The Hotel: Wilderness Lodge
Where: Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL
The Wilderness Lodge is one of three premium hotels closest to the Magic Kingdom. We were able to see the fireworks from our room. The Lodge is not on the monorail; you travel to and the Magic Kingdom (and to the Contemporary Resort and Fort Wilderness camp ground if you like) by boat. You can also take a bus to those locations and other parts of the resort. The boat is fun and a little unique.
I chose this hotel because I thought that for my almost-5YO the parks could be too loud, too busy, too everything. I wanted a hotel that would be a real retreat from that when we needed it. Indeed the hotel is convenient to the action but when you are there you feel well away from it. I like the park-lodge motif with wooden beams, fireplaces, cozy places to sit and a soaring lobby ceiling. If you look around you will realize it’s a Disney lotel —look closely at the woodland scene wallpaper in your bathroom and you’ll find Thumper, Chip & Dale—but you do have to look closely. You’d fit in completely if you stayed without kids; though of course it’s completely kid-friendly. The service is Disney, friendly and exceedingly helpful in all kinds of unexpected ways.
The Wilderness Lodge rooms are standard hotel rooms; though very nicely decorated ones. The lodge theme reaches into the rooms with Native-American-inspired prints, nature-scenes and wood details. All the rooms have refrigerators; some have bunk beds.
The more upscale hotels at Disney World have more upscale dining. The casual Roaring Fork is handy for breakfast, mid-range Whispering Canyon has excellent southwestern food and a play area with Lincoln logs at the front. We didn’t eat at the upscale Artist Point, but did stop for a nice glass of wine one night at the Territory Lounge while Tiny Traveler slept in the stroller (at Disney World you can do that).
The pool area has a hot tub, wading pool and water slides along with a picturesque waterfall. The pools are heated in the cool weather. At certain hours in the afternoon staff is onhand to play pool games with the kids; very handy for giving mom and dad an hour to decompress. There is a game room, playground, nature trail and bike rentals; and the hotel has evening activities like outdoor movies and campfires if you need to skip the fireworks one night.
The Disney Extras:
Disney hotels can seem pricey compared with comparable hotels outside the park, but they make it worth your while with little priceless little extras. After we made our reservation through Expedia we received special Disney luggage tags in the mail. We checked our bags at JFK with these tags and were able to walk right passed the baggage carousel in Orlando. We got on a free Disney shuttle bus to Wilderness Lodge and our bags met us in the room later. (Pack bathing suits and anything else you need in the first few hours in a carry-on.) The day we left we found our boarding passes under our door in the morning. We took our bags to the lobby and didn’t see them again until New York. Easy peasy
The Bottom Line:
The Wilderness Lodge would be an excellent hotel experience no matter where you were. Like everything at Disney it isn’t inexpensive but offers good value. It’s mousey enough to keep Disney fans satisfied but struck a nice balance for families who don’t want the parks to follow them back to their hotel.
At A Glance Guide to Disney World: All our Disney World resources in one place.