Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Review
Wilderness Lodge is a Deluxe Resort at Walt Disney World that is themed to the Pacific Northwest and U.S. National Parks. This hotel review features room photos, restaurant info, details on amenities, if it’s worth the money, and whether it’ll work well for your vacation. (Updated April 3, 2022.)
For starters, Wilderness Lodge is essentially three distinct resorts. There’s the main building, which encompasses the normal hotel rooms and the Copper Creek Villas. Outside of that, there’s a separate building that’s home to the Boulder Ridge Villas, which are a Disney Vacation Club resort. In front of Boulder Ridge–but not part of it–are the Cascade Cabins along the waterfront.
We have stayed in all of the different areas of Wilderness Lodge several times. This includes the New Rooms at Wilderness Lodge, which are less than one year old. Personally, Wilderness Lodge is my favorite resort in all of Walt Disney World, the place I could stay over and over again, and the hotel I’d choose over everything else. However, Wilderness Lodge is very much a taste-specific resort and is not right for everyone. This review will help you determine whether Wilderness Lodge is right for YOU!
We fell in love with it the first time we stayed here during the Christmas season, and have returned for several other Christmas visits–and stays other times of the year, as well. For more gushing about the holiday season, see Wilderness Lodge: Walt Disney World’s Best Place at Christmas. We’re not going to fixate on that too much in this review since you might be booking Wilderness Lodge one of the other ~10 months of the year.
Because Wilderness Lodge is one of the cheaper Deluxe resorts, offers great location, and has quite possibly the best design and best-executed theme of any of the Walt Disney World hotels, it’s an option we almost always consider when booking a trip.
Thematically, Wilderness Lodge is one of the strongest hotels at Walt Disney World. It’s inspiration is an amalgamation of Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park and Ahwahnee Hotel at Yosemite National Park, with amply artist liberties taken so that the end result isn’t merely a mixture of those two famous lodges and, rather, is something new and distinct.
This was a savvy approach, as the grandiosity of Wilderness Lodge’s lobby and its wow-inducing appearance is unique to Disney. The many National Park Lodges at which we’ve stayed feature similar details, but they’re more intimate. None have the same epic scale and polish of Wilderness Lodge.
When it comes to the details of Wilderness Lodge, we could do an entire blog post. The most iconic is the Grand Canyon Fireplace, an 82 feet tall, three-sided fireplace that represents the Grand Canyon’s strata deposits from over 1.6 billion years–represented via over 100 colors and layer tapers. You’ll find rows of cozy rocking chairs around this fireplace, as well as display cases with rocks and fossils from the Grand Canyon.
Another big one we’ll highlight is the towering totem poles in the lobby. Each of these two totem poles, the Raven Pole and the Eagle Pole, is 55 feet tall and tells its own story that can be read from bottom to top. These took over 6 months to carve by the totem artist and their team.
Again, details abound throughout Wilderness Lodge. Not just detail and “stuff” for its own sake, either. Almost everything has meaning. The Native American Carpet floor pattern is comprised of four types of wood, and depicts the unity among four seasons, wildlife, humans, and the cosmos.
Murals and items on display are nods to Lewis & Clark and Teddy Roosevelt. Furniture in the lobby is varied and gorgeous, of the American Craftsman movement.
Our coverage of Wilderness Lodge’s thematic details only scratches the surface. The result of such rich design is that you are transported away from the hustle and bustle of a theme park complex in Florida to a quiet lodge in the snowy mountains of the Pacific Northwest.
For this experience at its most authentic, head to the third floor alcove at around 1 a.m. after a long day in the parks while wearing some flannel pajamas. Just be sure you don’t fall asleep in one of the comfy chairs like a certain author also did not do. Wilderness Lodge is Disney immersion at its finest.
In addition to brilliant U.S. National Park Lodge thematic flourishes, there are also plenty of Disney touches to give a sense of funny and whimsy to the resort.
Let’s take a look inside the guest rooms.
It should come as no shock that the rooms at Wilderness Lodge have the same type of theming found in the rest of the resort. Lots of woods, Native American patterning, rustic details, and more.
