From the first moment I stepped foot into the Wilderness Lodge just to look around, I fell in love with it. The architecture and ambiance are romantic to me. Both my husband and I are nature lovers. We dream of staying at the Wilderness Lodge someday. But until then, we just visit it often, walking through the lobby and grounds, eating our hearts out. When I learned there were actual free guided tours of this majestic beauty, I couldn’t wait. My husband, on the other hand, was skeptical and thought it would be a waste of valuable park time. What could a tour offer that we hadn’t already seen on our many strolls through? We were about to find out.
On Thursday morning of our trip we had opening breakfast reservations for Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary. As soon as we finished we grabbed a boat over to the Wilderness Lodge, where our tour was about to begin. The meeting spot for the tour is in front of the large fireplace in the lobby of the Lodge. We were a little early, so we sat in the rocking chairs and enjoyed the slower pace. Soon another couple joined us, and we all waited patiently for our tour guide to arrive.
Our Ranger arrived promptly at 9:00 AM. He made his introductions, and we began our tour. We started in the lobby, headed over to the villas, visited the Territory Lounge and Artist’s Point, and finished by heading up to the Club level. Our Ranger was every informative. He pointed out what was natural materials and what was Disney made, what inspired each piece of engineering that went into the details, some history of those locations, some actual historical artifacts, and even a few hidden Mickeys along the way!
The highlight of the tour for me was visiting the Carolwood Pacific Room in the Wilderness Lodge Villas. Nestled inside, under a glass case, are actual cars from Walt Disney’s to-scale working railroad, the Carolwood Pacific, from his home in California. I could have easily spent several hours just in this room staring in awe of something I have seen only in pictures, something that one of my idols loved and cherished during his life. There were also photos from the Disney family adorning the walls. I highly suggest the tour, even if it is for nothing more than to see this room and hear the information the Ranger has to tell about it.
But, alas, our Ranger had more to show us and we moved on. We ended the tour upstairs in the Club level of the main Lodge, overlooking Silver Creek Springs Pool and Fire Rock Geyser. The Ranger timed it perfectly so that we only had to wait a few minutes for the geyser to erupt. He ended with taking questions from our tour group. He happily and knowledgeably answered them all.
In the end, the tour lasted about 70 minutes. It had a bit of walking involved, but was not too overwhelming, although you should expect to be standing and/or walking the whole time. Anyone with mobility issues would be able to do the tour as well, as all areas are scooter and wheelchair accessible. I highly recommend it for adults and even mature children who can appreciate the beauty of the nature that surrounds us. And my skeptical husband? He loved the tour, too!
Wilderness Lodge tours are offered Wednesday through Saturday at 9:00 AM and are about 1 to 1.25 hours long. You do not need to book in advance. Just be at the meeting point in front of the fireplace in the lobby at the starting time. For more photos, check out this review of the same tour from a few years ago.
Have you taken this free tour? What other resorts do you think should offer tours? Talk about it in the comments.