (a tragedy, really), but it has added a delightful bear and his gingerbread cabin…
That’s right, Wilderness Lodge has debuted a brand-new Gingerbread “Log” Cabin for 2019. It’s one of a few new holiday resort additions for this year, which also includes a gingerbread village at Saratoga Springs (we’ll share photos of that soon) and the classy and chic Christmas additions at Gran Destino Tower.
The additions at Saratoga Springs Resort aren’t really that exciting, and it’s not a huge surprise that Gran Destino has nice decorations (the big question mark still remaining is whether Disney’s Riviera Resort receives a holiday decor package for its first year–and basically just its first week or so–of operations).
Wilderness Lodge, on the other hand, came out of left field. It didn’t really seem like a weak spot in need of more holiday help. Nevertheless, it received this nice enhancement in the area that was a hot chocolate and refreshments station in previous years. Let’s take a look…
The display is nestled at the back of the lobby, near the murmuring creek and elevators.
Normally, this is one of my favorite sittin’ spots at Wilderness Lodge. I’ll gladly sacrifice those comfy chairs for a gingerbread display. (It helps that there are like 47 other places to sit that I love at Wilderness Lodge!)
Wilderness Lodge previously offered approximately 159 photogenic views during the holidays, but I think this one just might take the cake.
The cabin surrounded by poinsettias and evergreens with the lobby and Christmas tree in the background is just…chef’s kiss.
The cabin itself is pretty simple and straightforward–it’s not as elaborate or as ornate as the flagship gingerbread house at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, for instance.
However, it does have a number of charming details that really help elevate it…
Chief among these is Humphrey the Bear, who is stringing Christmas lights across the front of the gingerbread cabin.
Humphrey has been receiving more and more love from Disney lately (he also has made appearances at Disney California Adventure and Tokyo Disneyland in the last year or so), which is great for a relatively unheralded character.
Humphrey is also something of a mascot for Wilderness Lodge, appearing at the base of the totem pole outside of Wilderness Lodge Mercantile and on merchandise over the years. Not bad for a relatively obscure character from the 1950s. Maybe Disney+ will help revitalize interest in other classic characters who haven’t received much attention over the years?
(Above Wilderness Lodge bear decoration unrelated.)
After Humphrey the Bear, my favorite detail is Chip ‘n’ Dale by an acorn fire on the backside of the gingerbread log cabin.
Here’s a look at Walt Disney World’s info about the Wilderness Lodge Gingerbread Cabin:
What’s interesting to me is that it purports to be inspired by National Park Lodges.
Wilderness Lodge draws obvious inspiration from National Park Lodges, which is evident in the architectural details and flourishes. However, this pretty much just looks like an ordinary log cabin.
You might notice the sign mentions that there are 5 hidden Mickeys on the Wilderness Lodge Gingerbread Cabin.
If you’re dense like me, you might see the above Mickey Mouse heads right behind the sign and think you’ve quickly knocked out 4 of the 5–before spotting the Mickey-shaped wreath on the side for #5.
I was pretty satisfied with myself…until I realized that those are not the hidden Mickeys that sign had in mind.
Spoiler warning: the “real” hidden Mickeys are all pictured below (with one in the above photo, too):
They’re not particularly difficult to spot…once you know what you’re looking for.
Although it’s unrelated, let’s head over to the Boulder Ridge Villas, since that’s something we failed to do last year, for some more Christmas goodness:
The Boulder Ridge Villas lobby lacks the grandiosity of the main lodge, but has its own understated charm.
It’s also a lot quieter than Wilderness Lodge this time of year during the busy daytime hours, which is something I appreciate.
This art is not an addition for the holidays, but I thought it was apt to share.
I suspect the market for this is incredibly limited, but I’d buy this in a second if prints were sold via Art of Disney’s on-demand kiosks.
After the Carolwood Pacific Railroad Room, my favorite spot in the Boulder Ridge Villas is this little alcove with rocking chairs.
This is a great spot to sit and gaze into the lobby. You can also perfectly hear the Christmas background and hear the crackle of the fireplace. Doesn’t get any better than this!
Back in the main building, it’s worth popping into the Mercantile to check out the merchandise. There are a ton of Wilderness Lodge items with a lot of hits…and more than a few misses.
We covered most of the items currently available in our Wilderness Lodge Update: New Rooms, Merchandise & Photos.
As always, we recommend extending your Wilderness Lodge holiday visit with a meal.
Our top recommendation is trying one of the new all you can eat skillets at Whispering Canyon Cafe.
We’re huge fans of Whispering Canyon Cafe–it epitomizes fun Walt Disney World dining, serving great barbecue alongside a surplus of shenanigans.
For the best of holidays and hijinks, request a table overlooking the lobby, so you can gaze at that majestic Christmas tree while you eat.
If you have princess fans in your party, you can’t go wrong with Artist Point, which now has one of the best character meals at Walt Disney World–especially if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan. (Read our Review of the Storybook Dining at Artist Point for more info.)
Unfortunately, this is also one of the most coveted ADRs at Walt Disney World, so last-minute reservations are unlikely. (Next year!)
If you want a less expensive option, Roaring Fork is a great counter service restaurant for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
At Christmas, the Holiday Turkey Sandwich is served, which is festive and surprisingly tasty. We like to grab this and dine outside. (Read our Roaring Fork Review for more recommendations.)
Ultimately, Humphrey the Bear’s Gingerbread Log Cabin elevates Wilderness Lodge even further above the pack, and gives us (yet another) excuse to remind you that it’s a must-visit resort during the holidays at Walt Disney World. Previously, some Disney fans contended that Grand Floridian was the better Christmas resort because it had both an icon tree and a gingerbread house. They were wrong, of course, but this should put that debate to bed once and for all. 😉
Wilderness Lodge is the undisputed champ of Christmas at Walt Disney World. I can’t wait to see what the hotel’s team does next year to top this…perhaps a reindeer petting zoo? A lazy river made of chocolate? If you can dream it, Wilderness Lodge can do it at Christmas.
Finally, a few plugs. First, the 2019 edition of our free Vacation Kingdom at Christmas eBook is now available for download! This free eBook is 100 pages, with 200+ photos, and has been updated to include Animal Kingdom’s Merry Menagerie and other new additions. The eBook has tons of great tips & info for the holiday season at Walt Disney World. For more details on how to get this totally-free ebook, click here. Did we mention that it’s free?! 😉
For comprehensive tips for planning your Christmas-time trip to Walt Disney World, check out our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Walt Disney World. For Walt Disney World trip planning tips and comprehensive advice, make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and related articles.
What do you think of Humphrey the Bear’s Gingerbread Log Cabin? Where does Wilderness Lodge rank among gingerbread creations at Walt Disney World for you? Anyone out there dare to admit they don’t rank Wilderness Lodge as WDW’s #1 Christmas resort after this? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!