Above is the new room, below is how they used to look. Personally, I preferred the prior style, but they were starting to show their age and had a bit too much wear and tear. The new rooms have a lot of functional improvements and definitely appeal to more mainstream tastes.
This style isn’t for everyone, but chances are that you’ll know whether the Wilderness Lodge rooms will appeal to you simply by looking at the lobby of the Lodge.
If you don’t like that, you won’t like the rooms. If you do like that, chances are that you will like the rooms. I would place them a rung below Animal Kingdom Lodge’s rooms.
Bedding is incredibly comfortable, and the pillows are perfectly plush. Bed runners would be nice, but doing away with them is a hospitality industry trend that doesn’t appear will reverse itself anytime soon.
The new rooms at Wilderness Lodge are undeniably more upscale and refined. The interior design features are generally low-key and restrained, but offer subtle sophistication, good uses of texture, and upgrades throughout.
A major selling point of newer guest rooms at Walt Disney World is their improved functionality and finishings.
That continues to be true with Wilderness Lodge, which offers smart design elements that improve the quality of a stay. Things like storage space, power outlets, USB ports, and more.
The biggest upgrade in the new rooms at Wilderness Lodge is the lighting, which is true in both the bathroom and the bedroom. The highlight is the illuminated window between the bathroom and bedroom, which evokes Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park.
The backlit mirror provides ample lighting in the bathroom. In the bedroom, the lighting is now a lot less harsh and customizable. In addition to the bedside sconces, there’s also uplighting from the headboard itself. Then there’s the lighting on the decorative window between the spaces.
Transportation at Wilderness Lodge is generally good. Although it’s not on the monorail loop, it is a Magic Kingdom area hotel, and there is boat service to the park. This is, by far, my favorite way of getting from Wilderness Lodge to the Magic Kingdom, and I highly recommend this mode of transportation.
There’s also bus service, which is generally efficient. Wilderness Lodge has a relatively convenient location for accessing Epcot and Hollywood Studios; only Animal Kingdom is a long commute.
With regard to restaurants, Wilderness Lodge is also similar to Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Artist Point, Whispering Canyon Cafe, Geyser Point Bar & Grill, Territory Lounge, and Roaring Fork (click to read our dining reviews) are all great dining options that offer a variety of options. The case could be made that several of these are underrated or hidden gems–that’s especially true of Geyser Point Bar & Grill, which is home to one of the very best burgers in all of Walt Disney World.
With that said, not every restaurant at Wilderness Lodge is a hidden gem.
The most popular princess meal in all of Walt Disney World is Story Book Dining at Artist Point, a new Snow White character dinner. Then there’s the fan-favorite Whispering Canyon Cafe, which is a zany table service option that’s fun for all ages. Suffice to say, the dining scene at Wilderness Lodge is very strong.
Wilderness Lodge gets high marks for interior design of the common areas and dining, but the most important aspect of this resort that is sometimes overlooked or taken for granted is its beautiful outdoor areas.
It’s the trails, trees, and little touches out there that really make the resort. Albeit to a lesser degree than Fort Wilderness, Wilderness Lodge feels like its light years away from the chaos of the Magic Kingdom…despite being only a short boat ride away. The highlight of this, for me, is that Wilderness Lodge actually has a (man-made) geyser modeled after Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful.
Wilderness Lodge has a couple of nice pools and water play areas for kids. These are not among the best pools at Walt Disney World, but they’re not weak, either. Perhaps that’s a blessing in disguise; unlike other pool areas, those at Wilderness Lodge are never as overcrowded.
Wilderness Lodge also has the standard amenities of other Deluxe resorts, like a salon, health club, babysitting, bike rental, etc. At night, you can also see the Electrical Water Pageant, which is a charming, old school Walt Disney World offering that we recommend watching if you’re at the resort. It’s cute.
As a Deluxe Resort, guests staying at Wilderness Lodge have access to a couple of perks. First is Early Theme Park Entry, which gives ALL on-site resort guests a 30-minute head start at any Walt Disney World theme park, every day before normal operating hours begin. Learn more strategy in our Guide to Early Entry at Walt Disney World.
