This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s WILDERNESS LODGE. Disney has three classifications for their resorts: Value (including Pop Century and Art of Animation), Moderate (Port Orleans Riverside and Fort Wildnerness), and Deluxe (The Poly and BoardWalk). Today we are going to look at one of the Deluxe offerings with Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
Inspired by national park lodges and inns of the early 20th century, Wilderness Lodge was designed by Peter Dominick, an architect who also was a major influence in Disney’s Grand Californian Lodge and Florida’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Sitting alongside Bay Lake, Wilderness Lodge is in between The Contemporary and the Fort Wilderness campground and offers relaxing boat rides to both locations as well as the Magic Kingdom. Like many other guests, we here at the SATURDAY SIX have fallen head over heels in love with Wilderness Lodge, and today we are going to count down our reasons why, starting with…
# 6 – Fire Rock Geyser
With the entire resort in effect a tribute to our great American national parks, the hourly eruption of Fire Rock Geyser gives guests a taste of what people experience when seeing Old Faithful at Yellowstone in Wyoming. Taking place at the top of every hour, Fire Rock Geyser’s explosion of water is a unique event at the Wilderness Lodge and a true piece of “Disney Magic” that separates the mouse house from its competitors.
# 5 – The Lobby
Like its sister hotels the Grand Californian and Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge’s lobby will have your jaw dropping to the floor the minute you step inside. The gigantic 8-story atrium lobby is nothing sort of majestic and is a nature lover’s dream. The amount of exposed wood definitely evokes feelings of the Pacific Northwest, and all around are elements of Native American culture (including the large lighting features overhead.) The lobby is expansive, and has plenty of seats to sit in to just relax and enjoy the ambiance. There are two giant totem poles in the lobby – with artwork steeped in Native American history – along with the resort’s signature 80+ foot fireplace. At the far end of the lobby is a bridge going over running water. This water runs outside into the Silver Creek Falls. The Wilderness Lodge lobby is hands-down one of the greatest hotel lobbies you will ever experience, and you should make a point out of checking out the free Wilderness Lodge tour which goes into great detail on many of the things you will see throughout the resort.
PRO TIP: At the front desk ask for a copy of the Hidden Mickey Hunt. It is a two page sheet which gives clues are where to find various Hidden Mickeys at the Wilderness Lodge, several of which are cleverly hidden in plain sight.
# 4 – Whispering Canyon Cafe
Directly off the Wilderness Lodge lobby is one of most family friendly restaurants on property with the Whispering Canyon Cafe. One of our favorite parts of eating at 50s Prime Time Cafe at DHS is the type of “sass” offered by the servers and the fun they have with guests that you don’t see at many Disney restaurants. Whispering Canyon servers may actually be even more liberal in handing out the “smack talk” and playful banter, along with being much louder. This is not the place you want to go for a quiet date night meal, but it is definitely the place to go for a fun time and a great meal. While Whispering Canyon has a full menu to order from a la carte, the big draw is the all-you-care-to-eat-skillets and the bottomless milkshakes. With breakfast and lunch/dinner skillets available, you can eat your weight in vittles at just about any time of the day. Another feature we loved was that any time someone at a table ordered too many refills of a drink, the server would come back with an enormous mason jar that always drew laughs. Whispering Canyon is also home to the 10 Gallon Hat dessert, one of the most impressive at Walt Disney World.
# 3 – The Theming Throughout the Resort
Wilderness Lodge is the type of Disney resort you want to spend as much time in as to possible enjoy the actual hotel and the grounds outside to see all the amazing details. The little things start right away as in the parking lot you will see “animal tracks” in the cement. Not surprisingly, there is a lot of actual wilderness at the Wilderness Lodge for guests to explore, including the jogging and nature trails. Everything is meticulously landscaped and brilliantly designed, and everywhere you go there is something interesting to experience. I’m a big fan of water features, and I enjoy just sitting on a rocking chair listening to the bubbling Silver Creek water pass by.
# 2 – Geyser Point Bar & Grill
We’ve mentioned Whispering Canyon, but the Lodge has several other dining venues in the main building to enjoy including Artist Point, Territory Lounge, and Roaring Fork. However, the most recent dining experience opened up outside along Bay Lake with Geyser Point Bar & Grill. The quality of food offerings – along with actual plates and silverware – make Geyser Point transcend your average Disney Quick Service. Guests can enjoy their meal with picturesque waterside views along with the nearby Fire Rock Geyser and main pool area.
# 1 – The Cascade Cabins at Copper Creek
There are three areas you can book a room at Wilderness Lodge. There is the main building itself, the Boulder Ridge Villas (DVC), and the new Copper Creek Villas and Cabins (also DVC.) The Copper Creek Cabins have immediately become a Disney “bucket list” item, and are like the love child of the Polynesian bungalows and a Fort Wilderness cabin. The lakeside cabins at Copper Creek sleep 8, have all the modern conveniences, and just think of all the activities you’ll have space for with 1737 square feet. The cabins include a screened-in wraparound porch (with hot tub), a open kitchen, and a double-sided fireplace that you can enjoy from inside the cabin or outside on the porch. Unlike the Poly bungalows, the cabins have their own gated parking area that allow you to park much closer, which can be a nice convenience when you’re staying with the family and have a lot of stuff for the week to trek back and forth. But just like the Poly bungalows, one of the most enjoyable things – for us – was sitting back and watching Disney boats on the water while just taking it all in.
HONORABLE MENTION: Room Service at the Cabins
Room service at most onsite hotels is generally extremely limited, but the Copper Creek cabins (and Wilderness Lodge in general) have a “Miss Jenny’s” in-room dining menu that can compete with many Disney restaurants. Service across the board at Wilderness Lodge is terrific, and in-room dining was no exception. After placing an order for a variety of items, a server came about 45 minutes later and set everything up. The variety of options, from chips & salsa and french fries to grilled New York strip steak, catch-of-the-day seafood, and barbecue ribs, was spectacular.
Don’t forget to check out Angela Dahlgren’s Wilderness Lodge overview videos!
So there you have it: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Wilderness Lodge! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).
If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following:
Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, Disney photography icon Tom Bricker, TouringPlans’ official foodie Tessa Koten, Scott “Captain Cruiseline” Sanders of @TheDCLBlog, Dynamite Daisy Lauren, and blogger to the stars Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with goofballs co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde , while fellow Potterheads may enjoy Meg’s work on the Central Florida Slug Club.
FINAL PLUG! Did you know The 2017 Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando has a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX in it? Finally, someone came up with an actual reason to read a book. ORDER this baby now!