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.
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 Worldfor 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.
Want to do it yourself, but not sure which Walt Disney World hotel is right for you? Check out our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews page, which offers quick-hit capsule reviews of the strengths and weaknesses of every Walt Disney World hotel, plus links to our reviews and photo pages for every hotel we have reviewed. For overviews of all of these topics and so much more, the best place to start is our comprehensive Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide to make the most of your experience!
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!