Second, there’s Extended Evening Theme Park Hours, which is exclusively for guests staying at Deluxe Resorts, Deluxe Villas, or other select hotels. This second perk is incredibly advantageous, as crowds are usually low during these nighttime hours. See our Guide to Extended Evening Hours at Walt Disney World for taking advantage of this perk, eligibility, and more.
Overall, Wilderness Lodge is one of our favorite resorts at Walt Disney World. With an incredibly well-executed and transportive theme, plus newly-remodeled rooms, relaxing boat transportation to Magic Kingdom, efficient bus service, a great and well-rounded dining slate, and nice pools, it’s a really well-rounded resort. It’s one that sneaks up on people, especially those who might not expect such high quality from a “rustic” hotel.
The theme of Wilderness Lodge is wonderfully executed year-round, but at Christmas, it really shines, when it’s the best resort at Walt Disney World. This theme won’t appeal to everyone, but those to whom it does appeal are sure to love Wilderness Lodge. And those who give it a chance just might be pleasantly surprised.
At over $400 per night rack rate starting prices, Wilderness Lodge can be expensive. However, it’s still much less expensive than almost all other Deluxe Resorts, making it a “value” comparatively speaking. Plus, after discounts, it’s not uncommon to score rooms for around $300 per night, which is a lot more palatable. Relative to the other Deluxes, Wilderness Lodge is usually cheaper because it’s not on the monorail loop or within walking distance of Epcot.
While other resorts make trips more convenient (Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, Disney’s Contemporary Resort), the only other resort that offers a comparable combination of theme, quality, and value is Animal Kingdom Lodge (or Port Orleans Riverside if you weight value more heavily). It’s an all-around great resort, and one that we highly recommend. Even if Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Wilderness Lodge were priced the same, I’d recommend Wilderness Lodge. That’s high praise.
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What do you think of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge? Do you enjoy the back-woods Pacific Northwest theme, or is it not your style? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
We just returned from a week stay at Wilderness Lodge and absolutely loved it! We looked at many resorts and are so glad we decided to stay here. The ambiance along with the customer service is really what makes this resort so special. It was my son’s 12th birthday and they really went out of their way to make him feel special. When we planned this trip we thought it would be a one time thing but after this week, we are planning to come back in the future for sure. We know how expensive all the Disney resorts are but we definitely felt like this resort was worth the money. Exceptional service from all staff from the front desk to the bell service to housekeeping; food options were awesome (even the faster food options were great); two pools with fun for the kids and calmness for the adults; location and ease to get to the parks either by boat or bus; can’t say enough good things about this resort!
What I can’t understand is why Disney World has removed desks from the renovated rooms. This is not only at the Wilderness Lodge but also the Contemporary and Animal Kingdom Lodge. We go primarily to DL and the Grand California hotel rooms have a nice desk area with all the outlets you need. With so much trip planning online (as well as other needs such as Zoom calls) seems like a necessity. You can use the dining table but the seating doesn’t always work. Just my .02. I would choose Wilderness Lodge or AKL over the Contemporary and have stayed at all three.
Just got back from Wilderness Lodge. Take this review seriously and save your money. There are not enough employees at the hotel to serve the quests. Yes, you read that right. Absolutely horrific customer service and 2 hour waiting time to eat. There is nothing magical about this hotel. They are open to full capacity but don’t have enough employees. Long lines, long waiting time and many pieces of gym equipment was out of order, nothing related to Covid, just out of order. The employees at the hotel are unhappy and miserable. They don’t want to be there. Again, do not choose this hotel, you will regret it.
We just stayed at the Wilderness Lodge over our grandson’s spring break, taking two rooms. We were given appalling rooms that faced the smoke house and work area (I have pictures). We were awakened every morning very early by all sorts of trucks and equipment and sitting on our balcony was not an option due to the day long service area noise and smell and fumes from the smokehouse drifting into our room. I cannot believe Disney puts guests there. We have been there before and loved the Lodge.
