Staying at the Wilderness Lodge had been on my Disney bucket list since the first time I set foot in its lobby as a kid. Back then, it was just a regular old Deluxe resort, but now it’s home to regular rooms and two different DVC properties. Even though the resort has changed over the years with the DVC additions, the lobby is every bit as magnificent as it ever was and you’re sure to be wowed the second you step inside.
Why choose Disney’s Wilderness Lodge?
I adore it for the atmosphere and that wow moment when you first walk through the main entrance. This is corroborated by pretty much all of the Wilderness Lodge reviews you’ll read. If you’re not impressed when you step through the door the first time, I don’t think you’re going to find much to write home about at Disney World. It’s honestly one of the reasons I don’t love some of the other Deluxe/DVC resorts like Saratoga Springs and Riviera because they just seem so mundane after you’ve laid eyes on this grand entrance Wilderness Lodge.
The soaring wooden beams of its high ceilinged lobby are intended to evoke the iconic lodges of the National Parks in the western United States. It’s main fireplace mimics – on a larger scale – a famous fireplace at the Bright Angel Lodge in Grand Canyon National Park.
The theming is magnificent and you really feel like you’re stepping into one of those historic hotels. Out of all the real lodges I’ve seen, overall it reminds me the most of the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone, and even features a bubbling “hot” spring right inside the lobby as well as a geyser that shoots over 100 feet high out by the lake.
The outside area of the resort is gorgeous and made to look like mountain parks out west with granite boulders and waterfalls. When I was a Cast Member, this was one of my favorite spots to hang out and I would come here to skate the paved trail to Fort Wilderness or just hang out on a balcony and read. They’re a little stricter about people coming and going these days – and the trail has been disrupted by construction of a new resort – but you can still hop Disney transportation for a visit and parking is available if you have a dining reservation.
Another aspect I’ve always loved about the Wilderness Lodge are all the quiet little nooks and crannies you can explore. If you take the stairs to your left as you enter the lobby, you’ll end up in a cozy little area with views of the lobby and fireplaces. On this same side of the building, you can head out onto an open balcony over the entrance. At the opposite end of the lobby, on multiple floors, you’ll find open balconies with seating that look out over the main pool and Bay Lake. Because they’re not the most obvious, you will frequently have these spots to yourself if you go exploring.
One chilly morning, I stepped out onto the balcony pictured above and with a misty fog hanging low and blocking the lake and the rest of the Florida foliage that would normally be visible, it really felt like I was out in the wilderness far, far from Florida swamps.
If you exit out the back of the lobby or walk the ramp down toward the pool, you’ll see the little creek that begins at that indoor hot spring winding its way through the woodsy area until it tumbles over a pretty artificial waterfall. This stream then makes its way right into the showpiece pool. I thoroughly adore this area even though I know it’s all manmade.
Wilderness Lodge dining
There are two sit down restaurants in the Wilderness Lodge, a quick service, and a couple bars. I’ve always loved the restaurants here and when we stayed at Fort Wilderness across the lake, we’d frequently take the boat over just to dine at the quick service location.
Whispering Canyon Cafe
My favorite of the restaurants is the Whispering Canyon Café located just inside the main lobby. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it’s known for its family style meals that will leave you stuffed to the brim as well as the silly antics from servers.
Artist Point, located just off the main lobby, is fancier, though not too formal. It’s normally home to a character dinner featuring Snow White and friends (and enemies), though at this time it’s not operating. The menu typically features items like stew and roast pork with Snow White themed desserts.
Your go to for quick service meals will be Roaring Fork, located off the main lobby very close to the central pool. It serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner, has the refillable mugs, and offers mobile ordering. It’s always been one of my favorite quick service locations on property, and there were many times growing up when we took the boat over from Fort Wilderness just to have dinner here.
Roaring Fork is also home to my favorite cupcake on Disney property – the Campfire cupcake. All the Disney cupcakes look amazing, but this one adds awesome Oreo flavor and cute candy rocks to the cuteness and excellent theming.
Located outdoors under a pavilion near the Boulder Ridge villas, you’ll find the Geyser Point Bar & Grill. This casual bar setting offers drinks and a limited menu with appetizers and a few entrees. It’s the perfect place to hang out, particularly in the winter months when there are fewer bugs to bother you.
The Territory Lounge bar is located inside the main building at Wilderness Lodge and fits right in with the rustic theming. You can get mocktails, cocktails, beer, wine, and other drinks here in this small, tucked away spot.
Wilderness Lodge DVC properties
There are two DVC (Disney Vacation Club – essentially a Disney timeshare) properties at the Wilderness Lodge. You don’t have to be a DVC member to stay at this resort though, so don’t let that discourage you. Even the DVC villas can be rented by “regular” guests.
