|This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers or for which we receive a referral bonus. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Referral, Affiliate, and Advertising Policy|
In this post, we review Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, the lowest-priced deluxe option at Walt Disney World. We cover everything you need to know about this resort, from location to dining to its amazing theming! Let’s get on with it!
Booking Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
We wound up at Wilderness Lodge pretty much solely to go see Pandora – World of Avatar. We had a few days for this trip, and since Animal Kingdom requires bus transportation anyways, we figured it would be a good time to stay at Wilderness Lodge (which we knew didn’t have stellar transportation options anywhere, more below).
We had two park days, and since we didn’t want to just leave Walt Disney World so quickly, we decided to use the Citi Prestige 4th Night Free benefit and stay four nights. This is one of our favorite ways to get a deal on Disney World hotels.
Rates at Wilderness Lodge for 2019 start at $374 nightly, making it the least expensive deluxe hotel option. Standard rates do get up to $669 nightly, though, so if you’re looking to save you’ll need to choose your nights carefully.
Arrival and Check-In
Arriving late, we took Disney’s Magical Express to the hotel and had the bus entirely to ourselves! We had checked in online, so our room was ready when we arrived.
Online check-in makes a lot more sense when you’re arriving later. If you’re arriving early and need to get to a room ASAP, you’ll want to swing by the desk, as rooms are often available before they’re assigned via online check-in.
Wilderness Lodge Lobby & Grounds
In an assessment that will surprise no one, we’ll say Disney's Wilderness Lodge is gorgeous. Like Animal Kingdom Lodge, the details and environment are entrancing.
The lobby at Disney's Wilderness Lodge is magnificent, and our poor photography skills can't do it justice, but Google yields some decent looks. And here’s a better one from Christmas…
If you’re staying at or visiting Wilderness Lodge looking for pictures, it might help to know you can freely access all the floors except parts of the 7th, which contains the club level.
Wilderness Lodge is a rarity among Disney’s deluxe lobbies. There are some other attractive lobbies, but none quite has the same depth as Wilderness Lodge.
For example, I enjoy the look of Polynesian Village, and I take a few pictures every time I’m there. The only problem is that I take the same two or three pictures every time! There just isn’t too much there!
By contrast, Wilderness Lodge is filled not only with feature items—like the fireplace or the bridge over Copper Creek—but with countless tiny details as well.
Many of these you won’t even notice on your first, second, or third time through the lobby. Yes, Disney is known for “detail,” but the deluxe resorts actually often eschew that in favor of plain elegance.
Our Room at Wilderness Lodge
Update: The below photos were obviously taken back before we really paid any attention to room photos. We regret their quality, and will be updating this post with better pictures when we visit in February 2019.
The rooms are typical Disney fare. We find Animal Kingdom Lodge to be a bit better themed in the rooms, but Wilderness Lodge rooms were still pretty good. They were nowhere near as bad as the room we had at Disney's Sequoia Lodge in Disneyland Paris, but they did leave us wanting more from an otherwise beautiful resort.
Pools at Wilderness Lodge
The pool setup at Wilderness Lodge is a little underwhelming. Instead of one feature pool and a lesser pool, the resort has two mediocre pools.
The “main” pool is The Copper Creek Springs Pool. This pool sits out back behind the main lobby. It has a small waterslide, but otherwise nothing notable. We struggled to find seating, which isn’t surprising for a small space.
The “other” pool is the newer Boulder Ridge Cove Pool. We haven’t had a chance to make it over to this pool since it opened. Your First Visit has a good look at it.
Honestly, these pools are mostly the price you pay for some of the other notable features of Wilderness Lodge. The landscape takes up a lot of space that would otherwise be used for pools / seating.
Dining and Drinks at Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge has two quick service restaurants (one of which is also a bar), two table service restaurants, and a second bar.
Table Service Restaurants at Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge has two table service restaurants. Whispering Canyon Cafe is an “Old Western eatery” serving family style meals throughout the day. The “All-You-Care-To-Enjoy” skillets are their most popular offerings, and they even offer a vegan option with a wide selection of fake meats. The atmosphere is fun and entertaining—not a quiet sit-down spot. We’ve eaten here before and definitely recommend it.
Storybook Dining at Artist Point is one of Disney’s newest offerings. Storybook dining is a character dinner featuring Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The menu is prix fixe with a price of $55 for adults and $33 for children. We haven’t had the chance to eat here yet, but here’s a review from Disney Food Blog.
Both of these restaurants require a single table service credit if you’re on a Disney dining plan, and reservations are recommended for both.
