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 June 6, 2021.)
As Walt Disney World’s phased reopening continues, Wilderness Lodge is now open! We’re staying at the resort for its opening weekend, and will have a report on the new rooms, dining, etc. very soon. For now, what you need to know is that the hotel rooms have reopened almost a full year after the Copper Creek and Boulder Ridge Villas reopened to DVC members and other guests. There are now only a handful of hotels that remain closed–see Walt Disney World 2021 Resort Reopening Dates for more info.
Some things worth knowing are that capacity at the pools, aboard buses and boats, and inside restaurants is reduced due to physical distancing, which can lead to longer waits and lines. However, since the Disney Vacation Club wings of Wilderness Lodge have been open for nearly a full year, there’s not much at the resort that remains temporarily closed. Most shopping, dining, and recreation are available. At this point, it’s basically just the Storybook Character Dining at Artist Point that’s still closed.
We have stayed at Wilderness Lodge several times. 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. (Note: these are the old rooms–new room photos & review coming soon!)
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 carpet patterning, carved details, and more.
Despite the theme, the rooms generally look nice. There is a bit of wear and they could arguably use a refresh, but we worry that would take the gorgeous carpet with it, and I’m not sure that’d be for the best.
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, and they could probably use a slight refresh, but I still enjoyed our room.
Bedding is incredibly comfortable, and throw pillows give them a splash of color and texture. Bed runners would be nice, but with so much already ‘going on’ with the pillows and carpet, the lack of runners doesn’t stick out as much at Wilderness Lodge.
Bathrooms are fine. Dual sinks in the outer area is a nice touch. The shower has character tiles with Meeko, Chip, Dale, and Bambi.
Transportation at Wilderness Lodge seemed solid while we were there. 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, and I’ve heard that sometimes Wilderness Lodge shares buses with Fort Wilderness, but we did not experience that when we stayed at Wilderness Lodge, nor have we ever experienced that when we’ve visited Wilderness Lodge. Perhaps during slower seasons this shared transportation scheme goes into effect.
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 the underrated Roaring Fork (click to read our dining reviews) are all great dining options that offer a variety of options.
Most notable of these are the new Storybook Dining at Artist Point, a new Snow White character dinner, and Whispering Canyon Cafe, which is a zany table service option that’s fun for all ages. None of these are fine dining options, which is disappointing, but the dining scene at Wilderness Lodge is still 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.
The pool is nice (but nothing special), but 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 lightyears 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 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.
Overall, Wilderness Lodge is one of our favorite resorts at Walt Disney World. At over $400/night rack rate starting prices, it can be expensive. Wilderness Lodge is still much less expensive than some other Deluxe Resorts, making it a “value” comparatively speaking. Plus, after discounts, it’s not uncommon to score rooms for around $275/night here, which is a lot more palatable.
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. 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!