“Wilderness Lodge has the standard amenities of other Deluxe resorts, like a playground ….”
I don’t think this is correct. Looking at the Disney World web site, WL is not listed as one of the resorts that has a playground. In fact, it seems most Deluxes do not:
Thanks, you’re right. The playground that used to be at Wilderness Lodge was removed for construction of the Cascade Cabins. I don’t believe one has been reinstalled anywhere else, and that link you provided seems to confirm as much.
We are Florida residents and stayed for 2 nights Thurs 1.31.19 to 2.2.19. It is a beautiful and grand lobby. I like how it was on the water and we enjoyed taking the boat to magic kingdom. My kids enjoyed the pool and hot tub. I was told the pool was warmed to 83 degrees but my husband assured me that was not the truth and it was colder. We were able to see the Magic Fireworks partially. You can see it above the trees and the electric parade was very cool.
We ate at I think it’s called the Geyser, which is right on the lake. The food was good and the atmosphere was relaxing. We were close to The Roaring Fork, and I was glad they had fruit and cereal, so we could grab a quick breakfast before going to the park.
The hotel room was pretty average, I thought, for the amount of money you have to spend. It was clean but it wasn’t anything special. There are Disney characters on the shower wall, but that was it.
You have to pay for parking every day. So we got there Thursday night and left Sunday morning and had to pay 3 days. It would be nice if Disney included parking in your fee, but that’s not how they do it.
There are just lots of people. We were already pretty overwhelmed with how many people were at the park. Next time we are definitely staying off site so we get more for our money. But we also are Florida residents and live 2 hours away, so it’s easy for us to do a quick trip. Again I really appreciate this blog because it helped me plan as much as a could control. I know some people are huge Disney fans, but we discovered that it just isn’t our thing. Too many people and too much waiting. The problem is you just never know if you are going to luck out and go on a less crowded day.
Tom, I have to thank you. We just need returned from a stay at Wilderness Lodge. We decided to book it for this vacation after reading this review a year and a half ago. I absolutely fell in love with it from the moment we stepped off the bus! It felt so calm and peaceful after spending a day at a busy Hollywood Studios. The absolute best surprise was walking into our standard view room to find a view of the Magic Kingdom and the monorail. We watched the fireworks every night from our balcony and the kids even fell asleep watching them from their bunk beds! Pure Disney magic! It will be hard to top that experience! Finally getting to see the Electrical water pageant was also cool. And Whispering Canyon was the best dining experience we had the whole trip! Our server was a riot and went out of her way to ensure we had a great time. I can’t wait to go back! Keep doing what you’re doing!
Emily-what was your room number? I’d like to request it.
Although, any rooms 5012-5040 would be great.
We agree with you on your Wilerness Lodge review. We walked into Christmas magic in December 2004 and it’s been our favorite Resort since. That was our honeymoon and we since have 4 kids, 3 being girls. They love Grand Floridian for the princess experience and have stayed there a few times, but all 6 of us prefer Wilderness Lodge above all! Accurate review! Most recently we stayed at Copper Creek villas which was amazing!
Can you update this post with your thoughts about the resort now that there have been so many updates to the property, as well as comparing all the different room options since non DVC members can book DVC rooms. I’m debating is it worth it to stay in Copper Creek 1 Bedroom villa vs Club Level Wilderness Courtyard View. Thanks for your insight!
Wondering if anyone can help – really want to stay here during our trip in February but really want to get a room with a king sized bed but you can’t guarantee one .. has anyone had any experience with this and the chances of getting a king sized bed when requested
I have a 2 year and a newborn, would you say this is good option or did you recommend another? We area headed to Orlando in the next few days.
Incredible site, thank you for all of the information. I used your guides exclusively for my family vacation last year, and I’m doing the same for a trip I hope to take during your recommended post-Thanksgiving week this year! I didn’t realize you were a fellow Michigander before reading it in this review.
My question is about the pricing you list for Wilderness resort (about $300, and 180-200 with discounts). What time of year is that price point available? I’m seeing about $460/night, before taxes.
Thanks, and keep up the great work!