Quick Service at Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge has two quick service restaurants. Roaring Fork is the standard quick service option. It’s located just a bit from the lobby and serves typical breakfast offerings, followed by burgers, sandwiches, and salads. It’s actually one of the better quick service options at a deluxe resort.
Geyser Point Bar and Grill is the pool bar at Wilderness, but it’s much larger than your typical pool bar. It offers both a lounge and a lunch / dinner menu. The open-air setup is fantastic, and this is one of our favorite bars on property.
Bars at Wilderness Lodge
We covered Geyser Point above. The other bar is Territory Lounge, the bar associated with Artist Point. We’re fans of Territory Lounge and its rustic, western theming, but besides being as “cozy” as the rest of the resort, it doesn’t offer much unique. The service is great though!
Transportation at Wilderness Lodge
One of the perks of staying at a Disney hotel is access to Disney’s free transportation network. At most of the deluxe resorts, this perk is enhanced by offering you quicker access to a park by monorail, walking, or boat. In truth, boat transportation isn’t that special. This was especially noticeable during our time at Wilderness Lodge.
Getting to the Parks from Wilderness Lodge
To get to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon, and Blizzard Beach, you’ll be relying on bus. Magic Kingdom will be bus or boat. This is a step down from some other deluxe resorts in the area that have monorail access to to two parks—namely Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Contemporary.
Usually the bus and boar to Magic Kingdom are about equivalent in time, taking around ten minutes. I’d advise checking the app—if the bus is coming within ten minutes, take the bus, otherwise take the boat. If you’re looking to make rope drop at Magic Kingdom, I’d plan to be at the docks an hour before the park is scheduled to open.
It’s not uncommon for Wilderness Lodge to share buses, usually with Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. This happens at the other deluxe resorts, too, but it’s still an affront to the price people are paying to stay at a “deluxe” option.
If you’re comparing resorts, the transportation situation at Wilderness Lodge is more like Animal Kingdom Lodge or a moderate / value than at the other deluxe resorts.
Getting to Other Resorts from Wilderness Lodge
On the positive side, it’s really easy to get to both Fort Wilderness and Contemporary from Wilderness Lodge. There is a boat (with a blue flag) that connects the three resorts. The entire circuit takes about 25 minutes with 5 minute stops at each location, and it’s our understanding that two boats usually operate in opposite directions.
To the uninitiated, access to Fort Wilderness might not strike you as too valuable, but that property is loaded with activities, including the legendary Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue dinner show. You could easily make a visit to Fort Wilderness part of your stay at Wilderness Lodge and put together a fantastic a fantastic resort day. There’s also a mile-long walking path to Fort Wilderness. It’s serene, and you might even see some deer!
Getting anywhere else is a bit more of a challenge. We were surprised when we were told to plan for an hour of travel time from Wilderness Lodge (one deluxe Magic Kingdom resort) to Polynesian (another deluxe Magic Kingdom resort).
Our trip to the Polynesian for breakfast took about 45 minutes. Later in the day, when we wanted to get back to the Polynesian to visit Trader Sam’s, we took an Uber (read more about using Uber at Walt Disney World). The ride took 8 minutes and cost $5.77.
If you’re used to the value or moderate resorts, you’re probably used to hefty transit times to other hotels for meals. But if you’re a frequent guest at some of the other deluxe resorts, you might be a bit disappointed to not have a few great hotels right at your fingertips.
Wilderness Lodge - Conclusions
If it weren’t for its poor transportation situation and unique pool arrangement, Wilderness Lodge would be an easy pick for the best hotel at Walt Disney World. As it is, its lower prices compared to the other deluxe resorts make it a favorite for people looking for a taste of deluxe life, and its theming makes it a favorite of many repeat visitors.
It’s unfortunately easy for your time at Wilderness Lodge to be wasted sitting on buses or boats. It’s not an easy resort to pop back to quickly in the middle of the day, unlike Contemporary or Yacht Club, for example. Your rope drops and FastPass+ reservations are all at risk when you can’t control arrival times to a reasonable degree.
Just as we recommend with the value and moderate resorts, we think you should learn a bit about Uber when staying at Wilderness Lodge. If you’re hopping around locations, you’ll want to rely on the service minimally, lest your budget get out of control. But if $6 can save you 40 minutes, like it did with us, you’ll definitely want to take that trade-off.
All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered
Don't be overwhelmed by Disney World planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way. If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars. For picking your hotel, check out our Walt Disney World hotels guide.
Don't forget to master your Disney World Fastpass+ strategy a few months in advance. We'll keep you out of long lines so you can maximize the magical time in the parks!
Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.