Boulder Ridge Villas
The Boulder Ridge Villas are located to the right as you face the main lobby and are themed to resemble 1800s railroad hotels. There is a mining themed pool with a hot tub (but no water slide) in this area, though it’s open to all Wilderness Lodge guests. The villas offered here are studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom. Take a full tour of the Boulder Ridge Villas in my post about our stay.
Copper Creek Villas & Cabins
The Copper Creek Villas are intended to evoke the serene beauty of the Pacific Northwest. There are of course the standard size villas, but the coolest offering they have is a limited number of cabins right along the shore of Bay Lake. These cabins even have their own private hot tubs that you can see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from. I’d stay there in a heartbeat, but one night in them costs more than I usually spend on lodging for the whole trip.
Wilderness Lodge Rooms
The Wilderness Lodge has approximately 700 guest rooms. Most are laid out like your standard hotel room and feature two queen sized beds for a total of four adults. There are also rooms available with king beds that only sleep two. If you’ve got the budget, you can book one of the Club Level rooms with VIP concierge access. These are offered in king/two queens options for 2 or 4 guests or a Deluxe room that sleeps 6.
Rooms feature rustic touches with a minimal Disney character presence in the form of some of the animated woodland creatures. You’ll find a fairly standard layout with beds, a full bathroom, dresser, tv, nightstand, and a mini fridge.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Pools
The main pool at Wilderness Lodge aka the Copper Creek Springs Pool is one of the prettier ones at Disney hotels in my opinion. True to its mountain west theme, it’s nestled among boulders near a (fake) waterfall and is even fed by a creek leading away from the falls. There is a small waterslide here, though I have to admit it’s not the greatest. Disney’s website says you can zip down its 67 feet but I wouldn’t describe it as anywhere close to zipping. I had to give myself a push toward the bottom to make it into the water (and also to avoid the kid who came down way too soon after me).
The rest of the pool is pretty fun though, and it really feels quite scenic. There are a couple hot tubs there as well as a kiddie splash area with water squirters and one of those big buckets that fills up with water and then dumps onto waiting children. As with all Disney pools, towels are provided. Lifeguards are also on duty here during open hours.
The Boulder Ridge Cove Pool is the “quiet” pool at the resort. It’s themed with some mining equipment and a crane. It has a decent sized hot tub as well, but there is no water slide. It was super convenient for us as it is just steps away from the Boulder Ridge lobby, but it’s definitely not the main showpiece. It does have one of the popular zero entry features, which is great for kids and guests who have a hard time with stairs.
Both pools have lifts for accessible access. While the hot tubs at the Copper Creek Springs swim area also have a lift, the hot tub at Boulder Ridge Cove does not.
Wilderness Lodge transportation
Wilderness Lodge offers bus transportation to all four theme parks, two water parks, Disney Springs, and Fort Wilderness. The first buses start running approximately an hour before each theme park opens.
If you want a little variety, there is also a boat to the Magic Kingdom that runs on approximately the same schedule as the buses. I like the ride because you can see the Contemporary and the monorail track, and you get to go over the water bridge that I always thought was super cool as a kid.
Salon by the Springs
Located by the Copper Creek pool, you can receive a variety of salon services here. Get a manicure, pedicure, or hair style here to look your best for a fancy Disney date night or other event.
Sturdy Branches Health Club
Located in the Boulder Ridge building, this fitness center is available to all guests at the Wilderness Lodge. You know, in case you don’t get enough of a workout crisscrossing the parks all day. You definitely won’t catch me there, but it does have a nice array of cardio machines and weights. It’s actually one of the more nicely appointed hotel gyms I’ve seen.
You can also make appointments for spa treatments here or hang out in the sauna if Florida weather isn’t hot and humid enough for you.
Other amenities at the Wilderness Lodge
- Like all the Disney hotels, there are regular movie nights held outdoors showing Disney classics. Check the schedule when you’re there to see what is offered as these vary widely.
- Head down toward Bay Lake nightly for a glimpse of the Electrical Water Pageant, an oddly delightful floating convoy of lights and music that makes the rounds between the Magic Kingdom area resorts.
- Guest laundry service
- A gift shop in the main lobby that also sells some food items.
- Valet and bell services
- Kids activities during afternoons at the main pool
- A variety of creative activities such as painting for an additional fee
- Self-parking is available for a fee. Valet parking is also available for a bit more per night.
- Running trail (this no longer connects to Fort Wilderness due to construction on a future resort along the lakeshore)
- Merchandise delivery from the parks – this is one of my favorite perks. You can buy stuff in the parks and request to have it sent back to your resort. It’s typically available to be picked up from the gift shop the next day.
Ready to book your stay at the Wilderness Lodge?
Head over to Disney’s official website to check dates, prices, and availability!